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