Today Guild Wars 2 returns to The Eye Of The North. Visions Of The Past: Steel And Fire just dropped and while all eyes are on Cantha, we took a dive into the latest Living World update.
Guild Wars 2’s latest Living World update just hit and while it technically isn’t part of Season 5’s Living World for this MMORPG, Steel and Fire is still a huge free content update that has massive relevance to recent events. As Bangar Ruinbringer and Ryland Steelcatcher slip further North and aim their eyes at Jormag, our own tale takes a pause and peers back at some of the events that led Tyria to the brink of Ruin. Situated in the Eye of The North, the latest update to Guild Wars 2 begins by inviting players to take a swim in the fortresses’ mystical Scrying Pool and dip into the past.
Tic Tank Toe In The Water
Take the plunge and for the first time, Guild Wars 2 puts players firmly in the shoes of a new character. Steel and Fire sends players spiraling through the mists of time to follow Ryland Steelcatcher and chases a rather mad Blood Imperator on a journey that will unravel some horrid truths about the supposed savior of the Charr. This mission, appropriately named ‘Forging Steel’ centers on a Charr Escort mission. The fairly inconsequential seeming formation puts an elite band of Charr soldiers and an advanced war tank on a course that finds it winding through the green valleys of Frost Rise and on into an ancient area of Tyria.
This tale’s group of furry adventurers encounter all variety of enemies as they point their own war machine north and fight towards a relatively simple objective. Despite a core gameplay loop that is a linear on rails trudge the experience still somehow manages to be an engaging one. Between the bickering and banter of this Charr team, each leap forward into the unknown becomes progressively more manic. The levity of Metal music chatter and some suspect herb gathering are broken by a satisfying range of enemies. These can be blown away on foot, using Ryland’s own skills, or with something a little more persuasive. The Charr are accompanied by sniper support, providing players with the option of picking up a long-range weapon and picking off opponents between tossing explosives from on high. Most entertaining, however, is clearly the Charr tank. While this aggressive looking device is still on rails, it adds an ongoing area of interest for players. To make the tank useful, ammunition is looted from fallen attackers and scrap metal is utilized to patch up any damage.
The tank’s arsenal can be opened up on incoming Icebrood and while the 4 new utility skills are great fun, they are ultimately only mandatory when the team stumbles upon an impressive if utterly unchallenging boss encounter.
Anybody who looks to dive deeper into the Steel and Fire update will find another first for Guild Wars 2. Season One of Living World is now open for business, after a fashion. A variety of four experiences are now available, hand-picked from the first season of Living World. Whether it is delving into the Dredge mines and saving Cragstead, or ascending the Tower of Nightmares, these instances have not been available for years. For players that remember the first season of Living World, you can drop in and run these instanced encounters, grabbing rewards specific to those days of old and reliving a tale or two. From the perspective of somebody who still feels that the first season of Living World was an utterly incredible feat, the Cragstead, North Nolan Hatchery, Cannach’s Lair, and the Nightmare Incarnate are all wonderful to reminisce in but a reminder of how far the game has also come.
Stepping back, the instances look and feel great, but they all easily swept aside. If you ever needed a reminder that power creep happens, even in Guild Wars 2, then these are the perfect example. Anybody tackling these for the first time is likely to experience that same issue, with an added level of disconnection. Season One relied heavily on the open-world aspects of the game to tell a tale and the choice of instances will prove possibly quite disconcerting, possibly even painting Scarlet as a more camp than sinister.
While the first four Living World Season One encounters have their issues, I can’t help but admit that the nostalgia is fantastic and the option of reaping more toxic spores will make things easy for anybody that missed the older Living World rewards.While I may have painted much of this episode as gorgeous fluff, I have to say that the character cosmetics on offer this time around are some of my favorite in a long time. With a Charr story at the center of this update, ArenaNet Net has carved out a whole host of Charr legion weapons, my absolute favorite being the Flameswrod, a greatsword that is full of firey destruction. With four different sets available to collect, You’ll spend plenty of time in Scrying Pool this month.
Ultimately, Guild Wars 2 Visions of The Past: Steel and Fire is not going to change the way we look at Guild Wars 2. The release of this is arguably overshadowed by the latest Expansion news and Cantha speculation. It will not change the fate of Tyria and doesn’t ultimately provide any more movement on the Commander’s arc. What it does do is provide a bit of respite, a fun look back at where we’ve been all while investing the player in the future fate of Tyria and its champion.