One of the original ideas I had for buttonmashing.com was a review site. As I settled on the idea of a gaming blog, the review idea sorta got shelved. Well, I did review NCAA 2005 a while a go, but that’s been the only review so far. With that in mind, I’d like to review some games. I’ve added a new category and everything. So, I present my review of the single player aspects of Guild Wars.
The review is after the jump.
This Guild Wars game, it’s an enigma. The more I play it the more it engages me, the more fun it becomes, and the more I want to play it.
It takes every MMORPG element that I thought was essential and that I enjoy and eschews them for something better. It succeeds everytime. I’ve listed a few of these elements as examples of how Guild Wars does things better.
Leveling. I have long had an odd relationship with leveling. I don’t like level caps. Even in Diablo 2, where the closest I ever got to the level cap (99 levels!) was 86 with my Spark Sorceress (lots and lots of charged bolts!), I still resented the level cap. Designing a game with a cap that prevents me from getting more powerful isn’t my thing. Guild Wars caps you at level 20. You know, what? It doesn’t bother me. Before, I always thought if I want to attain that level 100 and that means I have to earn 94-billion more experience points, let me. If I want to grind that badly, it’s my choice and your game shouldn’t stop me. But Guild Wars says, “Relax. There’s no reason for all that grinding. No need to waste time mindlessly farming for experience. Just trust us. Twenty levels are plenty. Who knows, maybe we’ll let you get twenty-five some time. But for now, twenty will be just fine.” Even reaching that level 20 isn’t the end game. You still earn experience and are able gain more skill points. But your progression has stopped. And I couldn’t be happier. (This is done with the end game in mind, which I will talk about at a later date)
Crafting. I love crafting in games. Even though I only played Everquest for a few months, I loved its crafting system. Crafting in Neocron was the best I’ve personally experienced in a game. I was a pretty high level constructor and nothing was more enjoyable than sticking a blue print and the necessary weapon parts into the constructor and pop out a 6-slot high damage weapon. Crafting is definitely my bag.
In Guild Wars, crafting is done by the NPCs. The first time I heard that, I groaned. I want crafting! As a player, we get salvage kits. Reminds me of a “Recycler” from Neocron. No one played as recyclers in Neocron because it was boring. But Guild Wars get is right. It’s exciting to salvage a rare crafting item like a fur square from a bit of loot you find. Or a major rune from a piece of armor. Salvaging replaces crafting for me. It’s another way Guild Wars takes somethng that used to be a grind and grinds it right out of existence.
Loot. What would a role playing game be without loot? While I still haven’t figured out how Guild Wars doles out the loot, I love it when see that something has been “reserved” for me. However that works, it works great. There’s not a huge variety of loot available, but with the ability to modify weapons and enhance armor, there’s enough loot to go around. And while most games restrict what kind of equipment your character, Guild Wars throws caution to the wind and lets your Necromancer equip a sword and shield and your Warrior can run around with a staff. Silly looking, but if you want to, who’s Guild Wars to stop you? Loot abounds and there’s always the allure to kill one more monster, just in case he drops the next big thing. And so far I haven’t seen the Uber-weapon yet. It may be out there, but I haven’t seen it.
There’s also the talk of whether Guild Wars is actually a MMOG in its purest sense. With everything being instanced, the argument can be made that this isn’t really all that Massive of a Multiplayer game. I argue that it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to have to fight over the good monster spawns. And with such a huge world, persistence makes travel a bore. Go ask a Final Fantasy XI player. Guild Wars does it right, again. Instant travel and instances fix both problems, giving way for a great gaming experience.
And that is exactly what Guild Wars is — a great gaming experience. It has everything a great game should have – beautiful landscapes and environments, a huge, sprawling map and fun character classes. With all the skills that each class can obtain, there’s no limit to the variety and strategy that can be employed. And to top it all off, it’s got an engaging story. The quests you go complete work to build a story. You aren’t simply a monster hunter looking for loot. You are actually part of the story. There’s even talk of quests affecting the story and other quests. Say you’re tasked with helping a group of soldiers secure an area. If, during the course of the quest two of the soldiers die. Some time down the road, you have to help the same group of soldiers accomplish something else. Only now, they’re down 2 men. I haven’t experienced this myself, but it sounds quite ambitious.
That’s not to say everything is perfect. It isn’t. One of my biggest hangups is the pathing. It is, in a word, bad. The camera also can add to the frustration as it swings wildly around, trying to find the perfect view, all while you’re getting stuck behind a tree, turning into a pin cushion for the bad guys arrows.
I have another minor problem with Guild Wars — They said without the guilt of the monthly fees, Guild Wars would be the first MMORPG that you could play a little and not worry if your don’t play every day. This is a dirty little lie. This game is a lot of fun and can be addicting. It is most worthy of a serious button mashing.
I haven’t even mentioned the aspects of grouping with other people, which is usually a mixed bag at best. Luckily I have a friend to run around with to quest and loot with so I can avoid most of the smacktards. I’ve also avoided the PvP and GuildvGuild end game because, frankly, I haven’t given it a try yet. But I will! And you’ll be hearing more from me on that very topic, in the future.
Update: If you’ve arrived at this page looking for hints, help, or Guild Wars information, check out this page with some more Guild Wars links.