Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2’s immediate future

    
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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.

patchingA dedication to bug fixes and patching

Perhaps the most expected focus for the rest of this year is bug fixing, polishing, and performance correcting patches. Unsurprisingly, launching an expansion is a huge endeavour that is pretty much guaranteed to break or imbalance mechanics and systems along the way, so the brave virtual firefighters at ArenaNet will be very busy dealing with the flames as and when they arise. After a week filled with countless iterative fixes and patches, Johanson has said that the patch pace will now slow down as all the critical issues have been dealt with, so we’re now to expect less frequent patching that usually supports new content releases.

Further to the usual patches, we can also expect quarterly rebalances that will “shake up the meta for the next quarter,” which I presume is a nice way of saying that it’ll help avoid the usual flavour-of-the-month profession woes that usually come as part and parcel of raiding. This is most definitely welcome news: If you don’t like how your chosen profession plays right now, it’s good to know that you’ll not have long to wait to see some changes.

raidingRaiding and all the trimmings

The next item on the 2015 to-do list is the implementation of raiding, and Johanson was sure to put a vague timeframe on the big switch-on. The content will be made available to future ravenous raiders in the middle of this month, and the legendary armour set building can begin then as well. I personally can’t wait to get my hands on the raiding content (and I’ll hopefully run it with the MOP guild crew!), so I’m counting down the days until I get back into Spirit Vale.

The first wing will be open, so we should, in theory, have plenty to do in terms of raiding. Whether or not the new endgame content makes up for the recent squishing of fractal and dungeon payoff is still to be seen, but I’m remaining optimistic for now. I’m sure I’m not alone in eagerly anticipating the enhanced Squad UI that comes along with the new PvE content: Large-scale grouping in GW2 has always been more than a little ropey, so we really did need a new system for handling large groups.

The legendary weapon journeys are a major point on my HoT 2015 checklist: Before the year is out, we’ll be able to run from prototyping to precursor gathering and then to gaining the legendary itself. I’ll be very interested to see how the personal nature of the new legendaries affects currency flow in the expansion as we see in 2016, especially since new legendaries obviously don’t invalidate older ones.

pvpCompetitive PvP and e-sports are still HoT on ANet’s lips

The e-sports trend is only just taking off at ArenaNet, and the culmination of the PvP team’s efforts over the last year or so is the game’s first ever professional competitive league. There are still eight spots up for grabs for dedicated PvP teams, so those who think they can cut into the professional ranks are encouraged to enter the qualifiers. The Pro League Open Qualifier will be held between November 14 and 15, so visit the official news post to find out more if the big leagues are your bag.

If you’re more of a spectator than a PvPer, tuning into the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel could pay off. Prizes will be awarded to the channel audience during the Pro League streams, so you can earn some killer swag while those teams face off for a chunky piece of the league’s $200,000 prize pot. Spectating content is a high priority within ArenaNet’s community engagement strategy, and the emphasis is on learning from the best in order to encourage new and developing endgame players to tackle the most challenging endgame content where the bulk of development time has been placed.

December 1st will see the inaugural PvP league season commence, so while I’m bopping PvE bosses over the head with hard things, the PvP fans among you will be duking it out for rewards and perhaps the mats for a sweet legendary backpack. I’m happy to see character name badges come into play, and I know several of my guildies will be only to pleased to rock their PvP ranking badges for all to see.

telegraphImproving combat visibility

A real bugbear of mine is how challenging it can be to follow high-octane combat — be it in World versus World, world boss fights, or general PvP content — so Johanson’s emphasis on cleaning up visibility is most welcome. Combat is becoming increasingly challenging and competitive, especially with raids and PvP leagues, and nobody wants to watch tactical explanations and league streams that are just a crazy mess of neon telegraphing and clunky animation effects.

The new action combat perspective is fun and fresh, and this is most definitely going to shine when visibility is improved. The post wasn’t specific in how these improvements will work, and I’m not sure just how clean combat can be made, but any improvement is good news at this point. I talked a little bit about how the combat clutter affected the first raid boss beta in a previous edition of Flameseeker Chronicles because that boss was a particularly striking example. We must pay attention to a specifically coloured, segmented floor while also pinpointing some moving orbs and other visuals, which was easier said than done.

winters dayWintersday and the opening of 2016

I’m already brimming with holiday spirit, but it’s not quite holiday time until Wintersday rolls in again on December 15th! We’ve been promised plenty of new rewards, outfits, skins, and guild hall decorations to get us into the festive spirit, and I just can’t wait. Ho-Ho-Trons and snowball fights totally scream festive fun and frolics, right?

Johanson left us with a little tease about the advancement of HoT in the new year. He’ll be back with another state-of-play update similar to this one that’ll give us a clearer picture of how HoT will progress through the start of 2016, of course, but he also hinted at a big change in “what you can expect from the regular live cadence” of GW2. Is this a big indicator that Season 3 will commence soon after the new year rings in? I sure think so!

Over to you!

I have just one more launch diary entry to go that should be with you soon (apologies for not publishing it sooner, but my Halloween weekend was jam packed!), so I’m happy to see that there’s still plenty of excitement still to come after tracking the initial opinions on the expansion’s launch. How have you been finding the expansion so far? I’ve been receiving some wildly varying reports in my mailbox and article comments that range from absolutely loving the expansion to quitting the game this week after being disappointed in HoT. Are you happy with the direction of the expansion so far? Let me know in the comments below!

NB: We’re still accepting requests for the NA MOP guild! Just pop your account name in a comment below or send me an email for an invite. It might take a while to get your invite due to my timezone, so stay patient with me as I get everyone added to the roster.

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see covered, drop a comment Tina’s way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
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Radfist
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Radfist

schmidtcapela Radfist  I’m not following…. everyone just said that there was absolutely no benefit to raiding aside from gear that swaps stats.

Unless you are doing those raid encounters you wont need to swap stats on the fly, and you can still change the stats on your ascended gear pretty easily if you want to change between condition, power or support.
It sounds like you are just fishing for excuses to bash it, but really gear creep isn’t one of them because its not a thing for raiding.  Non-raiders are just as powerful as raiders in GW2.

mosselyn
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mosselyn

schmidtcapela I am anti-raiding, too, and have some reservations about their introduction, but my concerns are more community related than anything. Raids = drama to me, so I worry that it is going to cause headaches in my guild. 
More personally, so far, everything I liked to do in GW2 previously is still there (and then some!) and in no way diminished by the introduction of raiding, so I can’t begrudge the hard cores their chance for some fun. 
Will the introduction of raids into the game siphon off limited developer resources in ways that diminish my own playstyle? Possibly, but I think it will be a year or more before I can tell that. For me, several months to a year of fun is quite enough to justify the purchase price. To each his own value yardstick, though.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

Radfist schmidtcapela 
Which, right now, is enough to push me away and prevent me from purchasing the expansion.

I got GW2 in part due to the promise of not introducing conventional raids. After all, I don’t want to do any more raids for as long as I live, and I’m currently choosing my MMOs accordingly: either MMOs where conventional, organized raids don’t exist or MMOs where I can get the exact same rewards raiders get through other means. GW2 adding raids means both that it’s fallen off my radar for the time being and that I don’t trust its developers to keep their promises anymore; in fact, if I had known from the start that the devs would add ascended gear and raiding down the line, I would have skipped it.

vinicitur
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vinicitur

jsmooth1 vinicitur Unfortunately no matter what Anet is saying atm, I don’t see dps builds going away because of their absolute obsession with sPvP. Defensive styles have always suffered compared to offensive because 1 point in defense does not equal one point in offense. Especially since the introduction of Ferocity. 

As for defensive play, I would agree that Jalis is not that easy to play atm.I still need practice with that Legendary stance. Especially compared to a bunker guardian that has been around for 3 years now.

Radfist
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Radfist

Quincha breetoplay Aside from a bugged skill point / mastery point location or two I had no real issues either accessing or enjoying the expansion, so that is probably correct.

Radfist
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Radfist

jsmooth1 Without knowing the specifics, I would say the issue is your situational awareness of monster skills. No matter how tanky you are, you will still need to dodge and avoid the right things.
Unless you are trying to tank for a group of players, maybe consider Ventari for soloing. It is pretty much indestructible with on demand projectile blocking and condition removal.

Radfist
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Radfist

schmidtcapela Raids. Do. Not. Give. You. Better. Gear.
If you enjoy the open world aspect of GW2, its better than ever.  The new zones meta events are far better than the core game.  If you have ascended armour / weapons (and there are lots of ways to get that now), then the only benefit to raid gear is on the fly stat switching.  Which would probably only be necessary for raids anyway.

MatthewRiddle
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MatthewRiddle

Elikal Ialborcales Those mini dinosaurs don’t seem so bad when you’re gliding over them in the sky. I think that’s the point of unlocking gliding, to not be traveling everywhere on foot. They are sneaky buggers that make me turn back when they block an intersection, but they can be handled.
The gating is needed because MMO players consume non-gated content like a big dude consumes freshly baked cookies. Only difference is that after consuming all the cookies, the big dude doesn’t complain that there isn’t anything else to do that it wasn’t worth the money.
Let’s be serious. The biggest MMO on the market, WoW, the MMO that used to be the design that new MMOs tried to copy, sells max-level scrolls with their new expansions that beg new players to skip 95% of the rest of the content in the game. They release new raids that require higher tier gear and they are beat within days of release.
MMO players are the hardest working players and at the same time the loudest complainers. Gating is needed.

Elikal Ialborcales
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Elikal Ialborcales

Quincha Elikal Ialborcales I know this. ;)

Elikal Ialborcales
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Elikal Ialborcales

Quincha Elikal Ialborcales Ok admitted Engi is the one I didn’t play much yet. Hammer didnt much appeal to my idea of an engi. ^^