I have been playing Guild Wars a lot since Factions was released. One of the things that the new expansion game offers is titles. There are many different titles that can be achieved; explorer titles, PvP titles, skill hunter titles, and many others. After reading about the titles, I saw one called survivor and thought that it would probably be the most difficult to achieve, therefore I decided that I simply had to do it.
All you have to do to earn the title of Survivor is make it to level 20 (the highest character level in the game) without ever dying. Having played hardcore characters back in the Diablo II days, I figured I would be able to do this without much of a problem, but(that needs to be a bigger but) BUT there are a few key differences between Guild Wars and Diablo II that I didn’t take into consideration before I began to try.
In Diablo II if you wander outside to quest without any other human players in your party the game is set to players level 1, where if you walk out with a full group it is set to players level 8; In Guild Wars there is no such option, it is exactly as difficult with one player as it is with eight. You can take henchmen with you, but the computer controlled players, while helpful, are not capable of thought. Thus they do not have the ability to anticipate or prepare for a battle in any way before you actually get into it. The henchmen also like to try to resurrect people in mid battle, which would be good if they didn’t have to actually stand right in the middle of the combat to do it. Despite their drawbacks, I knew that I was going to have to achieve the survivor title with the henchmen; that was the only way I could maintain absolute control.
Another difference between Diablo II and Guild Wars, and this is a huge one, is town portals. In Diablo II you could throw up a town portal before battle and if the battle got too intense you could step into the portal to be instantly zapped back to town. Guild Wars doesn’t have anything like that. If you are in a battle you are in it until its completion, whether that means your victory or your death. It is possible to run away from battle, but with the henchmen in tow they will continue to battle while you try to run, always keeping the foes within range to hit you with spells and projectiles, making sure that you are losing health just a bit faster than you can heal. There are times when that I have successfully defeated a group, or ran completely out of range, only to die because I was not able to remove a hex or condition. This would be another obstacle I had to overcome.
In Diablo II you could fill your inventory up with full rejuvenation potions that would instantly restore all your life and health. In Guild Wars there are no potions of any kind; all healing and energy regeneration must be done by spells or signets, and nothing casts instantly. Every character class has a couple of spells that have cast times of a quarter of a second or so, but the only one that has the capability to cast a heal spell that quickly is the Monk, and even then the Monk only has one or two spells that cast that quickly, and you don’t get them until much later in the game. The majority of the quick casting spells are for condition removal or interrupting the enemy, which are both quite useful but not as usefully as a rejuvenation potion would be.
Then there is the AI. Unlike Diablo II, Guild Wars actually has intelligence in their AI. The foes will pick one character in the group and spike him (everyone hits him/her with their most powerful skill all at the same time), and if you don’t have some sort of protection spell on you when hit, you will die. Even at level 20 the most health any character can have is 590, and that would be with a rune of superior vigor (which is extremely expensive) and with a Hale (+30 health) staff of Fortitude (+30 health). 480 is the base max health, and most have about 450 instead so that they can use runes to increase their skills’ effectiveness. Some of the monsters, although not many, can hit for 230 or so in a single hit, so without some sort of protection you are dead before you can even cast a heal.
All that being said, Guild Wars is set up so that you can learn your skills as you progress through the game. The first ten levels or so could be completed without dying even if you had never played the game and never used a healing spell. In fact the first fifteen levels are probably gimmes. But, and much like Diablo II, the levels require more experience to achieve the higher you get. I am not exactly sure on the level progression, but I think it takes more experience to get from level 14 to level 15 than it takes to get from level 1 to level 10. Level 20 is achieved at 140,600 experience and if you are killing monsters that are about the same level as you are you get about 20 experience per kill (though the majority of the experience comes in chunks of 1,000 or more from doing quests and missions).
Well, I did achieve my goal. I had a few brushes with death along the way, there was one time that I was down to 33 health and still degenerating before I was finally able to get the condition removed and start healing. That was pretty damn close. It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be, although it did require a hell of a lot of patience. I had to go at about one-quarter the pace that I would normally play to make sure that I could pull the smallest groups possible. I also upgraded my armor at every opportunity, while I would normally only do about two sets of armor for the entire game. But I made it, and that is all that matters; I achieved my goal.
Then I set my sites on the next goal: Level 2 survivor. Level 2 is achieved at something like 550,000 exp. Well, level 2 survivor didn’t go nearly as well as level 1 survivor did.
I wandered out the door and got into exactly one battle before this happened. I was on the receiving end of a spike that included a mesmer boss (mass degen). I fell like a sack of hammers. I didn’t even have time to just close the game it was so fast. So now I will just have to use my experience gained, 145,341, as my new goal when I try to make a survivor.
There is one way that the survivor character in Guild Wars is better than the Hardcore character in Diablo II though; I can still play the Guild Wars character, had this been in Diablo II I would have to start all over.