Why I Loved The Original Guild Wars?
I’ve been getting the urge to go back to the original Guild Wars recently. It was always a Christmas game for me. Every year I would sit with my laptop by the tree and grind away at one thing or another. I even got a Wintersday Card one year brandishing a lovely picture of Nicholas the Traveller and Professor Yakkington.
Many MMORPGs that have been released since have actually left me slightly disappointed; Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars The Old Republic were two major releases that fell a little short for me. I still play them, but not to the extent that I did with the original Guild Wars. There has also been Final Fantasy and The Secret World, both great games, but still haven’t filled the space that Guild Wars put there. In the world of MMORPGs I’ve come to realise that new does not necessarily mean better, even with all the hype that surrounds them. I had to try really hard to resist the temptation to buy Wildstar earlier in the year, but I’m glad I did (I probably play too many anyway.)
It is quite difficult to call which MMORPG is my favourite, but I think Guild Wars is definitionally one of the contenders. I have a lot of happy memories spent with this game; Guilds that came and went, relationships forged and broken and challenges conquered.
The main thing that was just right for me in Guild Wars was the level of challenge. Just completing the main campaigns felt like an achievement, but then you could try them again on hard mode. There were also dungeons (I remember Slaver’s Exile being one of the tough ones) and areas such as The Underworld and Fissures Of Woe. The titles were pretty fun to get too; I remember feeling so chuffed with myself for getting the Legendary Survivor and Skill Hunter titles.
I’ve had an appetite for challenging games recently (probably due to Dark Souls), so long as they’re done well. A game will frustrate me if I’m throwing everything I have at it just to keep failing (SWTOR can feel like this at times), but If I have lots of different options to try then it keeps me hopeful that I can find a solution. I suppose it’s a bit like trying to solve a puzzle. Guild Wars had lots of different skills and distinctive classes and in turn many different types of scenario and enemies to face. For example, I was really struggling to get through Glint’s Challenge (where you have to defend the dragon from waves of enemies,) then I designed a new build and suddenly it became a breeze.
I also loved the fact that you could change builds with no consequence and save them as templates. One class is capable of different types of play. For example, my ranger could be a basic marksman, a beast master or I could focus on traps and stances. You could also choose a secondary class. I like MMORPGs that let you re-spec easily because for one it gives you options if your current build is struggling to get past an enemy and secondly it keeps gameplay fresh. I probably invest more time into a single MMORPG character than I do on any other game, so it’s good to be able to change how I can play them from time to time. The fact that you can only take so many skills out with you as well as only one elite skill also created choice. Many MMORPGs just let you plaster the screen with skill bars, lining down the bottom and the sides, but as odd as it sounds I actually prefer to be limited on how many I can use at a time. It can feel more strategic that way.
I never thought I’d say this, but I also miss the instances (and I suppose for this reason it felt very different to other MMORPGs.) When I first started playing guild Wars I actually wasn’t that keen on the instances; it gave me a strange feeling of isolation even if I didn’t intend to interact with other people. Then again, sometimes the other players don’t contribute to my game at all; at best they’re just in the background or helping to clear out some of the enemies and at worst they can actually be a hindrance. SWTOR is particularly bad for this, where you can be busy taking down an enemy and then someone sneaks past to activate the object that you needed, so you have to wait for it to become available again. Yup, I’ve developed many virtual pet peeves since I started online gaming.
One of the other benefits to having instances is that the enemies stay dead, so no surprise spawns popping up behind you. It also feels better knowing that you’re clearing the area out and have full control over it – like you’re making a difference. As well as that, it created two distinct areas, the outposts where you could search for other players and chat, and the quest areas where you and your party were then free to play without any disruptions. Again it could feel more strategic at times.
I always felt like I could play Guild Wars however I wanted to. I don’t like it when MMORPGs force you to group with strangers to progress or make it impossible to get something if you don’t have enough friends on your list. My boyfriend and I like to play together just as a couple and other times we like to play alone. Sometimes we just can’t get our other friends to take an interest in the same games as us. I do prefer to play with people I know because it makes it easier to plan the team out for the mission ahead. The henchman and hero system let you take as many or as few people as you wanted to, the gaps could be filled out with AI. The heroes came later, but it was a brilliant idea because you could set their skills and equip them however you wanted to. I was able to solo Prophecies, Factions and Eye of the North. Of course they were never a full substitute for real humans beings, but it was good enough if you just couldn’t find the right people to team with. I really wish more MMORPGs would do this. My boyfriend and I also found it easier to play the game together and haven’t found a good substitute since. We’ve tried going through other MMORPGs together, but many of them have you starting in different areas, factions or following your own storyline. In these we tend to only meet up for dungeons/flashpoints. In Guild Wars every mission was an opportunity to team up.
One of the main drawbacks to Guild Wars was that the level capped at 20, and as usual my interest died soon afterwards, only I later came back and found so much more to do. Reaching the level cap suddenly became a chore that I would grind out in one day, because what came after was so much more interesting. I guess my focus was different to other MMORPGs in that respect, and yet I found it totally addictive.
There are many other things that I could ramble on about this game. Of course I can always go back to playing it, but one day i might run out of things to do and there are less people on there nowadays. While I’m not expecting exact copies of Guild Wars, there were certain qualities that it possessed that I would love to see in more online RPGs.