Exactly one year after End of Dragons launched, ArenaNet released the first story update that continues the EoD storyline. Last week I had the opportunity to preview this new story, new map, meta event, and the new rewards players can work toward. This is also the first game update since the recent Studio Update, where Game Director Josh Davis outlined some changes they are making to how content between expansions and expansions are handled. So, let’s dive in and see what lies beneath.
Shortly after the concluding events of EoD, the Commander is contacted to join an impromptu party with Rama and Gorrik. I didn’t see anything indicating exactly how short of a time after the close of EoD, but from various dialogue comments, all of this seems to take place a few weeks after. While catching up with Rama and Gorrik, we receive a call indicating the Jade Brotherhood is up to shenanigans again, and there are some strange reports of oddities happening. Of course, Gorrik recognizes this opportunity for the Friends’ Detective Agency to embark on their first case together. Yes, that name has stuck.
This takes us to the new map Gyala Delve, in a section of the Jade Sea we haven’t been to previously. Our tentative truce with the Brotherhood seems to be holding when we first show up, although they aren’t too happy about us poking our noses into their business. After questioning a few people, there’s a story step that involves participating in events, and the first part of the meta-event does count for this. Most of the storyline occurs in the map, instead of in instances. This is cool and feels a bit more natural, but when it gets to the point that fewer people are on the map regularly, it might be a bit of a problem. At certain points, having a meta that is progressing would have made my progression through the story much easier.
The whole issue in Gyala Delve seems to be that the Jade Brotherhood dug too greedily and too deep, which has caused some massive problems. I don’t want to spoil what we find, but we seem to have unfinished business with the void. At the end of the story, we have a single-player version of the final boss fight which is part of the meta event. In Fact, the meta event and the story seem to weave together and make the most sense when done alongside each other.
All in all, the new storyline takes about 45 minutes – to an hour to complete if you run through it and don’t stop to explore or do anything else along the way. This is also the first half of this storyline, and the second half should arrive before summer starts. After that, they weren’t at liberty to say if we’d see another story chapter similar to these two or if we’d see our first smaller expansion. Either way, seeing how things progress from here will be interesting.
Gyala Delve and Meta Event
Gyala Delve is a meta map that is easier to move further into as the meta progresses, similar to Drizzlewood Coast. However, unlike many other meta events, this meta isn’t on a timer and can be started by gathering ten players in the starting area. This also means that players can as easily choose not to start the meta and just wander the map as they see fit. Though, the meta revolves around capturing various areas, so not doing it does make it a bit harder to traverse your way through things. Not impossible by any stretch, just more difficult.
Beyond the first area of Gyala Delve, the air quickly becomes saturated with a strange miasma that seems to be related to void energy in some way. Picking up an air filter from a station is required to traverse the Delve without taking a ton of ambient damage. The basic version is free but doesn’t last long and must be refreshed periodically. At first, there was only one station to get the air filters from, but as more map areas were captured, more stations opened up. This is another reason wander around the Delve without doing the meta is a bit difficult. When I was wandering the map alone, and my air filter ran out, I had to waypoint back to the top to get a new one and then run all the way back to where I was. Doable but a bit of a pain.
This is also a map where the group must split to hit multiple targets simultaneously. For example, there is a pretty hefty boss fight right away, but at the same time, a Jade Brotherhood fort needs to be captured. Hitting various milestones in each will also make completing the other easier. In addition to taking multiple areas back from the Brotherhood, some players must stay behind to defend and ensure we don’t lose any ground back to them. After progressing through everything, everyone groups up at the bottom of the map for one final boss fight. After completing the whole thing, everyone can gather back at the top and start it all over again.
Along with this update, we are also getting a full set of Luxon Hunter weapons which are all heavily jade and turtle shell themed. There’s also a mask reminiscent of the old Necromancer masks, but any professions can wear these. However, for me, the best rewards are Tahkayun’s Edge, Tahkayun’s Armor Piercer, and Tahkayun’s Reverse Grip Edge. The first two are a sword and dagger, which follow all the standard conventions of those weapons. However, Tahkayun’s Reverse Grip Edge is a dagger but looks identical to Tahkayun’s Edge. With this weapon, Weavers can finally make it look like they are wielding two swords. All three of the Tahkayun weapons are Ascended and rare drops from the last boss in the meta event.
All in all, What Lies Beneath is a good step in the right direction for Guild Wars 2. I’m certainly looking forward to spending a lot of time working the meta to get my Tahkayun weapons. Also, knowing the next update will be sometime between now and June 21st also helps a bit. At most, it’ll be a few months with this content before we get the next bit. That doesn’t feel bad at all.