Previews// Guild Wars Factions (PC)

Giant Siege Turtles! That's what I'd call my pop group if I had one...

Posted 3 Mar 2006 13:20 by
The story, environment and visuals

We don’t want to give too much away (er, actually, we don’t yet know many specifics) but the overall story of Guild Wars Factions begins 400 years before the period depicted in the game, when the emperor of Cantha (a continent with a strong Asian flavour in terms of architecture etc.) was killed by his bodyguard, and some sort of magical wave (as is common in RPGs) petrified everything across the landscape.

Which leads to some very cute visual touches, such as a solid jade sea, in which ships and whale skeletons remain embedded, and petrified forests. This was something of a blow to the indigenous Canthans, who were a sea-faring nation. So it’s lucky that they were able to reinvent themselves as a nomadic tribe, thanks to the presence of giant turtles and snails on whose backs they were able to build moveable houses, and to make a living from mining jade from what used to be the sea.

One of the main purposes of this storyline appears to be to provide an excuse to stud the game with imaginative visual touches, and Guild Wars Factions is perhaps the finest-looking MMO ever. It takes full advantage of DirectX 9, and as well as the jade sea (obviously, with a frozen sea, you don’t need any machine-hungry physics to make it move realistically) you get ultra-flash effects accompanying spells and attacks, plus some simply stunning architecture.

New missions, classes and stuff

Naturally, in something that purports (with some credibility) to be a whole new game, there are plenty of improvements and additions above and beyond the new alliance system. Including two new professions: the Ritualist and the Assassin. The latter is pretty self-explanatory (boasting “speed, fast execution and dual-wielding” according to Strain), but the Ritualist character is more unconventional. Ritualists always wear headgear that covers their eyes (which is unnecessarily flash, if you ask us – what happened to good, old-fashioned eye-patches?) and operate as dark priests, summoning spirits which they can use on the battlefield.
We indulged in a bit of PvP action at the controls of a Ritualist but, rather frustratingly, she had been set up as a healer rather than an offensive character. The spirits looked pretty cool, though.

Guild Wars Factions has more types of missions than you can shake a stick at. Specifically: Elite missions, which are the hard, rewarding ones aimed at role-playing players; Co-operative missions; Competitive missions, where PvP players have to achieve strategic goals, with, say, one team defending an area which another team attacks; Challenge missions, where individuals seek to achieve the highest score in a collective mission, such as defending a village from an onslaught; Alliance Battles, which are big 12-a-side PvP battles and which ultimately can move battle lines around; and Competitive missions, which introduce an element of resources and, according to Strain, “...are not PvP – they’re more like an RTS”. In the latter, you might, for example, have to control an amber mine, thereby augmenting the power of your giant siege turtles.

As with the original Guild Wars, Factions looks on levelling up (or Ascension, as they call it) with a certain amount of disdain – there are only 20 levels, and the Ascension process is essentially an overgrown tutorial. This won’t please the South Koreans, who love to boast of their Level 58-and-a-half characters in WoW, but it at least strips away one layer of geekiness. ArenaNet deserves 'nuff respect for trying to reward skill rather than sheer, dogged amount of grind spent playing the game.

Overall, Guild Wars Factions looks promising – it should attract people who have a modicum of a life, and those who are put off by the sheer amount of 'hardcore-ness' and commitment demanded by the likes of WoW and Lineage. Thanks to the lack of a subscription, you won’t feel you’re not getting value for money if you don’t let it take over your life entirely, which can only be applauded. That fact, of course, will put off some people, but they’re precisely the sort of people you wouldn’t want to encounter in an MMO.
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ohms 11 Mar 2006 08:33

that's 2 punani tatoos in a week.
I guess the big breast thing has been done to death, something new was needed.

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