Guild Wars: Eye of the North Hands-On

The expansion for the popular Guild Wars series will serve as a bridge to the upcoming Guild Wars 2.

With sales that, according to developer ArenaNet, are on the cusp of 4 million copies in a little over two years, it's safe to say that Guild Wars series has successfully carved out its own unique niche. The games, which combine elements of online role-playing with a no-subscription-fee revenue model, let you explore a rich fantasy realm or battle against others in competitive play. There have been three Guild Wars games to date, each one a stand-alone game that a beginner could pick up and play without any prior knowledge of the others. However, there are now arguably millions of existing Guild Wars players looking for something more. That's where Guild Wars: Eye of the North comes in. As the first true expansion pack for the series, Eye of the North will require you to own an existing Guild Wars game and have an existing character. The benefit is that you'll get to take your favorite characters and go on some epic adventuring.

You need to have an existing level-20 character from any of the Guild Wars games to play Eye of the North.

Though it is an expansion, Eye of the North should pack a full game's worth of content. Part of that is due to the size of the expansion, as the new lands that are introduced are as large as the continent of Cantha from Guild Wars: Factions. But it goes a bit deeper than that. Since the expansion is designed for existing Guild Wars players who have maximum level-20 characters, the designers don't have to worry about building content for beginning players. So ArenaNet can focus on stuffing Eye of the North with nothing but high-level content that will keep even the best Guild Wars players busy.

Even though Eye of the North marks a return to the lands of the original Guild Wars, you can still import characters from Guild Wars: Factions and Guild Wars: Nightfall, even though those games were set on different continents. How that works is different in each case. For instance, in Guild Wars: Factions, you must speak to a certain character in one of the cities in the game. That opens up a new quest to discover what's causing the earthquakes that are rocking the city. You and your group must find a nearby chasm, which leads to vast underground chambers. There, you'll battle assassins and necromancers before encountering some dwarves who are preparing for an attack by their ancient enemy, the destroyers. These destroyers serve as the main bad guy in the expansion, and they're a bit insectlike. They're also about 20 feet tall and powerful, so when the destroyers attack shortly after you meet the dwarves you must run for your life. This starts a three-minute timer, which is how much time your group has to escape through an Asura gate (more on the Asura a bit later), which will teleport you to the Far Shiverpeaks, the starting point for Eye of the North.

The story in Eye of the North is that the destroyers have awoken from their slumber deep below the surface, and they've driven out the Asura, one of the new races in the game. You'll have to stop the destroyers, which means you'll delve into more than a dozen large dungeons. You'll also get to explore a massive land mass and encounter the Charr, which was the main enemy in the original Guild Wars, as well as the Norn, which are a race of half-giant shape-shifters. At the beginning of the expansion, you'll meet a number of principal characters from those races, such as Jora, a nine-foot tall Norn warrior who looks like a valkyrie from legend. (Fans of Pinky and the Brain will delight in the fact that Brain voice actor Maurice LaMarche is the voice of one of the main Asura characters.)

Eye of the North should offer a bit more freedom when exploring the world and pursuing quests. There are three main regions in the expansion, and you can pursue most quests at any time. For instance, you may go help the Asura and then decide you want to go explore the Norn regions and follow that story. The game is flexible enough to let you choose which missions you take and in which order. The 18 dungeons in the game won't consist of straight, linear paths, but will instead be large enough to reward exploration off the beaten path. The rewards will be significant, such as the 50 new player-versus-environment skills that you can learn in the expansion. These PVE skills are much more powerful than traditional Guild Wars skills, since the developer didn't have to worry about balancing them for player-versus-player combat. For example, breath of the great dwarf will relieve all of your party members of burning attacks and heal each of them for 60 health. Many of these PVE skills are tied closely to their quests, so the skill is often reflective of the hurdle you have to overcome.

While player-versus-player fans can have fun battling one another, there's an incredible amount of player-versus-environment fans who like following quests.

Battles in Eye of the North are a bit tougher than in previous Guild Wars games, thanks mainly to the fact that they're designed for level-20 characters, but also to the improved artificial intelligence. Groups of monsters will now take up formations, with the melee warriors in front protecting the spellcasters, and ranged units in the rear. This will force you to try to flank more, to get around the front line. There's also all sorts of environmental hazards to worry about, such as dodging the giant iceballs rolling around on a snowy level. The battles themselves look spectacular thanks to the abundance of particle effects going off, and if you have a full party that consists of warriors, monks, priests, and more, there are a lot of different spells, abilities, and skills that can unfold at once. The rest of the expansion clearly shows off just how much the artwork and technology have advanced in two years; there are incredible vistas to be found, such as scenic waterfalls, towering crystalline formations, and a forest fire that's eerily atmospheric.

If you survive Eye of the North you'll be in a good position to transition to Guild Wars 2. The hall of monuments in the expansion will let you carry over many of your accomplishments, even though you'll have to create a whole new character in the sequel. That's because that character will basically inherit the special weapons and equipment from their "ancestor." Eye of the North may very well be the final chapter in the original series, though ArenaNet says it will still support Guild Wars as long as fans are still playing it. At the very least, Eye of the North will have to tide fans over until Guild Wars 2 ships. The expansion is due out at the end of the month.

Written By

Want the latest news about Guild Wars: Eye of the North?

Guild Wars: Eye of the North

Guild Wars: Eye of the North

Discussion

115 comments
mrsquitifitch
mrsquitifitch

Just owns.. no grind fest such as WOW.. and for those who whine about the lvl cap... THATS THE WHOLE GAME!!! its not like 1 is stronger bescause hes lvl 70!!!! no its just: untill lvl 20 its basic training then the real game begins.. where every1 is even and as good as his skills and how good u use them... BTW any fanboys of WOW shut up.. i played it and was bored in 2 months just because of the grinding fest.. no such thing in GW unless u want it urself

yazaga
yazaga

ok so GW has "supposedly" and "arguably" 4 million users, but WOW indisputably has 9 millions active, happy bees ? u can at least make an effort to make it less obvious. I mean its not like we are showered with WOW ads at every gamespot page...

ChAoS_Maker
ChAoS_Maker

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

jazziam
jazziam

Got this today and now its time to pull out the lvl 20 Dervish and start pwn some Destroyers =)

Dark-Kamikaze
Dark-Kamikaze

kool i wish i could get it but i only got dail up

Prophet11
Prophet11

I Played The Preview Weekend, and It dissapointed me. Not the Expansion, but the Preview Weekend. On Guildwars.com, It showed a map of the far shiverpeaks. I cant get to Longeye's Ledge or Umbral Grotto. If it wasd on the map, I expected to get there, not be dissapointed. Anyway, It looks good, look forwared to seeing players and meeting new players.

xboxobie
xboxobie

I had never played Guildwars untill about a month ago, Then I didnt play it again untill Yesterday., Now, I'm Hooked, And Finally I'm imersed into the World, Like I was with Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast many years ago (If someone had told me This was like PSO I would have been playing the day it was originally released. I've picked up Nightfall (after 1 days play) and will be picking up Factions Wednesday. And my Pre-order for Eye of the North will be in before the Weeks Out., If you have a Life to give, Then get into Any and ALL Guild wars games, But dont say I didnt warn you,. You will be hooked, And with the way EOTN is shaping up, You'r gonna be hooked for a while, possibly way up to GW2, Which I'm also Greatly looking forward to. In Short... Guild Wars is the Best PC Online Gaming Experience, Forget WOW (and the fee's) Enjoy

Staal75
Staal75

Yes lvl is ofcourse importent if you compare a lvl 1 char with a 20 but guild wars is more about your "deck" if you ever played magic or another card game like that. Lets say you have 100 skills/spells you can then quip 8 at a time if i remember corrctly, and you can really string some good combos together if you know what you are doing.

alexandregiroux
alexandregiroux

I'm more tempted than ever to jump into Guild Wars. So far I didn't play any game in the series, but I think I'll pick up the original, and if I like it, I might buy this great-looking expansion.

camy009
camy009

Well, for anyone who isnt familiar with Guild Wars, since some of you are saying the only way to be good is grinding. Its not, GW allows new players to be as good as veterans. Max armor in GW is very cheap while Elite armor (which gives the same armor and mods) is more expensive and the onyl difference is the look. Really veterans only obtain better looking equipment, while new players can easily get the same damage and armor for much cheaper. Gw is not just grinding, you can make a good amount of money just working on titles or working on a campaign. This allows you to not waste your life trying to always get better equipment. @Snaptrap what are you talking about gate monkey? Unless your talking about the gate in pre-searing you have the wrong game, and if you are talking of the gate in pre-searing you should'nt flame an entire game for one quest.

yiceman
yiceman

well guild wars must be a hot game 2 million players nice. ive spent the last 20 years playing games online and off there are some more memorable then others . ive tryed all types over the years,all are fun .at presant im starting the new mafia themed game, made man.i do like my goons.it is cheap and so far ok to play .

iol1
iol1

Snaptrap....umm......are you sure you're talking about "Guild Wars"? From your comments it doesn't sound like you've ever played it. Your statements don't make any sense. Perhaps try playing games before bashing them, eh?

shade1978x
shade1978x

WOW was fun to me for the first two months, then it became a boring grind-fest. I've been playing Guild Wars for six months and haven't even gotten any of the add-ons yet(I plan to get Nightfall within the next 30 days) and can't wait to play GW: EN. I actually care about the storylines in GW when playing and don't have to play for hours to have fun. I play for a half hour at the most and shut if off, which is how I like it. I hardly ever look at my XP bar because it isn't about levelling up, it's about having an experience. And the henchmen option is what makes the entire game. I can have an immersive online RPG experience without having to deal with dumbass thirteen year olds who couldn't pass a first grade spelling test if their lives depended on it. WOW is a great game, apparently, since so many millions play it, but it's a bit too hard-core for my taste. I think GW is WOW for the casual folks, not people whose lives hinge on getting the next 'leet' loot item or something.

FinalFanatic92
FinalFanatic92

Nokols,I absolutely,COMPLETELY agree with you,people who diss other games are morons.And guys,GUILD WARS AND WOW ARE DIFFERENT GAMES,i HATE when they compare the two.

Nokols
Nokols

@Snaptrap You've got it the wrong way, You are paying monthly for WoW, and people who pay monthly for WoW feel like they are wasting their money when they're not playing, so they play for long hours, or even days without sleep to make sure they aren't wasting their money. Now for Guild Wars, you only pay 30-50 bucks for the game. No monthly fee, so that leaves you with you can play anytime you want. So, when you're paying 15 bucks a month to play WoW, you've already wasted 60 dollars totall over the past 4 months, by the end of the year? You have spent $180 ($240 Canadian). Guild Wars gives you 8 skills, and the game does run off of how skilled you are. Your party doesn't have to have the same quest as you to complete it. So get your fanboy ass out of here, I hate fanboys, and fanboys that fight over other succesful games are retards, someone with a low IQ. If you love WoW that much, why do you even bother posting on another games comments box? And yes, I have tried WoW, I didn't like it. This goes to all you guys who are trying to get a fight up in the comments, even if you're not a WoW fanboy, and like Age of Conan or something else. At least congratulate Arenanet for making 3 succesful games, and another one, plus a sequel on the way. /rant

ArabSolja99
ArabSolja99

Snaptrap...im gonna put this as easy as i can... ur a moron GW forces you to stay home and WoW doesnt? What the hell? WoW is a GRINDFEST if u havent noticed... geez...ppl get ur facts straight

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

More flawed garbage. Someone should teach NCSoft how to create an RPG where enemies who cast banish spells on you once only negate one enchantment and not every other enchantment you cast afterwards. At least WoW doesn't force you to live with your parents and be jobless to get anywhere in the game. You can actually take a break (like GW **** about) and come back days later and make up for the time you had to, say, go to work. GW is suppose to be based on skill. Well, no matter how much skill you have, you're not going to get the main gate open alone. Another one of GW's many flaws. According to the box, the game's quests are designed for you or you and your party, but I guess they failed to see that some of the quests require more than just you. This prevents you from obtaining a few spells and titles in the game. I prefer RPG's that offer features, bonuses, and items which are accessible to EVERYONE and not just those who don't have to pay out the wazoo for a gate monkey. The designer looks like a gate monkey. Perhaps that's why it's in the game??

teh_leeto
teh_leeto

to Maraxusofkelds : LMAO you know thats Gwen right? That little girl that was an inverse stalker and followed you around in presearing that I'm sure you wished more than once you could turn around and kill her? lol. apparently she is rumoured to be a Me/W or Me.

Dr4goN_PL
Dr4goN_PL

World of Warcraft? Rewarding? Isn't about consuming your life? Hahaha! Have you ever been to an instance?. It takes you a whole heap of time before you will finish the whole instance! Guild Wars... of course it has instances(here called Elite Missions), but they are harder IMO cause you can have only up to 8 people with 8 skills each, not a raid consisting of 20 people with tons of various skills and spells.

LoranHalvard
LoranHalvard

World Of Warcraft isn't about consuming your life. in fact, it was the first mmorpg ever to be released that was rewarding even when you played the game in short bursts, maybe even more so then Guild Wars.

Klown_hitman
Klown_hitman

Wannabe has the right idea. this game isnt about consuming your life *points to WoW*

stewiegriffin78
stewiegriffin78

Can not wait, I'm psyched! Looks astounding...massive dungeons, tons of PvE...wewt!

Maraxusofkelds
Maraxusofkelds

Man that chick in the above screenshot is hot. AWESOME guild wars graphics ftw!

Wannabe
Wannabe

What the HELL don't you people understand about a lvl 20 cap? THE GAME IS NOT ABOUT LEVEL. It is about how you develop your characters build. THAT IS WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE and MORE EFFECIENT (or less :p). The game is not for people who thinks leveling up is the root of RPG games. This game places more emphasis on individual skill.

lostn
lostn

"Still very interested in GWEN of course (and no it is probably not named after the character Gwen)" It is indeed named after the character Gwen. Watch the trailer. It shows her as a little girl pre-searing of Ascalon, and then she grows up and leads an army. The first screenshot on this page is a picture of her, actually.

Sameo
Sameo

oh god more crapwars

abadgirl84
abadgirl84

This game has enough PvE , the only problem is that you can't handle most of the monsters in the game without a minimum 3-5 people party ... it's just too hard if you're the "Lone Ranger" type :-) . After you advance in the game ... you'll find that is imposible to pass if you're unlucky enough to find a party of un'experienced players . I recommend any game in the GW series , in my book ... one of the best gameplay MMO's. Can't wait for this chapter :-) .

Jared_Vegeta
Jared_Vegeta

I really wish there was a trial of Guild Wars I could play. It looks really fun and the no subscription fee is a plus, but I'm just not that into PvP. I like doing quest and advancing my character more. Plus I kind of suck a t PvP. So I want to try this game out before I buy it to see if there is enough PvE to satisfy me.

PhantomFury_
PhantomFury_

"cle effects going off, and if you have a full party that consists of warriors, monks, priests, and more". Priests ? How we aren't playing WoW now are we :p ? I agree on jakkaj on his last point, the PvP has indeed become a little too unfriendly, but that is what you get when a game is getting 'older'. When I first bought GW: Prophesies, HoH was balanced and interesting. Now it's starting to look like Battlefield; if you don't own a certain version, you are in a great disadvantage (you got no ZB ??? Kick!). Still very interested in GWEN of course (and no it is probably not named after the character Gwen)

jakkaj
jakkaj

With new info coming out more and more often i have to say this is begining to look interesting... Just kidding it looks awsome ;p. I wasnt sure when they announced the new exp, but after reading about the PvE content i rid myself of doubts. With the exception for monuments. How i hate the idea of getting benefits which will be limited for hardcore grinding players... As for the graphics being the same... Im pretty sick of those L2-engine driven games, with same yucky models, and same awful textures. For me GW looks just fine, if not the very good. My only concern is the fact that an end to GW can not only be seen, but has acctually been announced with the work on GW2. With Factions and Nightfall the PvP elements have become extremly unfriendly for casual players; in GWP i could easily go TA or GvG or HoH and if not win then at least stand against the best, but nowadays getting a PUG for HoH is both impossible and senseless. And with the upcoming GW2 the PvE elements are starting to lose its appeal.

Cloud310
Cloud310

Finally a real expansion for lvl20s, this sounds like alot of fun and it sounds like a challenge. Cant wait

SPaM782
SPaM782

ryanstoy91. Guild Wars is very low spec computer friendly. When i was playing the Beta version of Guild Wars i was on a very low spec computer at the time and i ran it pretty well. And this was the time when in the beta it was instances, you would run around a world with other players so it was abit more hardware intensive. Factions and Nightfall would requier a slightly more powerful computer to run than the original Guild Wars as they had slightly improved graphics and pixel counts but you should be able to run it fine. Try the 14 day trial if your unsure.

DoomCrazy88
DoomCrazy88

I can't wait till it comes out. Does anyone no if their is going to be more expansions on the 1st guild wars?

ryanstoy91
ryanstoy91

I've always wanted to buy Guild Wars, yet I'm unsure of whether or not my computer will be able to run it well since I only fulfill the minimum pc requirements for the game.

IBEX333
IBEX333

Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering? Pinky: I think so, Brain, but... I cant wait for GWEN!!!

Lazy_Marine
Lazy_Marine

Awesome, this will be my return to guild wars since the horrible factions expansion.

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

PR_GMR
PR_GMR

Can't wait! I just placed my pre a couple of days ago.

tommynj
tommynj

Eye of the North is bigger than Factions which means more PVE content. Makes me wonder if Anet is actually realizing more people are interested in pve than pvp in this game. Looking forward to playing the expansion!

PyreofKoL
PyreofKoL

I agree with l_c on this one. GW was my first intro into MMORPGs and I have to say that it's probably the best choice for those who are inexperienced in the genre. Not to mention it's free, so it's especially useful for the younger crowd that doesn't have consistent income. GW isn't boring, though. It's more about PvP than anything, but the story is nothing to laugh at. I finish this thought by saying that GW is awesome, and so is WoW, but I'll always be a GW fanboy. :) As for this preview, it looks good, although I'm little concerned with the GW 2 deal. I'm not looking forward to being a newbie again. ._.

lord_cack
lord_cack

"daniel101010 Guild wars seems like watching paint dry after you,ve played wow, for ne one w8tin 4 dis to come out ur wastin ur time." Watching Paint dry, serious? I mean I enjoy WoW but talk about boring sometimes. Grinding levels killing mob after mob just to get my new skills because the quest rewards or lack of quests at all force you into grinding. Frome level 30 on is senseless grind. Or it is simply because they have made content obsolete just with one expansion. So its a quick level grind to 70 then you spend the rest of your time grinding for gear..... whats so exciting about that. The PvP in WoW is OK but very one sided to each particular Battle Ground. I don't get it, I really don't get WoW.... Its OK but its not a revolution....