by Cody "Micajah" Bye
Expanding upon an MMOG is always a tricky business proposition. Many of
the current players of the game expect big changes to be made
– increases in the level cap, better equipment and more
skills introduced into the mix – but new additions to any
game also means that new players and returning veterans may be
attracted to the old world and want to begin anew. Not only do the
developers need to worry about keeping the high end content of the game
balanced for their current high-level players, they also need to be
wary of the younger players that are just getting their feet wet in the
style="font-style: italic;">Like this
encounter, I thought I'd initially made a mistake when I deleted my old
From a journalistic standpoint, reviewing expansions is equally
treacherous. Instead of getting a game that you need to play from
beginning to end – or first level to end game –
you’re often forced to play through several parts of the old
world to experience the new world, especially if you’re
playing as a new race or class. You’ll go through many of
your old motions, and it’s difficult to judge whether the
game is still as entertaining as the original version once was.
This was the dilemma I faced when I picked up style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars: Factions
ArenaNet and began a new character in that world. It had only been a
few months since I last took a trip into the green, opulent fields of
running throughout the world with my immense
Warrior/Necromancer, Micajah Hammerfall. Yet here I was with an
expansion in front of me that needed reviewing.
As I described previously, Guild
Wars: Factions is a game
that’s created for both the old and new player in mind. As a
standalone experience, players don’t need to have purchased
Guild Wars: Prophecies
(the original game) in order to play style="font-style: italic;">Factions;
but I’d recommend it in order to access all the varieties of
PvP content and skills that are available in the original game. In
order to get the full experience of Factions, it was suggested that I start from the beginning (level one), and thus I was faced with the
conundrum many old players encounter when returning to games that they enjoy.
Luckily, I had prepared myself ahead of time for this situation, and although I was tempted to simply stick with my old character and explore
the new area that had been opened for me, I resisted. Instead, I gritted my death,
closed my eyes, and deleted the old warrior. Oh the sacrifices I make
for the Ten Ton hammer readers!
After getting over the sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach, I looked up and there it was, an empty character slot
just waiting to be filled with whatever new character appeared in the
slot. Despite the frightening feeling that I’d made a
mistake, I went through the character creation process anew and began
entering the realm of Guild
Two New Options
Instantly upon hopping into the character creation screen, veteran
players will notice several changes in the Factions set up. First off,
two new professions have been added to the core set in the game: the
Assassin and the Ritualist. Both of these classes provide abilities
that were not prevalent in the first set of professions in style="font-style: italic;">Prophecies.
The Assassin is a master of stealth, secrecy and damage-per-second.
Like a Thief or Rogue in other fantasy games, Assassins live for the
quick kill and meeting one on the field of battle is a rough experience
for any Guild Wars
player. Several abilities make the Assassin a
notorious combatant, including the Shadow Step skill that lets them
teleport into and out of battle with incredibly
expediency…if you blink, you may be dead already. Also like
their Rogue and Thief counterparts, the Assassin has fairly weak armor
and cannot withstand many direct hits and ending their lives quickly.
The other new option, the Ritualist, is an interesting character in his
own right. Operating similarly to the Necromancer, the Ritualist can
conjure spirits to fight at his side and help him defeat the enemies
that he encounters. Unlike the Necromancer, however, the Ritualist is
also an amazing support character with skills that augment the weapons
of his teammates and enhance his own ability to deal damage to his
style="font-style: italic;">Factions includes
several new creatures, like the bird-like Tengu.
While I wanted to experience this new version of
style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars, I also
wanted to center myself on a character role that I was already familiar
with that didn’t cause me too much initial confusion.
Compromising, I choose Warrior as my primary profession, but opted for
the Ritualist as my secondary selection.
Rounding out the character creation section, I found that most of the
other options available to players are the same as style="font-style: italic;">Prophecies, albeit
with an Asian twist. Unbeknownst to me until my initial foray into the
world, Guild Wars:
Factions takes heavily from ancient Asian
traditions. While Prophecies
was mainly a European product, Factions
definitely explores the cultures of Asia with thrilling pagodas,
incredibly rugged terrain, and multiple references to jade.
Put the Pedal to the
Upon entering the world of Factions,
you’re immediately put
through the same sort of tutorial scenarios that you initially
encountered with the original Guild
Wars, although you are given an
option to bypass these guides. In these initial sections,
you’ll be introduced to Master Togo, an influential member of
the world that serves as your “instructor”
throughout your first twenty levels in style="font-style: italic;">Factions. This
pretty much means
that Togo will provide you with the majority of the
“storyline” quests and serve as an ally in a number
of the more essential instances.
While the storyline of the game is sound and spattered with hints of
intrigue, the pacing of the game is almost too fast to really catch
everything that is occurring. It took me only five days of gaming 1-2
hours a day to reach level fifteen and I’ll probably reach
level cap within the week. But judging from the current plotline of the
story, I’m only part of the way through the actual storyline
of the game, which takes you all along the coastline of Cantha. By
level 14-15 you’ll still be on the training island, and by
the time you reach level twenty you may only be halfway through the
entire plot of the main storyline.
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