Last week Gamespace signed up and joined a Charr vanguard as we stormed the latest update to Guild Wars 2 Icebrood Saga and tackled Jormag Rising.
Following on from May’s No Quarter update to ArenaNet’s MMORPG, Jormag Rising finds the forces of Tyria on the precipice of an epic showdown with another fearsome Elder Dragon. Jormag has spent the majority of the last year eagerly twisting the intent of anybody that might oppose it. From a distance it has sent its forces forward, toying with the weak of mind and haunting the Shiverpeak Mountains. Now, it seems almost inevitable that we might finally face the Ice Dragon as Jormag rising pushes north to take on a new chapter of The Ocebrood Saga, and a new set of obstacles.
Jormag isn’t the only problem that fans of the ongoing Guild Wars 2 saga will face in this new update. Anybody following the lastest fight for Tyria will know that the revered Charr leader, Bangar Ruinbringer, has taken something of a different approach to this menace. Fuelled by whispers in the wind, arrogance, or maybe just both, Bangar has fractured the traditional Charr legion structure, forming the Domain and seeking to subjugate Jormag as his own weapon. Before Commanders get anywhere near Jormag, they will have to go straight through Bangar and his increasingly troublesome troops.
A Cold Front
Players logging into Guild Wars 2, from today, can pick up Jormag Rising for free, allowing them to continue to the fight to stop Bangar in a new backdrop. No Quarter halted the push North at an imposing bridge and an entrance to this new chapter. Now, Jormag rising pushes across and up towards the frost forged peaks that await. The latest area Tyria waiting for players to uncover is a natural evolution of the gameplay and map design we saw in No Quarter. Split up into an array of contested areas, just as described in our No Quarter preview, players who chase the fight will find a mixed arrangement of enemy forces awaits. While the southern sections of this brand new backdrop continue the aesthetic of No Quarter, encroaching into the operational area of Bangar’s newer forces changes the look and feel of this new map. Guarded by the newly born Frost Legion, ice spires crawl up the side of mountain ranges. Life is torn down as glaciers crawl across the landscape and the roads that wind up towards a crystalline citadel are flanked by enemy emplacements. It’s an entirely unforgiving and decidedly vertical map that will leave adventurers entirely exposed as they venture North, towards Bangar’s fortress.
Further south, between the waterfalls and vistas that have more in common with No Quarter’s update than the Frost Legion, you’ll find that this verticality is more than just a race for the sky. Unlike other tall maps, Norn ruins wind underfoot and provide an area for more grounded adventurers to explore. The valleys that focused player movement through earlier areas of Drizzlewood Coast are less obvious and the lowlands have a little more freedom for exploration. While I always have plenty of kind words for the environmental art of Guild Wars 2, the depths of this map are definitely worth exploring and a more inviting challenge than Bangar’s Frosty reception up top.
Despite an abundant amount of enemy forces standing in your way, getting around the frozen wastelands of this new challenge is not particularly difficult. The extreme verticality that has become commonplace in recent years is easily overcome by anybody that can count a Skyscale in their roster of in-game mounts. Players still stuck in the Maguma Jungle Mastery Lines will also be able to make use of other movement enhancements to take a look at the imposing mix of Charr aesthetic and frost magic that makes up Bangar’s current hideout. The rising tide of an Edler Dragon in the vicinity of the Shiverpaks has left leyline energy spilling out across the frozen lands, allowing anybody with the requisite Mastery to use these spectral flows to charge north without an aerial mount. In case you haven’t even started unlocking gliding yet, the map is also augmented by a sprinkle of Jumping Mushrooms, just for good measure. My initial reaction? This map is a fantastic natural progression of last episode’s update, providing plenty of activity and much better accessibility for players, yet there is an obvious reason why this ability to thrust quickly across the map is absolutely necessary.
Solo players stepping out onto the front will find that The United Charr Legions and their support have at least one safe encampment across the 11 map sections that make up the new area, but that doesn’t mean that pushing back enemy forces is entirely easy. Jormag Rising’s new map design might have some new challenges, but the overall meta still leans heavily on the World vs World game mode. For those that didn’t take on No Quarter, this meta revolves around a series of map wide capture points that must be captured to progress allied forces across the map. To even engage the map-wide meta in Jormag rising, players must push through the previous episode’s meta event as a prerequisite. I’m almost positive that years down the line this will be problematic, but for now, ArenaNet made activity between Umbral Crossing and Wolf’s Crossing incredibly inviting, with a cluster of rewards and an event chain that has overcome my interest in many of the other game’s map-wide loot trains.
This sticky incentive is invaluable as this inter map meta chain pushes north, asking Tyrians to take and hold enemy territory, with a 15-minute break between each map cycle. Unlike earlier battlefronts, players will not have to hold fortified dominion encampments. Between a mix of long-range artillery, snipers, melee combatants, and cannon fodder Bangar’s, and ultimately Jormag’s, elite forces stand between you and the final Citadel. From Tribunes to massive artillery, each challenge overcome secures a section of land for the United Charr Legions and unlocks access to one of eight sections of this new map. Just like May’s update, turn a section of the map blue and you’ll be able to parachute into this region of the map, and hopefully quickly complete the narrative arc of this tale. This might sound entirely uninventive, compared to something like the Silverwaste’s lane system, but you haven’t taken on the enormous new boss at the end of this meta and I don’t really feel like spoiling it. Suffice to say that you will need your allies to take this meta on, and you will likely need the aforementioned movement options to get back in the fight when you try to storm the Citadel, shown above in a frantic haze of damage and coordinated action.
The map wide meta isn’t the only part of the new content that builds on existing frameworks either. We weren’t hugely enthused by the addition of the Waystation Mastery line lin the last episode, however, it looks like ArenaNet is doubling down on making the latest time sink worth investing in. After previous complaints from players, us included, that early Living World mastery lines were limited in their use, you’ll continue to find the colored globes that signify an ongoing stat boost in your war against Bangar’s forces, and an updated set of Waystation tools. Of the new 2.0 abilities included in this enhanced Waystation, the most fun has to be the Medizooka 2.0. This powerful ballistic healing device doesn’t just prove potentially life-saving, it’s also a blast to use.
Mr Frosty And The Elder Dragon
You’ll likely need the influx of players from an earlier meta and every ounce of healing power the Medizooka 2.0 can pump out to make it past the waiting Frost Legion. Bangar’s new troops are an amalgamation of Jormag’s corrupting magic and Charr ingenuity. Doomed soldiers that are no longer fit to be called Charr are much more dangerous than the Sons of Svanir and barely the tip of this iceberg. Venture much further north and the Claw of Jormag will drop in to attack. Feeling much like the final moments of the previous episode. As the pay off for a hard fought war, this meta is episode is entirely worth the wait. Players throwing themselves into the front lines will even take on the Claw of Jormag again. This addition to the episode is a simplistic but delightful redesign of the Claw’s appearance during the early days of Guild Wars 2. While it doesn’t match the complexity or challenge of Tequatil’s redesign, it does provide a good warm-up to the rest of this map and the citadel that awaits.
Rather than spoil the specifics, as some of this might be considered a little to close to the narrative, I’ll just say that the final moments of this narrative arc, and the meta itself make for a great triumph and top off a diverse set of challenges for the forces of Tyria.
Long term Rewards
Of course, there’s more to any Guild Wars 2 update than the new map meta. Champion chests are fine but this is Fashion Wars after all. A brand new Dominion Tribune skin provides a frosty new look for your gloves this time around and a brand new infusion is added to the mix too. The latest Frost Legion Infusion is a definite step up in detail on other comparable modifications and is easily the best looking loot from this section of the world. Check out a preview of both, below.
Still, infusions might not be your thing and in that case, you can look forward to a whole new weapon set to collect. The Charged Stormcaller weapons are, much like the Frost Legion Infusion, a clear upgrade on the Stormcaller weapon set with a fancier effect and a similar theme. Personally, I’m putting that way behind going back to get the Boneskinner staff and picking up the latest infusion.
As with most of our previews, I’m going to keep out of the story narrative but you’ll much more than just story time here for fans of the guild Warw 2 franchise. ArenaNet has invested heavily in making mastery Lines useful and tieing players to the new maps. I’ve got a feeling it will all work out and players ready to take on Jormag will just need to follow the loot train as it crashes through the impressive-looking Frost Citadel. Check out Guild Wars 2 Jormag rising, the latest free episodic update in the ongoing Icebrood Saga, right now. Owners of Guild Wars 2 just need to log in to grab the episode and access to some seriously good loot.