An ancient evil has awakened. That's pretty much par for the course in MMOs. Almost everything is an ancient evil. That tree? Probably an ancient evil. That NPC? Yup, ancient evil. The crafting economy? Definitely an ancient evil. It's time to add another to the list: at the heart of Season 2 of Guild Wars 2's Living World is an ancient evil that's now terrorising the Maguuma Wastes, and the new zone of Dry Top. That story continues with the Entanglement update, due out later today.
Guild Wars 2
The second season of Guild Wars 2's Living World story is well underway, with last week's Gates of Maguuma taking players to the arid Maguuma Wastes, which I hear are lovely this time of year. Now, ArenaNet have begun to tease the next episode, Entanglement, which will arrive on July 15th—exactly one week from today. The trailer suggests we're in for a viney, gianty old time, which would mean that my horoscope was right.
The Guild Wars 2 update machine is slowly creaking back to life. After a short break, ArenaNet have begun teasing Season Two of their Living World—a long-running story chain that aims to provide far-reaching consequences for the game's inhabitants. The season will begin next week with Gates of Maguuma, which is briefly previewed in a new trailer.
After a much needed holiday from its fortnightly releases, Guild Wars 2 is again preparing for a new season of time-limited updates and story content. This time, though, they won't be quite so time-limited. ArenaNet have announced a new Journal feature, which, they say, will let players save and revisit each season two episode.
From the first episode, due out July 1st, players will be able to 'bank' Living World content by logging in during the two-week period that it's active. Should players miss an episode's window, they'll be able to buy replay access through in-game gold.
Since the end of March, the players of Guild Wars 2 have had a much needed break from foiling evil plans. The first season of the Living World ended with a destroyed city and a newly awakened dragon; both of which are plot points deserving of some resolution. Instead, we've had a big party and a bigger war. That revelry can only last so long, and ArenaNet have announced that a new season of content updates will begin in July.
ArenaNet are celebrating this Thursday's Chinese release of Guild Wars 2 with a global festival, one that will be available to update-hungry players everywhere. Festival of the Four Winds marks the return of the Zephyrites—the kite-ship flying traders that were inserted into last year's Living Story. As part of the event, players will be able compete in challenges and activities, raising money towards the eventual rebuilding of Lion's Arch, the game's central city.
Scarlet is dead, Mordremoth—the Elder forest dragon—has awoken, and Lion's Arch lies in ruins. More significantly, Guild Wars 2's player-base have completed an over year-long series of regular content releases, building to some of the most engaging and coordinated map-wide battles yet seen in the game. So what's next? For now, none of the above. Rather than hint at the content to come, the next update re-examines and overhauls many of the underlying systems. The April Feature Pack is due out later today, and could be a significant shift to how players engage with the game.
"I think over the last year you saw us integrate a lot of the features in with the content," Isaiah Cartwright, lead game designer for Guild Wars 2, tells me. "We did the whole achievement rework right at the same time as we had this big content patch. We found that they kind of step on each others toes. I think our philosophy now is trying to separate the features and the quality of life improvements from the content. This is our first run at that."
Guild Wars 2's Feature Pack is still a fortnight away, but, judging by ArenaNet's recent teasers, it promises to be one of the more significant updates in the game's history. Across the eleven existing blog posts on the MMO's update page, the developers have revealed upcoming changes to Traits, Skins, Crits, Slots, as well as some of their non-monosyllabic systems.
The latest post details the "Megaserver System", which dramatically alters how players will be populated across different zones. The hope is that friends and guildmates will be more consistently placed on the same version of a busy map, and that the game's quieter maps will become dramatically more populated. All of which is great stuff, even if I'm slightly underwhelmed by their hyperbole. Megaserver? Why not Enormouserver, or Colossuserver?
After more than a year of fortnightly updates, Guild Wars 2's Living World has finished its first season. Panto-plant Scarlet has been defeated, Lion's Arch is an abandoned ruin, and an ancient evil has awakened. The future of Tyria is uncertain, and filled with the potential for much death and destruction. Things are bleak, and tensions are wrought, but I don't much care because features are coming!
ArenaNet have today announced the "April 2014 Feature Pack", a major update that, instead of adding content, will shift the balance and upgrade the systems of their game. The full scope of the patch will be revealed in stages over the next few weeks, with this first teaser focusing on the extensive changes being made to Traits - the player-assigned stats that confer passive abilities and define a profession's build.
Lion's Arch has had a hard week. Since its destruction as part of Guild Wars 2's Escape from Lion's Arch update, the game's capital city has been beset by baddies, filled with a toxic miasma, and periodically populated by players on a map-wide hunt for civilian survivors. The next update, Battle for Lion's Arch, will encourage those players to take the offensive. A teaser trailer released by ArenaNet sets up the assault, and hints at what they're calling "the final battle".
Announced last year, Guild Wars 2's "Living Story" has provided a regular series of temporary events, zones and combat encounters. Today's update, titled Escape from Lion's Arch, is the penultimate release of that story's first season, and one that's set to have a dramatic effect on Tyria's capital city. Log in after the update goes live and, instead of the colourful market square, the repurposed pirate-ship houses, and the grand central statue, you'll find chaos, fire and destruction. This isn't an instanced event, but a full scale invasion. Lion's Arch is going to fall.
It's not just that one of the game's safe zones is about to be overrun. This is a symbolic strike at the heart of the game. Lion's Arch is, for many, the centre of Guild Wars 2: providing both a trade hub, meeting point, and a spot to ambiently idle while an NPC Asura attempts a Sylvari salad joke. For ArenaNet, though, this is precisely why it makes such an exciting target. "Players are Tyrians themselves," associate game director Steven Waller tells me. "This is a hub for all races to come together, and so I think that one of the things is the question: how does Tyria respond?"
Guild Wars 2's main city of Lion's Arch has seen plenty of drama across the Living Story. Over the last year, there's been an assassination attempt, an election, and a hidden pirate airship. Mostly, though, there's been those two jerks by the Leatherworking station endlessly repeating their infuriating conversation about outhouses and sewage disposal. Why, if I had my way, I'd burn the whole damn place to the ground.
If this video teaser for the next update is anything to go by, ArenaNet might be granting my wish.
It's in the nature of a non-subscription MMO that, when freed from the guilt of making the most out of a monthly payment, people will drift in and out of it over time. That's what I've been doing in Guild Wars 2, finding myself falling in love with it for brief periods, before moving on to be obsessed by something else. With the recent Origins of Madness update, I've been dragged back in. It's all down to one of the new world bosses: the Twisted Marionette. Remarkably, it's one of the best encounters ArenaNet have ever created for the game.
I couldn't live in a fantasy world. It would be exhausting. Even traditionally sedate jobs would be constantly upended through world-changing events. Just imagine being a civil servant as the new territory of Guild Wars 2's Edge of the Mists update suddenly appears. You're going spend months dealing with land disputes, planning application and mountains of paperwork. Luckily, instead of civil servants, the game is full of warriors, thieves and an assortment of wizards. For them, conflict resolution involves... well, conflict.
As noted last week, Guild Wars 2's Living Story is moving towards its conclusion. Today, we learn how that conclusion will heavily involve creepy giant marionettes. ArenaNet have announced that the next update - due to launch January 21st - will be called The Origins of Madness. And while it kicks off the culmination of over a year of twice-monthly updates, and unveils the master-plan of repeatedly defeated villain Scarlet, the real reveal is the addition of two new world bosses to be blasted into treasure.
The briefly slumbering ArenaNet have awoken for a new year of Guild Wars 2 updates. The first of these has been announced for 21st January and, like basically all of the other ones, will involve the admirably persistent arch-villain Scarlet. Maybe, though, this will be her last appearance on the panto villain stage, as - as was revealed in ANet's end-of-year blog post - the next four updates will wrap up this "season one" story arc.
Would you like to make a festival that's analogous to Christmas for your own fictional purposes. There have been so many used for various games - especially MMOs - that the list is getting pretty thin. Still up for grabs are FrostyWeek, ColdTimes and Nega-Christmas (in which children throw wooden toy soldiers into the void-like Anti-Santa, desperately hoping to quell his unfeeling hunger for matter for another year.) You can't use WintersDay, though, because Guild Wars 2 has appropriated it for their own definitely-not-Christmas celebration - one that's returning to Tyria next week.
Typical politicians. They promise the moon on a stick, but do they ever deliver? Well yes, in this case. As part of the weird Guild Wars 2 voting event held a few months ago, the winning candidate's election promises have formed the basis of next week's update: Fractured. It's a new Fractals of the Mists event, set during the explosion of Metrica Province's Thaumanova Reactor. Fractured also continues the Nightmare story chain, that formed the basis of the last two updates.
I'm on something of a break from Guild Wars 2 at the moment, after a heavy spell of playing it a few months back. But despite barely touching the last few events, I do like the game. I wanted to make that clear upfront, because next week's update contains a competition that I'm having a hard time writing about. A hard time because it's hard to see what you're typing when you're cringing this hard.
That's right, ArenaNet are asking fans to create a music video around the song "The Nightmares Within", which, appropriately enough, is also the name of the update. Also there'll be some stuff to do in the game, which is maybe the hope to cling onto.