Factions has a new PvE campaign, two new professions in addition to the original six, new skills and armor for existing professions, new gameplay modes for both PvE and PvP, and gameplay modifications in response to criticism of the earlier Prophecies campaign. Factions can be bought as a stand-alone game or can be added to an existing Prophecies account to produce a merged account with several benefits. Most of the PvP content from Prophecies is available to Factions-only accounts.
Like all Guild Wars campaigns, Factions contains the core character classes introduced in Prophecies; it also adds two new classes to the game:
Dervishes and Paragons can get to Cantha via Kamadan, the port city of Istan, but they cannot be created in Cantha.
Cooperative missions in Factions are different from their equivalent in Prophecies. In Prophecies players complete a main mission and an optional bonus mission. Cooperative missions are easy to avoid in Prophecies as most areas are accessible without completing missions. Factions makes all missions compulsory for accessing new areas and completing the game. The bonus mission has been removed and replaced with a three-tiered reward system. Some missions' tiers are based on the time taken to complete the mission, others are based on completion of extra objectives (such as keeping a certain number of NPCs alive until the end). Gold, experience and a skill point are given at each reward tier. Several new concepts for co-operative missions have been introduced, such as missions with two teams of eight and missions specifically for killing a single boss.
The time taken for a new character to reach the maximum level of twenty is reduced and most of the areas are designed for level twenty characters. Experience, and therefore skill points, are easy to acquire once level twenty is reached. This means that the time taken to unlock skills through PvE play is reduced from Prophecies. Skill acquisition is modified also, most skills must be purchased from Skill Traders, rather than received by completing quests.
Boss enemies now do double damage and take half the time to use spells and skills instead of having shortened hex and condition durations.
Neither faction is considered to be inherently 'good' or 'evil'.
An alliance is a group of up to ten guilds aligned with the same faction who agree to join in an alliance under the name of a single lead guild.
Each faction has a number of towns which they own, the control of these towns is given to alliances with the highest standing with their faction. Standing is earned by the alliance by accepting donations of faction points from the players in the alliance.
A player may earn account based Kurzick or Luxon faction points while they are playing Factions. Faction points are earned doing PvE quests for a faction, competing in Alliance battles, in Competitive Missions or some Challenge Missions. If the player does not wish to donate faction to the alliance, or if they play for the faction which the guild isn't allied with, they can trade their faction points for armor crafting materials or skills that can be used in the PvE portion of the game. A player is considered Luxon or Kurzick by having a majority of unspent faction points for the faction they support. To change faction a player needs to acquire a majority of factions points for their new faction.
Factions provides PvE players access to two competitive missions, a new game type for the Factions campaign. In these missions, two random teams of eight compete to reach specific objectives. If a player dies they respawn in the base and are able to rejoin the fight to meet the objectives. When the match finishes the players are returned to a waiting area to start the next battle.
These missions are a new gameplay type introduced in Factions. They set specific scoring objectives for a team to meet, offering rewards of gold, experience or faction points dependent on the teams performance in the mission. The best teams over all time, each month and each day are recorded for players to view online. There are five different missions each with different objectives. For example, Dragon's Throat requires the players to kill as many enemies as possible over a period of time and Amatz Basin (named by ArenaNet after the player community of The Amazon Basin, which also contributed to the official Guild Wars strategy guide) requires the players to save as many NPC refugees as possible in a set time.
The objective of the battle is to be the first faction to reach 500 points. Points are rewarded for capturing and holding strategic map locations and player kills. If one team holds all map locations for a minute, the team automatically receives 500 points and the victory. Players do not get a death penalty and are automatically resurrected. Players on both the winning and losing side are rewarded with Kurzick or Luxon faction according to the amount of points their side gathered, with bonus points being given to the winning side.
The battles are fought on a series of five maps which are weighted from strong advantage to the Luxons, through neutral to strong advantage to the Kurzick. The map played on depends on the land held by the faction. For example, if the Luxon are holding a lot of land, the maps played on give advantage to the Kurzick. Teams that are playing on maps where the opposition has an advantage receive a bonus to the number of Alliance faction points accrued during the match.
Like Prophecies, Factions begins with a tutorial section, called the Shing Jea Island, with easy quests and non-threatening monsters. The Factions tutorial areas are not separated from the rest of the continent like in Prophecies, but are instead accessible at all times like any other outpost. In the tutorial, Canthan characters are introduced to one of the main characters of the Factions story, the ritualist Master Togo. Togo is a half-brother to the emperor of Cantha, and the head of the Shing Jea Monastery where new Factions characters receive their preliminary training. It is revealed that Togo was a former mentor of Mhenlo. The Factions tutorial quests are directed towards specific tactical and strategic gameplay features such as kiting, snaring, and countering melee fighters.
The initial tutorial missions also introduce new players to a plague spreading over Cantha. In attempting to find its source, the players discover the mark of an ancient evil from Cantha's history, the disgraced imperial bodyguard Shiro Tagachi. Two hundred years before the events of the story, Shiro murdered the emperor he was sworn to protect, and was himself promptly slain for his evil act. Shiro's death wail triggered a calamitous event, the Jade Wind, that swept across the continent of Cantha, turning the sea into solid jade and the Echovald Forest in southern Cantha to stone. (This back story was featured in a full-motion cinematic trailer for Factions.) Togo recognizes the mark of Shiro and rushes to inform the emperor; the player characters, under his direction, head to the seat of the Canthan empire, the sprawling Kaineng Center.
In the mainland, Factions characters are united with characters from other campaigns when they join forces to eject Shiro's army of the afflicted from Vizunah Square. At the end, they learn more about the history of Shiro. When he was slain for his murder, he became an envoy of Grenth, the god of death, and was given the task of shepherding the newly dead to the underworld. However, Shiro was not content with this fate, and wished to become mortal again, which he hoped to accomplish by slaying the emperor to complete an arcane ritual. To accomplish this, Shiro uses his envoy powers to spread the affliction, and uses the souls of the dead as soldiers in his army. The other envoys are not happy with Shiro's actions and decide to help the players to put an end to him.
The first step in the envoys' plan is for the players to become closer to the stars to gain the ability to hurt Shiro in his envoy form. Subsequently, they pay a visit to the spirit of the former assassin Vizu, who was instrumental in defeating Shiro previously. From Vizu, the players learn of the artifacts of two other Canthan heroes responsible for Shiro's death: the urn carrying the ashes of Saint Viktor, the patron saint of the Kurzicks, and the spear of Archemorus, the legendary hero of the Luxons. The players retrieve the artifacts, and assault Shiro at the center of his power, in the Sunjiang District, destroying his constructs and closing spirit rifts he has opened. Shiro himself, however, escapes. At the advice of the envoys, the players then choose a side; going with Mhenlo to convince the Kurzicks that Shiro returning is more important than their ongoing war with the Luxons, or with Master Togo to convince the Luxons to stop fighting the Kurzicks. This causes a momentary fork in the story; the earlier Prophecies campaign was criticized for its linearity, so both Factions and the subsequent Nightfall campaigns have included non-linear elements in the plot. Once the players convince their chosen side, players from the Luxon and Kurzick factions meet again to seek advice from the ancient dragon, Kuunavang. They find that Kuunavang has been corrupted by Shiro, but they defeat Shiro's corruption and Kuunavang aids the players subsequently in their fight against Shiro by granting them devastatingly powerful skills.
Meanwhile, Shiro has raided the palace and has kidnapped the Emperor. The players rush to save the emperor by cutting a path through Shiro's army of fearsome Shiro'ken constructs. Just as Shiro is about to slay the Emperor, Master Togo throws himself in the way, saving the Emperor. He pays a steep price, as Shiro focuses instead on Togo for his ritual; it appears that he merely needs to spill royal blood, not necessarily the emperor's. Togo's death is a sharp blow, but it makes the battle against Shiro immensely personal for Mhenlo, who vows to avenge his former master. In the final battle, the players assault the now-mortal Shiro Tagachi and kill him for a second time, after which his mortal form is sealed in jade and his spirit is captured by the other envoys. Unlike the final mission in the earlier Prophecies campaign, this final mission consists solely of the battle against Shiro, allowing players to modify their tactics, skills and team setup before a climactic final battle; this innovation was also used against the end bosses of the subsequent Nightfall and Eye of the North releases.
Reviewers were impressed by the addition of the new Kurzick and Luxon factions that players could ally with and claim territory on the game map for their alliance, but criticized its weak storyline (compared to Prophecies), poorer voice-acting, and its accelerated character level curve that let characters reach the maximum level before leaving the tutorial content. The continuing problem of the Guild Wars user interface lacking advanced team-forming and trading functions was also criticized, but the subsequent Nightfall release partially addressed these criticisms by adding a unified party-search utility with limited trading functions.
Factions helped boost the number of units sold in the Guild Wars franchise to over two million. This does not equate to two million players for each campaign release is counted separately, causing a single player account to be represented up to three times in the unit sales figures for full campaigns. This figure also does not indicate the number of "active" accounts; Guild Wars accounts never expire, so the account activity statistics are never publicly revealed, even though ArenaNet does collect them (players are able to access playtime statistics using the "/age" command in-game).
Players who pre-ordered Factions were able to get a bonus CD. The disc included;
This disk is no longer available.
A Collectors edition is available for players to purchase. Players purchasing this edition will receive in addition to standard edition materials;
There was a delay with the initial shipping of the Collector's edition due to unforeseen demand. ArenaNet introduced a mini Kuunavang dragon pet to the Collector's edition as a thank you for those who had purchased and decided to wait for the Collectors edition to arrive.
This version of the game is only available for purchase from the online store. It unlocks the two Factions specific professions and the skills available in Factions but limits the players to the competitive arenas. This version of the game may be purchased as a stand alone game or may be added to an existing account. The PvP edition does not add any character slots to a merged account.
Games Guild Wars Factions, NCSoft, PC, pounds 29.99 VERDICT: ***** Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast, Sega, PS2, PC,pounds 39.99 VERDICT: *****
Jun 24, 2006; MASSIVELY multiplayer online role playing games, otherwise known as MMORPGS, have become incredibly popular. Guild Wars has been...