Flameseeker Chronicles: Previewing Guild Wars 2 Secrets of the Obscure’s final chapter, The Midnight King


It’s strange to say it after just one year, but Guild Wars 2’s Secrets of the Obscure era is drawing to a close! Don’t expect SOTO to fade away quietly, though, as its final release, dubbed Midnight King, releases today, and it’s packed with new story, a new meta event, and additions to group content on both a large and small scale.

This release, like the previous two, again expands the map of Inner Nayos by roughly one third — a little less since the second section of the zone was a bit bigger than the others — but sadly, this time the new slice of the map is accessible only during the meta event, being shrouded in damaging fog until the event begins. The new area is dominated almost entirely by The Citadel of Zakiros, Eparch’s imposing fortress.

The new meta event itself is a fairly straightforward base assault, which reminds me a bit of the Drizzlewood North meta. It begins with a skyscale section that involves shooting down aerial defenses and dragging bombs up to the platform that is creating the deadly fog around Eparch’s citadel. Then there are a number of fights as you descend through the castle itself. The designers pointed out one of the bosses, Charybda the Cunning, who has been teased as a key member of Eparch’s generals pulling the strings. As you descend, expect to see more and more of Eparch’s red corruption tendrils covering what would be otherwise beautiful architecture. We were asked not to discuss the final boss fight, but expect it to be an epic one!

If the recently introduced large-group convergences are your thing, you are in luck. This release adds a fifth boss to the rotation, Umbriel, Halbred of House Arkus. Umbriel is presumably related to Kanaxai, Scythe of House Arkus, an Oni who originally appeared in Guild Wars Factions and most recently popped up in last year’s Silent Surf fractal. Apparently Oni are officially fully retconned as Kryptis? I’m still a little unclear on what the distinction is there, if any.

If regular convergences just weren’t demanding enough for your tastes, try selecting the new challenge mode option when entering a convergence as a squad. Not only will enemy stats and density be ramped up (as you might expect out of a challenge mode), but players will be able to rez out of wisp form only once during the initial phase of the fight, and once more if your group can make it to the boss, so be sure to watch for downed allies and get them up! Additionally, the time limit to finish the instance has been shortened to 30 minutes, so be sure to bring those big DPS numbers.

But really, what’s the point of completing challenge mode if your achievement isn’t on display for the entire server to gaze upon in awe? Convergence CMs will have a leaderboard like that of adventures that will show the fastest clear times. Additionally, players who down the CM versions of all five bosses can show off the title “Convergence Champion,” as well as a Kryptis Wyvern minipet.

And of course, you will want to jump into more convergences, CM or not, if you have been chasing the shiny new legendary obsidian armor. After grabbing the new Wayfinder Mastery at the end of the Astral Ward line, you will be able to upgrade your obsidian gear with shiny new dyeable, glowing rune effects that put on a light show when you enter combat, as previewed last week. Even if legendaries aren’t your thing, Wayfinder Mastery may still be worth your points, as it also makes arcane chests easier to open and gives you an extra box once per day for completing the Spider’s Lair meta that may contain rare loot from any of SOTO’s meta events, including such valuable goods as infusions and unique skins.

If small group content is more your speed, you are also in luck, as today’s patch also introduces a new fractal of the mists titled Lonely Tower. In usual fractal fashion, it allows players to play through historical events from Tyria’s past, in this case, Eparch’s assault on the Wizard’s Tower many years ago, in the early days of the Astral Ward. Expect to be joined by Isgarren and Mabon in their prime. As for the bosses of this encounter, you’ll see younger versions of both Cerus, one of the main antagonists of SOTO, and his brother Deimos, final boss of the Bastion of the Penitent raid from way back in the late Heart of Thorns era. I’m sure none of this was planned back in 2017, but it is always cool to see the storytellers weaving old plot threads into new stories.

The Secrets of the Obscure era was one of much experimentation, although I feel as if I’m constantly saying that about Guild Wars 2. First and perhaps the most obvious, it was a noticeably shorter expansion, and it was spread out over the whole year, rather than a big drop of content all at once, promising shorter drought periods between expansions. It also toyed with our expectations for what expanded build options might look like, being the first Guild Wars 2 expansion to not ship with new elite specs and instead unlocking all elite spec weapons to all specs, then adding a new weapon to each class. Finally, it mixed up our build options, stripping away the utility function of runes and reassigning that utility to the newly-created relic slot.

There are pros and cons to the way that Secrets of the Obscure did things, but my personal feelings aside, I think it worked out for the better. If NCsoft’s financials are any indication, all of these changes seem to have paid off.

With Secrets of the Obscure now mostly behind us, I can’t wait to see what’s next for Guild Wars 2! As unenthusiastic as I was about the smaller chunks of content spread out over the year, the promise of a new expansion reveal just a few short months away is certainly exciting, so that makes up for it to some extent. But until ArenaNet sees fit to give us more details, at least there is no shortage of content for a variety of player types to enjoy here!

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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