Maybe greater than ever, the strain is on for ArenaNet to ship with Guild Wars 2’s subsequent growth, Finish of Dragons, due out subsequent month. The ending of the sport’s final “Residing World” season of story updates was maligned by the group for feeling too rushed—hurrying and generally discarding story beats that had been constructed up during the last couple of years.
There’s an actual want, then, for ArenaNet to indicate that the shift away from regardless of the Icebrood Saga was initially supposed to be was price it—for this third growth to make gamers excited for what the way forward for Guild Wars 2 would possibly maintain. Forward of Finish of Dragons’ launch I obtained an opportunity to search out out if it’ll. A hands-on session supplied a whirlwind tour of a of few new areas and actions, together with an occasion chain in one of many new maps, and a peek on the new guild corridor—situated on the island of Guild Wars 1’s concluding story mission, The Remaining Confrontation, the place gamers defeated the chief of Cantha’s Ministry of Purity.
It is all promising, however as a longtime participant, it is exhausting to get a way of how these actions will feed into the sport’s bigger programs. Fishing is a enjoyable pastime, however how will it tie into the long run loop of collections and crafting? A Siege Turtle-centric public occasion is a enjoyable new problem, however will the construction of map currencies and rewards hold gamers coming again for years to return?
Arguably, then, essentially the most significant factor I obtained to expertise was one among Finish of Dragons’ new Strike Missions—an instance of the instanced, finish recreation problem that ArenaNet is betting on for this growth. Launched throughout The Icebrood Saga season, Strike Missions are 10-player encounters that provide gamers a short-form, raid-like expertise. Most are based mostly round a single battle: a boss with a handful of mechanics to beat.
The Strike Mission I performed—one of many simpler ones out there within the growth—feels grander than its predecessors. For one, it ties in additional neatly to Guild Wars’ ongoing story, that includes the return of Residing World Season 1’s Mai Trin. This in itself got here as one thing of a reduction. I wasn’t a Guild Wars 1 participant, so I used to be involved that an growth based mostly in that recreation’s Canthan area could be full of fan service I had no connection to. However Mai Trin is a nod to Guild Wars 2’s personal previous, a personality that briefly terrorised Lion’s Arch earlier than disappearing into the Mists. Through the years, the sport has left loads of hanging story threads, and the give attention to this character particularly is an indication that Finish of Dragons is planning to pay some off.
Extra than simply story beats, although, the mission itself seems like a refinement of Guild Wars 2’s instanced fight. That is an MMO that, at its core, is about motion and positioning, and the sport’s finest bosses embrace that. Mai Trin’s primary assaults are a patchwork of AoE patterns, and on high are a choice of biggest hits acquainted to long run gamers. AoEs will goal and observe every participant, forcing the complete staff to separate to keep away from taking a number of hits. There’s the inexperienced AoE area that gamers need to stack on to share out the injury. There is a variation of the Fractal flux bomb, that must be taken away from the group to keep away from dropping an enormous damage-over-time area on high of your occasion. There’s bullet hell orbs and phantoms that require crowd management expertise to defeat. However on high of those returning requirements, there’s the sense that ArenaNet has thought in regards to the persona of the folks you are combating, and likewise created a choice of new assaults to suit.
It is exhausting to get a way of the Mei Trin mission’s issue—within the demo we had invincibility so we might see the complete battle, and to keep away from spending time making certain we had distribution of roles. However by way of pure stuff occurring, it feels nearer to the present Whisper of Jormag mission—the one almost certainly to trigger a PUG to wipe. Because the battle progresses, a number of assault mechanics stack on high of one another—the ultimate part resembling a dance of dodges and fast considering as gamers stack, separate and are available collectively for a fast burst of injury. And once more: that is the best of the present crop, with a further problem mode to make it more durable nonetheless.
“We’ve taken the suggestions on Icebrood Saga Strike Missions to coronary heart,” says Cameron Wealthy, senior recreation designer at ArenaNet. “We’re focusing extra on mechanics that can’t be simply ignored, simplifying the reward course of, and offering an elevated issue choice within the type of problem mode.” It seems like ArenaNet has realized from how gamers now full Strike Missions like Boneskinner, that are ostensibly troublesome, however made simpler by a ten-person occasion’s skill to easily outheal its central mechanic. This new set of Strike Missions are designed with puzzles that may’t be brute compelled. You both study the mechanics, otherwise you wipe.
A few of the recreation’s present crop of Strike Missions are longer and fewer targeted. In a single, Forging Metal, gamers take management of a Charr Warband escorting a tank throughout a big map filled with challenges and actions. Maybe unsurprisingly, it is also the one which full clear teams at all times skip. For Finish of Dragons, then, ArenaNet is specializing in the core of what Strike Missions must be: single boss encounters that require talent to study. “The Finish of Dragons Strike Missions every have distinctive components that permit them clearly stand aside from one another, and every Strike Mission focuses on a single distinctive encounter,” says Wealthy. “This enables our improvement staff to hone their craft in creating satisfying bosses with a wide range of mechanics, and for gamers to show their talent in taking them down.”
As somebody who’s spent loads of time within the recreation’s present Strike Missions, I am assured the Mai Trin battle was higher than any of them. However the gamble for ArenaNet is that Strike Missions are a sexy proposition for returning and new gamers, particularly given the status most MMOs place on full raids. “In comparison with Raids, Strike Missions supply enjoyable and interesting encounters that gamers can deal with even when they solely have an hour of time to play for a day,” says Wealthy. “We imagine in that accessibility, and assume that the Finish of Dragons iteration of the sport mode builds on the strengths of the sport mode whereas showcasing the teachings we’ve realized.”
It is an perspective that definitely matches with Guild Wars 2’s extra accessible design, and I do recognize an finish recreation exercise that does not take a complete night to slog via. Clearly, then, Strike Missions are the main focus proper now, however Guild Wars 2’s historical past is plagued by finish recreation instanced content material sorts—dungeons, fractals and raids amongst them—some deserted, others which have gone with out an addition or replace in a while. Will Strike Missions be Guild Wars 2’s de facto instanced finish recreation going ahead?
“For Finish of Dragons, our focus is on levelling up the Strike Mission expertise for gamers,” says Wealthy. “We purpose to ensure they’re the automobile via which we are able to convey top quality, new end-game content material. In that means you might say Strikes have the highlight on them proper now in Guild Wars 2. That stated, we don’t view any of our instanced content material as ‘de facto’ for finish recreation gamers by any means.”
That implies fractals and possibly even raids might nonetheless get some extra love sooner or later. For now, although, I am proud of what I performed. I am unable to speak about every little thing I skilled, however this single boss battle had extra surprises and persona than something I’ve seen from the sport’s instanced content material in a while. If ArenaNet can preserve that degree of high quality and spectacle all through, then Strike Missions might be motive alone for MMO followers to take a look at Finish of Dragons.