Working As Intended: Ten lessons I learned from classic Guild Wars

Guild Wars -- the first Guild Wars -- celebrates its 10th birthday this week alongside several of my characters who are equally old. I originally picked up Guild Wars as a diversion from World of Warcraft, and at the time, I liked everything about it but actually playing it. Pre-Searing felt like home; it was pastoral and lovely with a haunting score. But back in 2005, the game past the Searing was difficult to traverse in a small party, let alone solo, and the deeper into the game I got, the less I liked it. In fact, I didn't Ascend in 2005. I gave up on the grueling PUGs right around the time I got to the Crystal Desert.

But I went back, and went back again, and eventually I fell in love. That's just the first of Guild Wars' many lessons. Here are 10 things I learned from Guild Wars -- in honor of its 10 years of fun.

#10: Always give MMOs a second chance

MMORPGs change. You change. Of my top five MMOs of all time, every one of them was enriched with time and age, and I enjoyed myself far more after leaving and coming back. Guild Wars grew up along with me. It added landmasses, campaigns, classes, skills, gear, stories, missions, dungeons, and a parade of significant quality-of-life improvements that I would have missed out on if I'd assumed the game had stayed the same forever and never given it a second chance to capture my heart.

#9: Good characters make bad stories compelling anyway

I won't stand before you today and proclaim that Guild Wars' storytelling was amazeballs. It has some truly ridiculous plotlines. Prince Rurik? Shiro? More funny than serious. Still, given its 2005 timestamp, the story's not bad at all, and it had its work cut it for it besides -- no MMO to date has truly solved the problem of shoehorning millions of people into a lone hero's journey. It did a spectacular job with the available tech; it had multiplayer cutscenes that told a story back when most other MMOs were just shoving players toward the next static quest-giver at best. And while Rurik is a punchline 10 years later, other characters weren't. There were heroes -- like my favorites, Koss, Margrid, and Vekk -- whose names and personalities I remember even when I can't recall what I named my own Assassin. Compelling companions increase my fondness for the game tenfold.

#8: Trading makes me as happy as crafting does

Guild Wars' crafting system is not a crafting system; it's a destroying system combined with an NPC button that turns stuff into better stuff. That should have turned me, a hardcore crafter, off to the game, but instead what I found in the cracks between the mechanics was an entertaining player-driven trading system. Sure, I might have preferred less Spamadan and fewer trips to out-of-game auction websites, but I managed to buy and sell hundreds of weapons and other drops over the course of my years in play, netting myself a large fortune mostly by my lonesome. Had I stuck to my crafting haunts, I might not have focused as much on trade and might not have realized just how much I enjoy it independent of crafting.

#7: 'Massive' isn't about the numbers

Guild Wars was not marketed as an MMORPG, even though I will forever argue it was one. Outside of instanced hubs, the party size for most adventure zones and missions -- also instanced -- was eight. Travel between places you'd already visited was accomplished with a few clicks on a map. Most of the time, you were hanging out with a max of seven other people, raids and PvP notwithstanding. And you know what? That game felt massive. It felt huge. The map and the zones always managed to make me feel like a tiny speck on a vast landmass, and the world encouraged people to go out and explore it, not just with exploration titles and scenic vistas but with elite capping, rare boss drops, and special NPC crafters and collectors tucked away in unusual corners. Massive really isn't about open-worlds or population numbers. Massive is a feeling.

#6: Medieval European fantasy is stale

Prior to Guild Wars, few Western studios had put significant effort into building their fantasy MMO worlds upon anything but Tolkien and D&D. ArenaNet threw itself into working distinctly multicultural settings into the game -- feebly, in my estimation, with Prophecies' Krytans -- but then with Factions' East Asian, Gothic, and Greek islander stylings, and Nightfall's North African motifs. Utopia, the canceled campaign that was recycled into Eye of the North, was meant to evoke indigenous cultures in Central and South America, and you can still see its influence in Asuran garb and architecture in both Guild Wars and its sequel. It was refreshing eyecandy, darnit, and I wish more studios would borrow from the real-world cultural palette right in front of their eyes.

#5: Soloing can be just as challenging as raid content

Soloing -- or rather, playing alone with your henchies and heroes filling out your party -- was a point of contention within the Guild Wars community for many years. It probably still is today, now that everyone can play the game with seven heroes and no real need for another player through the vast majority of content. Regardless of your opinion on how that affected the community, Guild Wars demonstrated that it is in fact possible to design content that is genuinely challenging both for groups and for soloers. It took a great deal of skill and care to properly equip heroes with gear and synergetic builds and then to actually manage the group successfully in fights, especially in hardmode dungeons. Very few MMOs focus on challenging soloists or small parties, and Guild Wars proved that it most certainly can be done.

#4: Yes, mom, it is a fashion show

In 2005, Guild Wars boasted one of the first iterations of a hybrid cosmetic gear system in an MMO, and the fact that the game made fabulous armor styles the most expensive items in a game with an otherwise flat power curve meant that everyone was focused on figuring out ways to afford the swankiest duds. It really was a fashion show, one in which wealth was completely irrelevant to combat but incredibly important everywhere it didn't functionally matter. I stood around people-watching as characters dressed in creative colors and armor combos zoned in. It was awesome, and it, along with City of Heroes, convinced me that MMO players really don't care as much about combat power as devs think they do. We'll get in line to grind for a fancy hat just as quickly.

#3: Subs never were the only way to sell an MMO

There were some scattered free-to-play MMOs around back in 2005, but Guild Wars was the first mainstream MMO to adopt a buy-to-play, subscription-free model that looked a lot more like Diablo II than WoW. It's old hat to us now, but at the time, we thought it was revolutionary. We'd never seen a "real" MMORPG charge less than at least $10 a month. Sure, ArenaNet got more than a sub's worth of money out of me thanks to campaigns and expanshalones and character slots and bank bins and costumes -- all of it because the low barrier to entry allowed me to come back and play so easily. Guild Wars proved the now-popular B2P model was workable for MMOs, not just small multiplayer titles.

#2: You don't have to ape WoW to succeed

Sometimes in looking back at the history of MMOs, I think we put far too much importance on the impact WoW had because we know that the so-called "WoW clones" of 2007 struggled in its wake. Guild Wars didn't struggle, though. It came out in 2005 just as WoW was building momentum in the west, and it did very well in spite of being WoW's polar opposite. It did so well, in fact, that it got a AAA sequel, and it did so at a time when other MMOs were being cannibalized by Blizzard's behemoth -- all it had to be was different.

#1: MMOs don't have to die

ArenaNet earned the eternal devotion of so very many MMO players when it put Guild Wars in maintenance mode a few years ago rather than sunset it unceremoniously ahead of Guild Wars 2's launch, setting a new genre standard that unfortunately came too late for some of my other long-lost favorite MMOs. Knowing my characters and all their stuff is waiting for me to return is extremely comforting in a fast-moving, volatile industry. Sure, Guild Wars has a sequel, and that sequel borrows heavily from its predecessor, but it's not the same at all. MMOs really don't have to die, and we as players and studios shouldn't let them. Guild Wars is living history for anyone who wants to experience it even 10 years later. Happy birthday, Tyria.

The MMORPG genre might be "working as intended," but it can be so much more. Join Massively Overpowered Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce in her Working As Intended column for editorials about and meanderings through MMO design, ancient history, and wishful thinking. Armchair not included.
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46 Comments on "Working As Intended: Ten lessons I learned from classic Guild Wars"

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JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

fangGWJ The level 20 cap was awesome as it let you get to end game content faster. Open world is impossible with the game mechanics in GW1 as missions and adventures would not work correctly if it was an open world where others might have kill all the enemies on the path leading to where you were going and that would take away from the adventure feel when you have nothing to fear.

Quinnocent
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Quinnocent

I really admired the elegant design of GW's character building and arena PvP.  That was arguably where the game shined.  I stopped playing before Factions, but almost all of the single player content in the original campaign could be solo'd if not speedrun, albeit with a mix of bots and glitches (getting that god damn boat to spawn).  But in PvP, you could really find an amazing wealth of character diversity, especially in 4v4 (larger brackets tended to lean a little heavily toward burst comps).  Even the casual matches were interesting and unpredictable.

KirkSteadman
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KirkSteadman

Xephyr Kanbe yeah I agree, the 80 lvl cap made ( at least when I was playing ) it very difficult to enjoy playing alts.

Yangers
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Yangers

I found going from pre-searing to post-searing difficult as well. It took me a while to 'get it' I guess you could say. But it was still a great game - and no sub. That was huge for me back in the day - I had just got a computer and our net was crappy dial up back then, plus the idea of subscribing was new and alien. As a kid I had zero dollars for that sort of thing & the only other game that I knew about was wow. I went back to play the other day and it was still fun, if looking quite dated. Good memories though. Hope they put more gw1 stuff into gw2 - I know many miss things from the first game.

Veldan
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Veldan

TheWonderLlama Very true. About point 5: in addition to levels most MMOs have something best described as gear levels, meaning if you and your friend are both max level, you will likely have different gear, and then when you play a dungeon together, one of you is not going to be progressing. 

Also, 600 monk :D this just brought up a memory of doing 600/smite in Cathedral of Flames, and taking 6 more people along who would just sit back and pay me for the dungeon run. Good times :D

DoctorOverlord
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DoctorOverlord

In the end, GW1 irritated me much more often than it ever entertained me, but I have to agree with these points.  GW1 was an example of real innovation which is all too rare in the MMO genre.  More importantly, it was innovation that worked.   A pity more developers out there aren't brave enough to try what ArenaNet did and possess the talent to pull it off.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

fangGWJ breetoplay Kanbe We try to repromote our long-form posts so it's not lost for a while. :D It'll be sitting in the carousel for a bit too!

fangGWJ
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fangGWJ

breetoplay Kanbe I think TSW is the perfect hybrid of horizontal character development that includes a sense of progression or working towards a goal. 
I also like TSW's crafting mechanics that, while can be improved, certainly add a lot of flavor to something that is typically creating 10,000 studded leather bras (that you probably can't even use) per skill point.  It also incorporated gathering that didn't require dozens of horrifically rare components and recycling/combining of lower tiered components.

One of the only things lacking that they could borrow from another game is Diablo 3's armor looks.  While some looks are garish, a lot of looks have style/personality and are incrementally more pleasing/powerful/ornate the longer you play.

Xephyr
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Xephyr

Kanbe afaik GW2 didn't even have levels in alpha. They added levels based on feedback from testers.

TheWonderLlama
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TheWonderLlama

Some more lessons I think classic Guild Wars could teach us:
1.  It really IS possible to create a PvE MMO that doesn't drive the developers to insanity trying to churn out new content at a break-neck pace.  All you have to do is make it possible to replay earlier content (not "steamroll through" but actually play through it again.)  And then give the players legitimate in-game reasons to do so.  Perhaps you were looking to earn masters on a mission.  Maybe you wanted to finish it in hard mode.  Maybe you were after an elite skill.  Maybe you were after a unique weapon.  Or perhaps you were just farming for resources.  Guild Wars gave players many many reasons to revisit earlier content in the game, and it worked!
2.  Choosing a largely horizontal progression system is a valid strategy, and it may even have more staying power in the long run than a vertical progression system.  About 1/3 of Prophecies, all of Factions and Nightfall campaigns (outside of "newbie isle") and all of Eye of the North were "max level" content.  That makes Guild Wars one of the few games out there that really successfully answered the question, "I'm max level.  So now what am I supposed to do?"  For most games, the answer is, "some raiding, some PvP, and an awful lot of grinding.  That's about it."  In Guild Wars the answer was, "You've just begun!  You still have the entire game ahead of you!"  And it managed this as a largely PvE game to boot.
3.  Guild Wars PvP demonstrated that it actually is possible to have a fair, fun, challenging PvP game.  Compare this to the open world FFA gank-fest that most games try to pass off as a "good" PvP experience.
4.  Others mentioned it, but it bears repeating, a lot of what made Guild Wars special was the meta-game. There were literally hundreds upon hundreds of skill builds.  There were builds for classes, builds for leveling, solo builds, team builds, mission builds, farming builds, running builds.  And the crazy things players would do with those builds was wonderful!  There were runners:  Drok's runers, Crystal Desert runners, ToA runners, mission runners!  There were solo farmers and solo mission completionists.  There were Wammos, 55 Monks, 600 Monks, Invinci-sins, Barrage-pet teams, Underworld and Fissure of Woe team builds, Urgoz's Warren and Deep team builds, PvP builds, PvP team builds, hero builds.  And all of that just barely scratches the surface!  I'm sure that it drove the developers to tears at times trying to play-balance all the skill interactions, but for the players it was an amazing experience!
5.  Whether by accident or on purpose, classic Guild Wars was a game that could easily be played with friends.  It seems odd to say, but most MMOs make it really easy to play with "other people" while making it really difficult to play "with your friends."  The two key issues one faces in most MMOs are player numbers and player level.  The problem is that in most MMOs various missions, dungeons, raids, and other types of playable content have been designed for a specific number of players at a specific level.  No matter how hard you try to keep in lock-step with your friends, eventually you are going to end up being different levels at some point.  And in most MMOs, once there's about a five level difference between your own character and your friend's characters, you can't play together anymore.  City of Heroes demonstrated one solution.  Guild Wars 2 offers a slightly different approach.  Classic Guild Wars opted for a third path that I have not see tried since.  Nearly all content was accessible to nearly all players because almost anyone playing was already max-level.  And if you didn't have the numbers to play a particular mission, you could easily augment your party with heroes.  Altogether that made for an elegant solution which ensured player numbers and player level were no longer a barrier to accessing content and enjoying the game.

BryanCo
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BryanCo

Siphaed Denice J Cook  I don't think I've ever seen someone writing about Tabula Rasa with rose-colored glasses.  All the OP said was that NCSoft took a PR hit over it's closure, not that the game was great.
And NCSoft DID take a big hit over the way the closure was handled.  Garriot ended up receiving $32 million from them in court with (among other things) claims that they forged his resignation (and published it while he was in post-spaceflight quaranatine.)  I'm not defending Garriot here (I think the whole "Lord British: thing makes him seem nuts,) but the company's handling of the situation was reprehensible.
.

Nate Woodard
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Nate Woodard

Werewolf Finds Dragon Heh you lost me at the game itself was rather broken.  It was and still is one of the most balanced PVP games in existence.  When you are the pioneer of the "deck building system" you can afford to make some mistakes like skills that are similar to one another.  Games have bugs.. that's just a fact of the genre.  Never once, did I grind in Guild Wars Nightfall or any other Campaign or expansion ArenaNet released.  I think you just have a rather biased opinion of the game.  It's ok.  Everyone doesn't have to like the same game.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

The original Guild Wars is the nostalgia sauce of MMOs.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

Denice J Cook Please stop looking at Tabula Rasa with rose-colored glasses.  Everyone needs to stop doing that.  The game was buggy at launch, had a horrible map instancing system that was totally out of sync. Balance was almost non-existent in the game.  Events/invasions bugged and failed or got stuck leaving hubs in limbo and players without quests, requiring them to grind until they got to level to the next hub in hopes that it wasn't bugged so that they could partake in it.    The "choices" that Richard Garriot was so proud of for quests stemmed for the single quest about drug smuggling in the early zone, that was it!  The system of Logos wasn't fleshed out and was incomplete for the 2nd half of leveling.  Earth...nope, not in until the last month before it got shutdown; same with Mech suits too.    I'm sorry to say but the game itself was a failure on many standards, let alone the special 'features' it tried to advertise.

And honestly when looking at it with logic, NCSoft only had the option of shutting it down when they needed to FIRE Richard "Lord British" Garriot.   His name was on the box with the product, so there had to be some contractual connection between one and the other the the game couldn't run without him being part of it.     And any company running MMO launches having their product lead take a bunch of money he's being paid to make a game for, and going on a multi-month vacation into space post-launch, instead of fixing the product or improving it to increase the dropping population and popularity, would be nuts to keep said person on payroll.    He wasted tons of their money to launch a half-finished product so that he could go to space.  That is the bottom line.  That is why they fired him.  That is why Richard "Lord Crook" Garriot is not to be trusted in any future product (especially the cash shop heavy Shroud of the Avatar).

Megus
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Megus

My all time favourite game. There was (is) just so much content and much of it was not planned by arena net. It was a metagamers paradise :-)

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Kanbe Yep, totally agree. Horizontal progression is absolutely my favorite. And I completely agree that 80 levels in GW2 is totally pointless; all it does it gate zones and ensure that most people who alt never see most of them.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Koshelkin I will always give LOTRO a pass since it's literally based on Tolkien and not just sponging off the tropes. :D

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Werewolf Finds Dragon I won't go as far as you -- and I've never seen the master race analogy either -- but truthfully I was always a little uncomfortable with the way the Ascalonians and Krytans are set up in Prophecies. I think it was the weakest of the four, easily, on pretty much every front. Factions and Nightfall definitely recovered.

Denice J Cook
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Denice J Cook

Even back when GW first launched, there were rumors that ArenaNet had a special contract with NCSoft preventing any of its titles from being completely shuttered.  These rumors, whether right or wrong, probably surfaced due to NCSoft's already-bad reputation for killing off its MMOs before their time.

Personally, I wondered if NCSoft only put GW into maintenance mode because of the major hits their reputation had taken over the Tabula Rasa and City of Heroes closures, but who knows?

fangGWJ
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fangGWJ

breetoplay Archebius I think the art direction had a lot to do with that:

There is a difference between feeling empty and feeling alone.  Empty implies lack of use or purpose for the world you inhabit no matter how large or small.  Conversely, feeling alone can be imposing or dangerous or overwhelming; emotions that bind the player to your world.  The method of getting those to work in your favor is through art direction.  Are there too many cookie cutter, copy/paste sections in your dungeons or open world?  Is there a limited sense of scale in your environments?

fangGWJ
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fangGWJ

Veldan fangGWJ Totally fair assessment.  And maybe perhaps because I cannot think of any mmo that jumps out as the archetypical best in combat that I risk being counterproductive.
I may get flamed for this quite a bit but I really do enjoy the combat of a lot of classes in Black Gold Online.  I think a lot of people cannot get into it because the default controls are awkward.  But with a simple UI setting switch the game plays a lot like TERA but without the artificial hiccups, stuttering and sluggish pacing.

My main problem with that game is it is one of those grinders that trivializes leveling.  You can get to level 20 in like 45 minutes which is Diablo 3 like speeds.  But the real problem is what you do to get the levels is meaningless.  I mean it is as unrewarding as killing 3 guys 20 feet away to gain a level.  Practically every rpg ever made requires more than that to get from level 1-2.

Veldan
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Veldan

fangGWJ Yeah I agree, the systems of GW were awesome but the feel of combat was a bit weak. I do not agree that it should be more like GW2 though, I dislike the feel of combat there too.

Veldan
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Veldan

Werewolf Finds Dragon I disagree with everything you wrote. Also, for every point you make, you are the first person that I ever see making those points. And that says something, considering I played GW and GW2 for years and hang out on gwguru, gw2guru and gw2 forums for even longer.

Werewolf Finds Dragon
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Werewolf Finds Dragon

I actually disliked the Ascalonians. They were essentially a Master Race analogy. They tried to commit genocide against a species just because it was strange and different, they were both the pilgrims that landed on the soil of now America, and the Nazi Regime, all rolled into one. And when they failed to live up to their Master Race ambitions, they got help from a god to go through with it. And then there's Rurik, who was smart enough to run away, but still so lacking in perspicacity that he didn't understand why dragging his followers on a suicide run through hostile territory was a bad idea. That he lucked out doesn't make it not a bad idea, that's not how good/bad ideas work.
Not only that, but Rurik would regularly do kamikaze runs into dangerous situations himself, without thinking, and it always came down to mugsy here to save his arse. The Ascalonians were essentially Terminator Lemmings. Ultimately there was nothing likeable about them. Which was oddly refreshing, but still. I'd rather have not played as the Ascalonians in the first place as I don't have any Master Race aspirations.

The game itself is rather broken, too, for reasons I've discussed. Its deck building system is just flawed. Not flawed compared to WoW, which is far worse, but flawed compared to ESO and TSW. It had too many similar abilities, it had too many unexplained abilities, too many buggy abilities, and too many abilities that didn't properly communicate their use or synergy with other abilities. It was a mess, which meant that everyone ran off to PvX for cookie cutter builds, which resulted in a generally unfun game. I've played Nightfall recently, so I know this still holds true.

Ultimately, Nightfall came the closest to being a Guild Wars I could like. Yet it introduced further flaws -- it had skills you needed to grind your life away for (nope!), and it had a massive Mary Sue complex. If not for those things and the broken skill system, it could actually have been a really enjoyable experience.

So Nightfall is just okay. Can I say that? Despite an ultimately broken combat system, and a Mary Sue focused plot, Nightfall was okay. But it had the potential to be so, so much better.

Koshelkin
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Koshelkin

I especially concur with #1 through #3, #5+#6. I like this column. There's alot to learn from old titles and developers should be more eager to do so.

In particular to:

#6: a) I don't think it's exactly stale, even classic LotRO still has a big draw on me. b) Age of Conan also did a great job in showing more than the stereotype fantasy sceneries taking cues from mayan, egyptian and far eastern cultures.

#5: I'd find that interesting but sans NPC followers. Dunno why, I guess if I want a solo challenge I just want a *solo* challenge. As odd as this sounds. By no means meant derogatory to GW's concept. As it is now, there's no MMO with such a thing. Because if something would be terribly hard to do as in... only a percentage of the community can do it, there would be tons of complaints because yeah... entitlement. WoW crowd, softcore generation.

Archebius
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Archebius

Oleg Chebeneev The skill system remains one of my favorites. I remember spending a lot of time looking through all the skills I'd purchased, working on building a better set. It allowed a lot of customization without being overwhelming, and you could go as specialized or general as you wanted to.

Oleg Chebeneev
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Oleg Chebeneev

I never could get into GW no matter how hard I tried. Instances everywhere, invisible walls, meh story (all high fantasy stories look meh to me), weird combat. There is one thing I definetly liked though. Unique skills system where you can experiment with different builds and find something original for your style. Same thing I liked in Archeage even if the game itself sucks

Kanbe
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Kanbe

Great article Bree! I'd just like to point out one other thing that GW did that was successful and yet it seems other games just completely over look, you dont need to make players have 100+ levels. There were only 20 levels in GW and that was perfectly fine and it worked. Heck, with the exception of the base campaign it was very quick to hit that level 20 mark and players still stuck around.
This is something even GW2 didnt take away from the original. 80 levels is way too much for that game and they really dont add anything to the experience.
I wish more titles would realize that making players grind for levels upon levels isn't necessary =

fangGWJ
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fangGWJ

I love me some GW2 but GW deserves a truer sequel.
The hero/companion system and the dual class system were so brilliant they need to be copied/borrowed/renewed/enhanced.

One of the weakest things for me in GW1 is the feel of combat is kinda mediocre.  The skill system is sound, the combat just needs to "feel" better or like its successor.

The other thing is they need to make the open world open world and not gnarled and twisted long narrow mazes/paths that fold in on themselves.

The last thing is the level 20 cap.  I think GW2 did the level cap really well.

ashfyn
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ashfyn

GW is still my favorite nostalgia game.  It continues to be No. 1 on the list of all time beautiful and enchanting avatars.  In all the years since, not a single game of any type I've played comes close to Guild Wars for the sheer pleasure of looking at the avatars.

Damonvile
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Damonvile

TomTurtle I think the real genius of that system was that it didn't kill group content to make it soloable. The games we have now it's one way or the other. If you group for solo content, it's boring because it's so easy. The group content they add is a do not cross boarder to solo players. GWs system let players have a choice. It's too bad other games never picked up on that.

Sinaptic
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Sinaptic

Very good read. I enjoyed it.

Azzura
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Azzura

I learned #10 from GW as well. I didn't like GW the first time - I gave it like 20 minutes and just didn't like it. Tried it again before Eye of the north came out and LOVED it.

Loved Solo Vanquishing with my Ritualist also....and elite skill hunting.

TomTurtle
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TomTurtle

Well said Bree. I never gave #5 much thought, but it is true.
Although I love both games, I do think ArenaNet stumbled a lot with GW2 when it had an already strong foundation to build upon from GW1. They're still working in features that were already in the first game, albeit with updated designs that fit the game appropriately. People still get irked by mention of such features from the first, but in my mind, the proof is in the pudding since ArenaNet seems to agree and players end up liking them anyways.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Archebius I love the idea that games feel more massive the fewer people are around to remind you how mundane you all are, to remind you that even if you haven't fully explored the world, someone else out there already has done it all and has the title to prove how bored he is. I think you're absolutely right. Plus I loved the sense of privacy I got from the game.
I did love zoning back into bustling hubs, though, and reminding myself that other people existed! :D I liked that contrast. Most other games don't give that to you.

Damonvile
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Damonvile

Your number 10 is really something more mmo gamers need to accept as part of how the genre works. So many people are unhappy with what the genre offers but only look at new games to deliver what they're looking for. MMOs take forever to develop and time is always the resource new mmos never had enough of to get it right. Older mmos that have had that time but now lack money and populations to keep building is where they should be looking. They could do far more towards building better games if more people would go back and give them a  second try....and who knows maybe you'll find what you've been looking for.

One thing is for sure. The communities in older mmos that have shed the tourists are far better than any new mmo will have for years.

Archebius
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Archebius

"Massive Isn't About the Numbers"
I completely agree. Guild Wars felt like a larger world to me than a lot of others I have played since, even though none of the maps were particularly large. I think there are a few reasons for that.

- Since it's instanced, you feel more alone. It goes a long ways towards making a world feel large when you don't stumble across xxRejuvenile coming back from the same quest you're heading towards.

- They always put places in that you didn't have to see. When I get to a new planet on SWTOR, I know that I'm going to visit the four corners of the map, in succession. In Guild Wars, I'm still sometimes stumbling across parts of the map that I never saw, because there aren't any quests or missions that take you through that area. They built zones as though they were places first and quest areas second, and a lot of games seem to build the map around quest hubs.

- Since it's instanced, when you kill something, it stays dead. I find this a lot more immersive than crossing a bridge, fighting a dude, grabbing a trinket, and then having to fight the same dude at the bridge again because I waited too long. When you've fought your way out to a vendor in Guild Wars, the return trip is quite peaceful.

- Lastly, since it's instanced, you're the only one doing a particular quest. You don't have to wait for anything to respawn. You don't queue up. You just go and do it, and your group is the only one helping this guy. 

I know that instancing gets a bad rap, some of it deserved, but it does help the world to feel a lot more immersive and unique. And that's something I appreciated about Guild Wars - it felt very personal, which is a feat in a game with a million players.

jsmooth1
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jsmooth1

breetoplay Archebius CrowingOne

I have such fond memories of GW1... Whenever I read about it, a little voice pops back up in my head and says, "You know, you never did finish the GWAMM title..." I'm like, "yeah, that would be nice to have on my GW2 character." But even now, it would probably take years to complete =P

Archebius
Guest
Archebius

breetoplay Archebius CrowingOne Yeah, it really is a shame. I think GW2 is a good game, but I don't think it will ever really replace GW for me. I'm never quite sure if that's just because it was my first MMO, or if it's because it did so many things right.
Probably a combination of the two.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Archebius CrowingOne I logged in over the weekend and it's pretty darn quiet, even for this anniversary period. :/ I think GW2 really bled it dry, which is a horrible shame. It's an amazing game that holds up so well. It'd be worth a playthrough even still, but I wouldn't go in expecting PUGs or trading or cheap prices on the mat traders. Bring friends or heroes. :D

borz777
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borz777

GW1  brought me back to MMOs after a very long hiatus from EQ1. The only reason I chose to purchase it over WoW was the sub fee.  But I quickly fell in love with the artwork, style, and gameplay.  7 lvl 20s and hundreds of ecto later, it's still the most beautiful game out there IMO. And yes pre-searing felt like home.  It really did. I used to wake up in the middle of the night and log in just to walk around pre and hang out with people.  No game since has duplicated that feeling for me.

Ventreel
Guest
Ventreel

This is exactly what i am finding on Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3ds title) right now. The game is single player or multiplayer depending of my own choice. Probably due to game's nature and technical capabilities it allows up to 4 people to band and quest together in instances zones, just for themselves. From the first moment it felt to me just like GW1 in terms of how game plays out and how i interact with others even though MH is of completely different genre. Personally i feel like open world mmo games are extremely overrated nowadays. Most of them so called "mmo games" base on throwing random people next to each other. So you're effectively not playing with other people, you're playing next to them doing your stuff. To me, conscious banding together in party in online co-op games or corpg GW1 as they liked to call it feels much better and organic. I can actually make a connection with my teammates and i am completely sure that we are going for a common goal. I am more likely to make friends with people in such games than random passerby in mmo game which actually annoys me cause there is virtually no way to synchronize our questing, either i am slacking or he is. Duh.
One can say that there are still instanced contents in mmo games, dungeons, raids, whatsoever but that feels like a filler to me, like someone stitched couple games together just to finish the game of poor design. I don't buy that. I would absolutely love to see developers going after GW1 model and offering us deep and socially rich cooperative online games. Too bad that no one is brave enough to make it happen and they all go for easy solution by replicating the same old model that Everquest created and WoW made famous. That's why mmo market is stale and it makes me really sad. Not saying that these games are utter crap cause there are obviously people playing it but i am sure that the same people would appreciate wonders that GW1 alike games would have to offer. Each for their own i guess...

Archebius
Guest
Archebius

CrowingOne You ever want the tour, I still play occasionally. I never did as much in the game as I wanted to, and it is hard to go back to at this point, when the whole place is a ghost town.

Goronmon
Guest
Goronmon

Guild Wars was not marketed as an MMORPG, even though I will forever argue it was one.
I've always considered the Massive in MMO to be an adjective on Multiplayer. So, IMO it has nothing to do with world-size or the feeling you get playing the game, its solely about whether the game is a 'massive' multiplayer game. In contrast to regular multiplayer games like co-oping in Diablo, or games like Battlefield.

Polyanna
Guest
Polyanna

Always give MMOs a second chance.

Or, if you want to skip the heartbreak of the first chance /ragequit, never play a new MMO until at least one year after launch; maybe two. On the other hand, some games are rather good at the start, and only go downhill from there (that's right, pre-PWI STO, I'm looking at you).

Is it better to have played and lost a game that was good at the start and ruined shortly after, than never to have played it at all?

nahenway
Guest
nahenway

Nice article! :3 To sad Gw2 doesn't bring all this stuff :( We don't even know yet if there are any new dungeons for the expack.

"Guild Wars grew up along with me. It added landmasses, campaigns, classes, skills, gear, stories, missions, dungeons, and a parade of significant quality-of-life improvements"

Too sad Gw2 doesn't bring all this stuff :( We don't even know yet if there are any new dungeons for the expack.

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