Flameseeker Chronicles: Hands-on with Guild Wars 2 Through the Veil’s Inner Nayos and convergences

does this look lewd to anyone else

Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure was a bit of a different expansion in that it wasn’t one big chunk of content dropped on us all at once, but rather, much of it was promised to us in future updates over the course of the next year. We got an updated roadmap of upcoming releases in late October, and now we finally get our first expansion patch.

In a way, I feel like there is almost more pressure on this patch than the original expansion. In the past, Guild Wars 2’s expansions were pretty much all there on day one, and anything that came after that, like Living World updates, was just a bonus. But with Secrets of the Obscure’s new model, so much of this expansion was sold on the merit of future updates, and the quality of those is just as important as the first phase of the expansion. Will Through the Veil live up to fans’ expectations? Let’s take a look!

The new map for this update takes us into Inner Nayos, the realm of the Kryptis. As expected from the roadmap, this new zone is roughly a third the size of a standard map, with “a magical barrier of deadly fog” blocking access to the rest. While it is perhaps the smallest Guild Wars 2 map ever released (at the moment), it is at least packed. The devs present said that this zone was designed to be a much more difficult zone than Secrets of the Obscure’s previous zones, Skywatch Archipelago and Amnytas, with an intentionally high mob density roaming on the ground, as well as anti-Skyscale threats dotting the skies. The devs are really hoping to sell the feeling of this being enemy territory where player characters are not welcome.

During the press tour, we were shown some of the first Inner Nayos meta event, which involves helping Paitha and her Kryptis ally Ramses in assaulting the Kryptis fortress where the magical fog barrier is being generated. Of course, it is shielded, so we must first supercharge a series of beacons with “emotional residue” dropped by evil Kryptis, then, once that is done, we must bring the fire to the next beacon and repeat this process until we reach the fortress itself.

Once all the beacons are lit, the Rohirrim arrive to aid Godnor we are able to break down the barrier and fight the boss inside. The devs again pointed out that they wanted to make this a more difficult open world encounter than what we have previously seen in Secrets of the Obscure, so be ready to watch for mechanics, like the old “Hide behind the cover the boss kindly spawned shortly before he did a big attack that could one-shot you” maneuver. I wonder if bosses think players are dishonorable for not giving them places to shield themselves from our big attacks.

One of the major pieces of this expansion is the new convergence large group content. ArenaNet’s devs described convergence like rift hunting in reverse: In rift hunting, we are trying to stop the Kryptis from getting out of the rift, but in a convergence, we are going into Nayos to stop the big-bad from creating a rift. Convergences are essentially the world boss version of rift hunts, requiring as many as 50 people to complete. Of course, when I say world boss, you probably picture mindlessly blowing away the Thaumanova fire elemental in about three seconds, and that’s just not the case here at all; the devs emphasized several times that this was designed to be some of the most difficult large group content they have ever produced.

A public convergence instance portal will open from the room opposite the Strike Mission portal in the Wizard’s Tower every three hours like a world boss, but if you missed that or just prefer to run the instance in a private group with 30-50 of your closest friends, a member of your group may spend an unstable Kryptis motivation – a new tier that will now drop from rifts of tier 2 or 3, more on those later – to open the portal manually at any time.

The fight itself is a complex one, requiring the squad to split into several coordinated groups. Zojja will be standing at the center of the arena, channeling a spell to close the rift and draw out the boss. Our Asura friend is vulnerable to attack by Kryptis, so one contingent of players will need to defend her and keep her alive. Others will need to take out the siege engines at the edges of the arena to reduce the fire she takes. As you kill baddies, you will pick up essence, which will do a little to fill both Zojja’s health and the spell completion bar.

There is also an interesting death mechanic in convergences. Players who are downed can’t simply waypoint; this is a hostile part of the mists, and our only portal in or out closed behind us, so there are no waypoints to be had. But don’t worry, you won’t be stuck holding down the floor for the whole fight if you do happen to go down. Instead, you will transform into a ghostly mote that can support your still-living allies with healing and boons. With a mastery, motes can also shuttle to Zojja any essence that the living players left lying around. When Zojja’s channeling bar gets filled to a certain point, some defeated players will be returned to their bodies and can return to fighting. Just don’t let the whole squad go down or the whole instance will wipe, resulting in reduced rewards (though at least you won’t walk away empty handed).

The fight has a few phases, as you would expect, with champions spawning at certain percentages and a big bad boss at the end. The final boss is picked at random. Only two bosses will be possible at launch – a demon knight or a Kryptis wyvern – but it sounds like more will be added in future patches, and each has its own mechanics to watch out for.

At press preview events like these, we never have nearly enough people to simulate a real fight, with dev commands being applied liberally, so it is nearly impossible to estimate the difficulty of the encounter. So with all of the talk about challenge, I asked how the studio would compare this to the oft-maligned Battle for the Jade Sea meta event. The devs say that “convergences will not be quite as difficult as the Battle for the Jade Sea,” citing a “more forgiving time limit.”

But don’t expect them to be a cakewalk either, at the team reiterated that convergences will be “among the most challenging large scale group content in the game.” Personally, I’m still a little wary hearing the words “most challenging” after the mess of the Jade Sea meta launch, but the team promised it’ll “be keeping a close eye on the reception.” And of course, there won’t be a tentpole feature like a mount locked behind this, and it does not take place in the open world where it can disrupt (and be disrupted by) players who are simply trying to make their way through the story. If you’re going to do hardcore large scale content, this is the way to do it.

Successfully completing a convergence will reward a concealed unstable Kryptis essence coffer, which can be opened using an unstable Kryptis motivation. These coffers contain a variety of crafting materials, including possibly a large number of Kryptis motivations. I am told that there is a daily reward of one unstable motivation per day, so you can essentially open one coffer for free per day, or you can buy more from players or farm tier two or three rifts in hopes of getting one as a drop.

This release also comes with a new mastery line. The first mastery allows skyscales’ fireballs to damage barriers that were previously damageable only by siege turtles, while the rest deal with convergences and making your time there a little easier and more rewarding.

Wondering what rewards you can expect from this release? If you like the design of the Kryptis and wish you could steal their look, check out Lyhr’s crafting vendor for the new Oneiros-Spun armor. Am I the only one who thinks this looks a bit like something out of Warframe? It’s fun to see ArenaNet branching out when it comes to armor design. To complete your Kryptis look, Saryx weapons will drop throughout Inner Nayos, which can be further upgraded into the more sinisterly recolored Consecrated Saryx Weapons via crafting recipes also sold in Inner Nayos. Finally, there are six new relics being added in this release for you to trick your build out with. I won’t bore you with all of the fine details on these (I’m sure they will all be up on the wiki by day’s end), but I’m sure the min/maxers will have fun figuring out where these fit into various builds.

Through the Veil is a smaller update that builds naturally, if safely, atop the foundation of the original release of Secrets of the Obscure. The map feels a little cramped, but not as bad as it could have been. The story looks to be roughly a third the length of what we got in August — three chapters, as opposed to the 10 that the expansion launched with — though unfortunately I was unable to get in and preview the story, so consider that an educated guess. And convergences will be a fun large group activity, but I’m not sure it’s going to be anyone’s new favorite thing to do.

So while this is much meatier than a Living World update, I find myself feeling much the same way about this update as I did about those: If you were already into Guild Wars 2 every day, this is something new and exciting for you to do, but this isn’t going to be a clarion call to return if you have lapsed. I am a little concerned at all of the talk about increased difficulty I heard in this preview, but I am reserving judgment and cautiously optimistic that the difficulty will be reasonable.

I am looking forward to running Inner Nayos and convergence events with everyone, and eagerly looking forward to next quarter’s update and playing with the new weapons it will be bringing for each class!

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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