Flameseeker Chronicles: 2017 predictions for Guild Wars 2

The year is most definitely drawing to a close: I’ve devoured a mountain of turkey and stuffing sandwiches, binge-watched all of my favourite holiday movies, and failed the Wintersday jumping puzzle far too many times to count, so I am under no illusion that 2016 will be over before I know it. With that said, I wanted to take a moment to look back on everything that 2016 brought to Guild Wars 2, revisit my predictions from the beginning of the year to see how wrong right I was, and finally add some new predictions and wishes for 2017. I’m feeling very nostalgic and whimsical this festive season, so it’s the perfect time for a reflection as well as a little bit of optimistic wishlisting!

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, expect a blend of already-known information with my usual dose of heavy speculation and a noble attempt at piecing together the scant pieces of information that exist regarding ArenaNet’s 2017 plans. As much as I’ll try to steer clear of spoilers where possible, I feel that this will be a bookmark-and-read-later option for those of you who aren’t quite up to date with the 2016 GW2 happenings. My 2017 predictions will contain potential spoilers throughout for those who haven’t caught up, but I won’t place these spoilers behind tags due to the time elapsed between the last story drop and today.

gw2-03Looking back on last year’s predictions

WvW predictions were a mixed bag

This time last year we knew that WvW fixes were incoming without having clear specifics of how those changes would improve the game mode. I predicted that WvW changes would focus on making supportive play more of a factor in WvW and that GvG elements would become a massive factor. I’ll give myself half a point since the WvW changes implemented across this year have rebalanced rewards and contribution metrics to favour more indirect support roles, but I was wrong about GvG being a major player in 2016 and am still rather sad about that.

My thoughts on raiding were more accurate

At the start of 2016, we had only just experienced the first raiding wing and were rather unsure of what was to come, especially since the PR focus at the time was HoT damage control and WvW improvements. My predictions attempted to put a number on how many raid bosses we’d see (I said nine), guess whether ArenaNet would stick to the six wings assertion from this time in 2015 (that was a no), and wanted the raid story to continue on the White Mantle path. I did fairly well here: We have had nine raiding bosses altogether (though the first wing was not included in my initial prediction), ANet did put out far fewer wings than we initially thought, and the White Mantle are still a firm feature of the ongoing story.

gw2-01Season 3 predictions were lukewarm at best

When I think of how Season 3 has shaped up this year, I have to outright admit that it has surpassed my expectations! I predicted that the Living World season would kick off in late June in time for the summer holidays, that a new draconic threat would occupy much of our time, and that we’d have a lively new zone to occupy us. ArenaNet over-delivered on each of my content predictions and launched the season a month later than I guessed, so I don’t deserve many cool points at all in this section. The only thing I got decidedly and entirely correct here was that there would be no expansion in 2016. Two active draconic threats, plenty more Taimi, the fun that is little Aurene, and plenty of new zones to play in has been a delightful addition to GW2.

GW2’s e-sports push hasn’t died down, so I guess I’m vaguely right?

We have accepted by now that ANet’s big e-sports push isn’t really going anywhere anytime soon despite making more of a squeaky pop than a big bang, and the scenario today is much the same as it was last year with some more development focus placed on improving the game’s competitive PvP mechanics and a similar push to before. It still isn’t an area that appeals to me and it hasn’t rocketed in popularity over the last year, but I do think I’m right to have said that it is a nice avenue for flashy marketing and hype building if nothing else. I can’t say that GW2 has become a breakout contender for the e-sports big leagues, though, so I’ll have to knock credit off for suggesting that a massive push could attract the large multi-game competitive teams.

gw2-00Looking ahead to 2017

A new expansion will be released *shock horror*

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are that you’ll agree with me on this one considering that we’ve had rumours of the next expansion being in development for around a year now and we know that a solid development team is assigned to purely expansion-based work. I’m vaguely hoping that we’ll see out this Living World season following up on the Crack in the Ice Jormag story arc because I feel that it’s most pressing, which then in my mind would make the new expansion focus on Primordus. This is assuming that the player character never manages to tame Braham and thus Taimi’s plot to set both dragons against each other doesn’t work: Should that plan of action succeed, I then feel that the rest of this season will be taken up with that resolution combined with the fractured White Mantle storyline being picked back up again, leaving both dragons to be the main focus of the new expansion. I’m predicting that the expansion announcement will happen fairly soon, perhaps even pre-Valentine’s Day, then June for the season’s end and October for the expansion drop. I agree with Bree on the Crystal Desert nostalgia assertions but disagree with Justin on the total class revamp and aggressive cash shop model predictions.

Raiding will be in a state of limbo until the expansion drops

I really hope I’m wrong on this, but I can see raid development taking a significant back seat as my predicted expansion drop draws closer. It makes sense: The griping about the relative workload required to bring raids to life is still not entirely quashed despite the content being well received by those who do enjoy it since only a relatively small demographic engages in that type of content. I’m not expecting a new raid wing within either the first or last quarter of 2017 judging by my imaginary timeline in my head, so if we see something great on this front it’ll be sometime in spring or summer.

gw2-02More compelling story and regular updates to prevent another content drought

Development cadence has been a historical issue for ArenaNet since Guild Wars 2 launched, swinging back and forth on both sides of the quality-versus-quantity spectrum uncomfortably for much of that time. 2016 saw that change for the better though, with a happy medium that delivers regular content without sacrificing quality or the sanity of the development team. I feel strongly that this behaviour will continue into 2017 and will be only very marginally affected by my predicted expansion launch and any potential damage control and hot fixing that will cut the fresh development man-hours immediately after launch. I hope that Season 3 stops around three months prior to that launch so as to leave enough time for expansion focus without creating a significant content gap while we wait.

Quiet on the PvP front in all aspects

PvP has seen a significant amount of development attention in 2016, and while that focus was very much needed, if an expansion that doesn’t rock the boat as much as HoT did is to release within the next 12 months, I can’t see this trend continuing. I’m lumping that same assertion onto general PvP, WvW, and eSports pushes, which is quite a bold statement for me to make, but I nevertheless feel that it will hold largely true.

gw2-04Over to you!

You’ve heard my predictions now, so I want to sit back and read yours. I’d love you to present me with solid predictions that I can revisit in a later article, so get your thinking caps on. In the meantime, here’s to a fabulous 2016 and an even better 2017!

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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