While Guild Wars 2 fans abound with glee over the Super Adventure Box, I do want to make sure to highlight the story instances that came with the March update. They are very good quality, especially in comparison to much of the personal story. The instances were fun, and I finally felt that I had something substantial to latch on to for Flame and Frost.
The story instances revolve around the tales of Braham, norn guardian and son to Eir, and Rox, charr ranger, in response to the Molten Alliance. Braham lives at Cragstead (one of the new instance areas), which became a slave repository for the Molten Alliance. As the norn have no army, Braham tries to get help from the charr before deciding to re-take Cragstead on his own (with the players). Rox is ordered by Rytlock Brimstone to go deal with the Molten Alliance mucking with charr assets. She takes the players along with her to go figure out the problems at a devourer hatchery (the other new instance area).
First, I have an issue with the overarching mechanics of these tales. In the player’s achievement tab the player gets an achievement for watching various scenes with Braham and Rox. This leads up to the action instances where players get to fight. So yeah, players get an achievement for standing there. These are quests thrown in to a system with no good way to gate the quest’s story. As Guild Wars 2 gets more post-launch personal stories, I hope ArenaNet makes or figures out a better technical solution to this problem. It seems developers keep wanting to add quest-like content, but their means to do so seems really inelegant.
Negativity now aside, the cutscene instances are pretty good. I especially liked that things were left unsaid. Why did Rytlock not believe Eir had a son, for example? The dialogue seemed a lot less stiff than in the personal story. The action instances were really good. The pacing was excellent, and I liked how small effects kept changing. For example, getting a small swarm of baby devourers to help fight was fun (even if they were flame fodder). The highlight was definitely Braham’s Retake Cragstead: great pacing, great use of villagers, great in-action conversations. One of the best personal instances in game, by far.
With Rox and Braham I finally feel some connection to the story of the Molten Alliance. Instead of just assuming that Diessa and Wayfarer are going to dust and ash where I will be half-heartedly stemming the tide with some lore reasons why the dredge are working with the Flame Legion… I want to see where the story goes. Are Rox and Braham going to cross paths? The dredge using slaves is awfully ironic; haven’t they learned from the past? Will Rytlock or Eir make another entrance?
This also got me more excited about the persistent-ish content going on in Diessa Plateau and Wayfarer Foothills (as well as the listening devices further abroad). I just seem to care more about the changes in the world now that I’ve had something to latch on to.
Storywise, the updates for the Living World in Guild Wars 2 continue to get better. In April Guild Wars 2 will get the finale to Flame and Frost, since The Razing (March) was the third installment of the four-part series. I feel like Flame and Frost has finally hit a good stride, and I can’t wait to see how it ends. I also am very, very interested to see how ArenaNet cleans up the story once it is over, but we’ll save that discussion for another day, another post.