The next Living World update for Guild Wars 2 will invite players to take part in the country-wide celebrations for Quenn Jennah’s 10th anniversary of being crowned. Hot air ballon rides, ceremonies, the Queen’s Gauntlet, and other attractions will await players on August 6th when the Queen’s Jubilee goes live. As with previous Living World installments, the update comes with a host of permanent in-game improvements.
– A shared Account Wallet for all your characters’ currency
– PvP Solo Queue for solo arena matches
– Bonus in-game monetary rewards for dungeons
– Champion loot drops will get an upgrade
– A new level of detail system for effects will clear up large battles
– Supply Master ability line will be added to World vs World
– Permanent Finishers
The current Living World event is Cutthroat Politics and Tom is still trying to gather every bit of lore he can find.
This week, Chris Hornbostel joins us for a discussion about going back to MMOs. What happens when you quit an MMO and then come back months or even years later? Which MMOs are best for this? Why is Secret World featured so prominently in the discussion? Will Tom ever shut up about Guild Wars 2? Is Dark Age of Camelot actually still around? How effectively can McMaster defend World of Warcraft from our scurrilous accusations? For games of the week, we consider whether Red Dead Redemption holds up, what’s gone terribly wrong in the first round of DLC for Metro: Last Light, and what sports game is actually an action RPG.
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This week we talk about how we’re getting past that summer hump of no new releases. Our games of the week are all old standbys, some older than others. Tom relates Marvel Heroes to the fallout from George Zimmerman’s acquittal, Nick can barely get a word in edgewise in the Guild Wars 2 conversation, and McMaster keeps it real, DOTA style. And comic book style.
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Left or right? Main street or Wall street? Security or liberty? You’ll have the chance to take a political stand in the upcoming Cutthroat Politics update for Guild Wars 2. The Living World update will feature two characters vying for a spot on the Captain’s Council of Lion’s Arch.
Evon Gnashblade and Ellen Kiel are trying to work out a trade agreement with the Zephyr Sanctum in order to help them secure a spot on the Captain’s Council of Lion’s Arch. Use Support Tokens and coins to help out your candidate of choice!
The winning candidiate will enact a set of rulings based on their platform that will benefit players in the game. If Gnashblade wins, Black Lion Keys will be discounted in the in-game store, while Kiel promises to reduce waypoint travel prices if she’s elected.
As with previous updates, new items and activities will be added to the game for the duration. Cutthroat Politics will go live on July 23rd.
The Zephyr Sanctum is a massive airship temporarily anchored at the Labyrinthine Cliffs. That’s my necromancer standing on the prow. The airship will be there as long as Guild Wars 2’s Bazaar of the Four Winds lasts, which I think is for another week.
This latest round of new content is an impressive feat in completely changing how you get around. Guild Wars 2, a game without mounts and without flying, is mostly about walking around. It has had optional jumping puzzles tucked into various corners. Some of them even have a touch of personality and they all have some reward waiting at the top. But they’re still just jumping puzzles, and they often require trying to figure out the rules of footing on imprecisely drawn terrain. Did the level designer intend for me to think I can jump there? I often find out the hard way.
As you work your way up the cliffs to the Zephyr Sanctum, it’s clear there are going to be jumping puzzles. It’s just so darn vertical. And all the rigging up there. You know you’re going to be jumping around in that. The whole thing looks at first like a town where you can buy stuff and sell stuff. But it’s more than that. Unlike Guild Wars 2’s other towns, it’s got plenty of combat. You’ll be walking past a merchant stand and someone accidentally lets loose a giant demon. Now you’re fighting a big public battle. A couple dozen drunkards burst out of a tavern. Reptilian slavers storm the docks.
But what mostly distinguishes the Zephyr Sanctum are the three power-ups you can find scattered around the cliff and the catwalks, each of which gives you 10 bursts of special movement. You can shoot forward as a sunbeam, call the wind to leap higher than normal, and use lightning to fling yourself to a specific point. These powers are the basis for a multiplayer race to the top of a spire (with some reward at the top, of course). But you can also use these power-ups to find crystals tucked into unlikely places. Hold down the key to highlight interact points and you’ll likely see a few of the crystals. How are you supposed to get up there? With sun, wind, lightning.
There are 52 crystals all told, but you only have to get 40 to unlock the reward, which is an achievement that applies towards the overarching Bazaar of the Four Winds achievement. You also get a model of the race spire. It’s an object that you can only deploy in town, but anyone who clicks on it gets a nifty cutscene showing off the Zephyr Sanctum airship. I hate jumping puzzles. I didn’t hate getting those 40 crystals.
Now that Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet is committed to a schedule of new content every two weeks, I’m committed to working (i.e. playing) extra hard to keep up. Today is the start of the Bazaar of the Four Winds, which I presume means the end of the Dragon Bash festival. At least that’s what I was worried was going to happen as I was looking over the achievements for the festival and I noticed I wasn’t far from earning the Holographic Shattered Dragon Wings, which you can attach to your armor for a cosmetic effect. I’d seen several people running around with the wings. Naturally, it had occurred to me they’d look pretty nifty on a necromancer’s frilly outfit. Like princess faeries wings, but edgier. However, I wasn’t about to grind the achievements to earn them. I don’t care that much about looks. I mean, sure, I’ve colored my blouse and skirt with a tastefully coordinated combination of heather and strawberry cream. And I had to consider carefully whether I wanted the trim to be sea breeze or summer thistle. But I only did it because I had some time to kill while shopping for town clothes on the trading post.
So, sure, why not grab the wings before the Bazaar of the Four Winds started. To earn the last few achievements, I scarfed down a bunch of taffy, pausing occasionally to vomit, and finished the backstory dialogue with the members of the Ship’s Council, who were helpfully lined up in a row in the center of Lion’s Arch. All that was left was 18 more matches of Dragon Ball, which isn’t so bad. It could be worse. It could be 18 matches of keg brawl, which is like rugby, but with spells so that you spend even more time knocked down. But Dragon Ball is a straightforward Unreal Tournament style team deathmatch. You play on a simple map strewn with jumping pads and powerups. You start with only a single attack. Grabbing powerups earns you up to four more attacks. 18 matches would be easy enough. On the 14th match, I noticed that the wiki said Dragon Ball doesn’t apply to your wings achievement.
And that’s how I ended up running all over Guild Wars 2 to track down 41 dragon effigies that needed burning. Because it was either that or betting on moa races, and there’s no way I’m going to burn 50 silver a bet on something that’s probably rigged anyway.
Among the many useless things in Guild Wars 2 is the above pet I found during the Dragon Bash ceremony. It popped out of one of the dragon chests that normally has candy and fireworks. He’s a sort of winged reptilian holograph thing that I enjoy watching flap around at my heels. He’s called a “knight”, but he looks like a dragon to me. He doesn’t do anything, but that doesn’t stop me from liking him.
It’s the same with Guild Wars 2’s score system, which is a running tally of points for all the achievements you’ve completed, like your gamerscore on Xbox Live or your trophy level on the Playstation Network. The score doesn’t do anything, but that doesn’t stop me from liking it. Especially since my score is so much higher than Jason McMaster’s or Nick Diamon’s. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a better person than either of those guys, but it does mean I’m a more committed Guild Wars 2 player. Actually, in some circles, that probably does mean I’m a better person. Fair enough.
However, the era of your score in Guild Wars 2 not doing anything is nearly over. From this official post:
In the upcoming release, we’re adding a reward structure to achievement points. As you complete achievements and increase your achievement score, you’ll unlock new, exclusive rewards for your account. Don’t worry — the system is retroactive! Every point that you’ve earned while adventuring across Tyria will count towards exciting rewards…
The rewards includes consumables, titles, exclusive armor and weapon models, and account-wide boosts for earning resources. The reference to “the upcoming release” means the July 9th Bazaar of the Four Winds updates, at which point my score of 1390 will mean something new.
ArenaNet has announced that the next event in their free Living World content updates to Guild Wars 2 will be the Bazaar of the Four Winds which will let players race around the Labyrinthine Cliffs. ArenaNet stated that they were aiming for a bi-weekly update schedule and apparently, they were serious enough about it to reorganize the company around the concept. Design director Chris Whiteside told Polygon that he thinks this kind of commitment is unique.
“To get it out on a two week cadence and put this kind of exciting and fresh content out every two weeks required us to basically change the whole structure of the company, build and set up four different teams that would work on rotating cadences and to really empower the developers on the teams to be able to pick and choose what they really wanted to work on and what’s most important to them and the places,” Whiteside said. “ArenaNet is known for taking risks. So the idea of having just launched the game and restructuring to build toward this two week cadence… as far as I’m aware, no one else has done it to this level of content.”
Whiteside stated that although their goal is to keep the optional content updates coming on a regular schedule, another team will be working on the main game. Bazaar of the Four Winds starts on July 9th. The current Living World event is the Sky Pirates of Tyria.
In the latest update for Guild Wars 2, developer ArenaNet saw fit to make necromancers more awesome. I’m not complaining. I might complain if I was playing a boring old warrior or ranger and I saw in the patch notes that boring old warriors and rangers were just as boring while already awesome necromancers got even more awesome. But the last people to decry the rich getting richer are the rich.
After the jump, tainted shackle love Continue reading →
This week, we have a very special guest. Tom Chick from the Future joins us to elaborate on drama that was defused immediately after the podcast was recorded. We also talk about what you’re going to do if you need to take pictures with your Playstation 4 and which games people in Australia can’t play. One of the guys on the podcast says mean things about Marvel Heroes, another one says nice things about Guild Wars 2, and another doesn’t have much to say yet about The Last of Us. Also, listen to learn how to talk like a World of Warcraft pro.
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Speaking to GamerZines, lead content designer Mike Zadorojny revealed that ArenaNet’s goal is to add free content updates to Guild Wars 2 every two weeks.
“Our goal is that as we do this, we’re getting better and better at it. We’re starting to catch the bigger mistakes that we would’ve missed earlier on. We’re starting to build the infrastructure, the framework and the tools to help us do this because we really think that this is the longevity of the product.”
“If we can push this, if we can add content every two weeks that is engaging to the players, then really it’s almost like a TV show at that point. It’s kind of stay tuned until next week for the thrilling conclusion of… That’s where our goal is, and it’s really fascinating when you have an entire studio dedicated to pulling off.”
ArenaNet also said that the in-game Gem Store results in a “constant” revenue stream for the game.
Playing a necromancer with a menagerie of writhing freakish beasts tagging as I saunter through exotic landscapes reminds me of another game by the same lead designer. Klaatu barada Flannum. Group three, guard me!
Leveling up your characters in Guild Wars 2 is only one form of advancement. There’s also your score, which tracks all manner of things you’ve done with all your characters, broken down into categories of achievements: crafting, combat, PvP, fashion, exploration, and so forth. The score doesn’t mean anything, but it’s a helpful way to compare how much you’ve played compared to your friends. For instance, Jason McMaster has 1078 points. I have 1226, thanks in part to the careful application of a flamethrower. I rest my case.
One of the cool things about events like the ongoing Dragon Bash is that the points system — known in some circles as achievement whoring, but there’s no need to be nasty about it — is used to encourage us to do stuff related to the event. For instance, I’ve been gathering all this taffy that gives me a brief boost if I eat it. Big whoop. Frankly, I can’t be bothered. So I’m sitting on about a hundred pieces of taffy that I might as well throw away.
Oh, look, there’s an achievement for eating the taffy. I might as well start pounding it down. After about ten pieces of the dragon-themed candy, the above screenshot ensues. Pretty sneaky, ArenaNet. Also realistic.
My favorite instance of overindulgence gimmicks in an MMO was in Lord of the Rings Online. Turbine tried mightily to make player housing and guild housing relevant. Among their attempts was furniture and trophies you could use in the instanced housing. Such as the keg someone put in our guild’s house. It had a warning label on it that basically said the ale in the keg was too powerful and you therefore shouldn’t drink it. “Seriously,” it suggested, “just don’t!” So, naturally, you drank it. At which point you were teleported to a random location and told that you didn’t remember anything that had happened. This triggered a cute Hangover style quest in which you talked to various people to piece together what you’d done during your blackout.
But my favorite part of the gimmick was that when you were teleported to the random location, you appeared without your pants on. But not to worry! You hadn’t lost your Reinforced Mithril Britches of Budgeford! They were safe in your inventory.
UPDATE: After finishing off all my taffy and vomiting a few more times, my score is now up to 1228. Jason McMaster’s score is still only 1078.
Well, that wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I logged in, dinked around with my skills a bit, and ambled over to check out a dynamic event in which some centaurs had occupied a human settlement. If I had five silver for every time that happened in Guild Wars! In the occupied settlement, I found three other players working on the event. They invited me to a party and there went the rest of the evening. I had been playing a necromancer based on debuffing enemies, which is a bit of a finicky way to fight a battle. However, I was able to easily rejigger her into a more accommodating pet class. Let my bone fields, blood fiends, shadow fiends, flesh golems, explosive bone minions, and adorable little jagged horrors get in there for the fighting while I get reacquainted with what’s what. It still got a bit chaotic. At one point, I didn’t even notice my party had moved on. Hey guys, wait for me and my army of freaks!
Crafting, on the other hand, looks like it’s going to be a nightmare to relearn. I think I’ll just let that sit for a while. As for the player vs player stuff, I can’t help but feel the allure of the new skill system for the world vs world larger-scale multiplayer. That was already a hole you could fall into for days at a time. Now it looks big enough to fall into for weeks at a time.
The worldwide event currently in progress, Dragon Bash, involves smacking dragon pinatas, burning dragon effigies (pictured), and some minigames that I have no desire to play, including bird race betting in the capital. A huge illusionary dragon presides over the capital, which seems like it would be unnerving for the people who live there. A series of new missions are playfully styled as fantasy noire. Unfortunately, I think they’re above my necromancer’s level (level 33 out of 80), as I’m being tasking with finding a suspect in an area with level 55 monsters. I’m not sure I’ll be able to progress into the next stage of the event, which begins tomorrow. It’s something about sky pirates. I’m tempted to call in the big guns (i.e. my level 80 engineer).
Tomorrow’s update also includes what ArenaNet calls the “largest balance patch ever”. What better time to relearn how to play?
That’s a dragon pinata in Guild Wars 2. That’s about as meta as you can get. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Killing enemies in most MMO games is just a digital take on a pinata party. You’re hitting monsters to make loot fall out and scrambling for the prizes. By actually putting pinatas in the game, ArenaNet is getting closer to Inception.
Lion’s Arch honors the defiant spirit of its citizenry with the rousing Dragon Bash festival, when revelers laugh in the face of fear! Sponsored by the Captain’s Council of Lion’s Arch, Dragon Bash is a month-long celebration packed with all-new activities, fireworks, exclusive rewards, and surprises galore!
Guild Wars 2 players will be able to smash dragon-shaped pinatas in the Dragon Bash update coming on June 11th.