Following those two screenshots at the end of the last post from after the end of the January Factions PvP beta weekend, my screenshots jump straight to the next Factions beta in late March 2006. Arena.net’s writeup of the beta still available is here: http://gw1101.gtm.guildwars.com/events/ingame/factionspreview.php. I guess I wasn’t playing much Guild Wars that spring. I did graduate from undergrad college that spring, so I was busy. My retro gaming collection was growing fast as well.
Anyway, so, as that article says, from March 24 to 27, Arena.net ran a second beta test for Guild Wars: Factions, which would release the next month. I may not have been playing much in the two months between these tests, but I was back for this beta, because I was looking forward to Factions. This time the PvE and PvP sides of Factions were shown, and we could explore a chunk of the world in Echovald Forest and the Jade Sea, though I only went to one of those areas. Again using my second account most of the time, I created a new Factions character there and explored the forest. Other than the first shot here, all the rest of my screenshots from this test are either of the character creation screens or of me playing as a new Elementalist character that I made in the second (beta) account.
The second part of this article covers the month from after the second Factions beta until Factions’ release in late April. It isn’t a very exciting image set, there is not much there really worthwhile. I have at least some more good screenshots to post in this series, though.
Factions Preview Event: March 2006
This shot shows my regular Guild Wars character Talindra in the Battle Isles. So, this test definitely allowed regular PvE characters to access the Battle Isles, which might have been a new thing; I’m not sure that the previous test from January allowed that. This is the only shot I have of any of my regular characters in the new Factions beta areas, though, so I found it kind of confusing when I saw it. But that has got to be what’s going on here.
Here we see my new character (again, in that second account at this point) – an Elementalist, because I always have preferred ranged classes to melee and I like combat classes more than healing. Also I was interested in making a new one, other than the Prophecies Elementalist I also had.
Here we see one of the 37 screenshots I took in the character creator for this beta. I took screenshots of a lot of the costumes available to female characters of all of the classes. Yeah, female ones only this time; I just wasn’t interested enough in the male costumes, I guess. I think I will post a side-article part of this series eventually where I post most of the character-creator screenshots I took in three of the betas, namely two of the early pre-release betas and then this one. It’s not that exciting, but I took all these screenshots, so why not? It is at least a little bit interesting to see the options they gave you, I think.
I took a bunch of shots of some of the Kurzick NPCs in this test. Right from the beginning I preferred the Kurzicks to the Luxons, both for character and environment design, and you see that here as I didn’t do their side right from the start here. Even as of writing this I still have actually never finished the Luxon side of the split portion of the Factions campaign, though last year I did finally play through most of it. The Jade Sea is a beautiful area indeed, I’m glad to finally have explored it. Echovald Forest is also a great area, though. Factions is maybe a bit too short, but it’s a fantastic campaign I have always loved, for the most part. It’s my second favorite of the four Guild Wars campaigns, after the original.
Despite Factions’ Asian theme, the Kurzicks have a quite gothic look to them, to say the least. Despite how much I like Factions, I have always found it a little weird how past the city the last two areas are this gotic forest and a frozen, somewhat Asian/Greek-ish pirate area. I know this is a Western game and you can tell, with how the city and such is a mishmash of Chinese and Japanese elements in a way you probably would not see from an Asian game, but still it’s a little odd. The visual design here is great, but how Asian-inspired is the Kurzick area? Anyway, this is Danika, one of the leading members of the Kurzicks and someone who you can fight with as a healer henchman. Behind her are her pets, two Rot Wallows who also are henchmen. Yes, really.
And here are two more of the Kurzick henchmen, a mage and a guardian (warrior-healer). Most of the frozen Echovald Forest is made of petrified trees, but some areas are bright green with returning life, such as this ground here.
Yes, the classic henchies are here as well. Well, some of them are; they divided them between the Kurzick and Luxon areas, so the main party — Devona, Aidan, Eve and Cynn here, and such — are in the Kurzick areas, and others in the Luxon. Mhenlo is not available as a henchmen in Factions, unfortunately; he’s a major story character and doesn’t have the time to explore around, pretty much.
A disaster turned this whole forest to stone. You learn more when you play the full game, here we were thrown into this part of the campaign that ended up being fairly far in. It’s a really cool concept and they executed on it very well.
Henchmen. The assassin woman in front is on the Factions box. But yeah, the character models still look good, but those rock wall textures in the background have not…
This is not Danika, just someone else who looks kind of similar. The Luxons and Kurzicks both use consistent design themes throughout.
And here, the same shot but with the interface off. The image quality looks about the same this time though, really…
Yes, some other people were playing this beta as well.
Mesmer Kurzicks have weird masks like this one.
And now, finally some actual gameplay! I wish I’d taken more gameplay shots, and less in towns… oh well. Anyway, this area of the Kurcick cathedral is nice.
Run! This looks like a shot from a cutscene here, but I think I’m just exploring, not playing the mission. It’s an alright shot though I think.
Yes, I am thoroughly exploring this zone.
See? I think I’ve covered almost every bit of it now!
Here is another female Kurzick NPC, albeit one with a much less fancy outfit.
Zoomed out to see more of the environment, Echovald Forest is still pretty beautiful. Cutting something that looks like a church out of that petrified tree is interesting and looks great.
The sky in Echovald Forest mostly is not visible because of the giant petrified trees. Here is one shot of the sky, or rather, the branches…
And here is another. It’s yet another great touch in this fantastic area of the game. Echovald Forest has always been one of my favorite parts of Guild Wars to explore around and look at…
The ground is mostly dead in the forest, but with so little light getting through those branches you’d expect that. I like the look of that tree in the center here, the light in this otherwise dead tree is pretty cool.
Now, I’ve returned to an outpost. Unlike the depths of the forest above, this is not one of the forests’ best-looking areas. Sure, it looks alright, but the giant trees are the best…
A Factions-style dragon, in this outpost? And is that a dead person on the ground on the left side? What is going on here… is this normal, or an end-of-beta event?
It’s not a huge crowd, but at least some other people were playing this beta near the end here.
Another shot of my character from the front, the direction you rarely see in games. GW has great character designs, but the Kurzick building here is pretty great as well.
We’re probably getting close to the end of the beta now…
Before the end though, I took four screenshots of what, exactly, I had explored in the ten or so hours I’d played the beta. Yeah, I spent almost the entire time in this beta exploring the forest in PvE with this Elementalist character, neglecting the other things you could do — much PvP, the Alliance battles, and such. See the link at the top to Arena.net’s article for more on those other events.
North of that last shot, we see the upper part of Echovald Forest. Factions areas really aren’t that large.
Oh yeah, I got far on the Luxon side… yup…
On the Kurzick side, though, I did as much as I could! You couldn’t explore everything in this beta, but I got to most of what was there.
And last, to conclude the beta, I … explored the forest a bit more, because I was really having a lot of fun doing it. I took a screenshot of my playtime at this point as well, since I was on a second account so I knew a record of how long I’d played the beta would be valuable. And indeed it is.
Guild Wars – March – May 2004, Prophecies and then the Factions launch
With the beta over, I went back to only infrequently playing GW over the next month as I probably focused more on school and classic games, something I was really getting into in 2006. Factions released April 28th, and I’m not sure exactly when I bought it — I bought a physical box, so I probably waited a weeks until after college ended — but I’m sure I got it by sometime in May. Here we see my first few shots from the tutorial area. Next time, more Factions release shots, and the first Nightfall beta. My favorite time for Guild Wars is 2004-2005, but despite my paucity of screenshots, 2006, up until the release of Nightfall, was also a great time for Guild Wars. I played the game a lot less than I had in ’05, but still was playing some of the game, again, even if I wasn’t always taking screenshots of what I was doing.
Sometimes in this game, you die while exploring when deep in an area, close to your objective. But your death penalty is high, so you run all the way across the stupid map from the respawn shrine near where you started, only to find…
Gah! Died again, barely getting any farther. Back to square one… well, at least the few enemies I got past last time are dead now! When you are in these kinds of situations and then actually surpass the challenge and make it through it’s incredibly satisfying; despite the occasional frustration this is a thing I really love about Guild Wars.
And here we see, I’ve gone back to playing as my Monk character and that’s why I am going through the desert this time. Healing is hard, and I found the standard Heal-focused build less interesting, so as you see from my skillbar instead I have a mixture of healing and protection skills at this point.
I know I keep saying this, but even on this aging computer Guild wars really did look great most of the time. I’m thinking that again while looking at this screenshot.
And now, back to the Shiverpeaks. Heh… edge of the world, again! Usually you aren’t supposed to be able to get to the actual edge of a map, but some pathing glitch allowed it here. That’s fun stuff.
And here’s another shot of this edge of the map. Again, usually there are walls, visible or invisible, that keep you from getting to areas like this.
The glass-like water in GW is pretty great as well. Or is this ice? It is cold out, after all.
And now I’m exploring something back in Ascalon… no idea why, though, beyond that Ascalon is one of the best parts of Guild Wars, so it’s fun to go back to once in a while.
The area outside of Sorrow’s Furnace here clearly has more going on than any of the Shiverpeaks areas in the original launch game, both in design and in art. They put a lot of effort into Sorrow’s Furnace, it’s too bad that they didn’t do much else like it afterwards. On another note, I’ve stuck with this outfit for my Monk because it’s probably my favorite Monk clothes. She still has it.
66% of Tyria explored with my main… I’ve gotten that number a lot higher since. Anyway though, that’s a big monster up ahead! I’m sure this will go fine…
At this point the people from school I was in this guild with decided to make a new guild, so we were switching over to the new one at this point. I took a few shots of all the people, but won’t post those. This one’s fine though.
See? I’ve got a new guild cape. I didn’t take any shots of the new guilds’ player list and such at this point, but the cape changed for a reason. The color is wrong, though, because this is the team arenas and I’m on the blue team.
And here is the new capes’ its actual color, red. The new guild has a pretty dumb name, and I’ve always kind of hated the acronym… but I’ll get to that later.Anyway, I’m exploring the snowy forest. Those snow-covered trees are, as always, one of my favorite background objects in this game…
Next though, I decided to log in to the second account, and take screenshots of the three characters I had used in the second Factions beta. Yes, I did have three characters, and not only the one seen in all of the screenshots from part one of this article. This Assassin is the one that I’d delete here after Factions released and recreate in my main account.
And here is the new Elementalist, which I would eventually also delete and recreate in my main account. … Yes, both of my Elementalist characters have Fire-focused skillsets. I really should branch out but always have preferred the Fire skills…
And here’s the other Assassin. No, this isn’t the one from the first Factions beta, but another one. I was trying more Asian-style names than that one had, and chose the other one over this. This character still exists, however; I logged in to this second beta-only-use account of mine today, albeit with a different hair style for some reason. I must have recreated the character at some point in the Nightfall betas, I guess? I don’t remember, and unfortunately this is the only old screenshot I have of the character, so who knows.
Yes, I had logged in to the other account to choose which character to delete to create in my main account, since I’ve gotten Guild Wars: Factions! As I said, I chose one of the Assassins. Unlike Prophecies, Factions has a much faster pace — this campaign is only maybe half as long as Prophecies. That game takes me a bit over a hundred hours a character to finish, while this one is 50 or 60 hours. It’s a densely packed 50 or 60 hours, though, without anywhere near as much downtime and aimless wandering as Prophecies has. Despite the short length, it’s a great campaign and my second favorite of the four overall, after Prophecies of course.
New Factions characters start on Shina Jea Island, a very traditional-Japan area which looks beautiful.
Unfortunately, I did not take any more gameplay shots in this set. Instead, all I’ve got are a handful of shots of (mostly female) NPCs and such… blah. I mean, this character has a good, interesting design, but still…
A warrior woman. As for the background, yeah, Shing Jea Island is quite Japanese. Then the city on the mainland is much more Chinese, and then the Kurzick and Luxon areas are gothic and asian-pirate themed for whatever reason. Of course characters from Shinge Jea Island and the mainland have a mixture of Chinese and Japanese names, because East Asia is all the same, right? To be fair, Guild Wars Prophecies is similarly mixed together — Ascalon stands in for just about all of fantasy-medieval Europe, after all, not any one nation, but it’s something I noticed because it is a common thing in Western depictions of Asia.
Here we see some Henchmen from Shing Jea Island. There isn’t much healthy, green areas on the mainland, other than one zone and some bits of grass here and there, so the island really stands out. It’s kind of too bad it’s all very easy content, though Hard Mode adds at least some challenge to it…
Yup, it’s another character creation shot. This time it’s only one, though. No, I did not make this character; it wouldn’t be until 2018 that I actually made a semi-serious effort at playing Mesmer… it’s a tricky class due to all the timing requirements on Mesmer skills, and has never been one of my favorites as a result.
And last, we have… another NPC in an interesting outfit. Okay. The next screenshot batch is better, though, really.