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Review in Progress #2 – Shifting Sands

By William Murphy on October 06, 2017 | Columns | Comments

Review in Progress #2 – Shifting Sands

Next week, we will put a score and summary on Path of Fire, the new Guild Wars 2 expansion. But this week, we’re still working through the deluge of new content and massive new zones. While many players have scooted through the story and started unlocking their Griffon mounts, we’re taking our time, seeing the sights, and getting lost in jumping puzzles and random encounters. In short, it’s like a return to form for Tyria. The game I fell in love with back in 2012 feels like it’s returned.

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Some tore me apart this past week as I listed out the 10 best story-driven MMOs of all time. But this expansion (again, this is one man’s opinion) shows that ArenaNet is hitting their stride as of the Living World Season 3 and Path of Fire. When it comes to not only driving world growth, but also expanding on the lore of the world in a meaningful and impactful way, few developers have been able to constantly update their game worlds with the speed and quality of GW2.

And in terms of actual content, Path of Fire is flush with things to do. It’s not a super-big heavy expansion in terms of new features, but the sheer amount of stuff crammed into the massive Elona zones is staggering. Add to that all the new ways you get to travel with the 5 new mounts, and well – in some ways this feels like a much more impactful expansion than Heart of Thorns. And certainly, players seem to be responding in kind. A few nights this week, I’ve even been put in a queue… in a game with a mega server that’s not supposed to happen.

Heart Quests are still here, but like Season 3, they’re more “daily quests” to give you something to do between the next big event you stumble into or catalyze. The organic nature of events unfolding is amped up here, and where I thought I wouldn’t find a better zone then the starting area around Amnoon, I’ve quickly fallen in love with the Elona Riverlands. The reality-warped dopplegangers, the Djinn, the Ascended – it’s all really great content. There’s even an event that lets you decode the Flameseeker Chronicles one by one in Augory Rock.

A while back, some worried that Path of Fire might be paying too much of an homage to Guild Wars 1, but now I think there couldn’t have been a better approach. Players that only started delving into Tyria with GW2 are now learning a ton of the lore about the gods (it was awesome when my Guardian called back to his baptismal god, during one part of the story), and the general history of Elona. And, while my first love was the Asura, I’m going to say that I don’t miss them here. The focus is off of technology, and on magic and the gods, and it feels far more appropriate.

Next week, I hope to put a score to this review, and stop rambling about how great I think it is. The bounty system still seems like the one new feature that not a lot of people are engaging with, but that could be just because I’m not personally looking for it myself. The events and zones are gorgeously designed, far more approachable and enjoyable than those of Heart of Thorns, as well as diverse. The new Elite Specs are fantastic (that I’ve tried, currently focusing mostly on Guardian – Firebrand).

If you’ve back off of GW2 because you didn’t like where it went with Heart of Thorns, now is the best time to come back. They’re on a roll, and Season 4 is going to start before you know it.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.
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