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Working As Intended: The best and worst of Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire (so far)

I’ve spent a chunk of the last week moving through the first part of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire, finishing up the Crystal Oasis zone into which a character is deposited right off the airship. Obviously, it’s far too early to give a formal stamp of approval until I’m fully through it, but so far, I’m pleased with my purchase. Very pleased. I’m already pretty sure the expansion is update-of-the-year material for the genre. But it’ll take a few months to see how it fully meshes with the existing game, and while the same was true with Heart of Thorns, my urge to stop writing and go back into Elona for the next zone as I type this already tells me that PoF has delivered on at least its basic promises.

So while we let the community savor the game until a fully informed consensus is reached, I wanted to dash off some quick thoughts based on this first week of midcore casual play. Consider it a top 5, bottom 5 list as we dig into the very best additions to the game – and the things that still annoy me.

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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?

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Guild Wars 2 on how Path of Fire is the most ‘complex’ story ANet’s done

Even if you’re a Guild Wars lore fan whose favorite word is “Cantha,” it’s likely that you’ve lost a bit of the story along the road between Guild Wars 1 and 2. Enter today’s Guild Wars 2 dev diary, which serves as a handy refresher course: In addition to a more top-down narrative explanation in the video, there’s an actual timeline of events leading up to the present day, explaining why this time we’ll be fighting an actual god instead of a dragon.

Indeed, the studio says that returning to the Crystal Desert and its southern cousin, Nightfall’s Elona, has been planned for since the launch of Guild Wars 2 way back in 2012. “It’s a pivot,” the story team says. “Players have been contesting against elder dragons since the game launched. We have beaten two of the elder dragons of a possible six, and as a result of beating these two cosmic scale entities, we’re starting to see the repercussions. It seems very much like we shouldn’t kill any more elder dragons, but lo and behold, here comes Balthazar.”

That guy, right? Watch along below, and don’t forget to get caught up on mounts with our deep-dive in Flameseeker Chronicles from earlier today.

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Check out trailers for all Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire elite class specs, mounts, and Elona

Yesterday, ArenaNet formally revealed Path of Fire, Guild Wars 2’s second expansion in five years. This standalone, campaign-like expansion won’t introduce a new class, but it will roll out a new elite specialization for all nine of the existing classes, just as Heart of Thorns did. It’ll also add mounts that we’ll be using to romp around parts of the nostalgia-laced Elona desert from Nightfall.

Since the stream, the studio has released videos of damn near everything. Let’s dig in.

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Everything you need to know about Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion, launching September 22

If you missed the stream this morning or just want all the goodies in one place, here’s what we know about Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion!

  • It’s called Path of Fire! It launches on September 22nd, and everyone, even non-players, is invited to a preview weekend this next weekend. (Just roll a F2P base account now.) Yes, you’ll get to play with a mount during that preview.
  • You’ll be able to buy this expansion standalone, even if you don’t have HOT. It’ll run $29.99 by itself or $49.99 as a bundle with HOT. You can prepurchase already on the official site, and yep, there are lots of goodies included if you buy the upgraded $59.99 and $79.99 packages. A level 80 upgrade is included with all boxes, but if you want an extra character slot, you’ll need the higher packages. (Current consensus among commenters is that the price is fair and the upgrades are worth it.)
  • Lore-wise, the expansion picks up right where season 3 just ended, with no gap in the plot and a heavy focus on Balthazar as the villain. “Seamless” is the word they used.
  • The location of the expansion is the Crystal Desert and parts of Elona (Vabbi, and so forth) from Guild Wars 1 Nightfall. It’ll be nostalgia, but still accessible for newcomers.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the worst minigame in an MMORPG?

Sure, Gems is up there for obnoxious MMO minigames, but for me? It’s Polymock.

I had almost forgotten Polymock existed until a WoodenPotatoes video put it back in my field of vision. It was a minigame in Guild Wars 1 that somehow managed to be excruciatingly frustrating and unnecessarily latency-based as well as tied into the game’s valuable faction system. I remember playing it before everyone had figured out the optimal way to win, and by the time the strats were common knowledge, I just wanted to throw all my virtual Polymock pieces across the room and get back to playing the great MMO I’d actually signed up for.

What do you say is the worst minigame in an MMORPG?

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Unofficial Guild Wars 2 CCG gets a Prophecies-themed expansion

Back in March, Guild Wars 2 player Luke Dowding announced that he was building a free and unofficial collectible card game for the community called Guild Wars 2: Heroes of the Mists. At the time, we crossed our fingers that ArenaNet could let the game stand, and as of April, when the game branched out for play on Tabletop Simulator, it appeared the studio was giving at least a tacit blessing. And now, Dowding has announced the game is getting an expansion themed around classic Prophecies.

“The expansion comes packed with over 60 new cards all based upon the memorable characters from the original Guild Wars 1 game Prophecies. The expansion also comes with a new ability as well as a huge balance overhaul to all existing cards which in testing has made the game a lot more fun and playable,” he writes. “Prophecies was my first choice because its the foundation in which the Guild Wars universe was built. I personally played Guild Wars 1 for several thousand hours and have very fond memories of the game. Add Prophecies as the first expansion is also a great way to bring back serious nostalgia and remember those key characters from the original game from over 12 years ago.”

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The Daily Grind: Do you want to see a Guild Wars 3?

At this point, everybody who cares even a little about Guild Wars 2 knows that it’s getting an expansion later this year; even most of the details have leaked out. But every time we talk about Guild Wars 2 — and indeed, earlier this year when I commemorated Guild Wars 1 — people come out of the woodwork to talk about the franchise in a way most games will never know. Most MMORPGs never get a sequel, after all, and a sequel is often seen as a way for a good game to become even better, a chance to start over and fix mistakes.

I think Guild Wars 2 did that, truthfully — the auction hall, the wardrobe UI, the dye system, and the open world are all huge improvements over classic Guild Wars. But there will always be areas where I think Guild Wars 2 dropped the ball, like cosmetics, heroes, guilds, and endgame. There’s room for improvement, the kind an expansion may or may not ever tackle.

So that leaves me dreaming about a possible Guild Wars 3. Do you think the franchise deserves it? What would you want to see in a third installment?

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Boot up your Age of Conan account for a free level 80 toon on its ninth birthday

So, Age of Conan players. Let’s talk. I know this year has been kinda rough on you. You found out, as we did, that your game was going to be maintenance-moded just a few months ago in a tiny aside in a financial letter to corporate investors. That hurt. And your baby brother, Conan Exiles, has sucked up all of dad’s attention. And money. You could rant at the unfairness of it all, or you could be grateful that at least you’re not being sunsetted like so many great MMORPGs before you. I won’t judge you for either.

But if you are playing, or think you might someday again, maybe take a peek right now as the elder Conan game turns nine years old. Yes, nine years ago this very month, we all logged into Tortage… no, actually, let’s not talk about Tortage. It’s birthday time. And Funcom is trying to make it worth your while with a free level 80 character boost and a free character slot, as long as you had an account before today, and as long as you log in before May runs out.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 115: Legendary podcasting

Face it: No matter how hard you train, no matter how many voice coaches you hire, no matter how much you spend on expensive recording equipment, you can never be a legendary podcaster. Legendary podcasters are born once in a century, and the Massively OP Podcast has two of them on staff. It just so happens that they’ve been missing for the past 114 shows.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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The Daily Grind: Why is MMORPG server downtime still a thing?

Massively OP Kickstarter donor John has a very simple question to kick off our morning: Why the heck is server downtime still a thing?

“How can any modern MMO still have server downtime after something like Guild Wars 2? Are we bad consumers? Do we not care? Obviously doable and I work for a company with a web frontend and plenty of places easily have the same without (planned) planned downtime.”

I’ve always found that curious too. I can understand why pre-Guild Wars 2Guild Wars 1, really — games would be locked into their server downtime/uptime paradigm, but new MMOs? What’s your excuse? Why don’t all MMORPGs have a rolling patch system like GW2’s? Why is MMORPG server downtime still a thing?

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Massively Overthinking: The City of Heroes Master X Master debacle

On Tuesday, NCsoft announced that it plans to introduce Statesman, from the long-sunsetted City of Heroes, as a playable character in its MOBA, Master x Master.

Complications ensued, as anyone familiar with the history of MMORPGs can probably imagine.

For this week’s Overthinking, I asked our team of writers — both those who loved CoH and those who never much played it — what they think about the whole ordeal. Are gamers right to be angry? What exactly is NCsoft thinking? Have we seen the end of any hope of the game being resurrected or sold, or should we infer just the opposite?

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