Gilded Wasteland is a new expansion launching tomorrow for free-to-play wuxia MMO, Swordsman. Perfect World Entertainment recently treated us to a demo tour of the new additions players can expect to find when it launches.
First on the agenda was a tour of one of three new regions arriving with the expansion. The new zones (Ping Liang, Dukhan, and Shadow Mountain Plains) are all desert based and the developers tell us, are geographically accurate to northern China. Gilded Wasteland is described as heavily story based, with players venturing into these northern Chinese regions to defeat their greatest foes.
At the outset of your adventures in Swordsman, raiders assault your hometown and kill everyone you know and love, and from there, the game’s story follows your character on a tale of redemption and vengeance. Gilded Wasteland’s story allows players to turn the tables and exact revenge upon the assailants in their own homeland.
Dukhan, a mountainous region, is home to desert town (a new instance) and the empress’ temple (a new public dungeon). Instances, as you might imagine, are content designed for a small group of 5-6 players, while dungeons are out in the open world. What was interesting to learn is that players are exempt from punishment in PvP while in these public dungeons. Normally, players can kill each other in the overworld, but killing players who have decided not to attack other players will turn your name from white to yellow, and eventually, to red. Once your name is red, you’ll drop any unbound items on death (including gold). All these rules are thrown out in the case of public dungeons (including killing guildmates and members of your alliance), however, so expect a certain level of chaos when entering the empress’ temple this week.
Shadow Mountain Plains was next on our tour and this zone is actually connected to the game’s next expansion (currently in development) and serves as a bit of a teaser for players. Here, players will venture past the Great Wall into a region that draws heavy inspiration from the Mongolian Steppes.
We were also shown Road to Eminence, the first of three instances in the expansion. This instance is available beginning at level 84. It should be noted that the Gilded Wasteland is bumping the level cap from the current 89 to 94, so players can get started on the expansion content prior to hitting the current level cap (the new zones start at level 80).
In Road to Eminence, players will fight against traitors from many of the other martial arts schools as they track down their original assailants. Being a bit of a Swordsman neophyte myself, it was in this instance that I got a closer look at the game’s highly mobile, action combat. Not only can players dash around the battlefield, they can also leap and air dash across the screen. This mobility is key to staying alive in Swordsman, since the developers have eschewed the traditional holy trinity for a more Guild Wars 2 approach where players are all essentially responsible for themselves.
On the PvP side of things, Gilded Wasteland expands on the game’s existing PvP offerings by adding the ability for players to disable Lost Arts and upgraded skills in tactical arenas and introducing instanced battlegrounds to the game. The two battleground modes available at launch consist of team deathmatch and a twist on capture the flag called capture the lion costume, which is basically exactly what it sounds like.
New item hunt gameplay is being added to Swordsman the new Celestial Weapons feature. Beginning at level 50, players can do a quest to acquire a flashy looking celestial weapon that will grow with them as they progress through the game. These weapons can be acquired completely for free and are the most powerful weapons a player could ever need when properly upgraded. Upgrades are made through the acquisition of special drops available via a daily quest system, so don’t expect to be able to pump one of these bad boys to crazy levels right off.
Finally, companions (both animal and humanoid) are getting upgrades via a new Cultivation system that allows you to send your various companions out on quests that eventually teach them new skills they can use to aid you in battle. Companions can also learn Focus skills (PvP skills) that focus primarily on control and resource restoration (health/Chi). We’re told that these Focus skills should be especially useful when participating in the aforementioned battlegrounds.