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.
Guild Wars 2
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.
"Free-to-play" and "microtransactions" are dirty terms to some. That's understandable. Famous Facebook Skinner boxes like Farmville have clouded attitudes toward today's free-to-play games, and there's an assumption all microtransaction-driven game design is handicapped by the need to create ways to charge players. For some games, this is certainly true, but there are excellent free-to-play games out there that represent good value for money. Below we've assessed some of the most common methods used by free-to-play games to make money from players, and highlighted some of the fairest examples of free-to-play that are worth your time.
Trundling towards us on the unstoppable conveyor belt of updates is Tower of Nightmares, the next event in the Guild Wars 2 calendar. ArenaNet are being unusually cagey about what's inside the tower, but, from the scant information contained on the update page, we know that it'll be found in Kessex Hills, and has something to do with irritable fish-men the Krait. Oh, and that it's evil.
Next up on the ever whirring Guild Wars 2 update conveyor belt: Blood & Madness. It's a seasonal update, which means either we've nearly arrived at Halloween, or that Canadian Thanksgiving is scheduled to take a dark turn. Perhaps silly, more than dark, with an update announcement page that makes mention of, among other things, the Grand High Viscount of Candy Corn and the Candy Corn Elementals. Good name for a band, that.
You don't name your splinter faction Nightmare if your plans include wandering the countryside, offering hard-working farmers a cup of Horlicks. As such, it should be little surprise that the depraved arm of the Sylvari have planted yet more seeds of evil, which are due to blossom next week as part of the Twilight Assault update.
That won't mean anything to you if you've yet to try ArenaNet's constantly updating MMO. But thanks to a second, extended trial, you'll have a chance to explore the threatened forests of Caledon alongside the content hungry bands of Level 80 players. Or your could ignore them, and spend your free week doing jumping puzzles instead.
Dragons! Guild Wars 2 may have just re-opened its Super Adventure Box, but that hasn't stopped ArenaNet from giving fans at PAX an early preview of the next update. Tequatl Rising will overhaul the open-world boss battle against the titular plague beast, adding new phases and attack patterns for a more challenging encounter. ANet also revealed that the update, due September 17th, will finally add a much anticipated looking for group tool.
A year ago this week, Guild Wars 2 launched in North America and Europe. To celebrate, ArenaNet has released a huge infographic with a ton of stats for your entertainment. Er, your infotainment, I mean.
Super Adventure Box was one of the more ambitious pranks of this year's Make Up Some News Day; mostly because it was real. For the month of April, Guild Wars 2 got an 8-bit console downgrade courtesy of a) Asuran technological experimentation, and b) a game lore flexible enough that its developers can go, "ah screw it, let's just make a platformer".
Now the game's retro device is being fired back up for a new session. Super Adventure Box: Back to School kicks off next week, celebrating children's return to enforced knowledge gathering with a series of pixellated jumping puzzles. No, I don't get the connection. Yes, I'm going to go with it.
Gather, peons, for the Queen's Speech. That's how Guild Wars 2 is marking its first anniversary, and it's bound to be more exciting than some drivel about a "royal baby." Instead, GW2 will show us how to do monarchy right, with a bunch of changes sweeping Kryta as the populace is showered with gifts
The citizens of Tyria are always celebrating. Dragons being jerks? Throw a party. Skyship shows up? Break out the bunting. Computer games are invented? Well, that one's understandable. Guild Wars 2's next update will centre around a more obvious cause for a shindig - if you're a royalist at least. Queen's Jubilee marks the ten year anniversary of Divinity Reach'zzzz... Sorry, I started to fall asleep there, halfway through that lore heavy sentence. Maybe the planned events, rewards and updates will prove more interesting.
Growth is the goal and Guild Wars 2 has crafted an appropriately massive gameplan showing how it wants to achieve this for the rest of 2013 and beyond. As game director Colin Johanson outlines in a new dev update, ArenaNet is busy planning its release in China and the addition of a variety of new rewards systems worldwide.
Cutthroat Politics will be the next in the now regularGuild Wars 2 update cycle. As the second update of the month, it'll build on the airship/giant kite thing that landed in the previously released Bazaar of the Four Winds. Throughout the update, two of the game's characters will be embarking on the campaign trail in an effort to secure player votes for... some supposedly significant role created purely to support this election conceit.
Despite previous evidence suggesting an expansion pack for Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet's lead content designer Mike Zadorojny has now revealed that their Living Story updates may mean such an add-on is no longer on the table. While expansions were a significant part of the first Guild Wars, the sequel's utilisation of microtransactions could mean they never need to rely on paid content additions.