Late last week I was treated to a preview of the newest living story episode and the features coming along with it, including Sun’s Refuge and the new legendary weapon Xiuquatl. So, let’s take a deep dive into these aspects and get a taste of what’s waiting for you in this new update. Also, for the story stuff later in this article I have stayed away from revealing any major story spoilers for this episode, so as long as you are caught up on the current season you should be safe from spoilers.
For Sun’s Refuge ArenaNet has taken lessons from current home instances (which are located in the main city for your character’s race) and guild halls to meld these distinct systems into something which can grow with our characters. The base of the instance is similar to guild halls in that it’s pretty huge and sprawling and there are various upgrades which can be unlocked and will change how the instance looks the next time you enter. Also, related to home instances, Sun’s Refuge is a personal instance where you can invite friends to join you in a group but all the stuff in there will be the party leader’s version.
Players won’t have access as soon as they log into the game on 9/18, you will have to complete the third chapter of the latest living world update to unlock it as it is tied very deeply into the current story. Something which sets Sun’s Refuge apart from both the home instance and guild halls is Sun’s Refuge will also change as you progress through the story. Depending on where you are in the story there will be different NPCs present and what they have to say will have some variation to it.
The dynamic changing of NPCs is probably one of my favorite parts of Sun’s Refuge not just because what it provides immediately but also because this allows Sun’s Refuge to remain relevant beyond this Season of story. Currently Sun’s Refuge sort of feels like a headquarters for Dragon’s Watch but depending on how the story develops that can change. A few episodes down the road, or next season even we might have a completely different collection of NPCs hanging out in our instance. All of this will go a long way towards helping Sun’s Refuge remain relevant no matter where we head to with the story.
One other cool aspect in Sun’s Refuge is there is some new tech and icons being used. One of the best new additions is an icon to show when an NPC has a collection available for you to unlock. This might sound like a small thing but it’s a pretty ni ce QoL improvement because sometimes finding the NPCs to unlock collections could be a real pain. Currently this is only being used in Sun’s Refuge but ArenaNet does have plans to roll this out in the rest of the game world too.
Xiuquatl and Elegy Armor
When I first heard the new Legendary Weapon is a scepter I felt sort of underwhelmed by it as none of my characters use scepters at all. However, after running around with it and seeing how its effects work first hand, I really want to make it. Not only does the weapon have a wonderful overall green glow to it but the footfalls you leave behind as you run around look almost like little green puddles of magic. Plus, the flying serpent pet is cool as well. One thing I know some people will be disappointed in is the pet does not actually fight with you, he’s basically just a companion. However, as anyone who thought about this for more than a second would have realized having additional damage from a pet would have made this legendary overpowered compared to the others.
There’s also the Elegy armor which has can be upgraded to armor with some fancy glow effects. One nice thing about this armor is all the glowy bits can be dyed to whatever color you like. Some people had theorized this armor is new legendary gear but that is not the case. This is just new armor for players to use and, since it’s armor and not outfits, the parts of each set can be mixed and matched together. Lack of new armors is something which is often complained about so it’s particularly nice to see we are effectively getting six new sets with this story update.
A Star to Guide Us
Episode 4 starts by dealing with the obvious problem of what happens with Joko dead? Does the power vacuum get filled by someone else or can the people who were under his thumb rise and govern themselves? What happens with his undead army. As we find out at the beginning of the episode from Tiami a summit was put together to address these problems. Unfortunately, Aurene decides to crash the summit, which considering the fact she… umm… ate Joko, does not go over well at all. Everyone’s attention is quickly drawn back to Kralkatorrik and the very real danger and conundrum he represents.
There’s a temptation to sort of write off this episode as a setting the stage episode, which it is but it also does a lot more than just that. A lot of action is packed into this episode and it might just be the strongest one ArenaNet has put out to date. As we gathered up allies both old and new there were real moments where I had to pick my jaw up off the ground because some of the things which happen are things I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d see. So, buckle up for a wild ride.