Guild Wars 2 End Of Dragons Preview – A Postcard From Cantha

Guild Wars 2 End Of Dragons Preview - A Postcard From Cantha - a PICTURE OF THE NEW GUILD HALL

Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons is incoming. It’s barely weeks until this massive new MMO expansion arrives and after hundreds of years away, the hype is immeasurable. Ok, it might only have been just over 15 years since Factions, but we’re we couldn’t wait any longer to find out more about what’s coming up for explorers, so follow us as we tour the shores of this new landscape ahead of Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons.

Out In The Wilds

GW2 EOD Echovald Landscape

While there’s plenty to see in this civilization built by Jade, the great outdoors of Cantha are as much of an attraction as the neon-tinged metropolis that awaits. We began our tour of this new horizon by taking a walk in the Echovald Wilds. Already briefly previewed by ArenaNet, players trekking out into the Echovald Wilds will find an eerie marshland come forest slowly creeping back from petrification. The influence of magic on this part of Cantha still hangs in the air, odd animal sounds might whisper past as you venture forth to take a look at the wildlife. Thankfully you can expect something a little less dense and aggressive than the Maguma Jungle, but the native animals are the least of your trouble in the Echovald Wilds. In more recent times, tourists like us need to keep an eye out for the rival factions that wander through the forest. While Tengu tend the wildlife, other factions seem to be set on extracting what they want from this environment, making clashes common and encounters with the Jade Brotherhood a certainty.

For those that didn’t take a peek at the pre-departure pamphlets, the Jade Brotherhood is a gang of miscreants that don’t seem too dissimilar to the Asuran Inquest. These amoral actors have been seen skulking around the mist of Echovald Wilds, experimenting with an offshoot of Jade Tech and warping the local wildlife into something unspeakable. Somehow, our guides at ArenaNet decided this was a reasonable place to plunge these new arrivals into. Thankfully, the Jade Brotherhood is not the only group of Canthan’s to harness the power of this Jade, and we were directed to take a seat on our very own Jade-powered Sieges Turtles as we trundled further into the Echovald Wilds. Acquired as part of an End of Dragons questline, players who want to pilot Guild Wars 2’s inaugural 2 person mount will need to raise these critters from hatchlings into huge war machines. In the meantime, thankfully the NPCs in the Echovald Wilds had some fully grown Siege Turtles ready for our group to utilize.

GW2 EOD Echovald Siege Turtles attack Aspenwood

These magnificent beasts might not be particularly easy to navigate, gradually increasing in straight-line speed to reach a perilously unbalanced ramble that barely corners with any authority, but they did turn out to be crucial in overcoming the Jade Brotherhood’s Fort Aspenwood. Situated somewhere deep in the Echovald Wilds, this glowing take on the Inquest’s own constructions that loom over the Sandswept Isles fell to a barrage of firepower from our fully armed bale. The cannons mounted to the back of our rides helped cut down turrets and generators, giving us a glimpse of how the Siege turtles will be useful throughout End of Dragons as the game’s newest PvE mount. Once through this forward set of obstacles, Fort Aspenwood unfolds into a maze of monstrous mutations. Wildlife changed by jade experiments, gargantuan and aggressive animals are just a sample of what the Jade Brotherhood is capable of, and the first course in a mission that ends up in front of the Gods Vengeance, a superweapon of immeasurable power originally designed by the Kurzick Master Architect Gunther. Despite only being tourists in this new world, we pushed on to a relatively direct smash and grab experience that destroyed this construction, and hopefully put an end to the Jade Brotherhoods’ intentions for the Wilds. The Grand Chests that dropped along the way were just an added bonus.

Strike Missions

GW2 EOD Aetherblade Hideout Strike

This isn’t the only time that our tour of Cantha went straight into combat. While I’d rather be exploring the local vendors, a trip to the nearby local of Arborstone unveiled a new set of Strike missions. Jumping out of a central hub that looks like a massive cathedral, our group of newbies and ArenaNet staff dropped into just one of the new Strike Missions. Designed to give a raid-style experience with a much greater level of accessibility, Strike missions are a 10 player discipline that enhances and expands on the lore around areas such as the Echovald Wilds. Strike missions will become a particularly important part of the End of Dragons expansion, taking existing content and amping it up with new mechanics, bigger bosses, and extra narrative elements. In this particular instance, we followed Mai Trin out of the Wilds into the Aetherblade Hideout to take on a familiar face with a new twist that certainly managed to keep us on our toes.

A More Relaxing Side To Cantha

With all that combat, we did get some downtime in Cantha. With the newest expansion, small rabbles like our group can find a home of their own. End of dragons includes a brand new guild hall, scaled to accommodate smaller groups without making the overall result in any way diminished. The newest guild hall is a vast new social space that features the sort of architecture and large aquatic spaces that are prominent in Cantha. You can still expect the ability to decorate, construct, and customize this new space, as with previous locations, but this time around capturing the guild hall will be a slightly different affair. Rather than throw wave after wave of destruction at players End Of Dragon’s new guild hall weaves in a series of encounters that can be either individually overcome or simultaneously taken down. Finally, smaller guilds will have a reasonable chance at holding their own during capture.

Skiff in the new End of Dragons guild hall

While touring the gorgeous Canthan architecture and zen gardens of the newest guild hall, we were also treated to a fishing expedition. One of the most hotly awaited, maybe just by me, activities in End of Dragons is a simple enough affair. By grabbing a line and bait, prepared players can head out, to find some fish. Once we found a pool with plenty of activity, although you can cast into any open body of water in Tyria, we cast out and got to experience an active fishing system that varies just enough from other implementations as to make it engaging without being utterly frustrating. This also gave the team at ArenaNet an opportunity to show off Skiffs. These multi-player modes of transport differ from the Siege Turtles, acting as a social space out on the water where players can jump on board and get away with their friends. Whether you’re guildmates or new acquaintances, Skiffs get to go faster if players in them make use of the emotes that appear on their skill bar, and can even be stacked up together to become a little fishing village of their own. We’re just dearly hoping to get some cool cosmetic customizations and fancier skiffs that can sail outside of PvE after the expansion launches too.


GW2-EOD-Aurene-Group handling the new Aurene weapons

As cool as the new Skiffs look, there was one highlight of our tour that I can’t miss. We got a look at the newest Legendary Weapons. While we’ve already been introduced to these by ArenaNet, this parting glimpse at the newest top-tier reward in Guild Wars 2 certainly looks to be worth the multi-tiered crafting and challenges that await.

While we’ve barely even scratched the surface, I can say that Cantha is a wondrous land, as beautiful as it is dangerous that looks likely to bring a new lease of life to Tyria when the turtles come marching through. Find out more about what’s coming up over on the official Guild Wars 2  website or keep an eye on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel. 

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