While this is the first week of Wintersday, and you were most likely expecting an article about the event, I’d actually like to talk about something related. This is something I’ve appreciated and not seen mentioned much since the launch of Path of Fire. The weather effects have been amazing. Yes, I want to talk about the weather. More importantly, I want to praise ArenaNet for doing such an amazing job with it.
The first weather effect I saw in Path of Fire, which really made me fall in love with the work they’re doing, was the heat haze in Desert Highlands. Though we’ve been to a few desert places before this was the first time there was ever that haze. For the first time, it actually felt like we were really in a desert that was miserably hot. Sure, Dry Top has a lot of sand, but nothing there really suggests that they’re dealing with any heat. The heat haze in the Desert Highlands came as such a surprise and so wonderfully done that it actually pulled me completely out of the moment. I had been in the middle of roleplaying when I just stopped to admire the scene in front of me. It was beautiful. It still is.
The Desert Highlands continued the trend of amazing weather effects with rain in the hills. As you climb you transition from rain to fog then into snow. At the Derelict Delve, you can see how the structures manipulate the wind causing little wind tunnels that pull snow through them.
Now we’ve started seeing weather outside of Elona as well. There’s low lying fog in Gendarran Fields. It hangs over Witherflank River, Lake Gendarr, and the surrounding environment. Most importantly though it isn’t always there. If you pass through in the middle of the day you aren’t going to see it. It starts to creep in slowly at dusk, building heavier as time goes on so that by the time nigh hits you find yourself surrounded by fog. You can pass through this area three different times and see it in three different states. Each one giving a different impression of what it’s actually like there. During the day it’s a beautiful and warm area. As night approaches the temperature drops and it starts getting colder. By the time the fog comes in you get an appreciation for how cold it gets in Gendarran Fields at night.
All of that now brings me to Wintersday. In the past, the only snow we’ve seen falling in Divinity’s Reach has been from the snowmaking machines that make magic snow. While these do still exist, and let’s be honest that it wouldn’t be Wintersday without them, that isn’t the only snow falling. Snow has finally come to Divinity’s Reach and, for me at least, it is the most exciting update to Wintersday this year. This is, of course, Tixx’s doing. It just doesn’t get cold enough in Divinity’s Reach for real snow to fall. Something which I appreciate being explained. After all, why hasn’t it snowed any other year? It’s all thanks to Tixx and his love of Wintersday. Having the snow falling in Divinity’s Reach feels like the last piece of the ambiance puzzle has been put in place. We’ve had the music, the ice sculptures, and the snow on the ground. Now we have it in the air and it properly feels like it’s Christmas Wintersday.
The new weather effects in Guild Wars 2 are another step towards the living world that ArenaNet has always been striving for. They give a sense that you’re in a world that changes, a world that is different each time you pass through it. It gives a sense of progression that was always lacking before. They pull you deeper into the world and help you get a better understanding of the world around you. For roleplayers, it gives an extra little prompt. On patrol in Gendarran Fields? Comment on how thick the fog is or how cold the night air is. For those who enjoy tracking changes in the world, it raises questions. Like, what is this mud puddle and collection of grubs doing here?
Are there other changes like these out in the world? When you’re looking for little changes like these that are very localized and possibly time-sensitive it can be impossible to find them all. So I’m curious… What changes have you seen in Guild Wars 2 weather? Are there any little environment changes you’ve noticed? Leave them in the comments, I’m dying to see them all.
On an only slightly related note, I’d like to address ArenaNet on behalf of all roleplayers. Now that you’ve added a chair gizmo in the game with different poses please consider creating one for the gem store. They don’t need to be fancy. In fact, making them a little generic would be perfect. You could make it as simple as a stool. But I think the best way to do it would be to make them different based on race and gender. However, you decide to do it we would pay for it. You could even bring them out like you do with glider skins and have new varieties from time to time. I can promise you that people, especially roleplayers will buy them.
Finally, thank you ArenaNet. You’ve been doing an amazing job at the little things. While the community may not always agree with everything you do, and no one ever will, you don’t get enough praise for the things you do right. So, thank you. These little things like the weather and chairs, they may seem small but to many of us, they’re what makes the game as amazing as it is.Related: ArenaNet, Column, Guild Wars 2, MMORPG, The Tyrian Chronicle