Halloween wasn't so spooktacular this year for Guild Wars 2 players. The reason may be that its development was overshadowed by another event, Tower of Nightmares. ArenaNet continues to deliver content using their Living Story format to change the world around the players. Tower of Nightmares offers a new take on old enemies, new challenging dynamic events, and more questions being offered rather than answers.
This event starts things out right. It throws you into an instance that gives you a little bit of back story on the situation. The instance only takes even an average player a few minutes to complete, but the use of cutscenes helps the instance serve its purpose, which is to move the story forward. The voice acting was a nice touch. I know voice acting is used in every event in Guild Wars 2, but when you think about the old days when everything was done in a cramped text box, you start to appreciate even these small little details.
Another awesome detail is how the element of nightmares comes into play. The spores coming from these sickly looking plants cause you to hallucinate, making your darkest fears materialize before your very eyes; In this case, spiders and Ettins. It would have been cool to see all the enemies as shadowy dark figures running around. Another cool effect has the world around you change, as colors distort and the light fades away, making it hard to see. It really doesn't make the fights more complicated, but it is a neat effect.
At the end of the instance you're informed that the Nightmare Court and the Krait have grown a huge flower of death, and you're thrown into a series of achievement grinding tasks. This is where the event gets a bit stale. The new dynamic events have groups of players destroying more spore producing plants which, if left unchecked, could cause the toxicity to spread over Tyria. While there are a few different variants to the event, you'll more than likely become bored before you even finish off the achievement.
This setup is understandable though. The event still isn't complete. Players have yet to enter the tower, which may become a dungeon during the next update. It would make sense for players to keep things from getting worse while research is conducted, otherwise no one will know how to stop the problem at the source. Though I have a feeling if we were to just set the whole thing on fire it would take care of everything.
At the moment the event is less story and more about achievement grinding. This isn't my favorite style, and it's also kind of alarming. This is two events now in a row that we've had very little story and a lot more grinding. However the grind isn’t necessary to complete the story. I just wish they at least tried to hide it. Looking back at the Flame and Frost story arc, Even the mind numbing task of item hunting was masked with interesting journal entries that helped flesh out the story. Tower of Nightmares just throws an item for you to hunt. I had to break the hunt up into several sessions because it just wasn't interesting enough to hold my attention.
Tower of Nightmare does do something quite well though, and that's offering more questions than answers. The Nightmare Court and the Krait have just suddenly created an alliance. They have probably been working together for a long time, but this is a very sudden discovery. The build up to the appearance of the Molten Alliance wasn't nearly as sudden. But the real question is, is Scarlet involved? The Molten Alliance was created to research new technologies. There's a very strong possibility that this alliance is just another way for Scarlet to complete new research with no risk to herself. While the event doesn't directly move the story forward, it does have you thinking about where it will go.
I'm looking forward to the next update. ArenaNet did warn us that some updates wouldn't be as large as others. The fact that some story was thrown in is a good sign. This story arc could take three or even four events to complete. This leaves plenty of room for the development team to flex their story-telling muscles. Tower of Nightmares has at least set things up for a story that could take several interesting paths. So while the event itself isn't very glamorous, maybe it's only meant to get things rolling. Until we know more, we have plenty of time to practice slaying Toxic Alliance.
David North / David North is a freelance writer for MMORPG.com. David loves to play and makes games, but now he writes about them! If you want to creep on him and make fun of his ability to draw, follow him over on twitter @David_the_North.