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 immediate future

I imagine that the launch of Heart of Thorns was quite a bittersweet event for the ArenaNet gang: The sense of relief and celebration when the big red button was pushed was palpable, but it’s not as though the Guild Wars 2 developers then got to sit back and relax after a long road to expansion release. We’ve seen some sizeable fixes already within just over a week of launch, many of which I have covered in my launch diary series, and there’s so much more to come in the few short weeks we have left of 2015. If there’s no rest for the wicked, the team must be firmly on Santa’s naughty list!

Yesterday Game Director Colin Johanson pushed out a new blog post that outlines his studio’s plans for the continued development of HoT, including the launch of raiding and improvements to the game to further the e-sports potential of the title. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll both outline and provide some commentary on the game’s future development plans.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Last-minute hopes and preparation for Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns

I swear I’ve been waiting all year to say this: Heart of Thorns hits this Friday, everyone! Cue the massive in-game parties, mass orders of junk food and energy drinks, and a chorus of cheers, cries, and happy tears from fans and devs alike. From the moment I picked up the Flameseeker torch, I knew that one of the best moments in my writing career would be covering the launch of Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion.

It’s no secret that I’m rather excitable, but I have to say that I’ve been overwhelmingly impressed with the attention to detail and collaborative effort that has been the HoT development cycle and especially the beta testing phase. I’ve enjoyed every beta event along the way, perhaps most surprisingly the Stronghold testing that helped switch me on to PvP. Now I’m simply trying to contain myself until I get to tinker with the real thing on Friday!

In the final edition of Flameseeker Chronicles before the expansion launches (squee!), I’m going to talk about my hopes and expectations for HoT and provide a quick rundown of last-minute things you can do before jumping into the expansion yourself.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 raid beta impressions

I don’t believe I’ve ever been more excited — and simultaneously nervous — about a beta test than I was for Guild Wars 2s third beta weekend that just passed. Raiding is by far my favourite MMO activity, so it’s not surprising that I’ve been exceptionally keen to see for myself how raids work in the upcoming Heart of Thorns expansion. We know that the raid design team has been hard at work for the past year to pull together what it promises will be the most challenging group content the game has seen yet, and this weekend we got to see the fruit of ArenaNet’s labour for ourselves.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll give you a brief overview of the raiding content while it is currently in development alongside my initial impressions from my time spent testing while talking a little bit about boss mechanics, and I’ll even throw in a video of The Sickest Guild’s world-first (is that a thing in beta?) Vale Guardian kill for those who have missed it.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Understanding Guild Wars 2’s Mordrem Guard

If you pay attention to the images I use throughout my Flameseeker Chronicles articles, you’ll notice that one of my favourite characters to include is my little Sylvari Necromancer. She’s just stunning to look at, and I adore how her leafy outfit seems as if it’s a part of her, so she shares the spotlight with my iconic Asura, who frequents the summary text at the end of the article. I love that Guild Wars 2 gives me a great amount of choice in how I react at key moments in the story, and I take advantage of that with my characters by building up a personality for each one that’s defined and solidified by the choices I have them make.

Although she’s a Necromancer and as such has a whole toolset of undead craziness to throw around, Lillith tends to choose the cleverest or least combative path wherever she can, preferring to help others see reason rather than throwing her horrific bag o’ tricks straight at them without much provocation. She’s the sensible sort that’s great with words and knows her own mind.

Imagine my horror and surprise, then, when I eventually learned that the Sylvari are craftily positioned dragon pawns!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 raiding factsheet

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been bursting at the seams to find out what shape the promised “challenging group content” will take in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. We now know that raids are definitely coming to the game shortly after the expansion drops next month, giving us a new type of challenge to smash our toons against. The hype surrounding the PAX Prime raiding reveal has caused quite a stir in the MMO community, and we have seen a truckload of teaser-ific information surface over the last week or so.

In this week’s edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m offering up a TL;DR factsheet guide to the new raid information that will fill you in if you missed the PAX presentation or haven’t had time to trawl through the basics.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Am I the only one who doesn’t enjoy Guild Wars 2 datamining?

I know, I know: Solid information about Heart of Thorns is coming really slowly from the Guild Wars 2 PR machine, making for a bunch of very nervous potential players who have a whole list of unanswered questions. The elite specializations haven’t all been released at this stage, and we still don’t know that that “challenging group content” we’ve been promised will look like. There are so many moving parts still whirring along the road to the expansion’s release, each one hovering just out of reach for the eager playerbase. With at most four months until HoT is in our hands and pre-orders already flowing, we really want to know as much as we can about the product we’re spending our hard-earned gaming budgets on.

Having said that, I dislike how we, as a community, are spoiling the moment for ourselves and the team at ArenaNet by extensively datamining for goodies and avidly jumping on the information unearthed. I guess there’s nothing immoral or directly damaging about datamining, but I feel as if we sometimes poke, prod, and shake the shiny expansion-shaped present so much in our quest to guess at its contents that we inadvertently end up tearing the wrapping paper and spoiling the magic. We’re looking at little snippets of an unfinished product that are still largely open to interpretation, and while that’s good for speculation, it’s not so good for gleaning concrete details. For this week’s edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I wanted to depart from my usual content to touch on why I find datamining to be more than a little bit of a buzzkill rather than the tasty teaser it’s usually presented as.

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Exclusive: Guild Wars 2’s Revenant elite spec is the Herald

The Revenant is shaping up to be a unique profession on a Guild Wars 2 roster, with fresh ideas in regards to combat abilities and its place on the battlefield. I was given a sneak peek at the upcoming announcement of the Revenant’s elite specialization that has been teased for a few days now as part of the Heart of Thorns expansion hype.

As many of you have already guessed, Glint is the elite specialization legend. I have plenty of information about what to expect below, and I also conducted a quick Q&A session with Game Designer Roy Cronacher to discuss the profession’s elite specialization, called the Herald, in more detail. I’m also throwing in a whole raft of information on how the profession will fare underwater too!

Of course, sometimes word just aren’t enough and you need to see a build with your own eyes to appraise it fully. Never fear: You can watch the Revenant elite specialization in action this Friday, August 14 on Points of Interest, airing at 3 p.m. EDT (noon PDT) on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel. Game Designer Roy Cronacher will be the special guest with POI host Rubi Bayer as they give fans an in-depth look at the Herald’s skills, weapon, and traits.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Trinity dependence in Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns

I don’t know about you lot, but I really enjoy ArenaNet‘s Points of Interest livestream that airs on its official Twitch channel. It contains a massive amount of juicy information that often rewards its eager audience with crisply presented details, outstripping that found in the quick news posts on any given topic. Needless to say, it’s almost always worth my while tuning in. Last Friday’s livestream was particularly interesting, however, in that Game Director Colin Johanson hinted that in Heart of Thorns challenging group combat requires the uptake of more traditional tank, DPS, and healer roles.

The traditional MMO holy trinity isn’t something that springs to mind when I think about my beloved Guild Wars 2, so I felt the need to rewatch this section of the stream repeatedly to really get to the heart of Johanson’s message. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll attempt to disassemble what was said, discuss Johanson’s later written clarification, and attempt to figure out what this might mean for the upcoming expansion. This is going to be a bumpy ride for sure, so buckle up and stick with me!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Exploring Guild Wars 2’s new Lion’s Arch

Good morn-noon-ning (hell, I don’t know what timezone you’re in!) readers, and welcome along to another instalment of Flameseeker Chronicles! Be warned: This edition will focus on both the destruction of the old city and the rebirth of Lion’s Arch, so it will contain potential spoilers. I’d urge you to check out the city’s sights for yourself before proceeding.

I’ve been having a great time in Guild Wars 2 this week while I’ve been exploring the nooks and crannies of New Lion’s Arch. Rebuilding such an important commerce and cultural centre is no easy feat, so we’ve been waiting for quite a while to see the latest imagining of the city at the heart of Tyria. The wait is finally over, and I can’t wait to hear your opinions on the massive rebuild. I’ll give you my two cents alongside the rationale behind the city’s design and some context for those of you who need a refresher or who are jumping into Guild Wars 2 for the first time. Read more

Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 guild hall and prepurchase pricing impressions

When Heart of Thorns was announced back in January, the Guild Wars 2 community exploded with buzz as guild halls were mentioned as a main feature that the expansion would bring to the game. I was just as ecstatic, so I’ve been bursting to know more ever since the feature was discussed in a CDI proposal thread on the GW2 forum. Last night (or crazy early morning for me… see what I do for you?), Colin Johanson took to the E3 stage to give the expectant audience a brief synopsis of the guild hall system and the mechanics it would add to the expansion, and our very own MJ Guthrie braved the E3 floor to bring us an interview on the topic. Now that we know more, I want to unpack the basics and compare what we’re getting to the speculation.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I will unfold the new guild hall system in as much detail as we know, and I’ll also look to the further development of the feature and inclusions I’d love to see upon release. Game Director Colin Johanson’s time on PC Gamer’s PC Gaming Show was admittedly very brief, and I wasn’t blown away with the show’s format in comparison to other E3 presentations. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to unpack before we see the guild halls running in-game this Friday in a special livestream on the official GW2 Twitch channel.
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Flameseeker Chronicles: Hands-on with Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns beta

My excitement for Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion has been no secret, so you can easily guess how much fun I had climbing the trees in heavy armour in the Heart of Thorns beta test last week. This playtest focused on the new Revenant profession and the Heart of Maguuma zone, starting off the player into a new personal story chain and showing us a quick glimpse at the Mastery system. The new Specialization mechanics were not ready for testing, unfortunately, but I was still able to get a good sense of how the Revenants will work in the expansion.

MMOs are always best enjoyed with friends, so our very own Brendan Drain joined me in the jungle for testing. We had more than a few giggles as we made our way across the dangerous yet beautiful zone while trying to get to grips with the new profession. We were sure to record our incredibly Irish antics for your viewing pleasure, the result of which is included below. You’ll be able to witness my poor sense of direction and propensity for squeakiness in all its glory in this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, in addition to a full write-up of my beta testing experience for those who prefer the written word.
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Flameseeker Chronicles: Expanding into Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns

When Guild Wars 2‘s expansion was announced, most of the questions on our lips were permutations of “What’s the new level cap?” and “What new gear will we get?” This expectation of vertical progression is so deeply ingrained in the genre’s audience that some players just assumed that ArenaNet would follow in the footsteps of other MMO giants such as World of Warcraft, but those people were surprised to find that Heart of Thorns will have no extra levels or gear tiers. In a way, they shouldn’t be so surprised: Guild Wars capped at 20 across all of its expansions, adding only new content, skills and professions. I expected that HoT would follow this precedent since GW2 has generally remained so true to its predecessor despite its significant modernisation.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m going to explore ArenaNet’s radical choice more thoroughly as I look at the rationale behind a level-neutral expansion and the general perception-shaking outlook behind the decision. Heart of Thorns is most definitely a playground, readers, and ArenaNet is well-accustomed to surviving in the heat of the MMO jungle in the least expected ways.

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