After adequately enjoying Guild Wars: Factions and playing through it several times, I decided to buy another campaign. I had the choice between Prophecies and Nightfall, the first and third campaigns respectively. I wanted to try the new classes that were in Nightfall, so I purchased the latter for $24.99 at Best Buy in December 2006. There are many positive aspects to Guild Wars: Nightfall. Like the other titles in the series, Nightfall is free-to-play, which is a major boon. Many MMOs require monthly subscription fees from the user, such as $10.00-$20.00 a month. I have always been old fashioned in my game purchases and do not believe in paying for something beyond the base price; Guild Wars fits my preference in this matter.
Nightfall also adds two new classes that its predecessors do not have: the Dervish and Paragon professions. These additions expand the number of classes from the original 5 (Ranger, Monk, Warrior, Elementalist, and Necromancer) and Factions' 2 (Assassin and Ritualist) to 9 total, allowing greater diversity than before. I wanted to try the Dervish first mostly because I thought it looked cooler than the Paragon. The Dervish wields a giant scythe as a weapon...and that was pretty much the only reason I needed to play it.
The makers did an exceptional job with the landscape of the game. Like Cantha in Factions, Nightfall takes place on the separate continent of Elona and is inspired by African culture in its design. In Cantha, one always felt restricted in certain areas. The Elonian environments are much more open, and even the smaller spaces, such as the caves, have minor details that give it appeal.
Like the other games in the series, customization exhibits the most appealing part of Nightfall. Players can pick the names of their characters and how their characters look, with many options for hairstyle, height, face, skin tone, and other details. In game, you can mix and match armor pieces for your character to distinguish them from others, as well as dye them with different colors. None of these aspects affect the gameplay, but it is amusing to fashion your avatar to your personal preference. Nightfall has a number of new and entertaining choices for altering your avatar. For examples, hairstyles range from a mohawk to an afro, displaying a sense of variety not felt in Factions.
The game also adds gameplay elements that make it far more interesting than Factions. You can now recruit heroes, or AI henchmen. You can customize a number of options for your heroes, such as choosing their weapons and what skills they use in combat. These abilities make the heroes more durable and helpful than regular AI companions that you could choose in previous campaigns. There is a maximum of three that you can take on a mission with you, but they really help out your party and are sometimes even more reliable than human controlled characters. Having heroes reduces the need to have 8 human players, so forming a party has become easier than in previous iterations.
In addition, if a human controlled player leaves your group during a quest, the heroes that he brought with him stay with your party; this feature counteracts the loss of a member that was a major problem in Factions. It is still a detriment to have players leave mid-mission in Nightfall, but the heroes become a slight advantage despite the effect of losing players.
Nightfall also introduced the concept of mounts, or creatures that you can "ride" in. In some sequences, you can control a giant worm that tunnels underneath the ground and has a separate set of attack skills than your character. It is very fun, although it is limited in use.
There are improvements over other existing features of Guild Wars. In Factions, for instance, you were judged on three different levels when you accomplished a mission. If you did exceptionally well, you were awarded the Master's level. In Factions, obtaining that level was determined by how quickly you did the missions; for example, if a mission was completed in under 20 minutes, you would get Master's. While seemingly easy, these time trials became boring and/ or frustrating, as you would sometimes have to repeat a mission if your party did not have skilled players.
In Nightfall, achieving Master's does not always depend on a timeframe. In many cases, additional objectives, not a time amount, must be fulfilled, such as destroying a secondary target or protecting a high number of a garrison's defenses. These new requirements for Master's diversifies the goals of each mission and also prevents the stress of having to run through a mission hastily rather than adequately.
The missions themselves have been changed as well. In Factions, most of the game's circumstances required destroying a number of enemies or protecting a group of people. While the same is generally repeated in Nightfall, the developers made the situations more intriguing. In one mission, you take part in a siege on a fortress. I was astounded by the scale of the attack. You exit your ship onto a dock and must proceed from there into enemy territory. Catapults rain debris on your party while you storm different parts of the map and clear out hostile soldiers. A secondary force meets you midway in the battle, and you feel a sense of excitement in the whole operation. It feels chaotic but in a positive way.
One mission is particularly amusing because a large portion of it does not require any fighting. It takes place at a party, where you must achieve different objectives to progress. For one goal, a drunk challenges you to get intoxicated faster than him, and in another, you must teach a child how to dance. This mission is a refreshing and simple aside from the usual combat of the game.
The dialogue is markedly improved from the previous game's cliched banter, and the voice actors sound more comfortable as a result. The story is also the biggest betterment in comparison to Factions, although it does have one minor drawback. While it avoids Factions short, average plot, that is also its weakness. I think Nightfall has a lengthy narrative that becomes a bit convoluted in the third act. The plot starts off strong, but it has many subplots that can distract the player. Because of the long storyline, there may be too many missions to complete for the intermediate gamer as well. I have not yet completed the game even though I am one mission away from beating it. The problem is that I lost interest at a certain point. Still, the story is presented well and in better form than Factions was.
The replay value of the Guild Wars series will vary among different people as well. After finishing the main storyline, the player has several choices. They can go back and do the missions over again at a harder level to gain monetary and experience rewards, or they can engage in PVP (player versus player) mode. Most venture into PVP for the challenge of competing against other human-controlled players in different contests.
Other players opt to fulfill "achievements, " which are accomplishments that require a large amount of time invested. Some achievements are difficult, such as completing all the missions on the highest difficulty, while others are merely a way to enjoy oneself, such as eating a number of sugary foods. Most achievements do not have a beneficial effect on your character with a few exceptions, so decide beforehand if you want to spend the effort on these goals.
As I said before in my Factions review, I set out to gain some achievements after playing the main missions but only garnered a few. I did not play PVP that much and do not intend to do so in the future for personal reasons (I prefer multiplayer FPS's). I have not played Nightfall in a couple months, and I do not feel the need to revisit it yet. Eventually, I will play again, but for now, I have set it aside as well as my other Guild Wars campaign, Factions.
Out of the two campaigns that I have played so far (I have not played the copy of Prophecies or the expansion Eye of the North that I have in my drawer yet), I would suggest buying Nightfall if you want more content and a better story. If you only want an introduction and not a pledge to the MMORPG genre, I would suggest Factions. One should also consider waiting for Guild Wars 2, although the release date of that game has not been announced yet.