With publisher NCsoft throwing out new MMORPGs left and right, it’s hard to distinguish which one is truly the king. Fortunately, their latest installment in this genre, that they have developer ArenaNet working hard on, has one huge difference from any other MMORPG. It could be the graphics, or it could be the gameplay. However, what is most noticeable here is the monthly fee. There is none! Yep, you read that right. Sure, you’ll still have to lay down $49.99 on the game itself in stores, but once you have the game, that’s it. So you can play Guild Wars online for as long as you like with no charge. But that’s not the only thing that makes us desire Guild Wars. As we sat down to take the World Preview Beta of Guild Wars out for a stroll, we noted the most important aspects of this upcoming MMORPG.
At its core, Guild Wars is basically like your traditional MMORPG. It’s essentially a fantasy-based RPG that allows you to hack and slash at monsters with medieval weaponry. Like any other game of its type you can customize your character’s appearance and traits at startup. There aren’t a huge number of appearances to choose from like in other MMORPGs, but there are still quite a few.
Customizing the appearance of your character involves choosing female or male, and changing things such as hair color, hair style, face style, skin color, and body scale. By changing the body scale you can make giants or small dwarfs. You can also change your individual’s name at this point. Changing the name seems to require two words to be used. Perhaps by being forced to use two words for the names it helps to illuminate the chances of duplicate names trying to be created.
Next you can choose your traits and skills. Guild Wars refers to these as “professions”. You’re aloud to choose one primary and one secondary profession. Some of the professions you can choose from are the Warrior, master of melee combat and heavy armor; the Ranger, who specializes in archery and beast mastery; the Monk, who uses prayer to restore and protect the well-being of companions; the Necromancer, who uses black magic to cast curses and raise the undead; the Mesmer, who can manipulate the perceptions of others by using illusions; and finally, the Elementalist, who has the ability to call upon fire, air, water, and earth to eliminate enemies.
Each profession will introduce you to new spells to utilize throughout the game. Also, your primary profession will be your main attribute with your secondary profession just helping out a little. So you can be a full Elementalist while still having some of the combat abilities of a Warrior. Your spells are organized much like playing cards. At any given time you can have up to eight spells available for use at the bottom of your screen. Other spells can easily be replaced and switched out and more can be bought. The one thing that the game doesn’t have is a 3D Casino, but you won’t have time for gambling when you are protecting your base.
As usual, your character gains XP points by fighting or completing missions. Gaining a certain amount of XP points will push you up to the next level. However, a certain amount of stability has been put into this system in order to even things out. For example, a character at level 20 has some weaknesses and some obviously strong strengths. A character at level 15 will have many weaknesses, but may possess some spells, or other strengths, that may give the specific character an advantage over a more powerful individual. This sort of system greatly evens things out.
Guild Wars also forces you to interact with other users in order to do missions. You can simply do a mission by yourself, but this will definitely result in you being killed. The only true way to beat a mission is to have 5 other members in your party. This is easily done by simply selecting other players and asking them to join you. If you meet some nice friends along the way then you can add them to your in-game Friends list. This list shows whether your friends are online or not and allows you to contact them if they are. Sometimes it can be very hard to find out where exactly your friend is due to the large environments, but ArenaNet says that they will probably be incorporating a feature that allows you to simply select your friends name and you’ll be teleported right to their destination.
Speaking of environments, the fantasy world displayed in Guild Wars is quite large and allows you to explore it with your own free will when not on missions. As far as MMORPGs go, Guild Wars has some nice graphics. The reflections and shiny effects are noticeable on some of the character’s armor, and the water has realistic ripples and reflections. The only slight problem is that the visuals seem to render quite closely to the user which can get somewhat annoying when viewing long distances.
Overall, Guild Wars is shaping up to be one nice MMORPG. With its zero monthly fee and easy to use interface, Guild Wars looks as if it’s going to easily appeal to newcomers of this genre. We’ll have the full scoop as Guild Wars is released next year.