This time, I’m kind of combining two posts into one by covering two things. I chose to do it this way because both sets end in January 2006, so this way it keeps the dating simpler, and also because under 40 screenshots didn’t seem like quite enough for a solo article without much descriptive text. Future articles will often do this as well as they cover more time.
The two parts of this article are, first, a set of images of release Guild Wars, circa late ’05 to early ’06. The second part is of the first open beta for the upcoming second Guild Wars standalone expansion game, Guild Wars: Factions. These are from the Guild Wars Factions Global Free-For-All PvP Weekend. I had a hard time figuring out what event these shots were from at first because this event is not mentioned in the official Wiki, confusingly enough, but I found it eventually. See the section below, in the middle of this article, for much more on what was in this beta, and also for a link to further details.
A. Guild Wars (Prophecies), November 2005 to mid January 2006
The first half, approximately, of this article is a set of screenshots from release Guild Wars. This contains 39 screenshots from after Halloween 2005 until mid January 2006. Included are a bunch of Sorrow’s Furnace shots, from my many futile attempts to beat the Iron Forgeman, and the few pictures I took of Christmas 2005. I must not have had much time to play GW that holiday, but at least took a couple of screenshots when I could.
I’m honestly not sure exactly when I took this screenshot, but it definitely isn’t from this point in time; it may be from one of the later pre-release Beta Weekend Events? It’s either that or it’s promoting the upcoming Guild Wars Factions Global Free-For-All PvP Weekend, which ran for a weekend in mid January. I’m not sure, but it’s more likely the latter — this still has the original ‘camp’ character select environment, so it’s pre-Factions, and visually looks like the release game. The phrasing of that message is confusing, but that’s likely what is going on here, though I’m not certain. The image was in the folder with the rest of these, so I’m putting it here. (The email address is my usual one for the account, not something different.)
Yes, I’m in the desert now with my Ranger character, I’ve kept at it. Running around in Guild Wars can be boring, but between the great graphics and music fortunately usually it’s pretty fun. It can be tense at times too if you’re trying to avoid enemies, but I don’t think I’m doing that here.
The desert area in GW is moderately sized and kind of empty, and is mostly made up of big open zones. It’s a fun area to explore, but isn’t as challenging as you might expect so it’s not that big a part of the game. I kind of like that though, because being able to wander around and explore without having to constantly fight is nice!
Some of the enemies pack a punch though, for sure, particularly in the desert’s Missions. It looks like I’m in a decent fight here.
There area few oasis areas in the desert filled with plants, such as this pond here. The plants are appropriately desert-themed, with cacti, palm trees, and such.
And now something different, the Fire Islands, or maybe more likely the random arena fire islands map.
Here is my world map, for Talindra almost certainly, circa late 2005. As you can see I have gone to some areas in the game, but there are still big parts of the overworld that I hadn’t explored. There are some sizable optional areas in this game, and I finally got around to going through a lot more of them in 2018, many years later — that is when I finally went along that long path connecting the North and South Shiverpeaks, went to the Falls, and such, for example.
Back to the ranger, my college guild definitely wasn’t a PvP guild, as that default Rating shows.
I wonder if any of these people have played the game in the past, oh, decade…
First person view of a bridge in the desert. The first person view is very impractical in combat, but can look kind of cool at times when you’re just running around.
And now I’m nearing the end of the bridge. Also, I know I’ve said this repeatedly, but having that U-key map open, the one on the left side of the screen, really is essential when exploring, it’s much easier to remember where you’ve been that way! Good maps are an important thing in games.
Going back to Talindra, here is one of those Sorrow’s Furnace attempts. The lighting here makes the cape look different… that’s kind of cool.
Sorrow’s Furnace is a fairly good-sized dungeon, so getting a random public group to both stick together and actually stay long enough to finish it was difficult. Witness, three people have abandoned us already in this run, and this is not near the end… but given that the party is mostly dead and our death penalty is high, I don’t blame them; it’s probably better to just start over at this point.
Here’s the Iron Forgeman! He’s big, and the battle is tricky; you don’t just fight him, but have to stand on different points at the same time to be able to damage him.
Let’s go in again, maybe it’ll go better this time! At least the area looks pretty neat, with the reddish light and good texture work.
This area definitely does not look too hospitable to human life. And it looks like the party agrees… :p
But despite half of the team giving up, a few of us kept trying anyway, and talking about strategies for what to do in the chat.
It’s just incredibly difficult to beat this guy at 60% down with only four people, unfortunately… still, it’s great that I saved this chat with screenshots!
The strategy conversation continues. I really wish that I’d beaten the Iron Forgeman on one of these attempts, it’s still something I’d love to do in the game…
At some point after this one we finally gave up. Oh well… I’ll try again!
Long match? Just how long was this guy on the other team able to evade us for, exactly? Also… it’s weird that I think I’ve never even made an account at The Guild Hall / Guild Wars Legacy, no idea why really. That IGN Guild Wars forum shut down many years ago, after all. I did join the GW1 general Discord recently, though.
… Well, if that chat is accurate that WAS a pretty crazy-long match… 51 minutes, seriously? And we stayed. Heh… I don’t know if that’s really worth it, but you don’t want to lose, you know? And we didn’t.
Still lots of people here grouping for Sorrow’s Furnace runs. Beating Sorrow’s Furnace was much more plausible in late ’05 than any time since, since finding player groups was so easy. Oh, and on another note, those white boxes are players who haven’t loaded in correctly, or something like that. It was a much less common bug than the textureless white ground, but as you can see happened once in a while.
And now, a handful of shots of the first Christmas event. I must have been busy during most of this event because I only have a couple of Christmas ’05 screenshots, but at least I have some! I’m liking this already, the giant presents are a nice touch. I love winter, and Christmas is a great holiday.
A giant candy cane! This is much nicer stuff than Halloween decorations…
Oh, yes, this is Lion’s Arch that somehow has seen a snowfall. That’s rare for a jungle city… but it happens every year anyway. Convenient!
Before the Battle Isles, again, the Team Arena was in the South Shiverpeaks, so grouping for it was done here. I don’t know if this party filled up though, because the next shot is of something else.
Yes, it’s the Iron Forgeman again. And a note full party and high death penalty again, too. Sigh…
The Sorrow’s Furnace area really does look great, though. This game in general has really impressive art design, but this area upped things versus the original release in some ways.
The Forgeman’s design is great as well, even if it’s a bit too hard probably.
… Yup, this is going about as expected, we keep failing and respawning and eventually more and more people leave as they give up. It was worth it though, even if not successful; Sorrow’s Furnace is a cool dungeon and I really liked exploring it with player groups.
And last for this batch, a few shots of standing in fire in the Fire Islands PvP map.
Yes, I’ve started to collect Elite Scar Pattern armor. I’d eventually get the full set, and it’s pretty much what I’ve been using ever since.
B. Guild Wars Factions Global Free-For-All PvP Weekend, Jan. 20-22 2006
The second part of this article includes 33 shots from the Guild Wars Factions Global Free-For-All PvP Weekend which, again, ran from January 20 to 22, 2006. This beta weekend event was the first of two that preceded the release of Guild Wars Factions in 2006. This PvP-only beta introduced the Battle Islands, a new PvP-focused map with several outposts, which would, once Factions released, replace the previously on-map random arena, team arena, Tombs, and such outposts. Putting most of the PvP stuff in a single place was a good idea, so this was a welcome addition. If you had PvP character slots on your account, you could, additionally, create characters using the two new classes Factions would introduce, Ritualist and Assassin. If you didn’t, they had free keys available for making a new account that you would presumably use only for the betas. In fact, those keys were available to anyone, not only current Guild Wars owners, as Factions would be a stand-alone title which does not require to original game to play. So, Arena.net let anyone who wanted to use those keys to create an account. I created a separate account that I used only for the betas, because my four character slots were full and this way was free while buying additional character slots costs $10 each. This beta was PvP-only, so making a new account didn’t mean much, you only missed out on faction experience and such. That’s fine. This is why the shots from this beta of the character select screen for the Factions beta have only the beta characters are present, and not my regular ones. I have checked, and this account does indeed exist. It uses a now-dead email address, but fortunately I managed to correctly guess the password and thanks to screenshots know a character name, so I logged in, and yeah, it’s still there, with two characters but no games attached to the account. That’s pretty cool, though it wouldn’t be usable unless I bought GW again for it, and i don’t really want to buy the game for an account attached to an email address I can’t access anymore, so oh well. It still was pretty cool to see that it still existed.
In addition to the January test covered here, post-release beta accounts or characters would be accessible several more times, for the four Factions and Nightfall beta events in 2006. You had to use PvP-only or new characters for this beta, I believe, and I, like many people,,wanted to anyway in order to try the new classes. As a result, I’ve got some new character creation shots showing the interface used for this beta, and some of the character list because these are kind of temporary characters and not ones I could use in the main game. After Factions released I would use some of the Factions beta characters in the main game, by re-creating them in Factions’ new character slots, but not all of them. Once Factions released, as with the base game, you couldn’t bring anything from beta into the main game other than your character names, so if this was a temporary second account I didn’t lose anything for it.
I mentioned this in short at the top of this article, but I did not have these Factions beta screenshots in a folder named with the name of the event and mostly use the official Wiki as a reference, so because it was not in the Wiki, while it was clear from looking at them that they were from a beta, I had a hard time figuring out what event, actually, they came from. I knew about the second Factions beta, from March, but these did not seem to be from that PvE-focused event. But since I hadn’t named the folder back then and it wasn’t in the official Wiki, unlike all betas before it, this one took a little more searching to find. I eventually did find the name and details of this event, though: the PvP Factions beta weekend from January ’06 I’ve named above. Here is the page for it on another Guild Wars Wiki which actually has info on the event: https://guildwiki.gamepedia.com/Guild_Wars_Factions_Global_Free-for-All_PvP_Weekend Arena.net or whoever oversees the official wiki really should correct this mistake and add a page for this beta somewhere, it did happen. One other beta from later ’06, for Nightfall, similarly isn’t in the official Wiki sadly.
These are the Battle Isles, islands run by the Zaishen Order for the purposes of gathering together people who want to fight eachother together in one place. This is probably from a little cutscene introducing the Great Temple of Balthazar.
I made my first PvP character an Assassin, since that class sounded like the more interesting of the two. No, this isn’t my character, just the party.
Here’s my assassin, beta version. You could choose several different armor options in the character creator, and I chose this one.
And here we see the Factions beta character creator, as I decided to make a second character. Here’s the default look of the Ritualist. The new background is for Factions, as each of the four campaigns introduced a new login and character selection screen. Unfortunately the first three have been inaccessible for a very long time now, as the Eye of the North snowy mountain has been the games’ only selection screen background, and soundtrack, while the other three, such as this Factions one that was only in the game for about six months, languish semi-forgotten. It’s unfortunate, they should add in the option to use any of the four.
Now the model from behind.
And here’s the character creator itself, showing all the costume and skill options available here. Because these characters are created at max level, and are only usable in PvP, you can choose different armor options and set all your skill points as you choose. For the beta, if you made a new account with the beta key or made a new PvP character, a bunch of armors and such were unlocked for everyone; normally PvP characters can only use things unlocked on your account.
I believe this is from the tutorial stage a new PvP character has to go through.
Yeah, definitely. That’s Kisai there most likely.
That isn’t Aidan on the right though, but someone who looks somewhat like him, but factions style…
This is probably more shots of this AI character group than I needed. Oh well…
Now hopefully we’ll actually get to some PvP gameplay, with this new class!
The Battle Isles look great, and were a nice introduction to the East Asian-themed setting of Factions.
Oops, I think the ground broke again…
And here we see that yeah, this definitely is not my main account. I’d made two beta characters so far, one of each new class, but was mostly playing this one.
Here’s what I went with for a Ritualist. That’s kind of a cool outfit, but it’s never been a class I’ve played much of… I still don’t have one in my main account, in fact.
I did play some hours of Assassin, though. Here we finally see some actual gameplay, from a Random Arenas bout.
Playing Assassin is all about chained skills that build on eachother, and is the games’ second melee class, after the Warrior. I’ve played just enough Assassin to get the idea, but ultimately really do prefer ranged classes over melee.
Multiple costume options were available, so I switched to another one here. A fair number of people were playing this beta. There were a LOT playing the new classes though for sure… but as you can see, not all.
Another scene from one of the outposts in the Battle Isles. Cantha and the Battle Isles, the setting of Factions, are a generic East Asian setting, made by a Western developer, so it’s a random mishmash of Chinese and Japanese elements, tossed in together into one place. What, China and Japan are different countries and actually aren’t the same? Who knew… I mean, I like Factions a lot as a campaign, but this IS a very legitimate criticism. The main game’s nations are similarly broad-themed though, so that’s maybe more just the style of the game than historical ignorance. I hope.
It was always weird, and kind of amusing, when the ground textures broke, but things on top of the ground like this starting point were still fine…
Posing for a shot in the Nolani-styled Ascalon PvP arena. It’s an alright map, but has some rarely-used elements in it with that central thing you can control and the like… but teams usually just fight like normal.
This map’s better, I think… the Shiverpeaks map’s great.
And here’s my first shot of an area I have seen a lot of since, the Random Arenas. This is the multiplayer area in Guild Wars I’ve been in the most, since its introduction here. The higher level multiplayer of the rest of the game is great, but it’s never been something I really wanted to get into myself.
Why not make a third character, just to see the new costume and skill options available here and such? First I need to choose an outfit… aeromancer?
The costume I chose will be in one shot later, but now some first-person shots of NPCs. I wish I had more shots from actual PvP battles, but oh well, this will have to do… anyway, here’s a warrior.
And a monk.
That ranger guy.
And the mage, probably Kisai from Factions I’m guessing.
Near the end I took shots of my characters in the beta yet again. I wish I’d also taken ones with their usernames, since I don’t have any shots of the names of two of these three characters, but this is better than nothing. As I said this account still exists, but I deleted all three of these characters in the later betas and don’t have any of them anymore. One Factions (Assassin) and one Nightfall character are in that account, but they aren’t these. Here’s my first Factions beta Elementalist. Yeah, I went with Pyromancer of course.
And the Assassin, in the costume I used the most. This is the character seen in the screenshots through most of this beta, so I do know this name, though the character is gone because I would change to a new character with a different name later that is the one that still exists.
And last the Ritualist, still little-played. It’s a second healing-focused class, but with spirits you summon as the class’s major focus. For some reason I didn’t keep this character either, even though the account currently has only two characters on it.
Playing in the Random Arena again, before the beta ends.
These last two shots are from after the end of the January Factions beta event, I believe. So, these two are the only screenshots I may have taken in February; otherwise this whole set is from November to January. Either that or they were taken late in the event but with my regular account, and not the beta one. It’s more likely the former, but either way, I’m in a Fissure of Woe attempt with a player group. With a two frames per second framerate as of this shot and a player dropped, though, I doubt this run lasted too much longer…
Here we are gathering people together in the Temple of the Ages for another go, probably at the Fissure again.