As promised, Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet has issued its developer blog on long-term plans, and it’s not just prattle: The studio is planning a major revision to content delivery in 2023 and beyond that appears to do away with its traditional living world structure.
Game Director Josh “Grouch” Davis says the team used the end of the long-running elder dragon saga to reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t over the last few years. From the team’s perspective, part of the problem has been its heavy focus on living world seasons, which dominated the studio’s resources and “made it difficult to simultaneously develop expansions while supporting the game with regular content updates.”
Consequently, “In the next phase of Guild Wars 2‘s development, we’re taking a more balanced approach that will allow us to provide more support for popular game modes, make frequent quality-of-life improvements to core gameplay systems like professions, deliver new features, and expand the world of Tyria with satisfying, immersive story updates,” Grouch explains. The takeaway is that instead of alternating expansions with living world seasons in between, the team will be “releasing smaller expansions more frequently at a slightly reduced price and adding additional content for those expansions through quarterly updates, meaning that the next big release is only ever a few months away.”
“The first release in an expansion cycle is the launch point for a new story arc, bringing with it two new open-world maps, two Strike Missions, new gameplay and combat features, new Masteries, and new rewards. In the following quarterly updates, we’ll add another open-world map, additional story chapters, challenge modes for the Strike Missions, a new fractal dungeon and challenge mode, new rewards, and additions to the new systems introduced in that expansion. Once that expansion’s story is complete, the next expansion will be just around the corner.”
And Grouch literally means just around the corner, as the first chunk of this new content launches February 28th with a new locale of Cantha (sounds like somewhere out in the Jade Sea) and fan-favorite Detective Rama at your side. “That storyline will conclude a few months later with an update that introduces additional playable space to the map, adds meta-events and boss encounters, and lays the groundwork for future to-be-announced adventures.” The team is not calling this a living world release and specifically notes that there won’t be an unlock as with living world content; if you own End of Dragons, you can play this content.
Here’s what we’re looking at over the course of the next few months (the studio promises it’s “quietly working on what’s to come in the second half of the year” and will “have more to share on that later”).