style="margin: 2px; width: 210px; float: right;">

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/13836" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Guild Wars 01"
src="/image/view/13836">

Ever
since the Prophecies campaign hit the ground running in the spring
of 2005, the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/47"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars
franchise has continued to evolve in new and interesting ways,
consistently defying industry norms and carving an impressively large
chunk of the MMOG pie to the tune of 6 million units sold. If not for
the debatable status of the title belonging to the MMOG club proper, style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars
would only play second fiddle to Blizzard’s rampaging WoW
beast in the western market. That said, it should come as no surprise
that the number of new titles featuring a lobby-based instancing
approach with a strong focus on competitive arena gameplay is clearly
on the upswing. Whether or not any of these upcoming games will have
the staying power of ArenaNet’s runaway hit remains to be
seen.



A few weeks ago, style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars
fans were treated to a repeat of the popular Wintersday in July
celebration, complete with PvP snowball fights and more Frosty Tonics
than you can shake a Candy Cane Shard at. Being a long-time fan of the
game’s seasonal events, I brought my Ritualist out of
hibernation and have been spamming a long trail of spirits across Tyria
and beyond ever since.



One thing that instantly stood out for me is that while each new
campaign has added a significant amount of new content and meaningful
gameplay mechanics, one of the series’ main strengths lies in
the plethora of new ways to approach the available content. For
example, Nicholas the Traveler and his trusty dolyak Professor
Yakkington have become a weekly Easter egg hunt of sorts, as players
scour zones to discover his new location and which collectible items he
wants in exchange for one of his random gifts. Last week the good
Professor gobbled up a few bowls of Skalefin Soup and Nicholas rewarded
me with a hefty stack of ale and other assorted consumables, and this
week the process begins anew with another 5 chances at a rare or unique
item.



Beyond
the Breach




Speaking of rare items, I also spent a good amount of time exploring a
couple of older but more challenging (and proportionately rewarding)
zones, the Underworld and the Fissure of Woe. While both locations have
been farming hot spots for years now thanks to rare crafting drops that
fetch a few platinum each at the local NPC traders, I was more
interested in seeing what kind of trouble I could get into soloing
without the support of heroes or henchmen and otherwise push the limits
of what my Ritualist was capable of.



Not one to take the easy road, I opted to stick to the Hard Mode
versions of the zones, which is another of the game’s unique
ways of keeping older content perfectly viable even for skilled vets.
Truthfully I haven’t had as much fun soloing in an MMO since
I last played my necromancer in EQ. Sure I died more than a few times
which can sting a little considering that it instantly boots you from
the zone requiring you to plunk down another hefty entrance fee to dive
back in, but in my book it was well worth it. While I wasn’t
necessarily even interested in loot (trust me, my storage account is
already stuffed full as it is), I did manage to snag a few Skill Tomes
which are another feature that was introduced with Hard Mode that
allows you to learn a skill that’s already been unlocked on
your account. While not as varied as questing for skills was in the
original Prophecies
campaign, obtaining them solo in zones initially intended as a
challenge for a full group of skilled players was easily just as fun.




Old
is New Again



style="margin: 2px; width: 210px; float: right;">

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/13833" target="_blank"> style="width: 200px; float: right;" alt="Eye of the North"
src="/image/view/13833">

If you spell style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars backwards
you get Sraw Dliug – in other words utter nonsense.
Coincidentally, that’s also what you get when you attempt to
play most MMOGs in reverse. No, I’m not talking about making
your avatar only walk backwards, or even proposing some hare-brained
scheme to allow players to level in the opposite direction once they
hit the cap. Even if I were, the industry collectively dropped the
notion of de-leveling via XP loss long ago. Chilling campfire tales of
the ghosts of MMOs’ past may be fun, though they
don’t typically translate all too well into an awesome
gameplay experience.



Sometimes though, revisiting old content can be just as richly
rewarding as continually pushing forward in a purely linear fashion. A
perfect example of this would be the daily Zaishen quests introduced
with Guild
Wars
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/67514" target="_blank">fourth
anniversary update which offer a
little something for everyone. Accessed through the Great Temple of
Balthazar and rotating daily, these quests come in one of three
distinct flavors; Missions, Bounties and PvP Combat. Not only can
players earn a nice chunk of XP and gold upon completion, but a new
reward structure was also introduced with the update that allows
players to collect Zaishen coins which can be used to purchase a broad
range of items. Even if you’re not interested in consumables
and skill tomes, the new Equipment Packs offer a much needed boost in
personal inventory space. If you’re the type of player that
obsesses over obtaining elite armor sets and unique weapon drops, these
new packs are certainly worth every gold Zaishen coin.



I consider ArenaNet’s implementation of these daily quests to
be a stroke of true genius – another mechanic on the long
list that I’m patiently waiting to see the rest of the
industry catch on to. The concept of daily quests has been around for a
couple of years now, but once again the developers of style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars
have shown a unique approach to a mechanic that’s otherwise
become synonymous with faction grinding. While new items are always a
boon to players, one thing I’ve found to be equally rewarding
is how older towns and outposts are once again seeing revitalized
interest. Not only does this make finding groups a much easier
experience, but it also helps spread out the critical mass of players
into zones that have been otherwise largely abandoned as each new
stand-alone campaign was introduced.



The only real sticking point here is that to take full advantage of
these quests you’ll need to own all 3 campaigns as well as
the Eye
of the North
expansion, since
the daily rotation may send you to any of their locations for the
Zaishen Missions and Bounties. The PvP side of things tends to be a
little more inclusive, at least if your main focus is on the
game’s more competitive aspects.



Call
of the North




In the coming weeks I’ll be spending more time rediscovering
Tyria, in particular delving into the depths of the Far Shiverpeaks in
an attempt to unlock more trophies to round out my collection in the
Hall of Monuments. The Hall itself is another excellent example of
encouraging players to seek out adventure across the available content
regardless of when it was initially introduced. To me that’s
one of the hallmarks of great game design, and just one of the many
reasons why style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars
is certainly worth a second look.


To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Sardu 1
Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.

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