Guild Wars Factions Hands On

On a cold and gray evening in Seattle, WA, the folks at ArenaNet warmed things up with a look at their new game Guildwars Factions. Factions is both a stand alone game as well as an addition to the popular MMOPG Guild Wars which has garnered legions of fans thanks to its catching gameplay and innovative lack of a monthly subscription fee.

The event was held at the Science Fiction Museum which is part of the Experience Music Project (E.M.P.) and the historic Seattle Center. In addition to getting a chance to rub elbows with the designers and get a hands on look at the game, those lucky enough to be in attendance were treated to the sounds of Hell’s Belles, an all-female AC/DC tribute band who delivered the goods and had the E.M.P. rocking.

While the Belles were a draw in and of themselves, the night was really about Factions and what I saw is certain to make fans of the original salivate at the pending release and is likely to draw in new players as well. As the first of many planned new episodes in the Guild Wars universe players once again can forget about the level grinding that makes up many MMOPG titles and focus on the action and the series trademark large battles. The new episodes are planned to be released roughly every six months and if Factions is any indication of what is to come, then gamers are going to be for a series of treats.

One of the new features of Factions is a new continent called Cantha which has a strong Asian influence and features a scenic monastery. There is also a breathtaking Jade Sea which according to a legend was caused by the final cry of a condemned guard who was guilty of murdering the leader of Cantha years ago.

There are two new groups in the game, Kurzicks and the Luxans which allow players and their guilds to form alliances with the new factions.

Factions also features three mission types: the hard but rewarding Elite, the competitive and co-op style that forces groups to work with one another to complete various tasks and the Challenge missions which are all about showing what you can do in order to make the games leader board.

With over 100 new enemies, it is a good thing that players will have two new character classes to play. The first is called the Ritualist and it is a Native American inspired class who can summon spirits in battle as well as the Assassin who uses two weapons in battle and has Ninja-like speed and grace.

Graphically, Factions is amazing. I was amazed at the attention to the smallest details the game makers have included. In one segment, my character was walking along a beach, fairly standard stuff until I saw the dust and footprints that were created when I walked. Later I returned to the same locale to see the prints exactly as I had left them.

Naturally Factions is not about making footprints and gamers will be happy to know that Factions has plenty of action to keep gamers fixated. During a Player VS Player match, I was treated to an array of stealth and agility as a player nimbly dispatched a group of opponents in less than 30 seconds. The finishing touch was a nice cartwheel move that allowed the player to move from one recently dispatched player onto their next target all the while avoiding an incoming attack.

The graphics are just mind blowing as the attention to details is in every aspect of not only the characters but the terrain. During one segment of the game, I heard more than one observer ask if the image on screen was artwork, only to be told that it was part of the game. Horizons and other monuments have an appropriate scale and change as players move closer to, or further away.

Based on the promising showing, it looks clear that Guild Wars Factions is set to take its place as one of the top MMOPG games on the market. Gamers will be able to find out for themselves when the game is released on April 28th.