Guild Wars is a CORPG, or Competitive/Cooperative Online Role Playing Game developed for Windows by ArenaNet and published by NCsoft. The first campaign of Guild Wars, Guild Wars Prophecies was released on April 28, 2005. The different genre was chosen (as opposed to the “Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) RPG”) due to the perceived differences between the game and other MMOs: the focus on Player versus Player (PvP) rather than Player versus Environment (PvE) play made it almost a unique case at the time, players received their own instanced copy of explorable zones and parties were limited to 8 players each, a tiny number compared to the massive caps of other games, which often allowed for up to 64 players in a single party (and unlimited players in non-instanced zones, which were the norm).
Guild Wars does not have a monthly subscription fee; there is only a one time cost of purchasing the game. It uses a campaign-based model, where each campaign allows a player to play the story with the professions available to that campaign.
The game was designed from the ground up to be a competitive multi-player experience, focusing on high-level combat between two or more parties focusing more on player skill and innovative play rather than equipment, time played or sheer numbers, a stark contrast to other MMOs of the time. The game introduced revolutionary concepts such as protection and allowed casters to spend the majority of a fight casting. Other MMOs of the time relied on defensive characters out-healing their opponent’s damage in what amounted to be a “red-barring” contest that focused less on skill and more on level and attrition. Additionally, casters were often forced to spend significant portions of every fight waiting for (the equivalents of) energy to regenerate or skills to recharge. Guild Wars changed this by introducing effective forms of energy management, such as Attunements and Inspiration Magic, as well as a considerably higher rate of regeneration (and lower maximum energy pool) than other games allowed.
After the release of Guild Wars Nightfall, development goals seemed to shift towards a more traditional MMO-styled experience, introducing concepts such as grind and PvE-only skills, as well as adding heroes, computer-controlled allies that could be extensively customized by players, not unlike traditional henchmen. Reactions have been mixed, with proponents praising the ability for players to play the game without relying on the unstable, unreliable and often unhelpful henchmen, the beneficial effects of PvE skills and traditional “elite” dungeons and areas (such as the Domain of Anguish). Others have criticized the difficulty heroes have introduced in finding human players to adventure with, the gradual power creep and the tendency for PvP matches to rely more upon player’s builds than their personal skill.