I knew Finish of Dragons’ last map can be a deal with after I noticed its title: Dragon’s Finish. Greater than only a nod to the growth’s title, it was a transparent reference to Guild Wars 2’s historical past of climactic, map-wide meta occasions.
Meta occasions—loosely outlined as a series of occasions that construct to one thing greater—are the most effective options of Guild Wars 2’s open world; one of many essential causes for veteran gamers to return to older maps. They vary massively in dimension and elegance. Some, like Path of Fireplace’s Crystal Oasis meta, are little greater than a handful of assortment occasions capped off by a comedy ‘boss’ combat. Others, although, are extra concerned, and the largest aren’t only a main a part of the map—they are the map.
Take the ultimate zone of Guild Wars 2’s Coronary heart of Thorns growth, known as Dragon’s Stand. The whole map is concentrated on a single battle that performs out over a number of occasions. Gamers cut up between three lanes to push via the jungle dragon’s corruption, recruiting allies and battling enemies as they work in the direction of a last stand that takes place over a number of islands. The ultimate map of Season 4 of Guild Wars 2’s Residing World updates—known as Dragonfall—provides one other multi-stage preparation capped off by an enormous boss encounter.
Like its equally named predecessors, Dragon’s Finish is constructed round its growth’s climactic battle. Gamers arrive and push in the direction of a central tower, excessive within the sky, to have an enormous combat. Greater than only a memorable battle, although, ArenaNet has made Dragon’s Finish totally different from its predecessors in a single key method: by making it onerous.
I might heard speak of this as I performed via the growth’s story. In Reddit threads, gamers would lament their repeated failures. In LFG, some squads had been asking for extra stringent necessities, from particular builds to—in excessive instances—raid completion proof. In patch notes, ArenaNet tweaked points of the fights, however remained clear of their messaging: “the encounter was designed from the begin to be difficult.”
Once I lastly reached the map to complete off the ultimate few story missions, I caught round to present it a strive. I wasn’t anticipating a lot, however I lucked out. Our map’s commander (gamers who volunteer to assist organise the map) defined the mechanics clearly, speaking us via what we wanted to do each step of the best way. Even then, we solely simply beat the boss, ending up with simply two seconds to spare.
A fortunate expertise—one which, within the few subsequent makes an attempt, I’ve but to recreate. The boss combat incorporates a number of phases, sometimes using Guild Wars 2’s favorite meta occasion trope of getting gamers cut up between totally different sub-bosses that they should take down at roughly the identical time. All through, gamers need to prioritise targets—hitting a unique a part of the physique at key moments (I am being obscure right here to keep away from being too specific with spoilers)—utilizing crowd management to free gamers trapped in whirlpools and lengthen boss injury phases, and, at a few factors, having an out of physique expertise within the type of a free leaping puzzle.
It is an actual spectacle: a map stuffed with gamers contained on a single platform, ebbing and flowing as they dance to keep away from big assaults. We have come a great distance from the core recreation’s world boss fights, which look cool however not often quantity to way more than hitting autoattack and dodging the occasional AoE.
It is smart that Dragon’s Finish is the sport’s most difficult meta: this, lastly, is the growth that takes the time to show fight ideas like breakbars and combo fields. However there’s additionally a stress growing about how a lot issue is an excessive amount of for an open world zone. The main target right here is much less on the mechanics of the combat, however quite the timer—in case your map is not doing sufficient injury, you’ll fail the occasion. And in contrast to instanced teams the place you might have extra management over the folks you play with, you’ll be able to’t select who wanders onto your map. There’s little you, personally, can do to vary the end result in the event you’re enjoying with a bunch who cannot generate sufficient complete injury.
Even in Guild Wars 2’s tougher open world encounters to date, brute power often does the trick. And whilst you can fail Auric Basin—with its 4 boss rooms that must be accomplished on the similar time—it is more and more uncommon. The injury is much less vital than figuring out how to not fail.
However Dragon’s Finish requires gamers to have a construct that may get probably the most out of their career—one thing that, outdoors of instanced content material, isn’t wanted. The encounter is operating up in opposition to the actual fact the sport does not do an ideal job of explaining its buildcrafting techniques, and, because of this, it is inflicting some toxicity amongst a playerbase that, till now, had a fame for being useful in the direction of one another.
There’s additionally the difficulty of rewards. For the map to remain energetic in the long run—for folks to proceed to attempt to persist and enhance—it wants a greater purpose to take action. That is one thing ArenaNet has already addressed, including a every day Hero Selection Chest on completion that provides a collection of rewards—together with an in any other case time-restricted merchandise wanted for crafting the brand new Legendary weapons. I think it’ll in the end want extra nonetheless. A lot of Guild Wars 2’s group is extra involved with what supplies one of the best gold-per-hour return, and—because of the excessive likelihood for failure—Dragon’s Finish at the moment falls properly beneath the road. That is the destiny that in the end befell Dragon’s Stand: it is a better map to clear, however it’s not rewarding sufficient to be value doing repeatedly, and so, by and huge, gamers do not.
There have already been a handful of tweaks and enhancements to the combat, and it is clear there shall be extra over the following days and weeks too. Hopefully it’s going to retain a few of its problem, and do a greater job of rewarding gamers for overcoming it. Dragon’s Finish is the type of combat that makes Guild Wars 2 stand out amongst its competitors; a transparent evolution of its open world design, and the sort of difficult, epic occasion that I might like to see extra of sooner or later.