This afternoon we got the chance to talk to Guild Wars 2 Lead Designer Isaiah Cartwright about the new update called “The Secret of Southsun.” It has been two weeks since the last Guild Wars 2 update and the live team is working at a rapid pace to make sure players get some fast content. Isaiah clued us in on some of the additions coming and also talked about the philosophy behind some of the choices.
To start out, we asked Isaiah why Southsun, why now? He explained that Southsun had a nice splash back in November but then got quiet. The team really enjoyed working on the zone and this was a chance to go back and build something new for players. The update gave the devs a reason to work on the refugee storyline and add some lore about the Consortium. Basically players will follow along the story that the refugees have come to Southsun to look for work and the Consortium has put them to task. However, there is more than meets the eye and the players will meet a familiar NPC named Kiel who is looking out for the refugees best interest.
Kiel will play a major part in the story and dates back to time spent in Southsun with the Lion Guard during the original Karka event. Although many are pirates by nature, Kiel represents the law as the Southsun Marshal and is looking to make things right. Isaiah said that characters like Kiel help to give depth to the game and have players relate to the struggle within Kiel. Being such a good hearted hero it is tough for her to see clearly in such a corrupt environment.
Next we talked about something pretty important with the update and that was how traps will now be used in WvW combat. I asked Isaiah why they chose to set up traps separately instead of adding them into the already established skill or profession lists. His response was that they see WvW traps as a tool that all players can use. If they added them to professions it would tip the scales in terms of what one player could bring to a battle. Instead they are making them available to everyone. They want the World vs. World tools like siege and traps to be universal to all players, It is a matter of resources and with traps players now have some new puzzles to figure out in the game.
Taking us back to the last update (a whopping two weeks), I asked Isaiah what the team had seen from Fire & Frost. What did they learn so far from the changes? He said that it is always good to add content to the living world. There are so many parts to the game that they want the world to keep evolving. Fire & Frost helped to balance the line between instanced and open world content. Guild Wars 2 has a very strong open world game so every addition has a place. We also asked about the dynamic speed of updates with one just two weeks ago and now Southsun coming out. Isaiah wants fans to know that the devs have a very dedicated live team who are working on several different updates. They continue to line up releases and Southsun was a way to build excitement in the refugee story line. He assured us that the developers have no plans to slow down. Also, he made a point of saying that all of this content is episodic. In other words you do not have to play the last update to enjoy this one. They want to keep the game flowing so players never miss out on anything. If you chose to go back and do the last update that is ok, you do not need to complete it to enter into Southsun.
Towards the end we did talk about the new Crab Toss game that is coming into Guild Wars 2. These mini games are fun side areas that the devs can add. It really is about fun random game play. Throwing the crab around and using a fishing pole to steal it makes for a good time. There are also fun rewards built into the system. It is definitely a change of place from the intense game play and players should get a great kick out of it.
Isaiah is very happy to see this update go out of the gates. We did talk very briefly about what was not included, which was the WvW XP and the end of culling. Isaiah said both of these features are being worked on heavily, but they are not ready just yet. The team at ArenaNet is happy to be back in Southsun and excited to revamp an old zone (something that does not normally happen in MMOs). Isaiah said it is so much fun to work on a living world where you can go into an old zones and make updates for players to enjoy. We’re looking forward to returning to Southsun ourselves in the coming days.