There are many ways to view the Secret of Southsun update. The most objective is ArenaNet has added an hour or so of content, and then you are done. This is the worst way to experience Guild Wars 2. In another view, it’s easy to see that Southsun has become the de facto hotspot for some time. Ignoring the checklist-type content, this zone is alive with players now. Finally, Southsun has received a much needed injection of life, love, and polish.
Guild Wars 2 continues to use achievements to replace quests. For Secret of Southsun players are tasked to explore the updated areas, talk to a few key individuals, and find a bunch of samples around the island. I find it to be a poor guide especially given the dozens of achievements in the Secret of Southsun achievement category. The mail sent to all players tells them to get to Southsun to talk to the Inspector, but the real guide to the content is the achievements. I feel that if ArenaNet is going to continue to focus on achievements as the quest-like director for new content serious iteration needs to be done to make it a better means of communication.
Anyway, savvy players seemed to burn through the quest-like content pretty quickly. I would not suggest focusing on the achievements to such a narrowed degree. Might as well enjoy the passion fruit flowers on the way.
There are a few reasons to stick around in Southsun for the whole duration of the event. The biggest is that while on Southsun, players can represent the Consortium or Settlers. Represent the Consortium and players get a near-permanent buff to gold drops, which seems like a 300-400% increase. I was getting 3-4 silver per creature, when they would drop coin. The Settler’s buff in a 200% increase to Magic Find, which was really nice. I was noticing that I was receiving a lot more greens than usual, even a few rares now and then. This buff is removed if the player leaves Southsun to go to another zone. I have a hard time believing there are better open world farming spots with those buffs available.
The other reason is that the events are hot and heavy. Settlers and the Consortium are having a go at one another in the tropic heat. The frenzied animals are constantly attacking the outposts/resort areas. I was having a lot of fun because the mobs are challenging, and the reward feels proportionate to the increased challenge. The active population also feels really good (haven’t gotten out of overflow actually).
One area I have to point out is the scaling. Secret of Southsun has some of the best scaled events I have seen in Guild Wars 2 yet. For the players active in the event I’ve seen it scale numbers and mob ranks really well. I am really impressed with these, and I hope that a new bar to the quality of event scaling has been set at ArenaNet. It feels spot on for what a level 80 difficulty should be. This might feel even more so since I’ve been consistently failing events in Orr lately.
There’s a bit more to talk about, which I’ll save for some more focused posts on Crab Toss, specific events, and use of Southsun geography, but this feels like a nice update for what I would hope to expect from coming Living Story updates, especially if they are coming like this every 2-4 weeks. It makes good use of player focus, new content, and lots of activity. There are a few neat carrots to the achievements too for new back items with exclusive skins and account bound-ability. It’s definitely an update worth checking out.