Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 11: May – October 2006

This will be a long one.  In this 73-screenshot article, I will cover five things: the first Dragon Festival in late June to early July and more of release Factions; the first, PvP-only Nightfall beta in late July; the period in between the Nightfall betas; the second, PvE Nightfall beta; and last some more Factions gameplay from after that beta.  Originally this post contained only 55 screenshots, but I realized that the 25-screenshot set of Factions gameplay actually is from after the second Nightfall beta and not before it, and that I’d forgotten to post most of the handful of second Nightfall beta screens that I have.  So, after multiple edits to correct the timeline, this post is now very long and one of the biggest in the series.  Sorry about that, it probably should be two articles.  Anyway, versus the original 55-image article, the major additions are the 13-screenshot set between the Nightfall betas and the 10 screenshots from the second Nightfall beta.  Also the 25-screenshot last Factions-focused set has moved to the end where it goes.

But yes, despite Factions only being a few months old, Arena.net was already advertising their upcoming third campaign with betas.  My screenshots from the first Nightfall beta are almost all from the character creator, so it looks like I didn’t play it much, but I do have a few gameplay screens from the second beta.  It was interesting that they were already showing Nightfall in July, though; that was only a couple of months after Factions released, and Nightfall would not release until October.  This is a similar timetable to Factions, in that the first Factions beta was also a PvP weekend event three months before the game launched, but there was a year between the original Guild Wars’ release and Factions, while Nightfall came only six months after Factions.  It felt different with the campaigns so close.  I know I will keep repeating this point, but it’s what I think.

Anyway, while 2006 was a great year for Guild Wars, going from my screenshots and memories, as I’ve said before 2004-2005 was when I played the game the most.  That should be easy to see in this post — there are a lot of screenshots here, but it also covers a full five months, so compared to 2004 or 2005 it’s clear I was playing the game less than I had before.  The slow decline of my hours in GW would continue, unfortunately.  That may be part of why I was not as hyped for Nightfall as I was Factions, I still had plenty more Factions to play when Nightfall released.  I kind of wish ANet had spaced out Guild Wars’ expansions more evenly, but they seem to have kept changing their minds about what they should do with the game, until eventually abandoning it for its far worse sequel.  That part of the story is pretty sad and frustrating, but fortunately Guild Wars 1 is still fantastic regardless of how badly I think things went with the second game.


A. Guild Wars Factions – First Dragon Festival, June 30 – July 6, and the rest of July as well

A month after the release of Factions in late April, Arena.net added a new, third festival to the yearly calendar.  They would eventually have seven time-limited festivals that run at different times of the year, and this was the third after the Halloween and Wintersday (Christmas) events which started in 2005.  The Dragon Festival is Guild Wars’ Fourth of July event, occurring annually from the end of June to early July, but it’s Asian-themed fitting with its Canthan setting.  This event introduced the Shing Jea Boardwalk and several limited-time minigames, including the Dragon Arena and three little minigames.  The other main Boardwalk minigame, Rollerbeetle Racing, would be introduced in 2007.  These events are only playable during the Canthan New Year and Dragon Festival events, in January-February and June-July each year.

I guess I either didn’t take many screenshots or had waited a while before getting Factions, because these screenshots are the next ones I took after the ‘I got Factions’ Factions tutorial area batch from the last update.  The Dragon Festival was pretty cool, though; I really liked the new minigame, and it would be a good sign of things to come as more minigames would be added to Guild Wars over the year following.

Heh… I’m clipped right on top of another character, so the two models are kind of merged together…

This is the Dragon Arena, or rather probably the lobby area for it.  The Dragon Arena was a new limited-availability mode that, again, is only available in the January and July events. This arena is a random arena with some unique skills and rules which make for an amusing and unique challenge.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any shots of the skillbar, only interface-off shots like this.  That’s too bad because, as I said, the Dragon Arena uses its own exclusive skills, not your usual ones.

In the Dragon Arena everyone has these wand things which you shoot at eachother with. You don’t use your usual weapon. As the Guild Wars Wiki says, gameplay was inspired by dodgeball — you need to avoid enemy shots, while hitting them with your own.

The festival grounds are all decorated for the event, with lanterns and everything. It’s a nice looking area.

Here we have another shot from an ongoing match in the Dragon Arena. Yes, everyone has those wands.

I also spent some time doing regular missions during this festival, though. Here I am exploring Shing Jea Island. As this is a Prophecies character you don’t have to do that, but I wanted to because it’s a pretty nice area with some beautiful sights to see.

Shing Jea Island feels quite Japanese and pastoral, and it’s a great contrast from the big city and ruined landscapes of the rest of Factions. This is a beautiful area.

Back to the town, which is all decorated for the festival.

Those lanterns all over are nice and definitely add to the atmosphere. You know a special event is on when you go to a place you’ve seen in its normal state hundreds of times, except this time it looks different… after this the Dragon Festival might have ended, but I’ll break the article where I started a new images folder, instead of after this screenshot.

I’m not sure why I took this one, but I do like those snowy Guild Wars trees.

From this point you have an overlook which allows you to see the town, far below in the distance. You’re above the fog, which looks like it’s actually a flat layer. It works though, so sure, why not.  Today this scene would look better, as the ‘full detail to the horizon’ patch from 2018 does wonders for vistas like this one!  Not that I would ever enable that option on a computer running a GeForce 2 like the one I took all these shots on has, though.. you’d be lucky to see a frame per second, probably…

I think we might all be poisoned here? That’s what the green auras emitting from the characters means, I believe… it makes for a pretty nice shot though, with the green glow and light rays lighting this dark area.

And without that light you get this, very dark areas. I took three screenshots of this character (or player?) running back and forth in the distance for some reason. I don’t know why, now… but here’s one of them.

Back in the city, we have a well-dressed NPC official in a not too nice looking part of the city center.

Arena.net’s artists and graphical designers made some truly impressive things in Guild Wars, and this area is definitely among them! This shot is another one of my favorites from this update. The sickly red-yellow light, in this dark area, looks great… ominous, but great.

Oops, the ground textures broke again! At least we can finally see a skillbar here… but yeah, with broken ground textures the chat is unreadable because lines do not disappear so long as you’re looking at the ground, everything just overlaps.


B. Guild Wars Nightfall PvP Preview Event: July 28-30, 2006

Only two months after Guild Wars Factions released, Arena.net was already starting to preview their next expansion, Nightfall.  For an expansion as large as it is, as I said at the top in this post I kind of think that Nightfall might have released too soon.  I know Factions is a short campaign and many people surely were ready for something new, but I was taking my time with it and definitely wasn’t done yet!  But no, here’s a huge new campaign to play, and it’s a pretty hard one too.  Well, at least all this content has given me something to do with the game over the years since, and that’s a very good thing considering that ANet started abandoning this game in 2008…

Anyway, following Asian-themed Factions, Nightfall is African-themed.  It has a North African theme specifically, with a mostly desert and sahel environment.  As with Factions, two new classes were added, one melee and one ranged.  Nightfall is a great campaign, but I have never liked these classes as much as the original ones, and the campaign took me a very long time to finish as well.  The first beta, as the name suggests, was PvP only, so it served to test the two new classes but did not show off any of Elona, the new continent where the campaign was set.  There would later be a second beta with PvE content in it, much like Factions had.

As a note, I don’t seem to have played this beta much at all.  In fact, of the dozen or so screenshots from it I took, only two are from out of the character creator, and only one of those two is worth posting!  So yeah, enjoy like ten pictures from the character creator, I guess… yay?  It is at least a little interesting, though, as where else will you see the two new Nightfall classes, the Dervish and Paragon, existing in front of the Factions select screen / character creation background?  Only in this beta, that’s where!

So as I said, almost all of my pictures from this beta are from character creation. It is pretty interesting to see a Dervish in the Factions login-screen environment, though…

Rear shot of this outfit.

This shows some of your options for new characters in this test. You had more options than a regular new character since they gave everyone some stuff to play with for the beta.

Side view of this second, less skimpy outfit.

And here’s a third one, with hanging blades that match the scythe weapons Dervishes favor.

This is the one I went with for my character.  I changed the colors to green though, of course!  It only colors the highlights and not the main dress, but that’s better than nothing.

Starting a battle.  This is a very interesting environment indeed… it’s definitely something new, this isn’t from Prophecies or Factions.

This area was the main little taste of Elona you could see in the beta. It’s a small area where your new characters go through before you fight in PvP.

And here we see my account, with my five regular characters and one empty slot that I was using for a test character in the beta. (I thought about keeping this character, but ultimately did not and made a different Dervish eventually instead, after Nightfall released.)

Rear view.

This shot is from after the end of the beta, but as you see, after that I deleted that character and created a Paragon, to also try out the other new class. Male Paragons have Roman legionnaire-styled outfits which are kind of cool. I never have played much Paragon at all, though… I should try it sometime.

 

C. August 22 to September 23, 2006: Between the Nightfall Betas

The first Nightfall beta ran in late July, and the second in late September.  This first shot is from mid August, though, so either I didn’t play for a month or the file date is wrong, but I don’t think the file date is wrong in this case, so perhaps I just hadn’t taken any screenshots in a month, if I played any.  In the interim, as expected I went back to playing more of the great game that is Guild Wars Factions.

Before Nightfall released and I decided to do with the character slot, I decided to take another screenshot of this Paragon character.

Rear shot of him.

I was slowly progressing through Prophecies with my Ranger, here and there.

The Canthan official outfits are good designs.

This is just a lobby area in Cantha. It looks pretty nice from a distance like this though, like it could be from a cutscene… but it isn’t.  The environment is somewhat low-poly of course, but the art design is impeccable.

At this point, I decided to abandon following my college friends from guild to guild as they made new ones, and just stayed in this one ever since, despite its very dumb name that I’ve never liked. I did make one big change, though…

Yes, I brought back my Lego Black Falcon shield-inspired guild cape! I tried a few designs before settling on the final one. I love this design, it looks great…

This solid-color pattern looks nice, but ultimately I stuck with the cross-hatched one.

And here we see the results, my guild cape. I still really like the look of it.

This is a street in the city in Cantha. The polygon count doesn’t come even close to what games can do today, but back then this looked very nice… though of course in art design it still does!

She’s got a quest now, apparently. The background’s more interesting though, with those nice trees in front of a wall of shack-like houses.

 

Guild Wars Nightfall World Preview Event: September 22-24, 2006

As I previously mentioned, similar to Guild Wars Factions, Nightfall had a second, PvE-focused beta several months after its first one.  This beta occurred in late September and I participated.   And again, just like Factions, this beta is, for some strange reason, not mentioned at all in the official Guild Wars Wiki!  As before this confused me while putting these articles together, and I had this mislabeled previously.  I should have figured this all out correctly before posting these screenshots instead of a month later… oh well, at least the record is correct now.  I will post another small update mentioning the corrections.   Here is another Guild Wars wiki that mentions this event: https://guildwiki.gamepedia.com/Guild_Wars_Nightfall_World_Preview_Event.

For the event, I decided to make a new character, another Dervish this time.  This isn’t my character though, just a henchman.

Here we see the beginning of the Nightfall intro mission, before you reach the main town.

Here we see my new character. This character was made in my main account, and I still have it, though barely played… I’ve just never liked melee classes in Guild Wars nearly as much as ranged ones.

Elona is a nice-looking area, as always for Guild Wars, but with a unique look to it you don’t see elsewhere in the game or, as I said, all that often in games in general. You see some hints of that here.

When you pull the camera overhead, the way the grass textures are attached in the ground here and there to look like a field becomes exposed…

After playing this beta I was looking forwards to Nightfall, but given how much of Factions I still had left, I definitely wasn’t as excited for it was I had been for Factions. I know I’ve said it already, but the timing for these campaigns was perhaps not the best. Oh well, at least it meant that we got lots of content to play in this game, enough to last for many years!

And here’s my character in the select screen. I also took a couple of shots of my Paragon in the second account, showing that I did load that account up again for this beta, but none of the shots are worth sharing. That may have been the last time I was able to play those characters though, unless the Eye of the North beta also unlocked accounts without a key and I actually loaded up the second account. My guess is I probably didn’t, though.

 

E. Guild Wars Factions Screenshots: September – October 2006

 

With the Nightfall beta over, I continued on my way through Guild Wars Factions, only occasionally taking shots from the other campaigns.  There are a few Prophecies screens in this set at the start, but it’s mostly Factions.  As I just said I was kind of looking forward to Nightfall, but was much more interested in playing more of Factions.  So, I did.

I kept trying every so often to finish Prophecies with my Prophecies Elementalist.

Unfortunately, while the cape is great, not so great is that I’d pretty seriously stalled out with this Elementalist by this point. I’m late in Kryta here and have probably barely made any progress with the character since I took these screenshots back in 2006…

My six characters as of fall 2006, all together.  Nightfall was not released yet at this point, of course, so I’ll need to wait before playing this character again.

But instead of continuing with that, I went back to the new campaign, Factions, with my main Talindra. Yeah, the clipping in Guild Wars is kind of weird. Most games don’t just let you clip through everything like this one, or at least offline games don’t; maybe it’s common in online games for technical reasons? Anyway, this is the big city in Cantha, the continent in Factions. This woman NPC in front of me may be a bureaucrat, that looks like one of their outfits. East Asian-inspired Cantha has a very large bureaucracy.

And here we have some players, albeit in a screenshot that’s not so great, with all of the close characters being on one side of the image and all.

Running along in this game is so much fun! I really like this kind of shot, it accurately represents a substantial part of the game. Factions has some pretty cool environments, and this one is definitely one of those.

Tahnakai Temple has statues of several of Cantha’s legendary heroes of the past. I took screenshots of a few, starting with this one. I forget who this is offhand… the shrine, including candles and statue, is nicely done though.

This female warrior hero gets a large podium as well.

Deity statues, such as this one in Tahnakai Temple, look the same in Cantha as they do in Tyria. The environment doesn’t look the same at all, though! The city in Cantha is incredibly dense and built up, so you often have ceilings like this which appear to be made of buildings. That ring of cloth sunshades up ahead isn’t normal, though; this is a special area.

I’m not sure why this statue is there, other than to have yet another scantily clad female figure in an MMO, as if there aren’t enough of those already… the environment’s pretty nice though, and well modeled.

This is the important hero from the past, the assassin who killed Factions big bad Shiro Tagachi. You talk to her ghost at one point.

The giant city is such a cool environment, it’s definitely one of my favorites in Guild Wars. This scene is just one example of why! This is a pretty interesting area, with those buildings on one side, rocks on the other side, and buildings in the background…

Yes, Danika is in the city as well, for a while at least, with her pets/fellow henchmen. This area with the exposed rock pillars is on an edge of the city.

This one is definitely one of my favorites from this update. It shows off the city well, and this mostly still looks pretty good. Sure, the ground textures aren’t the most detailed, but it mostly looks really nice. The beam of light is well placed as well, breaking through the gloom of the layers of buildings…

It would be hard to see the sun much in some parts of this city, with how many things are built on top of other things. On another note though, shots like this showing me exploring with just henchies is a nostalgic thing, with how ever since Nightfall I’ve mostly explored with Heroes. Talindra’s skillbar is familar, however; it hasn’t changed much since.

And here we see the party, or rather, me (not visible due to using first person view) and a bunch of AI helpers. This city’s crazy stuff, with how huge the spaces are and how overgrown with buildings everything is… it might be my overall favorite Guild Wars environment, I’m not sure.

I’ve gotten out of the city now though, as were we meet some Luxons and one of their giant turtles. The green open space between the city and the Luxon and Kurzick areas stands alone in Factions, there are other green places in the campaign but none quite like this one. … oh, and yeah, that’s obviously a player there with that chat window in the background…

Here’s another Luxon woman NPC, at this camp.

And here is my first shot of the Jade Sea, the bright green frozen ocean. The same disaster that petrified Echovald Forest turned this former inland sea into jade. Green is my favorite color so I do really like the look of the Jade Sea, but despite that I’ve always preferred the Kurzicks so there won’t be too many Jade Sea screenshots here for quite some time. Still, it’s a great area which, like much of Factions, makes me kind of wish that the game had the kind of scale of Prophecies. Its relative denseness, with many fewer zones in the game compared to the first campaign and how Factions mission areas that can also be explored as regular explorable areas instead of separating the two, makes for a strong contrast when you compare Factions to Prophecies. The result is that if you take a regular, straight path through the game, this game is half the length of Prophecies, 50 hours for a new character instead of over a hundred. Nightfall kind of splits the difference, with more areas than Factions, but fewer than Prophecies. I know I just said I wish Factions was larger, and I do, but it is kind of nice that the game has this variety; you can play a shorter or longer, harder or easier, campaign depending on your preference.

Moving the camera overhead is rarely a good idea in gameplay, but it does at least make for a slightly different-looking screenshot. Otherwise, this text is just henchman chatter, not humans saying things.

Now I’m in Echovald Forest, which I posted a bunch more shots of in the beta set in the last update. What’s going on here…

A lot of exploration, apparently, is what was going on, going by how many dots are on that map! And I’ve completed several quests as well, and gotten a new elite skill — you can only have one at a time, so the only way to have two as you see here is to capture it and not go back to a town yet, as once you do one will be unequipped.

Ahh, snow… I love snow, winter is great. I’ve got something else to celebrate, too — I’ve finally finished my elite scar pattern armor set! If you look at the screenshots above in this set, I still didn’t have the glove piece yet, but now I do. Getting all of the materials to build this set took quite some time, and many trips to the specific area of the South Shiverpeaks you had to go to to make it, but it was worth it. … Well, honestly I have always thought that I should have an armor set that includes actual clothing, instead of this thing which obviously does not, but still haven’t bought another elite armor set for either this or any other character. I really should do something about that…

Yes, it’s another shot of the very cool tree-sky of Echovald Forest. It’d be pretty awesome to see a high-def version of this done with modern graphics tech…

It’s the Jade Sea! But continuing from my last comment, looking at this shot makes me think that yes, some things about this game have aged graphically. It still looks very impressive, for a game that hasn’t had much work done to it since 2007, but that creature in the background here sure doesn’t look great.

These really giant turtles don’t move, only the smaller ones do.

And that’s all for this update.  At least a few of these screenshots were nice, so I guess I’m glad to share them.  Next time, the 2006 Halloween event, and more Factions gameplay.  The next article will be the last one for a long time entirely taken on the by-this-point-aged computer from 2001 I took all of these screenshots so far on, so look forward to a significant increase in screenshot image quality starting in two Guild Wars Memories updates from now.

 

 

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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