Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2's new Living Story has launched

Wowee, is it ever a massive day in the life of my favourite MMO! If you log in right now, you'll notice three greatly anticipated additions to Guild Wars 2 as you know it: Firstly, we've (finally!) got some more juicy story to pore over with the release of the first chapter of Living World Season 3, Out of the Shadows, and then we also have Revenge of the Capricorn, a pirate-themed new (but kinda not new... more on that later) PvP Conquest map, and Chaos Isles, a crazy new fractal in which nothing is as it should be.

I had the opportunity to try out some of this new content over the last few days and am ready to share my thoughts on what you can expect from this mahoosive content drop. I played through a little bit of the story (I didn't want to go too far and run out of story before it even launches), battled the devs in Revenge of the Capricorn, and blasted through the Chaos Isles fractal to get a sense of how the new content feels.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll share my playtesting experiences with you to prime you for tackling the new content yourselves. This article won't be terribly spoilerific since I was asked not to divulge too much in terms of the new plotlines, so don't worry too much about having a gander before jumping in to play through for yourself. Anything questionable in terms of spoilers has been placed behind special tags for your reading convenience. This is a fairly beefy article, so you'll still have plenty to read even if you choose not to open any of the spoilers at all!

6Living Story Season 3

The general story

I'll kick it off by talking about the new story content firstly since we've been waiting so long to get it! As you might expect, the White Mantle unearthing from the end of the Heart of Thorns story arc is a heavy theme for the first episode. The story focuses on the research of the loveable child genius sweetheart Taimi and the now-exploded (err... imploded, technically, but I'll let you learn more about that by playing) bloodstone that was within Bloodstone Fen, an area you might well have heard of before from the Guild Wars days.

Taimi talks with the player-directed Commander via a radio-like communication device while he or she explore the source of the blast in an attempt to unpack precisely what happened to cause the explosion. Did the white Mantle somehow trigger the blast while trying to harness the power of the bloodstone? Is this another draconic attack that we haven't foreseen? What impact will such a powerful magical blast have on the surrounding flora and fauna and those unlucky enough to have been caught up in it?

3The focus of the playthrough

Reveal spoiler
During my playthrough with the devs, we began the story at the third section so that we'd see the new zone (the parts that preceded the one we played focus on Eir's memorial and some more Rata Novus discoveries, as well as Rytlock being summoned to the Black Citadel and ignoring the call), and the half-hour was just enough for us to explore the zone and deal with the immediate effects of the blast. Canach is missing and the Commander is understandably worried about him and his team, and someone must attempt to locate any survivors, so you venture out to assess the damage. We jumped off our relatively safe airship and glided down to a floating castle that is haunted by angry spirits, which happen to be the spirits of those who were sacrificed on the bloodstone back in the original game (how cool!). 

We fought our way to the top of the citadel and found the ghostly apparition of executioner Justicar Hablion, ready for us to kill in this game too! The commander wishes to both vanquish the Justicar and also release the angered spirits that poured out of the broken bloodstone from their torture once and for all, so a great little battle ensues. I don't want to go into too much detail here, but the general picture is that killing adds deshields the Justicar (those adds have interesting dialogue that you'll want to pay attention to) and some ariel work adds to the mechanical lineup of the fight.

It was explained to me during the playthrough that the team wished to avoid adding a meta that forced players into a set pattern of activity, so events occur across both the upper and lower maps levels and aren't specifically tied together in a formulated fashion. We decided to head down to the map surface level to explore there and we heard about the map's nighttime meta, humourously indicated by the words "The spirits mostly come out at night. Mostly..." during which the ghosts get a little bit bolder and the Mantle forces recede, which allows the players to prompt champions to show up.

Lastly, we chased down a treasure mushroom, which is only visible when a certain HoT mastery has been unlocked as one of several bonuses for those who played through the HoT zones, to gain some nice juicy loot. I did play some more after the official playthrough since my account was kindly left open for me over the weekend, but I sadly didn't get much farther into the story on my own. The story arc I was on does require some help and I simply wasn't strong enough to defeat a veteran White Mantle Cleric who must be killed to advance the story, so I recommend grouping up with your guildies today and going out together for best results.

Zone summary

A rather cool feature of the new map is pockets of magic -- the devs dubbed these magical storms, but they look more like nebulous orbs -- that has a random effect on the player when he or she glides through them. I turned into a moa midflight and learned for sure that they are indeed flightless birds, people! Much of the exploration of the ruined landscape happens via the liberal use of the gliding mechanic, so expect to rely heavily on advanced glider masteries such as leaning and updraft use here.

The area is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in the game. I adore the visuals and I the sense of magical overspill is palpable. You have blasted, floating fragments of ground that in no way resemble Bloodstone Fen as it should be mixed with solid areas that were not directly hit by the implosive blast. This area as a whole is designed for gliders, as I have already explained, and the ariel sights from the air are simply breathtaking. I've included a mini screenshot gallery for you so you can get a sense of just how stunning the area is.

Reveal spoiler
I've noticed along the side of my screen during playtesting that the zone had specific dailies that should ensure that the area stays well populated for a good length of time. The dailies rewards activities such as utilising unbound magic skills while airborne, closing magical rifts caused by the explosion, and gathering unbound magic in the sky over the zone. To harvest unbound magic, you'll need to glide into little purple orbs in the sky, but this cannot be done until you unlock the skills by completing the Reaper of Magic story thread I began in my playtesting. This was described to me as a more fun and involved version of node harvesting, so I'm pretty interested in seeing how that feels when I manage to unlock the ability. I also spied some bloodstone nodes that give the player bloodstone dust, which is pretty cool for crafters. 

Revenge of the Capricorn (2)Revenge of the Capricorn

A general overview

We headed straight into the new Conquest PvP map after our open world playthrough and I was treated to some amazing sights in the reimagined map. It is definitely more of a spiritual successor to the original map more than a faithful recreation and you don't have any underwater combat, but it definitely delivers in terms of strong thematic value and the sort of pacey PvP action that we've come to expect from Conquest. I decided to play a Guardian for the playtest, which I've never PvPed with, so I didn't fare too well, but that was much more to do with my shaky PvP build and skill use and not any inherent imbalance on the map's part.

Based on Raid of the Capricorn but minus the aquatic combat, the new map, as expected from any Conquest map, is based on three key capture points with an added secondary mechanic for map diversity. The secondary mechanic in Capricorn's case is dubbed the bell, and this spawns every three minutes. Capturing the bell will grant a team 25 points on the first capture with incrementally increasing point awards for successive captures that caps at 200 points for four captures in a row.

7The nostalgia factor

Reveal spoiler
I noticed that much of the map architecture is repurposed old Lion's Arch stuff, so this map will be very nostalgic for seasoned players on a few different levels. This is a lovely way to nod in the direction of these old maps, so I highly recommend checking it out if the shellfish buildings and other map silliness found in the new Lion's Arch isn't your cup of tea.

Aside from the nostalgia factor and pretty visuals, there's nothing particularly groundbreaking or innovative to report back to you. You'll more than likely enjoy this map and will vote for it when it pops up because of how navigable and clean it is, but it's not going to blow your mind with any unexpected uniqueness. One cool thing to note though is the addition of a new team screen that shows you the team name, character portraits, and their professions at the start of the map.

Chaos IslesChaos Isles

The general premise

In this funny little fractal, your party attempts to help Dessa stabilise a rather different fractal. An unknown asura seems shocked to find you within this fractal and believes that your presence will ruin whatever it is he's trying to do, and he throws some creatures from the Uncategorised fractal at you. A new form of instability emanates from all over the map, threatening the cohesion of the other fractals. This makes for a pretty entertaining amalgamation of several different fractals in one bizarre experience.

I spotted platforms from the Uncategorised fractal manned by harpy-golem creations that join together the expected jumping harpies with traditional golems, and I also spied assets from the Cliffside fractal too. The mix is very strange but it works!

Reveal spoiler
Hidden notes are everywhere in this fractal, which I greatly appreciate, especially since finding them all is an achievement to bank for the trouble. Getting to some of them require a little bit of jumping skill and exploration, so do spend a little bit of time looking around when you try this one out for yourself.

2The fractal's main encounters

The fractal contains a short and sweet kitty golem fight who iteratively get stronger as the fight progresses and the unknown asura ramps them up to match our skill. Pay attention to the kitty names in order to learn a bit about how they might fight. After defeating the kittybots, we ran frantically through a field of undamageable tentacles while trying not to die. There's a specific way to do this that I don't want to spoil, but it's quite nifty and requires your party to look out for one another.

Finally, the fractal ended with a pretty basic boss that relies on players moving around a shiny floor that lights up in random patterns and deals shock damage to those who get caught on the lit tiles. I was promised that the fight gets harder at higher tiers: We can expect more robot harpies, the floor pattern will become more erratic and the boss has lower cooldowns on his attacks, for example. Thumpers from the Molten Weapons Facility fractal will also come down and squish you at higher tiers, so watch out!

New fractal pane

There's a new user interface for fractals that's is pretty darned nifty: A pop-up allows you to select you tier, shows the dailies that are available, and it also indicates specific agony recommendations without having to open the Wiki, which is great for newbies! The new pane is really neat and allow for a greater amount of in-game learning to happen about what is required from specific fractal tiers and makes getting those dailies that little bit easier.

Over to you!

I've had some pretty busy days testing all of the new content out for you, so I hope you enjoyed this little roundup. The story I completed was part of one particular story segment and took around half an hour to complete, so I'm cautiously optimistic that the first episode will fill out my time quite nicely if I take it at a leisurely pace and resist the urge to rush through it all today. I found scraps of paper everywhere, so I'm sure that I'll get some solid exploration value out of it too!

What do you think so far? Are you happy with the direction? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to share your reactions here as you play through the episode.

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there's a GW2 topic you'd love to see covered, drop a comment Tina's way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
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75 comments
anatheod
anatheod

It was a very meaty content patch. Many issues got fixed, especially guardian's less utilized weapons and revenant's weapon skill bugs. Finally we got some new fractals and a revamp of the agony aquisition method. 

My main concern is that the people who only care for the LS will soon run out of things to do, since this is a small story update compared to previous ones. I really hope they release the next chapter sooner.

SwobyJ
SwobyJ

Finally deciding to really get into GW2 again (thanks to a friend), and just finished Queensdale. Banked this episode like I banked Season 2 :). I really hope they can return a good form of Season 1 :(.

mosselyn
mosselyn

I like the new zone so far and what I've seen of the store (I'm trying to drag it out as long as I can!). I love the QoL changes. I am delighted to be in a zone that's not driven by a freakin' timer. All in all, a nice bag of tricks from ANet.

I do have some serious concerns, though, about this being the only new content for another 2-3 months. I heard there's not even any story achievements this time around. I'm taking a wait-and-see approach (again) for now, but fear I'll be feeling at loose ends soon (also again).

Hurbster
Hurbster

Can you still go to ToA from Kryta via the bone dragon temples and the Blair Witch stuff hanging from the trees ?

Greaterdivinity
Greaterdivinity

Well, started playing last night and got about an hour in (a bit after the funeral bit)... WHO THE HELL ARE THE WHITE MANTLE AND WHAT THE SHIT ARE BLOOD STONES.

Seriously, the way characters act/talk it's like your'e supposed to be familiar with these two things, but for the life of me I can't remember a single reference to them in the HoT storyline, or even anything from the base game/LS1/2. Apparently they're dealt with in GW1 and there are references to them in the lore if you hunt it down in GW2, but that's bloody awful.

Feels really disjointed that they'd just throw that kind of stuff at you "matter of fact"ly rather than giving some form of actual primer before introducing it or building up some kind of actual introduction to those two and what they are/why they're significant.

LS3 is not off to a great start with me because of it, because that kind of shit drives me fucking banana's. Oh well, will play more tonight to see how the actual meat and potatoes of it all is.

kgptzac
kgptzac

@Greaterdivinity There's an NPC that explains what White Mantle's history briefly.  Though for someone who didn't play GW1 and GW2's raids I'd say the introduction is way too inadequate.

BobDobalina
BobDobalina

@7BitBrian @kgptzac @Greaterdivinity And in Brisban Wildlands, you get more info on the White Mantle during map completion. The Human NPC's (Seraph) specifically say they are looking for White Mantle activity and that's why they're in the zone.

Ceimash
Ceimash

@Greaterdivinity hehe, based on what everyone has replied to you GD, it seems you haven't been paying attention.

SirMoogie
SirMoogie

@kgptzac @Greaterdivinity Definitely inadequate. While I know what these things are from GW 1, my character wouldn't have known of them. Since I was unable to do raids my character would be just seeing the White Mantle and hearing about Bloodstones, not be a freaking expert on bloodstone explosions. Worse, he would have no idea who Squad Leader Bennett is. Bobby Stein told us the raid would be supplementary story telling and not required. When a pivotal raid NPC your character might have never met is all buddy, buddy with you that is no longer supplementary story telling. 

Tina Lauro Pollock
Tina Lauro Pollock moderator

After connection trouble last night, I just finished the chapter. Wowee, I wasn't expecting it to be so dramatic!

vinicitur
vinicitur

@Tina Lauro Pollock All I want is to kill a certain politician right now.  :)


(Just to be clear, I'm talking about the game not real life LOL)

melissaheather
melissaheather

to me GW2 now is kind of like what EQ2 used to be. A great game for someone who doesn't have the latest, hottest graphics card.   Endless tons of content to explore and enjoy.  GW2 is probably the best MMO for someone who has a modest computer, actually, that or LOTRO.

BalsBigBrother
BalsBigBrother

I logged in to snag the episode but felt completely unmotivated to actually play it.  Ran around a little bit and looked at some scenery then logged out. I am just not feeling GW2 at all these days for some reason, well I say some reason but mainly disappointment with the HoT stuff I guess. 

Still you never know I might get the itch again and if the lotion doesn't clear it up I might get back into the game at some point

BobDobalina
BobDobalina

Damn, love the new zone Bloodstone Fen. Reminds me of Netherstorm in WoW. Pretty fun trying to put together what happened from the lost journal pages. That being said, the star of this patch are the salvaging changes. I nearly wept in joy.

7BitBrian
7BitBrian

@BobDobalina There are quite a few QoL changes they snuck in which are a huge deal. You can now see enemy percentages if you turn it on, Salvage changes, recipes unlocking account wide, etc....

TomTurtle
TomTurtle

I expected the story to last a bit longer than it did. Having a new map helps a bit. I have to wonder if we'll get this much story & zone content in each episode or not. I had already prepared myself for no new zone at all so even with the smaller size, it's still a pleasant surprise. I'd be surprised if they kept it up though.


Semi-spoiler talk, very vague:


The story definitely acts as an intro, but I like how they addressed a major plot point at the last second. It definitely gives some overarching direction as to where things will be going through the season and into the next expansion.

nahenway
nahenway

So, after playing through the story i have to say I've never been more disappointed about an update before. The hell did they do the last 9 months? The new story can be done in about 2 1/2 hours. The new map is really small and has only a handful of events. Rewards are extremely underwhelming: About 3 new pets and a backpack skin. No new armor - nothing.

So all left is one new fractal if you don't play PvP and a handful of achievements for the next 2 -3 months? Great, I can't wait to run fractals for the next few weeks.

And don't get me wrong, I didn't have high expectations but it seems like one normal size zone and a new armor skins are still to much for poor anet.

I'm just super sad and disappointed right now :(

Edit: And no I didn't rush the content. I did it with my guild and we even had two breaks. sigh

Tenthyr
Tenthyr

Things they did:

-build the fen itself, and the events and mechanics within

- build the story, with the events and mechanics within

-build the PvP stuff, a new fractal abd the graphics for both

- build the underlying stuff and unused models abd what not that will be part of the next update.

nahenway
nahenway

@Tenthyr That's great and everything but what's their plan for the long run? There isn't even enough to do for 2 weeks if you play about 2 hours a day.

kgptzac
kgptzac

@nahenway I agree the first episode is short, but laying the foundations for the entire season would logically takes a longer time since the stuff we currently see aren't the whole picture, and the building blocks of the first episode would still be used for further updates.  The question is, however, that whatever they're doing isn't retaining players.  I really don't see myself motivated to play the game after I finished the 1st episode in one night.

bryanjturner
bryanjturner

I finally got in to the game again and whoa that Bloodstone Fen is a trip, reminds me of one of those corrupted areas like the scar through Ascalan or the death plane effected zones in Storm Legion. I did a couple chapters and logged out I figure why rush it.

woolydub
woolydub

New PvP map is cool and I agree with your assessment completely. It's a solid, no frills PvP map. I like it. I'd like 2-3 of this type a year just to keep this four year old game fresh a bit more. 


I was disappointed that the skill splits across formats weren't more pronounced. That would add variety across game types without breaking balance. Different weapon sets being strong across different formats would be great for variety. Not a big deal, but an opportunity lost imo.


The Ranger fixes were nice. Really bummed there are still broken skills and pet AI after 4 years though. It is what it is I guess.


Overall it's good to see GW2 get some much needed content after so long. I am interested in what my friends have to say about the episode after they play it. If they play through the whole thing after it is all out and they review it favorably, I may have to buy HoT. Until then, I am still waiting for the next x-pac to get HoT bundled in with it.

hugmonster
hugmonster

Meanwhile in Arenanet's server room

SirMoogie
SirMoogie

What makes it good? Does it tell a tale or is it as happenstance and disconnected as described (e g., More like Dry Top and not like Silverwastes).

bryanjturner
bryanjturner

Well I just started the episode right after my wife logged off and then the game crashed and now I can't log in, their forums won't load either; it's a damn shame they don't have a PTR or something like that so that things like this don't happen but it's all good, I'll catch up with it later.

bryanjturner
bryanjturner

Yeah I figured that out eventually but I got back in latter.

SeedEve
SeedEve

LW3 has made my day so far,love the story and the zone is like super crazy.

nahenway
nahenway

@SeedEve Let me fix that for you:


LW3 has made my day so far,love the story and the zone is like super small*.


Sorry, but i just had to xd

Mudora17
Mudora17

So far this update has been pretty good! For non raiders, the story is explained in the LS pretty well to see what you missed, and the new map is all sorts of crazy paradise. Pretty cool setup. Can't wait to delve into fractals. 

hardy83
hardy83

So the raid story was relevant to the main story.


*thumbs up* Can't wait for more locked relevant story. Can't say I blame them though. I mean EVERY MMO with raids has felt the need to be important storylines behind raids, locking it out to many users for no real reason other than because.


I have yet to play this and I'm sure I will enjoy this season, but now I'm just going to go through it with a bitter taste in my mouth that they screwed up, and though I would LOVE to see a more accessible way to see the raid storylines in future updates/raids, I am not holding my breath on them learning their lesson, because, like I said, every MMO company does it for whatever moronic reason.

7BitBrian
7BitBrian

@hardy83 They have someone there to explain it all to you though, so you get all the story w/o actually doing the raid.

bryanjturner
bryanjturner

I feel you man, at this point though I'm just glad I have content.

Mudora17
Mudora17

@bryanjturner Actually... no not really. All the story bits that were in the raid are basically in the new map. The journals had the most information, and they are there.

hardy83
hardy83

@Mudora17 @bryanjturner I just don't understand why they they didn't release this stuff during the drought. I mean was it that hard to put a journal somewhere in the game after a wing has been out for a while somewhere where a "researcher" records on the events of the raid?

I just hope they aren't as dumb next time they release a raid, but like I said, I'm not holding my breath.


I'm really hoping ANet doesn't fall into the trap that so many MMO makers have with story and raid content. Even though they already have once so far.

Guess we'll wait and see.

kgptzac
kgptzac

@7BitBrian @hardy83 That's unfortunately "after the fact".  Raiding has been the exclusive source of the lore up until season 3 and I don't see how that's a fair way to tell the story.  The majority of pve players (who don't raid) aren't supposed to be second-class citizens on learning the lore and story of the game.

Lord Zorvan
Lord Zorvan

@kgptzac @7BitBrian @hardy83 SWtOR does the same shit. At least in SWtOR's case, they've made solo versions of story related raids so people who just want to see the story can.

Ceimash
Ceimash

@kgptzac @7BitBrian @hardy83 When you play the raid, you'll realize that you didn't miss anything at all.


If you really want to know the full backstory of the White Mantle, you should go play GW1.

Esoteric Coyote
Esoteric Coyote

Game dc's me during the story quests.  I'm not even doing the new stuff but still trying to get through LS2.  Epic boss fight?  All done?  Sorry lawl nope, dc'd.  Enjoy doing it all over again.  After it happening for the 3rd time since the patch... Eff it, I'll go play something else.  That's what I get for playing a patch day.  Too bad they never found out a way to save your story instance progress since it seems to be an issue ever since LS2 got released.

vinicitur
vinicitur

@Esoteric Coyote Yeah, the game crashed when I was roaming in the new map. Haven't been able to log back in. Ah, the wonderful experiences we get on the first day of a new patch/expansion.  LOL

brelic
brelic

If i haven't played since a few months after launch is this game worth attempting to come back too or will i be so lost and alone since most people are at max level and prolly beat the expan already? If so, any class you would recommend since the game does not really utilize the standard mmo trinity?

imayb1
imayb1

@brelic I don't think you'd be lost. The megaserver system makes sure there are still people in every zone. Plenty of new people, as well as alt players around. There's no sub fee, so no harm in giving it a shot.

You get 5 character slots, standard, so just try out something. Without knowing anything about your play style it's tough to make a specific recommendation. :)

Tina Lauro Pollock
Tina Lauro Pollock moderator

I've went from being super sad to totally giddy within an hour or so. Safe to say that I'm loving the story so far! I feel that the voice acting has stepped up a notch... just me, or do you lot hear it too?

nahenway
nahenway

Looks cool indeed. The story seems great so far BUT I don't think there is enough content for 3 Months at all. The new map is rather small and the rewards are not so great too :/

Tina Lauro Pollock
Tina Lauro Pollock moderator

@nahenway  It should keep me busy for a while if I read everything and thoroughly explore, I hope. The story is delightful so far. Quite a rollercoaster!