Massively Overthinking: Weighing in on Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire

Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire has been live for just a week now, and while various members of the Massively OP staff have been penning launch diaries and adventures, this week’s Massively Overthinking will be dedicated to getting opinions from everyone. What do we think of the expansion so far, both those of us who are playing and those who are observing from the sidelines?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Am I allowed to mention how much you guys are nerding out in the MOP writer chat? I’m not playing Path of Fire. I looked into it but it just wasn’t for me, mostly because my personal circles have gravitated away from traditional MMOs. I’ve seen mainstream media give it some praise, though a few veterans who came back are grumbling about connection issues.

I’ve been surprised about the story praise, personally. At launch, the story was serviceable, but the Lion’s Arch destruction plot (beyond the mayor voting) didn’t do much for me, which was around the time I quit. I had recommended the game to some of my students once it went free to play since it was more interactive than the story in most MMOs (in terms of linear plots with in game, cinematic presentations).

As dumb as it sounds, the one thing that stands out are the mounts. I’ve always been a mount fan, and that was one thing that caught my attention about the expansion. People seem pretty happy with their diversity and features, so kudos on that, Anet!

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Tina is going absolutely mental for Path of Fire, and it’s becoming contagious. I’ve been really impressed by how the expansion uses mounts with specific movement abilities to gate content and progression in a way that feels natural. Heart of Thorns tied progression into masteries too but it fixed their usage very rigidly it into the environment. Having to unlock specific skills to jump on mushrooms placed throughout the map and catch updrafts on your glider seemed kind of fake in HoT, but PoF’s mounts are far more freeform. Obviously the environment was built with specific mounts in mind and there are places you need the bunny mount’s jump or the raptor’s dash to get to, but it doesn’t seem artificial or forced.

Anyone who was thinking of skipping this expansion because they were burned by falling to their deaths a million times in Maguuma, or who thinks that the mounts are a gimmick feature or will just be the same as mounts in any other MMO, definitely take another look at Path of Fire. I don’t have the time to commit to playing the game right now on top of my usual games and work to justify buying the expansion myself, but if I did I’d jump into PoF in a heartbeat. For now I’m content to look over Tina’s shoulder and be thoroughly amazed by the environment design and attention to detail of the new zones and story.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I’ve mentioned before that “Arabian Nights” settings are basically Bree-nip. This is my thing. So Anet could royal botch almost everything about this and I’d still be like but omg the setting, did you see, and look, it’s got that thing from Guild Wars 1, also one of my favorite MMOs of all time, and omg Aladdin lamps and deserts and djinn and and and.

The good news is Anet didn’t royally botch anything. Anet nailed it. We’re basically looking at expansion of the year right here; let’s just call it now. Guild Wars 2 was always pretty, but the Path of Fire zones elevate it to the most graphically gorgeous MMORPG I’ve ever laid eyes on. My husband and I finished up the Crystal Oasis zone story last night and I was genuinely sad at the idea we’d have to leave it to push on to the next zone. That was not the case with Heart of Thorns; I dread going back to finish up. And that’s without even mentioning the mounts, which are absolute gamechangers not just for GW2 but for the genre.

Are the storylines still goofy? Yeah, sure they are. Do the mounts have issues back in Tyria? Yep, they do. So I do still have complaints (I always do), but honestly, most of them are problems native to the rest of the game, not necessarily specific to Path of Fire. As expansions go, it’s a solid A and a great rebound from HoT.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Well, I have logged into GW2 more in the last week than I had in the previous year, so that’s saying something! I got snookered in by the pretty awesome raptor mount, and then by a totally adorable raptor pet. This mount hook is probably the only thing (aside from personal housing with free-placement decorating) that could have enticed me to play more, even if by more I am just racing through the land. I have to add that it was critical to be able to have a character high enough to get said mount and to look at the new content; had I been stuck with my lowbie, the unreachable raptor hook would have meant nothing. In fact, I would have been less happy with the game and less inclined to play.

As for game play, I haven’t gotten too far yet, but it has been decently fun… more so on the back of a raptor! RAWR!

BREAK BREAK BREAK

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I am keeping a launch diary to give a fuller answer to this question, but my short-form response is that I’m deeply immersed and won’t pop my head up for a long time, which is all any MMO enthusiast can ask for! I did have terrible issues over the launch weekend, but my connection and instance creation woes are over and I know the ArenaNet gang pulled out all the stops to solve the issue as quickly as they could.

Now that I’m playing solidly, I’m in love with the expansion and have been in particular awe of the richness offered in terms of both art and story. The mounts are joyful to use — when they don’t make me motion sick — and my brief tinkering with my elite specialisations is proving fun. I have seen my fellow players wonder about the replayability of the new zones, however, which I don’t yet feel ready to weigh in on at this point. Time will tell on that front, but the team should nevertheless be congratulated on making such a beautiful expansion that hits the mark in terms of content and delivery. The position ArenaNet is in coming out of the Path of Fire launch week is so far away from where it was during the Heart of Thorns launch in terms of community feeling and feedback, and the turnaround has been a joy to see.

Your turn!

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43 Comments on "Massively Overthinking: Weighing in on Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire"

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Darthbawl

I got snookered in by the pretty awesome raptor mount, and then by a totally adorable raptor pet.

Poor MJ has sore arms, since we twisted them to get her to play. :P

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Alex Willis

We’re basically looking at expansion of the year right here; let’s just call it now.

Hard to disagree from my end. I liked Morrowind a LOT, but I found myself staring out a vista in the Desert Highlands in GW2 last night, and thinking, “Holy shit, this place is giving me the same kind of feeling I had when I first hit Evendim in LOTRO. I am going to remember this place.” This expansion is to GW2 as Lebowski’s rug is to his Zen: it really ties the room together.

Lebowskirug.jpg
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Thomas

Everybody’s a story critic, heh.

I personally think the story is just fine, the mounts are fun, and the zones are gorgeous. That the hero points and mastery points are (as far as I can tell) mainly soloable now is another plus.

I just wish the emphasis in the primary story missions had been a little less on making so many of them crazy-difficult and a little more on making them just “reasonably challenging and actually fun”. I generally like running alts through story missions as well (I did that for about 6 alts through HoT), but, so far, most of the PoF story missions are episodes I would never want to replay for any reason on any character.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

That’s why I prefer FFXIV’s approach. The main questline’s there to tell a story and give you a lot of awesome, hopefully epic or cinematic moments. It’s not there to make you spend an hour on a boss because you don’t have the right build/class. That’s what dungeons, fractals, raids, and metas/bounties are for.

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thalendor

After reading some of the positive comments and reviews here and elsewhere, I picked up PoF and am rather enjoying it. Based on the limited amount of time I’ve had to play it so far, I’d say it fixes the issues I had with HoT. I’d even say it improves over the base game based on what I’ve seen. Granted, this is all a pretty early, preliminary opinion, but for reference I was already seriously disappointed by HoT after the amount of hours I’ve put into PoF so far.

Some specific things I liked: I like the world design of central Tyria and from what I have seen this is at least as good. The combat balance feels about right to me: things in central Tyria die way to easily but these put up more of a fight and story instances seem well-balanced for a duo. While I didn’t care for the raptor mount in the preview, I have to say that even that is growing on me after a few hours, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of them work.

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Thomas

“… story instances seem well-balanced for a duo”

I definitely agree with this, but for me this is a serious design flaw. Most of the story missions are a major PITA if you’re trying to solo them, imo — particularly for certain classes and/or builds.

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Castagere Shaikura

I’M with Andrew on this in some ways. HOT burned me out for this game. I just don’t care about the mounts either. You never needed them to get anywhere but i guess in the new zones you do just like HOTS gliding. People get so hyped about mounts in mmo’s. I have watched MOP’s MJ stream and couldn’t even get through the whole stream before i got bored. It was a fun game when it launched but they have just done alot of things since that turned me off.

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Terren Bruce

It’s unfair to judge it based on MJ”s stream. She didn’t really play it, she spent most of her time just talking with people in chat. The only thing she played was the first story instance.

Most of the stream was just people introducing her to GW2 and her exploring parts of Amnoon. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not something you should base your opinion of the expansion on either. MJ’s streams are more about her interacting with the community than they are of her playing a game. I’d put her ratio of progress to about 10-15 mins of game play for every hour she streams. ;)

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Arktouros

I remain unconvinced.

Big part of any MMO is what you do in between. Yes there are 2-3 hour side track quests and dialogue and discoveries. Yes there are some pretty length achievements that you “complete” each zone thoroughly. However much of that content is one time, fleeting experiences. It’s about ratios and simply put there isn’t enough repeatable content there to keep you motivated to keep playing beyond the initial discoveries. If over the next 3 months you put in a modest 20 hours a week that’s 240 hours that the expansion just doesn’t remotely cover (and lets just ignore the no-lifers who are legitimately “done” with it already).

The supposed repeatable content they did add, Bounties, are basically on demand champ trains that we’ve always had access to. Their event rewards make them slight upgrades but nothing really mind blowing or spectacular. Most of the very tiny, very few meta events tend to be incredibly unrewarding compared to past meta events in other parts of the game.

The Story I think is going to vary person to person. I found it relied very heavily on copying the broadstrokes of a good chunk of the Nightfall story from GW1. Maybe that was intentional giving the setting, but it made videos from 2012 like this a little too relevant again. I mean, LOL. The game play continues to rely on your companions to fight off big encounters but they are basically useless as ever.

A lot of this expansion and how we measure it’s success long term is going to be in how quickly they follow up with the living story and start implementing it and what they add with it.

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Terren Bruce

3 months from now the first episode of Living World Season 4 will be out. It’s only 2-3 months before the first major content patch and it’s been less than 2 months since our previous major content patch.

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Frank White

I’m still unconvinced myself. I look at it and ask myself what new things can you actually DO in the expansion, aside from riding mounts? I mean, new stories and cool new stuff to look at is great, but what can you actually do (again, aside from the mounts) that you couldn’t do before? I mean, are you actually doing pretty much the same kind of content with mostly the same mechanics, just within the context of different story missions and prettier environs? No new dungeons or raids or classes, and probably not even any really fantastic item drops (aside from the usual “ugh” crafting items that are never immediately very satisfying.) This isn’t a roundabout way for me to dump on the expansion, I’m just sincerely trying to find some reasons to convince me to buy. I don’t want to end up like MJ, just riding around on my new mount for hours, taking in the sights. (No offense, MJ!) And like you, I suspect there isn’t enough content there that I’d care to experience more than once.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

At this point I wish they’d just turn the companions into healbots like FFXIV does. Just about every time I have Rytlock with me, the guy stands around doing jack shit. Not exaggerating or anything, he just stands there not swinging at anything. The times he does attack are when he runs off after some mob I wasn’t even going to engage because I was too busy chasing a sentry or something.

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Thomas

I have exactly this problem.

My ranger obviously uses *ranged* skills, but he is often forced to run up and melee just to get Rytlock involved. In the — er, ahem — old days of GW, heroes and even henchmen would attack if you attacked, and you could even call the target you wanted them to attack.

GW2 really dropped this particular “NPC companion” ball big time.

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Terren Bruce

I wonder if that’s a bug? I don’t remember having that problem during Living World season 3.

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Arktouros

Kasmeer missions seemed to be okay because her Illusionary Defenders seemed to draw aggro but the rest have always been useless in missions. They get aggro and run in sure enough, but they die horrendously to the mob abilities then they have to “recouperate” for a few minutes before they’ll fight again so they’re just standing there next to you useless.

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Andrew Stoker

Good God, the sentry achievement! Rytlock and Canach totally screwed that up. At least in GW1 you could pin your party & heroes back while you completed stealthy stuff.

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BalsBigBrother

I didn’t jump in on this expansion because of my HoT launch experience which soured me to GW2 for over a year before I went back to find the fun again.

I am happy to see that lessons appear to have been learned and PoF seems to be doing well. This bodes well for a future purchase at some point. All I need to do is find the free time to actually be able to play it, oh um 🤔

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

My guildies and I have trained our griffons. We spent 3 hours this evening just flying around. The expansion is amazing. It’s my favorite work of theirs since original GW2 and it’s a quality release. The story is good. I’m kinda flabbergasted. Vabbi is incredible and I just did a quest line that was a huge spoiler so I wont say what it was but man they nailed the GW1 nostalgia.

My character also mentions Cantha in one part in her dialog.

Cantha confirmed.

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TomTurtle

The difficulty is still there, though I’ve seen numerous claims that it’s much easier than HoT. I’d say it’s a bit less difficult but not due to fight mechanics but more so with event tuning being more solo friendly. I still find myself getting overwhelmed and dropped pretty quickly at times.

The casual nature of this expansion is a great deal better in comparison to HoT. It’s still a step up from the core game, which I expected as much. I’m very happy with how the open world content has been designed in that regard.

The story is improved, so that’s a plus. I’m not going to claim it’s super compelling or anything though. I find myself enjoying it regardless.

An unsurprising critique I’ve seen is how little replayability there is for the expansion. It’s hard for me to say whether that’s coming from content locusts or not. I feel that there’s a great deal of content coupled with achievements and collections. Many aren’t super grindy like HoT’s were due to repeating large meta events so you don’t have to go through so much for so long which is a plus in my book. People forget that we’ll soon get more content in the next season of the Living World. This expansion was slotted in between seasons with the same pacing as any other episode. I’d say the amount of content is substantial considering that fact, especially with the expansion being at a lower base price point.

Mounts are an excellent addition to the game and add fun to not only the PoF content but other areas as well. I used experience boosters and felt that gaining experience for mount masteries was not too long. It helps immensely that they throw mastery points at you both for completing story steps and out in the open world. Hero points are acquired quite easily as well being soloable, which I greatly appreciate.

My big gripe is that ArenaNet predictably throws a lot of stuff at you to clog up your inventory. Some of it’s alleviated by unidentified gear but there’s still so much being added regardless.

As was assumed before launch, PoF is more of the same GW2 that you likely already have come to love or hate. Since season 3, I feel that ArenaNet has finally gotten back to a normal schedule, and they’ve continued to steadily truck along. I’m happy for it. I don’t ever want to go back to the times around HoT where things were just a mess.

Edit: Also kudos to ArenaNet for hammering out bugs, crashes and fixes quite frequently. The launch was smooth enough where there wasn’t any substantial downtime, though the crashes leading into rollbacks got annoying.

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yoh_sl

Could not give any less of a ****
It really doesn’t matter what Areanet do anymore, I’m done with them.
It doesn’t matter how good they make the game, or how massive their expansion is, it’s not going to draw me back. They wasted all the good will I had to give years ago.

((Edited by mod))

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Tiresias

…Why would you even bother to read the article or leave a comment then?

Seriously, I’m curious as to why you would waste your time.

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yoh_sl

Quote “Your turn!”
It’s the point of the article.

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Terren Bruce

But you’re not commenting on the expansion. You’re just commenting about whatever ANet did in the past that made you quit. Even you admit it doesn’t matter what this expansion had in it. So your comments on it are pointless.

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yoh_sl

And yet you found time to reply to a so called ‘pointless comment’, how oxymoronic is that.

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Veldan

… the article that you first clicked on, knowing what it would be about. You must have some interest, unless you click on ever single article MOP posts.

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Malcolm Swoboda

… *raises hand*

wandris
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wandris

Still going through all 6 episodes of LW3 before I go beyond getting my mount but I am thoroughly impressed with a lot of small improvements I have seen so far. Like being able to get lower end mats from the new zones, ascended mats, easier LFG for meta event, UI improvements etc. The pace of content overall is great lots of varied things to do.

I think what I like is they taken the concept of the boss train farm and built it into all the new end game stuff really well. Although as one of those who really enjoyed HoT I am hoping they did not make the new expansion too easy.

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Terren Bruce

It isn’t too easy. It’s just a lot more soloable. It’s still a big step up from Frostgorge Sound.

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rafael12104

The “scuttlebutt” (that’s chit chat for you yankees) has been good.

So I’m optimistic and will very likely dig in at some point as we move into the holiday season. But, I seem to remember HoTs being very well received for about 2 weeks as well. Ah yes, it’s not the same…. but I’m becoming more and more jaded with age and will reserve judgement for at leas another month.

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panthyr

Regarding HoT I don’t recall the reviews floating around initially after release but what I can say is I couldn’t bring myself to play after the first week or so as it seemed like a hot mess. Fast forward a year and it pretty much was a hot mess (although it seemed to get easier as zones went on). That said with PoF I’ve only had good experiences with it. My suggestion is if you give it a shot do it with an open mind. Honestly how bad HoT was actually made PoF shine more to me as I was directly comparing them but that aside I’m enjoying GW2 again and that is saying a lot as after HoT I was writing GW2 off as done for me.

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rafael12104

Fair enough. I am hopeful. But I have been burned by other games xpacs etc. You know the drill, I’m sure.

Yeah, I remember HoT as the hot new “in” thing. NCsoft even reported great earnings and a great out look. But, yeah, there were problems from the beginning.

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Terren Bruce

I suspect in a month the problem will mostly be there wasn’t enough repeatable content. But then a month later the first content patch comes out so maybe not such a big deal.

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Matthew Riddle

The maps are really fun to explore with the various maps. I just finished 100% map completion for all the zones and I am stilling finding nuggets of content everywhere. I personally like doing the Bounty Boards more than doing World Bosses. I’ve done the first third of the story so far, but I like how the NPCs around town talk about what decision you made. That is a neat touch. I’m solely a PvE-er and I’ve barely scratched what this expansion has brought to the game. From day one of release to today, I still freeze up when I think about all the stuff I still need to do for the various achievements/collections stuff. It’s a good feeling that I hope lasts for a while.

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Greaterdivinity

Bounty boards (I’m assuming they’re solo)? NPC’s reacting to things you did? Damnit man, stop trying to sell me on the expansion!

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Terren Bruce

Bounty boards are actually group content. But it’s easy to find a group using the LFG tool for that zone. I believe they scale so that they are tougher with 20 people than they are with 5 people sorta thing.

I think it would have been cool if they’d provided a solo bounty board too with elites.

Having said that, the bounties are the only non-soloable content in PoF.

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Rumm

You pick up the bounty from the board, run to the spot it marks on your map, and the champion materializes out of thin air. They’re not reactive to things that you do in the zone.

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TomTurtle

I’ve only seen difficult group-based bounties. They’re events anyone can start and anyone can join in.

NPC reactions are flavor dialogue. A nice touch, but nothing impactful. I like it though.

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panthyr

I’ll let someone with more background answer this but the 1 bounty board I tried was me and my partner and we got waylaid hard. I heard someone in my guild form raid and ran around the maps and tackled bounties. I *think* they’re meant to be group content and my singular experience seems to lend to that.

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Matthew Riddle

Try looking in Group Finder. I’ve only joined a squad in the first map, but they go around and do back-to-back Bounties. Real easy and a great way to experience what look to be small scale world bosses.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

I love the mounts, and some of the environments look great. I’ve heard (mostly) positive things about the new elite specs. The overall zone layouts are such a refreshing change from the awful HoT areas. Other than that, I can’t say I’m super into this expac, and I’m not feeling that “early release” rush that I did with HoT and other games/expacs. I’ve spent more time trying to catch characters’ HPs up through HoT HP trains than running around Elona.

I still don’t find GW2’s storytelling to be particularly great. Between the writing, voice acting, and just general story presentation (cut scenes and fights), nothing’s really come off as particularly dramatic or epic to me – even in situations that are clearly supposed to be, like the herald at the temple fight.

It’s an enjoyable expansion I guess, but there’s no way I could call this expansion of the year when we had Stormblood in June. I just don’t think they’re anywhere near the same quality.

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Leviathonlx

Probably depends on what you’re looking for and what you enjoy. I was bored of Stormblood in a week as I hit max level…and was just grinding 3 dungeons for tomes exactly like I was in Heavensward as the expansion added no new systems like what Blizzard does with their expacs (and why I still play Legion with PoF just being a bit of a break for me as GW2’s no sub is great for that). GW2 has no real ‘end game’ so you obviously do many of the same things in PoF which comes with the bonus that HoT content is not made irrelevant. I find the games combat far more enjoyable and its zone design is leagues ahead of FF14’s zones which I find to be pretty lackluster. ANet’s patching hasn’t been too bad as well so I’m looking forward to LWS4 and its new zones while we’re looking at our first FF14 patch hitting 4 months after Stormbloods release sometime in mid October with it only adding a single dungeon (oh boy more tome grinding) and the expected beast tribe dailies which I’m going to wager will not be very compelling, and some story stuff that will be finished up pretty quickly with the Ivalice raid not even opening for another month after that along with FF14 DOTA. I’m at a point where I’d love to see Square try something different even if it means just taking something the game already has and changing it up (like World Quests being improved dailies).

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Emiliano Lozada

I have to agree with Leviathonlx, I’m not a GW2 fan [used to be that is since I LOVE GW] but Stormblood for all accounts has been rather lackluster once you get past the MSQ. The endgame hasn’t shifted since 2.0 ARR and I started to feel the tome grinding fatigue by 3.x with nothing absolutely changing with 4.x just killed it for me. Yay, more grinding the same 2 expert dungeons for tomes. That’s not to say that PoF fixes GW2 issues [and oh boy does it have its issues] but it does something /new/ instead of slapping the same old onto a new setting. Square Enix needs to stop being so safe with FFXIV and start doing risks, hell FFXV is taking more risks than FFXIV is at this rate.

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Greaterdivinity

From the sidelines, it’s great to see that most of the feedback/discussion has largely been positive. This seems like a far less polarizing, and better received, expansion compared to HoT, which is fantastic.

Definitely boding well for me picking this expansion up (need me some Firebrand!), now to decide whither I wait for a sale down the road or pick it up once I’ve finished off the few non-MMO’s and MMO projects I’m in the middle of.

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