Guild Wars Impressions
Aaron offers his take on the upcoming newest competitive online RPG.
Article by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
December 6th 2004, 02:23PM
Don't call it a MMORPG. Even the developers of Guild Wars have coined the term CORPG 'competitive online role-playing game' to separate themselves from the competition. A trend starting with Ultima Online and exploding with Everquest, the flood of massive multiplayer online role-playing games that followed crafted their existence based on these progenitors. Which is fine if you're ready to devote a chunk of your free time to a virtual life to justify that monthly fee, but Guild Wars was designed with the casual player in mind, who can get a quick fix without paying for more than the price on the box.
Character creation is mainly selecting your primary and secondary classes. So far there are six to choose from; Warrior, Ranger, Necromancer, Elementalist, Mesmer, and Monk, with more promised in future expansions. Since this grants you access to a diverse selection of a hundred and fifty skills, not including the ability to temporarily borrow skills from other classes, I was never playing the same character for very long. My warrior went from hammer master to axe ace to sword superstar all in one day. Choosing which class to be your primary also has an effect on the final character. My Warrior/Monk was a melee machine, though he had far too little energy to heal anyone but himself. While my Monk/Warrior couldn't be the first in the line of fire, he could keep the entire group healthy while dishing out damage to the enemy.
The adventure begins alone with eight starting skills and a helpful tutorial adapted to your class selections. Combat is deceptively simple. Just point your weapon at an enemy and it'll shoot or stab until dead... until you're dead if you don't make use of your skills. Skills have a wide range of effects, from offensive, to defensive, to enhancing your character, and how well you use them will often make the difference between life or death. Since you can only bring eight into a mission, selecting them with care is nearly as important. I let one group down simply by not bringing the Sprint skill along because I thought I wouldn't use it. Skills need to recharge before they can be used again, with weaker ones available in an eye blink, while the more powerful can take as long as a minute. How well these skills work is usually dependent upon their related attributes, which you can increase after every level up. What's fairly unique about Guild Wars is you can refund these points and reorganize your attributes at any time, which is useful when your fire magic could use a little more heat.