Exploring the unknown
The new zone will be another jog down memory lane for Guild Wars players since it is set within the Ring of Fire island chain that we all know from the Prophecies campaign. My mind is blown by the return: The new zone’s being set in an entire region that we’ve never set foot on in GW2 is exceedingly brave considering that other offerings are extensions of somewhere that we already have some sort of foothold in. Even Heart of Maguuma, which I always think of as quite an extensive, technically impressive region, was familiar to us by extension from the other Maguuman areas.
Speculation was already brewing over the Ring of Fire due to an NPC who’s been trekking in this general direction for a while now. I’m hoping that the zone evolves in a similar pattern to Orr, with some tentative footholds being secured via the Ember Bay zone during the next episode and deeper exploration happening into connected Ring of Fire zones as the season continues. I am noticing on the map that there are two very small outer islands that look as though they’d make a great landing space before hitting the larger island chain, and there are plenty of curves and crevices along the coastline that could make for some fantastic underwater exploration.
We really don’t know much so far, so I’m expecting that the next two weeks will be filled with little teasers and promo reels as we approach launch. This is definite encouragement for us all to stay glued to ArenaNet livestreams, people: You don’t want to miss any new information at all as and when it drops. I have heard whispers of September 13th being a key date for those wanting to learn more, and the new PvP map will be revealed during the 2016 Grand Finals on September 17th. There wasn’t an Ember Bay area in the original game, so we really are going in blind here! The islands themselves look so different that I’m definitely predicting that more crazy magical tomfoolery has occurred here, changing the landscape significantly from what we might remember.
As you might expect for a new zone, we’ll see a new achievements and mastery development in episode 2. I’m also hearing quite a lot about this episode being a break in the tension for players that should serve to cut through the doom and gloom of the White Mantle and dragon story arcs with a much-needed injection of good old-fashioned ArenaNet fun. Pirates, raw magical overspills, and lava everything does sound like fun, right?
I’ve read several recommendations for players to max out those gliding masteries before the month is out due to the size and scope of the map. Ancient Magic is getting a second tier: Thermal Propulsion will help us to navigate the vast area as well since it lobs out from place to place across the bay. Finally, heart quests have made a sort of comeback here as a form of repeatable daily, though there’s no word on what those rewards will look like just yet. I read some fantastic asides coming from the hearts demo about a baby mega sloth and skritt pirates, for example, in which players must face off against some empowered mega-destroyers while placating a rather angry and confused sloth baby. Hilarious, quirky, and authentically Guild Wars 2!
We’re also being treated to a new conquest PvP arena name the Eternal Coliseum that will be rather similar in design ethos to Revenge of the Capricorn and will be introduced firstly to unranked play in a similar way as well. Gladiatorial themes and plenty of verticality should make this a compelling offering to the usual PvP lineup, especially when some hard-to-access capture points are involved. Just as in Capricorn, a secondary objective is triggered every three minutes, so players will be scrambling across the rather large map to gain the granted bonus for their side.
One majorly cool new feature for this PvP map is an interactive crowd that has very particular tastes in competitors depending on where they’re sat. Should you crush your foes in front of the friendly crowd surrounding your side of the arena, you’ll be rewarded with progressively louder cheers, with the inverse occurring if you do the same on the enemy side of the arena. I can’t wait to hear that immersive cheering and jeering for myself!
I am loving the idea of a volcanic island jumping puzzle (heck, I just like the idea of any new jumping puzzle, really!), especially if the new jumping puzzles capitalise on the movement masteries to up the challenge and tie in those skills. I would love to see us zip across the centre of a volcano after jumping from craggy basalt protrusions and gliding to avoid lava spew. A girl can dream, right? The jumping puzzle is apparently located in the heart of a Mursaat fortress, so I doubt I’ll get the lava jumping dreamboat I’ve concocted in my head, though with Josh Foreman behind it and the new focus on uncontrolled magic messes, I reckon I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the theme and complexity anyway.
Over to you!
I will be getting my hands on the content for myself rather soon, so expect a fuller what-to-expect piece for my next Flameseeker Chronicles. At this point, I’m impressed at just how much content seems to have been packed into this episode, especially considering the previous lack of development on the story front before this season. I was just writing about what to do to bridge the short wait but it now seems as though the gap between the episodes will be even shorter than I had envisioned (eight weeks between episodes). I’m glad to see some armour being created that is drop-only as well, so I’ll definitely want to nab those pieces and support the development of non-gem gear.
To me, the division of teams is working really well for ArenaNet right now, with all areas of the game seeing slow and steady development right around the clock. I most definitely appreciate that some proof of the pudding now lies in our laps at this point in 2016, especially after the WvW debacle that is still being teased out and the content drought that preceeded this dedication to regualr content.
What do you think is going to happen in episode 2? Have you a list of predictions to share? Were you expecting to see hearts making a comback? Are you looking forward to the Ring of Fire? Let me know in the comments!