Guild Wars Nightfall Updated Impressions - Heroes, Quests, and Setting

We talked with ArenaNet co-founder Jeff Strain to get the lowdown on the upcoming chapter of Guild Wars.

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The appeal of online games is that they let you have your adventures alongside other players from around the globe. And one of the hallmarks of ArenaNet's online role-playing game Guild Wars is that it has evolved over time, adding new features and gameplay ever since its launch last year. Thanks to excellent gameplay and the fact that there's no subscription fee required to play, Guild Wars has established itself as a hit. ArenaNet claims more than 2 million copies of the game sold to date, and with the release of further chapters, we can expect that number to grow. The next chapter, Guild Wars Nightfall, is due out next month. Nightfall isn't an expansion pack; rather, it's a stand-alone chapter that can be played even if you don't own the original Guild Wars, and it will introduce a whole new continent to explore, two new professions, new skills, and, most importantly, new ways to play the game.

The saga of Guild Wars continues with the latest chapter, Nightfall.

When we spoke to ArenaNet CEO Jeff Strain recently, he said that the developers were all still in awe of the special free preview event that the company hosted this past weekend. The test version of Nightfall was open to everyone for a few days, and, according to Strain, the average time spent playing was eight and a half hours, a substantially longer amount of time than players spent during the preview events for the original Guild Wars and Guild Wars Factions. Strain credited the new gameplay features in Nightfall, as they introduce a new way to enjoy the game.

One of the things that ArenaNet was hearing from the fans was that Guild Wars was almost too fast a game at times. There was so much emphasis on running from battle to battle that there wasn't a lot of time to, figuratively, stop and smell the roses, see the sights, and so on. Things only got faster with the introduction of Guild Wars Factions' faction war, which pits guilds against one another in a persistent online war for territory. The focus, once again, was more on battles than on exploration. So the focus in Nightfall is less on constantly battling and more on adventuring in a beautiful and vibrant world. Nightfall will introduce traditional-style quests, complete with traps and puzzles. The idea is to feature not only combat, but also interactivity with the environment. These quests are being designed for groups, but you can still pursue them even if you're playing by yourself. That's because of another nifty new feature in Nightfall: heroes.

The focus in Nightfall is more on traditional role-playing quests, so get ready to adventure.

Heroes are sort of like permanent henchmen who join your character and travel with you. However, heroes are much more powerful and customizable than the henchmen you could hire in earlier versions of Guild War, which makes them more valuable and useful. You will be able to choose up to three heroes to accompany you at a time, and you can customize their inventory. This way, you get to travel in a powerful party, even if you're playing by yourself. Not only that, but if you've got a character with three heroes, and you team up with another player whose character has three heroes, you'll have a full-fledged party that can tackle most of the quests in the game. You don't have to worry about finding seven other people to play with anymore or try to organize all your friends into being online at the same time. Or, if player-versus-player gameplay is your thing, you no longer need to rustle up a large group of friends to tackle another group. Simply take your character and heroes into battle against another player's character and heroes, and you have a group melee with just two people.

The two new professions in Nightfall are best described as holy warriors, of a sort. Strain said that the idea behind the new professions is that they offer a different kind of gameplay experience from existing professions. So, with the paragon, the idea is that you play more as a battle commander, standing off in a fight and supporting the troops with powerful abilities. The dervish, on the other hand, is a dual-wielding whirlwind of a warrior that can also take the form of the five known gods in the game. Each profession has 75 skills to unlock and select from, but how many you've unlocked isn't the key. What really matters is that you can have a "deck" of only eight skills at a time, which levels the playing field because then it becomes more a game of strategy. Which skills do you take with you? Which skills will complement your teammates' abilities? Which skills will counter what the enemy is using?

The continent of Elona should provide a refreshing change of scenery.

Nightfall is set on the new continent of Elona, which is often described as being inspired by the geography and architecture of North Africa. That's a region of the world rarely seen in games, and Strain said that ArenaNet did a lot of research and consulted with foreign partners to capture the feel of North Africa and avoid any potential cultural misunderstandings or slights. The result is a land full of "phenomenal imagery."

Considering that Guild Wars Factions was released earlier this year, it might seem that ArenaNet has packed a lot of new content into Nightfall in such a short development time, but Strain said that the company's development strategy is starting to pay off. ArenaNet has two teams working on Guild Wars, and each team has 12 months to develop a new chapter. Because the goal of each new chapter is to introduce a new way to play the game, it's safe to say that the future of Guild Wars looks bright. For now, Guild Wars Nightfall is scheduled to launch on October 26.

Discussion

51 comments
sirfitz
sirfitz

Looks like to be a winner. Just a note; it's to be launched on October 27, not October 26th.

Vlad_md
Vlad_md

aura, i doubt they will ever introduce voice chat, as the goal of this game is to spend as few bandwidth as possible, to let it be relatively cheap to manage. anyway, this game is getting huge, grows every 6 months, with this rate, it can shake the history of video games. I hope they never stop :D

greghedrick
greghedrick

This game looks awsome i cant wait for it to hit stores..

n0pFoX
n0pFoX

Hey Aura, in case you missed it, you don't need to outfit your heroes with armor. They come with armor that gets better as they gain levels. So all you need to get them is weapons.

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

man all i want to see is an in-game guild voice chat option (as in microphones) typing is ever so much a pain and my guild wont even acknowledge my existence unless i have skype thats all i want. Not so much to ask. is it? HEROES ARE GOING TO BE TEH 1337 however i fear there going to become an irritation cause now instead of just 1 suite of 15k ur gonna need at least 2 (to get ne where that is)! i am also gonna half to say that i was hoping for another rpg boost that factions didnt give us

teebeenz
teebeenz

I gotta say, the Hero system is just so good, so important that a lot of people out there would get nightfall just for that. Not only can you customise heros weapons, offhands, skills and AI stances, but the cool thing is that the heros actualy know what to do with all the crap. The whole GW system is quite complex yet I didnt find a build the heros couldnt handle yet, and thats a good sign.

executorsgl
executorsgl

I saw some comments about how guildwars has the same price as other MMORPG like WOW because you have to buy the expansion each year. However, there's one thing that make the GW payment system better then of other MMORPG : - You have the choice to buy new expansion or not, and if you dont want to buy the new expansion you can still play online and advance your characters. In an MMORPG like WOW, if you stop paying monthly, you wont be able to play anymore. So for someone like me, who doesnt have much time to play games, and still want to occasionnaly log on and do some quests, Guildwars is perfect.

ritter2006
ritter2006

Love it and all guild wars love them all can't want

brhisawsome
brhisawsome

my thoughts: stop being stupid and get more tropical beut maps and worlds, and more unique places, cuz hate to say it but middle east has already been done by WoW 2...i mean cmon, u gotta make this game unigue with unique places to visit

G-Legend
G-Legend

I think this one will be better than Factions because this is the team that made Prophecies. I played the preview weekend seems fun and new but I do think it will get boring after a bit just like the others.

earlthecannibal
earlthecannibal

Lame!- when are they going to add under ground stuff? (dungeons) and the screen shot of the giant bird is the same monster in the original..minus the feathers ----WEAK!

greghedrick
greghedrick

This game looks better than factions but still not as good as the original.

SP33doh
SP33doh

yohanjr, you very well may have just predicted the 4th chapter. also, the hero system is freakin' awesome. I cannot deny the fact that I love the heroes. however I wanna see something on the scale of alliance battles added in nightfall too...

power_rangerer
power_rangerer

looks ok butthe whole middle east setting isn't as beautiful as factions world.

yohanjr
yohanjr

I hope it still has FREE MEMBERSHIPS OH BOY I LOVED that now only if it could play in the caribbean humph?

Not-Quite-Dumb
Not-Quite-Dumb

I bought the original GW about a year after it had come out. I had just finished my new PC with all the requirements for most of the good PC games there are. Originally i wanter to buy WoW, but the $15 a month was crazy. Then I found GW with NO monthly fee, which is enough of a reason for me to buy a game. Then when Factions came out I was really excited and got it- the new professions were cool (though i hardly even played as Ritualist). I never fully completed either campaign because i kept getting hooked on the new stuff. I need to cap this Elite skill or man i wish i had a max IDS etc. With Nightfall i am a bit concerned about the African theme, but i did the preview event and after the first day i went to get my pre-order copy. I just hope we're not disappointed.

El_Duddz
El_Duddz

The preview event for Nightfall gave a better feel for the game than the Factions preview. So I will be buying it (when I get the money). If nothing more than to have the option to send hench to their deaths and watch from a safe distance. =)

_Sam_
_Sam_

I'm not sure yet if I'll like this game

Gaming_Prince
Gaming_Prince

I was purely addicted to guildwars when it came out, but lost interest after getting ascended etc. I also skipped factions because of it being based on alot of technical crap that wasn't my interest. but now to see a more solo and less team oriented rpg, makes me think differently about how area net is really trying to give a little to everyone. so i am happy.

Mkherkzen
Mkherkzen

YEAH! Finally some more PvE in Guild Wars! That's what I needed :D

Kilgore1987
Kilgore1987

is there any word on a pre-release version of the game, like they did for factions? i didn't bother with it for factions, but this I'll make an exception

sonicare
sonicare ranger

Can't wait for this one. Guild wars is very addicting. A new chapter is welcome.

chronobyte
chronobyte

Been on hiatus for a while, but this one just might convince me to return for some of that PVE goodness!

MyBabySitter
MyBabySitter

CAN"T WAIT FOR Nightfall release !!! Playing Now - GW: Prophecies & GW: Factions, still playing original Prophecies content, exploring new Factions content, ALWAYS ready to go into battle & find action (thx to the help from Henchman), always ready to go on an adventure with a group of fierce healers, warriors, & spellcasters like Henchman (no waiting for groups like in WoW, or any other MMORPG), amazing economics, log-in and loading times never waste any time. - I'm still Subscribed, been playing since first release Played - World of Warcraft, done it, finished, have two Lvl 60's (Priest & Warrior)- then I Unsubscribed. Played - Everquest 2, not finished, monthly fees are worth entering their virtual world, but not enough video card power to play - then I Unsubscribed Played - City of Heroes, done it, not finished, monthly fees too expensive - then I Unsubscribed Played - Matrix Online, done it, amazing game, unfinished, monthly fees too expensive - then I Unsubscribed Played - Star Wars Galaxies, disappointed, new battle system is fun, economics difficult to master - then I Unsubscribed Played - Dofus, extremely fun, but extremely time consuming, max lvl is 200, very cheap, amazing overall game design & economic system - then I Unsubscribed

Chainblast
Chainblast

Though I had my time (and fun at that) with the Prophecies Campaign, I simply lost interest in the game as a whole. I got a chance to play a chunk of Factions large enough to determine whether I was interested in it or not, and choose to skip it. Nightfall looks cool, but other than PvP, Guild Wars gameplay has begun to bore me to death. The lack of monthly fee really doesn't matter because although Guild Wars is an RPG it's definetely not a full-blown MMO...or even half of what an MMO can offer. About the only MMO inspired theme in Guild Wars are the towns and cities that simply act like glorfied chat rooms and enable people to trade and use vendors. A much more in-depth town/city system could have been assembled by Arena.net by now to make the game-world feel more alive. I only bring that up here because whenever I read positive comments with relation to Guild Wars, more than half the people making them have to put in the fact it is free to play. I guess from my point of view free to play an online RPG really isn't anything that special. You can play Diablo 2 online and what online details differ between the two? Glorified chat rooms. Everything else is instanced for you and your party.

trenken
trenken

I've been playing GW since launch, and I loved Prophecies. Factions was decent, although far too short. I was not at all impressed with the preview this past weekend. The graphics were starting to look very dated after playing through Oblivion. The environments were just plain boring. And the quests were not all that fun either. I still have high hopes for this game, but I can't help but feel like GW is on the downward slide. Factions did not live up to the original game, and if this one doesn't it could be the beginning of the end. The buzz about this game is long gone, so noone is really talking about GW much anymore. But I'll try and remain positive and plan to get this when it comes out. I really just wish they would stop with the real-life themes, such as asian in Factions, and African in Nightfall. I play RPGs to go to a world of fantasy which doesn't exist in the real world. It seems the fantasy in this game is gone. But I hope I'm wrong and there are some great things in here that just haven't been shown yet.

BloodreaverSlut
BloodreaverSlut

Prophecies was good, factions was a good expansion (i dont see them as seperate games cause all i do is GvG) and now with Nightfall coming it'll be chaos during ladder freeze. The WPE was the best so far (though nothing beats the early open beta's of Prophecies). If the story remains interesting and they put it all the additions in the game... it's gonna be better then Prophecies.

pathock3
pathock3

the great thing about GW is that thers no monthly fee. if you buy the new campaigns everytime they come out, you end up paying almost as much as with other mmos. unless this is amazing, dont waste your time

pashark
pashark

GW is a great game, for the graphics requiring low hw, for the possibilities, for the fee lack... I'm playing it from an year, and I'm so satisfied. however I 'don't like Factions a lot. Whit this new kind of PvE I hope for others 500h playtime ^_^

babyeaterwolf
babyeaterwolf

When i play PvE i always take the time to look around!!! (mostly only when im with henchies, other players get annoyed if u stop 2 take in the scenery..lol)....both Prophecies and Factions r beautiful games, and the low system requirements make it a godsend for people who can't afford a monster pc (a.k.a ME!!). Well anyways i can't wait for this, the preview event was pretty cool, and i cant wait to try out the skills properly.

elliooo
elliooo

yes of course its only playable online...maybe you should read up on the game a little...

lokstah
lokstah

The North African-esque setting looks amazing... I'm loving the art for this one. Very cool indeed.

Jinxed_Gohan
Jinxed_Gohan

Bravo !!! Guild Wars !!! They just keep getting better an batter....and they adapt in every single expansion to someone elses needs... just as "Shoitaan" says ... if you are in for the fight ! go with Factions , if ur in for some Ol' fashion party RPG get nightfall , and if you want to see a good story (all the storyes are good) take profecies ! I recomend them all...just do what i did :P choose one , then choose a city/town in that one...and make it your HQ :P

Ardrid
Ardrid

Already have my CE pre-ordered. I was that hooked after playing during the preview event. It's glad to see ANet putting more emphasis on PvE. Factions was a little bit too fast and way too short. Looks like GW is about to take over my life again.

FATMAN87
FATMAN87

it all seems pretty cool, on the fence for getting it tho

Shoitaan
Shoitaan

I liked the faster gameplay in Factions. Prophecies bores me to tears now if I go back. I hope Nightfall will atleast remain interesting during multiple playthroughs not a total chore like proph was (to me, I know a lot of people for various reasons worship prophecies).

dannyboy11
dannyboy11

The new way of use the henchies (now they are not so stupid, already are possible to be commanded), and the Heros, is great. I cant wait more time for this game.

elliooo
elliooo

This game looks so awesome!

thedarkoracle
thedarkoracle

Two dev teams, huh? So that's how they did it... *muses*