In 2013, one of the core features of Guild Wars 2 was its Living World –Madness came over the developers as they began to release new playable content every two weeks. Cutthroat Politics, Queen's Jubilee, Clockwork Chaos, Super Adventure Box: Back to School. Tequatl Rising, Twilight Assault, Blood and Madness, Tower of Nightmares… every update would present itself with new events, reworks, new mechanics, some of which left a permanent mark in the world as to let people know an important episode had taken place there. However, such madness could not continue on for long: yes, there was new content, but with such a short time between releases they became less and less capable to deliver impactful updates to the game. And the worst part is that the story behind them was not playable once the event had passed.
Right now the only way for us to know or remember what happened between January 2013 and March 2014 is to watch a cinematic which Arenat.net created.
Then, Living world season 2 came in, making some great improvements to the narrative and gameplay, including some new maps like Dry Top. In this manner, Bosses had actual mechanics and story missions could be replayed in order to complete challenges and get achievement points in exchange, including some loot. Furthermore, the final episode introduced the first game's expansion: Heart of Thorns.
Living world season 3 got even better, which was difficult because HoT took the narrative and interaction to a new level – that is, our character finally had a voice of their own again, without that needless and not missed cinematic . The new maps would be smaller, with events on their own and would also make use of the masteries learnt in the expansion (Gliders, most of all) besides adding some of its own. The story got a lot better too, and the final episode was introduced -yes, you guessed right, the second expansion: Path of Fire.
And once the expansion storyline ended… it left us with a lot of problems to deal with. Which is why I got really hyped after watching the living world season 4 First episode trailer: Daybreak.
You can buy Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire expansion at Keengamer's ESHOP.
First of all: Spoilers alert.
Second: The end of Path of fire left us all confused and exhausted. Not only did we fight the God of War, but we also won and stopped him from dooming us all. Yet all seemed for naught as Kralkatorrik, the Elder Crystal Dragon, absorbed most of the energy Balthazar's death released and proceeded to brand a great part of the already bruised Crystal Desert. I thought a big change to the map was going to occur – Old Lion's Arch kind of big. However I began the mission wondering where the purple mayhem was.
Well, the "good news" is that I didn't have to wait long. A brandstorm appeared soon enough, crystallizing everything beneath, citizens of Amnoon included. Something my character didn't take well as every time I killed one of them, I'd get a dazed, crippled… debuff because of the "regret" I was feeling for letting them down after previously convincing them that nothing was wrong (In truth, however, I actually didn't. It seems the speech dialog wasn't able to handle my inconceivable charisma and mind-games…)
In any case, you would think that the first episode would start slow, yet it didn't take me long to find myself fighting a Branded Wyvern; to see Aurene again; to have another apocalyptic vision; or to enter a new map in which almost every single being wanted to kill me. Yet it was also fitting – the end of the Path of Fire's storyline had one clear message: our battle is not over. Nothing is over. And so we survived the branded and set sail to The Domain of Istan, in order to find allies to keep an eye on things in the Crystal Desert… besides, you know, taking heed of the apocalyptic vision we just had.
I liked how they handled the pace at which we played the story. The new map was a mix of calm and killing intent as we suddenly had a price on our heads, Palawa Joko's courtesy. In fact, I have never been more glad of having mounts in a game, as I don't know if I would have been able to survive so much killing intent, because let's face it: we are hated everywhere. Going back to the pace of the narrative, exploring that part of the island was a great experience, almost relaxing. And when in jail, I found strangely charming the fact that every class was able to get out of their cells in a different manner. But then things got crazy, we broke out of prison and our worst and most expected fears became reality… because WHO didn't expect the return of the all-mighty King Palawa Joko?
But that wasn't important – Taimi was in peril, our vision darkened because of the ominous feeling that last communication gave us. We defeated the warden, got to Farahnur, met Rox and the nominated most childish Norn known to Tyria: Braham Eirson again, and somehow finally rescued our valued genius golemancer. It was a rush of feelings, and true roller coaster, and a groundbreaking start for the first episode of a still-full-of-surprises season 4.
Yet, that's not all. The Domain of Istan may be a map not as detailed and rich to explore as the ones included in the expansion, but it does have a certain charm. That would be the Meta event.
Simple yet incredibly rewarding. Right now Istan is a gold mine, or more accurately, a city to be raided (even after the nerfs to Rose Quartz).The meta event is composed of three phases: Debilitate the Mordant Crescent, completing events such as stopping corpse caravans from reaching their destination; Raid Palawadan During the Sunspear's insurgence, and then assault the Great Hall, for additional loot.
Both locations are a literal Raid, which means you get to steal supplies for the Sunspears (and yourself) which is a great quantity of loot and more importantly, Volatile magic, a currency only used in that part of the island. You also get to fight two legendary bosses: Awakened Archon Iberu (Which grants the achievement "Unfinished business") and Warden Amala, for more supplies and a daily big chest.
Moreover, you can find "Sunspear caches" throughout the map which have even more loot, and are counted towards an achievement, because who doesn't want more juicy points?
Finally, There is The Brandstone Hunt. Every fifteen minutes, a branded meteorite will fall somewhere in the domain. An easy way to know where and when, is to stand at the top of the Astralarium -you'll be able to see in which direction the meteorite lands, and an NPC, Scholar Fatima, will announce its appearance. However, in order to be able to mine said stones, you'll need a multitool which you can obtain from said NPC, and further upgrade it with different capabilities, like a combat mode, By spending your volatile magic currency.
And because of my completionist side, I'll also add that there are two kinds of Brandstone: Chunks buried that we have to extract with the multitool, and pure intact Brandstone which we can mine before it desintegrates – also the name of the event that initiates once it hits the ground. And as you may have guessed, both kinds have a time limit before they disappear, which is approximately five minutes.
For me, the gameplay got repetitive all too soon. The meta event was not intended to be complex, and a Zerg (lots of players) can easily beat all phases without much problem. No, it was created with farming in mind. And for that reason, apart from the little exploration, the bounties, and the part while raiding Paladawan in which you take out some enemy ships with the cannons at the bay, the map lacks enough content as to keep you there for long… except, well you know, gold.
Graphics and Audio
As any Zerg map, you will probably not be able to see what you are doing when fighting any champion. You'll have to guess and try to prevent the epileptic attack that so many lights may possibly cause to those unaware. Also, in the first mission, when fighting the branded, I experienced some serious frame drops, or maybe my eyes were just reacting to so much sudden purple, but I doubt the latter.
In any case, I really loved the art concept behind The Domain of Istan. They created a lot of different bio systems and somehow put them all together in a way that seemed natural. The music used during the story mission was great and really immersive, and as always lately, the voice acting was on point.
I'm really excited to see the next maps now.
The fourth season of the living world seems to have given us way more problems than solutions. For starters, Palawa Joko's return may have been something that I fully expected, but he certaintly didn't strike as such a threat (I'd be glad to stop fighting undead though). Kralkatorrik is not going to sit idly by either while we deal with him. And even though Dragon's watch seems to be together again, its stability is also hanging by a loose thread thanks to our favourite Norn (sarcasm),Braham.
All that being said, the first episode was such a good start I can't help but feel hyped at what the story have in stored for us next. Will Dragon's watch become the full pledge guild it was supposed to become? Will Braham finally grow up? Will Taimi get a new Scruffy anytime soon? Will Palawa Joko become the new Scarlet? Maybe… next episode will tell.
|+ Story rich||– Repetitive|
|+ Great narrative||– Lack of complexity|
|+ New meta event|