Live today, Guild Wars 2‘s No Quarter update introduces a new zone where fighting isn’t just something you do to gain rewards. There’s a war on, son, and your participation could mean the difference between victory and defeat in the conflict between two warring charr factions. Oh, and yes, there are rewards, too, you know, beyond fighting for the good guys.
Last week, ArenaNet gave us a preview of that new zone, Drizzlewood Coast. It consists of a series of individual fortifications and their surrounding areas, similar to the map in World vs. World. It’s up to players, fighting for the United Legion, to seize territory from Bangar Ruinbringer’s Dominion forces. There are two lanes to progress through, each with three fortifications, leading to a final confrontation with Bangar’s chief lieutenants, but it’s not going to be as straightforward as on other zone-wide meta maps like Dragon’s Stand.
As players claim territory – taking down a few recognizable charr NPCs in the process – they’ll need to rebuild things and boost troop morale to prepare for the inevitable counterattacks from Dominion forces – and those counterattacks will come, inversely proportional to each location’s morale. As players try to advance the front, they’ll also need to guard their flanks, working in multiple teams to capture-and-hold their hard-fought gains.
Some of the events that occur in reclaimed territory are based upon the team’s research into real-life civil wars. In one event, you need to shoot down drones that are dropping propaganda leaflets, which is a thing that actually happened. “It’s important that every event in the meta feel in lockstep with each other,” said Lead Narrative Designer and Lead Writer for No Quarter Novera King, “and that every event feels like it’s part of the charr civil war.”
For their efforts, players will receive War Supplies, which they can use to help rebuild the bases and convert into a currency they can use to obtain various rewards. The new Mastery for the zone is Charr Waystation Syncronization. The first tier sends out an electromagnetic pulse, which does bonus damage to Defiance bars. The second tier sends out a remote-controlled mine, while the third lets you summon a portable waystation, which offers various purchasing options.
Other rewards in the set include Bear Shaman Armor, which looks about how you’d expect from norn spirit animal armor: i.e., lots of fur and claws. You’ll get those from completing the strike mission that comes with this update (more on that later) or by completing WvW or PvP reward tracks. There’s also a weapon set based on the tengu, which you’ll get “by exploring the map and learning about the map,” and the Stormcaller set, which will be upgradable in later updates. Oh, and you can get a /playdead emote, for those times when /sleep just won’t do.
For those wanting something a bit more thematic, there are also a new pair of charr helmets, to complement the set for all three armor weights that was started in the prologue (and you can get the prologue helmet in this chapter, too). A backpack and a pair of weapons, rifle and dagger, also have a charr theme, with the charr rifle having the nifty additional effect of ejecting its cartridges. (Overwatch fans will get the joke that having that weapon means you’re part of the “Ashe Legion.”)
Finally, we were given a rundown of the newest strike mission, Cold War. In this instance, you’ll be attacked by hordes of hostile enemies, including choppers you have to shoot down with charrzookas. The more waves you clear, the more reward chests you’ll receive at the end. With the footbound enemies, choppers, and the occasional tank rumbling through, it’s a chaotic mess of a battle, but who ever said war was orderly? The boss of the encounter is … well, we’re not supposed to speak about them, but it should be a familiar face from a previous Icebrood Saga chapter.
After last year’s layoffs, ArenaNet’s Linsey Murdock said that she wanted to make the game less “formulaic,” to “do something a bit different.” That was a major complaint of mine, that every update felt pretty much the same, and a reason why I spent so long away from the game. The past few updates, and this one especially, seem to be breaking that predictable pattern, and while I’m still churning through the story and zones of the past year, I’m actually looking forward to being caught up and trying out the newer stuff. That’s a feeling I haven’t had about Guild Wars 2 for a long time, and I hope the team keeps up the good work.