When ArenaNet went through Guild Wars 2’s upcoming Path of Fire specs on Tuesday, I was super bummed about the Ranger, the class I’d been toying with switching to as my main this time around. During the stream, ANet made it sound as if the Ranger’s Soulbeast spec would literally be a polymorph. Fortunately, as details came out this week, it became clear that the player will retain his or her own look and weaponry while joined with a pet, so I heaved a sigh of relief.
See, being transformed into something else is one of my huge pet peeves in MMORPGs, pun intended. I don’t want to be a bear and fight as a bear with bear moves. I don’t want to be a dragon, or a turret, or a vehicle, or a glowy blur, or anything other than the character I’ve spent gazillions of hours leveling, building, and designing exactly as I want her. Trying to keep me interested? Great! Give me more customization options for my appearance and my skills’ appearance, City of Heroes-style. Do no negate all the work or time or money I put into my chosen spec, my collected gear, or — especially! — the cosmetic stuff I’ve spent my cash on.
Am I alone here? Are you a fan of character-obscuring morphs and modes in MMOs, or does it drive you as mad as it does me?
This week, the dominant story has become Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion, which is coming our way far sooner than a lot of folks had guessed. For this edition of Massively Overthinking, I’ve touched base with some of our writers to measure their reactions to the big announcement, asking them to gauge what’s in it, whether it was worth the wait, what they’re disappointed about, what they think of the pricing, and whether they’ve felt sufficiently enticed to play. Let’s dig in!
With the news of Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire out there, ArenaNet is kicking it into high gear this summer to prepare for next month’s launch. If the team didn’t have enough to keep it busy with just the expansion, it’s filled up its event calendar and worked on a big Q3 2017 patch as well.
Over the course of the next month, the Guild Wars 2 team will be taking Path of Fire on tour to Gamescom and PAX West for meet-and-greets, a panel, and even a 5th Anniversary party. The details are up on the site in case you want to try to attend any or all of these events.
Whether or not you hit those, a balance update is going to hit you soon. Some of the changes include standardizing utility buffs and their bonuses, reduced the cost of crafting utility items, and phasing out boon duration and condition duration in favor of concentration and expertise.
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.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree talk about Trove’s underdog status, the impact of server merges on open world housing, playing as a deer, gender stereotypes in MMOs and more!
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:
Motherboard has a fun-slash-depressing piece out this week on an unnamed hacker who claims he’s been cheating at MMORPGs to make a living for almost two decades.
Prior to his recent Def Con hacking conference talk, the hacker dubbed “Manfred” seemingly demoed via video a hack performed in WildStar, one he used to help him accrue nearly 400 trillion gold, which he then allegedly sold to players through various black markets. He argues he wasn’t hacking — he was providing a service by “finding unintended features in the protocol.”
At least some of his claims don’t even seem particularly outlandish, especially if you’ve been around in MMORPGs for a long time and have an understanding of how rampant duping and RMT markets have been over the last 20 years. Manfred claims he got his start in Ultima Online illegally deleting other players’ houses and selling his own on Ebay, funding his days in college. Since then, Motherboard says, he cheated and duped his way through the “wild west” of Lineage 2, Shadowbane, Final Fantasy XI, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of The Rings Online, RIFT, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2.
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
- 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.
Update! It’s over now, but you can catch the recap and preorder info right here!
If you’ve somehow managed to avoid all the many leaks of Guild Wars 2’s
expansion — starting with the where last October
and peaking with the what in May
— then you’re going into today’s official streamed reveal of the expansion
blind and it’s gonna be so fun for you! For everyone else, we’re hoping for confirmation of what we think we know and fresh details on what we don’t. Maybe we’ll even get a trailer and preorder option. It seems likely, right? There will apparently be giveaway hoopla
We’ll be liveblogging today’s stream down in the comments to help out those of you who can’t watch streams from work or just want to hang out in a non-spammy spot during the festivities. We kick off at noon!
So the other day, the Massively OP staff is hanging out in Slack while we work, and Justin says, “Bree, you know Guild Wars 2 a lot, so I have a question: Orr was submerged for a while and all of the zombified animals and people were too, right? Well my question is, if that’s the case, why didn’t the chickens float away? They’re pretty light and all.”
And I roll my eyes at Justin because that’s just what we do and I tell him I’m totally going to email ArenaNet with his Very Important and Serious lore question. And then Tina comes in like, “The post-cataclysm chickens were missed by Zhaitan when he culled creatures from the unsunken peripheries to join his Risen, lol. Who wants a Risen chicken?”
All of this silliness reminded me that I am not a lore person in MMORPGs. It’s not that I dislike lore; it’s that I like very specific chunks of lore that contribute to my immersion and the feel of the game. Most lore doesn’t do that, so it kinda goes in one ear and out the other. The Elder Scrolls series, for example, always manages to take root in my brain, but World of Warcraft? I don’t remember much or even feel I need to.
Is lore super important to you in MMORPGs? Or is it something you could do entirely without?
Want to enter in and — more importantly — win in a Guild Wars 2
monthly tournament but you lack the well-honed skills to do so? Why, the solution’s obvious, darling! Just get someone else to play on your behalf! That way you get the win and nobody’s the wiser. Unless (and this is such
an outside possibility that it’s embarrassing to bring up) ArenaNet
Whoops, ArenaNet caught you. And now you’re being name-shamed in front of the entire game community, stripped of your titles and prizes, dishonored for the rest of the season, and
temporarily permanently banned from taking part of tournaments and all other forms of PvP. Just don’t try to blame us for the bad advice, OK?
The studio said that it is taking a situation “very seriously” that found 10 players guilty of using substitutes in the automated monthly tournament. “We received many reports that the winners of July’s monthly tournament were not played by the owners of those accounts,” the studio said. “After a thorough investigation, we have found that these accusations are true.”
Warning: This column will contain GRAPHIC and EXPLICIT references to film auteur Michael Bay. You may find yourself cutting away in excitement every two seconds and subject to unnecessary explosions and pixelated cleavage. Try to remain calm.
Siphaed had “super fun” in Citadel: Forged With Fire lately and wanted to share a vista from his new house. But what’s the best part? “Explosions!” he wrote. “Michael Bay would be jealous of the graphical fidelity of Citadel. And yet still aesthetically pleasing to the eye.”
Now that we’ve gotten our gratuitous Michael Bay reference out of the way, let us push forward and try to forget the man who single-handedly ruined two 1980s franchises. We are not bitter.
We’ve reached the end of the third season of Guild Wars 2’s story, and now… what comes next? A new expansion, we all know that. If you’ve forgotten, that’s being announced on August 1st, so you have a bit longer until you find out about it; until then, you can rest with some assurance knowing that Mike Zadorojny is the lead designer on the second expansion. This was announced as part of a lengthy letter from current director Mike O’Brien recapping the game up to this point and where the studio sees it heading in the future.
O’Brien’s letter is largely positive, expressing a sentiment that the game has hit a good balance with this season of the Living World and its content releases. Others are slightly less positive, pointing to Heart of Thorns as something of a blunder and the game subsequently struggling to find its footing and deliver the sort of content players were expecting. So it remains to be seen what sort of reveal will be coming on August 1st, but we can bet money that it’ll be significant. (And will probably line up perfectly with the mountain of leaks about masteries, areas, titles, and everything else, but we’ll just pretend those don’t exist.)
Is it too early to declare this the week of Guild Wars 2
? What with the release of the much-anticipated One Path Ends season finale
and teasing the expansion reveal
, all eyes seem swiveled toward ArenaNet
, hungry for information. To feed the ravenous player population, the team subjected itself to an AMA on Reddit
yesterday to tackle questions about the update while dancing around any potential expansion spoilers. It also kicks off with a producer’s letter of sorts.
“As the season finale, today’s episode is a conclusion and also a lead-in to what comes next,” Mike O’Brien posted. “Our goal was to do it in a meaningful way, not with a simple cliffhanger that’d get spoiled as soon as we announced the next expansion. I can’t say more without revealing too much, but I love it that we get to make episodes like this and tell stories like this. I want to congratulate the episode six team for the care and crafting that went into getting it just right.”