Bill and I met with ArenaNet at E3 to get a first look at Guild Wars 2’s Living Story Season 2 content, and have been keeping our mouths shut about it for a solid month. It hasn’t been easy, primarily because of the intriguing nature of what we were shown. Also, we’re chatterboxes.
Season 1 recently wrapped up with a climactic event that saw the destruction and reconstruction of Lion’s Arch, and if you need to get caught up with the story so far, check out this short recap video. Then, to get primed for Season 2’s “The Gates of Maguuma,” watch this video. And if you’ve been frustrated that you haven’t been able to participate in some of the previous Season’s events, never fear: ArenaNet is introducing the Story Journal, which allows you to play through Season content at your own pace at any time, provided that you log in at least once during a particular live event’s duration.
ArenaNet’s Associate Game Director Steven Waller and Studio Design Director Chris Whiteside walked us through a tiny bit of the new Season content, which builds and feeds back on Season 1’s story. In the game, you’ll be alerted of some strangeness in the Brisban Wildlands, and will come across these weird vine things that have been encroaching upon the human territory. You’ll meet up with a Seraph outpost that is guarding a portal to a new area, and learn that some new threat has taken out a Zephyr ship that was participating in the Festival of the Four Winds.
The new area beyond the portal is called Dry Top, a region referenced in the original Guild Wars. It’s an open world area similar to the other locales in Guild Wars 2, with soloable story instances that scale with your party size. There’s a sense of verticality in the way that Dry Top’s map has been designed, and a shifting sandstorm will affect your visibility and act as a type of event that determines different objectives and rewards. As you progress through the story, you’ll find out that (spoilers) the Zephyr leader is on the run, a saboteur is chasing after him, and you’re the man/woman/asura/charr/sylvari/norn to figure out what’s going on.
Dry Top is comparable in size to Southsun and synergizes the open world with Guild Wars 2’s story, aiming to address some pacing concerns with the previous Season’s content. Apparently, the ArenaNet team has been working with people in other media industries to understand how to better make superstory arcs, interrelated Seasons, appealing characters, and other features that are common to good storytelling in television, films, and other forms of entertainment. Additionally, Seasonal achievements will now unlock when you complete an episode rather than being the driving force of how you go about completing Living Story content. You’ll get rewards upon finishing the episode for the first time, and can then go about tackling the achievements and experiencing the content with a different focus.
I’m a big fan of Guild Wars 2 and the direction that ArenaNet has taken with its Living Story content. I know there have been some gripes about the lack of replayability and overdependence on achievements in Season 1, and while neither of those things have bothered me a jot, it does seem like the developers are seeking to address them directly with Season 2. Starting today, you can jump in and see for yourselves - be sure to let us know what you think!
Som Pourfarzaneh / Som has been hanging out with the MMORPG.com crew since 2011, and is an Associate Director & Lecturer in Media, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. He’s a former Community Manager for Neverwinter, the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, and is unreasonably good at Maze Craze for the Atari 2600. You can exchange puns and chat (European) football with him on Twitter @sominator.