Flameseeker Chronicles: Wrapping up the End of Dragons era with What Lies Within

    
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It’s the end of an era: Guild Wars 2’s End of Dragons era of content comes to a close with today’s episode, titled What Lies Within. Last time, the Jade Brotherhood dug too greedily and too deep in the Gyala Delve region of the Jade Sea and awoke the Oni, shape-shifting demons who can tap into and manipulate emotion. What new dangers lurk for players this time?

What Lies Within tacks another series of events onto the end of the one you may have already experienced in Gyala Delve. Think the north meta in Drizzlewood Coast, but not quite as grandiose (which is fine with me, as I have always found doing both Drizzlewood metas back-to-back a little exhausting). It starts after a short break after finishing the previously existing meta event and involves chasing the Ravenous Wanderer back up to the surface where he will be vulnerable via a previously unopened tunnel.

As I discovered during the press playthrough, Chul-Moo, leader of the Jade Brotherhood, will lead players through several rounds of powering up charges to blast through walls of jade by using the siege turtle’s slam ability to break open charged jade and bring the energy they contain over to the blasting charges. The ArenaNet devs present during my run pointed out that the attack has been patched to be more responsive, with less windup time and a shorter animation lock at the end. All the while, Oni will be harassing you from the ground, so some players will want to be unmounted and cleaning up this trash.

Once on the surface, the Ravenous Wanderer turns into a massive, shadowy figure, and it’s final boss time. The Ravenous Wanderer can’t be assaulted directly at first, however. Turtle-riding players will continue with their jade-smashing and charge-gathering, powering up a jade behemoth (the same model from the New Kaineng meta, but this time it’s on our side) while players on foot keep the attacking demons out of the area.

Once the behemoth is powered up and the Ravenous Wanderer is distracted, it’s time to take those jade charges over to some jade sniper rifles on the other side of the arena. Using these rifles will break the boss’s defiance bar, and once that is burned through, a number of shadow cores will be exposed and it’s finally time to deal some damage to the boss.

The devs pointed out a cool mechanic of this phase. Multiple cores will be spawned out of the Wanderer, and while their health and conditions are all linked to the boss, their CC bars are unique. This means that when you break the bar on one, the usual Exposed debuff that comes with defiance bar break goes on all of them, and if another group breaks the bar on its core, the debuff actually stacks. So if your group splits up and CC all of the cores at once, you can do a ton of damage.

This repeats a few times, and once the boss is downed, numerous Gyala Delve mining caches spawn in the tunnel leading to the boss. ArenaNet’s devs wanted us to know that the rewards in those chests scale based on how well your group did in the meta.

If you didn’t like the air filter mechanic of Gyala Delve’s meta event, well, you aren’t alone. I’m sorry to say that this update isn’t removing the need for air filters, but it is at least buffing the upgraded filters that cost research notes to automatically regain some charges upon completing events, in addition to their previous concentration or magic find buffs. Hopefully this makes them more worthwhile and less a hassle.

As you probably noticed, the new meta is designed to make heavy use of the siege turtle mount. If you have yet to unlock the siege turtle and are worried you will be at a disadvantage here, fear not. For one, the whole team doesn’t need to be turtlebound at all times; in fact, it’s rather the opposite in that there will be plenty of Oni and other threats to take care of so the turtles can do their thing unhindered.

Furthermore, ArenaNet has your back with two new options. First, a turtle rental station has been added where you can gain temporary access to the hovering, stomping tank mount for a small fee.

Second, if your sticking point for unlocking the turtle mount was the strike mission requirement, map currency vendors in Gyala Delve will now sell you the Thruster Control Unit that was previously obtainable only by completing the Kaineng Overlook strike. At the time of writing I was unable to see how much that was, but, given the steep price of the similar unlock to bypass completing the Soo-Won meta in Dragon’s End, I’m guessing you will be grinding this map for a while before you will be able to afford it.

I don’t want to spoil anything about this episode’s story, which is largely about delving into The Commander’s psyche to deal with inner demons both figurative and literal, but I do want to point out an interesting trick: It takes place simultaneously with the open world meta event. There is actually a moment in the meta when Chul-Moo realizes he is being affected by the haze and bails on the group for a bit. It is at this point that he shows up in the story instance, with Yao, Rama, Gorrik and company. It has always bothered me that this game often tries to make zones like this one have a story that happens in an instance, with an alternative version of the same story that happens in the open world meta event, but this episode elegantly side-steps that.

Maybe the open world mayhem of meta events isn’t your thing. Maybe you want to show off your drifting skill in a skiff race or your prowess at three dimensional navigation in a jade bot scavenger hunt. Maybe you wish that End of Dragons had continued the previous two expansions’ tradition of scattering adventures throughout the world.

Well, this is the patch for you because it also brings with it several new adventures across all five of EoD’s zones, including the aforementioned skiff and jade bot adventures, as well as a new racetrack for the roller beetle and some siege turtle courses, which are the game’s first two-person adventures. It should be noted that the adventures in Dragon’s End and Gyala Delve will only appear once those maps’ meta events have completed successfully.

In the tease for this release, ArenaNet showed off a bulky-looking mech armor set. My first thought was Ant-Man, but one of our commenters said they thought at first it was a Global Agenda screenshot, and now I can’t unsee it.

Whatever it reminds you of, each piece of this new stat selectable ascended Special Ops set can be unlocked through a series of achievements, sending players all over Cantha and beyond to complete events, fractals, and collect a large number of crafting materials, as a part of a training course for Xunlai Jade’s Special Ops Rescue Agency. Once unlocked, the skins will be available for use on all three armor types. It sounds like a lot of work, but it might be worth it for a unique look or if you’re really desperate to look like “We have Iron Man at home.”

What Lies Within gives us a nice addition to an already solid meta event. If this kind of thing is your jam, now there is more of it. If not, at least there are a number of fun little challenges to pass your time with out in the world.

The story was once again short and sweet but oddly feels neither like a big, hype-building lead up to a new expansion nor necessary for wrapping up any unfinished business from End of Dragons. It’s hard to complain about new content, though, especially with the promise of a new expansion coming sooner rather than later. I’m excited to see what comes next for Guild Wars 2!

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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