Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire, first impressions

Post Series: Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire

Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire™ was released a little over week ago, and since then we have been playing every day and taking notes along the way, so now it is time to make those notes into this first impressions review.

Disclaimer: we play as a couple and/or in groups of more than two, so this review will mainly reflect the viewpoint of the expansion played as group content.

Story:

A well told story that was enjoyable to play and was well paced, focusing on a few likable characters instead of trying to give everyone screen time.

The game looks amazing, there are some really nice collections and a few “blasts from the past”, which are a welcome addition to Guild Wars 2 – they managed to bring in so much original Guild Wars lore, whilst not alienating players who have never played it before.

The story seems really engaging for everyone, also for people who have never really played the original Guild Wars game. One of our guild mates, who never played the original game, gave the following answer when asked how he felt about the way Path of Fire handled all the lore from original Guild Wars:

… since it [the original story] meant nothing to me I can only comment on the confusion for newcomers, and I thought they nailed that, unlike in Guild Wars 2: Living Season 3.

Sure, some things could have used a tad more backstory, but overall there were plenty of NPCs to explain. Even Palawa Joko and obviously the way Kormir became a goddess [is explained ok]

So all in all, they handled the return to Elona and the lore very respectfully and very well. I have to add, for me as a player who spent a fair amount of time in the area in the first game, and loved it, there are areas where the feelings invoked when seeing them now, can best be described as bittersweet.

It also brought me back to the time, and to the feelings of joy I had when I finally managed to get the partially see-through Elonian elite Vabbian armor for my Ritualist (the armor had a rather silly hat which looked really cool whilst using the dance command), and, of course, the Ancient Ritualist Armor from the Bone Palace (better known as “the Mummy armor”). On a personal side note, these are still some of the most interesting armors ever made in any game, in my opinion – if ArenaNet were able to make something like that in Guild Wars 2 (not as an outfit though) I would be willing to work very hard to get it.

Maps:

The maps are gorgeous, varied, and some of them feel absolutely huge. We are really enjoying the bigger layout which, of course, was necessary due to the addition of the mounts. Also, do not miss out on the stunning way they have handled day and night time visually.

It cannot be emphasized enough how amazingly beautiful this game is. We have spent more time in this game than in any other game we have ever played, and one of the reasons for that (by no account the only one though), is, without a doubt, the beauty of the graphics

Game Play:

ArenaNet listened to the community, and the new unidentified gear is one of the best things they have ever added. It has really helped inventory space, and has allowed me to enjoy the map, and to actually play, instead of having to stop at every merchant every few minutes to flog my stuff. This is sadly counteracted, to a certain degree, by a fair amount of the new items not fitting into the materials storage.

We play together as a couple, and on that account, we have met a few issues that people who play solo probably would not encounter, for instance when achievements, rewards etc. are not given to anyone but the instance owner. It can be a bit disheartening having to play through the same thing over and over again when all you want is to progress to the end.

In all fairness, these issues were also there in the Heart of Thorns (HoT) expansion, and in some of the Living Story installments, and they have always ended up being addressed by ArenaNet eventually. However, that said, these issues being the same every time makes it a little frustrating having to repeat the process endlessly with every new launch.

New foes, creatures, plants, consumables, utilities etc. Awakened, Forged, Choya, amongst more, are being introduced in this expansion. The choya, especially, are delightful in more ways than one (who said fruit and vegetables were good for you?).

The expansion is also introducing bounties and races (best done on mounts). Bounties are bosses you can activate from Bounty boards placed in strategic places all over the maps. This has spawned the so called “bounty runs” on the maps, where you join a squad and then go fight the bosses available on the boards, a good fun way to spend your time on the new maps. The races are timed events where you race on a mount in competition with other players. You have to actively sign up for a race, so you won’t accidentally get caught up in one, again they can be really good fun.

The “content-ness” of this expansion feels less epic for some, because there doesn’t appear to be any of the amazing open world bosses that GW2 usually does so well. Said bosses appear to have been replaced by bounties. I do, however, love the closest-to-world-boss-event we get: the one in the Elon Riverlands where some random player (if you are in the map, it could be you) gets doppled into a legendary foe. Great fun!

Not all of the masteries on the new maps are group friendly, most don’t matter, but a few do. Although it is better than it was in HoT, these masteries, because of the way they are structured, can still cause issues for people who haven’t played too much, or for players (like us) who prefer to sync progress.

Talking about the masteries, whomever created the “Chef mastery” (you will know the one I mean if you ever play the game) should be made to watch ONE episode of teletubbies, on repeat, for a week, in a room full of kids who LOVE that episode and know all the words for the show.  I’m not saying I hate the mastery, it’s just, in this instance, it would be a punishment that fits the crime.

Mounts:

Overall: the cuteness factor is as high as can be!

Raptor: The raptor is amazing, and generally it moves so very well (although sometimes that little step on the stairs means the raptor just stands there), and turns, stops, starts and plays just as you would imagine.

Springer: jumps very high and it is so much fun to play, but it handles just as I imagine a monster truck would handle. ArenaNet should consider selling a crash helmet for the springer on the trade post (the poor springer seems to bump its head very often).

Skimmer (Skyr): one of the most relaxing ways to play the game, I can’t remember the last time I just switched off and moved around the environment in the way I do whilst using this mount. On top of that the skimmer has a fantastic idle animation (try it, it has a high giggle factor).

Jackal: I hated the Jackal at the start, it wasn’t so much the jackal itself that was at fault, it was the quest to get it.  If you mistimed a Jackal leap, you could plummet to the ground, this was a LONG way down, and then you had to go all the way back up to the quest again.  But after I got the Jackal and started to use it, it quickly became one of my favourites. The way it moves and handles is just awesome.

Hidden Mount: [spoiler]Shhh… it’s a secret [/spoiler]

Elite Specializations:

Because of the scope of the 9 new Elite Specializations, we have decided not to include too many details in the initial review. During the next few months we might talk more about our likes and dislikes for certain elite specs, but we’re still just getting the hang of them, and trying to review them without knowing them well enough would be a disservice.

Sound:

The music is amazing, as always, and fits the areas very well, creating a wonderful ambience.

Windswept Haven:

Windswept Haven is a new guild hall. As with all the guild halls introduced with Heart of Thorns, it is stunningly beautiful and quite spacy, although with this they seem to have collected a few more functions in more convenient spaces.

However, if you choose to change guild hall to this from any of the ones introduced by HoT, you may find it a bit harder to decorate, because it seems more filled up with stuff and more colourful than the previous ones.

Now let me Weaver a little tale about a Scourge that exists in the Crystal desert, with the corruption caused by the dragon breathing Firebrand and that undead Renegade, who created Soulbeasts from the very dead. Look at me, Deadeye to Deadeye and tell me, is this all a Mirage? Would you really forgo the Spellbreaker goodness, just for a chance to explore the Path of Fire? Mount up, bring your Mystic Forge, your Holosmith, and explore the journey with us.. join us on the path of fire

Thank you:

Our guild very kindly helped with the screen shots, and for that, and a ton of other things, they deserve a big thanks.

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