Many generations ago, evil walked the shores of Cantha. It rode the wind and stalked in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to strike. Much time has passed. Evil has returned.
– Guild Wars Factions Trailer
Factions was released in 2006 as the second part of the Guild Wars MMORPG. With this campaign, alliances are introduced. An alliance is a group of up to ten guilds and can join the alliance battles.
South of the continent of Tyria - where the story of Prophecies took place - across the sea lies another continent and the Empire of Cantha. 200 years ago it was ruled by a good-natured emperor with magic abilities. But his bodyguard Shiro Tagachi was told by a strange old woman (who has the voice of the prophetic dragon Glint1) that the emperor was planning to kill him. From that time on, Shiro was suspicious and finally killed the emperor himself, taking his magical powers and his throne. But then he in turn was killed by three heroes: Vizu, Saint Victor and Archemorus. At the moment of his death, the emperor's powers left Shiro and – in an event called the Jade Wind – rolled over the country like a wave, turning the sea into jade and the forest into stone.
The journey begins on a small island where the Shing Shea monastery accepts new novices as pupils of Master Togo. They are trying to help Cantha in fighting a mysterious plague that turns ordinary people into monsters, called the Afflicted. Their way leads to the mainland and the huge city of Kaineng. It becomes apparent that the plague is the work of Shiro Tagachi, who is trying to get back into the world of the living.
The novices have to become Weh no Su or 'Closer to the stars', a higher state of being, in order to be able to see beings from the Spirit Realm and fight them. They can stop Shiro from binding the spirits of Vizu and other heroes and use them for his purposes. But something is still missing to defeat Shiro: the novices have to get hold of the holy artifacts of Archemorus and Saint Victor. A choice has to be made, to go either to the Jade Sea or to Echovald Forest and to become a friend of the nomadic people of the Luxon or the aristocratic Kurzick to gain their trust and support and get hold of the artifact of their hero. These nations are at war with each other, so another goal is to unite them in the fight against Shiro.
Sure of the support of the Luxons and Kurzicks and the help of the dragon Kuunavang, the novices return to the city of Kaineng. But they come too late - Shiro has killed Master Togo who was disguised as the emperor, and who was indeed his brother. By spilling the blood of the Imperial family, Shiro can return to life. He does not recognise that this life also makes him mortal again and so he can finally be defeated in a last fight in the Imperial Sanctum. Shiro Tagachi will never return again.
The Shing Shea Monastery lies on a small island west of the mainland. The landscape looks like on a typical Chinese painting: high mountains, small valleys, waterfalls and arched wooden bridges. Cherry trees with pink and white blossoms are growing in the gardens and the stone houses have roofs of dark tiles that are carried by beams of red painted wood. Water buffaloes wander slowly through green meadows between bunches of bamboo.
Kaineng City is big and crammed with houses. The buildings of the rich are colourful, and decorated with wooden ornaments, Chinese lanterns and potted plants. They are many storeys high, with big windows that have either just grates or shutters of paper and wood. The poor live in wooden sheds, built on top of each other like high cliffs, constructing a maze of streets and alleys. It is easy to get lost here and meet the gangs that are roaming these streets. In the middle of all this there are marketplaces, temples and the palace of the emperor. Raisu Palace occupies a big part of the city. Its many courtyards are richly decorated in red and gold, red tiles are shimmering on the high walls that surround it and many guarded gates ensure the safety of the Emperor. But there are also the sewers and the undercity, a dark place beneath the city above. The stinking water is constantly streaming from massive rusty metal pipes into a dirty river.
The high, grey trunks of petrified trees stand in Echovald Forest, letting little light come to the bottom, where bright green moss and ferns are growing. Mushrooms, big as houses, also find a good place to grow here. The Kurzick have carved large halls, resembling Gothic churches, into the stone of the trees. Only the roofs are not made of massive stone but from the branches of the stony trees. The Kurzick themselves are pale people with black hair which they wear in elaborate styles. They all wear dark eye make-up and their dresses are very much the style of Goths. It is unclear where their German names fit into this.
When the sea turned to Jade, waves stopped in mid-movement. The spray still seems to wash over rocks and many ships never reached the harbour. Strange sounds echo through these valleys of solid waves. The tips of corals stand out of the polished blue-green surface of the Jade Sea and at places where the Luxon have their jade quarries, fish and other animals that have been trapped in the Stone can be seen. The Luxon are nomads; they use the empty shells of the huge turtles that live here as shelters or even build many skeleton structures on their backs. These wooden frames are covered with cloth, often making the structures resemble Chinese lanterns. The Luxon themselves wear colourful clothing, obviously preferring the colour orange. Many men wear shawls draped around their heads and shoulders.
Apart from the basic professions, there are two additional ones available with the Factions campaign:
Assassins move quickly in and out of combat, causing a lot of critical damage with their daggers. Assassins uses sequences of moves known as 'skill chains', where using different skills in a particular sequence in rapid succession can be extra-effective. A skill chain normally has a lead-hand attack, followed by an off-hand attack. The skill chains end in very powerful dual attacks.
The Ritualist summons spirits from the void, who will then fight as his allies. Some spirits even heal and actively protect the Ritualist's team. Ritualists have many support spells and are great healers, sometimes even preferred to Monks. On the other hand they are also able to deal lots of damage and even magically produce enchanted weapons that can be used by their allies.
Alliance Battles - Player vs Player
Alliance battles take place in Cantha and require a guild that is a member of either the Luxon or the Kurzick faction. Two teams of different factions fight for control of areas of Cantha. The results are visible as a red/blue border on the map of Cantha. As more players tend to choose the Luxon faction this is usually the stronger side.
In the battles, the players fight for control over certain points on the map. The playfields in which the fights take place are dependent on the current location of the border. The side that holds an outpost also occupies the surrounding resurrection shrines, where players who died in battle are revived. Players of the opposing faction are only revived if they first either kill or bribe the priests at the shrine (before you die of course; once you are dead, it is too late and you can only return to an outpost and all enemies are reset once you enter the area again).
There are two maps for competitive missions in Cantha. Just like Alliance Battles, these missions are connected to the fight between Luxon and Kurzick. In these missions, players fight alongside NPCs2 in random teams. They try to accomplish certain goals while being attacked by the team of the opposing faction.
Factions has two elite missions, one in the Jade Sea and the other in Echovald Forest. The Kurzick fight against Urgoz in his warren. He was a warden of the forest who became mad after the forest turned into stone. In the Jade Sea, Koraxai was trapped in the Deep when all the water turned into jade. Later, he was found by miners and caused quite a bit of trouble.
Guild Wars Beyond – Winds of Change
Five years after Shiro's defeat, the Afflicted and Shiro's demonic servants are still a threat to Cantha. To solve this problem, the Ministry of Purity was founded. They fight these monsters and also the various gangs in Cantha while the other ministries are rendered useless by bureaucracy.
Winds of Change was released in 2011 and tells the story of the fight against the Afflicted and the political changes in Cantha that happen because of the increasing influence of the Ministry of Purity. As the effects of the Jade Wind slowly dwindle, life returns to Echovald Forest and the Jade Sea turns back into water. Trading restrictions bring Cantha more and more to self-isolation and long before the events of Guild Wars 2 it will be inaccessible to foreigners.
Become Weh no Su
Factions is probably the campaign of Guild Wars that is fastest to play through, but some of the missions are quite difficult.
Although the game does not require it, players should consider playing both sides of the story, Luxon and Kurzick, so they do not miss out on anything. Both sides are equally interesting.
Just like Prophecies, Factions does have a disadvantage when it comes to accessing heroes.
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