The long-teased September Feature Pack is now live in Guild Wars 2. What does it contain? Features! It's packed full of them. More specifically, it contains a selection of updates designed to overhaul everything from trading to achievements, and from levelling to class balance. But already, some of these changes are drawing derision from the game's community.
Looking over the Feature Pack, it's not as immediately dramatic as last April's release. In terms of non-level dependant systems, the focus is more on minor tweaks and usability improvements. Many elements of the UI have been overhauled, including some additional updates to systems introduced with the previous pack. There are too many of these minor changes to run down, but you can see a full overview on the game's official release page .
One of the biggest overhauls is to levelling, and it's these changes that have drawn the most criticism. Both the game's official forum and the community Reddit page are filled with complaints about the additional gating placed on new characters—with story missions, customisation options and even weapon skills now locked to specific levels of the game. The point, supposedly, is to make it easier for new players. I'm not sure withholding the game's most tactical combat options is the best way to do so—especially when the increasing number of account bound systems would suggest a desire to encourage existing players to create alternate characters.
In addition, there do seem to be some bugs with some of these newbie-focused additions. A new compass provides players with a suggested direction, only there are reports of it sending characters to some of the game's highest-level zones .
A mixed pack, then—one with some genuine improvements, but hampered by potentially off-putting systems. Personally, I'm most interested to see how the balance tweaks change the game's PvP, and whether it finally makes certain classes (like the poor, previously neglected Ranger) a more viable option. But, as someone who's been toying with the idea of creating a new character, I'm not thrilled by the prospect of a more simplified progression. Expect more detailed impressions when I've had a chance to fully explore the new systems.