The month of April has not exactly been gushing with new RPG’s, but there is one shining star ready to make its debut. Thanks to the collective efforts of ArenaNet and NCsoft, PC owners will soon be able to get their hands on Guild Wars , a MMORPG built for the Windows platform that is designed to be a mission-based experience for both single-player and multi-player teams.
The story of Guild Wars takes place on the continent of Tyria and revolves around the devastation of the once beautiful kingdom of Ascalon. This kingdom did not fall by natural means or civil discontent, but at the hands of an evil horde of monsters known as the Charr, who are intent on wiping out the last remnants of Ascalon from existence. As survivors of Ascalon's fall, players find themselves thrust into the middle of an ongoing war against these creatures. The conflict spans over eight differentiated land zones.
Pre-Charr Ascalon - This is the place where all players start. It is warm, green, and filled with friendly people eager to offer advice or lend you a helping hand. Too bad they don’t know what’s looming on the horizon.
The Crystal Desert - A powerful gathering point for mystical energies. Pilgrimages are made across its hot, deadly sands for spiritual atonement, but many have lost their lives in these pursuits p>
The Fire Island Chain Active volcanoes slowly ooze out searing lava from their tops, which hits the sea in great explosions of ash and steam to form this dark, hostile land.
Kryta - The paradise of Tyria. This region boasts perfect blue oceans, pristine beaches, and a serene, coastal civilization.
The Maguuma Jungle - There are two different environments to this land. The upper region is parched and covered with huge, thorny trees, while the lower region is moist and filled with dangerous plant and animal life.
Post-Charr Ascalon - What’s left of Ascalon, after the great, fiery assualt that tore down its walls and decimated its inhabitants.
Northern and Southern Shiverpeaks - Perpetually frozen, these towering peaks are unnavigable save for two passes, and both are guarded by tribes of unfriendly dwarves. A civil war between the tribes has split the Shiverpeak mountains into northern and southern regions.
"Player-vs-player competition also has a significant role in the gameplay of Guild Wars."
Players can walk from one end of Tyria to the other, but in order to save time, they can also skip from one safe area, such as a town or an outpost, to another, instantaneously. It's all just a matter of clicking on the location from the world view map, although the player has to have already visited the area to be able to warp to it.
Currently, the only playable race in Guild Wars is human, but that doesn’t mean gamers suffer from a lack of variety. Character traits such as gender, skin tone, hair, and height are all customizable, as well as the colors and decorations of shields and armor. There are also six professions open for players to choose from: Elementalists, Mesmers, Monks, Necromancers, Rangers, and Warriors. The game allows for a secondary profession to be chosen in addition to a primary profession, though this is not required. Overall, the dual-profession system offers a total of 36 job combinations and 150 skills per character to choose from, and.... for even more variability, players are able to create up to four different characters for each game account.
In line with the game’s mission-based principle, character advancement stems from the skill and teamwork demonstrated in quests, rather than hours of mindless battles just to level up.
Player-vs-player competition also has a significant role in the gameplay of Guild Wars. Characters can be tested in battle arenas or as part of a war between rival guilds, and gone are the days of confusion and isolation, due to separate servers. All players are a part of the same seamless world for uninhibited access. Participation in PvsP, however, is completely voluntary, and there is no player-killing in cooperative areas of the game.
The built-in support for player guilds in Guild Wars is generous and includes such features as: personalized emblems, guildhalls, private forums, and access to special cooperative missions. International tournaments are also held from time to time, so that players can face-off against opponents across the globe. The best of the best get to see their names posted on the Guild Wars Ladder, which can be viewed on the official game website.
The graphics in Guild Wars boast a vivid array of 3D imaging and special effects rendering. Each of Tyria’s eight realms has its own distinctive feel and look. The colors in them are abundantly diverse, while the texture mapping is crisp and precise, making for very convincing visuals in the characters, creatures, and environments.
ArenaNet’s unique streaming technology makes its market debut with the release of Guild Wars. Instead of relying on patches to come out every other month to help fix a bug or add a new feature, this innovation constantly feeds new content into players’ computers while they’re online, including them in the game’s dynamic growth process.
Guild Wars is set for a release date of April 28 in North America and Europe. Unlike most MMORPG’s, has no subscription fees or update charges. Look to RPGamer for a review of this game in the very near future.