Flameseeker Chronicles: One week into Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire

I’ve had my hands on Guild Wars 2‘s second expansion for a week and some change now and have built up a more solid picture of Path of Fire in that time. I have to say that I’m still just as impressed as I was when I wrote my first launch diary entry: I’ve completed the main story at this point (though I’m getting ready to rerun it again to bank achievements I missed on the first run-through), and aside from my launch weekend issues and some niggly mechanics along the way, I’ve been blown away by the quality offered in terms of story content, mount mechanics, and the new elite specialisations.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll continue my launch coverage by discussing some more in-depth points that I’ve noted now that I’ve had a full week of play time (although it’s been over a week, the EU connection issues largely killed the first few days for me), and I’ll also look at some not-too-surprising but still greatly appreciated benefits the expansion has had on Central Tyria and Heart of Thorns zones. Please note that there will be some spoilers below, both through images used and inferences to story encounters, even though I’ll make an effort to avoid them for main story arcs.

Story was amazing, aside from some head-scratching moments!

Most of my launch time has been spent enjoying the main expansion story and the immersive qualities of the new maps, aside from a couple of evenings spent raiding. Having said that, I haven’t yet completed exploration of every map or hit all the achievements I want to because I’ve been enjoying taking my time and enjoying the expansion content at my own pace. I am most definitely ready to begin rerunning the story and re-experience it all over again.

There are a couple of rather confusing moments that even have the characters scratching their heads as well as some obnoxiously frustrating encounters to beat along the way, and I have to admit that Kasmeer is not my favourite character in the expansion, but overall I found this chunk of story to be the best one yet. It retains that quintessential Guild Wars 2 charm but pushes interactions significantly beyond expectations: It has a good balance of silly, lighthearted exchanges and impactful “wow!” moments that most players will find compelling.

One of my most-loved additions was the method through which the player character made contact with Taimi at her Rata Novan base: The diminutive genius’ communicator didn’t like the distance between her and the commander, so players had to find elevated ground, usually by leaping on my mount and seeking out little hotspots, in order to chat with her. I reached out to her even when it wasn’t directly required by the story and her dialogue adapted to whatever I had last done, so it was definitely a worthwhile pursuit on my part.

What am I missing?

There is a list a mile long of things I’ve missed in the first week, including races I still haven’t run, bounties I’ve yet to experience, collections to fill, and a whole host of other elements I’m missing out on. I’ve seen many complaints about the lack of strong map meta, but I’m hoping that treasure hunting will start up some dig trains once we settle more and everyone has caught up on their story and achievement goals. Speaking of achievement goals, you really can get so much value out of the expansion by looking at your PoF achievement list and choosing some to complete.

I don’t have all of the mounts, and without spoiling anything, I can say that I won’t clear them all for some time yet. I’m loving seeing the widespread use of all of the mounts across the game, however, and I know this is something that I will finish at some point in the near future so I can share in that experience. So far, I keep reverting to my raptor to cover big distances: I feel as though it triggers my motion sickness less than the other fast mounts, so I tend to only use the others when I need their respective toolsets.

Lastly, I haven’t unlocked the elite specializations for all of my alts, and I’ll be taking my time doing so. I focused on clearing hero points before launch for both my mains and a couple of my alts whose elite specs I was bursting to try, so I was ready to test those specs, but my other characters were lacking points and my HP trains for them haven’t been all that extensive. Most of my time has been spent on my main character, with some spent on my alt to test that elite specialization, so my alts need some more love too.

Elite specializations are fun!

Having only played with four of the elite specializations since launch — Scourge, Weaver, Mirage, and Holosmith — my impressions are still forming on builds and specs, but all have been incredibly fun to play. I’m rocking the Scourge condi DPS build on my necro and she performed well in this week’s raiding endeavours. I don’t yet know whether it’ll make her my most solid choice for raiding or whether I’m still better sticking to my elementalist in that respect, but she did cope admirably and didn’t feel underwhelming and it was an enjoyable experience. I’ll be keeping her in this build for the time being: She is my favourite toon to take on world boss trains and to do other open world busywork with and I find this build suits these purposes very well too (it’s nearly as tanky as my reaper build was).

I don’t have solidly formed opinions on the relevancy of the new elite specs as permanent builds on my other characters just yet: My elementalist feels much more powerful as a Tempest despite the Weaver hype: I haven’t gotten the hang of weaving entirely and am by no means the best person to ask about build theory, which might partly be why I’m not ready to switch her out for good the way I have done with my necromancer. I’m finding Weaver quite complicated to use, so perhaps I just need to knuckle down and give it some time and practice before I say I definitely won’t make a build switch. More mathematical minds than mine will soon tell me if my other elite specializations fit in with the purposes I have in mind for each character, so this is a topic I’ll revisit when I’m a little better informed and I have a few tried and tested builds to report back on.

Mounts outside of PoF zones

Some positive side effects of expansion season on the rest of the gamespace have been noted on my random adventures, and I have to discuss how interesting mounts have been outside of the new zones. My alts and my husband’s main needed hero points to finish their elite specializations, so we ventured back to some HoT zones that I used to dread running through to do some HP trains. I have mentioned a few times before that I have an uncanny ability to get lost on even the most straightforward maps, so you’ll know that I had serious trouble navigating through the dense, verticality-rich HoT maps. With the new mounts, however, I could easily brute force my way to where I needed to go and I most definitely felt more confident in my navigating abilities.

I have been scouting for some new gear to change some of my builds as well, so I’ve been farming unbound magic and the related materials to trade in. This has been made so much simpler by the introduction of mounts: I can choose to leap straight past non-essential mobs and areas with no live events to get to the heart of the action much faster, meaning I don’t need to waste time clearing up before I can actually work on farming.

Additional expansion benefits outside of its own content

I have noted a marked increase in guild activity in my own social sphere and have seen a much higher uptake of early endgame content. I feel that many players who have returned for the expansion are working on periphery content to update their gear, bag some mastery points and the experience needed to use them, and there are generally more people engaging in map metas than there were before PoF. The in-game world is thriving and I’m really enjoying the camaraderie, even though the vast PoF maps are a little daunting when I don’t have friends with me.

Map chat banter surrounding bounties and achievement hunting is widespread; I’ve also been keeping an eye on LFG and have found almost perpetual groups for achievement runs, bounties, and even map completion in each PoF zone. I’ve been ill this week and 4am play times have been common, yet I’m still seeing plenty of activity and well-balanced map instances. We are still not even two weeks into the expansion either, so I’m sure activity levels for grouping will increase over the next couple weeks as everyone finishes story content and elite specialization unlocking. Since PoF seems to reward your every step with achievement progress or little off-the-beaten-path finds, there’ll be plenty of experiences to share.

Over to you!

I hope you’re also enjoying Path of Fire if you purchased it already. Have you finished the story, and if so what are your thoughts? What are you currently working on? I’d particularly love to hear your take on the new elite specs and how they fit with the content you like to play: Link me your best builds and help me get nerdy with some theory. It always seems to take me a little while to fully trust in build changes because I don’t do the legwork to examine why each one works the way it does, but perhaps I should do more investigating and theorycrafting of my own.

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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21 Comments on "Flameseeker Chronicles: One week into Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire"

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Bannex

Great expansion but it solidifies my opinion that they really need to just give up on the story in this game. Gw2 does a lot of things right in pof but the story is horrible, it’s a chore to play through and it provides very little enjoyment in gameplay.

I will have to say for people that disliked HoT, they fixed basically everything wrong with it and a lot of the problems with vanilla in this one.

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Terren Bruce

I still haven’t finished the story, I’m just taking it slow. I get easily distracted by exploring and this is encouraged in PoF because there usually is something fun to discover when you go off the beaten path. Sometimes it’s lore, or a puzzle, or a set of dwarven weapons to piece together.

I’m focused on my main at the moment. I’m using a staff weaver build with him that I’m enjoying in the open world. I’ve heard the sword isn’t doing enough damage and as I prefer a ranged option in the open world anyway I’m sticking with staff for now. And even though I was using staff before PoF it feels completely new as a weaver. I’m having a lot of fun with it. There is literally never a moment I’m waiting on a cooldown. There’s always another button to press and at any moment I feel like I have a ton of options on what to cast next.

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Rottenrotny

I wish I could chose a mount to swap to while I’m on my current mount.

I prefer to ride around on the raptor, my favorite, but constantly have to dismount.. choose another to jump or cross water… remount… travel… dismount… choose raptor again…

It’s a pain.

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BalsBigBrother

I thought you could hot key each mount so isn’t it just a case of pressing the appropriate key to change? (I don’t know how it works as I only have the raptor atm but I am sure I saw it in the key binds somewhere when I was reminding myself of my binds.)

7BitBrian
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7BitBrian

You can.

abyssalstar
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abyssalstar

I hotkeyed all of mine to my numpad. After a little practice I’m swapping mounts quick and smoothly.

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Dug From The Earth

Enjoyed playing through it.

Unfortunately, it doesnt really seem to do much to help the games longevity or replayability. I find myself right back in HoT/SW and WvW for things to do.

Ive found bounties to be pretty awful. The rewards dont seem that great. The XP towards mastery isnt bad, thats a plus. The actual mechanics of each fight can vary from challenging to “OH MY GAWD PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY”. Im looking at you mr Monty Python Rabbit!

And while it wasnt introduced in PoF, I find myself needing to farm gold now more than ever, and one of the more efficient ways of doing this, is done via a ridiculous mechanic: You level up an alt to level 50ish, and then use them to open bags of loot you get on your level 80 character. Why? Because the items you get when you open it on your level 80, salvage into stuff that is very low value. The items you get on the level 50, salvage into materials that are MUCH MUCH higher value, due to their demand. I hate having to waste a character slot just to do this.

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Nathan Aldana

I mean. I agree about the longevity, but then, I disagree about WvW and or HoT offering any more longevity.

GW2’s problem to me is once the plot runs out, its basically just another Diablo style loot grinder where you repeat events over and over in the hope of a tiny percentile of improvement to your gear.

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Dug From The Earth

HoT/SW for me because of the gold farm

WvW because I enjoy large scale pvp gameplay, regardless of crappy progression or rewards.

I wouldnt even call GW2 a diablo style loot grinder. In diablo, you can actually get loot you want. In GW2, the loot the drops is salvaged, and any loot you want, is crafted or bought off the TP.

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Nathan Aldana

Yeah, for me, story, or a good roleplay community , or seemingly accessible progression like anb Ff14 artifact weaon are what hook me.

So when storyline runs thin and I dont have an rp guild I kinda start sliding back to my singleplayer rpgs.

That said, I dont regret spending on the expac. I;m just sorta waiting for more plot.

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TomTurtle

I’m very happy with the expansion. I greatly appreciate that I can go into any PoF zone and find things to do without having to wait for a meta timer like in HoT. Being more casual friendly is a big bonus to this expansion. The open world rewards could be better to keep people around more, but at least there’s still stuff to do even if people do not stick around.

Bag clutter is a pain, as I knew it would be, but it gets better once you stop getting the one-time collection items.

I’m not totally in the know with the new gear stats, but it feels like there’s still an issue with ease of gearing up with expansion-exclusive stat sets. It’s better than HoT, but not where I want it to be.

I’ve got plenty more to do related to the expansion and like other players, I’m taking my time. I still mix in other non-expansion activities, which are fortunately still relevant thanks to GW2’s design. I’m happy to see ArenaNet has done a lot better for this expansion and the community’s reception reflects that.

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Arktouros

I’ve beaten POF. Gotten all I want to get outa it on a few characters now. Took a few hours, and I still think the money value was there at $30. Just not much more than $30 worth of content there at this time.

Back to WvW and other maps that actually have repeat content when not busy with Total War Warhammer 2.

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Darthbawl

Can the mounts be used to cheese the jumping puzzles or vistas in the older [vanilla] content? *cough* Asking for a friend… *wink wink* :P

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Arktouros

Jumping Puzzles disable mounts/gliders with a debuff when you get in range. It’s kinda annoying when running around towns like Lion’s ARch because you stumble into an area near a jumping puzzle and now you’re dismounted.

Vistas you can 100% cheese, long as they aren’t near a puzzle.

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BalsBigBrother

I might have done a thing today that may or may not involve running and jumping around in GW2 with some squee’ing while on the back of a raptor. All I am prepared to say as I really did only get it today is that PoF makes a much better first impression than HoT ever did so I think I will be continuing to play. (and without a years break from the game)

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BalsBigBrother

Well poop I spoke too soon. Took a break for my dinner and now I am done I can’t get past the character select screen (looking at twitter it seems I am not the only one either.) Sadly it looks like I get to “enjoy” the EU PoF launch experience after all :-(

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Alex Willis

Scourges are everywhere in WvW raids right now…at least, in the raids we are fighting! And man, they are insane.

Activity is hopping on Tarnished Coast — WvW at least has been quite busy.

Line
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Line

I mostly enjoyed the story (but why did they cut the datamined unused cutscenes? It would have been so much better to give some screen time to Vlast!), but frankly I enjoy it more in the open world.
They really nailed that aspect, with tons of voiced dialogues and interesting info to find and discover absolutely everywhere, including in events. Vabbi is just amazing, it’s a ton of fun to see the changes and how Palawa Joko brainwashed an entire country… but also how the game always tell you that they’re not evil, and no, your character is not gonna come in to kill everyone.
Really nice to see a lot more nuance, with awful characters that caused a lot of harm, and no hope to fix the mess talking with your fists. It feels a lot more alive than the Maguuma Jungle and baddies everywhere.

Directly involved are the new collections and achievements. There’s a ton of them, and they’re pretty fun (if not always the most rewarding)… and most importantly, they’re not grindy at all.
Unlike a lot of the old content, you pretty much never have to repeat things to complete them, it’s much better to have treasure hunts and specific targets to kill in a group rather than just currency dumps. You explore and discover new lore and locations instead of just farming Itzel XP to buy random trash for tokens.

I’ve even seen some people complain that there’s not enough grind, but I’m quite glad that it’ limited to completing the armor sets. It takes a good while longer than everything else combined, and that’s probably enough for me to do events and bounties where I want and when I want.
The chakk and auric weapons were just hell.

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Nathan Aldana

Maybe its just me, but while I love the zones I kinda feel like im not sure what to do now that the plot is over. exotics and ascended gear drop so rarely that I’ve all but written off the chance of getting one and while I love the deadeye class, I feel no pull to farm the rifle because frankly, rifle sucks for deadeye, pistols are pretty much always better.

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Matthäus Wey

I do have to agree about the leftover stuff to do. I pretty much feel the same and it gets even harder to stay motivated when exactly no one does normal events anymore already.

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Nathan Aldana

yeah, I might just go on break until living world comes back.

I have no interest in raiding or fractals so there really isnt much to do but achievement farm

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