The third installment of Guild Wars 2’s second season of the Living World has finally rebooted my love and energy for the MMO. I liked the first two episodes, including the new zone and story instances, but I didn’t feel that drive. Now, I feel like season 2 has become a full expansion of the game. All it took was a backpiece, a trip far from Dry Top, and balance.
Episode 3 sends players to norn and charr country to deal with norn and charr issues. The minions of the plant dragon Mordremoth are spreading, quickly though, and your goal is to get the leaders of the norn and charr to a summit to form a different kind of pact. A racial pact. It seems that the Orders are not the moving force in this story. Perhaps ArenaNet has decided that the Orders are a thing best left gaining dust, like underwater combat. It will be interesting to see how they fit in with the Mordremoth threat, given that the Orders were still strong at the end of last season with the death of Scarlet and the destruction of Lion’s Arch. Trahearne, at least, is making a return.
The content of Episode 3 is a nice balance of open world events and story instances. I really enjoyed that ArenaNet is having us lightly return to some places I would imagine quite a few haven’t been for some time. I especially liked the areas that had changed, notably the Iron Marches got quite a few Mordrem themed events. The story instances were also pretty good. I felt there was a good mix of acknowledging my character and using the NPC’s to move things along. ArenaNet’s Season 2 is really becoming a very good balance of, well, everything.
I did have one issue though where I felt there was a bit of a disconnect with the charr instances at the end of Episode 3. The Mordrem were already invading charr territory (Iron Marches), which I attended to in an earlier part of the chapter, but the charr instance portion of the story made it seem like they hadn’t yet. Wasn’t Smodur getting messages from troops that they were under attack? The Black Citadel definitely has enough to worry about with Branded and Ascalonian ghosts, but Mordrem are also attacking, Rytlock!
The chase item for this installment is a goal to get a magic seed backpiece. It requires a level 400 chef, huntsman, and artificer. It requires completion of Episode 3, a small bit of a fairly easy scavenger hunt, and a ton of killing trees for the new Foxfire Cluster – a crafting material solely for this backpiece. Use of gold can shortcut most things with the exception of the scavenger hunt.
I feel that like the story, this chase item is fairly balanced. It’s not difficult or expensive. It is a little time consuming (or gold consuming). But, it’s also kind of fun to have a more difficult souvenir. It’s a driving goal. It’s energized me to use a lot more of my alts as well, and I’ve finally decided on having a WvW alt since I’ve already spent a ton of gold on my guardian’s phoenix weapons.
More than likely I will wear the backpiece for a small part of Season 2 just to say “I did it and not everybody did”. Mrs. Ravious is forsaking the goal, and I don’t blame her. However, she has become quite the fossilized insect farmer, which I have ignored. More balance. Different people chase after different goals. It is great that ArenaNet is coming up with many different goals through Season 2.
Another reason for this movement is seeing life in the world beyond a very active Dry Top, where people seem to be getting really good at hitting the higher tiers of Zephyrite friendship. Mrs. Ravious and I did most of Episode 3 on Sunday night, when believably most of the hardcore and weekend warriors had already run through it. All along the way the points-of-interest for Episode 3 had a decent amount of people. It wasn’t a zerg, but it wasn’t that one or two other poor souls.
The game felt alive. Again, it felt balanced. It felt energized. And that energy has spread. I’ve been dumping gold and laurels (I had like 300, eek!) on getting my WvW guardian in to the pink zone so she can rain phoenix wrath on the lesser. I’ve finally got 100% of the 4 exotic-reward zones for another alt. I went on a wide gathering spree to get a character to 400 huntsmen (the second last crafting profession I didn’t have, leatherworker will wait).
The energy evoked by myself and Mrs. Ravious has even spread to our kids who have begun to sway from Windborne and come back to Guild Wars 2 depending on mood. They really want level 80’s now that they can’t enter Dry Top, reasonably, without one of their own.
A few of my friends are just signing on once every two weeks to snag the episode. I feel they might be missing out on some of that liveliness, but I think once they get the complete Season 2 (whenever that will be), they will find a very balanced offering. I am glad that I have my zeal back. I was missing that fervor for Guild Wars 2. I was kind of drifting, not away, but just going through motions. Now I have that focus that I feel comes from new expansions or new MMOs. I want to play. See you in game.