Many of us sat down with Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire tests over the past two weekends, and this weekend we got together to hammer out how we felt about the expansion’s early content and elite specs. In short, we’re hopeful. Path of Fire seems like a huge improvement over Heart of Thorns, and in-step with the progress the Living World Season 3 made towards making open world content fun again.
Bill Murphy: If I had to say now, whether I was going to buy Path of Fire after these two beta weekend tests, I'd say yes. I was super amped for Heart of Thorns too, don't get me wrong. But the end result of that expansion ended up being maps I hated and a Living World season I loved. All I wanted out of this second expansion is for the maps to return to the open and sprawling exploration of the original game. It seems like that's what we're getting. They, ANet, seem to have learned from the backlash of Heart of Thorns, with this expansion landing somewhere between vanilla GW2 and the most recent Living World season.
Gareth Harmer: Agreed. Heart of Thorns was a huge let-down for me. The Maguuma Jungle maps were painful to navigate, inhibited exploration and pushed a grind for mastery and hero points. The Living Story was a plus but, by the time it got interesting, I'd already bounced out.
By contrast, Path of Fire is a return to that sprawling world of exploration. There are some spots that are hidden off until you've improved mount mastery, but they feel like spots to come back to rather than huge content walls. It's a much better design that encourages searching around for remote locales.
I also loved the return of quest hearts. Being able to drift into an area and participate in a fixed event was comforting in a way, instead of facing pot-luck depending on which stage the meta events are at.
Oh, and having a major settlement early on, with a bank, trading post, etc? Huge perk - it felt like I had a reason to hang out in the new zone, instead of just heading back to Lion's Arch all the time.
And mounts are huge fun. They move great, have neat abilities, and some superb animations. I also love that they can be dyed.
Holosmith, the engineer elite spec, seems fairly complex in terms of mechanics. It'll take practice to work well, and I have no clue on its viability, but there's a lot of fun in the new kit. Sword on its own isn't anything special, but the new Photon Forge mechanics are compelling and fluid
It's more of what I wanted, much less of what I disliked, so I've bought in.
Bill: The Guardian and Necro elite are similar. They're very complex reworkings of the whole class. I was pretty impressed by both. Guardian especially was fun with the different chants. The Necro's sacrifice of the second form to summon three Sand spirits is odd, but it works well in practice. Can't wait to try it in PVE where the enemy is a bit more predictable.
Ed Orr: So, I haven’t played for days but now I can generally agree that the sense of exploration is back, the class specializations are fantastic and the mounts have had so much care and thought put into them. The overall idea that everything is accessible holds water now. While some of the game might be hard to reach later, PoF so far seems to be a move back towards the way I remember Guild Wars 2,
If ANet can replicate that with all their game modes they’ll be printing money like they did at launch.
Robin Baird: If you guys had to pick one thing about what you've seen so far, what would it be? If you pick elite specs pick one of them as best.
Bill Murphy: The Raptor gives me great hopes for the mounts as a far better addition to the game than the original intent of the glider. Their Masteries seem far less of a grind, and since there are four of them to start, there’s something to work towards that feels like it’ll actually make them more fun, without gating too much content behind them.