We finally have our first real peek at the features and story of Guild Wars 2’s third expansion, End of Dragons. It has been a long time since this game got a proper expansion, and hopes were high for what was in store. Could we be getting a new class? A new race? Housing? A lead up to Guild Wars 3? It turns out, unless ArenaNet is holding out on us for some reason, we’re getting none of these.
I don’t think folks came away from this announcement feeling totally blown away by what they saw, no matter how excited they may be for the expansion itself. For today’s Flameseeker Chronicles, I would like to break down each of the expansion’s major features and talk about why it’s OK that none of it wowed us.
Honestly, elite specs are the thing that get me the most excited for a Guild Wars 2 expansion. I love getting to know new ways of playing my characters. The only elite spec we got a preview of was the Virtuoso, the cloneless, magical dagger-throwing Mesmer. For a brief moment when its name was announced, I thought perhaps we were finally getting bards in GW2, but sadly there doesn’t seem to be any musical theming here. In any case, it looks like a nice, power DPS-focused spec for Mesmers who are tired of being asked to run support and want more range than the mirage provides.
I’m excited to see what else ArenaNet has in store for us in this department, and it sounds like we’ll be getting more elite spec info every couple of weeks.
Sieging two-seat cannon turtles! Sieging two-seat cannon turtles! New mounts in a half-shell. Turtle power!
As someone who often plays in duos with my wife or a friend, I think this is a neat idea. It plays similarly to the Warthog in Halo; one player drives, while the other one shoots enemies from the gun turret mounted to the back. When traveling together, there’s no chance of one of you getting knocked off your mount by a swarm of mobs, while the other person runs on ahead, oblivious, then has to circle back around to save their friend.
The immediate question is, why would my friend and I fight from the back of our turtle rather than having both of us dismount and presumably do way more damage? I guess it’s cool that we can finally fight without dismounting, but I can’t think of a lot of situations in which that would be useful… except for WvW. Will we be seeing siege turtles in the battle for the Mists? It would make sense, since they were originally used in Factions’ much loved PvP campaign. If so, this could potentially shake up a lot of WvW strategies, and make a lot of WvWers grumpy if they have to grind PvE masteries. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Fishing and skiffs
I know that most MMO players are tired of the weird fixation that developers seem to have with fishing, but I have to admit that I actually kind of like fishing in various MMOs. It’s a nice time killer while you’re waiting for a queue or just want something low-key to do while you chat with friends and guildies. We weren’t really given a lot of information about what fish would be used for, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a lot more ascended cooking recipes inbound.
Player boats are kind of an odd addition. They don’t seem that different from skimmers, other than, like siege turtles, you can bring your friends along for the ride. Again, we didn’t get a ton of information on these, but given how interesting ArenaNet managed to make mounts, normally one of the most mundane MMO features, I’m betting it has some tricks up its sleeve that we will find out about later.
The generation 3 legendary weapon announcement was both disappointing and understandable. It was disappointing because it was revealed that the entire third generation of legendaries, rather than being a widely varied set, each weapon with its own lore, as previous legendary generations were, would be one cohesive set, themed around Aurene. Perhaps some might prefer the more consistent designs, but the first and second generation legendaries were each so unique and detailed, it’s a shame that this set seems so unimaginative. A lot of players have been saying that it feels no more special than a black lion ticket set, and I kind of have to agree.
That said, ArenaNet struggled has to get previous legendary sets out in a timely fashion, even having to place the last set on hold for a while, and honestly, there are a lot of other areas of the game I would rather ArenaNet focused on than flashy, high-end weapons for the super rich to show off.
One of the most surprising omissions from this reveal was the lack of any mention of raids. Raids were a tentpole feature of Guild Wars 2’s first two expansions, so to see them totally ignored was a little surprising. Instead, it was revealed that a number of the instanced encounters from the End of Dragons storyline would be converted into strike missions, the more bite-sized ten-person instanced encounters first introduced in The Icebrood Saga. These strikes also bring with them new challenge modes, which will activate new mechanics for players to contend with.
Honestly, I think this is a good idea. Personally, over the last year, I’ve spent way more time in strikes than I have in raids. They seem like a much better fit for the majority of the Guild Wars 2 player base. They are challenging, but not too challenging, and they respect your time a lot more; they don’t drag on for hours, there aren’t any meaningless trash pulls. There’s just a boss fight, and that’s that. You can do one and be done, or you can do the whole gambit and make a night out of it. And having them be souped-up versions of boss encounters pulled from the expansion story will mean that no one will feel like they’re missing out if they prefer not to participate in group content. Hopefully challenge modes will be difficult enough to satisfy the players who were really hoping for more challenging raid content like that of Heart of Thorns.
None of these features will blow anyone’s mind. There’s nothing huge or particularly ambitious. It’s just another expansion, another iteration on what came before. And I’m OK with that. Would I rather we had gotten something bigger and more exciting? Of course, but ArenaNet has been flagging of late. It has lost a lot of staff, and it has struggled to find a direction as a company. From a failed attempt at a mobile game to the disappointing Icebrood Saga, it just doesn’t always seem like ArenaNet has direction. What it needs right now is a win. A spectacular win would be great, but I’m fine with going for a safe bet that will result in an easy win that will restore player confidence in this game.
And I do think that this expansion has the potential to be a win for GW2. There’s nothing particularly mind-blowing about this expansion, sure, but that’s because it’s sticking to what worked in the past. There are some disappointments and “meh” features in there, but for the most part, it’s more of the same stuff that players loved about previous expansions, and there is something comforting about more of the same. I can still get excited without being wowed.
Also, Cantha has become something of a meme around the Guild Wars community because its fans so ravenously want to return there in the sequel, so, in a way, the most exciting feature of End of Dragons might end up being exploring its setting and experiencing its story. What we’ve seen of Cantha so far looks absolutely gorgeous. I’m interested to see what has been going on in this distant part of the world after all these years, and this dragon jade tech intrigues the sci-fi fan in me.
ArenaNet doesn’t need to come out and wow us. It just needs to stay the course, stick to what it does well, and make End of Dragons a good expansion. So far, I have no reason to doubt that that’s what we’re getting.