Jan 10 2007
With an absence of monthly fees, stand-alone campaigns, and a unique skill system, the Guild Wars series is a notable departure from the norm for online RPGs. In fact, it departs with so many conventions it's difficult to pin the game down. Although the developers don't call it a MMORPG, it is often classified as such, and it does feel like one at times. So far they have released Prophecies (the original game), Factions, and Nightfall. This time you must save Elona from Warmarshel Varesh, who intends to awaken a long-forgotten god that will plunge the lands into an epic apocalypse.
Like other Guild Wars titles, Nightfall is an entire game that doesn't require the other campaigns. If you have more than one, however, you will find that they tie together and your characters can travel between them by completing certain quests.
Nightfall's setting stretches across jungles and deserts inspired by Ancient Egypt, many of which are quite stunning. The game's graphics have always been excellent, and Nightfall is at least as visually appealing as its predecessors, if not more so. ArenaNet, the developers, also deserve credit for their outstanding game technology, which makes Guild Wars one of the most streamlined multiplayer games on the market, from installing the software and registering an account to downloading updates and finding your friends. Server outages, resets, and disconnects seem almost non-existent compared to other games of this kind.
Like Factions, Nightfall introduces 2 new professions, in this case the Dervish and the Paragon, to the game's 6 main professions. The Dervish is a scythe-weilding warrior with some unique area of effect (AOE) attacks. Paragons throw spears and have various health buffs to assist their teammates in battle.
It's evident that, the more professions they add to Guild Wars, the more these professions are going to start resembling each other. In the end it always comes back to the rudimentary tank/healer dynamic, but the additional professions in Nightfall are nicely implemented and fun to play. They appear to be more popular than the professions that came with Factions.
Given that you can also choose a secondary profession for your character, there are a lot of possibilities for character builds, especially if you have both Nightfall and Factions. It can be a little overwhelming for beginners, so researching a few character builds before selecting a sub-class can be helpful.
New classes mean new skills, of which there were already a tremendous variety in Guild Wars. Since you can only take 8 skills at a time into combat, a significant part of the strategy is deciding which skill sets your party should take into a mission. Expect to spend some time twinking these choices, because you have access to your Heroes attributes and skills as well.
The drawback to the growing number of skills in the game is that they are getting increasingly complex. For example, one Dervish skill starts with a blast of AOE holy damage, followed by 30 seconds in which all of your attacks do holy damage, and ends with 3 seconds of AOE fire damage. Using a skill such as this effectively can be pretty tricky compared to straightfoward heals and power attacks. You can't help wondering if they're all really useful, but then again, finding a good collection of skills is part of the fun.
Heroes at Your Command
Guild Wars has always had NPC henchmen you could use to fill out your party on missions, but Nightfall takes this concept a step further. It introduces a new kind of henchmen called Heroes, which are unlocked as you progress through the storyline and can then be added to your group in any town. Unlike henchmen, Heroes level alongside your character and you have full access to their skills and equipment. You can outfit them and tweak their builds in much the same way that you can with your own character.