Flameseeker Chronicles: First Impressions of Guild Wars 2’s Jormag Rising, live today

    
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Just two short months ago, Guild Wars 2 introduced us to the Drizzlewood Coast, flashpoint of the civil war between the Charr United Legions and Bangar Ruinbringer’s Dominion forces. Over the course of the story, the added support from the Seraph and the commander, the United Legions were able to turn their near defeat into the promise of victory… that is, until the Frost Legion showed up and stopped out heroes in their tracks. We finally get part two of that story cliffhanger, and with it part two of Drizzlewood Coast’s excellent meta event.

By now, players are no doubt familiar with the meta event introduced in No Quarter, which involves the retaking of several camps in the southern half of Drizzlewood Coast, similar to a PvE version of WvW, pushing the enemy all the way back to the bridge at Wolf’s Crossing, culminating in a boss fight with what remains of the renegade Steel Warband. If you aren’t familiar with it because you missed out on the No Quarter chapter, don’t worry; if you own Jormag Rising, you will be able to access the entire Drizzlewood Coast map, you simply won’t be able to play the No Quarter story.

Previously, when the southern meta event finished, everything just sort of reset. As of Jormag Rising’s release, the existing meta event has been shortened, and after all of the cache keepers have been defeated, a new meta begins, challenging players to overtake the enemy territory north of Wolf’s Crossing. Enemy assaults on the southern half of Drizzlewood Coast will stop at this point, so all of those camps are safe.

The players will begin by hunting down the imperators of the five renegade legions — yes, five, as Frost is now a full-blown legion under Bangar’s dominion. To do this, players must complete a number of events to cause havoc in that imperator’s area to draw them out. It’s similar to increasing the morale of southern Drizzlewood’s camps to trigger an assault, but in reverse, as we are now assaulting enemy territory rather than taking back friendly territory. The imperator boss fights are a little more intense than what you may have come to expect from southern Drizzlewood, and will feature some randomized mechanics similar to what we’ve previously seen on bounty targets and the like.

Once all of the imperators are dealt with, it’s time to assault the Frost Citadel. (Have fun storming the castle!) ArenaNet told us that, while most of the meta map was designed to mimic the feel of World vs World, the citadel assault is designed more like an instanced encounter like a raid. Between this and its push toward strike missions, I feel like ArenaNet has had this obsession lately with trying to entice players into raiding by sneaking it into other PvE content, like they’re sneaking vegetables into the diet of a picky eater, but I have to admit that the assault on the Frost Citadel is pretty epic.

Once the Frost Citadel’s front door is bashed in, players are met with a Frost Phalanx. This frost-infused shield wall of Charr warriors will be undamagable until the breakbars of one of the line is broken, at which point a chaotic skirmish breaks out. After facing several of these phalanxes, players will enter the tank hangar, just in time to meet Bangar’s new souped-up tank design. Remember those lion head Charr tanks (at least I think they’re supposed to be lions; they’ve always looked more like Hedgehogs to me) that we’ve been seeing around maps since launch? The ones that are always parked and not doing anything? Well, we finally get to see one in action. This encounter involves stealing smaller Charr tanks to rip off the shield generators of the larger tank, so players can burn down its health.

With the tank out of the way, players will finally reach the central chamber, where Bangar is using the blood of Jormag themself to convert his renegades into Frost Legion supersoldiers. Players proceed to smash all of Bangar’s equipment — and any Frost Legion who get in the way — and escape outside, as the mountain begins to collapse on the Frost Citadel. You might think that we’ve won at this point, but you would be wrong. Outside, they are greeted by none other than the Claw of Jormag, a dragon lieutenant whom you may remember facing as a world boss in Frostgorge Sound. He’s back, and isn’t happy about you smashing up his new Charr friends’ clubhouse. The fight with the Claw of Jormag is one final epic, multi-part encounter, which you really need to experience for yourself. Once he’s down, players are showered with drops and the map becomes peaceful for a few minutes, before resetting.

Overall, this meta event feels like a fitting sequel to the one designed for No Quarter. Whereas in the first half of the meta we were taking back our camps from the enemy after being thoroughly routed, now the tables have turned and we are bringing the fight to the Renegades. It’s hard for me to judge the difficulty of the encounters in the press preview — Tina and I are generally grouped up with a handful of devs and other press, not nearly enough to complete the events normally, so the ArenaNet cheats us through the encounters with dev commands that lower enemy health or make us invincible — but it feels like the challenge is upped from last time, though objectives are more focused; whereas southern Drizzlewood was all about spreading out and holding the whole map, northern Drizzlewood is primarily about pushing through a specific gauntlet of bosses. I’m excited to play it for real, starting today!

Like every Living World release, Jormag Rising brings with it a new set of masteries, this time expanding on the United Legions Waystation Synchronization line, introduced last episode. First is the Iron Legion Medizooka. While the previous pickups from the waystation were breakbar- and damage-focused, the medizooka is, as you might expect, support focused. Activating it launches you into the air, allowing you to drift slowly to the ground on a parachute as you reign down buffing and healing rockets onto your allies. As with the EMP and remote bomb, the medizooka can be picked up from a portable United Legions Waystation, which can be deployed by players in any open world area.

The next mastery that Jormag Rising brings with it is Ash Legion Mount Stealth, which, as you might expect, allows players to become invisible for a few seconds while mounted. This shows up as a new mounted skill in the 9 slot, and doesn’t require a waystation or any war supplies to activate. We asked ArenaNet if this was the new mount ability teased in its summer roadmap, and were told that this was separate from that, and to keep an eye out for it in the coming months.

The final mastery in the Waystation line is called United Legions Waystation Mastery, which upgrades all of the abilities from the Waystation line and gives them more charges.

The expanded Drizzlewood Coast map has lots of nice little nooks and crannies to explore, as well as three new adventures themed around the three lost Spirits of the Wild, Eagle, Wolverine, and Ox. ArenaNet’s devs were especially proud of the Eagle adventure, which is an areal race where the player becomes an Eagle and gets to experience flight, free from the restrictions imposed on the Skyscale.

As for cosmetics, this release brings with it the promised upgraded versions of the Stormcaller weapons, called Charged Stormcaller weapons, which resemble the original set but with their electric sparks cranked up to 11. Upgraded versions of the Boneskinner staff, scepter, and focus introduced in Whisper in the Dark are also up for grabs. As you defeat the various renegade imperators, be on the lookout for their unique looking weapons among the drops. Finally, those who complete the zone meta achievement will be able to grab the unique Dominion Tribune Manica glove skin, an asymetrical skin that coats your entire right arm in ice, all the way up to your shoulder. As always, you can check out all of these skins in the gallery down below.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as with the last release, ArenaNet has not been able to get voice talent into the recording studio in time for this release, though it has been working diligently on creative solutions, and has promised to give us an update on that situation in the coming days, so stay tuned for more information on that front.

The story of this release also brings some really epic twists, but I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone on day one, so I will save that discussion for another day. Until then, I hope to join you in the northern Drizzlewood Coast meta event!

Flameseeker Chronicles is one of Massively OP’s longest-running columns, covering the Guild Wars franchise since before there was a Guild Wars 2. Now penned by Tina Lauro and Colin Henry, it arrives on Tuesdays to report everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see explored, drop ’em a comment!

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Greaterdivinity

Previously, when the southern meta event finished, everything just sort of reset.

Hey now, they have a pretty rad artillery barrage thing that goes on to push you back to the start. I actually am a big fan of this little moment, it does a great job of narratively “resetting” the map so to speak. All over the span of a short audio segment of the sounds of artillery whizzing by and smashing down in the near distance.

I’m just hoping that mastery points will be more readily available. Still need 3 more to finish out the existing color-based masteries but for the life of me can’t seem to find any reasonable one that don’t involve going into strikes. I’m all for more complex open world content, but like, Anet…dudes…maybe there just aren’t enough people that like raids/strikes. I get it, there’s a devoted following and I’m sure some of the team love them, but for the love of god please stop.