Guild Wars Nightfall Review

Guild Wars has found a niche in the online gaming community, thanks to its MMORPG-like elements and lack of subscription fees. It is, by design, a game which doesn’t require you to invest a significant amount of time or money to be competitive or have fun, unlike other massively popular MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. It instead relies upon your ability to strategize and use an efficient set of skills to conquer your foes. Nightfall adds a significant amount of new content into the Guild Wars world, and is certainly a more worthwhile title than the other Guild Wars "expansion,"Factions.

I say "expansion" because like Factions,Nightfall is its own game; you don’t need to own either of the other GW titles to play Nightfall. But, assuming you decide to add your serial key onto an existingGuild Wars or Guild Wars: Factions account, you’ll be able to take new characters into the old game world and vice versa. Your friends list and guild will stay intact, and your storage box will continue to serve all of your characters.

The groundwork for the Guild Wars series is fairly simple. You can either compete in PVE (that is, player vs. environment/computer-controlled enemies) or PVP (player vs. player, where you can play against other, live people). Either way, the game is instanced, as opposed to the persistent worlds found in most MMORPGs (although Guild Wars is considered to be a cooperative online RPG, or COORPG). What this means is that you can travel from town to town, which can be populated by hundreds of players, but when you travel into a mission or explorable area where combat can take place, you and your party of up to 8 players are isolated from the rest of the game world. The other major difference between Guild Wars and MMORPGs is that you can only take eight skills with you onto the battlefield — these can be changed as long as you are in a town or outpost, but once you’ve entered a combat area, they’re locked. This forces you to think ahead, and to coordinate your plans with your party.

The major addition in Nightfall is the Heroes system, where you can have much more control over the henchmen-like characters you can use. In previous GW games, you could play with a party of up to 8 people, comprised of either actual people playing online, or NPCs controlled by the computer that simply took a cut of the items and gold you came across in your adventures. There was no control over them, and they simply tagged along until they were kicked out of the party. Henchmen are still available in Nightfall, but you can now enlist the help of Heroes. These are characters which can grow and develop alongside you. Just like your character, they’ll gain experience and you’ll be able to equip them with new weapons and armor. Also, their attributes and skills are up to you to choose, so that you can really customize your party.

Heroes are a significant improvement over henchmen, although they can never totally replace them due to the fact that you can only have three with you. With one fellow human player, though, you can completely alleviate the need for henchmen. This is both a boost for those who like to play solo and those who have difficulty filling up their party, as it adds life to the void of boring, basically lifeless henchmen.

Nightfall also (of course) sports an entirely new PVE campaign with roughly 20 missions to complete. Scattered throughout are a plethora of quests to take part in, and with the addition of PVP and the nearly unlimited number of possibilities for skill sets and profession combinations, there’s more that enough to keep you busy here.

The game takes place in the land of Elona, where you’ll receive a clichéd story of an evil force lurking, waiting to cover the land in darkness; you know the bit. The world doesn’t have quite the obvious comparison to draw, as you could with Factions and its Asian setting. It’s a bit of a jungle-themed land, where you’ll encounter enemies that look like the giant man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.

Two new professions have been added in Nightfall: the Dervish and Paragon. The Dervish is like a hybrid Assassin/Elementalist; they wield scythes on the frontline and are able to use their holy powers of earth and wind to lay ruin to their enemies. Paragons, on the other hand, make use of spears and play more of a support role, as they are able to protect allies and give them temporary abilities. Personally I preferred the support abilities of the Paragon to the raw power the Dervish provides, but each is fun to play in its own right. They’re both excellent additions, and following suit with previous GWprofessions, each can eventually have access to 150 skills — 300 in total, once you count secondary professions.

Newcomers to the series will be welcomed with an approachable, but efficient opening tutorial. It teaches you the controls and gives you an idea as to what combat and other basic tasks consist of. During this tutorial, GW vets will notice one of the few graphical upgrades: characters now open their mouths while talking during cutscenes. It’s nice to see ArenaNet finally catch up with the rest of the gaming world in this regard.

Aside from that minor upgrade, you won’t notice much in the way of graphical enhancements. From afar, everything looks very pretty and picturesque, but zooming in on anything will yield ugly, smeared armor on characters and fairly bland looking environments, even with the highest graphical settings selected.

Unfortunately, certain issues that have bothered players in both previous Guild Wars titles still exist here. Due to the nature of the game, you can’t truly travel anywhere and are somewhat constricted in your movements. Saying that the game provides you with a linear path would certainly be a stretch, as the navigable portion of the game is quite large. But, there are many barriers and locations which are unreachable that seem like you should be able to get there, which can lead to some frustration. As a result, you’ll find yourself getting hooked on corners and unable to walk down a small slope that should not pose a problem to a healthy adult. Also, a sterner limit on how many messages can be sent by an individual through the Local or Trade channels while in outposts and towns would have been appreciated. Many times you’ll come across someone who really thinks you should go check out his "hawt cape LOL" and won’t stop spamming the chat until someone fulfills his wish.

As the title would suggest, the PVP portion of the game, as well as the guild versus guild battles, are a major component ofGW. PVP pits your party in an area where you have to complete a particular task like controlling an area or eliminating the other team’s Guild Lord. Guild battles can be intense, and thanks to a new feature in Nightfall, you can watch your guild fight even if you are not involved. (Before you could only watch the top-ranked guilds.) It’s still the same basic formula you’ve come to know and love from previous GW titles, and additional modes and ways to play would have been warmly welcomed. This isn’t to mention the fact that PVP — while a huge part of the game — isn’t the most accessible thing in the world. A tutorial along the lines of the one found when beginning the PVE campaign would have made PVP much easier to get into. Thankfully, the saving grace for newcomers is the level cap of 20 which forces players, as mentioned earlier, to rely upon skill and strategy as opposed to their ridiculous play time.

Whether looked at as a standalone game or an update to previousGuild Wars titles, Nightfall is a winner. While it isn’t particularly innovative and won’t win any awards for major technical upgrades, it is a very nice addition to the series, and most importantly, it’s simply fun to play. While it does have its issues, these are quite clearly and dominantly overshadowed by just how fun the game is. If Factions turned you off, don’t let that stop you from checking out Nightfall. Those who haven’t played a Guild Wars title before would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t give the Guild Warsseries a shot.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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