We’re doing something quite different. It’s pretty bold, but we feel it’s a solution to the increasing problem of reviewing the ever-developing game. How does the patch review work? Read about it here
The Razing, the 3rd part in ArenaNet’s Flame and Frost patch update for Guild Wars 2, sees WvW as the main focus, as well as a continuation of the Living Story.
Leaderboards have also been added into the game as part of this update, however, they will not be made available to players for a few more weeks.
A handful of new rewards and bounties were also added after last month’s update.
WvW has been suffering a mini-crisis prior to this update. The amount of players partaking in WvW on a regular basis is down on most servers. On others, it’s almost non-existent. Apart from fixing the culling issue that has been a thorn in the side of WvW, a progression system and new abilities were also added. Finally fixing culling has allowed for battles within WvW to feel more epic. Before, only the opposing players at the front or those stood next to you were visible. Now on the highest settings, everyone can be seen. In situations where it is one large group against another, this definitely gets the adrenaline pumping and helps bring back some excitement to the WvW element of Guild Wars 2. Of course, this is all in vain if there is nobody there playing WvW to create those battle scenarios.
In an attempt to tempt players back, a progression system and new rewards have been introduced. Players will earn WvW experience as they play and eventually get to level up. This will unlock points which can be spent to buy abilities such as improvements to siege and supply capacity. At the moment, there are only 8 to choose from and sadly, only 4 of them will be useful when it comes to winning WvW. While the new system is a welcomed addition to WvW, right now, it feels shallow and lacking. It definitely feels like there should be more to this.
The entire progression system is far too narrow. Even the new rewards purchasable with badge honor aren’t much different from other items that can be purchased with dungeon tokens. ArenaNet have missed an opportunity with this WvW focused update to bring back sustainable life to an interesting game mode.
Unless the system is expanded and the rewards become more lucrative, I feel that, within a few months of the update, WvW will return to its previous state of non-activity.
Fortunately, that’s not all we have to look forward to. The Living Story of the Dredge and Flame Legion ravaging the lands of the Norn and Charr also continues in this update. In two separate story missions, we are introduced to Rox and Braham, with Braham being the more personable of the two. Rox’s story requires the player to assist her in clearing out Flame and Dredge from a devourer camp. It’s about as dull as it sounds. The only interesting part throughout the entire mission is her relationship with a baby devourer.
Braham’s is the opposite, however. In fact, he’s possibly the best Norn character players will come across in the game. His strong character design pushes the narrative in engaging new ways and makes the somewhat laborious tasks enjoyable, despite them being fairly standard affairs.
Both characters offer reasonable rewards for completing their story arcs so it’s well worth doing just that. ArenaNet should also be praised for the design of the Flame Legion and Dredge in either story. For different reasons, both identities are extremely eye-catching, and compliment the designer’s ability to create a distinct look for this new and dangerous alliance.
Out of the 3 Flame & Frost updates, The Razing is by far the weakest. There isn’t enough depth and sustainability to make it as beneficial as previous updates, such as the guild missions and the new achievement system introduced in The Gathering Storm. Being rewarded for partaking in something is always nice, but WvW isn’t a quick-fix and needs more attention than The Razing is giving it. The game mode needs major changes to stop it from becoming stale over time, while also keeping it exciting on all tiers. How that can be achieved is difficult to assess at this point, but adding more creative and effective rewards, as well as a greater incentive to level up would certainly be a start.
Meanwhile, the Living Story is what it aims to be; a narrative dictated by a series of small side quests for players to follow and engage in. Nothing more and nothing less. Unfortunately, even that seems fatigued from ArenaNet’s herculean effort to try to release monthly content for Guild Wars 2.
The content added here is relatively sound and noble in its efforts to ‘set things right’ in the WvW space, but ultimately it will leave players feeling short-changed.
The Achievement System and Guild Missions in The Gathering Storm were forward thinking and added a lot to Guild Wars 2. These elements improved the overall game experience and set it apart from other MMO rivals.
…After this patch…
The Razing feels like a regression in comparison, and there’s not much depth or substance to make it a worthwhile addition to Guild Wars 2. WvW remains an unattractive commodity and making us wait for leaderboards is equally disappointing.
On one hand, Guild Wars 2 is a game offering a lot of new, dynamic MMO experiences. On the other hand, it’s not entirely sure what to do with them. The Razing proves the true potential of Guild Wars 2 has yet to be fully realized.