It’s hard to believe that four years have passed since I took
my first official steps on Tyrian soil. I say
‘official’ steps due to the highly successful Beta
Weekend Events leading up to the April 28th launch date for href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/47"
that helped cement my Unreal clan’s decision to throw down
our guns and pick up staves and swords, determined to reign supreme in
the Hall of Heroes just as we had on the war torn Unreal battlefields
previously. This was an exciting time; a whole new virtual world
sprawled out before us unlike anything the MMO market had ever seen.
While my initial guild inevitably shattered into splinter groups long
before we could claim the highest rankings on the leaderboards, the
Tyrian landscape continued to grow with a series of expertly crafted
stand-alone campaigns, each of them providing a complete microcosm of
weapons, armors and skills unique to their particular setting. Having
recently announced that the franchise has href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/67198" target="_blank">surpassed
6 million units
sold, it’s clear that the developers at ArenaNet
one of the most beloved fantasy settings in online gaming.
Having been there to witness the start of the phenomenon, when it was
announced that Guild Wars
would be hosting an in-game celebration to
mark the fourth anniversary I knew it was an event I wouldn’t
want to miss. Besides, the seasonal events in style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars have
been some of my favorites; just ask the friendly NPCs who are kind
enough to hold onto my massive collection of hats, masks and zombie
face paint that’s been handed out as rewards over the years.
Speaking of rewards, there were plenty to be had during the week-long
event, including a fresh batch of birthday miniatures awarded to each
character turning 4 years old at midnight on the 28th. Naturally I
logged directly in with my very first Necro that I created way back on
launch day in 2005. Checking my inventory, sure enough there was a
shiny new box there waiting to be opened which contained an awesome new
Miniature Nian that I quickly placed in my Hall of Monuments.
The Hall itself has undergone some minor
improvements along with the
anniversary update, most notably by letting players display their
achievements across the entire account rather than by individual
characters. The old display option can be toggled on at any time by
speaking to Kimmes the Historian, but for those players whose
achievements and collections are spread across multiple characters, the
new display option is certainly a welcome improvement.
Rather than create a stand-alone event for the celebration, the fourth
anniversary festivities instead marked a return of the Shing Jea
Boardwalk, including the light-hearted PvP of the Dragon Arena and my
own personal favorite mini-game Rollerbeetle Racing. During previous
festivals I’ve been known to while away entire weekends
racing around the Rollerbeetle track, and the fourth anniversary
celebration was certainly no exception!
What the celebration may have lacked in terms of new event content, it
certainly made up for by introducing a lengthy list of game updates
across a number of key areas. The most obvious of these is a new zone
called the Zaishen Menagerie, accessed through the Battle Isles. Think
of the Menagerie as an extension of the Hall of Monuments concept, a
key difference being that this is a truly massive outdoor area with a
focus specifically on the various types of charmable pets available to
characters with a Ranger primary or secondary. Previously, the only way
for players to charm a new pet was to travel to one of a handful of
locations and speak to a trainer who would free up the slot. Now
players not only have a means of charming the same pets again, but can
do so at any previously unlocked evolutionary state to boot.
Logging in with my Ranger, I quickly swapped in Charm Animal on my
hotbar to take Rover the Raven for a tour of the Menagerie. Speaking
with the Saishen Keeper allowed me to add Rover to my collection of
pets, as well as view complete lists of every pet type available across
the three main campaigns and the Eye of the North expansion, even
providing some basic information on where they could be found should I
want to attempt charming any of them. From there I scampered off to see
where my freshly added raven would appear on the island, a process made
much easier thanks to a series of Master of Winds NPCs
interspersed throughout the zone who cast a buff called Windborne Speed
when you approach. Normal movement enhancing buffs can also be used
here, but I found the NPCs a nice touch considering the overall expanse
of the area.
Ascending a small hill, I soon discovered
a group of nests which were
now populated with a group of ravens that will be available to charm
again at any point in the future. Each pet type has a similar home
within the zone, which I imagine looks fairly impressive the more tamed
pets you add to your collection.
For those players who may not have the time to track down each
individual pet type and follow the three possible evolution paths,
ArenaNet also added a new Pet Unlock Pack to the online store which
opens up all 26 pets across all evolution paths. A few other notable
items have been added to the store as well, including such popular MMO
options as Character Name Changes, Xuntai Storage Panes (in style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars
you can never have enough storage space!) and even Makeover Packs which
allow you to alter your character’s appearance using elements
across all campaigns for the first time. For those of you who feel like
taking a walk on the wild side there’s also an Extreme
Makeover which allows for gender changes.
Rounding out the content additions is a group of three repeatable
Zaishen Challenge Quests that can be obtained at the Great Temple of
Balthazar. Mission quests send you to replay storyline missions from
each campaign, Bounty quests will send you to kill specific bosses at
various locations and lastly PvP quests challenge you to win battles in
various PvP types. The offered quests change daily for each type, and,
depending on the specific quest selected, can reward players with a
combination of gold, experience, faction and Zaishen Copper Coins which
can be redeemed for things such as consumable items and scrolls.
One of the cooler items available through the Zaishen Coins is the
newly added Equipment Packs. These add a new bag slot to your
character’s inventory and come in a number of different
sizes. The pack can only hold armor and weapons, but if
you’re anything like me you no doubt have giant piles of
green weapons and elite armor sets that you’ve been shuffling
around, so the added storage space for these items is a massive
improvement in that regard.
Looking forward, it’s hard to see anything less than a bright
future for the Guild
Wars franchise. The recent content upgrades are a
welcome addition to a truly unique and expansive game world. While
specific details on href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/183"
Wars 2 remain scarce, the original game that
turned the notion of subscription fees and lengthy patching processes
on its ears is still going strong.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars Game Page.