[GW2] Heroes of Flame and Frost, Prelude

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.


7 thoughts on “[GW2] Heroes of Flame and Frost, Prelude”

  1. I don’t get what’s so great about the mission design, imho it (again – personal story says hello) was pretty bland, defeating enemies one after another – nothing special anywhere. Furthermore still no challenge… first try again.

    Is it really that difficult to design interesting gameplay for 2(!!) missions? Seeing what games like Starcraft 2 do, each mission a totally new experience, I can’t understand why we still get no improvement in the gameplay department. What about a crowd of enemies which chases the player and he has to avoid them? Something different from what we’ve seen so far… too much to ask for?

    The good things for me: story, finally cutscenes (which still have a lot of potential for improvement) and characterdesign.

    1. I think the Living Story instances are tuned for accessibility, not challenging gameplay per se. A non-level 80 has to be able to solo them (there are still casuals and new players who don’t have 80s in exotics and would still want to be part of the Living Story event.)

      It’s not like the instances didn’t have a few tricks. Someone who decided to AoE all the sonic devices in the hatchery would probably not be happy two seconds later. The boss at the end of each instance did appear to have one or two things different about them (though personally when I read the words that said one of them was stronger at range, I didn’t even give it a chance to demonstrate what it could do and hugged it in melee because there’s where I like to be anyway.)

  2. If you speak to Rytlock after the cut-scene, when Braham has left, he tells you why he doesn’t believe Eir had son – he’s known her a long time and it’s something she would have told him. Knut Whitebear also has to ask who Braham is and it’s clear he has no idea Eir had a son either.

    Now, how she comes to have son who has to be at least 18 years old without two people who’ve probably known her pretty well for longer than that even being aware of his existence is another question entirely. I have to say Knut seemed very unsurprised, though.

    I’m enjoying this episode of F&F a lot more than the first two. I still think this is a couple of days’ worth of content not a month, but a couple of days is better than a couple of hours, which is what we got the last two times. For my own tastes I’d rather have one of these “Living Stories” done full-on for 7-10 days and then nothing new for a couple of months until the next one has been fully prepared than have this drip-feed, but that’s not to say I’m not enjoying it for what it is.

    I certainly prefer the Living Story to the SAB by several orders of magnitude, for all its flaws.

  3. The timeline for the GW2 setting is a little /loose/ at points, but Eir Stegalkin and Rytlock Brimstone have known each other for at least six years as of the start of the Living Story. Unlike Rytlock-Logan or Eir-Zojja, Eir and Rytlock didn’t blame each other for Snaff’s death, while the Charr and Norn peoples have also had historic if unofficial truces. Knut Whitebear has known Eir for even longer, strongly suggested to be decades.

    Rytlock’s operating on some Charr-specific assumptions — Charr culture values sharing information with the warband, and has drastically different concepts of child-raising — but the out-of-game media suggest that there is something very unusual about Braham and Eir’s relationship.

  4. I’d say this isn’t an excuse, you could scale the non-80 to max. level easily in those instances and still provide interesting gameplay. Lv.1 players aren’t bad players necessarily.

  5. The non-instanced content of F&F was pretty disappointing so far. The new events in Diessa and Wayfarer are just cyclic enemy spawns. No new chains, no meta events, no state change to the maps.
    The instances were good for what they are, but to me at least they are a development in the wrong direction.

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