Guild Wars – Strengths and weaknesses

Just archiving a post I wrote on Q23 with some comments about the limits and strengths of Guild Wars. The main trait is that both strengths and weaknesses have the same origin, so they are the result of compromises that it’s now impossible to undo.

It’s also an indirect answer to some comments on F13.

Mark Crump:
Let me rephrase. The art execution is amazing. It’s the style after the world goes to hell I didn’t like. I’m not big on this post-apocalyptic theme.

GW has the actual “advantage” (not really an advantage in some cases) to be “themeless”. This is why they can basically slap in every kind of crazy setting they want.

Even the name of the game (Guild Wars) is intended to put the focus on the system more than the “world”.

It was designed from the very beginning as a “portable” system. So you could not like the setting, but they have all the possibilities to release different expansions to explore much different possibilities.

Which is exactly what they will do. It’s one of the strengths of this game.

That’s also what I wrote when I first “reviewed” the game.

This is a game with a *huge* potential and from what I read about the expansion they are determined to really explore what they can do (some of the ideas are impressive and I hope the execution will be good).

Sadly, there are a few limits about how the game was developed at its roots that basically cut its legs:

The complete lack of persistence (some already suggested the possibility to open “town portals”, or the possibility to resume the mission if you crash or disconnect, as I did in the previous post)
Bad controls (bad feeling of movement/animations. characters enrooted on the terrain as in SWG and sliding as on ice. Jerky movements and rubberbanding)
The labyrinthine structure of all areas (you aren’t really free to move, but you are bound to a course, often in a frustrating way. Most of the world represented graphically is just scenery that you cannot access or relate to)

These only seem superficial concerns but they affect directly the perception of the game. The game feels artificial, clunky and limiting more because of these controls and the basic engineering of the game than the lack of persistence. You pass most of the time bumping against impassable barriers (and rubberbanding wildly) while trying to figure out how to reach a place (or figure out if it’s actually reachable).

WoW feels SO MUCH BETTER, because you can actually explore the world. Which means that you have the control about where you can go. The world is physically there and consistent. Not just graphically. GW feels so much more “on rails” compared to WoW. Bound to an adventure-style scheme where the exploration (as: the player free to define his own patterns of movement and interaction) is severely limited. So the graphical awe of the game is somewhat confined as just a backdrop that could have been so much more consistent and relevant. Making coincide their best resource (the artistic sheer power, the stunning environments and truly visionary look) with their biggest limit (the *use* of those environments, a lack of true, satisfactory exploration). If a “space” is a spatial perception, in GW this spatial perception is always deluded, negated or betrayed.

The point is that they know about these limits. They know that they depend on the basic structure of the game, so they are here to stay. It’s not about “bad” design but about choices that were made at the very beginning on the project and that represent its foundation. Exclusive compromises that needed to be taken obligatorily in a way or another. So the point is about trying to focus on what they actually CAN do, on their resources and advantages. And it seems they are determined to go down that path because the expansion is looking amazing (and I don’t mean just the graphic).

Even if the game leaves that “yes, but” taste. Like if there’s something feeling wrong even if you cannot really put your finger on it.

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