Guild Wars 2’s next living story season, Icebrood Saga, begins September 17 with the Bound by Blood prologue episode

    
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We’re updating the post with the big news at the end!

At noon today, ArenaNet is expected to take the wraps off Guild Wars 2’s fifth season, live on stream from its big-theater presentation in Seattle.

We may have gotten a tiny teaser earlier this week, when Anet updated the cash shop with the New Horizons Supply Drop Requisition bundle; the parallel to the War Eternal bundle and episode have convinced some gamers that’s the next episode’s name and that it’s coming soon. Others are pointing to the Endless Ocean weapon box included in the package as a clue that the episode will finally make use of the big underwater combat changes implemented last summer. We’ve already speculated plenty too!

Notably, the countdown for the stream has been slowly revealing an image over the course of the last few days – what looks like a charr wight army emerging from a snowy hellscape, if we’re being honest. That’d certainly help to confirm we’re headed back northward to the “new horizons” of the Far Shiverpeaks.

Either way, we’re about to find out, as the festivities begin at 12:00 p.m. EDT. We’ll be updating this article with the big news as it rolls out, but you can watch along with us below and leave your thoughts in the comments!

Updates

Game Director Mike Zadorojny’s taken the stage with the last seasonal trailer and a recap of everything that’s released in the last two years since Path of Fire rolled out. He’s also talking about things about to hit testing, like Swiss-style PvP tourneys and gear/build templates.

Now he’s moved on to the new trailer for the new season! We spy centaurs, underwater sunken ships, charr zombies, wintery hellscapes, and the new dragon. The season is called The Icebrood Saga. The season will focus on the Northern Shiverpeaks, the Charr and the Norn, and their enemies, Jormag and the Sons of Svanir. It’s a “different kind of dragon story,” according to the studio.

ArenaNet will also be bundling together Path of Fire and Heart of Thorns into one purchase (so Heart of Thorns is effectively free for Path of Fire owners). Aaaand there’s a new promo episode coming for existing POF owners before Icebrood begins – that’s called Bound by Blood, and it launches September 17th.

The team, by the way, is calling this whole thing a saga rather than a season, but Anet apparently now has four content teams, so don’t expect the episodes to be exactly the format of the previous season’s content – they’re gonna be trying new things. Old masteries will come into play as well, and Anet is adding in some new lower-key 10-man raids called Strikes with public mode too.

The press release just dropped with far more info:

SEATTLE – Aug. 30, 2019 – An ancient power stirring from beneath the ice of the Far Shiverpeaks is the latest threat Guild Wars 2 players will face in The Icebrood Saga, the game’s newest collection of episodic content. Players can get an early taste of the new locations, conflicts, and thrilling story coming to the award-winning MMO on September 17 with the release of the prologue episode, Bound by Blood. The entire Icebrood Saga, including Bound by Blood, will be free for players who own Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire, with Episode One releasing this autumn.

In conjunction with the debut of this all-new Living World chapter, the first Guild Wars 2 expansion Heart of Thorns will be free for all players who own or purchase Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire, beginning today. Any player who previously purchased Heart of Thorns will receive an exclusive Heart of Thorns Veteran’s Pack of in-game items containing a unique Mordrem glider, “Vanguard” title, and voucher for one of a possible sixteen different gem store armor skins.

The Icebrood Saga marks the beginning of a new adventure in Guild Wars 2’s storyline. It is a time of tentative celebration for all the races of Tyria in the wake of the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik’s heroic defeat by the members of Dragon’s Watch. But whispers from the Northern Shiverpeaks tell tales of ancient forces stirring from their slumber. While the Sons of Svanir—a renegade cult of norn who have turned away from worshipping the Spirits of the Wild—devote themselves to the elder ice dragon Jormag, stories of the dragon’s strength and virtues begin to spread alongside its corrupting influence.

The Icebrood Saga will introduce a wealth of new features, including Strike Missions, which are epic 10-man boss encounters that combine the group coordination skills of raids with the large-scale conflict of a Guild Wars 2 meta event. New boss creatures will also populate the environments of Grothmar Valley and the Northern Shiverpeaks, including the ominous, newly-awakened Drakkar first seen in the original Guild Wars, while new Masteries will be available in Episode One and Episode Two that will explore the history and influence of the Spirits of the Wild, the mystic animal deities of the norn.

In addition to this new Living World chapter, NCSOFT and ArenaNet are also debuting a variety of Guild Wars 2 product partnerships, including:

· A 20th anniversary art book in collaboration with Dark Horse Comics. Launching in the spring of 2020, the art book will feature an expansive collection of never-before-seen concept art, production material, and creator commentary from the Guild Wars franchise

· Guild Wars 2 Funko Pop! figures featuring fan-favorite characters. Aurene, Palawa Joko, and Rytlock Brimstone will be available beginning January 2020

· New Guild Wars 2-inspired apparel from Hot Topic and Insert Coin. The clothing range features new t-shirt and hoodie designs

· New Guild Wars 2 mouse pads and phone cases from Razer

· A music streaming partnership with global entertainment and streaming service TIDAL that makes the original musical scores of Path of Fire, Heart of Thorns, and Living World seasons two, three, and four available for listening across the TIDAL platform.

Whee!

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phaedrux

I’ve never played a game where so many of its fans seem so eager to exude such utter vitriol toward their own game.

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Bruno Brito

In my defense: I’m not a GW2 fan. I want the game to improve, but i’m not a blind follower of it. It helps no one to whiteknight to the game.

But blame that on Anet. It took them almost two years to have “clear” communication, and that was with their CEO change. The Anet forums were a complete polarized mess between zealot critics and whiteknights.

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Anton Mochalin

I think your words “I want the game to improve” are either hypocrisy (more likely) or misunderstanding. In another thread you mentioned ESO as an example of a game that’s much better than GW2. As it’s now play-for-free week in ESO on Steam I tried ESO for the first time. And I can definitely say that attempt to mix old school RPGs like Baldur’s Gate (or maybe Elder Scrolls games – never played them) with MMO is not the direction GW2’s playerbase want the game to go, so your whole idea of “improvement” isn’t very relevant in this discussion. There are tons of singleplayer and MMO RPGs with all those quests and dialogue and lockpicking. GW2 is simply not about that. It has some of those and other things like PvP but the uniqueness of GW2 isn’t about that. So GW2 is simply not a game for you and you don’t understand what’s great about it which also manifests in your mentioning of WoW Classic as a threat to GW2. No, if you understood GW2 well enough it would be clear for you retail WoW is a much more important competitor. And that even bigger threat are games like Tera or even Warframe.

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Utakata

Forgive me for my ignorance here, but new seasons = new expansions for this game? Or just significant bearing content patches?

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Anton Mochalin

A season is a series of patches with a story arc. Like TV series seasons. But last two seasons, 3rd and 4th, each started with an expansion i.e. big update with content, new mechanics etc.

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Bruno Brito

No, it’s just a season of patches with story. It’s not enough to be a expansion. Which is why people are quite up in arms with this.

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imayb1

new seasons = new expansions for this game?

This was true in the past, but not this time.

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Utakata

Thanks for clarifying and answering that everyones who replied. /bow

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NecrococoPlays

A season usually includes new maps, events, storyline, a mastery skill or other unlocks, new armor sets, a new set of achievements, etc. – sometimes each episode. Somehow that’s not “enough to be an expansion” but yes, we get expansions in addition to that.

People are upset because despite being explicitly told that we wouldn’t get an expansion this year, due to restructuring/layoffs/changes in design philosophy, but those people decided to hope that one would be announced anyway. The game puts out a lot of content in comparison to most other titles, but the entitlement is strong.

Techno Wizard
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Techno Wizard

Interesting. I might reinstall and check out GW2 again soon. This new episode looks good enough a reason to do that, to me.

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Ghalesh

I am thinking about trying out. Do you guys recommend this game? How is the population?

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Anton Mochalin

I can speak of EU servers – population doesn’t disappoint, you basically see other players everywhere you go and LFG allows to find teammates really fast – never waited for more than 2-3 minutes get a full party for a dungeon story mode.

Re. recommendations – you’d better try it yourself. It is different. It allows for a very casual playstyle when you just mindlessly wander around and it’s fun. I don’t care about story in any MMO but the story is ok. If you expect holy trinity this game doesn’t incentivise it. The world is huge and beautiful and there are many open world events you stumble upon all the time. The community is very nice, everyone rushes to rez you when you’re downed. Can’t say much about PvP or WvW but people do play those modes and they’re definitely not dead.

I still recommend trying the F2P tier (I play F2P tier and have a lot of fun) because if you like what makes GW2 special you’ll realize no other game has it done so well.

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Ghalesh

Thanks for the info and the detailed reply! :) I will try it out then. How is the raiding? I loved to raid in WildStar and I heard gw2 is somewhat similar – at least the combat.

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Anton Mochalin

I didn’t try raiding but overall boss fights are quite similar to what you can find in WildStar – you should dodge a lot and major boss moves are telegraphed. However there’s basically no holy trinity or anything similar in GW2. You can try to specialize in healing or tanking but in general max damage builds are most efficient. This doesn’t mean that healing is useless for example but don’t expect to be super valued as a healer like in some other games. Gearing up for raids can take some time but I’ve heard the raiding community isn’t too demanding and it’s usually more or less “bring your own build” and people organize training raids for newbies.

Overall combat isn’t too similar to WildStar but there are some similarities (like dodge mechanic). I played WildStar for moderate amount of time (got to level cap but didn’t get into any serious endgame content like raiding) and I liked its combat system but I find GW2’s combat more fluid and satisfying. It’s halfway between typical MMORPG combat with tab targetting and “true action combat” of games like Tera. Generally people mention GW2’s combat system among its positive sides and quite many call it the best combat in MMORPGs. I’ve played all three “true action combat” MMORPGs (Tera, Blade and Soul, Black Desert) and found GW2’s system more satisfying and deep enough though there’s no true combos. There are however some bugs in targeting and animation which don’t happen too often but can be quite annoying.

Overall many say the combat in GW2 can be called “non-target with aim assist” which isn’t perfectly accurate but summarizes the feel quite well.

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NecrococoPlays

I found it more challenging than conventional raiding (WoW, SWTOR) as there isn’t a trinity or dedicated roles, so you have to be responsible for yourself in a lot of ways (avoiding and negating damage, defensive abilities, self-heals). The mechanics and fight choreographies are pretty great. The long-term rewards (legendary armor) are also motivating, especially knowing that your achievement won’t be rendered obsolete with the next raid wing that’s released.

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NecrococoPlays

Being one of the first AAA titles to implement megaservers, the game usually feels populated – even in leveling maps. Anet was smart to switch up achievements and add desirable map rewards for events, so even end-game players will turn up depending on the day. They planned expansions well, so the meta-event focus of HoT (Expac 1) wasn’t undermined by the open-world group content of PoF (Expac 2). You also have a few seasons of story to play through, which includes additional maps, achievements, unlocks, etc. — so there’s a lot to do, and it’s fun.

The biggest selling point is no subscription and the fact that you can take a break from the game and come back without your gear being rendered obsolete.

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Hikari Kenzaki

I was there.
Honestly, all this sounds good.
Free stuff.
Even more free stuff if you buy the current expansion.
More free stuff if you bought the stuff we just gave everyone for free.
New mechanics.
New builds.
New Content.

The bar for “I lose my shit and complain about everything” is really low these days.

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BalsBigBrother

I think I tapped out on GW2 towards the end of Season 3 and haven’t really played it since other than to log in to grab content releases on the off chance I do get the urge.

Not really seeing anything here that is going to pull me back into GW2 but I hope the folks who are playing have some fun with it.

gelfred
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gelfred

Pretty much the same for me. I still enjoy the stuff they put out but I play each release about 2-3hr and then it cant grab me. Cant complain about the price though!

Many people still enjoy it, a lot of my friends who still play were expecting more from this announcement though.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

lmao Reddit is dumpster fire from bitter tryhards.

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Matthäus Wey

Ofc it is. The game is in a rather bad state since PoF and the only thing anet does is f*cking up left and right. People are worried about this game and so am I.

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Anton Mochalin

GW2 is doing totally fine since PoF. You could complain about “power creep” brought by the two expansions but what we had after PoF was living world episodes that were delivering the story on regular basis as anyone familiar with the game expected and also nice things like new mounts (Skyscale is actually used a lot) or raids etc. In Q2 2019 almost 2 years after the last expansion GW2 still had more revenue than during the quarters before PoF.

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Skoryy

I would’ve said ‘dumpster fire of Karens and Kevins demanding to see a manager’, but to each our own.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Either way, bunch of whiny entitled little b!#$es.

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Bruno Brito

WoW classic launches and Anet hypes…this.

Christ.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

You mean glorified progression servers (how innovative)?

MMOs are not really in the ground breaking market any more, they have an aging population that’s happy with the same old.

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Bruno Brito

Yet, it’s WoW classic, which is a gargantuan in it’s own rights.

Either companies step up to the game, or they’ll be left in the dust. Which in GW2 case, is already happening.

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Anton Mochalin

GW2 still has more revenue than before PoF. Also, WoW Classic is definitely not a direct competitor to GW2 for many reasons from how those two games are usually played in terms of time spent in game to game mechanics, art style and many other things. And WoW Classic will no doubt shrink to be a niche game like Eve Online and that will happen fast. I’d expect its population to halve in less than a month.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

It’s like he’s trying to compare the success of the Avengers to the Amazon adaptation of The Boys regarding success, the GW franchise has always been more niche except for that big unprecedented release of GW2 in 2012. Of course WoW, ESO, and FF14 are going to have more attention and success as they are based on well known franchises that have been around for 30 years.

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Anton Mochalin

For me it’s more like on the border between niche and mainstream. GW2 is super good for casual play or when you don’t have much time for games or as a 2nd or 3rd game (I play Warframe and Smite more but still return to GW2 several times a week). I think ArenaNet is really missing the potential to easily double the game’s playerbase by simply better marketing and promotion. Making HoT free with PoF is a very good step. This announcement event is a good step, and I see they try to remind about the game’s existence more often and that’s very good.

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Bruno Brito

It’s like he’s trying to compare the success of the Avengers to the Amazon adaptation of The Boys regarding success

No, it’s like i’m comparing a MMO with another MMO. It’s like i’m trying to compare a game that went through changes to look like more like the other MMO ( level 80, raiding, similar transmog system ), to ease the transition between the two.

Pretending that GW2 doesn’t want in the WoW pie is naive. It’s the entire reason the fucking manifesto was made.

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NecrococoPlays

It’s the hype cycle. People literally said Bless Online was going to kill GW2 and BDO. Classic is the latest hype – people in this genre often flock to the hype to mix up their experience. Give it a few weeks/months and tell me how it’s dead and killed all other game communities.

At worst, it will keep the populations that had previously been on the private servers (which oddly didn’t kill all other games), and those who are frustrated with BFA. Add in those who like the mix of challenge and simplicity. The average GW2 player isn’t going to abandon their preferred title in favor of WoW Classic in the long-term, just as they didn’t abandon it for any other title in the last 7 years. I’m a game hopper, so I see the hype cycle a lot – but GW2 and BDO are still my “home” games.

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Anton Mochalin

WoW Classic is literally nothing new. It’s nice to separately cater to more nostalgic part of the playerbase but that’s basically it.

ArenaNet didn’t “hype” this announcement much. The only thing I can actually count as “hyping” is that new “ice and fire” logo for Living World posted on the news page inviting to take part in today’s event. Not even a YouTube teaser like they did for War Eternal episode. I think gathering fans and media for offline event is quite an adequate way to announce the new season.

Actually both WoW Classic and this ANet announcement were overhyped by the public / “fanbase” and I’m not sure it’s good the games have a fanbase of that sort. Warframe launch was not hyped at all. PUBG was not hyped. Dota 2 launch was just a formal end of a long “beta” or “early access” – don’t remember what it was called. Fortnite BR had somewhat moderate hype around it mostly connected to accusations of riding on PUBG’s success. But what a hype was around that game with flying frames… how it was called… not actually frames… Javelins! Yeah, Anthem, remember Anthem’s hype?

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peor togs

You mean, other than when Anet Net said it would be “Expansion-like content”

Yeah, they hyped it and it was a complete fail.

I hope the story is good…

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Anton Mochalin

No they didn’t say anything about expansion-like content. Here’s their invitation to the event

https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/dont-miss-our-special-announcement-event/

They called it “an all-new chapter in Guild Wars 2‘s Living World story” which it actually was.

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peor togs

They absolutely did when they first said they were skipping from S4 to S5 and described what season 5 would be. Look up Mike z and what he said about season 5.

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Anton Mochalin

Did they mean this particular announcement? No. They meant “an expansion worth of content is coming” and everyone perceived it like that – that expansion is not coming soon but some significant amount of updates is. This announcement was about Living World Season 5 plus smaller things. Will they announce more later? I definitely expect that.

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peor togs

This announcement covers the whole season… So still a problem for “expansion” features…

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Anton Mochalin

Because it is the announcement of the new season. All that expansion thinking is the result of media and streamers hungry for hype. But if ANet is going to release a series of updates outside the traditional living world episodes they can announce them when they have something to say. Now they have something to say about the story – Jormag and all that, and also several smaller things.

micedicetwice
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micedicetwice

Yes, they talked about it, a long time ago. For a brave white knight defending the game, you seem to know very little about what was happening with the game in the last few years. That rage on reddit didn’t appear out of anywhere. It is a reaction to knowing NOTHING about their future plans and this very much hyped presentation showed nothing either. We knew season 5 is coming and basically all they did is changed the name of it to the saga and made more vague promises.

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NecrococoPlays

It’s not white knighting to manage expectations properly – instead of being the constant victim of the hype cycle. Anet stated, blatantly, that LS4 would roll into LS5. That we would not have an expansion this year.

If people expected more than an LS announcement, that is on them – not Anet. I stated the same on reddit prior to the announcement – anyone expecting otherwise was, honestly, stupid.

The “rage” over “knowing nothing” about future plans is laughable, especially when Anet hosted a community event to discuss future plans in response to those demands, and the “ragers” get more upset. For getting what they allegedly wanted (see: information).

Their future plans seem pretty obvious, so I’m not sure why they’d need to spell it out – or why they’d want to with people behaving the way they are. Most devs don’t share information about content while it’s still under development, and the behavior/reaction of this community is precisely why. They said “no expansion this year” and people expect an expansion. People want more communication, so they host a panel to announce the new LS – and players are angry? How stupid.

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Anton Mochalin

Well emotions aside I think such community self-hyping will always be present around big games like GW2 so on the other side maybe ArenaNet could try to adapt to this fact – understanding that the whole phenomenon of that hype means GW2 is big.

The game is actually very good in many aspects and I think this makes ArenaNet pay less attention to PR than they should – like they think “our playerbase will be returning to the game anyway because there’s more or less no similar product on the market”. And they’re right to some extent but they’re losing some portion of potential playerbase (especially potential new players). However this particular announcement event is rather a big step towards better PR so I agree it’s insane to bash ArenaNet for it.

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NecrococoPlays

They didn’t hype it though – the community did. Anet EXPLICITLY STATED that there would be no expansion. If you expected otherwise that’s your own failing, not theirs. The community complains that Anet doesn’t communicate – so they host a community event to discuss the next LS, which everyone with a lick of sense knew the event would be about, and now people like yourself are complaining that it was a “fail” because it didn’t include mind-blowing announcements. It was a panel, to discuss the new season, while leading into PAX. That’s entirely reasonable.

And yes, generally a season of LS offers “expansion-like” content, especially in comparison to other games. For instance, a season of LS easily provides more content than the average SWTOR expansion. Same for BDO. It’s just gated so players can’t devour it in two weeks.

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Bruno Brito

WoW Classic is literally nothing new. It’s nice to separately cater to more nostalgic part of the playerbase but that’s basically it.

You do realize what 20k queues are, right? I don’t care what it is, when 20k people line up to a server, it’s a wet dream that any company wants. Specially considering these are all SUBS.

What you fail to realize, is that everything you’re talking about is a personal view because you’re a fan of GW2. I’m not coming from a posture of a fan. I’m saying that they were vague in their announcement, and allowed hype to take over, just to underdeliver. That’s on THEM. Don’t make surprises and cryptic announcements if you don’t want to come through with something GOOD.

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Anton Mochalin

Well Bless Online as far as I remember also had queues at launch.

Also those SUBS are actually the same SUBS which are retail SUBS.

That was definitely not a “cryptic announcement”. They had something to say about new living world season. They decided to do that as a quite short (45 minutes) offline event before PAX which is an absolutely adequate way – rent a venue for the time and place that will already attract a lot of people from your audience and say what you have to say. The overall idea was I guess “we’re going to announce new season + some more stuff but let’s not say it outright so people are a bit intrigued and so more likely to come”. But the news page with the invitation has that Living World logo and no other specifics. It’s like when Gearbox said “come to our announcement event” and posted some image with “3” digit on it so everyone was expecting Borderlands 3. When you have an invitation page where the only hint is Living World logo what should you expect?

No, you’re not coming from a posture of a fan, you’re coming from a posture of a typical MOP reader who’s feeding on hype. You imagine hype (doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative) even where there’s none. And that’s the problem because this vocal minority of hype eaters influence the media landscape too much.

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Bruno Brito

No, you’re not coming from a posture of a fan, you’re coming from a posture of a typical MOP reader who’s feeding on hype. You imagine hype (doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative) even where there’s none. And that’s the problem because this vocal minority of hype eaters influence the media landscape too much.

Said the guy who would try to feed MO’s turd to the Mystic Toilet.

If you go full vague on announcements, you create hype. That’s the nature of announcements. I didn’t imagine jack shit, they made this.

But GW2 is a perfect game, it’s the best game, it’s so good, it’s all you ever wanted.

I’m going to learn to ignore your opinions from now on.

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NecrococoPlays

They said no expansion months ago. How is that vague?

What is the opposite of a white knight that insists on ignoring criticism? Someone who gets off on hating something, and refuses to accept responsibility for not being capable of managing realistic expectations?

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Dug From The Earth

Think of it this way

Its not about giving people something new

Its about giving people what they want.

Lots of people want classic, even though its 100% nothing new. Apparently there are plenty of people who dont really want this GW2 stuff, even though it is mostly completely new.

A good company knows how to read their customers and provide them what they want. Anet, has more times than not, struggled to do this.

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Bruno Brito

Forget about that. Most GW2 whiteknights are going to defend GW2 novelty til the end.

So what if the game launched with a severe lack of endgame? It had great open world! Which wasn’t a live-breathing-world as we heard, but a conjunct of several timed trigger events which repeat themselves.

And the trinity removal was so well planned that we ended up with a dungeonrunning meta for an entire YEAR and a half of 4 warriors and 1 mesmer, until someone ( Guanlay ) realized that rangers were broken, and Brazil popularized them. It took Nemesis TWO YEARS of making videos to Necros to actually be playable.

And let’s not remember the fucking Icebow/Meteor Shower meta, please.

All this crap was proof of how most novelty injected into GW2 were actually detrimental to the game, but so what? As long as it’s new, it can be a new turd from a new species.

These people will devour it gladly, or try to get the ascended version.

There’s a reason why the new GW2 talent system changed ( to my chagrin ) to a talent system that is WAY more similar to WoW’s talent system.

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NecrococoPlays

Honestly, if you were expecting something else despite everything we knew prior to the event, that’s on you. A dev can’t just pull an expansion out of their ass, especially not in less than 1 year, and even more especially not after they’ve had layoffs and restructured their staff and approach to design. They explicitly told us “no expansion” months ago – why people thought this community event was going to contradict that is beyond me. Go look at SWTOR’s community events and tell me this was overblown in terms of content. lol

Using a perspective that isn’t founded in unrealistic expectations and ignorance of the game dev process, this story update was both expected and signals a new (and some might argue, better) direction than prior seasons. Knowing what we have left of the world map to uncover, I think it’s a promising interlude between our eventual move to the endless sea and Cantha, and will set us up for a proper expansion after the season wraps in the next year or so. I’m especially interested in the new masteries this will unlock (spirits of the wild), not to mention exploring the north in a more Charr and Norn focused story.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

I give them a lot of heat, but they are doing this one right by newbies and vets alike. Good on them! They may even get me back to check this stuff out which is something I didn’t think I’d say again.

Whether or not I end up playing it I wish nothing but the best for this game and its fans and arenanet staff!

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TomTurtle

I’m down for the story content and all, like usual.

But I was not impressed by this presentation. They kind of squandered their opportunity. If they had something great to market to people, it would and should have been shown during this presentation.