During PAX West 2016, our first appointment of the show was with none other than ArenaNet for Guild Wars 2’s new Living World Episode. We saw none other than Nellie Hughes (renowned for her work on City of Heroes once upon a moon), and Elisabeth Kerstein to chat about the new episode and how players will be making their return to a zone we haven’t seen since the Prophecies Campaign of Guild Wars 1.
The Ember Bay, set in the Ring of Fire Islands, is the new zone coming with Episode 2, and players would be wise right now to train up their Ley Line Gliding Mastery in order to rove quickly about the pretty large map (that’s the top tier of the Gliding Mastery). That said, if you’ve still got work to do there, don’t fret. Ancient Magic’s 2nd Tier will now have Thermal Propulsion which just costs 3 Mastery XP and allows you to basically be shot around from point to point across Ember Bay. Think of it like Nuhoch Wallows, but more explosive.
The map itself is an absolute work of art. Josh Foreman’s deft hands are all over the place, and yes that means there’s a new Josh Jumping Puzzle right at the heart of the Mursaat Fortress. So keep that in mind. Like any volcanic fantasy place, there are rivers of lava pouring into steamy wakes of ocean water, large craggy rock formations, but also some of the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets I’ve seen in GW2 because of the smoke and stark contrast between fire and water. The map’s not the same as Prophecies of course. Mordremoth, Zhaitan, and hundreds of years have passed and changed the area.
For those who played Episode 1, you’ll remember the cliffhanger that ended everything. With Primordus risen, bad stuff is happening once again in Tyria. It’s like these guys can’t catch a break with the dragons. Taimi, of course, is the one who wandered off to see what’s up, and so we (the newly coined Dragon’s Watch) are on our way to make sure she doesn’t get in too much trouble.
I think most folks will be happy to hear that the Heart quests from GW2 make a return in Ember Bay. In fact, they’re actually repeatable daily and have plenty of rewards tied to doing them that Nellie and Elisabeth weren’t quite to share. There are new consumables as well – a Skritt Contract that allows you to summon a skritt to dig through piles of junk to find treasure, and a weapon skin set that drops in-game only, not available in the Gem store. There are brand new armor pieces to be earned from Achievements too: a new shoulder and a new helm.
Elisabeth and Nellie showed off a few of the Hearts via the demo video we were treated to: one of which is a Fire Sloth that’s wanted as an attraction at for a Circus Group. Thing is, she’s kind of enraged a lot, and you have to feed her and distract her before she eats her young. Another one at the Mursaat Temple Ruins pays homage to the Mursaat, but it’s a memory of what was there before. Another still involves the affectionately named Smooshatron. An asuran researcher is trying to get some data (as they always are) and you must help the Smooshatron fight off a massive fire worm in order to do so.
There are a whole lot of Skritt in Ember Bay too, including a big set of Skritt Pirates lead by the Pirate Queen Hughes (no relation to Nellie). You’ll have to help them create defenses, fend off attacks, and calm down the Pirate Queen by tossing Skritt Juice at her… which may or may not be akin to rum. There are new bosses too, including the Molten Dominator. If you beat him, you’ll unlock special updrafts that can get you to special areas otherwise closed off. It’s a very packed new zone with a slew of new things for players to discover, and it’ll all be here in roughly two weeks on September 20th.
Along with Ember Bay and the continuation of the story, the 9/20 update will be bringing the first new conquest style map in a good while – The Eternal Coliseum. It’s the same 5v5 combat PVP fans have come to know and love, with 3 capture points being vied for while players also try to capture the Sword of Reaping or the Shield of Life. These two items either finish downed players for you or give a bunch of health and shielding as well as one revive should you fall while under its spell. The Pro League World Championships will be held at the ESL in Burbank California on September 17th. Three teams from the EU and three from the NA will be representing, and while you’re watching live on the GW2 twitch, the first footage of the Eternal Coliseum will be broadcast as well.
Well, let’s hear it. Are you ready to return to Ring of Fire Islands?