This was nothing new to online gaming though. Diablo did it way before Guild Wars, but GW refined the process with Henchmen. They made it simple to hire a few NPCs standing around near the city gate and get them to join your party for their share of the loot. It started out simple enough, but it eventually evolved into something much more advanced (and exciting) with Heroes.
Heroes were introduced to the GW world in Chapter 3: Nightfall, and were continued into Eye of the North. Arenanet took the basic concept of a hired NPC and expanded it to include customizable armor, weapons and skill bars for that whole new level of party control. Before, you took the healer monk and whatever crappy skillbar she had, and you liked it. But now, you could try out that great new healer build you've heard so much about, and combo it with a prot monk hero to get that perfect synergy going, completely under your control.
Not only that, but we now get the chance to direct our heroes with flags to let them know where to stand, when to act defensively, when to avoid combat and when to simply act as your own personal bodyguards. This aspect of the controllable AI made for an exciting new type of PvP battle called Hero Battles. In these matches, you control your heroes against the heroes of another player to give it a slight RTS feel.
You can unlock heroes either by completing their corresponding quests, beating them in the Norn Tournament, or buying them with PvP Balthazar Faction points
So to continue this voyage into the customizable ally realm, follow us into this gallery of Heroes to learn more about your 25 new best friends.