Guild Wars 2: The Icebrood Saga Episode Five, “Balance” lands today and we descended into fire and flame to get a closer look at the latest update to ArenaNet’s MMO.
Guild Wars 2’s latest adventure has been teasing something of a cataclysmic battle for some time now. The Icebrood Saga Episode Five has been inching closer and closer to the End of Dragons since Truce first landed back in November 2020. While that means many Commanders are likely prepared for what’s to come, the latest update to Guild Wars 2 has already teased some hot action.
The Front Lines
As we’ve come to expect during Truce and Power, the last two chapters in the Icebrood Saga Episode 5, the core of your time in Balance will be spent holding the line. Three new Dragon Response Missions have been added to the menu of mayhem on offer for Commanders. Moving out from the Eye of The North once more and out into thwe world, players will find Caledon Forest, Bloodtide Coast, and Fireheart Rise under attack. Suddenly it’s clear that the truce with Jormag was always going to fail and Lake Doric was just the start. Now, Tyria burns between flame and frost as Primordus stirs and Jormag grows increasingly desperate to accumulate power before his brother unleashes chaos.
Jumping straight into the action again, the three latest Dragon Response Missions on offer during our own early tour of duty in Tyria were mostly unsurprising. Once again any competent Commander will find themselves facing off against waves of dragon minions set among familiar backdrops. The continued return to almost forgotten areas of Tyria is an idea that continues to work well when touched by a devastating force of Destroyers or turned a ghostly white by Jormag’s influence. While there’s nothing quite like seeing Bloodtide Coast frozen solid, the aesthetic change isn’t really what impresses during a set of missions that begin by rehashing some well-established escort, attack, and collect mechanics.
No Need To Plan
As Before, Dragon Response Missions are split up into separate instanced encounters changing old backdrops into warzones. As you arrive to push back the wave of destruction, you’ll be able to choose your difficulty by calling in re-enforcements or adding challenge motes for extra difficulty. This time around, the Tengu will lend their bow to the Arcane Council and prove a good ranged addition to the potential recruits that will face off against any dragon. This repetition of ideas continues with the power bestowed upon allied forces. Slaying dragon minions provides plenty of buffs, such as Essence of the Deep Flame, allowing Commanders to be extra effective as they plough more mastery points into the Dragonslayer Mastery line.
While this all makes for some familiar escapades, what makes The latest Dragon response missions so initially inviting is the stories they tell. Intertwined with the episode’s main narrative, these new instanced events allow us to reconnect with some old friends, forge new alliances, and occasionally fire a cannon. Who doesn’t like firing a cannon in anger after all? Also, did I mention Canach is back?
While the inclusion of my favorite thorny hero is enough to get this episode a pass, he’s just the tip of the rosebush. A variety of cosmetic changes to each of the already established zones, the appearance of the Tengu, and insights into the wider politics of this world make these instances engaging enough as you cut through the easier areas of resistance. Raiding veterans, well you might want to aim for the end of these missions and the inevitable boss encounters.
What’s Waiting At The Aviary?
While I’ve made it abundantly clear that none of the Dragon Response missions open with heart pounding action sequences, things do get a little more manic as the final boss encounter rears its head. It is, of course, no surprise to see a giant popsicle with murderous intent at the Tengu Aviary. Across the three new missions, can expect to go up against a range of Dragon Champions each clocking in their own unique variety of attacks and mechanics. An abundance of NPC help and a constant feed of magical buffs doesn’t exactly make any of these endgames encounters insurmountable, but ArenaNet has managed to find a satisfying balance of challenge and engagement that make each of the final fights fresh and should keep most players spamming skill 2 as long as they don’t stand in the red circles for too long. Just watch out for the aforementioned murderous ice cube, which actually made me start to pay attention after the third death.
Thankfully, all that effort is rewarded and the Skritt aren’t the only Tyrians to collect shiny things. Players can grab some Tengu weapon skins in exchange for yet another set of defense marks. While this is, again, a repetition of previously established mechanics, the Tengu weapon skins are easily worth the effort, and if that’s not to your taste then the final form of the Dragonslayer weapon set unlocks today. These new tiers of destruction add a fiery Primordus glow or a chilling Jormag effect to the current tier of Dragonslayer weapons and gives the truly committed plenty of reason to keep grinding for a versatile new weapon set that will go with plenty of looks.
That’s not the end of the booty on offer either. Guild members will find the cold fingers of Jormag infiltrating their own sanctum as Balance drops a new Ice Sheet decoration that adds a fantastic way to cool down while Primordus continues to burn Caledon Forest.
With Balance pushing us close to the end of episode 5, three’s more than just a few side quests involved in this new chapter. The return of Canach, among others, to the fold and some seriously shocking decisions seems to be drawing the Commander and their associated allies to each other for a fateful finale against the brothers dragon. While the Dragon Response missions are starting to grow a little worn, there are plenty of old friends and revelations that make Guild Wars 2: The Icebrood Saga Episode Five, “Balance” worth taking on. Anybody who owns Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire can grab the latest episode of the Icebrood Saga for free just by logging into Guild Wars 2 right now.