With Guild Wars 2 on the horizon of being released to players 16 days from now(this being written on August 09, 2012) or 19 days for those who didn't pre-purchase the question some may have are what's going to happen to Guild Wars?
Has it been finally reduced to dust or is it still a warrior fighting onwards for some attention from players?
As a forewarning me writing this article may sound like a fanboy but that's hard to dissuade readers from this perspective since I've clocked 3018 hours over 84 months. This is insane even to myself. How I obtained my time played information is the simple /age function built into Guild Wars. I was surprised myself the digit was so high. So in a sense it may come off as biased and apologize if it does but I'm doing my best here.
For those who are from since the Prophecies do you ever remember picking up Globs of Ectoplasm from wreckages on Perdition Rock? If you know what I'm talking about then you'll know how long I've been in this game.
Even in 2012, I have still met new players in Guild Wars upon returning. And yes they are indeed NEW players(Asked a few told them the /age command and they told me its only like 36 hours in the course of 2 weeks). Their reason for playing? The in-game link of the Hall of Monuments and items to the future and upcoming Guild Wars 2 with those mentioned items being exclusive to only those who have achieved a certain amount of content in Guild Wars 1.
I have quit Guild Wars multiple times but what kept bringing me back?
Dedication and quality of service from the developers. The game is constantly updated though I don't know with what most of the time however I can say I played most of the time without ever having to worry about maintenance or patch updates where it busted my runs or just simply halted me from playing at all. You don't find very many gold spammers in the many outposts and main towns of Guild Wars either. And the game isn't imbalanced in PvP(They make adjustments not of epic proportions but subtle changes announced to the public). Although the PvE skills are pretty strong and imbalanced they can't be used against other players.
What? No way!
Yes believe it or not Guild Wars is fairly strict on gold farmers and sellers of gold in Guild Wars. Now that doesn't mean it's not there it's just not flooding the chat is what I'm saying. Their way of banning someone is like public shaming in the game. They summon their grim reaper version of the game known as Dhuum and have your character cut and sliced out in front of whoever you're with following that you're booted out with a message saying you've been banned or something along those lines.
The first time it occurred many people thought "WHOA WHAT WAS THAT" and thought it was some item or costume effect thing. After players seeking information for what they saw they discovered it was someone being banned. Though I haven't had the chance to ever encounter it in game over the 3018 hours, I've searched YouTube videos looking it up just to see what it was. It's hard to miss if you do get the chance to encounter it or unless... you force it upon yourself by... getting yourself banned...?
In any case, what is flooding the chat are players trading. Something that has long been forgotten due to gold spammers in many MMOs these days, those mainly being free to play games. But I know of World of Warcraft having many due to trial versions. Guild Wars has their trials as well but it's not noticeable nor have I ever seen the chat being flooded with it, the same can't be said for Guild Wars 2 though; it's not even out yet.
The business model of Guild Wars is buy to play. With the senior staff at ArenaNet they decided and took the risk of selling their game with just a one price commitment fee to play their game as much as you like and as long as you like. With other MMO's around its time releasing their own games with the pay to play model ArenaNet decided it might be more advantageous to go with a buy to play model rather than making players commit to a lifestyle payment. For that risk they were successful in their engagement with players and attracted many. Winning awards for their game such as Best Value. Their competitors at time of release? World of Warcraft and Everquest were some. I for one will agree that I definitely got my value of the game and more even upon quitting a numerous amount of times over the years. They have extra content even feeding outwards in the past year just to link some story into the oncoming Guild Wars 2. Who does that? (If you can name me a few I will go try it out immediately and go play it if I haven't already) Most companies would release these extras as DLC for $. Guild Wars on the other hand tosses it out for free to those who've already bought the game.
What then is the price did you pay to receive full content because this all sounds so sceptical its unreal?
During my time of getting the game and its episodic releases I paid in full at their maximum amount of the regular editions. Somewhere about $59.99 x 4(Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, Eye of the North) = about $240 + tax so about 264$ for everything.
That's ridiculous who would pay that for an old game like that in 2012.
Hang on that's only when it came out their new prices have reflected the age of the game with their original priced only at $19.99, one expansion at $29.99 and the other expansion at $29.99 and their final expansion EotN at $19.99 totalling of just 100$ if you don't include tax. It's like buying Diablo 3 twice. (Yes I said it. So what? *grumbles at the 2 level 60 character achievement per class...* :P)
For a 100$ you'll be receiving some okay story, a massive world to run around in and I do want to emphasize massive and a lot of abilities to experiment with as you unlock them. A LOT. That's only if you buy the game separately which most won't.
For the more content-filled pack the Trilogy and the Eye of the North will only cost you HALF that amount being 49.99.
That being less than 1 copy of Diablo 3 for a game that isn't linear in its playthrough(Yeah I said it again so what?... *grumbles at the hardcore achievements with unstable servers and ninja patches*)
Fine what's it got, I challenge you to prove something.
It has 8 skill slots...
No that sounds weak c ya later.
*argh!* wait! but you have 85 other skills to choose from to fit into those 8 slots as ONE of the last-most expansions(Nightfall) professions before Eye of the North. But every class can have a half-class meaning you can choose skills from one other profession. With any of them all ranging from 85-140 other choices on top of your 85 class choices. With core classes (original guild wars professions) having the most skills available to them because of the expansions adding more skills to them; 140. However your overall choices are 1235 skills to mess around with just not all of them with each other you can only mix at most 170-280 skills between two professions, it's still a lot.
One thing I didn't mention are elite skills you can only have 1 in your skill bar at any given time unless you capture it and keep doing your run with it on for PvE unless its a certain mission/event you could have maybe more than 1, but for regular non-event PvP its definitely 1. So from that total if I take out all elite skills you have 945 skills to mess around with into 7 slots one being that you'll probably always have an elite skill equipped upon receiving/unlocking them and that one slot for your elite skill has a total of 290 choices to go for. For any given class though from the pool of choices you're only allowed a range between 2 classes,
So with this information you have a range of 30-70 elite skills in that 1 slot for any given class and for your regular skills a range of 140-208 skills for any given class rather than the previously mentioned 170-280.
So uh.. you have 179,593,009,560 uh... minimum different combinations of skills to uh... approximately 3,017,xxx,xxx,xxx maximum something combinations for those 7 slots of regular skills multiply by 30-70 for elite skills going into 1 slot to combine with all these. NOT ALL OF WHICH ARE VIABLE that's just the amount of choices you have to mix and match. So yes hundreds of millions to billions. (Unless I did my math wrong again sigh... *facepalm*).
So many skills I bet all of them are useless except a few and cookie cutter builds everywhere!.
Contrary to that view it's not(damn fanboy).
Your maximum level is only 20. (Yes it's only 20 you can reach that in a day or just make a PvP char and be there right off the bat for PvP but not for PvE). With that your attribute points directly affect your skills and your gear grants it a minimal bonus to one or a few of them depending on how you set yourself up. If you're playing PvE there are hundreds of builds just to get through it, not just one build wins everything.
Sometimes you just wanna zerg through or run through a map you just place all defensive skills on and run people to another outpost to make gold. Other times you want to build a spike build to just kill healers really fast so they can't keep the other monsters alive. Or maybe you want an army of the undead and just overwhelm by sheer quantity. Most of them aren't useless.
You need at least more than just 1 build for yourself. Guild Wars is really hard to beat solo for its PvE if you're a newcomer. By solo I mean just 1/(4),(8) in your party. In terms of PvP you need a different build here and there depending on which class you're playing. Random Arenas is like random luck of the draw. Alliance Battles or Faction PvP is different where you need skills to help move the assault or defend an important unit(Siege Turtle or Gate Priest). If you have like a team full of attack you probably won't get anywhere since healers can grant sustain and kill you through attrition. A mix and balance of everything is required to dominate; Disablers, Nukes, Damage Burst, Heal/Survival and DoTs.
Some bosses have disables or tanking skills that your other skills have no effect on. A few bosses run their own set of skills but these are end-game bosses or elite dungeon bosses that are unique skills which you cannot acquire and are extremely overpowered forcing players to come up with strategy.
Veterans of the game who've completed everything are long gone and awaiting the successor; Guild Wars 2. I logged on these past few days only to notice how hard it is to find a player party that is extremely collaborative and good with skill builds or maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place. (Can't find that Domain of Anguish run going 16-20 minutes any more, average party run or solo w/ heroes/henches take about 2-6 hours).
One thing to mention there's only 1 difficulty increase in the game, Hard Mode.(PvE)
Hard mode really is challenging, but not ridiculous.
It's unlocked after beating normal mode in its campaign. Because of the level cap being 20 you are limited to base stats of 500 hp and a set amount of attribute points to spend; which you can re-spec at any time IN TOWN. Your energy is dependant and differentiates with each profession. However the main focus to beat Hard Mode is skill build.
Not how great your weapons and equipment are since acquiring them isn't difficult and should be at their maximum best by the time you finish Normal Mode anyways.
In Hard Mode ALL monsters have an elite skill making this very difficult. Elite skills generally bring forth an extra effect or multiple effects vs. other skills. 1 Elite is worth 2-3 normal skills depending on what it is but is executed in 1 pass rather than casting/activating 3 different ones in succession. Bosses/Elites have 2x their regular damage and cast 2x as fast, with other campaigns some do 3x their damage but their cast is always twice as fast. Monsters are all level 20+ with you being the lowest level on the map all the time. The game doesn't make you feel weak though unless you yourself have a bad skill build. What worked in Normal won't work in Hard. Which then might enforce you to look for more skills or hunt for more elite skills if you've reached a block in Hard Mode. Most of the end game areas players will know are the places to look for these monsters to hunt down their skill.
What about gear surely it must mean something.
Unfortunately it doesn't mean very much. By the time you reach max level and max armor/weapon your armor is sort of a set value depending on your profession being only enhanced by runes on your armor granting small bonuses. The values they hold fit around their profession more enforcing them into a stereotype of tanks, healers, damage. Or in easier terms Light, Medium, Heavy armored. With most casters having the lowest armor rating followed by the damage classes having a medium armor rating, and the tanky classes like paragon and warrior being the highest. Other than that gear is more of a fashion show in Guild Wars, end game armors are more of a label of how far you've gone. Not everyone in town holds a tormented shield/weapon which is extremely noticeable even from a distance compared most other things.
The same goes for weapons, there aren't any class restrictions on the weapons but they are determined by attribute instead. And that attribute restricts classes to their own weapon by proficiency. (Assassins mainly use daggers, Warriors mainly use swords,axes,hammers, Paragon, Spears etc. but they can all use each other's weapons just not as good.)
Let's cut to the chase... though I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with this article I ended up just going into review mode since I didn't compare this to too many games... (withheld from comparison due to impending apocalypse if I did or maybe I will do it later :P).
I'll start here...
What's bad about Guild Wars?
If you're into levelling up a character super high then this game is not for you. Max being level 20 is all there is and won't get any higher than that further experience is to grant skill points.
It can get very grindy quickly with all the monster killing and all the map traversing in the game. For its time it might've been okay but even back then I remember it to be very grindy just to get to the end until further expansions came out with different things to do. Spending time killing monsters just to get through to different areas can easily time consuming, but detrimentally tedious. Even reaching some parts of the game took a while before it became more interesting.
The AI of your heroes/henchman sometimes are unreliable, if not frequently unreliable. Unless you're insane with control and skill usage which most aren't, sometimes your henchman and heroes are very unreliable when fighting. You want to target a monster healer but they end up casting their disables and things on something else when you want them all to focus fire on this one guy in the midst of battle. If you lock their target before battle that's a different situation.
Sometimes building up a party to go on a strategized run of a hard dungeon takes forever with people calling their builds in chat and others saying it won't work. The argumentative discussion in game involves a lot of thinking and strategy between player skills in conjunction with one another. We all of course want to succeed on our run and not rinse and repeat the same thing over and over. But this isn't entirely a bad aspect it's the amount of time it takes before starting. Bringing in the wrong skill could instill wipes during the run and forcing the entire run to be restart.(Happens a lot when no one has resurrection and you die and get death penalty to -60%)
Class stereotyping - Everyone wants to be a killer or do some real damage in most games and that is one problem here. Where most classes have some sustainability there is almost always a call for a Monk or a Ritualist during a run, if not even a healer Necromancer. I know some like to just keep people alive or their own character alive to annoy the sh** out of someone because they can't kill him/her but that means your opponent won't die either. Most of the time parties do take a while to make up just because of class stereotyping. The DamageAbsorber, the DamageDealer, the Healer. Especially with PvP in Random Arenas, if you match up with against a team that has no healer you're likely to win by a land slide and vice versa.
The quests and story are/were and bland and uninteresting - Guild Wars although it attempted to tell a story it was quite a rough ride to go through. With most quests I didn't even bother reading the text except a few of them and just clicked the accept button and moved on to read only what the objective was. (Kill this kill that, deliver this to here.). I only say are/were because some of the future expansions they improved upon it like Eye of the North giving different things to do during the story and campaign. With console games in the market granting a great story with a similar price like Final Fantasy X(even if some didn't like it), Guild Wars' story was only mediocre and borderline bad. For its time it didn't have voice acting until later on(once again they added it in, free of charge!).
There's so many builds available sometimes its hard to break it down to a few select that you like - While Guild Wars doesn't grant very much permanence in your ability set up, the amount of builds possible and available AND VIABLE can be overwhelming and discourage most players to not even trying simply because they don't know what's good and don't bother to care to find out because of the vast amount. However this point is a bad and a good one though its just situational-dependant on the player.
Skill hunting and searching for that elite skill sometimes gets annoying - The bosses and elites that hold your elite skills to be captured in PvE are sometimes annoying to find. For example getting like Feast of Corruption takes forever since Prophecies have long winding maps and the world being extremely massive and open makes it hard to locate or reach this one monster you're hunting just for its skill. The other little nuance is that sometimes they don't even spawn so 20 minutes of running just to find out it's not even there. However further expansions have that in reverse where some are right outside the town gates. (i.e. Cantha).
What's good about Guild Wars?
PvP - Random Arenas aren't too exciting... well not for me personally. I liked the faction battle in Cantha of Fort Aspenwood and Jade Quarry to be enticing. Different builds or different classes in each play uniquely and can get fun. Though not entirely destructive or intense action, there's a lot of strategy and micro-battles throughout the arena/map. Guild Hall battles are fun too but there are less of those now in 2012, and more are catered to PvE due to its tied link to Guild Wars 2.
Skill timing makes the game hard and intense in PvP and PvE. Think of how hard it is to disrupt an enemy player who has a 0.5 second cast of an ability, those are for the hardcore. In general if you play a disruption class (e.g. Rangers or Mesmers, mostly Mesmers), keeping an eye on your enemy and when to use your skills to counter their skills is quite difficult if you don't realize other team mates of your opponent could remove those effects making you place your hexes/counters on the wrong target. Even with an outdated 3D engine Guild Wars has minimal dodging involved where moving around can help you avoid ranged attacks/spell projectiles. Dodging a lightning orb is pretty much negating yourself of about 1/5th of your hp being lost if you have no buffs(Hits about 76 damage at max lightning with you being 500 hp if you don't have runes reducing that amount).
PvE is huge - And by Player vs. Environment, the environment is MASSIVE. Exploring Tyria feels cool at first and feels like a chore at the very end. If you want a huge world here's one for you in Guild Wars. Not to mention there are 2 other continents to traverse through. For new players pressing M and seeing yourself in the map you're kind of like... this is it? Until you notice that zoom out icon on your mouse then your reaction goes omg or wtf... although not the entire map can be explored most of it can be and takes a long time. Guild Wars 2 made sure that the whole of the map can be explored not and not sectioned off into areas like Guild Wars 1. The many story missions are enough to keep the cash you paid for filled, and when complete the elite dungeons are still there waiting for you such as Fissure of Woe, The Underworld or the continent's own elite dungeon(e.g. Sorrow's Furnace, Urgoz Warren, The Deep, Slaver's Exile)
Instancing - There's not really such a thing as kill stealing or loot robbing someone else in the game. Guild Wars runs on instancing, where towns and outposts are where people gather and discuss or build parties. In every run or instance the entirety of that map belongs to you only and no invaders/outsiders to disturb your run other than chat.
Value - Something I have to emphasize on is value. Over the years constant updates are presented to Guild Wars consistently and without halting the player with weekly maintenance or things like that much of which I hate when I have free time to play and a game has to go maintenance, which by the time they finish I have to go sleep or do other things and not even play at all (Anyone else feel familiar about this?). Most of the time you just get a message saying "There's a new build of the Guild Wars client, please restart your game".
Which isn't forced on the player, you can sit there for as long as you like in the old version and still play until you restart. Changes being made not being very apparent could equate to bug squashing or skill balancing. But for skill balancing it's normally announced in the login screen to make sure you know.
For the amount of content you receive for today's price (19.99 - 29.99 for one of them) its enormous if you can ignore its date of release. If you do decide I suggest you start with either Factions or Nightfall before trying prophecies. Eye of the North requires you have one of the previous expansions though. Eye of the North is the one being the most content able to experience in its small world expansion of Tyria featured in Guild Wars Prophecies.
The game is polished and to its most limiting effects of its base foundation with the developers even stating along the lines of "We wanted to do more with Guild Wars but the limitations are hindering so we started working on Guild Wars 2 and a new engine to fit it".
Bottom line You pay once only for a lot or
100$ for everything with today's price. After reading some comments about the trilogy pack and did some digging it requires you to pay only 29.99 for all three of the first expansions with Eye of the North an extra 19.99 this equates to basically about 49.98 for the entire game. JESUS...(pardon the blasphemy for those who are religious and damn.. I paid so much <- lol owned.) Definitely worth the money.
In my previous articles some claimed that me playing a game for 200+ hours is nuts and is 30 cents an hour essentially if it was worth 59.99. What I paid for here is 4x the amount but my game played time is 15x the amount of the said 200+. But to compare that with an older game such as Guild Wars probably won't make much sense since it's been out for 7 years and the other only a few months.
If a new player had the inclination to play Guild Wars for its current price for everything, being 100$, I can guarantee it'll take you at least 200+ hours to complete all of the 4 campaigns if you don't look up guides and think for yourself without being carried by anyone. Any less than 200 and I'll herald you as a hardcore gamer with all the said conditions.
Skill build - This is the challenging and fun part of Guild Wars if you're into developing strategy and combinations of abilities in games then Guild Wars should appeal to you if not just avoid it like the plague. By about the end game you might have a large amount of template lists of skills to pre-load your previous builds you liked for yourself. If you can spend the time to build effective builds for the whole of the campaign eventually you'll just have way too many but you know you completed it all. Its challenging and does make you think a bit so you know you can't be stupid or mindless when playing the game.
Seasonal Events - Guild Wars hosts its own seasonal events featuring similar ones to that in real life. They come around at the same time also. (i.e. Wintersday - Christmas, Canthan Festival - Chinese New Year. to name a few). With those events come item hunting or prize collecting or lottery games or even snowball fights.
Achievements - Although this isn't a really good point(But I'm an achievement whore), it's nice to have a trophy hall to display your feats of persistence and accomplishments. And you also get cool rewards for reaching certain amounts (Rainbow phoenix anyone?), not to mention it ties directly towards Guild Wars 2 giving you some special items others can't have if they didn't achieve anything in Guild Wars 1.
Crafting for visual not for power - Simplistic but some materials are really hard to get. Example is Obsidian armor, basically the rich man's show off of being the top-most valued gear in Guild Wars. It's basically a material hunt and have armor crafter NPCs make it for you. But getting to them is rather difficult on the first time through. I speak of all the uncommon armors. Armor is customized to your character by default so you won't ever see that being traded off, only the materials.
Gameplay - Strategy and skill building is the core of Guild Wars. Though some might not agree it's what I found most of the time when running Hard Mode and Normal Mode in the newbie days. The game is simple, you have 8 skills all of which are activated; no passives. An attribute system that is permanent during runs and affects your skills directly. There isn't a need to buy potions in this game because your abilities do that for you.
During its time in 2005 it was a unique system with only a few games having a similar style but not close to the customization of the amount of skills(Tell me one other game that has more than 1000+ skills to choose from and I'll reconsider this). With so many P2P games releasing the one B2P game caught players' attention and created a new system in the industry, not the B2P model its mechanics. Because it was B2P a lot of players also quit and returned from time to time just like myself, the player didn't have an obligation to pay every month, we paid and we got and beyond. The future patches in the game received extra content most players never expected to even get. Seasonal events being one of them added some flavor into the game.
With each time the new content came the revival of its player base continued. As the trend came closer and closer to the present date before the upcoming launch there still remains a lot of purpose to play Guild Wars since it ties towards Guild Wars 2. But since the game plays out very grindy for most of its PvE and PvP being a throw against builds on one another I have to give this aspect a rating of 7/10. It's because of all the skill building that makes up for most of the game and playing it out and seeing if it actually works during your runs made it fun some did some didn't, where it worked worked elsewhere either forward or backwards or in a different difficulty. Sometimes you even need 8 different builds of skills just to destroy 1 foe (e.g. Varesh, Shiro).
Visuals - The visuals of the game are without a doubt outdated by now. But for its massive environments and all the armor sets for each class It's hard not to give a high number for the amount of different places you visit and see. From serene to post apocalyptic events that destroyed towns (I.e. the introduction of Prophecies of Ascalon being ruined), Frozen tundra biomes, forests and jungles, and volcanic ash lands to deserts. They hit
every single most realistic places and environment settings as possible and the game was geared towards realism in its aesthetic. Furthermore with expansions they went to different regions of the world. They reflect upon our own world in a way where when playing you feel a familiarity in some places, which I have to conclude that it dives into realism. On a tangent here... but the fourth unreleased expansion was even catering towards the Aztec theme with cool unseen before classes like a Chronomancer and something else but these never came and will not come to light and focus went towards Guild Wars 2.
Skill effects were minimal with some effects being very bright and some barely even visible but at least you know by the time you're well into Guild Wars that every profession's skill effects are color-themed. Assassins being dark purple rangers being bright green necromancers a dark green mesmers pink and so on. Character models were fairly low and normal mapping and specular mapping and all the other emissive shinies weren't in popular nor even used back then. Camera is just your basic 3rd person view no composition effects so nothing fancy there. The details of the flat textures on armor were of high quality on their low-res models. For the visuals and overall graphics I'm going to rate it as an 8/10 pretty high even for today... because I can't recall what it felt like when it first came out. I remember playing the beta and thought this game is awesome but don't remember what I felt about the graphics. it's because I go back and I still run around looking at other people's characters. Monsters aren't lacking in detail either it feels consistent with your character on screen.
Originality - As the one of the games on the market where max Level is 20 and levelling isn't important for an MMO, and with 1235 skills to play with over time this game is a behemoth when it comes to combinations and skill experimentation. I can't find any other MMO that has that magnitude of... customization on abilities yet. Most skills are used out of that entire pool of 1235 choices. The story and the lore of everything fit well in the universe they've created. It's consistent throughout each campaign. With every expansion it only got better.
Each campaign they had a story to tell and how it unfolded, one of treachery and trickery, one being revenge, another being domination and conquest of the land plus the resurrection of a god and the creation of a god, and finally the last one is just mini adventures everywhere and focusing about Dragons to lead into GW2(Eye of the North). The final iteration of the expansion kept up with the times of dungeon raiding and mini-games reviving the game once more.
If you do it right and continue doing it right and pledging to not go pay to play and keeping the servers clean(no gold spam) because of the success and onwards dedication to your players then it already speaks volumes about the company especially adding free extra content to Guild Wars just to fit the gap for Guild Wars 2. The game is definitely unique in the manner of skills and some of the PvPs in its time. With all these put together and not much to drop into a me-too section for gaming I think it deserves a 9/10 for its mentioned elements and more. The 1 missing being killing monsters all the time and quests being just accept and go do said thing but hunting for skills rather than items is something different. I probably would've given it a 10 if not for that. It's also one of the few games where you can control your whole party before anyone else had it going on in an MMO.
Heroes and henchmen, were NPCs you could hire to fit your party incase you couldn't find someone else to adventure with or make a party or you just like solo game-play. Heroes you could fit them with any skill you wanted that you have unlocked on your account as well as control them too. I don't remember any other 2005-2007 MMO game doing this(Granado Espada and Atlantica came much later).
Story - As usual there may be spoilers in this section, you have been warned.
Since this game is paid to play the perspective here is different than that of a free to play. Was it worth the money story-wise? It was sort of... not really? I found most of the story to be bland and uninteresting for the most part until I finally reached Eye of the North when things were cool with all the different races and missions and how things worked together. Factions' story was all right, it was between two split nations or something warring and having a feud but they united back in the day to take down a common enemy who is the main antagonist who's trying to attain his revenge. Cut scenes were as best as they could do for the amount they had to do, though I wish some of it was like their cover art after the end of a campaign or something to wrap it up before bringing you to the end game area to get prestige armors/prestige items. But that goes in visuals. Was the story original? It was quite original in their own universe.
Lore was given in game, things were explained with quests and campaign story if you bothered to read them. To rate it Prophecies' story -> bland, Factions -> pretty good, Nightfall -> How a god came about and how you get to kill one? Yes! I thought it was cool(damn fanboy). Eye of the North -> A lot of separate mini-stories but important and tied many events towards Guild Wars 2 -> Excellent. Now that last one may sound a little biased. But before they released that content to tie it to GW 2 the EotN story was pretty good on itself. It introduced all the other races that were never before seen that are present in Guild Wars 2, it brought you in from each campaign separately and not completely random... well it was sort of but at least each campaign had a different way to enter the troubles being caused at the Eye of the North campaign.
Eye of the North even had the development of a lot of things between some NPCs and had a huge quest line just to fix them. A lot of players before it was implemented why the NPC was saying such dialogue and lead to the eventual release of a mini-campaign quest line. Also a character from the beginning of Prophecies is also explained how they got there. Loop holes were destroyed and story flaws disappeared. Because of the polish and everything else above the story is pretty good for what I paid for which includes all the sideline stories for NPCs that are away from the main campaign. What's even better, is it had branching story paths! Yes you can make decisions on which way you want to go its not linear and this was well before any other MMO(I might not be correct on those last 5 words) having you sway away from a big main path into two different ones or a few. (e.g. Factions -> Kurzicks/Luxons, Nightfall -> which npc to help?). Combining all these things together and for what I got I'd rate it a 8.5/10 only because I experienced improvement as each expansion came and the amount of detail placed into a now labeled as "outdated game". The story telling factor could be a bit better rather than just had in-game models talking to one another, they could've used concept art instead.
Sound - Some of the sounds were improved over time also. Bow's going from a *wikwik* noise to an actual pshkew well maybe not a pshkew but it was a definitely an improvement than the past. Swords clanging and daggers gashing and spell effects each have their sound. With the 1235 pool of skills that's a lot of different sounds already. Music in the game supports the game and most importantly the theme. When you're in certain different biomes of the game you really feel the music fit towards it. Upon approaching battle music changes into a more upbeat rhythm and drums and horns. Sort of reminds me of Lord of the Rings movies which has similar elements. Voice acting came a little later and was implemented to all campaigns eventually. They did not just cheap out and forget about old campaigns. After binding the results together I came up with a 10/10 for Guild Wars. Jesus a 10/10, I can't think of anything at the moment that can lower it, because if you dislike sound you just dislike it or if you like it you just like it but I'm saying if it fits or not to the game itself. (Subject to edit later.).
Gameplay - 7/10
Visuals - 8/10
Originality - 9/10
Story - 8.5/10
Sound - 10/10*
Challenge - Brain-stakingly easy to Super Hard, Consistent
Lasting effect - Seasonal events are always there they've never missed a beat. Dedication and unexpected content always came out but that can't be said the same any more since Guild Wars 2 is coming out but it might have you returning just to play with skills and to unlock things for GW2. For new comers that's mostly what I've been reading/hearing.
Score - 42.5/50 -> 85/100
End comments: The game is definitely old, for its price now if I bought it today I don't think I'd be disappointed just for the sheer amount of things to do in the game; skill hunting, campaigning; elite dungeoning; warring in factions; achievement chasing; playing the seasonal events; armor collecting; miniature collecting. There's just a lot. I even have this feeling that I'll be heading back to Guild Wars after Guild Wars 2 is out.
So yes I do believe it is still a Walking Warrior of a game and hasn't been ground down to dust yet. The towns aren't even ghostly yet I still see many players on in the main towns though they dropped significantly probably because of people finishing the title hunt for what they needed for GW2.
For the money I paid, 3018 hours over 84 months for 240$ for me, which is about 0.079 cents an hour and about 35 hours of gaming a month or to be realistic many hours in the beginning tapering off to less and less. Worth it. Worth even more now that it's been reduced to 49.99 for the entire game.
As usual feel free to comment just please keep it civil.