In my continued flitting from MMO to MMO like a magpie distracted by shiny objects, I dug out Guild Wars again this week. I picked it up a while back, sometime in 2005 between a first stint in WoW and City of Villains, but didn’t play it too much back then. Apart from anything else, it had the worst capes *ever*. For the most part, the graphics were beautiful; the character models were great, not a huge range of customisation choices but some interesting armour, particularly the Mesmer’s dandy highwayman (who you’re too scared to mention) look. And then you hooked up with a guild, and got… a commemorative tea towel. Which the guildmaster sellotaped to your back, and wouldn’t let you take off. You were stuck with this stupid tea towel; a realistically modelled, flapping-in-the-breeze tea towel (as opposed to the much-easier-to-model cloak-shaped bits of cardboard used in a lot of other games), but a tea towel nonetheless.
Anyway! You can turn off cape display these days, so that’s the most important thing sorted out. OK, maybe not quite the *most* important, but you know me and my character customisation obsession. I decided to roll up a new character, and after deciding support classes aren’t for me, thought I’d get back to my DPS-ways. The Assassin class introduced in the Factions campaign, looked rather fun, so a swift visit to the online store added that to my account (I’m a sucker for the instant gratification of direct download online purchases). I’m planning to head back as soon as possible to meet up with a couple of friends in post-Searing Ascalon and play through the original Prophecies campaign, which might be a disastrously foolish plan. I’m turning down all side-quests to get to the point that I can sail back over to Tyria as soon as possible, which I think is leaving me rather under-levelled for the unavoidable story missions on the way there but still higher level than a post-Searing Prophecies character, but hey, we’ll see how it goes.
Combat in Guild Wars is a pretty frenetic business, especially with your posse of AI henchmen. In World of Warcraft or City of Heroes, I’m totally in control, I know exactly what I’m doing, who I’m targeting, what powers I’m using (well, mostly. I mean there’s the whole “which button is sap again?” business that makes the whole party roar with laughter, second only to my other party piece of sneaking around forgetting the minor point that I’m not in stealth… and then there’s jumping into the middle of a pile of mobs, hitting the button for a devastating PBAoE inferno, and only then realising it hasn’t recharged… but y’know, apart from that). Guild Wars so far is more… “AAAAHHH! MOBS! Press buttons! Activate powers! What did I just do? Shadow what? With a what? No target? Oh, he’s dead… but… where’s the other one? No, that’s my henchman… Him! Hit him! Hit him with a stick! Hit him with a bucket! Ruffle his hair up, they hate that. AAAAAHHH!”
I’m not quite sure if it’s me, or the game (or a bit of both). I’ve played WoW and CoH far more than anything else, and was probably randomly mashing buttons just as much in those when I started out. Like fighting games; you’re flailing around mushing whatever buttons come to hand, and someone says “look, you just block the punch like that, and then counter like this, and then left-left-down-kick-jump-punch activates Super Robert Smith Punch”, and you go “huh?” and try and push every button on the controller at the same time using the palm of one hand while frantically rotating the analogue stick at high speed with the other. After a while, though, things fall into place; I could probably still pull off most of the scrap and destruction attacks of a Jaguar from One Must Fall: 2097 (Up up down down punch! Best PC fighting game ever… Well, the only PC fighting game, really. At least, the only one that wasn’t rubbish, and was shareware back when I couldn’t afford that many games…) If I can stick with Guild Wars for more than ten minutes without getting distracted by a beta for another game, or Pirates of the Burning Seas, or a gleaming bottle top or bit of silver foil, I’m sure things will click there. I sincerely hope so, at least, for my prospective comrades’ sakes, otherwise it could be a long campaign… “Run, Charlie, run! Hit him with a broom, Kev, hit him with a broom!”