Guild Wars: Factions – April 28 release

From the press release:

ArenaNet® , developer of the award-winning online roleplaying game Guild Wars®, and NCsoft® Corporation, the world’s leading developer and publisher of online computer games, announce today the release date of Guild Wars FactionsTM, the hotly anticipated second game release from the critically acclaimed studio. Guild Wars Factions will be available in stores worldwide April 28, 2006.

Guild Wars Factions takes place on the Asian-inspired continent of Cantha, where new and existing Guild Wars players join an epic quest to defeat an ancient evil and save a war-torn empire. Roleplaying and competitive player-versus-player gamers alike will be able to join together in guild alliances to take control of territory and determine the fate of Cantha. New scored challenge missions and strategic competitive missions allow players to test their roleplaying prowess and earn the right for their alliance to take control of cities, towns and outposts. Large-scale alliance battles pit teams from opposing factions against each other in a struggle to conquer new territory and redraw the battle lines across the continent of Cantha. New elite missions allow the most skilled players exclusive access to areas designed to be the ultimate cooperative challenge.

While Guild Wars Factions is a standalone product that does not require Guild Wars to play, gamers with Guild Wars accounts who purchase Guild Wars Factions will be able to play in both campaigns with their existing characters and even gain extra character slots.

The extra char slot is all I want to hear. I also expect the expansion to be available for digital download the day after it is out in the stores, so I’ll wait for it.

Previous coverage here.

I still would like to know more details about the new types of gameplay and all the new features. Something explaining clearly all the new content that is going to be added instead of generic claims.

From now onward there should be an expansion every six months, with the next one scheduled for a late October release:

Jeff Strain: each of these new campaigns has an entire year of development, from a full development team, and they’re released on staggered six month cycles.

Last October we had staffed up to the point where we had parallel teams – overlapping, staggered development teams. So each of these new campaigns has an entire year of development, from a full development team, and they’re released on staggered six month cycles.

For example, Factions has been in development since the say we shipped Guild Wars. Campaign III has been in development since about November of last year, and is already far far down the pipe.

Jeff Strain:the lead designer, James Phinney, who was also the lead designer of Starcraft. He arbitrates both and makes sure that no team is doing something that screws over the other one, or fundamentally violates the core mechanics of the game. He stays on top of that.

while Factions is a standalone title in so much as you don’t require the original game to play it, there will only ever be one game client. As such, whatever version of Guild Wars you own, you’ll be able to play the game, with various unique aspects available to owners of particular campaigns. So you could be playing the original game and see characters from Factions. Furthermore, the technological advances of the most recent campaign will have an impact on every version of the game.

Jeff Strain: Five years from now we could be at Guild Wars Campaign 10 and the graphics engine would be state-of-the-art, not a five-year-old engine.

Jeff Strain: It costs us far less to operate Guild Wars than a traditional MMO. The technology team behind our server technology is the team that built the original Battle.net. At that time, there was no broadband, so the whole thing was built around 28.8 modem assumptions – so we learned a tremendous amount about latency masking and bandwidth optimisation. When we built the core network technology behind Arena.net, of which Guild Wars is one game that uses that technology, it was really designed with those principles in mind. Even though we knew that broadband was growing and that most people would have it, we wanted to make a game that was very bandwidth-light, because we knew from the beginning that we were not going to charge a subscription fee, and that – bandwidth – is one of your primary operating costs. Obviously you pay for the server infrastructure up front, but your ongoing cost is bandwidth, and we use substantially less bandwidth than almost any online game out there. So, right up front, we’ve cut our support cost that way.

Some other vague details about the new gameplay modes:

It’s a PvP map in which two teams go up against each other, with victory secured by a mythical creature transporting matter from one area to another. First to 15 wins. We had some kind of weird tall thing on our side, whereas the enemy had a giant turtle.

brand new high-level gameplay elements in the form of a constantly moving battle line between the two titular factions, and new systems which force role-playing focused players and combat-focused players to cooperate in order to win certain objectives for their Guilds.

There are some preview screenshots that looks absolutely great. Some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen. This game is worth buying even to just walk around and gape at the environments. Awe-inspiring.

And japanese dragons.

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