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Guild Wars 2: Secret of Southsun Review

08. June, 2013Tags: Guild Wars 2, Guild Wars 2 Diary, MMO Blog

The Secret of SouthsunThe Secret of Southsun came only a few weeks after the last part of The Frost and Flame, a fact that had some people worried. How can there be suitable content after so little time? Thankfully, ANet have proven the naysayers wrong by delivering not only a suitable amount of additional content for the Living Story, but perhaps the most new single player content since the Living Story began. There’s also some new fixes and a change to the World Vs World. There’s a lot to see this update, but will you want to see it?

 

Welcome of Southsun

The Frost and Flame updates basically took place in the middle of the world map. Regardless of which race you play, if you were above about level 30 and didn’t mind running past a few more dangerous enemies, you could probably take part in the defence of the refugees. Level scaling would fix any other problem you might have in the instancing.

 

Getting to Southsun is going to be either slightly easier or slightly harder, depending where you are in the game and what you’re doing. The easiest way of getting there is to head towards the nearest city and use the asura gates to get to Lion’s Arch. From Lion’s Arch, there’s another asura gate towards the south of the main bed of gates. If you’re unsure of where to go or if you’re worried you’re going to get lost, check your messages. There will be one about Southsun – click the button that says “Show Me” and all the important parts of finding Southsun will be displayed temporarily on your map.

secret of southsun screenshot 2

The Secret of Southsun

If using the asura gates isn’t an option for whatever reason, you’ll need to fight your way towards Lion’s Arch. Southeast of Divinity’s Reach, southwest of the mountains, Lion’s Arch isn’t difficult to find although it’s surrounded by some relatively tough opponents. Run if you can, although warping back to a safe location is your absolute best bet.

The Secret of Southsun

Although getting there should be easy, finding out what to do once you’ve arrived will be slightly more frustrating. Although it seems as though your adventure in paradise will at the very least be playable, the monsters in this area are very, very difficult. Even one on one, your health will disappear incredibly quickly, and many of the monsters can temporarily paralyse you. If they do this, you might as well give up. You’ll be down and out.

secret of southsun screenshot 3

The biggest part of this area, at least in the initial stages, will be events. Again, you won’t be able to do them on your own, but with a couple of friends you should find them easy enough. Whether fighting sharks or saving scientists, there’s a decent variety of things to do and I’d probably suggest to fight from a distance, at least to start with. If you can get an enemy’s health down to about half its original size, you’ll have a better chance of survival. Dodge whenever possible.

Aside from that, the Living Story for this release is a little disappointing. There isn’t much to do, and although you’ll come across tomes that you can read to get a bit of backstory, there seems to be very little to actually interact with (especially as a single player).

Past all the dangerous animals and events, you’ll come across some of the veteran creatures to the west. These are huge and may be difficult to sneak past. Thankfully it seems there are frequently people around to help you attack, and there way well just be a lump of experience in it for you. If you’re alone, I probably wouldn’t suggest a one-on-one encounter.

When you finally reach the little Living Story star, you’ll be given a device with which to hunt down and extract samples of certain faunas. Things get no less confusing at this point. The mission throws you into an experiment with very little explanation and there’s a good chance that you’re going to want to jump into Google for further clarification.

secret of southsun screenshot 4

All in all, a frustrating experience that relies too much on certain conditions for the player to enjoy it. You have to want the exploration to be part of the fun, and you have to be playing with friends. I came across people who seemed to be loving it, and they had no interest in the Living Story itself.

Traps, Polish and Gems

This is a much smaller update than any of the Frost and Flame stories, partly because ANet seem to want to increase the regularity of these stories. The last one was available about two weeks ago, and the next will be available next week. It’s unfortunate that this means each update has less “bang,” is less impressive on the surface, but it also means more content and more frequent polish.

The non-story updates for The Secret of Southsun include traps for World vs World and new items in the gem shop. The traps have the potential of either becoming a game changer or a slight annoyance. Like traps in other games, they’ll be used by a very specific sort of player and everybody else will find them a nuisance. There are a few traps to try out – anti-stealth fields and a trap that removes supplies from anyone that hits it – but more will be added as (and when) they become popular. Expect a few big changes in World vs World over the coming months.

secret of southsun screenshot 5

There are also some new items to buy in the gem store, the most important likely to be the swimming upgrade. This allows you to move through water more quickly than you might have done before. This will definitely come in handy, in the new Southsun content and beyond.

There’s also been some fixes and polishing to the game as a whole, although nothing super-noteworthy. There have been some minor changes to several of the classes and some rare bugs have been removed, but nothing that the average player is likely to benefit from. This, of course, is a good sign, as it means a lot of the bigger balancing issues, at least in the PvE mode, have been fixed.

secret of southsun screenshot 6

Conclusion

The Secret of Southsun feels like a bit of a dud. It’s not terrible, and I can even imagine circumstances under which it would be extremely enjoyable, but playing alone just isn’t one of them. I dislike the way the Living Story has gone in recent updates – very multiplayer-focussed – and while I don’t begrudge anyone the enjoyment of this or any of the other multiplayer content, I kind of wish ANet would remember that not everybody can summon their guild of dozens.

Also see

Last Stand at Southsun review

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