Guild Wars creates more skill-based challenge

Guild Wars creates more skill-based

Michael Lafferty

MMO title give players option to
create pre-built PvP avatars

Some months back I penned a column
about combat models. In that feature, I attempted to illustrate some ideas about
what one massively multiplayer online game was doing. The game was Guild Wars.
While the illustrations used to talk about that idea were sound, the analogy was
flawed from the start.


Because in that analogy of skills,
the idea was proposed of a level 40 avatar meeting up with a much lower-level
player. What made that so flawed is simple – there will not be level 40 avatars
in the game. The level cap is 20. The forums over at roundly roasted both the column and the author.
And deservedly so. That is a Web site of Guild Wars fans, and they took offense
at the flaws in the column. Some of the comments were a little extreme, but it
was cleared up, for the most part.

the interim, the current beta of Guild Wars has done a few things that have made
the PvP combat even more skill-based. Rather than let players create an avatar
and acquire equipment and skills, the playing field was leveled tremendously.

How? Well, the game allowed players to create either a PvP avatar or one to
explore the game’s quests and levels. The latter could still find gladiator
arenas, but the PvP-exclusive avatars were all level 20, were all equipped with
armor and weapons befitting their builds and you could create that avatar based
on pre-determined classes – like a Wolf Child (warrior/ranger) or Paladin
(warrior/monk) or Shock Sniper (ranger/elementalist). There were approximately
21 pre-built avatars, set up for PvP arenas. Once created, that avatar was
restricted to the PvP competition. They come with weapons, skill/spells, and

One could either fight in the Gladiators Arena in random teams, or in the Tomb
of Primeval Kings, where you can built your teams. (The character you build for
the game’s quest mode can also indulge in PvP, but you will have to build your
own skill sets and outfit yourself).

Consider that for a moment … It is a totally level playing field, one in which
skill at PvP comes into play, not just a case of who has the most elite weapon.
There is no chance that a lower-level player can run in at the end of a fight,
get in the killing blow on a level 20 and then stand there and taunt the fallen
player. Everyone is level 20, and sure, there will still be those who run in
from behind, take one shot, get the killing blow and then mouth off about how
uber they are, or how inferior the other player is, but with the playing field
so equal, it comes down to skill. It also comes down to strategy.

the random team format, there is still a lot of charge and let’s hope we have
the last players standing. That is part and parcel of the neophyte PvPer’s
strategy. The more experienced players tend to hold back just a bit more, to
check out the opposition, and to see how the environment may interplay with the
combat (not a huge thing thus far, but still there are some ways to use the
combat arenas to advantage).

Hats off to ArenaNet for such a skillful idea. This is intriguing, exciting and
challenging. If you drop into the Guild Wars Web site (
you will also see that there is a ladder for guilds in PvP competition.

Remember, this is Guild Wars, not solo wars. While it would be nice to see some
individual gladiatorial arenas, and/or tournaments with a ranking system and
points award to the guild for the competition, but for now the emphasis seems to
be on guilds. However, before the forums start heating up, this does not
preclude head-to-head, player-versus-player competition in other areas.

The FAQs on the Guild Wars home page state that:

there will be many positive aspects of belonging to a guild, there will be so
many single-player missions, team cooperative and competitive missions as well
as individual player-versus-player missions that you can be assured of
many of those gaming sessions that run into the wee hours, no matter your
playing style. Missions will come in all sizes and difficulties and can be
joined individually, as part of a one-time team or as a member of a full-fledged

It has been a while since checking in with this
game, but with the release on the horizon, it is terrific to see how well this
game is shaping up. The world is wonderful to look at, and the combat elements
have been moderately revamped so that players can either jump in for quick PvP
action or custom-build an avatar for the battles. It will be interesting to see
if stats are kept on how many pre-built avatars are involved in the combat
compared to custom-built characters. It may be a safe bet to say that initially
there will be a lot of pre-fab characters in the arenas, but as time weaves
along the fabric of post-release, and players have the chance to explore the
world, and glean unique items, customize and upgrade them, that the customized
avatar will make a bigger impact on the PvP arenas.