[GW2] Bazaar of the Four Winds Impressions

ArenaNet has been inviting fan sites and journalist sites to preview the new content the weekend before it drops. I really appreciate all the work the team is doing for this because it gives the sites time to think, write, and develop well-rounded impressions and guides. This is the first time I have been able to join in on the preview, and for the content coming July 9, we checked out the Bazaar of the Four Winds.

New Map, Labyrinthine Cliffs

Although kind of unspecified in the official site’s Bazaar of the Four Winds page, the majority of this content update takes place on a brand new map called Labyrinthine Cliffs. It’s about the size of Rata Sum, or a small capital city, but it does have some enemies to combat. Labyrinthine Cliffs is located east of Mount Malestrom, and it is beautiful. Kites are the theme, and the sense of wind and freedom permeates the map. All the artists have done a remarkable job, as usual. It is also where the giant, nomadic airship – the Zephyr Sanctum – docked.

While Southsun Cove and other maps revolve around a plethora of events and enemies to kill, Labyrinthine Cliffs is more like a playground. A playground for air-bending ninjas since the Zephyrites, human sky savants, have landed. In one sense it’s a giant jumping puzzle, but that’s not very accurate. I find playground much more accurate because there are all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore. Still, there are a few tougher “puzzles” such as the Best. Dive. Ever.

To help explore, players pick up aspects along the way, which are consumable skills (similar to how Fireworks work). Wind gives a super jump. Sun gives a speedy dash, and the aspect of lightning gives a targeted super jump. These new skills allow players to get to a lot of areas that would normally just seem impossible. There is reason to parkour because all around Labyrinthine Cliffs there are sky crystals to activate, with the reward of having a pesonal Zephyr Sanctum model if players find 40 out of 50+. The skills, especially the windy super jump, are very smooth to use, and it gives the whole map a feeling of freedom.

What I really enjoyed with the new map was the depth of Labyrinthine Cliffs. There were a lot of new lore NPCs and NPC conversations occurring throughout. Even though not quite as dense in NPC content as a capital city, The area feels really lively. I highly recommend lurking around the back of the Zephyr Sanctum to listen to a Zephyrite teaching a bunch of kids. Very interesting theories to share.

New Games

There are three new content additions on top of Labyrinthine Cliffs: Sanctum Sprint, Belcher’s Bluff, and the new PvP map, Skyhammer.

Sanctum Sprint is the temporary content where players train in the use of the aspects of wind, sun, and lightning in a Mario Kart-like race. I think for now this is going to be the spiritual successor of Rollerbeetle Racing of old. There are points for crystals to collect, items that give additional skills, and traps and jumps throughout the race. The best part is that ArenaNet made sure that Sanctum Sprint would be rewarding. At second place I received a rare. At sixth place I received a small handful of blues. I am hoping that people will continue to race throughout the month, unlike the less rewarding Dragon Ball arena, which seemed to become rather vacant as Dragon Bash waned.

Belcher’s Bluff is a new permanent minigame activity. It’s basically an upgraded version of a bluffing minigame found in the personal story, which makes it quite different from the team-based Keg Brawl. The fun part about Belcher’s Bluff is it is another good time-passer while groups are being created or guild missions are being formed. Any player can plop down a table to tempt an opponent to see who can drink, bluff, and belch each other under the table. While this game is a permanent addition, beating Poyaqui, Grandmaster of the game, in Labyrinthine Cliffs is only available while the map is active.

Finally we were introduced to the new PvP map, Skyhammer, which is now my favorite PvP map. It’s a vertical-style map with jump pads and ledges. It also has floor panels which shatter a moment after they are stood upon. Pursuers have to be very careful not to accidentally run across one after their prey as they could easily fall to their death. With these panels and open ledges, this map is going to be about control and stability. The secondary mechanic is the a huge laser (the Skyhammer) which when controlled by a team automatically shoots a high-damage beam at the players below. The laser control overlook is going to be a place of beautiful battles, I think, as it is as much solid ground as it is shattering floor panels.

Economy and Crafting

There are new skins for helms and back items reflecting the crystals and aspects of the Zephyrite peoples, and these are tied to Zephyr Sanctum Supply Boxes, which seem similar to the other supply boxes. I have a feeling the economy is going to feel some significant movement from the acquisition of these items. A developer told us about the Black Lion Trading Company’s offering as a type of fortune. Opening one gives a random boost for awhile and also a fortune scrap. While there are gold fortune scraps giving whatever helm or back item the player wishes, players not looked kindly upon by the RNG gods can save up lesser fortune scraps to buy the skin. The normalization of RNG items people have been asking for has, in a way, arrived.

There is also a new resource found in Labyrinthine Cliffside, quartz. Mining quartz yields Quartz Crystals. Smooshing together 25 of those at a “place of power” (where players get skill points by communing) nets a Charged Quartz Crystal. These will be used in new crafting recipes. When the map closes, players that have completed the meta achievement for Bazaar of the Four Winds will have a quartz node in their home instance. The resource will also be tradable.

Conclusion

There are so many more things to explore including the achievement upgrades, which are fantastic. The UI has been redone, and achievement tiers have been added that give gold, laurels, and chests at each tier as well as permanent account bonuses. The fact that we are getting feature upgrades like these outside of expansions, or the like, says a lot about how ArenaNet views their Living World.

Bazaar of the Four Winds is a great two-week update. It’s relaxing and free, just like summer should be. It is a refreshing change of pace coming off of the rather difficult Aetherblades content. One of the main developers for the Bazaar, Leif Chapelle, who also works majorly on the new Guild Wars 2 sound tracks, hinted that there was of course more to come in late July, but he was rather tight-lipped about what may happen. He sounded rather excited through his dancing-around-the-subject monologue, and said with finality that another update is just two weeks away.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions in the comments below.

–Ravious

19 thoughts on “[GW2] Bazaar of the Four Winds Impressions

  1. Pingback: Informationen zum Patch Basar der Vier Winde - Guild Wars 2 | Guildnews

  2. jason wolcott (@woolydub)

    This sounds great, Ravious! The new map is a total shocker to me. Did you get to see what the recipes made with the quartz? Also, any description of what the Achievement Point tiers looked like ( Was it every 1000 points or so?) or is that still embargoed? Thanks for the info!

    1. Ravious Post author

      I did not. I made some fused quartz, but since we had level 0 crafting characters I couldn’t see how to use it. Now you can exchange crafting materials for the Supply Boxes so I wonder if that relates.

      The tiers were every 500, and we could see up to 2500. One of the devs mentioned that the average-ish they had for people was around 5-6K, which was accounted for in the system… so I am guessing with our just started characters we could only see the lower tiers. They also said that they would of course be adding tiers reflective of the max available achievement points.

  3. bhagpuss

    I’ll reserve judgment on this particular update until l I see it but in general terms I’m finding the move to a two-weekly content feed tiring. Like a lot of things in life it sounds attractive in theory but turns out be less so in practice.

    In a decade and a half of MMO gaming I’ve rarely found myself in a situation where I feel uncomfortable if I don’t log in because I might miss out on something and I’d like to keep it that way. The problem is, GW2 is by no means the only MMO trending in this direction. Playing MMOs is becoming more and more about completing a set series of events in a limited time-frame than just hanging out in an imaginary world. Of course you can still do that, but as developers get better at reading and manipulating their playerbases players need more and more willpower to ignore the blandishments and bribes on offer and just go their own sweet way.

    1. Ravious Post author

      Well, like you’ve mentioned in the past you can do what is fun. Logging in and exploring most of Zephyr Sanctum to the fullest can easily be done within an hour. If you find using the aspects fun, then stick around and complete the treasure hunt / jumping puzzles.

      The meta-achievement for each 2-week period can be sometimes grindy (Aetherblades), but this week it doesn’t seem that way. Usually though getting the meta-achievement is rather easy. Some focus is required, but it definitely does not require more than a dedicated play session or two of time for the new content leaving you plenty of time for the rest of the 2-week period for whatever MMO content you desire to play.

  4. Optimus Maleficus

    Great write-up! Is the Labyrinthine Cliffs map itself permanent, or is it going away in 2-4 weeks along with everything but Belcher’s Bluff and Skyhammer?

    1. Ravious Post author

      It will be going away, at least for some time since the Zephyr Sanctum will be departing at the end of the 2-4 week period. (I think Leif said 4 but don’t quote me/him on it). He did mention that the Bazaar could become an annual event as a possibility.

      1. Optimus Maleficus

        Gotcha, thanks. I haven’t seen the map, but the Sanctum sounds integral to it. Would there be much to do there if the Sanctum departed but the Cliffs themselves were still open for exploration?

  5. 시간

    Looking forward to this new phase of development. This is a decent sized chuck of a patch to be bimonthly content.

  6. Merus

    I’m treating this Living Story stuff as basically a replacement for the ‘grinding for a legendary’ endgame, which is aces because that was terrible.

  7. Maarius

    can you tell us more about the droprate of the fortune scraps? Dulfy mentioned a very low droprate from crates (1 of 10 or less) and you can’t buy/sell those on the TP since they’re account bound. So it would take us about 2500 baskets to open or more than 8000gems… sounds like a hell lot of work considering I don’t except the golden ticket drop.

    1. Ravious Post author

      Sorry I have nothing to really say. My evidence over the weekend would just be anecdotal compared to the amount of data players will likely provide today. I do expect that like Jade Weapon Tickets, it will be significant work to amass fortune scraps so that they remain pretty rare.

      1. Ravious Post author

        I forgot to mention, running the Sanctum Sprint gives a chance at the back piece EVERY TIME, regardless of placing. That might be your better bet.

  8. Maarius

    well you could buy a chest for 1s on the TP, so if you’d really wanted a ticket it was affordable imho. Got mine for 4g and my friend got his for 10g. It’s not possible with account-bound scraps :(

    25 days for 2500 baskets = 100 baskets a day… damn… you also can’t farm one twice a day.

    Edit: I’m going for the awesome helmet ;) Not sure if I should “waste” my time farming race-chests. I’m sure I will love the race but 100 baskets a day… I don’t have time to play 24/7 :((

    1. Ravious Post author

      They change the luxury skin method a bit almost every time. You can’t compare it just to Dragon Coffers, but to Scelerite, Molten, Chainsaw skins, etc.

      These do seem more premium but you never know how the droprate will work out across the entire month.

  9. Muir

    This seems like a ridiculous/obvious question, but is the content for max-level only? I’m thinking about picking up the game, but if I’ll be left out then I feel no need to grab it just yet.

    1. Ravious Post author

      No, ArenaNet makes it so everybody can usually play at the point of interest. In Southsun Cove, for example, everybody was statistically upgraded to level 80 for the event.

      Now, you won’t be able to go to every map where the treasure hunt is, but you will be able to do the bulk of the current living story.

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