Thereís gold in them thar Guilds!
I am "fairly" new to this whole MMORPG playing thing, even though I am a professional published RPG writer with a stack of indy credits to my name. Even though I have been running a text-based online RPG world for the last 8 years, the whole MMORPG phenomena passed me by, because I never really gelled with the other games out there. I tried and watched WoW and EQ2, Asheron's Call, Anarchy Online to name but a few but they didn't grab me for some reason.
I note here: I am not however new to the whole RPG thing, I have been involved with RPGs and games since I built my first ZX-80 and programmed a tiny text RPG for it. I have played hundreds of PC and console based RPGs and run virtually every RPG under the sun tabletop. I put this in to clarify for some people that I am not a newbie to the genre or field.
I have to admit that I am often put off by monthly fees and charges in that respect, since I have spent a lot of my time offering an RPG rich in story, theme and character for nothing. I understand the overheads these games have to deal with so I canít blame them for charging a fee, but when a new MMORPG hits the scene with no monthly fees and offers a chance to experience a colourful and detailed fantasy world, complete with a compelling backstory Ė even I have to sit up and listen.
And find out later on that it's not a MMORPG but a CORPG (Competitive Online Roleplaying Game)
My esteemed colleague Gabriel Strange ran a short preview of his experiences with Guild Wars over the beta and press events, he was impressed Ė but me, being somewhat of an RPG veteran with a long history of involvement with the hobby/business, it takes something truly worthwhile to actually impress me in this respect.
I didnít play Guild Wars a whole lot compared to Gabby (I only managed a few hours every event) during the beta and press weekends, but when I did I actually found myself really enjoying it. So youíre about to learn why a non-MMORPG gamer has become a strict convert to the rich world of Guild Wars and the Kingdom of Ascalon.Story
There are some people that love story and there are folks that hate it, I fall firmly smack-bang in the camp of the story lovers, Iím a writer Ė what did you expect? Seriously though I have all respect for the developers of any game large or small, after seeing what goes into a game, good or bad theyíre a monumental task and a MMORPG must be truly Herculean to create.
So is there a story about Guild Wars or is it just another run-of-the-mill orcs, elves, goblins and wizards epic? Well, there is a story and itís been written by a professional, you can tell when you look at the Lore Book that comes with the game, packed with background and history which is enough to keep any RPG fanatic locked to the pages for days on end. But I am not going to tell you anything about the story, except that itís good and well worth delving into.
Oh and there are no elves, orcs, or other fantasy races that permeate whatís become of modern fantasy, which is a bonus as far as I am concerned. Donít get me wrong I grew up with tales of orcs and wizards, but there comes a time when you yearn to hear something new.
There are the Charr, the Skale and many other weird and wonderful creatures on the face of Ascalon. They are all waiting to challenge even the most adept of players.Gameplay
So this is the nuts and bolts of the game, the eternal struggle to rise from a lowly sword-swinging hero-wannabe to someone that can wade through hordes of Charr with a single swipe of their blade. Itís not going to happen quickly though, Guild Wars is a challenge and itís been carefully crafted to offer a slow but enjoyable rise in levels.
Letís begin at the beginning, before you can step into the world of Ascalon you have to create a character, this is done very quickly and you can choose between two types of character style: Roleplaying or PVP (Player Vs Player). The former is allowed to adventure and quest, become involved in PVP events and is the best choice for the first time player.
The latter PVP character is at maximum level and uses equipment and so on that the RP characters find/uncover. So Guild Wars offers immediate satisfaction for those players that like to quest and those players that seem to get their kicks in beating on other players, those players we shall now term: Death-matchers.
I fall in the camp of the roleplayers and I must admit to a sort of evil delight in hearing people whine, thereís no straight PVP versus anyone out there. My heart bleeds for them, it really does, and perhaps they can go and whine somewhere else though because the developers are not going to change that aspect of the game, so I am told.
Back to character creation, minor rant over. Character creation is quick and easy in Guild Wars, you donít have to spend a huge amount of time assigning points and worrying what attributes you have, you pick a model, customise features like hair, face, skin and so on, pick a name and youíre away into the idyllic city of Ascalon.
WASD or Cursor keys move, the camera is controlled by the mouse and people that play a lot of 3rd person action/adventure games will feel right at home here. You can hold in the rmb to look around, a mouse wheel will control zoom levels and if you want you can left click on the ground or a character to move/interact with them Ė every control option has been implemented to player taste.