Towards the end of 2014 I found myself playing Guild Wars 2 again. The break I had taken from Tyria was fairly substantial thanks other MMOs appearing on the scene, but I finally had to time to give it another go and get my engineer Harry McGarnagle back into action. While I had dipped in and out throughout the year I hadn’t really appreciated the amount of content that had been added during that time. The new zones on the edges of the Maguuma Jungle, along with the second season of the Living Story, has ensured the player base have had plenty to do. See, that is exactly why I loved Guild Wars 2 so much in the first place – there is always something to do, and people to share the experience with.
But the thing that truly got me excited to play again? Beating the revamped Tequatl encounter for the first time.
For those that don't know, Tequatl the Sunless is one of the open-world bosses found throughout the gigantic world of Tyria. The original encounter against that bloody huge dragon wasn't exactly the hardest thing ever, so ArenaNet went about revamping the experience, and then some. That improved fight has been in-game for a while now, but having only witnessed it once before on a practically empty overflow server all I had seen was a bloodbath. Undead plagued the battleground, what few players were there had been defeated, and a massive bone shield was protecting the dragon that towered above it. My first true attempt at defeating him wasn’t a success either. Too many of us didn’t know what to do, especially in regards to the turrets and protecting the megalazer, and the end result was Tequatl wiping out everything with wave of mass destruction. It was both terrifying and amazing in equal measure.
However, on another attempt it all came together. Players with Commander tags took positions to guide players across the battlefield, guilds placed down banners to provide reward boosts, and when the fight began players would do their best to ensure everyone made it through alive. All of a sudden, a group of people were acting as one, all in the name of defeating a giant dragon. It was hard work, but the moment he finally reeled back in defeat was one of the most glorious moments I have had in a game for some time.
Since then, I’ve levelled a brand new Warrior all the way to level 80, basking in the daily login rewards, discovered the enjoyable (if repetitive) challenge of the Fractal of the Mists, and driven myself crazy over the jumping puzzles. That is in-between a few spots of WvW PvP, which are still zerg fests but I find there is something oddly enjoyable about taking part in one for your server. At the same time, I’ve been preparing for the upcoming Heart of Thorns, saving up instant level-up boosts from daily quests. The aim is that I can instantly boost a Revenant class to max level in the blink of an eye, ready to test out the legend-evoking abilities it yields.
With the recent hands-on press event garnering positive feedback in regards to the new class and the new sPvP Stronghold mode, I eagerly await to learn more details about the upcoming expansion. Case in point – the new class specialisations. While we’ve been given one example of Rangers being able to turn into Druids, I’m eager to know what is in store for Engineers and Warriors in particular. As with most of ArenaNet’s ideas, I expect it will be something left-field, but I can’t wait to find out. If you want to learn more about what is in store for Heart of Thorns, you can read my wrap-up of last month's announcement.
Of course, there isn’t a solid release date yet, and chances are we won’t get any truly new content added between now and then, at least we'll be getting quality-of-live improvements such as next week's patch to the camera controls. Improved object collision detection, FOV sliders, and a brand new first-person view are long-awaited additions to the game, but fairness the sale provides ArenaNet with a golden opportunity to pull in new players, and keep them playing. It’s something they’re clearly aiming to do with this weekend’s 75%-off sale and, as Jon has stated many times, you cannot beat the offer in terms of quality and content for the price.
Its level scaling system means veterans can team up with newcomers experiencing content as it was meant to be played. That said, the new way skills and ability points are awarded comes across as a step backwards to those that played at launch. In my eyes it’s a double edged sword – on one hand it appears to slow the pace of progression (even if it isn’t), but on the other hand it does make sense in terms of easing players into the gameplay without overwhelming them. Likewise, the decision to move the option to join PvP until a character has levelled up is significant risk as it contradicts the “play your way” mentality, but at the same time it makes sense to let players unlock and understand their class’ abilities first.
The important thing to note is that if you’ve yet to give it a go, this weekend’s offer is definitely worth considering, and if you’re a former player who has gone off to other things now would be a great time to give it another shot. After all, it’s subscription-free, and the community is as active as ever thanks to the megaserver technology. Hell, I even came across a Charr role-playing group one evening, acting out a story as they went in search of their missing comrade. I watched and smiled as they went on their way because, as I stated at the top of this piece, it captured the heart of what makes Guild Wars 2 great – you’ll always find something to do and new people to experience it with.
If you're interested in buying Guild Wars 2 be sure to head over to our post from earlier today for all the details on the 75%-off weekend sale.