Last year, Guild Wars 2 killed off the last of the Elder Dragons—the main threat that's been facing Tyria ever since the game's launch back in 2012. So what's next? Today, we get our first hint with a new map and story chapter released in the What Lies Beneath update. Recently, I got the chance to play through the update, its story and a portion of its new map-wide meta event.
Picking up from the conclusion to End of Dragons, the player is called to join Rama and Gorrik and their newly registered Friends' Detective Agency. Their first job? Investigating a mine run by Jade Brotherhood leader Chul-Moo. This leads players to Gyala Delve, a region of the Jade Sea, to follow-up on reports of missing miners and strange phenomena. Naturally, this leads to a tease of a new threat that players must face in the future.
Found to the east of Dragon's End, the new map actually takes you under the jade, letting you wander around on the sea bed. It's here that players discover the haze, a void-like corruption that's turning the miners hostile. The centrepiece of Gyala Delve is its meta-event, The Jade Crisis—a map-wide territory control meta that has players pushing south to recapture the mines and confront the source of the haze.
The haze is more than just a story beat—it makes itself known throughout the event. Push into hostile territory, and you'll receive a debuff that—as it stacks—will drain your health. To counter this, you can spend jadebot charges to buy air filters, making it safe to progress into enemy territory. But those filters are on a timer, and you'll need to refresh at the filtration stations that are unlocked as you recapture enemy outposts. The idea is that, in addition to just pushing through, you'll also need to defend zones from recapture in order to keep the filtration stations active.
This feels like a good event for the Canthan region to introduce. As much as I enjoyed End of Dragons, I find that much of my playtime now, a year out from its release, is more focused on older maps. The region's current showpiece meta event, The Battle for the Jade Sea, requires heavy coordination. You have to plan for its completion, using the LFG tool at the right time to find a squad that's planning to take it on. It's a real showpiece for the game—I adore the fight—but it's a little too intense to be part of my daily routine.
This, instead, is more like Drizzlewood Coast or Dragonfall—a rolling meta where you can show up whenever the mood takes you and jump right into the action. It's something the Canthan continent was missing: an event chain where people can just show up whenever the mood takes them and jump into some form of action. The key to its success is, of course, going to be the rewards. The reason players are still visiting maps like Drizzlewood—hell, even Silverwastes—is because there's profit to be made flipping materials. Hopefully Gyala Delve is just as rewarding.
Whatever its place in the overall economy, though, there are some specific rewards that players can target. There's a new jade-themed weapon set, a holographic cape for chapter mastery, and the Grinning Tahkayun Mask—the mask seen in the Specter elite specialisation's concept art, available here for all armour classes.
This is a smaller release than a traditional Living World update, but it will be updated with a second update later in the year that will further expand the story, the map and its meta. According to ArenaNet, if this event chain is all about getting to the bottom of Gyala Delve, the next release will be about how players climb back out.
Because this isn't part of the Living World, though, it also means it will be free to everyone who owns End of Dragons. This feels like a test run of how we'll receive updates in future, after ArenaNet has switched over to its promised cadence of smaller, more frequent expansions.
I only got a brief tease of the meta event, so I'm looking forward to jumping into the live game with a full map of players. As long as the rewards are right, it should be a great place to spend time in-game, even as we wait for it to be expanded in the next update—which ArenaNet says is due before this Summer.