Flame & Frost: The Gathering Storm - Gameplay Review
The Gathering Storm is now live. It was launched yesterday evening and, after a few false starts, seems to have worked out quite nicely. Anet published another rather extensive list of improvements, changes, fixes and additions, and we’re going to take a quick look at how well these changes have been implemented and things to watch out for when you login to Guild Wars 2 for the next time. I’m not sure exactly how big the new update is, but it didn’t take an awfully long time to download. My guess is that it isn’t quite as big as the Prelude update, although players will obviously want to allow a little time for updating next time they want to play.
The Living Story
Reaction to the Prelude section of the living story – helping the refugees – wasn’t great, and I’m not sure reaction to The Gathering Storm is going to be much better, at least not to begin with. Refugees are spreading further towards the west – towards Lion’s Arch – and their attackers are pushing south. The volunteers are ready, weapons unsheathed and buffs ready, to repel the invaders.
It sounds far more action-based than the Prelude, and that was something we picked up on in our preview. Actually playing is a little disappointing. You’ll come across invaders in different portions of the Wayfarer Foothills and the Diessa Plateau, usually as part of an event. The most obvious places are swarming with users though and by the time an enemy has spawned, he’s already dead. The best chance you have is just standing in one place and swinging your weapon randomly, but that’s hardly in the spirit of the game.
To get this achievement, you’ll need to kill 150 invaders. The quickest way to do that will be to run the same mission time and time again. I saw someone bragging about killing 7 in a single run through so, be warned, it might be better to wait until the more keen Guild Wars 2 players get the achievement and move on.
The other new Living Story achievement has you finding objects for refugees in Lion’s Arch. Again, I’m not sure this has been especially well implemented and I’ve seen quite a lot of people confused as to their actual goals. If you get stuck, ask around. There are some people getting through this new section of the game very quickly and they’ll tell you exactly what you need to do and where you need to go.
Finally, Anet have decided against ditching the achievement from the Prelude. That means you can still help the refugees, although it seems a little more limited than it was before. Good news for people who didn’t want to do all 75 acts of kindness in a single sitting, bad news for people who rushed to get it done.
The achievement system has received another overhaul, although it’s not massively different. It was that there’d be five achievements forced onto you on a daily basis, and you either had to finish them or not. That’s now been revised; you get to choose from nine achievements. You still don’t have access to the full pool, but you should be able to find five things to do. If you choose to do all nine, you’ll receive a ton of extra achievement points and nearly 30k extra experience (a full level in the early portions of the game), so it’s always worth checking out what your options are.
Along with the old favourites – kills, kill variety, underwater kills, dodge, healer, etc – there have been some new achievements added, so be sure to check in every day to see if there’s anything you’d like to do. It should take anywhere from about 30 minutes to a few hours to get everything completed, but the ability to tailor your achievements to what you plan to do in-game is a welcome addition.
There are still people who are complaining, of course. The main complaint over at the Guild Wars 2 forum is that people feel they need to do all nine and that it still takes too long, but I don’t think there’s much credence to their issues. There are portions of the game I’m never going to see, for various reasons, but I don’t expect Anet to remove them or make them more suitable for me just because I don’t like how it is now.
I’ve yet to try out the new Guild Events for myself, although I’ll be looking into it over the next couple of weeks (be sure to follow the diary for more information), but it’s worth noting that there have definitely been more guilds around today than ever before. Large groups of people milling about together is quite impressive, although it leads to the issues mentioned in The Living Story section – it just makes it harder for players to play alone.
Still, there’s no excuse not to be in a guild. I was invited to two or three guilds just as I was walking around – that’s more invites than I’ve had in the six months I’ve been playing. If you want a guild, you can join one now with no effort whatsoever.
There have been some complaints that smaller guilds might as well not even try the new content, and that sucks. We called it – Anet aren’t good at scaling their content (the dungeons still can’t be played alone). Here’s hoping the next patch shakes things up a little.
Fixes, Glitches and Mistakes
There seems to have been a much better reaction to the actual state of the game this time around. Certain things changed in the Prelude that, presumably, people had just gotten used to and didn’t like to see them go. The reaction to this update has been much calmer, although the list of changes isn’t much shorter.
Each class has received an update, balancing out a few problems with abilities and buffs. Many locations have had events fixed or altered for difficulty and there are new items available to purchase with gems from the Black Lion Trading Company store.
People seem generally happy with The Gathering Storm patch, although there are still suggestions pouring in. Personally, I see it as a small step towards fixing a lot of problems. This time round, there haven’t been any new issues really brought up (although fixing the guilds thing would be very nice for those of us who don’t necessarily want to play with strangers) and I suppose that’s the most you can ask for.
Casual players might not even really notice the new additions, and I suppose, considering much of the patch is about balancing and fixing, that’s largely a good thing. Core players will probably want to see a couple of things changed. Be sure to jump on the Anet forums, let them know what you think, and maybe things will be improved upon in next month’s update.