Monday, March 16, 2009

Guild Wars

I gave the free trial of Guild Wars a run-through. It took about an hour to download the starting files which seemed reasonable enough so I created my character and it started to download more material. Showing was 19K files and it took almost 15 minutes to get to 1% so I stopped and the following day started the download again before I went to work. But here's the problem - when I got back the game didn't just download all those files but actually started so that it used almost 6.5 hours of the 10 hours trial time. If I hadn't come home early but at my usual time the entire trial would have been gone. Guess there's nothing that logs you out if you're not playing and haven't even moved for a certain time.

The actual game seems somewhat familiar. When I described it to a guy at work he says some of the mechanics come from Diablo (not the original which I played but one of the later versions) but otherwise it's similar to WoW and others that I tried. The main drawback is something I expected to be a plus: outside the cities everything is instanced. While that originally seemed like it would be cool I quickly realized this might as well be a regular RPG except of course that it plays like an MMO. While there's no ganking there's also none of the random encounters or busy population that makes an MMO feel MM.

There are a few oddities. Like WoW questgivers have an exclamation point but otherwise there's no info - no notice that you've acquired anything or that you're finished. When it's time to turn in the NPC has the same exclamation point as before so they might be overlooked if you, as I did, think you didn't want to get that quest. The graphics (which I pumped all the way to the max) are solid but the atmosphere feels a bit more bland than WoW though of course I've only seen part of it. The most annoying feature is that the action bar only has eight spots. Don't know if you can increase that later but even for a starting trial character it didn't feel right - my character could know 20 actions but can only do eight? It's never good to have play restricted by arbitrary design decisions. WoW of course has kept adding the potential for action bars until you could almost be paralyzed by the choices. I also tried a second character of a different class and was surprised that the starting quests play exactly the same - WoW at least has different areas and quest lines (to some degree anyway).

The big advantage to Guild Wars is that there's no monthly fee but the trail wasn't interesting enough for me to stick with it. Since it's thematically similar to WoW and plays to a large degree the same then I might as well play WoW.