Guild Wars: Fourth Anniversary Event Recap

By Reuben Waters -

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 Wars 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.

Fourth Anniversary in Lion's Arch

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 surpassed 6 million units sold, it’s clear that the developers at ArenaNet have crafted 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 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.

Roller Beetle Racing 1

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.

Roller Beetle Racing 2

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.

Menagerie Map

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 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.

Pet Pack

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 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. 
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