The first preview weekend of Path of Fire has come and gone and it was a fantastic weekend. We got to see our arrival in Elona, the desert, and thriving coastal town Amnoon. But the highlight of the weekend was the mount mastery system. Discussion on the preview was dominated by love for the Raptors, there was also a serious discussion about them making people sick as well. Overall it was a massive success for ArenaNet.
For those of us who have been playing Guild Wars 2 for a long time, this was a chance to see how development has changed since Heart of Thorns and what lessons they’ve taken from developing the living story and put into the open world. The most notable are the repeatable hearts which were introduced after Bloodstone Fen and have been present ever since. The reintroduction of hearts has given areas replayability without relying on massive map wide metas that only work when there are enough people.
They’ve taken the hearts another step further by introducing them to story instances. In doing so, they become quests in ways that they never had before. However, the heart that we encountered this weekend seemed somewhat pointless. The NPC had nothing to sell us and seemed to be there just to further the story, something any NPC could have easily done without it being a “Put out 10 fires” quest. I think that in this instance an event would have been a better choice. I am eager to see how else they incorporate hearts into instances, however.
It was a small disappointment for me to be given my first mount so early on. I think I would have enjoyed having to do the walk from the collapsing pyramid into Amnoon. It would have given us a better sense of how massive the map is. That being said, the Raptor did not disappoint at all. At first I didn’t like the little jump to the side they make when they first start moving but it very quickly grew on me. On Saturday, someone said in /map that they’ll have a hard time going back to the regular game and not having the mounts and I completely agree. They have a very realistic, lifelike movement. You won’t see them turning on a dime, they have to make broad sweeping motions, and that is just perfect. They’ve also been given a wonderfully playful, and somewhat derpy personality through the idle animations.
How can you not love that face?
I do find myself wishing they had more dye channels. Yes, they are customizable, but much of their bodies remain the same. Only giving us one dye channel does give some continuity between the Raptors, which I totally appreciate, but I also found myself wishing I could do more with their dye. If they added more channels for us to play with I would be over the moon, and if they don’t I will still be quite happy as I do love that on a basic level a raptor is a raptor.
Riding on the back of my Derpasaurus I found my sense of exploration return and didn’t even realize it was missing. I’ll just come out and say it, Heart of Thorns wasn’t fun to explore. Exploration is, at least most of the time, a solo endeavor. The jungle and solo just don’t go together and every little ledge has some sort of enemy ready to leap. But the space we had to explore this weekend was completely different. It was wide open so you could see exactly what kind of trouble you would be getting into. Having the mount made exploring fun.
But by far my favorite part of exploring was the simple act of looking up. The night sky is gorgeous! A work of art even. The best place to do that was next to the harbor where you could also enjoy the amazing new reflections on the water. I think I ended up spending every night I was in-game on that beach, just stargazing.
Guild Wars 2 has always been a beautiful game but this time they’ve gone above and beyond.
Things To Do
There are a lot of things going on in Amnoon. You’ve got a race, the casino putting on events, choya stampeding, bounties… the list goes on. My concern is that the rest of the desert was just so devoid of things to do. There weren’t many events taking place out in the desert and there were no hearts to be found. From an exploration point of view, yes, this is wonderful. But for an expansion that is supposed to be all about the content… the content was missing.
Or maybe it actually wasn’t! If you add up all the things going on in Amnoon and spread them out a bit, the region of the zone we were in would be really busy.
From a story point of view, there was also a bit of a mixed message. At the gate, we have refugees trying to get in. Inside we find the nobility are sleeping rough because of a recent sandstorm. And then there are celebrations for our arrival with the casino partying and races, which run straight through the refugee camp. Don’t get me wrong, the race is great fun, I just feel like the celebrations don’t belong with the rest of what we’ve seen.
Also, why is that Asura in a cage? It’s funny…but why?
For our first introduction to Path of Fire, I think it was fantastic. The weekend ended and I found myself wanting more, which is exactly what ArenaNet needs. I saw a lot of discussion on Thursday and Friday from MMO players who weren’t really into Guild Wars 2 who wanted to give it a try. So far, Gazimoff is the only one I’ve seen that has reported back and he loved it! Meanwhile, longtime players took the time to seriously beta test and discuss the concerns that they had. I think this weekend made a believer out of a lot of people. If that wasn’t enough, then there is one more preview weekend to go, in which we get to play with the Elite specializations which I think is the thing current players are looking forward to the most. You can bet I’ll be rolling up one of everything.Related: ArenaNet, Column, Expansion, Guild Wars 2, MMORPG, Path of Fire, Preview, The Tyrian Chronicle