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 Guild
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.
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 Guild Wars have always 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 Guild 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.