Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Last Guild Wars Post?


The first time I really got a chance to play Guild Wars 2 was that first Beta Weekend Event, back in April.  I was of course aware of the game, had seen some screenies and a little bit of footage, but by far and large had been postponing really digging into it.  It was that weekend event that caught me, hook line and sinker, on the game.  And after the weekend was over, I decided I would boot up Guild Wars 1 again, and renew my effort to get at least a few points in my Hall of Monuments.  I think at the time I had like three - the ones you get for owning all of the expansions.

But I gotta tell you.. it was hard!  I had already become so used to so many of the features in Guild Wars 2, coming back was.. well to be honest it really did feel a bit like stepping back in time.  Being unable to jump (again), the loneliness of the instanced explorable areas, the auto-attacking & movement, the arcane armor crafting mechanics, the complete lack of modern ameneties like mail and auction houses - all of it bespeaks of a game designed seven years ago.


Guild Wars is a game with a lot of warts, and they are the kinds of things that hit you front and center, when you first enter the game - especially compared to today's modern day built-for-accessibility fare.  

But Guild Wars had two things going in it's favor.  The first, was that unlike pretty much every other MMO at the time, I didn't have to maintain a subscription.  Which meant that as long as I had my original disk (which I still do), I could re-install the game and return again.  And I did return.  I didn't always stay, but I came back periodically - especially when they launched the new games & expansions.  And each time I returned, the game grew on me a bit more.  The other thing the game had going for it, was its incredible art direction.  Each time I returned to Guild Wars, I was amazed again at how well the game's zones stood up over the test of time.  It wasn't about technology.  It was just about designing a game that was aesthetically pleasing with the tech they had.  And I have, all my life, been a sucker for a pretty face.

So over the course of time I got to know Guild Wars - warts and all.  And the more I got to know the game, the more I was able to appreciate the game for what it was - not what I thought it should be.  And the more I grew to love it.

Especially the characters.  I've mentioned before the impressions that the NPC's of Guild Wars have had on me, but it bears repeating.  Because in no other MMO that I can think of have I felt like I grew to know the characters in a game, or for that matter, that there was even enough characterization there to know.  But I love them all:  fiery, caustic Cynn, and her devil-may-care approach to life; well meaning, brave, but socially clueless Mhenlo; impetuous, idealistic Tahlkora, princess of Vhabbi; confident and brazen Koss; and of course, emotionally scarred, and fiercely independant Gwen, whose story stretches across four expansions, and two continents.  How many MMO's do you participate in where you, the player, are given opportunities to be there during key moments during an NPC's entire life?

As those that have played both have noted before me - Guild Wars 2 and Guild Wars are two very different beasts.  They come from the same roots, and share a common lore, but from a gameplay standpoint, the only thing they share is their name.  And it is because the two are so dissimilar, that I wonder if perhaps I will return from time to time to the original Tyria.  I am about half way through the Prophecies campaign, which curiously enough, is the only campaign in the original game that I've yet to ever complete, with any character. I suspect I won't finish it before Saturday.  Will I abandon it completely, never to return, once the new game comes out?  It's hard to say.

Right now I'm completely and wholely infatuated with Guild Wars 2.  I've played the game already for easily as much as I play many new MMO's when they launch, and so far I still want more.  But only time will tell if the infatuation will grow, over time, to the kind strong relationship I have with the three games I have stuck with, over the years - Guild Wars, City of Heroes, and World of Warcraft.

I suspect it will, but even if it does, it doesn't mean their isn't room for the old game.  The games are truly different, and once the shininess wears off a bit for Guild Wars 2, I may indeed remember that I have unfinished business in Guild Wars.

But I can say this with certainty.  When I post here again, the screenshots that litter the page will be from a land changed over the course of 250 years from the screens you see here.

See you this weekend!