Wars, yet another online RPG due out next year, shows just how
determined NCsoft is to attack every angle of the crowded genre. On the
surface it appears just as any other high fantasy title. Yes, youll
find no shortage of swords, armor, magic, and monsters in Guild Wars. So
how does this represent a new angle you ask? The answer to that question
wont be found in gameplay movies or screenshots, but in the mechanics
and business model behind the game.
concrete storyline has been pinned down as of yet in Guild Wars. Some
sort of plot must be in place, though, because the developers promise
mission-based gameplay along with numerous quests available. As the name
implies, Guild Wars focuses on competitive play between groups.
Formation of guilds is encouraged and rewarded. As you grow you receive
distinction, much like the guilds in the Dark Ages of Camelot series.
Even though the brunt of the game falls on conflict between players,
developers assure us that a single player can find a fulfilling career
Wars will offer the obligatory classes such as warrior, mage, ranger,
The E3 build showed the ability of players to meld two classes into
a hybrid, most notably the ranger/warrior class. Predictably each class
has its own weapons and skills it is proficient in as well. So whats
new here? Whats the angle? Well start by talking about the skills in
Guild Wars. This game is all about instant gratification and easy
learning curves. The developers shun "treadmill gaming," gameplay
rewarded only after hours and hours of mindless leveling. The skill
system reflects this philosophy. Skills do not level up with experience.
Once you buy it, its yours and you dont have to pump vast amounts of
time into making your new skill worthwhile. This puts an interesting
spin on strategy. The point is no longer who spent more time dumping
experience points into their skills, but rather the skills your opponent
has and what you can use to counter him or her. The skill system should
also cut down on the amount of "clones" you see running around. It wont
pay to be a mage like everyone else so youll have to really dive into
the skills and experiment to see what gives you the edge.
feather in Guild Wars cap is its seamless technology. Seamless has
become quite a popular word in the world of online gaming, but the
developers behind this game are taking it further. For starters, no time
consuming patches to download. The developer I spoke with said that hed
be able to isolate the fix they want to perform and do it while youre
in the game. Chances are you wont even know they were in-game because
you werent even in the area. Simply put, you will not have to download
a patch that doesnt even directly affect you. Another aspect of Guild
Wars seamless play is the fact that you can jump from server to server.
If you have a friend in another server that you would really like to
hook up with, then go right ahead, the servers are seamless baby.
about that whole business model I mentioned earlier? Well of course I
have to save the best for last and in the world of online gaming this is
a bombshell. Guild Wars will require NO monthly fee. It is a bold move
on NCsofts part, which could make or break Guild Wars. If they are able
to pull if off then we may see a dramatic explosion in the online RPG
audience. We all know that person who says theyd love to play, but just
cant rationalize paying ten bucks a month after theyve already bought
the dumb game. Those people add up and theyre exactly who NCsoft wants
to capture. Imagine, too, the potential for large-scale warfare since
you and your friends can hook up no matter what server theyre on. That
coupled with Guild Wars easy to pick up and use gameplay promises an
interesting future. Just how far in the future is Guild Wars? The game
is deep in closed alpha testing as of now with a final release slated
sometime in the third quarter of 2004.