Preview: Exploring Cantha And Riding Turtles Into Battle In Guild Wars 2: End Of Dragons
New lands await and an old foe returns in a more accessible strike mission.
The End of Dragons is nigh in Guild Wars 2, with the next expansion arriving in February. Last week, I was part of a press tour of some of the new content in the mysterious realm of Cantha, which was also the setting of the Factions expansion for the original Guild Wars, and I can now divulge to you everything I know. Literally everything! All the details!
Well, not exactly. ArenaNet still has a few salacious story bits it wants to keep under wraps for the time being, so I'll have to watch my steps here, let the Ministry of Purity comes for me.
(Speaking of which, that one of Cantha's many ministries is no more, or at least that's what we were told during our tour. The same thing was said about the White Mantle.)
Our tour began in the Echovald Wilds, the first zone new visitors to Cantha will find themselves in. The Jade Wind petrified the nearby forest before the events of the first Guild Wars, but it's starting to come back to life now. That's led to an increase in tourism, which will probably lead to those tourists getting themselves into trouble and needing help from passing adventurers to save them. As it was, and ever shall be.
As you probably already know if you've been following the reveals over the past few months, Cantha is big into jade technology, and there are several factions fighting over its use. The Jade Brotherhood was founded by the co-founder of a major corporation who had a desire to cross certain ethical lines regarding the use of jadetech and left the company after his partner disagreed. Their prime enemies are the Speakers, who oppose the use of jadetech, and are led by – did they said a “giant tree”? I think that's what they said.
The third faction is the Kestrels, comprised of tengu who led others to safety during one of the area's many disasters and live stealthily in the forest. Although we've seen them before throughout GW2, the birdlike tengu will be found all throughout End of Dragons content, and not always as peace-loving forest-dwellers. They can be found among all three of the major factions, as ArenaNet wanted to avoid making any race monolithic.
The primary focus of our tour – or at least the part I can talk about right now – was a long-ish group event that was centered around Fort Aspenwood. We mounted up our siege turtles and assaulted the fort, with each turtle's driver smashing headlong into obstacles, while the gunner blasted away at killer robots with the turtle mount's cannons, while occasionally activating a shield for defense. That shield reloaded the cannons, but the driver of the turtle could also help with reloading by moving around, so there's an incentive to not just sit in one spot.
As the encounter shifted indoors, we split into two groups in our attempt to find and destroy the Jade Brotherhood superweapon that was rumored to be inside. What we actually found was some kind of “weird science” facility with bizarre experiments going on, along with even deadlier killer robots that tried to kill us, as killer robots are wont to do.
It was explained that each of the giant killer robots have a mechanic that can be different with each playing of the event, but I'll be honest when I say I was too busy trying to stay alive and learn an elite specialization that I'd only dabbled with in the live betas to really pay more attention other than “don't stand in the orange circles.” Still, it sounds like a neat idea and should provide some variety to a big event that you'll likely find yourself repeating over and over.
As big and momentous as the encounter was, we were told it wasn't even the big meta chain for the Echovald Wilds map. That's called the Gang War of Echovald, and while we didn't get to check it out during our preview, it's supposedly “really insane.”
On some level, I get that the event we did wasn't incredibly special – you go somewhere, bash a lot of bad guys, and get the loot, a formula that ArenaNet has employed since the dawn of Guild Wars 2. Yet something about playing it felt special. Maybe that's just because it was set in a new area, using new specializations (I was playing a harbinger, the new necromancer spec), or maybe it was just because siege turtles are cool. Whatever the case, it's great to see that a nearly decade-old MMORPG can still spark that kind of enthusiasm, even in a grumpy gamer like me. Now, we'll see how I feel after I do this event 30 times...
We also tried out a new strike mission, Arborstone Strike, which is a group version of a single-player instance that you'll encounter as part of the story. I've never actually done a strike in the live game before, turned off as I am by the generally elitist views regarding top-tier content in GW2, but the pre-battle explanation we got of the battle's phases and the boss's primary attacks was brief and good enough to make me feel like I actually knew what I was doing (except for that one thing, which I totally understand now and promise not to get killed by twice the next time). When the content is new, and everyone is looking for groups for it, I might be willing to finally give it a try.
The boss of the strike mission is Mai Trin, whom long-time GW2 fans will remember from her days heading up the Aetherblades, circa 2013. That's about all I'll say about the encounter or any of its mechanics; ArenaNet was very strict about what we could reveal, and while I think I could say more, I'd rather not take a chance. Just know that even an anti-10-player content person like myself feels optimistic about my chances of prospering in this instance.
Our session also granted us some hands-on time with a few of the expansion's elements that were previously revealed, elite specs (which have had several betas so far), legendary weapons (based around the prismatic elder dragon Aurene that will start with a “bright” version but will encapsulate aspects of the other elder dragons in future updates), and fishing (which will be … uh, fishing).
And then there was the other place we went to and the other thing we saw, which has a later embargo date. But I can tell you right now, it was –
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About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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