Chu*Review: Guild Wars

Yes, I know this game has been out for quite some time, but I must admit that even with all of my love for video games, I am pretty much brand newe to the world of MMORPGs. Don’t believe me? Listen to the episode of Chu*Cast where my brother and I discuss the genre!

In fact, recording that podcast episode got me thinking about the genre. I have had one previous foray into the world of MMORPGs before this point, and that was with City of Heroes, which I happen to adore. Unfortunately this game has monthly fees. These fees aren’t too out of the question ($15 a month), but for someone like me who is on a tight budget, I simply can’t afford it. Still, I was almost overcome with the temptation to just buy monthly subscription cards whenever I had the money to do so. There is something so delightfully intoxicating about this game to me, and I had assumed it was unique to this game. That all changed when I picked up Guild Wars.

Guild Wars is and always has been a free-to-play MMORPG, which was rare for its time; nowadays, many mainstream MMORPGs such as Lord of the Rings Online are becoming free-to-play (my theory is that the economy is clearly hitting this genre hard, but I digress). Now, when you look at this situation, you may assume that if it’s free, the quality of the game and the service won’t be up to par with those that have monthly fees to drive such things. However, this is absolutely not the case with this game.

You start the game as a warrior in the kingdom of Ascalon, which is under attack by a group of beasts known as the Charr. You quickly become inducted into the Ascalon Vanguard, a group of people dedicated to fighting the Charr, led by the prince of the kingdom himself. The story grows from this point as you work to try and protect the innocent and rid the kingdom of the Charr. How you go about this, however, is up to you.

When you enter character creation, you have a choice of creating a roleplaying character or a PvP (player versus player) character. A roleplaying character can be used to play through the storyline of the game and complete all of the quests. If you’re not interested in any of that and just want to bust some heads, you can create a PvP character which is used on a special island that is purely for squaring off against other players in group combats in different arenas. You cannot use a PvP character to go through the storyline and visa versa, so this is an important choice to make.

Creating your character on its own is a lot of fun. You can choose your face, hair, and hair color, as well as the colors of different parts of your outfit. After that, you get to choose between several different classes, and then get to choose another class as your secondary class fairly soon into the game. The primary class you choose will designate what kind of armor and abilities you use. Your secondary class will allow you to gain some of the abilities from that class without being tied down to its armor and weapon restrictions. For example, if you want to run in and tank your way through enemies while still being able to heal yourself and your allies, then you can create a Warrior character and choose to be a Monk as your secondary class, giving you the fighting power while still having spells that can heal your party or smite your enemies. The game makes this choice easy by allowing you to go to leaders of each class and try out a mission for them along with some of their abilities. If you don’t like what you tried out, just tell the questgiver that you changed your mind after you turn in the quest and go try another!

As for the gameplay, I found it to be a lot of fun. I realized quickly as I started playing that the things I loved so much about City of Heroes were things that are the basis of MMORPGs. I found it a lot of fun to run around town and see who had a quest for me. This is a sinch to do; you will see a glowing green exclamation point over their head if they have a quest for you, eliminating the need to stop and talk to every single person. Another thing that makes playing this game very streamlined is the ability to automatically teleport to a location once you’ve been there. This cuts out a lot of time that you would spend running back and fourth to turn quests in, and also negates the possibility of you getting killed on your way to and from places.

This point brings me to the battle system. It’s very simple; you click on a monster and you automatically go and attack it. You can have up to 8 abilities at your disposal at one time. These are mapped to your number keys, so throwing a spell is as easy as clicking and pressing the button of the ability you wish to use. Another thing I like about this game (since I am usually horrible at combat) is that if you stay out of battle for several seconds, you will begin to naturally regenerate your health. The lower your health is, however, the longer it takes to regenerate. This is a great failsafe at first when you’re just starting out, but later on it could take several minutes to stand there and let your health regenerate, and at that point you will be better off just using a healing spell. After the battle, you can collect whatever gold or items the monster dropped. Don’t worry if you’re fighting in a crowded area; the items dropped by monsters you killed are assigned to you and only you, so you don’t have any risk of someone stealing your loot.

The game also has a great quest log and map system. You click on a quest in the quest log and the map automatically shows you the way to the next point in the quest. This is a HUGE plus for me, since I have a busy schedule and often forget what I was doing or where things were when I last left off. As for things outside of battle, there are your normal armor and weapons sellers that will make weapons for you if you give them the right materials, general item sellers, and collectors who will trade you items for items they like to collect. These people are easy to distinguish from regular townsfolk since their names will indicate what kind of merchant they are. They can also be found either in towns or along roads.

My favorite part of the game by far are the visuals. This game is gorgeous in every sense of the word. The lands and backgrounds are lush and breathtaking, the character designs are beautiful, and the music and sound effects are top-notch. This game is also chock-filled with voice acting, and all of the voice work i’ve heard in this game so far has been excellent.

Of course, no game can be perfect. The way that this game handles dieing is a double-edged sword for me. If you have someone with the ability to resurrect people in your party, they may do so within 10 seconds of your death; otherwise, you will be teleported to the nearest respawn point. This only works out in your favor about half of the time when your party is full of AI characters; most of the time when I died, the Monk in my party was too engrossed in battle to resurrect me. Also, when you die, you are ‘weakened by death’ and suffer a hit to your experience points, as well as certain percentage of your strength and health going down, starting in 20% incriments and never going higher than stripping you of 60% of your strength. The only way you can gain your strength back is by fighting killing monsters and bosses. This is very frustrating; if I couldn’t survive with all of my health, what makes you think I’m going to survive with 40% of it? I understand that they don’t want to make death seem like its not a big deal, but perhaps weakening you in smaller increments would make it feel more balanced.

Another thing I wanted to mention is the quest difficulty. You can solo most of the quests, but later on it will become important to travel with a party. You can always get a party of NPCs, but from what I can gather they wind up being downright ineffective later on in the game. This will make you want to turn to the dreaded task of finding actual players to quest with. While its easy enough to find a populated area and advertise that you’re looking for a party (or just want to join one for kicks), it can be a long time before you find one willing to help you. This can be an issue with any MMO though, so it’s hard to hold it against this game.

So if you’re looking for a great MMORPG with no monthly fees, Guild Wars is definitely something to check out! You can pick up a trilogy pack of the base game and two main expansions, plus you can buy a plethora of smaller expansions and add-ons, ensuring that it will be quite some time before you run out of stuff to do. Go check it out!

Pick up the Guild Wars Trilogyor a copy of the sequel Guild Wars 2via these links, and you’ll be supporting Chu*Blog at no additional cost to you! Thanks in advance!

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