Guild Wars Free Trialified

Possibly winning some sort of award for longest time between a game’s release and it getting the demo treatment, Guild Wars now has a free trial wotsit. While you need to sign up for NCsoft’s mildly irritating PlayNC master account thinger, you don’t need to give out credit card details. So if you’ve yet to sample Arenanet’s well-received subscriptionless, PvP-heavy fantasy MMO, now’s your chance. Don’t let the fact that only one member of RPS thinks Guild Wars isn’t oddly characterless and overly mechanical stop you. (Pauses for angry protestations). It’s fine! Just not my cup of elf-tea, y’know?

Meantime, has Guild Wars 2 been delayed as a result of publisher NCsoft’s ‘restructuring’? No-one seems entirely sure.


  1. Evil Vitamin C says:

    What really killed this game for me was the lack of dwarves.

  2. Rosti says:


  3. Rook says:

    The game has dwarves in it. And I’m sure this game has had a free trial for ages.

    And play the nightfall campaign as the other two are crap in comparison.

  4. Steve says:

    I’ve played a free trial of this and its other campaigns before…

  5. Jockie says:

    What really made this game for me, was an absence of elves.

    Nah, what actually made it is that it’s pretty much the perfect game to play through a small group of friends with. The story quest structure sets it aside from most MMOs and makes it like a proper RPG, I never really bothered with the actual y’know.. ‘guild wars’, they shoulda called it ‘fanny about with some mates’.

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    Re: Jockie. I always wished they’d done it like that a bit. Hired Obsidian to make a proper RPG-campaign-add-on in the engine which you can play through as a SP game or a MP one with mates. Ala NWN’s add-ons.

    I’m the one who likes GW. I suspect this may be because I’m the biggest game-design gonk on the team, in a “I LIKE MATHS!” kind of way. In terms of design, it’s enormously, phenonemally clever. Technically too, for the record.


  7. KindredPhantom says:

    Guild Wars has unfortunately passed its peak and now compensates a lot more of the grind based gameplay than it used to (titles, Hall Of Monuments).
    It’s still a pretty fun and decent free2play MMO, it gets a tad tedious questing on your own but if you can find a group of people to quest together you will have a better experience.

  8. BigJonno says:

    My wife, a mate and I all picked it up a while back, played it to death for a couple of weeks and haven’t gone back since. As a co-op experience it was great fun, well worth the money.

  9. Gunrun says:

    What killed this for me is that if you don’t have the CDs you have to download each zone as you enter it and NCSofts servers are super duper slow.

  10. Melf_Himself says:

    Gunrun, if you leave the game sitting at the login screen it will stream content to you. If you don’t have any CD’s, it will take…. a while, but you’ll eventually download it all ;)

  11. Gunrun says:

    Yeah but why on earth can’t I just download it in one big chunk like the WoW trial client, or every other MMO client.

    vvvvv Ah, that’s the sort of thing I was looking for.

  12. Rook says:

    It does stream stuff to you in the background as well, so eventually you’ll have it all downloaded, you can also start the game with the command line arguement -image which should download it all at once as well.

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    Gunrun: The game basically gives you the option of doing it either way. I don’t see that as a flaw.


  14. Toby says:

    Well, you can start the client with the “-image”-option, and leave your computer for a few hours to have it download all the areas in one go.

    I have played all campaigns and it is a game that is quite fun in shorter bursts. On a boring Sunday, you can just start it up, solo for an hour or two and not worry about whether your friends are online or your subscribtion has expired, and then not touch it for several months.

  15. Okami says:

    I really should install Guild Wars again at some point. Eye of the North really managed to suck me in for quite some while, but playing without any friends got boring rather quickly..

  16. A:\Big.bat says:

    Always meant to give this one a shot. Could have sworn it had a trial before, ach well no time like the present!

    Off I go to the land of… somewhere to roll a… ranger or something presumably? I really don’t know the lore of this game.

  17. ...hmm... says:

    guild wars on rps! played this since it was first released (due to WoW being cruelly torn from my grasp). Fun, dead cheap, rubbish storyline so best played with mates as a lark about as mentioned. ommnomnomnom grinding is… more streamlined in it than any other mmo, and requires some time getting to know the game before you can do it effectively so i suppose thats interesting.

  18. Markoff Chaney says:

    The wife and I tried this out a while back with one of their 5$ for a month or so trials. We had fun, but it wasn’t quite up to the lofty vision of a persistent NWN with more people that we wanted. Definitely worth trying for those that haven’t experienced it, though.

  19. Dominic White says:

    I really don’t understand complaints about ‘grind’ in Guild Wars. There might be a bit of it in the original Prophecies campaign, but in Factions you can hit max level in an afternoon. 2-3 afternoons in the case of Nightfall.

    The game doesn’t really start (seriously, the vast majority of content is meant for max level) until you hit 20 anyway.

    Not surprising that they released a trial, though. They recent put out the ‘complete’ compilation version of the game. It’s officially complete and not going to get any bigger. They’re still balancing and patching and tuning, but this is as big as Guild Wars will ever get.

    And for the £25 I’ve seen it for, it’s effing good value.

  20. Kieron Gillen says:

    Nightfall is definitely the pack to play first. They’ve really know their game by then.


  21. Dominic White says:

    I’d personally reccomend starting with either Factions or Nightfall, depending on taste (probably Nightfall, as this’ll net you more Hero characters near the start), but once you hit Lv20 and get to the first hub-city with a port, you can bounce between the four campaigns (Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, Eye of The North), feel free to bounce between them at will.

    One of the main perks of this approach is that you bypass the very slow opening arc of Prophecies if you choose to go back and play that.

  22. A:\Big.bat says:

    Downloading as we squeak; I’m rather excited!

  23. tekDragon says:

    GW is by far the MMO/RPG game that I’ve played that had the most innovation in terms of mechanics. Kudos for breaking ground in a whole diffrerent direction (than just about every RPG type game available in the west) and making something that actually worked.

    Most amazing thing about it is the easily reached level 20 cap. Everyone has the best weapon and the best armor. If you want to grind and farm you’re essentially farming for pieces of flair that have no impact whatsoever on gameplay. Ditto for titles except for a few exceptions (which have no bearing at all on PvP). Want to avoid the PvE grind… (2-3 days at most) just make a PvP-only character with max level/weapons/armor right away and get going.

    The unlimited re-spec and re-skil options werent quite that way at first (neither were the rune traders etc.) but the developers quickly understood which way they had to go to keep their people happy. The game became more about understanding the mechanics and skilled execution rather than who had been grinding the longest, brilliant.

    With no subscription fees and regular balance updates… the game has been entirely worth it.

  24. cliffski says:

    “The game doesn’t really start (seriously, the vast majority of content is meant for max level) until you hit 20 anyway.”

    Why bother with the grind at all then? just start everyone at level 20. This seems like amazingly crap design. I actually bought this game years ago and played it for about an hour before feeling bored. I like games to have some sense of immersion, and this just felt like a chatroom for kids who wanted to talk in acronyms and kill a dozen rats over and over again.
    But its popular so it must appeal to some people *shrug*

  25. cyrenic says:

    The real strength of Guild Wars (and the original focus of the game) was its PvP. Figuring out what skills to give a group of eight people to make an effective group build was very interesting. And the 8vs8 was a lot of fun if you could find the people to play. Unfortunately if you didn’t have exactly 4 or 8 people it became a chore to find more people.

    But then they realized the game was selling based on its PvE content, and the game got a bit muddled IMO.

    Also, the game was the most stable MMO I’ve ever played, even when the game first launched.

  26. Dominic White says:

    Cliffski: Put your average gamer in front of an RPG with every ability and skill unlocked and total freedom to go where they want and die horribly because they have no idea what they’re doing, and you’ll lose a lot of players. You build things up, and having a truncated version (really, the ‘grind’ isn’t a grind at all – you hit that level just doing the main story quests) of traditional levelling is a good way of doing that.

  27. Dave says:

    The game doesn’t really start (seriously, the vast majority of content is meant for max level) until you hit 20 anyway.

    I was just complaining about this sort of thing yesterday; not about Guild Wars in particular, but “the game doesn’t start until…” syndrome. Why can’t the game start when I start playing it?

    Why does a level 1 character have to suck and be boring, and not have any of its class-defining abilities? I understand getting introduced to new stuff gradually, but if I’m playing a summoner type class, I shouldn’t be first introduced to several hours of bonking rats on the head with a stick, and then be able to summon a sickly cricket with 3 hit points every few minutes for the next several hours, and only after I’ve played for a month can I actually have my little squad of doom… before which I’ve long since lost interest and played something with immediate gratification.

    The problem is multiplied in any game with multiple classes and multiple builds. This time I’m a Druid clubbing rats over the head in the Forest of Newbsauce! That’s much more interesting than when I was a Berserker clubbing rats over the head in the Forest of Newbsauce!

    The real problem I had with Guild Wars (Nightfall, and only to about level 12ish with several classes before I got bored) is it felt like my character choices and actions didn’t matter. I could run around almost at random and let the NPCs in my party take care of things. The game has some nice looking character design (but lackluster animation) but otherwise, meh.

  28. mellowF says:

    Yeah, Im one of the old GW players.
    I spent like 1000 hours in GW, over 500 hours on one character alone (a monk, fyi)

    The community might be a bit empty now (didnt play in a while) but GW offers one of the best bang for your buck, so to say.

    And yeah, design and techically it is phenomenal

  29. Alex says:

    GW had a free trial over two-three years ago back when they first released the first expansion pack it lasted for 14 days and it was through their client PlayNC

  30. Matt says:

    I bought prophecies when it first came out. Although I enjoyed it a lot, and could appreciated the finer points of the game, the problem I had with it was actually at one’s 20th level. Up until then, you’re figuring out, strategizing (sp?), and customizing your character- that’s fun for me. But once you reach areas where almost everyone is level 20, co-operation with other players is integral. And when that happens, you get 1 of 2 things:

    1) You look for a party to join, and they only accept you if your character is of a particular class combo AND build, and
    2) you look for a party to join, and spend the next half hour to an hour looking for that group.

    Maybe they streamlined the second with the expansions (I’ve never played the expansions). I can’t quite see how they’ve streamlined other players’ biases, though. It’s weird to say that the game really starts at level 20, but it’s hard to play the game without being pigeon-holed at level 20.

  31. Dominic White says:

    Dave: So you’d rather start out at the deep end? If you’re going into a new RPG with non-standard gameplay mechanics (such as Guild Wars), you probably will be horribly confused if you start out with everything available to you. I recall that they did an open trial event for Factions that dropped you straight into the firing line that way, and it put a lot of people off.

    In GW, you can go from being a newbie learning the controls, to as powerful as you’re ever going to get over the course of your first play session. That isn’t grind, that’s approximately fifty times faster than even single-player RPGs!

  32. Binary Assassin says:

    I lost my GF for a year to GW after introducing it to her. Lol (yes I am a lucky man) she called me at work and asked me my logon info cuz she was on vacation and bored and wanted to try it. I got home that night and her character was already at like level 12. I bought another copy for myself and we played A LOT together. Yup. Fond memories…

  33. DSX says:

    The pitfall with a instant level cap as exemplified in Tabula Rasa, (you can reach max 50 in less then 3 weeks) is that there wasn’t enough PvE content and no reason to encourage repeats outside of rerolling other classes. It sounds like GW has addressed this over the years.

    I can remember beta testing GW and finding the whole orientation toward PvP tiresome (I’m not into competitive e-peen drama). Apparently they’ve shifted more toward PvE replayable in the years since; it might be worth another try, or least a look-see if GW2 has learned this fact when it comes out.

  34. Nick says:

    You get to 20 very fast in every campaign but prophecies anyway. Even faster if you get Eye of the North. It’s not a game that’s about levels really.

  35. Dominic White says:

    DSX: The problem with Tabula Rasa is the very concept of ‘endgame’ content. That stuff you do to prolong the experience once you’ve completed all the normal quests and advanced your character as far as you can go.

    The entire Guild Wars series, all three games, is that Lv20 is where the game properly begins (and the expansion, Eye of the North, is all lv20 stuff). In Factions, you’re probably going to be 17-18 by the time you leave the newbie tutorial island. The vast majority of the plot-quests are designed around a party of top-level players.

    In essence, you can’t ‘outlevel’ anything, because monsters will ALWAYS be more physically powerful than you. You need to put together a team and/or a skill loadout to best leverage your classes abilities to defeat said enemies. It’s about planning and skill, rather than stats.

  36. Oddtwang says:

    Enjoyed GW when I got a free copy of Prophecies – for sending in a comedy DoD screenshot to PDG, in fact – a while back. Enough to go buy one of the addons in fact.
    Having an existing network of guildmates already in place helped a lot with the newbness, but I’ve been lokoing forward to starting GW2 at the same time as them for a while. Unfortunately, there seems to be no activity whatsoever at Realms Beyond these days, at least outside the Civ4 page, which makes me a sad panda; wanted to play Diablo 3 with those guys too :(

  37. Alonzo Harris says:

    Obviously I’m completely wrong, but I thought Factions was easily the best campaign. The city areas were initially good but then became boring and bloody difficult at times, but the Jade Sea and the Forest areas are brilliant. I just think it had a lot more character than t’others.

  38. BrokenSymmetry says:

    I’ve always wondered why Guild Wars isn’t talked about more on RPS, as it is the most innovative MMO of the last 5 years. Also, it’s the most technically sound PC game I have ever played, and it’s still very beautiful, 4 years after release.

    Anyway, for those interested in the PvP in Guild Wars, next saturday, from 16:00 GMT, the monthly tournament is held. These matches can be watched live (with a small delay to avoid cheating) from within the game (press B), and are almost always pretty fun to watch. Last month’s tournament even had some drama, in that the winner was later qualified for spending all their match time in a preliminary round in a conga line with their opponents, causing an intentional draw.

  39. yxxxx says:

    Is there a pack that just contains all the addons?

    I have guildwars but never bought any of the extra content.

  40. Andrew says:

    My advice, this game is best played with friends. The quests are really quite dull alone. Doing the EotN dungeons in hard mode with a couple of good friends and heros picking up the slack is some of the best fun ive had. Pretty much perfect difficulty for skilled players. And on the other hand, there is the best PvP content in ANY mmo. Perfectly balanced and requires actual skill rather than loosing to some no life who spend 8000 hours grinding for loot. Equipment is more or less equal in GW. I personally love alliance battles. 12 vs 12 in groups of 4 running around capping flags with a score system like BF2. Still to be honest the game is getting pretty stale lately.

  41. Joe says:

    I’m playing through Prophecies now, and liking it. It’s a lot more of a gamey game than WOW-style MMOs which try to create a world to live in. Guild Wars is meat and potatoes fantasy action, very well balanced, looks lovely and runs like a charm on old machines. Levelling and gear are refreshingly egalitarian, with a lot of flexibility in how you build your character.

    The game mechanics can be a bit mystifying for new people, but the wiki is excellent: link to


  42. Rei Onryou says:

    I was a long term GWer, with several thousand hours. This was my WoW. What made it work for me was my Guild (Guild Wars Online [GWO] FTW!). Playing solo is dull, but having many friendly people to play with and have a laugh chatting to just made it so much more complete. It effectively was a solo/co-op RPG with MMO-like hubs. But it worked. I do insist you give it a bash.

    If anyone is trying it out, my Guild (not former as I’m still an occasional Officer) is hosting their 4th Birthday Party on Saturday at the Henge of Denravi (in the Prophecies campaign). You should probably be able to get someone to run you there easily enough. I hosted the previous 2-3 and they’re always popular, even with the Devs. Plus free booze, items and prizes, so you can’t go wrong.

  43. Rei Onryou says:

    Whoops, forgot the detailed link and wasn’t logged in to edit.

    link to

  44. A-Scale says:

    Guild Wars was limited by its lack of a persistent world and difficulty of finding good partners for raids. I also felt that the game was a bit light on content, sort of like WoW lite. That’s fine, considering its free per month. And all of that said, I probably played 100-200 hours of it over the course of a year or two. I quit out after the first expansion. I’m looking forward to GW2, but this news couldn’t be less interesting.

  45. elmo says:

    I know that not all people think alike but i was never able to understand the “problems” people had with the game being PvP oriented … it had far more content for pvp players and depth of combat than any other mmo and it still has. And the PvE campaigns are also more entertaining than any other. I still wish for a MMO that takes you by the hand through a story and somewhere in between gives u the best armor, weapons and access to all abilities and lets you party with equals.
    I played aprox 3000 hours of GW since release and after getting bored i tried to recapture the magic with WoW, WAR, Lineage 2 and some free crap called Silkroad. Never again i was able to get into them. As of today, even though i don`t play GW anymore i am not playing any MMO at all because i am looking for a game with 1500+ skills where any char can use them and all have the same armor and weapons and it has a storyline like in a cooperative game but you have more than enough things to do other than pvp and playing through missions

  46. Matt says:

    elmo: “I still wish for a MMO that takes you by the hand through a story and somewhere in between gives u the best armor, weapons and access to all abilities and lets you party with equals.”

    But, see, it kind of didn’t. There was base “good” armour and weapons, which anyone could get but required the grind of item drops, and then there was the really good armour that you could only get on certain raids, and even then it was game of chance.

    With abilities, it depended on which expansions you owned (obviously), but could also unlock if you found the right party to help you unlock it, AND EVEN THEN the abilities you want to unlock may not be useful to you once your teammates realize that they are for an unpopular build (and even then, new abilities were twists on old ones to the tune of “you will do ____ when opponent is ____). You’re not wrong in saying that you party with equals, in that your equals are also fire-based elementalists and no other kind of elementalist (earth-based? forget about it).

    Not that theses problems are unique to Guild Wars. Just trying to separate what the game was trying to do in theory (what you’ve written) and what actually went/goes on.

  47. malkav11 says:

    Has Guild Wars 2 been delayed? Do I care? Not especially. It’s possible that it will be some sort of awesome – the folks at ArenaNet have proven design chops. But it jettisons most of what I found interesting about Guild Wars to begin with. The low level cap and emphasis on clever skill combos and tactics makes for a decidedly unique style of gaming that’s far more friendly to playing with less frequently available friends than almost any other MMO on the market. Guild Wars 2 will theoretically have -no- level cap (still unsure how they plan to pull that off). Guild Wars’ heavily instanced world meant your questing and choices could have real, palpable impact on your questing areas and griefing was essentially impossible, at least if you chose your adventuring partners wisely. Guild Wars 2 will be largely non-instanced. And so forth.

    I would far rather have had more campaigns and/or expansions like Eye of the North. I can see where it might get difficult finding new and interesting skills and mechanics to introduce, but better a world overstuffed with goodness than casually tossed aside.

    By the way, if you’ve only played Prophecies, you really are missing out. The Hero mechanic (introduced in Nightfall but expanded to the other campaigns) makes a huge difference. Heroes are far more reliable and controllable partners than the henchmen, and make soloing even large group content practical if necessarily less entertaining than playing with friends. And hey, they help even there, handily filling out gaps in the party. Two people each with an entourage of three carefully picked heroes make a formidable and fun pairing.