Flameseeker Chronicles: First impressions of Guild Wars 2’s ‘Balance’ chapter, launching today


Another month, another round of Dragon Response Missions. Balance is part three of four chapters in Guild Wars 2’s Icebrood Saga, and things are starting to heat up (no conflagration dragon pun intended). With two elder dragons actively assaulting Tyria, and Aurene, her champion, and their ever-growing alliance caught in the middle, the stakes have never been higher!

If you have played the last couple of chapters, nothing in this release will blow your mind; everything here is the same old DRM formula. There is a pre-event with two different “click the things” objectives and one “defeat the things” objective that give everyone in the party buffs upon completions. After that, we must fight our way through some dragon minions and defeat a boss. This chapter contains only three dragon response missions, unlike the last chapter, which gave us four, but there was a pleasant surprise mixed in as well, which we will get to in a moment.

The first mission takes place in Caledon Forest, starting zone of the Sylvari. Canach radios he will meet us there. Once we mop up the initial assault of Icebrood, we are greeted by a surprisingly squeaky Tengu misfit named Kalidris Sparrowhawk, who begs for our help in stopping the Icebrood assaulting the wall surrounding the Dominion of Winds.

Sadly, we don’t get to enter the mysterious domain of the Tengu in this mission (not that I was really expecting to, since DRMs seem to have been invented as a way to create content using existing maps, not create new ones), but we do get a little insight into Tengu culture. Even though she was only around for the one mission, I thought that Kalidris was a fun and memorable character, and I’m hoping that we get to spend more quality time with her in the future. Surely the Tengu will be involved in End of Dragons, an expansion that revolves around their homeland, right?

Before we move on to the next DRM, however, there is a neat non-DRM story instance, the most extensive that we’ve seen in the Champions chapters. While we were busy in Caledon, Braham declared his intent to Aurene to go with the Spirits of the Wild to seek out Primordus. Aurene shows us a vision from Braham’s perspective, putting the player into his boots, in much the same way as the Forging Steel instance does with the Iron Legion Charr.

Since we are controlling him, Braham uses the skills your character normally has. It’s a little strange seeing Braham, who has always been depicted using Guardian skills with his signature mace and shield, suddenly fighting like a Mesmer or Necromancer or whatever class your character of choice may be, but it works. He also has a neat special action skill for the duration of the instance that allows him to shapeshift in and out of wolf form, a souped-up version of the Norn “Become the Wolf” racial Elite skill. I won’t spoil how this story instance ends, but I will say this: You know that story holding pattern I’ve been frustrated by lately? Well, we’re finally moving somewhere interesting again!

After this instance, we pick back up with Dragon Response Missions in Bloodtide Coast. The Olmakhan have been invited to rejoin the United Legions, with our old friend Rox representing her newfound family. And, wouldn’t you know it, their meeting in Bloodtide Coast is rudely interrupted by the Frost Legion and Icebrood. The boss in this mission is my favorite so far; they create ice walls to shield themselves, and the player must use the cannons on a Lionguard ship that is stranded in the ice nearby to break them down to continue the fight, while also fending off the smaller Icebrood.

I hope you haven’t had your fill of recruiting Charr allies at this point because next we’re headed to Fireheart Rise to help Rytlock Brimstone and Efram Greetsglory convince members of the old Flame Legion to join with the United Legions. In a twist of irony, they are attacked by destroyers, and end up literally fighting fire with fire.

And when the Icebrood join the party? That’s when things get really interesting.

As for rewards, players will be able to earn Tengu Support Marks during their recruitment event, starting today, and exchange them for new reskinned Tengu weapons, which are black with red glowing orbs (very edgy), as opposed to the gold-with-blue-orbs Tengu Echo weapons that were ported over from the original Guild Wars in No Quarter. As always, these rewards will be available for support marks during the recruitment event and will continue to be available on the Tyrian Defense Seal vendor afterwards, support marks being the slightly easier currency to acquire.

Next month, look forward to unlocking the Skritt Swarmmind Scepter skin. I assume that means that the Skritt are the next recruitment race? We reached out to ArenaNet for confirmation and they declined to confirm or deny any upcoming allies, but a Skritt-themed weapon would certainly seem to point in that direction. Either way, this scepter looks like something straight out of Star Wars, so my Asura Elementalist will likely be chasing it. ArenaNet also pointed us toward a new guild hall decoration that is a giant sheet of ice, which will no doubt be useful for bridging pesky gaps that make navigating guild halls annoying sometimes. We’ve got a gallery of all of these rewards here:

The first two dragon response mission releases were hit-and-miss. Most players generally weren’t happy with Truce, and I wasn’t impressed with Power’s missions when I previewed them solo. I have to admit, though, while the story in Power was weak, the second round of missions were a lot more fun and interesting in groups with challenge motes turned on, so I will refrain from passing too much judgement on these until I can play them on the live server. That said, I feel that ArenaNet has continued to take feedback from the first two missions into account when developing and tweaking these, and I like what I’ve seen.

Story-wise, I feel like we’re finally getting somewhere, and I like the direction. Just two more months until this saga of Guild Wars 2 wraps up. I’m still a little worried that the last chapter will end abruptly or unsatisfyingly, but this chapter gives me a little more hope. Until then, I will be on the edge of my seat, waiting for the final chapter!

The Icebrood Saga in review

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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Reginald Atkins

so far I’m loving this most recent set of DRM’s, haven’t done the last one yet cause a friend logged on and needed help playing catch up but loved that boss fight in bloodtide, he’s def. a HP battery though so if you hit like a limp wet noodle there may be problems but otherwise great stuff….

Matthäus Wey

Anet is known for dropping additional features like hot pots, but for some strange reason, they stuck with this chapter thingy. Well, one more time and hopefully this sad period in guild wars life will be over.

The update itself is fine. The story development is finally going somewhere and the missions are quite entertaining. I still feel that adding all the content to the older maps is not the way to go, and I hope for something new with the final chapter. It’s still pretty far from anything I would consider quality content, though.

Vanquesse V

I logged in to claim this for future consumption, but no popup or anything… Is further action needed on my part?


That’s still part of the Champions chapter!

I’ve gotten a letter with a “Tengu Support Mark” attached to it!

Krzysztof Czajka

It’s still the same episode. They just split that one episode into chapters. You unlocked the episode, so you also unlocked every chapter. It’s a one time thing. They probably planned more episodes but had to axe them due to the expansion, and for that reason they split the last episodes into chapters, to buy themselves some time

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I found the DRM’s this time to be tedious, especially the wave events.

I’m just ready for the last update and then later the expansion. I’d hope the last chapter of the Icebrood Saga has a new map to coincide with whatever the finale turns out to be. I want it to feel epic, especially with where the story is heading. (I’m personally hoping to be rid of two more Elder Dragons, though that’s not guaranteed.)

If there is no new map, I’m curious to see what form it will take. Will it be more DRMs and story instances? Part of me suspects, at some point, we’ll be seeing the Dominion of the Winds. If not next update, then maybe for the expansion. And really, they could have the final confrontation of the Icebrood Saga take place in so many locations with how they’ve set up both Primordus and Jormag’s mobility at this point.

Ewan Cuthbertson

I believe you made a booboo in this article you say “Just two more weeks until this saga of Guild Wars 2 wraps up.” as far as we know the Saga is either ending at the end of April if Anet can meet that deadline or sometime in May not in 2 weeks.

Axetwin .

This is also assuming Anet doesn’t decide to split the final chapter into 6 sub-chapters. Which given how the Icebrood Saga ended up being, that’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

Krzysztof Czajka

Excuse me my lack of knowledge but is there going to be some kind of bridge between now and the End of Dragons? It was usually a living story that would introduce you to the next expansion but looking at the pace of this, small story updates and lack of any hype regarding the end of dragons, I don’t really see how they are going to introduce a living story to introduce us to the expansion. Unless it’s going to be a one or two episodes or perhaps the end of dragons is not happening this year.

Ewan Cuthbertson

The bridge with be the finale of Icebrood releasing in late April.