Guild Wars: Factions – Ohh, shiny

I logged back in Guild Wars after a LONG time and… wow. Just wow.

The new character selection screen is spiffy, the oriental music in the background charming and I toyed for a while with the character creation to see the two new classes. Ohh, sooooo pretty.

I think I’m going to enjoying playing “dressing up” more than the actual game.

The new “girls” are very, very pretty. We even have the ninja with no boobs. And the mystical ritualist with the mask covering the eyes and belly tattoo ;) I’m truly fascinated.

“Guild Wars: Factions” is the new expansion for the game that will be released only later this year (around June). Despite the press releases we don’t know yet the precise features that will be added.

We know for sure that it will introduce two new character classes: the no-boobs assassins and the “I can’t see shit”, mystical ritualists. But to figure out what’s beyond the other features I had to dig the informations some more. The press release only says: “new regions, professions, skills, missions, and monsters, along with expanded options for both Cooperative and Player-versus-Player (PvP) play, and enhanced features for guilds”. But it doesn’t explain in what these actually consist. A new continent named “Battle Isles” is going to be added, probably both for the new PvE campaign and new PvP stuff.

Between the new features there seem to be a new “PvP” training mode where you’ll have to beat a series of simulated PvP encounters (against AI, so not really PvP) to unblock progressively new challenges. This is really a smart idea because it could improve the accessibility of the game and add some progression that was lacking in the original game.

All high-level PvP has been moved to the Battle Isles, which can be reached using the ship off the coast of Lion’s Arch. On the Battle Isles, you’ll find a new explorable area with Training Arenas, NPCs who can help you test all aspects of your character’s build, updates to existing PvP Arenas, and all-new Zaishen Challenges, where you and your friends can practice against teams of computer AI opponents. All of this content is now organized into a natural progression, so that players can experience the basics of PvP before moving on to advanced challenges.

New computer AI challenges:

* Training Arenas: a series of four maps designed to teach the basics of PvP and Arena Combat. Beat all four maps to unlock the Zaishen Challenge on your account.

* Zaishen Challenge: an Arena where you can play the computer AI team of your choice on the map of your choice. Beat five different computer AI teams to unlock the Zaishen Elite Challenge.

* Zaishen Elite Challenge: the ultimate AI challenge. See how far you can get in a series of random Arena matches against increasingly difficult AI teams.

All this should be available for free right now. Both for current players (just log in) and those who never played the game (go get the preview key). Only till Monday, though. So or you try it now or you’ll have to wait the actual release (even if I’m sure there will be more previews as the launch approaches).

Between the new spiffy things they added while I wasn’t playing there’s a new “observer mode” easily accessible through the menu that lets you watch the biggest PvP encounters in the game. Like a TV where you can follow the activity of the catass guilds. These matches are available only 15 minutes after they start (to prevent cheating) and will remain available for another 15 minutes after they are over, which is sad because it could have been useful to archive some of the battles to study later with some more attention.

Anyway, this observer mode is really interesting. The hugest 8vs8 battles in the bigger arenas are truly crazy. There is a SERIOUS OVERLOAD of shiny effects that would made you insane if you were actually trying to understand what was going on. But it’s a beauty for the eyes. Really, really shiny and charming. The graphic, animations and teamwork during the battles are all great. It’s enjoyable. You have time to appreciate the details. That female ranger animation while shooting with the bow is incredible.

Oh, and for some reason the melee henchmen are now fat.

Two funny quotes from F13:
“Is there a “How to make hawt CG chicks” manual all companies NC Soft publishes have to read? The female art of all of NC Soft’s games is fucking awesome.”

“A goodly porttion of GW’s art staff is female, and women know how to make women look hawt better than guys do. This is also, likely, why the guys are all such rockstar prettyboys.”

Lots of better infos here. MMODIG also gives some coverage.

Btw, the WINNER idea they had about the expansion is this one:

Each new chapter will be a stand-alone game, including Factions.

This means that new players can pick up the game box without worrying about getting the original version as well. Most of us “observers” of the industry were sceptical about GW business model because you would expect that each expansion would sell progressively less. So not so viable in the long term without the subscription fees. But releasing each of these expansions as a standalone game is an interesting decision that could work really well.

And dragons. And a presumed “territorial conquest”:

There’s plenty of new content being added to the game with Factions that Guild Wars fans will undoubtedly want to get a hold of. Some of these are simply concepts while others are more “tangible.” Players will now be able to form alliances between guilds. These allies will be able to visit each others’ guild halls and can gain control of cities and towns on the new continent Cantha by taking part in new alliance missions. These new mission types pit multiple teams up against each other to control resource points. Victors earn faction points which will help determine control of towns and outposts.

Along those lines, Guild Wars now introduces factions. Players and guilds can align with one of two warring factions. At that point, alliances can gain and control territory by taking part in faction battles which are large-scale strategic PvP experiences. The outcome of these large scale battles will also help determine the progress of the war between the rival factions.

Other new game types include challenge missions which are cooperative and have scoring objectives. The game will track and display personal bests and high scores for display in-game. Lastly, elite missions will be available for the most powerful folks in the game. These are the most challenging cooperative areas in Guild Wars yet.

– New battlefields will include fighting on rooftops of a densely packed city, huge temples built on the back of giant tortoises, tunnels carved in the jade sea, and in the elaborate hollows of a petrified forest.

– 55 maps to try and gain control of

– 300 new skills total, 90 of which are new elite skills
– 100 new creatures
– New faces and hairstyles
– New armor, pets, weapons and items

Fuck. I didn’t expect GW to still have something to say. And it seems to have A LOT. I want.

If I got it right the game world will be divided in three parts:
– The old PvE campaign
– The “Battle Isles” that will group all the current and new PvP arenas and training zones
– “Cantha”, the asian-style new area that should contain both the brand new PvE campaign and the “conquest PvP”

The PvP arenas also seem grouped together instead of remaining as separate instances. This means that you should now join a general instance and then the maps will be be cycled instead of repeating the same over and over. It seems a very good idea since it will consolidate the PvP content, making it more varied and bringing the players together.

“Read more” to see a few more screenshots I’ve taken of the two new classes and areas, some other showing the shinies battles and some leftovers in my /screens directory from the previous year.





















































































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