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Character creation and chosing your profession is straight forward. Lots of skills and abilities to chose from as you progress in the game. If you don't like something you chose, chances are you can change it to something else with little to no risk.
You've just created your character and are now in the game. WOW, it looks so damm beautiful! So rich looking, the graphics are awesome....but as you start to play, you start to figure the game out....
The game is ALL instanced. I'm serious, even the town are instanced. There are copies of the towns!! Lets say you walk into a town. You'll be randomly dropped into one of the 5 or so copies of that town, these copies are called "districts". So lets say if you want to meet someone, they'll say something like, "I'm in district 3". Ok, so lets say you're in district 7....to get to district 3, all you have to do is....are you ready? ALL you have to do.....is click on the little drop down menu in the upper left hand corner of the screen and select the district your buddy is in. You'll then be loaded into that copy (or district) of the town you're in.
Maybe you're saying, "eh, k, so the towns have copies and are basically instances themselves, nothing game breaking...right?". Sonny Jim, that's the beginning.
The towns are instances, their own zone and are coppied...but what about when you want to leave the town? Here it comes........you zone out of the town, hit the loading screen and are outside now. Great graphics, your character moves so fluidly and everything just looks fantastic. Crisp, clean and very cool looking....but where is everyone? Where's the noob dieing to the mobs to your left or maybe the person healing up after a close encounter??? You'll notice that you're all by yourself, guess what? Yep, you're in an instance. The very area right passed that loading screen as you zoned out of the town where you're currently standing right now is an instance. You are in an instanced zone....I just want to make that clear. All zones branching off of it and beyond. Your own zone, yeah, all yours but that's all. No one else can come in. Everyone else has their own zone. Now, you CAN play with other players in this zone you have all to yourself, and how, you may ask? Well, you gotta be grouped to do it. That's all. Find a group and you all can slaughter mobs and gain exp together. Just go to a town, go through the districts trying to find a group and you'll get one sooner or later.....which brings me to my next paragraph. Soloing in Guild Wars.
Soloing, ok, check this out. Say you can't find anyone to group with. You went through the districts of your town, but damn, no invites. This is where "henchmen" come into play. Usually by the entrance of a town are NPC characters. They can be healers fighters or mages. There's others that fall into sub categories, like the brawler, but I'll just stick to the basics. There's like 8 different henchmen classes, you can have a certain number invited depending on how far into the game you are, one of each and cost nothing to hire. So now you have a group of NPCs, good times...right? Hell no, there's no interface to control these guys. You click on an enemy and they go, casters will do their thing, melee with do theirs. They rarely use their abilities so you'll mostly see the melee guys using regular swings and the casters using their gimp ranged weapons. The healer? Eh, don't depend on her too much, she's there when you don't need her and gone when you do need her. Kind of like the wife! LOL!! Nah, I kid. More like the cops. Simply, the healer henchman is horrible. If you die chances are it's her fault. You or one of your horrible henchmen can be on the brink of death....and there she is, using her ranged weapon like a complete dumb ass.
We're still on the soloing subject but I felt this part deserved it's own paragraph. All the mobs, and when I say all, I mean ALL the mobs roam in packs. For the less inclined, basically mobs never walk alone. Usually in groups of 4, give or take and with spamming healers also. Sometimes groups will be with groups and the only way to get to your destination is through them. Can you single pull, maybe break them up? Hell no, they all walk together in a set path. When they're interupted during their little group stroll, chilling, after your failed attempt to solo pull one they'll regroup after they're finished chasing you. Found one that some how strayed from the pack? Chances are if you try to gank him, his friends from way over yonder will come running for you. Avoid the mobs? Please, agro radius is so big and the "zones" are so cramped, it's rarely 90% of the time not an option. Chances are while you are fighting a group you can't squeeze passed, the other group you tried to avoid is roaming right on over to you. How convenient. The "zones" are also usually very linear, straight paths. Barely any freedom to roam.
Later on as you level, the inadequacy of your henchmen (they're stupid basically) will start to shine through and....yes, you guessed it. Looking for a group in a high population town, searching district to district for a group for measly exp or trying to advance in the game.
Oh, and when you pull, the mobs will most likely come for YOU, not your henchmen. So think fast to mitigate the agro off of you on onto your "group".
No worries, when you die your henchmen fight on until the last breath. If successfull and a rezer is still standing, all is well. If not, well, back to respawn point of your instance. To clarify, zones/instances all have a respawn shrine thing so you won't be kicked out, mobs respawned, ahh, wtf. You'll have a penalty for dieing. You don't lose exp ar anything, henchmen respawn with you, basically you have infinite lives. But the penalty? Your health and mana are lowered by 15%. To make this number go down you have to gain exp. Penalty increases 15% per death. Died too many times and now you're at 60% penalty (the cap)? Either you work some miracles or you now have to go back to the town, where it will all be immediately removed....but you're good ol' zone/instance you were fighitng in...yep, all respawned. Chances are you were in deep to find enemies to overwhelm you on your way to your objective and the death penalty takes a heafty amount of time to work off and that encounter you're on your way back to will be that much harder, that is if you haven't gone back to town already. The penalty not only affects you, but your henchmen also. So if you have 500hp and 60mana and have 60% penalty, you're hp is now 200 and your mana is 24. Remember, your henchmen are also affected by the penalty if they die also.
About the NPCs....say for "instance" (LOL, I made a funny!!) you got a quest done, cool. Now that NPC wants you to go back into the area (respawned now), but go further to "investigate". K, you've investigated, zone out, back to NPC for next reward....but what's this? BACK IN AGAIN!?!? This time to defeat the boss!! Yeah, you'll see alot of repeats and the devs trying to squeeze the last drop out of the game's content. Pretty much everything you do will be a task from an NPC, they're easy to find. In all towns/outposts, some NPCs will have a exclamation mark above their head singifying they have a quest or something to tell you, easy stuff.
The ONLY time you will see other players is in the towns or if they're in your group as you do missions/instances/go out of town/anywhere besides town. Now lets say you're in a group, awesome. Except for the fact that if ONE person goes into town or "zones out", you'll ALL be warped there, respawned zone and all. Vice versa also, one person leaves town while grouped, you're all taken zoned out there with him. Nothing bad, just annoying. It's sad to see experienced players pull this stunt.
That's basically the PvE side of guildwars on your way to lv20 (the lvl cap). Lv20 ain't hard, hell, I got to level ten on my second day of playing, 20 took about a week and a half overall. Wanna make an alt?
The game has a somewhat involving single player campaign that starts out right when you log in. You pretty much have to follow it to advance to the areas of the game where you can instantly teleport to in the future. Follow the story and know what Guild Wars is made up of.....or you can have a high level escort you to those areas, 99.9% of the time for a fee. These services are usually advertised in the towns.
So in conclusion. Guild Wars is NOT a MMORPG. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that one before I played, but after playing for a few months, that statement has never rang so clear. Have you ever played Dungeon Siege? Never Winter? Ice Wind Dale? Diablo? Morrowind? Guild Wars is basically that, just done in a very mediocre way. Atleast you can find players in the towns in Guild Wars.
One word I can use to describe Guild Wars is.....fake. Everything has a staged, prepared feeling to it. The graphics, firm gameplay setup and the story campaign are really the only things going for it. Just don't expect to see much of a community....unless if you like hanging out in towns. The game is just too damn heavy on the instancing, extremely heavy. Every single damn place is an instance, ALL of it. The town, outside of the town, all of it, 100% instances. Guild Wars may as well be named, "Instance Wars". The expansion pack should be called, "Guild Wars: Next Set of Instances, Fresh Out of the Instance Oven". It's like suedo single player - mmorpg, which is why it has been dubbed a COORPG (co-operative online role playing game). This game is not worth $50, more like $30, 40$ at the most......$35 seems just right. I believe people like Guild Wars because it's easy and simple to get into and just play.
I'd touch a bit on PvP, but it's almost 2am and I'm damn tired.