Last week, we caught up with the folks at ArenaNet to talk about April 30th’s upcoming epic conclusion to the Guild Wars 2 Flame & Frost Living Story arc: The Retribution. Over the past four months, ANet has been building a new tale of heroism and danger featuring brand new characters (the Norn Braham and the Charr Rox) as players aid these two in the fight against the scourge of the Flame Legion and Dredge. It began slowly with whispers of strange happenings in the surrounding countryside, and built to a grander scale as players worked their way through a few solo instanced missions and subtle hints and clues as to why the dredge and Flame Legion were working together. And next week on April 30th, the conclusion of this tale will be rung in by a brand new dungeon intended for players of all levels. In addition, the sPVP teams have been hard at work bringing the organized and structured “eSport-like” PVP up to snuff. With the April 30th patch, spectator mode and custom arenas are finally making it to Guild Wars 2. But enough with the foreplay, let’s get to the details, shall we?
The New Dungeon
The Living World team started the call by reiterating to us all that the Living World is something that will be added to and changed on a monthly basis. They’re committed to providing new and free content on this basis that evolves, is diverse, and effects the world. Every month Tyria will grow and evolve over months and years. They really want to push the boundaries of what’s possible with regular content updates... and reminded us all that there is no subscription fee.
The new dungeon will feature both Rox and Braham, who players fought alongside in March’s content. New intelligence has alerted the heroes that the Molten Alliance’s base of operations is located under the Shiverpeaks region. Ergo, we’re going to take the fight to them in the secret Molten Alliance facility, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park. The threat is greater than anyone has realized, and players will have to save the prisoners taken in March, and destroy the weapons facilities before the Alliance can arm for an invasion. If you manage to defeat the Alliance and destroy the weapons they’re building, you’ll also have to destroy the facility itself and escape before it all comes down on your head.
The Molten Weapons Facility is not exactly like the traditional dungeons in the game, nor is it like the Fractals of the Mists. It’s a single-path dungeon, and one that was designed from the start to build towards the final encounter of the dungeon. They began the dungeon’s design with the massive boss encounter that we won’t spoil for you here, and then they worked backward from there. As you work your way through the dungeon, you’ll learn the different mechanics and skills needed to defeat this epic boss at the end. They’ve even snuck some of this in during the March content dungeons with Rox and Braham. The bosses you faced there give a sneak peek at the sort of fights you’ll face in the MWF.
They’ve learned a lot from the existing dungeons in that the MWF is a much more tightly gated experience so that you’re not going to breeze through it in seven minutes: no shortcuts here. It’s going to be something that lasts your hardcore dungeon folks around 30-45 minutes, while younger groups will find it a bit more difficult and take around an hour or so. They know that since it was designed to capstone the Flame & Frost story, they are going to have players from all different levels and stages in the game that want to complete the event and see the conclusion. So, in terms of difficulty it’s somewhere between a Story Mode and an Explorable Mode. It won’t be a cakewalk, but the goal is to make sure everyone has a chance to see the end of the F&F tale.
The dungeon is also geared towards replayability. There are a variety of different enemies that will change randomly and subtly. There are differences in the groups you’ll face, and even in the voiceover dialog within the dungeon itself to make sure it’s not exactly the same time and again. There are also, of course, lots of unique rewards to the Molten Weapons Facility dungeon. As the story itself progresses through the end of April and into May, players will notices that the entrances to the dungeon itself will change (to signify that players are storming in and destroying these facilities). When the story comes to its crescendo, the final location of the dungeon and its entrance for repeated play will be set. But once F&F is officially "over", the dungeon will be closed for good. So you'd better get it while you can!
Custom Arenas and Spectator Mode
The other big change coming to Guild Wars 2 on April 30th is a big one for fans of the game’s structured PVP. Custom Arenas and Spectator Mode are making it into the game at long last, though the team is calling both initial releases “beta”, because they expect to add and alter the features based on player reception going forward. If World vs. World isn’t your cup of tea, and you prefer the more balanced and “fair” structured PVP, these new additions open up a host of possibilities.
The custom arenas are exactly as they sound: rented sPVP “servers” that allow you to set passwords, open the thing up to anyone, change the rules of matches (within ArenaNet established parameters), alter the rotation of the maps, exclude certain maps you hate, and so forth. You can use them with your guild or friends to practice and perfect PVP builds, or if you’re really industrious you could even use it to host your own tournaments. Hmm... wouldn’t it be cool to host an MMORPG.com PvP tournament for in-game rewards? I’m thinking yes. All we’ll need is some in-game gold or gems to make it a reality and rent our own Custom Arena.
But of course, what good would Custom Arenas and private PVP servers be if no one was around to watch? With the beta release of Spectator Mode, that issue is solved. From the Mists, players can simply access the list of servers and choose to watch the matches going on. You can follow specific players, specific teams, or use pre-chosen sort of cinematic cameras that aim to replicate the look and feel of a “live” broadcast in the PVP maps.
When you add all of this up with the recently released PVP Leaderboards, it’s clear to see that ArenaNet isn’t messing around with its competitive gaming in Guild Wars 2. The upcoming 4/30 patch is also one of the largest balance passes the team’s done in the game, and when we asked if this was all part of ArenaNet trying to take GW2 into the world of pro eSports, they answered with a definitive yes. If all goes well, I don’t think it’ll be long before we see Guild Wars 2 at MLG and other events across the globe. But in the meantime, we at MMORPG.com will just have to make up our own tournaments, eh?
What do you think of the upcoming Molten Weapons Facility dungeon and sweeping additions to Structured PVP? Are these two things enough to get you playing Guild Wars 2 in May? Let us know in the comments!
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.
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