The future of Guild Wars 2: ArenaNet heralds the return of Season 1 and teases the next expansion

It’s been a few weeks since Guild Wars 2 released its third expansion, End of Dragons. Now in a long post, ArenaNet described what comes next. It’s a pretty big list of things to come, from the return of the first season of the Living World game, to a new story set on a new map in the expansion’s Cantha region, and most of all, confirmation that a fourth expansion will happen. .

In addition to putting together the announcements made in the ArenaNet post, I also had the chance to send Guild Wars 2 Game Director Josh Davis some questions about what is being teased.

Return of season 1

The first season featured the current main cast, including this himbo. (Image credit: ArenaNet)

There is currently a gap in the story of Guild Wars 2 – players jump straight from the vanilla campaign to the Living World Season 2 updates. An NPC in the main city of Lion’s Arch sums up the events of Season 1, but thanks to the way it was released – in time-limited updates, many of which were set on the open world map itself – the story itself no longer exists.

This year, ArenaNet is bringing that story back, permanently, and properly integrating it into player story journals. “We will combine key moments and experiences from the Living World Season 1 story into five episodes that will be released throughout 2022,” ArenaNet writes in its announcement. “Our goal is to provide a cohesive bridge between the personal story and Living World Season 2 and give players the opportunity to earn many of the legacy achievements and rewards that have been unavailable all these years.”

The first episode – called Flame and Frost – comes out on April 19. Episode 2 will be released a month later on May 24. The season will conclude with Battle for Lion’s Arch – and will introduce a new Strike Mission (and Challenge Mode), presumably based on the titular battle, which in its original form was an open-world event set in the ruins of the old version of the city.

As a side note, I asked about Icebrood Saga’s ‘Scrying Pool’, which contains a handful of disparate instances from the first season. “The rebuilt Season 1 makes the scrying pool versions of quests superfluous,” notes game director Josh Davis, “so we’ll be phasing them out as the relevant quests become available in the story journal. All related achievements still can be completed through the story journal version.”

a new expansion

I’m jumping right into the juicy stuff here. In its final reveal, at the very end of the post, ArenaNet confirms that there will be a fourth expansion for Guild Wars 2. “. Basically: it will be years before you hear more about it.

Rather than a traditional announcement, then, this tease seems more designed to reiterate ArenaNet’s commitment to Guild Wars 2. After 2017’s Path of Fire, the community spent years wondering if there would be a third expansion – End of Dragons wasn’t. announced until March 2020. I’ve seen the community speculate whether End of Dragons would be the game’s final expansion, especially since it wraps up the main story of Guild Wars 2 so far. Given the context, it makes sense that the studio would confirm, here and now, that there is still more to come.

a new map

Before the next expansion, there will be new story content as well. In the post, ArenaNet confirms a new map in the Cantha region – teasing the many directions the story could go now that Elder Dragons have been dealt with.

Does this mean the release of Season 6 of Living World, and if so, when will it arrive given the already-announced return of Season 1? “Living World Season 1 is the next Living World Season!” clarifies Davis. “As for what comes after Living World season 1, today we confirm that a new map and story set in Cantha is in development, and once we’re into Living World season 1, we’ll be back to talk about where we’re going next. mysterious continent.”

Steam release

Taimi is another regular introduced in Season 1. (Image credit: ArenaNet)

The release of Guild Wars 2 on Steam was originally scheduled for November 2020, but was delayed indefinitely the same month – ArenaNet citing his work on End of Dragons as the reason. With the expansion now out, the studio is once again turning its attention to the Valve store.

“You can only launch on Steam once, and we want to make sure we do it right,” ArenaNet writes in the post. “Over the next few months, we will be wrapping up work on Steam integration, cleaning up some aspects of the early game experience, and ensuring the game and studio are operationally ready for a new platform launch. Preparing DirectX11 to exit beta and making it the default graphical setting for new users.”

ArenaNet says it wants the Steam release to happen this year, though I suspect it won’t be until Season 1 is reintroduced – if you’re releasing for a new platform, having the full story available seems like a necessity. But there’s also more to the ‘new player experience’ that could be improved due to the age of the game.

“In 2014, we took a ‘massive review’ approach to reviewing the new player experience with limited success, and some might argue that the changes made at the time didn’t favor the game,” says Davis of the improvements being planned. . “This time, we’re primarily looking to make small, incremental changes that add up to big improvements over time. Each of these incremental changes is being deployed as an experiment in an “A/B” test format, which means we’ll be testing the changes in live game with a small number of players, study the results, and then decide to make the change permanent, iterate further, or remove it from the game. We will make these changes every few weeks, with multiple experiments running simultaneously. any permanent additions to the game once they pass the tests.”

In addition, Davis also mentions other tweaks to “client performance and some minor improvements to the core game experience” – but notes that they will be detailed in a few months.

balance updates

Catalyst recently felt the nerf hammer. (Image credit: ArenaNet)

Based on what I’ve seen from the community reaction, the release of End of Dragons was mostly positive among the game’s players. Aside from some rants about the difficulty of the expansion’s final meta-event, the main complaint I’ve noticed is about the balance of professions – a frustration that often seems to stem from the community not understanding why ArenaNet is making the changes it does.

In the post, ArenaNet announces a commitment to regular profession updates – announcing a new quarterly update cycle, with smaller releases in between, as the meta around each patch takes shape.

I ask what kind of scope players can expect from them. “The quarterly profession update will focus on revisiting an element for each profession; a weapon, a utility skill set, or a selection of traits that are essential to defining certain builds or functionality in PvE, WvW, or PvP,” says Davis. “The extent of changes will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Some may need small number tweaks to be viable, and others may need a functional overhaul.”

More broadly though, I’m interested in what ArenaNet’s ultimate goal is for profession balance – something that has been widely discussed around the recent nerfs to Elementalist’s Catalyst’s elite specialization, which many players feel have been hit hard.

“By balancing professions and their elite specializations to work in each mode, the main result we’ve tuned is that each profession has a way to contribute strong value. Ideally, they have multiple builds that work,” says Davis. “Speaking of PvE as an example, our primary roles for endgame (instance) group content are DPS, Celerity, Alacrity, and Healing. In this context, GW2’s flexible and robust buildcraft allows for many possibilities of, in many combinations, tick two of these boxes at the same time (or choose DPS twice and deal more damage!) Generally speaking, a build that is a DPS/support hybrid deals about 3/4s the damage of a pure DPS build. Each profession have hybrid and pure DPS builds available among their specializations that are all within theoretical maximums close to comparable builds in other professions for damage output.

“Over the past year, we have significantly expanded the range of professions and builds that have access to important support functions, and we intend to continue doing this with future updates. The ultimate goal is for a player to be able to play whatever profession they enjoy most and consider their ‘core’ in any content, and that they will have a specialization and build available in that profession that might fit a role needed by their group. When a specialization (or build) ticks too many boxes in a way that stifles what is seen as largely viable (or worse, creates an environment of peer pressure to pursue a profession you don’t like, just because it’s seen as more content-friendly), we have to get to the root of the problem that’s causing this pressure and make changes to prevent that it restricted the general metagame. Catalyst had an issue that needed quick tweaks to resolve – it was dealing with DPS at the top of the charts and providing 100% uptime for a group simultaneously and therefore risking d overriding all other hybrid speed DPS builds. Our last patch steadied the Catalyst support build, but left the DPS build underperforming our own wishes for the specialization, and so it’s getting a number of positive changes in the next patch that will bolster its ability to do damage, make it It works consistently regardless of whether it drives the size of the hitbox and makes the play pattern for optimal skill usage much more accessible and tolerant.”

The first major profession update will be released on June 28, although a previous update targeting PvP and WvW balance will be released on March 29.

Road map

ArenaNet also released the full roadmap for the next three months, giving firm dates for some of the aforementioned updates, as well as the release of challenge modes for each of the four Dragons End Assault Missions.

  • March 29th: Super Adventure Festival, Polish Construction of Dragons’ End
  • April 19th: Living World Season 1 Episode 1, Aetherblade Hideout Challenge Mode
  • May 10th: Xunlai Jade Junkyard Challenge Mode
  • May 24th: Living World Season 1 Episode 2, Kaineng Overlook Challenge Mode, New Legendary Weapon Variant
  • June 7: Dragon Bash Festival, Harvest Temple Challenge mode
  • June 28: Balance update, new legendary weapon variant

Finally, there will be new World vs World beta tests and bonus events when the studio returns to the World Restructuring system that will change the mode from servers to guild alliances. The Restructuring beta is still in its first phase — testing the backend infrastructure for the new system. Once that is complete, though, ArenaNet plans to introduce ways to make World vs World more rewarding for individual players.

As a regular player, I’m happy to see how much is planned for next year and beyond. Over the life of the game, there were many times when the lack of updates made me wonder what the future of the game would be. But far from looking like it’s approaching the end of its lifespan, this update makes End of Dragons feel like the start of the next phase of the game’s life – one that looks like it will be supported in the future.

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