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Guild Wars 2 : The Razing Review

07. April, 2013Tags: Guild Wars 2, Guild Wars 2 Diary, MMO Blog

Guild Wars 2 The RazingFlame and Frost: The Razing, the latest update for Guild Wars 2, was much more difficult to review than I’d expected. While the other Living Stories have been a little empty on new gameplay features, The Razing is far more time consuming, in a good way. The first Flame and Frost update had you tediously helping refugees, while the second simply added a few rather dulls events that people sussed out and spammed until they had the achievements. Future episodes of the Living Story weren’t going to work like this, so ANet tried to make this latest update more natural, tried to make it feel like things were happening. Unfortunately, it’s all smoke and mirrors.


Fixes and Fumbles

Like each of the updates so far, The Razing comes with a multi-page list of fixes, updates and changes to the way Guild Wars 2 works. That means that if you’ve been experiencing bugs or annoyances and have reported it to ANet, there’s a good chance they’ve been fixed. It also means if you’ve been taking advantages of certain glitches or loopholes, those opportunities have now been closed.

Guild Wars 2 The Razing Gameplay Video [HD]

A lot of things have been changed in the name of balance, although it won’t always work out very fairly. With February’s update came more ways to interact with your guild, and a big complaint was that smaller guilds were getting left out and weren’t at all accounted for. With this month’s update, ANet have made it so that you have to be Economy Level 5 to use the vault transport, as opposed to vault level 2. I think it’s fair to say this is going to push out smaller guilds even more, I’m not quite sure why they’d be doing it.

Guild Wars 2 The Razing review screen 1

Further to that though, they’re trying to balance out other aspects of the game as well. They’ve made quickness – which raises attack speed – half as effective. This is, they say, to balance out moments in PvP matches, and is something they’re going to be looking specifically at over the next few months. That’s great if you play PvP, because being killed before you have the chance to react sounds ridiculous. It’s less good if you’re in PvE and have been relying on that feature since you started playing.

There are a lot of smaller, welcome fixes that either polish up the world or fix glitches during missions and dungeons, but for the most part these will have been implemented without your noticing them. It makes the quality a little better on the whole, but not so obviously that you’ll even probably see any, or at least many, of the changes.

Guild Wars 2 The Razing review screen 2

Instances and Instances

Well, we called it. ANet have had negative reviews for the Living Story since the first patch was released at the beginning of the year. The missions were too repetitive, the events too spammed and the story too slow for it to be of real entertainment value. Some people may have not even noticed the Living Story was a thing.

How do ANet deliver a massive war between the dredge and the volunteers without stretching the abilities of their events and without it appearing underwhelming? With instances, of course!

I’d hoped it wouldn’t go this way. It seems the easy way out. People weren’t enjoying the evnts as they were, so they’ve chucked in a couple of pure-story sections, not unlike those found in the personal story, to flesh things out a little bit, to try and make it feel like there are people struggling, fighting and dying. On one level it works, because you get to see just how far this war stretches, but on the other hand the instances only serve to demonstrate how dull the Living Story has been and continues to be. Once you leave the instance, nothing changes, and I’d suggest that other than a few remnants, Guild Wars 2 will be no different after The Frost and Flame than it was before The Frost and Flame.

Guild Wars 2 The Razing review screen 6

The instances aren’t bad. You’re scaled up to level 80 – a warning sign for me, if you read the last diary – but it turned out that the instances weren’t actually all that difficult. They were more challenging than perhaps most of the personal story, but not by much. You can play with others, and I’d suggest to if you can find anyone to play with.

There are several instances to play through, a few for a norn named Braham and a few for Rox, a Charr ranger from the Black Citadel. The new characters are interesting enough, in a random NPC sort of way, and their pretty resilient to attacks as well.

There’s also spying equipment to destroy the Diessa Plateau and the Wayfarer Foothills. This is much more like the original Living Stories, but without the event-heavy nature of The Gathering Storm, things are just tedious, as opposed to tedious and impossibly annoying.

Guild Wars 2 The Razing review screen 4

Fixing the World Vs World

There was a rumour, a little closer to Christmas, that ANet were considering making their WvW and PvP modes free-to-play, and with the focus on those modes in the updates over the last few months, it’s a rumour I can almost believe. Asides from the balancing mentioned earlier, this month’s update brings with it a number of improvements for the WvW mode.

First up was the removal of Culling, a feature that made some players invisible if there were a lot of enemies around at any given time. Don’t ask me why that seemed like a good idea at launch, nor why it took this long for them to remove it, but players being killed by people they can’t see should be a thing of the past. There’s also a whole host of new abilities, ranks and achievements been added, so people who love this mode will have loads to do. Otherwise, it’s all just time that could have been spent adding material to PvP.

Guild Wars 2 The Razing review screen 5


The last big feature of The Razing update is the addition of leaderboards. These will rank players by their PvP scores, their WvW scores and their achievement points. While this is a nice feature generally, it’s taking in from too many sources to really be helpful to the vast majority of people. Unless you spend all your time on Guild Wars 2 – and if you do, you’ll already know you’re one of the top players – you’re not going to really see the advantage to this. It’s too early to tell if any extra features end up being useful to the average player, but I can’t see this being as big a feature for the PvE players as it will the top PvP players.


The Razing is a decent update, better than The Gathering Storm anyway. With the inclusion of instances, ANet are admitting their plans for the Living Story are being limited by the tech available to them, and that we can’t expect much better than we’ve been getting, until an expansion comes out anyway. Other, more welcome additions are a double edged sword in some ways, as nerfing abilities starts to mix with various fixes and balances.

April’s update is the last chapter in The Frost and Flame series, and it’ll be interesting to see not only how they conclude, but how they how to begin anew in May. What have they learnt from this first Living Story, and what new and exciting things will they attempt in the next set of chapters?


What do you think?

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