[GW2] Flame and Frost: Prelude – Part 1, The Bouldering

You know how when you order a nice big steak dinner, and they forget the side of creamed spinach you ordered. They bring it out with apologies. You do not attack the creamed spinach as if it has now become the only item worthy of eating on your plate, ignoring your medium-rare steak, twice-baked potato, and that wedge of fiber, water and bleu cheese they call a salad. You incorporate it in to the rest of your meal. Welcome to Guild Wars 2 Living Story.

Of course most players didn’t know how the new content was supposed to work until last night when Bobby Stein clarified the goals for Flame and Frost: Prelude. He writes:

The Flame and Frost story content progresses over time. You will not see everything today, tomorrow, or even the next day.

Expect subtle changes at first. Maybe you’ll encounter some familiar characters. Perhaps you’ll be introduced to some new ones. You might see a new structure where there wasn’t one before.

The Living Story content is initially about the thrill of discovery. We’ll put some markers on your map, maybe send you a letter, or parcel out details through certain characters, but the rest is up to you.

As the weeks progress, you’ll notice bigger changes in the world. New events may appear. Plots will advance and characters will develop.

I am all for content additions of this nature, but ArenaNet has again explained their position largely after players already had set expectations. I am thankful Stein did this at all, but he is a game developer. He is not public or community relations. ArenaNet keeps trying new ways to parcel out content, which is good, but it also can easily confuse players.

Now that we are finally all on the same page, the content last night was fun. It was part of the whole game instead of the entire reason for playing. I spent time in Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau as well as Orr, Southsun Cove, and who knows where else.

Basically with the new content, there are refugees streaming in from the affected areas towards their capital cities. Players can help them out by fixing signs to guide refugees, lighting campfires, helping wounded refugees, finding hidden dead ones and scavenging their mementos, or doing some new events. Do this 75 times and players get an achievement, a title, and most importantly a Refugee Child’s Drawing (karma consumable) for this portion of the Living Story.

It was exciting seeing a lot of people in those small zones. Seeing legendary footprints in the early zones was kind of funny too. Lots of events were going off due to higher populations, and even if the events didn’t deal with Flame and Frost, players were attacking them with gusto.

Those events are currently the cause of the refugees. Seems ruptures from underground are causing environmental effects, which are adding to the blizzard and dust storms. Unstable elementals rise up during these ruptures, and in a helpful manner, killing them results in a chunk of material that can plug the ruptures. Frost and flame and questions abound.

The obvious answer is destroyers. The go underground. They are fiery. Yet, these are in areas where destroyers have had no presence. Jormag might be the other half of the Living Story’s title. There are other theories involving Flame Legion, Sons of Svanir, and even the dredge. Right now it seems we are in that confusing part of the beginning of the story where our bearings are not even set. I would personally really like to question the refugees beyond the blizzard and dust storms. Perhaps we’ll get a chance as the discoveries continue.



11 thoughts on “[GW2] Flame and Frost: Prelude – Part 1, The Bouldering”

    1. Failsnark rescinded. In game I had the letter directing me to the NPC directing me to the location of the other NPCs just like Bobby describes. :p So I can’t plead (as much) cluelessness as usual.

      1. I glanced at the letter, deleted it, and went about my normal play for a few hours. Never noticed anything different. Guess I need to pay more attention.

        1. Heh… well I have an update for the Clueless Kid Club experience… ;)

          I followed the letter to Herald A. He directed me to Herald B. Herald B said that there’s stuff in zones X and Y, and oh yeah the refugees are over there in the city if you want to talk to them.

          Now, GOOD: in zone X and Y there are indeed the subtle little flavorful activities described in this article and you’ll run right into them as you exit the city into the zone. :D

          BAD: going to talk to the refugees in the city results in NOTHING. Not even a fluff placeholder for the fluff that the refugees will presumably offer at a later date. :(

  1. I have a post on this I want to write but not had time today – it was a choice between that or playing. I couldn’t agree more about the shooting-oneself-in-foot way ANet go about managing expectations. After more than a decade of SOE I thought I’d be hardened to it but if anything ANet are worse.

    On the substantive issue of the events themselves, they make no sense whatsoever. The refugees are dying while walking through lands where other Norn and Charr are blithely strolling about carrying on their normal, trivial, silly business. The blizzards are infrequent, localized and occur in patches of wilderness where no-one lives. Haven’t seen a dust-storm yet but I bet that’s the same.

    What re these refugees running from? More to the point, WHERE are they running from? Which villages and farms have been destroyed? It works fine as a story when I read it on a website but in game there’s simply no trace of the “disaster” at all. I’m prepared to suspend disbelief and do some of the imaginary heavy lifting but this is just ludicrous.

    None of which is to say I’m not enjoying it. It’s a hoot. It’s just a farcical one.

  2. It should come as no surprise that players are, to continue using your food metaphor, shouting for their dessert to arrive with a mouth full of appetizer. It is encouraging to see ArenaNet calmly suggesting they chew their food and enjoy the flavor; their attitude towards content consumption seems closer to the well-versed waiter than the paper-hat wearing doofus we’ve come to expect from other developers. The kitchen is fully stocked, but they’ll let the meal play out properly rather than stand under a back-lit list of things to eat (with pictures!) and send you on your way.

    The last decade of MMO design (or thereabouts) has created a player base that can’t help behaving like locus, scouring the land for any morsel to digest, checking each off the list while skittering off in search of more. They’ve been conditioned to leap with both feet onto the content treadmill, point-for-point patch notes in hand, for fear of missing out on even the tiniest sliver of content. Mostly because there’s enormous, sometimes year-long gaps between updates in which they lay dormant, starving but often still paying $15 a month for the privilege, but also because someone else might have a slight advantage over them in the grand Gearscore hierarchy of MMO High School.

    Thankfully, we have Guild Wars 2 for those of us who graduated.

    I equate this sort of “consumption-by-numbers” to playing a game from any other genre with the strategy guide open in the player’s lap. We wouldn’t play Zelda like we’re putting together a bookshelf from Ikea, right? We don’t flip ahead to see what firearms the enemies in the next level are going to use. It seems that only MMOs, with their focus on chasing carrot after carrot after shiny, glittering, minor-stat-increasing carrot, suffer from this focus on making sure we know everything about the content before we experience it. Be it the boss strategy, the layout of traps and trash, the loot tables and drop rates, or where on the map we can find the next sucker willing to trade us a sack of bear asses for a +2 Dagger of Ogre Slaying. It’s the gaming equivalent of saying you’ve read “Great Expectations” because you read the Cliffnotes, and it’s another annoyance I’m glad ArenaNet has done away with,

    This “Living Story” approach is going to frustrate the hell out of people who are in the old MMO mentality; It’s not all happening at once, in the same place or on any schedule, and with no announcement. No one (at least in an official capacity) is telling you where and when to consume. It’s simply out there for us to find.

    And I love it.

    My wife loves to remind me how it was in Everquest “back in the day”, when updates would drop without notes and new content or changes could be lurking anywhere. To have the world suddenly change without any details, let alone the kind of vague summaries that pass for patch notes? It sounds incredible to an intrepid explorer like me.

    I think she only reminds me because she knows it will annoy me that I missed out on that.

    It’s working.

    Here’s hoping ArenaNet doesn’t buckle under pressure and sticks to keeping as many details about the who, where, what and when of their content updates under wraps. I’d rather have my guild mates excitedly shout “there’s something over here, come look!” than rattle off what needs to be done to get the latest trinket. There’s already half a dozen AAA MMOs that are more than happy to spoon-feed us fast food, let’s settle down and enjoy the surprises of a gourmet meal for once.

    1. Maybe I’m more of an ‘explorer’ than average, but GW2 zones are not so large that “it’s in Wayfarer Foothills” seems like inadequate instruction to me. I just went to the zone and started running around, vaguely heading north, until I noted how the signs and such were mostly clustered around the road to Hoelbrak (makes sense). Other people I know logged in and immediately said “where’s the event, what do we do, where do I start?” Different mentalities.

  3. Primordus. Here’s hoping for a servant of Primordus as the big bad to Flame and Frost.

    I checked it out last night and quite enjoyed myself. It gave me a reason to roam the main roads of Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau, seeing the sights and dynamic events along the way.

    I was amazed by a group of players who had settled down to kill off the refugees by leading hostile mobs into them, and was exhorting everyone over map chat to NOT kill the monsters. Why? So they could keep reviving the hostages for the achievement.

    Given how much moaning they were doing about lost aggro from low level mobs and the umpteen time someone came by innocently and offed the mobs from sheer reflex, they might have been done faster by doing it the intended way.

    I got all 75 done in that one night by fixing all the sign posts in both zones, picking up mementos off fallen refugees, lighting campfires, reviving fallen and assisting wounded refugees. And saw a lot more of the world and both rupture DEs to boot, clearing off the daily along the way. The only problem was the dodge one, which I ended up ‘farming’ with a moa.

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