Guild Wars 1 is celebrating its 10th year anniversary! It’s hard to believe, especially since it’s a game that I played back during the open beta phase. Despite the fact I beta tested it, it wasn’t a game I expected to play.
You see, years before that, due to the general atmosphere of MMOs, and some bad forced-grouping experiences in FFXI, I’d sworn off playing any more MMOs all together. I was frustrated as a shy and casual player. I wanted to be part of the online world experience, but I was transitioning out of college into the work world, and I had tons of art projects, so I couldn’t dedicate a million hours of my time to online gaming.
The neweness of MMOs had worn off on me during my UO years, and I really needed a game that fit me. One without the frustrations of forced grouping, elite raiding, and huge time sinks.
Discovering Guild Wars
I remember my sister was the first one to suggest Guild Wars. She’d heard of it and told me, “You and Syn might enjoy this one. It has features I think you’d like.”
I dismissed it at first. It didn’t sound like a game I’d like based on the title – I didn’t join Guilds in games and I’m not into Wars. Also, I had sworn off MMOs at that point in my life.
But when I caught wind of an open, free beta event, I decided to give it a shot. I remember really enjoying it, mostly because the beta sequence threw you into one of the missions that lead up to becoming one of the White Mantle in Lion’s Arch. It wasn’t the same as the mission that was eventually put into the game, but it was enough that I got a taste for the writing and level design.
I liked what I saw, but I didn’t ride the hype train. In fact, I forgot all about GW1 until it launched. I must have been bored one day, and I remember going out to pick the game up a few days after the release. I’d never owned a B2P game before, so I figured without a sub, I didn’t have much to lose. It was one of the best things I ever did.
Enjoying Guild Wars 1
Not only did GW1 revitalize MMOs in general for me, but it gave me a mission and story based online game that I could play with Syn. She wasn’t an MMOer at all before that, and seeing she’s very story-oriented, it would take something like GW1 to have hooked her. Now days, she’s running Crystal Tower raids more than I do! XD
The story had its own charm, and it knew how to make the player feel like the center of the action. It was obvious that there was lore and history behind the game world – I remember being fascinated by the idea of the sunken city of Orr and the undead that were dragging up to shore. And while the story progressed through missions, you could go back and replay the story any time (unlike GW2 personal story).
The game was challenging back then, especially if you were duoing with henchmen. But I liked that you had the option to fill in the party with henchies, even if they weren’t as good as human players. Boy do I have some stories about Alesia…
I liked the ability to have a secondary class and all the amazing builds that were wide open to you as you developed your character. I liked going out to cap skills from bosses. I liked that missions had levels of completion – I remember getting the Bonus or Master rewards was always exciting.
The game changed a lot over the years. Here’s some highlights I remember, some which don’t exist anymore.
- Farming for hours on aloe out in the Barradin’s Estate in Pre-Searing to earn enough money for a guild cloak. We were [RIFT] before Rift was ever a game. Couldn’t use that tag in GW2, after Rift was released, though, because no one believed we were named after a webcomic (Wayrift).
- At launch, you were required to go through a PvP session before you could leave Pre-Searing. I don’t know if that’s still the case, but even back then Anet was trying to nudge PvE folks into PvP. XD
- When no one knew what happened to Gwen after the searing, so people held on the the broken flute and scrap of red cloth just in case.
- At launch, if you wanted to change your attributes, you had to go out and earn experience to reset your points. Now days, you can just reset them and distribute on the fly as long as you’re in a town.
- At launch, infusing your armor happened one piece at a time. That meant you had to run the Iron Mines of Moladune over and over for each piece of armor you needed to infuse. Glad they changed that.
- When people discovered 55 HP farming. It started with a Monk build, which could obliterate huge groups of griffons and minotaurs in the desert. Eventually, other classes could run it with a Monk secondary – I remember running this on my necromancer just because I could.
- When dance syncing was first added. HUGE dance parties. Many great dance videos were made!
- When the Frog and Gaile used to visit Lion’s Arch. We there was always a huge turnout and I remember Gaile’s conga lines fondly.
- When Thunderhead Keep used to be a big end game challenge. I also remember when the Monks, frustrated with bad treatment of healers, staged a dance-strike at Thunderhead and refused to join parties.
- At launch, after you beat the end boss in Prophecies, the game just dumped you unceremoniously at the statue of Glint. Players were sad that there was no real ending or fanfare for their character. So, when Factions was released, the devs created a HUGE fanfare for winning the game – so many NPCs cheering for you, your henchies and story NPCs talking, everyone dancing, and tons of fireworks. Later, they went back and added a fanfare for completing Prophecies, too.
- There was so much excitement when Sorrow’s Furnace first released. That was really tough content at that time, too. That was also the first release of Green weapon drops.
- 15K armor was the end game goal. I was so proud of mine. 🙂
We spent years playing GW through all of its different expansions. I even have two different box accounts, also with expansions. We put a lot of time into earning titles and mapping landscape for the Cartographer titles.
Our enthusiasm fell short, though, when GW2 was announced in 2007. Seeing that GW2 didn’t actually release until 5 years later, I always felt that the GW2 announcement was too premature. Knowing that development was shifting to a new game kinda took the wind out of my sails. I understand now why they had to develop a new game from the ground up, but back then, I just felt sad knowing GW1 wouldn’t see new expansions in the future.
Eventually, we moved on to playing other games, but I won’t forget the fun we had when GW was still at the peak of its development. I still log in every month to ensure I maintain guild leadership and that all is well in our little guild, founded in May 2005. GW still holds a fond place in my heart. It was the right game at the right time for me.
Thank you for everything, Guild Wars!
(Yes, I kept all my screenshots… I knew they’d come in handy one day! I have thousands, seriously!)