Guild Wars, Part II

I stated that I would follow up on my original review of guild wars, entitled Guild Wars, In Brief. As I write this, I am now confident that I am not going to let you down. Now that I have participated in several hours of Player-versus-Player combat, taken 6 characters to level 7+, and am halfway through the game in terms of levels (10+), I feel it is time to write the second part of my Guild Wars review.

I will end this mini-review with my pros and cons rather than begin it that way, as I would much rather drone on a bit before giving you the brief, bullet-point summary. Let’s start off with a negative, as I enjoy the game so much that I should probably nitpick a little bit.

The community. No, I don’t necessarily have any problems with the actual people who play Guild Wars. In fact, they are far and away superior in personality to the community in World of Warcraft, and roughly equivalent to the community in EverQuest II. It isn’t necessarily the community itself who is at fault for this drawback to the game so much as the game systems working as intended. The community feel of Guild Wars is similar to that of Diablo. Go figure. The only areas where you really get to chat with a large number of people are the city districts, and these districts are often filled with random chatter that does nobody any good.

The sense of community that Guild Wars is missing is the sense of community that many MMOG players have come to love. It is the “we’re all in this together” sense of community. Why is it missing that? Well, because we aren’t all in this together. I feel close, to some extent, to many of my guildmates, but that is only because we have ourselves a nice chat channel to talk in. I do not feel close to anyone, save for two or three, outside of my guild, as I never really interact with them. The only people I talk outside of my guild are either real life friends who stayed with their guild from another game or people who I met in PvP and liked.

Guild Wars needs a few common hunting grounds to help foster its sense of community. The community is what drives massively multiplayer games. Instancing isolates that sense of community, for better or for worse, and distances you from the rest of the people you “play with.” ArenaNet would do well to add a few common grounds to each major area of the world that are complete with respawning mobs and lack the story-driven content that the rest of the game has. A lot of people would hang out in there just to grind and talk to each other. I will likely comment on my opinions on common PvP grounds in Part III or IV of my Guild Wars review, as I haven’t experienced PvP enough to really talk about it.

In addition to the overall community, Guild Wars has a hell of a lot of guilds. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I’m just stating that there are a lot of them. It’s difficult to find a guild that is your style without scouring the fansite forums all day. Personally, I look for guilds that have something to do with pirates. You have some options if you want to join one of those: Pirate Ninjas, Guild of Pirates, Pirates of B B Q Bay, and Pirate Scum come to mind (in order from best to worst website. I couldn’t find one for B B Q Bay, but the Pirate Scum site uses iframes, so it might as well not have one).

Okay, I should have called this Guild Wars, Part II, The Community. I would, save for the fact that I want to drop in a Pros and Cons list right about myah (not nearly complete, mind you):

Pros:

  • The textures are vibrant. The world feels like a fantasy world, more so than any MMOG I have played.
  • PvP. I don’t need to comment on this much. The fact that the game has PvP, and it isn’t horribly executed, means that the game gets a +1 in my book.
  • Dyes and Dye Mixing. Heck yes. Another game with dyes, and this time with the ability to mix dyes together to produce another color. Eventually, everyone will be running around in all black, but that will end up shifting to only noobs wearing all black because everyone wants to look unique.
  • The UI features some pretty cool things, such as the ability to friend someone once and see all of their alts, or guild someone once, and automatically have them join your guild (and you can see who their main is in there). You can customize it to an acceptable degree from within the game, and I expect some mods to appear for it soon.
  • Capes and emblems are sweet. I like being able to display my guild emblem to the world, and seeing cool capes in another MMOG is cool, as they are slowly being forced into the standard features list in the genre. It would be nice to have the ability to toggle the capes off, however.
  • There are plenty of nice emotes that you can use to impress your friends or communicate your RP skeelz. Now, if only the community were a little more of a community…
  • Automatically assigned loot and shared coin is always a plus. I don’t have to worry about how we are handling loot, as the system does it for me.
  • While Guild Wars does have zones, you zone extremely quickly. This is a good thing, my friends. This is a good thing.
  • I really dig the Weapon Set concept. I can swap from my bow to a staff to a sword with the touch of a button. No more fumbling through my inventory during combat, or just saying “f it” because it is too cumbersome.
  • Primary/Secondary Classes. These are most excellent. You can actually make your character the way you want to make it. I love how you inherit the majority of the skills that your secondary class has. Sexy.
  • The map/radar are very good. I like the dotted Indiana Jones style trail that you leave on the map. It’s quite handy when you’re running around and want to figure out where the heck you were 15 minutes ago. The radar is also very cool in its ability to communicate information at a glance, not to mention the fact that you can draw all kinds of obscene images on it for your team to see.
  • The game is very story-driven. This is something seen almost exclusively seen in single player RPGs, and it is very refreshing to see a game of this scale drive itself with an interesting story and script-based quests.

Cons:

  • I can’t jump. It took me so long to get over this. I don’t really care if I’m still artificially limited in where I can go by annoying pathing, I want to jump.
  • Speaking of annoying pathing and collision, GW’s pathing and collision are annoying. I can’t walk off cliffs, I can’t get around large trees that are relatively close to a zone edge, I can get trapped in a corner by my pet or henchmen (ugh), and I can’t swim. Some hero I am! Note that I’m pretty much over this now.
  • The newbie area (pre-searing Ascalon) is big and cool. However, it is too damn big. I know many people who have quit before even leaving pre-searing Ascalon because the place was too big and the quests had too little reward for them. I personally was not hooked to the game until my first PvP battle and mission took place (the transition to post-searing Ascalon).
  • The interface is missing some fundamental MMOG functionality, such as a /who command. You can’t find out what profession someone is unless you target them, even in the Friends or Guild window. There are very few commands. I didn’t know how much I loved commands (/time, /follow, /etc) until I didn’t have them to use.
  • If you accidentally cast while moving, it consumes Energy. I would rather either have it force me to stop when I hit the key or just poof without consuming Energy.

I guarantee you that I missed some pros and cons, so I will add those to Part III or IV if I remember them.

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