Guild Wars: Nightfall Review
The Diablo series has been a license to print money for Blizzard. Diablo 2 still sells well to this day and is played by many people on Battle.net. The game’s simplicity along with a passable story line and weapon collection made for an experience that you would want to return to over and over again. Then, right when you got tired of it, Blizzard released the expansion pack. And that started the obsession all over again.
However, the world of gaming has changed. Many members of the original Diablo teams have left Blizzard and gone on to work with other companies. Some of those people decided to make a game that some see as a spiritual successor to the Diablo series – Guild Wars. An MMO in a way while a Diablo-in-3D game in others, Guild Wars was met with decent success on release. The PVP-centric end-game and decent PvE experience added up to a successful formula. The first expansion, Factions, had a speedier levelling curve – if you chose to level a character to PvP instead of just insta-creating one, you’d get there much faster.
And now, we have the second expansion, Nightfall. This expansion seems to have more of a focus on the single-player game. The levelling has been slowed down (but still not to the degree that the first game’s curve was at) and there have been some massive additions – namely slightly smarter henchmen and the concept of Heroes. The PvP is just the same as ever (with a couple of minor changes), complete with flavor-of-the-month builds and lots of bloody fights. So, do the PvE additions to the world of Guild Wars make Nightfall a worthwhile purchase or should you wait until the inevitable multi-pack with all the expansions comes out?
The most notable of the additions made in Nightfall are the Heroes. As you go through the story of the game, you’ll unlock various heroes. You can only ever have 3 in your party at once, but there’s a good reason for that. See, these heroes are totally customizable by you, the player. Want a Monk/Necromancer that never really has mana issues? How about an AE-focused elementalist? Go for it – you can decide how the character’s skill points are spent, alter said skill points just like you would with your character and will have access to any skills you’ve previously unlocked with your main character.
The nice thing about the heroes is that they each play intelligently. You can even tell them where to move, what skills to use and if they should or shouldn’t fight back when attacked. The heroes really add a lot to the story campaign in Nightfall – the player has such a large impact on their party now if they choose to play through it without anyone else. While you will still have to fill spots in your group with henchmen, having heroes to take along to fill primary roles in your party makes the campaign so much more fun.
The campaign takes place over 20 missions, each revealing a new part of the story to the player. All of the previous classes are available to play through said campaign with as are the two new classes. The difficulty seems to be on the same level as Factions’ campaign and also seems to make a drastic jump in difficulty when you get to the Consulate Docks mission. I’m not so sure I really like this – I’d have preferred a more gradual curve up in difficulty that gave me a chance to get used to things. The campaign is still fun, though, and the story is decently engaging. Not top-notch RPG story or anything, but the voice acting is decent.
There were also two new classes added to the Nightfall campaign. The first of these is the Dervish. This class is a light-armor wearing caster-ish melee fighter that wields a huge scythe. I’m not sure if I should really refer to them as a caster, though they do have a heavy focus on AE damage – even their basic weapon can hit up to three enemies at once. They do most of their damage through enchantments and attacks that strip them for beneficial effects. One attack, for example, gives you an extra scythe swing and heals you if an enchantment is stripped upon using the attack. Other enchantments will have a certain effect when they go down. Take Heart of Holy Flame – the attack deals damage when you use it and places a 30 second enchantment on you. While you can let this enchantment run the course normally, you can also fire off Twin Moon Sweep (or one of many other enchantment-stripping abilities) to remove it and gain the effect of setting the enemies around you on fire. The class is definitely different from what is already available and has some potential in PvP as builds are designed to put them to use.
The other added class is the Paragon. The class takes the spear-throwing style abilities of the Diablo 2 Amazon and mixes them with the shout-type abilities of the bard from the original Everquest. The Paragon isn’t really a damage-dealer, but more of a party buffer. They have shouts and chants, and echoes that work off of these abilities, sometimes refreshing other buffs they will toss up. While this class also seems to have an effect on PvP, it doesn’t feel like it will be nearly as big as the Dervish is. They are still a fun class to play, though, and a few interesting builds with a Paragon main are starting to sprout up.
Nightfall also added some of the things you’ve come to expect from a Guild Wars expansion: New skills (350 of them), a couple of new types of PvP (with the ability to bring Heroes into battle) and new Guild Halls. None of these changes seem to have much of an effect on the overall game – 8v8 PvP still seems to be the meat and potatoes of the Guild Wars endgame experience.
The music and graphics are still excellent as they have been throughout the series. The new enemies look pretty awesome. One nice feature is that the landscapes are nowhere near as “jagged” as they have been in the past – they’re much smoother and have less drop-offs that you can’t run over. Now, it is much easier to navigate your way around the beautiful world.
Overall, Nightfall is a solid expansion to an already fun base game. The heroes add a whole complete dimension to the story and the new quests/missions are fun and challenging. The Dervish fills a fairly unique role as does the Paragon. The new skills. PvP and Guild Halls are all smaller additions that add to the overall experience. In the end, though, Nightfall is the best chapter so far in the Guild Wars package and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who skipped out on Factions or quit shortly after its release. However, this is another $50 expansion – while I understand running the servers isn’t cheap and ArenaNet provides them free of charge, it seems that the expansions are just acting as a way to get the monthly fee while being able to claim free online play. Only time will tell if this business model will continue to work or not.