flameseeker chronicles

Flameseeker Chronicles is a Guild Wars 2 column by Tina Lauro. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

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!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 Season 3 Predictions

If I’ve read the words “content drought” under your name in the comments section recently, you will be as delighted as I am to note that Guild Wars 2‘s dynamic story will finally be evolving on July 26. The opening episode of Guild Wars 2‘s Living World’s third season, dubbed Out of the Shadows, has been long-awaited by eager lore nuts and promises to drench us in deeper, more detailed story than we’ve ever been given before. Although it’s not the only content that’s part of the July Update (which I hear will have a cooler name than that on launch due to the story drop) I can’t help but get excited for what’s to come, especially after writing an article on how the content drought has caused widespread apathy in the community a mere two weeks ago. The MMO gods are smiling upon me and my wishes have come true; I deeply suspected that Season Three would kick off this month but was quickly losing hope as the old perpetual calendar rolled us ever closer to August.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll share some of my Season Three predictions with you to help you rebuild the hype while we wait for the end of the month. Please be aware that spoilers lie ahead if you have not yet finished Season Two or the Heart of Thorns storylines, so get up to date before reading on if you’re worried.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Re-engaging lost Guild Wars 2 players

I recently read an interesting opinion piece by Jason Winter that got me thinking about the general sense of apathy that he believes is trickling into the Guild Wars 2 playerbase because of the current content drought. After the Heart of Thorns launch, ArenaNet has been dedicating a significant portion of its man-hours to remedying some major grievances the community has been carrying, especially when it comes to WvW gameplay. Add to that the pressure to start on the second expansion, which is now well underway, and the usual patches that we players expect, and you can see how easy it is to let fresh new content fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Personally, I’m excited for Living Story Season 3 and hope that it revitalises players who have lost confidence in GW2, but I wonder whether ANet could be doing more to incentivise play and shorten those content gaps.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll put forward some ideas for improving the activity levels in GW2, covering both improvements to the existing ways in which ANet attempts to keep players engaged and some different tactics I wish the company could employ.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Hands-on with Guild Wars 2’s third raid wing

Forsaken Thicket is set to get much larger and… lanier… today: I was given the opportunity to test out the third wing of Guild Wars 2‘s first raid so I could share my thoughts with you. I played through the opening encounters of the new wing called Stronghold of the Faithful and would advise readers who have not yet completed Salvation Pass to proceed with caution knowing that spoilers are fairly unavoidable. The action is non-stop from the outset and I’m sure raiders will enjoy the battle into the castle to find out more about its occupants and their intentions.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll talk you through my initial impressions of the Stronghold of the Faithful and will include as many little tips as I can to get you started. ArenaNet has again asked that I not go into great detail when it comes to specific tactics since it’s day one for this content, so bear with me as I set the scene without revealing too much strategy that could spoil the fun.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Why wave-ban Guild Wars 2 cheaters?

Last week, our very own Bree Royce summed up a response given by ArenaNet’s Chris Cleary to a self-confessed hacker on the game’s subreddit who asked why he had not been banned for his actions. A list of offences was given in the post, and the indignant OP explained that the purpose of this bout of ill-advised honesty was to shame the company into taking swifter and more decisive action against cheaters. Guild Wars 2 Game Security Lead Cleary’s response to the hacker — who used the name MegaWormHole — received as many harsh words as the hacker himself, so I thought I should weigh in on the issue and discuss my views on how ArenaNet handles hacking (and cheating in general for that matter).

Cheating detection is a whopper of an issue for MMO developers to handle, especially since both fairness and equality of resource access are crucial in successfully managing massive online communities. Having said that, if an anti-hacking system is too rigorous, false positives can occur and honest players then suffer for those who decide to cheat. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll break down Cleary’s response to this hacking admission while discussing batch banning and how adequately this deals with cheating in GW2. 

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking the proposed Guild Wars 2 WvW scoring improvements

In my last edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I outlined ArenaNet‘s recent WvW player poll and discussed the possible implications of voting for each of the two options presented. On one hand, quality-of-life improvements aimed to bring some much-needed intermap communication and clutter-free fun to Guild Wars 2, and on the other, scoring improvements sought to even the playing field and prevent victories being decided before a match had even begun. Fast forward to the end of the poll: The voting was close, but scoring won with 48.90% of the vote versus 45.23% of votes for QoL. The WvW team has since opened a second poll to further refine and prioritise the direction of that scoring overhaul, and we’ve also been given a statement of intentions of sorts to mull over.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m going to talk about the proposed scoring improvements in more detail with reference to Game Designer Tyler Bearce’s outline, and then I’ll ponder on the new poll and how I might prioritise the listed features.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Everything you need to know about Guild Wars 2’s April 2016 update

Today is the day, people: I’m hoping you’re all willing and able to log in and follow along with the Q2 update patch notes because Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns has just had a major revamp with changes affecting every type of content you can think of! Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to the 16,000 or so words that comprise the Q2 patch notes in advance, but I did have the opportunity to quiz several key players at ArenaNet about the patch and get some hands-on time with the improvements in preparation for today’s launch. I joined Lead Game Designer Mike Zadorojny, Game Designer Link Hughes, and Associate Global Brand Manager Joshua Davis for an absolutely info-packed chat, which I’ll be unpacking here.

If you’re unfamiliar with the patch content, know that this is a long-awaited, largely reparative update that seeks to quell the most pressing issues the community is currently voicing. Zadorojny described the goals for the update as “reducing the perception of grind the players had with HoT, increasing the overall rewards and payouts the players get for playing the content, and getting to the fun faster.” Prepare for a long but worthwhile read: I’m hoping that this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles will help you figure out how valuable the patch will be for you and your guildmates, especially those of you who aren’t active right now. I’ve divided the information into handy content-specific sections, so feel free to scroll to the parts that are most relevant to you if you’re pressed for time.
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Flameseeker Chronicles: The future of Guild Wars 2 under Mike O’Brien

The news coming from ArenaNet has been very interesting since the company’s President Mike O’Brien took over as Guild Wars 2 Game Director, so I thought it might be a good time to look at some of his decisions made at the helm of ANet and throw in my two cents. We’ve seen references to the GW2 Manifesto, drastic shifts in dev team focus, and a promise to focus on sustainability and quality, but also sustained player outcries over issues such as legendary weapons being put on hold. One thing that’s certain is that this is a time for decisive action and O’Brien surely needs to do something to make players happy.

It’s undeniable that a significant proportion of GW2 fans — particularly those who have bought into Heart of Thorns —  are feeling more than a little bit frustrated with the on-again-off-again nature of content delivery, and distrust is spreading because of the perceived non-delivery of ANet’s promises. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll look at the raging debates happening between the new Game Director and the playerbase, and I’ll weigh in with my thoughts on how O’Brien can win us over going forward to resecure a solid basis to build upon with the second expansion.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 Gorseval raid boss guide

More than one reader has asked for further Guild Wars 2 raid guides, and who am I to disappoint? I’ve been keeping back this Gorseval raid boss guide for a while as I tried to find a good time to publish it, but ArenaNet has been a rather busy studio of late and I’ve not had the words to spare for this ugly duckling until now. Apologies for the gap between this guide and the last: I hope that my general impressions of the encounter shared way back when the raid wing opened kept you going while you waited. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll take you through the mechanics-heavy encounter in more detail in much the same way as I did with the Vale Guardian fight, which will hopefully help secure you a boss kill if you’ve not been successful already.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Hands-on with Slothasor and the Guild Wars 2 AMA breakdown

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind week for ArenaNet, especially with a jam-packed Reddit AMA that contained the announcement that Colin Johanson has opted to leave the company for a new opportunity that allows him to spend more time with his family and less time commuting. This has, of course, left a bit of a smiley-shaped hole in the top ranks of ArenaNet that Mike O’Brien is temporarily filling, but the Game Director role cannot be held by the busy President forever.

Aside from the workload that’s usually associated with a busy studio in the midst of major feature redevelopment, expansion development, and a director handover, the team added to that pile by inviting me to playtest the new Slothasor raid encounter that goes live today. In this edition of Flamseeker Chronicles, I’ll share my thoughts on the new raid wing and will also unpack the key takeaways from the Reddit AMA.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: A visual guide to gliding in Guild Wars 2

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there aren’t many mechanics that are more fantastical than zooming around within picturesque environments with amazingly outlandish backpack-strapped wings on your back. I was delighted to see that gliding was just as fun and useful as I imagined it would be when Heart of Thorns launched, but I caught myself forgetting that I could only glide in the Heart of Maguuma more times than I’d care to admit. After banging my space bar in vain one too many times, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated whenever I was out and about in Central Tyria and kept forgetting that it was a glider-free zone: I was definitely part of the pro-CT gliding camp, even if I did worry about implementation. Imagine my delight, then, when my wee wish came true in Guild Wars 2‘s Winter 2016 patch!

I’ve had plenty of Central Tyrian airtime at this point and could ramble on for hours about it, so for this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles I thought I’d do just that. I’m going to preface some beautiful in-flight screenies of my favourite places to glide in Central Tyria with a little bit of background information about verticality and no-fly zones in the form of a Central Tyria gliding FAQ.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Hands-on with Guild Wars 2’s Shatterer Unleashed

In the last edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I discussed the Guild Wars 2 Winter 2016 update that releases today in great detail, so I’m really excited to follow that up with my initial impressions of the revamped Shatterer fight in this edition! I was invited to play through the encounter for myself in advance of its release today: I played alongside some of the ArenaNet gang, including Game Designer Andrew Gray, and other members of the press on the staging client, so you won’t be seeing my usual characters in the screenshots. During two playthroughs we were able to ask our questions and get some answers while we attempted to down the new-and-improved baddie, who is now considerably more challenging. To find out how I fared, what I thought of the iteration, and how the fight shapes up to other Heart of Thorns content, keep on reading!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Examining Guild Wars 2’s winter 2016 update plans

Guild Wars 2 Game Director Colin Johanson dropped a massive amount of information about the direction development will take in the first quarter of 2016 and beyond in his Q1 state of the game update yesterday. This is the second of this sort of update since the launch of Heart of Thorns and it most definitely hasn’t disappointed in its scope and breadth of information. General comments on ArenaNet‘s development rationale paired up with plenty of welcome Q1 improvements that will begin rolling out as soon as January 26th as well as more far-reaching outlines for the rest of 2016 that cover future expansion development, more fractals, a major overhaul of WvW, and the commencement of the Living World Season 3. With so much ground covered in one dev post, I thought it’d be helpful to summarise that information and add my thoughts for this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles.

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