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Hands on with A Crack in the Ice

William Murphy Posted:
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Today marks the launch of Guild Wars 2’s A Crack in the Ice, the most recent update to the Living World’s ongoing Season 3. Last week we got our chance to play through the new fractal being launched with the update, as well as taking a tour around the new zone: Bitterfrost Frontier. In all, it looks as though there’ll be a ton of new story to explore, loads of new rewards to chase down (including a new Legendary shield – Shooshadoo), and the new Nightmare fractal is certainly living up to its name.

We jumped into the test server with pre-made characters, and immediately went into the new Nightmare fractal. This thing, well… I probably just suck, but it’s not going to be for the faint of heart.  They’ve added a new boss mechanic that’s essentially like a bullet-hell shoot-em-up (Ikaruga, R-Type) in Tyrian form. There are three bosses in the Fractal, and if I didn’t have our pocket developer cheats along for the ride, I probably would have cost the team the win. 

It’s set within the Tower of Nightmares before it was destroyed, and you’ll meet up with Dess and help her with her experiments as the general narrative. She’s… not nice.  It’s a nice way to go back to the Nightmares Within story from 2013, since the content itself is no longer available.

Once we managed to not die long enough to finish the Fractal, it was on to the new map: Bitterfrost Frontier. Set in the Far Shiverpeaks, this one obviously deals a lot with the Kodan, the Quaggan, and yes… the Svanir. Those dastardly northern pricks are back and aiding the great ice dragon Jormag in his return. The one bit of the new map we played had us actually donning the armor of the nearby Svanir so we might sneak into their village and learn some vital info. It’s nice that the quest design of the story in GW2 seems to keep getting better and better several years on.

There are new repeatable hearts on the map as well, plus new vistas, and POIs, a new jumping puzzle, etc. The main currency, much like the Ember Bay, is Unbound Magic. In this way, players should easily be able to swap between the two zones and still work on their rewards from this season’s episodes.  

In all, it’s looking like a great new addition to the Tyria of Guild Wars 2, and it’s nice to see this sort of quality in updates along with new zones each time. The pace is not as breakneck as it was during its biweekly schedule, but the content is meatier and the little bits of story they drop in between major living world updates are quite nice as well.

Heart of Thorns, the first expansion to Guild Wars 2, is on sale for %50 through the GW2 site - $24.99 for the Standard Edition, and $37.49 for the Deluxe that comes with some bonus cosmetic stuff for the fun of it (who doesn’t want a mini Revenant Rytlock?). And January means PAX South is around the corner… could we see the next episode by then? And if so, will we see the announcement of the next expansion? Time will tell!


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.