Guild Wars Review

Guild Wars is an MMORPG set in a fantasy universe. I know, I know, it seems like there is a new one of these games launched every other week, but Guild Wars is actually different. First off, it’s free. Well, not free to purchase, but once you’ve paid to bring it home it’s free of monthly fees. You can play for hours every day or play once a week and the cost is still the same to you – nothing. That alone should attract players to the game, but as for what’s unique about Guild Wars we’re just getting started.

If you’ve played MMORPGs before then you’re probably familiar with this scenario. You sit down to play the game only to find that there has been a 100MB+ patch released, so instead of jumping in and enjoying the game you’re faced with a long delay as your computer downloads the patch and then takes its time applying the patch. Once you finally start to play you’re still faced with some potentially long load screens every time that you move to a new zone or area. Guild Wars eliminates these frustrating wastes of time thanks to a streaming technology that loads the updates and other data the game needs on the fly as you are playing. The only load screens that you see will be brief transitional screens as you move from one zone to another, but the wait is literally a few seconds each time.

Screenshots
A player runs into some tough customers.
Another way in which Guild Wars departs from the traditional MMORPG model is that it gives each player or player group their own instance of a zone. The game features cities which serve as common areas and where players can meet to form groups, but once out in the lands and dungeons of the game players have their own copy of the game world. This eliminates the need to “camp out” at key quest locations waiting for creatures or events to spawn as you and a dozen other players try to complete the same quest. You also won’t find any fields of corpses where players have gone through and wiped out the local monster population, leaving none for you to defeat and collect experience from.

You start out in Guild Wars like you do in any MMORPG by creating your character and choosing a class. There are six classes to choose from, but soon after beginning the game you’ll be tasked with picking a secondary class, effectively giving you a total of thirty different classes in the game. This is just the start of Guild Wars’ nontraditional approach to character classes. Guild Wars is built around a skill system, where skills represent spells, critical strikes, special attacks and the like. Each class has 150 different skills available and you’ll spend a fair amount of time trying to track down the rarer of these skills in the game. There’s a catch to the skill system, though – you can only have eight skills active at a time. When in a common area such as a town you are free to select the eight active skills from your repertoire, but once you enter an instanced area you will have to play with the with the eight that you’ve selected. It’s an interesting change from your typical RPG and it works quite well. A lot of the strategy in the game comes from selecting the best skills for the job and finding a combination that does well for you in PvP battles. You’ll also need to coordinate with your party to bring the right mix of skills with you into battle. The “right” combination of classes and skills will probably remain a topic of heated discussion among Guild War players for as long as the game is around. This mechanic combines a little Pokemon with its “gotta catch ‘em all” theme as you search for new skills and Magic the Gathering with its deck-building and dueling aspect. In fact, it is the prime focus of the game as far as character development goes as your character will max out at level 20 and you’ll get their pretty quickly.