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.
Lore! Huh! What is it good for? Understanding why you’re standing in the middle of a pack of angry people with fangs in MMOs, of course. It’s the thin line dividing your actions from being reckless, indiscriminate mayhem and discriminating, careful mayhem. Lore is how you know what the world is like beyond your front door, and it’s the difference between understanding that you face Ragnaros, lord of flame or just knowing that there’s a dude here made out of fire, so you should probably use water spells on him.
All lore, however, is not created equal. There’s lore that creates a detailed, vibrant world full of people with their own hopes and dreams, and there’s lore that creates a game where you know what you’re supposed to be doing but have no idea what people do for fun afterwards aside from waiting to die. So today, we explore the tiers of lore, arranged in a numbered list because that’s the entire premise of the column. It’s not Perfect Vague Assortment of Concepts. That’s not even a column.
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.”
Last week we were off to a great start as we listened to the first batch of player-voted favorite MMO themes. As I said then, the results of the voting, in which I asked players to nominate up to 10 of their favorite main themes from online games, were both predictable and surprising. Nostalgia and familiarity obviously play a strong role in many of these votes, but no one was asking for objectivity here!
Today we’re going to continue our countdown to the top spot by looking at numbers 18 through 13 of your favorite MMO themes. I think there’s a good mix here, perhaps with tunes that I would have placed a little higher, but overall it’s gratifying to see each one of these make the list.
Enough jibber-jabber, let’s get to it!
Back when I played through The Elder Scrolls Online’s beta, I said that it was another generic fantasy MMO in a field already choked with them. The latter part has not changed. The question, then, is whether the former part has changed, whether the game has truly risen from its somewhat inauspicious beginnings to really carve out its own identity as a game, independent of simply relying upon the franchise name.
The answer… is complex. It has, but it also hasn’t, but it also doesn’t need to, but it also does need to. So let’s start going through this point by point.
I certainly have warmer feelings toward the game now than I did when I played through the beta. The game’s combat has undoubtedly been improved, and it cannot be overstated how much One Tamriel helps the game as a whole. Without feeling like I have to stick to a very narrow range of things to be done if I want to level, I always felt as if I really could head off in a direction and find what interested me, which is a good thing. The problem, of course, is that “interest” often requires investment in a setting, and that is… troublesome.
All good things must come to an end, and in this case, my adventures in The Elder Scrolls Online are ending in Orsinium. I’ve done some stealing, I’ve done some murdering, and now it’s time for me to do some dealing with the dark and sinister work involved in building a nation out of nothing. Or close to nothing, anyhow. Hammering separate tribes together is never easy work.
It only gets harder when it turns out that the person responsible for hammering those tribes together may, in fact, be an ego-tripping maniac who shouldn’t be given authority over anyone.
Of course, there’s more to see in Orsinium than I could get to in a week, even if I wasn’t in the middle of the holiday time crunch and so forth. But I did manage to at least get a high-level tour of what the region is all about, and I do agree with people who said that this was definitely the sort of thing that should be seen before leaving the game.
Despite the fact that for this round of Choose My Adventure, I am jumping into The Elder Scrolls Online in an era of doing whatever I want at any level I choose, it still makes sense to just go through the starting experience in a rather straightforward fashion. Obviously, the starter experience points you in a pretty obvious direction right away, but once you’re past the starter experience it still makes a certain amount of sense to keep rolling along with the storyline. You’re surrounded by quests and stuff to harvest right away; it’s pretty straightforward.
A lot of things, however, haven’t changed since I played the game in the beta forever ago. The story is, in many ways, in the same space it was back then. I wasn’t terribly enamored of the experience then, and so I will admit right off of the bat that I didn’t have high hopes this time. I mean, it was the same story, same overall experience — so how different could it really be once I started moving beyond the earliest parts of the story and into adventuring within the frozen lands of the Pact?
The answer, it turns out, is pretty darn different — for a variety of reasons.
The Guild Wars franchise has been known for terrific art style and some rather cinematic cutscenes over the years, dating all of the way back to the release of Prophecies in 2005. However, the only version of the Prophecies trailer that exists was the one shrunk down to fit on the disc, which means that a decently sized, high-resolution video does not exist.
Rather, it did not exist before now. Guild Wars YouTuber Wooden Potatoes enlisted the help of a friend to take this trailer and use some technical wizardry to improve the visuals and resolution to meet modern standards. The result is a cleaner, crisper, and more vibrant Prophecies trailer than anyone has seen to date.
You can listen to the whole backstory of the project and watch the remastered trailer below!
When Rising Flames
launches on Tuesday, Guild Wars 2
players will be transported to the Ring of Fire island chain first introduced in Guild Wars: Prophecies
. Goodbye, jungle; hello, volcanoes!
Describing the new Ember Bay area as “metal,” the developers have a new video out touching on some of its highlights, from its exploration-centric design and new lava-based mastery skills to the repeatable hearts (love ’em or hate ’em). It’s time to dig your karka-slaying potions back out, too, as the critters are out in force.
Fun fact: We’re not the only ones going back; ArenaNet Environmental Design Specialist Josh Foreman notes that he remembers working on the original zone 12 years ago. Check out the video below:
Well, it’s not Cantha or Elona
, but it’s almost as good: Guild Wars 2’s
next seasonal episode will be set in the Ring of Fire island chain that served as the capstone to classic Guild Wars’ Prophecies
ArenaNet told PAX-goers to expect a whole new map filled with heart quests and dailies called Ember Bay, a new thermal propulsion mastery skill, a new jumping puzzle, new gear, new bosses, the Mursaat Fortress, and a new 5v5 PvP map. As to the new PvP map, Anet’s Joshua Davis told Reddit that “it will be similar to Revenge of the Capricorn. It will go into unranked rotation on release day, but we’ll hold-off on putting it into ranked until we see how it plays on Live servers. This gives us some time to make any tweaks that might be needed. You’ll be able to see an in-depth preview of the map on Sept 17 during the World Championship.”
The whole shebang launches September 20th. Video fiends, we recommend checking out MMO Reporter’s preview!
MOP’s Justin Olivetti created the music-centered Jukebox Heroes column back on Massively-that-was and brought it along to us here, and to this day it’s one of my favorites. It’s also one of our most contentious, which might seem weird since it covers not pay-to-win or crowdfunding or internet warlords but… music. Video game music. It turns out that you folks have incredibly strong opinions about your video game music, and not a top 10 list of tracks goes by when Justin isn’t barraged with “you forgot X” and “why isn’t Y on this list” and “obviously bias, doesn’t include X” commentary.
So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, we’re turning the whole team’s attention to video game music — specifically, MMORPG soundtracks and individual pieces. Which ones are our very favorites? Which ones do we keep on listening to long after we’ve left the games? We’re confident you’ll populate the comments with everything we’re missing!
If you’ve really been enjoying the Prophecy League in Path of Exile
, you’ll be glad to know that the system is going to persist beyond the league. When the current three-month league ends, the prophecies will remain in game as a core feature, albeit with a few modifications. So that this system doesn’t overshadow future leagues and other game content, silver coins will be rarer and players will meet Navali in Act I instead of immediately. Another change is that Navali will be available to join player hideouts.
Before the system goes live in its permanent form, devs will be assessing and changing as needed any rewards to balance the power for the core game. Players can expect the system to expand with more content as time goes on.
Path of Exile’s Prophecy League is in full swing, and devs have utilized player feedback to put together this week’s 2.3.1 update. The Prophecy-specific changes players can look forward to include a reduction of backtracking at end-game to lower-level maps to complete prophecies, lowered sealing costs for fabled and fabled unique prophecies, and new prophecies. To compensate for removing some prophecies, Grinding Gear Games bumped up the rewards rate on the more valuable prophecies by 20%.
Devs also offered a few hints for players: To finish “The Corrupt” prophecy, they write “the trick is to put a Vaal Fragment into the map device. Likewise ‘A Regal Death’ can be completed with some map bosses or Atziri. In addition, it’s pretty easy to just kill Daresso from the waypoint for the free Regal Orb.” Additionally, the “Vaal Hidden Pathways” prophecy will always trigger if players enter an area that can support a side area, removing the random chance aspect.
The update also includes other changes and bug fixes; for full details, check out the dev post. Then be on the lookout for full patch notes later in the week that will unveil all the non-Prophecy League changes.