Guild Wars 2 Grothmar Valley Preview

As someone whose favorite playable race in Guild Wars 2 is the Charr, I cannot express how excited I was when I first heard that the new season of the living story would involve them. While we Charr fans may be in the minority we have been waiting effectively 7 years for new Charr content in a big meaningful way. Sure, there have been Charr every step of the way, we saw them fighting back the jungle in Heart of Thorns and we met the Olmakhan tribe in Living World Season 4. They’ve been there, they just haven’t had their time in the limelight, until now. Below are my thoughts on Grothmar Valley, the new zone that we can explore in Bound by Blood. There won’t be any story spoilers, so feel free to keep reading if you’d like to know more.

The Ascalonian zones have always been some of my favorite areas in Guild Wars 2 from an aesthetic point of view. They feel the most realistic out of every part of the world. Grothmar Valley, which is located in the heart of the Blood Legion Homeland is gorgeous. Truly, the best Ascalon has ever looked. It’s the type of place that just feels like home, even if you aren’t an 8-foot tall fur covered war machine.

While you’re in Grothmar Valley there’s a festival taking place that has everything you’d expect to find at a Charr festival. There’s a shooting range, live bands, great food, and a giant wooden Charr effigy, just waiting to be burned. There are a number of different events to attend and it’s important to know what the current time is for the server, which differs from real-world time. You need to know this because there are several signs telling you what the upcoming events are and they use server time.

Thankfully, it’s very easy to know what the server time is at all times as there is a toggle to make it visible.

  1. Hit Esc to bring up the menu you use to log out, select Options.
  2. On the General Options tab, which is the tab the menu will open on located User Interface
  3. Under User Interface you’ll see In-Game Clock:
  4. Set In-Game Clock to Server Time
  5. The clock will appear on the bottom left corner of the mini-map.

Keep in mind though that this is the server time and it is not the current time. This is something that is often confused since there is nothing to indicate you’re looking at server time instead of local time. If you like rather than turning it on you can activate it for a moment just to check the time then turn it off again before you close the options window.

 

While the festival is fun, it’s actually the history of Grothmar Valley that I loved the most. In the days of Guild Wars 1, Grothmar Wardowns and Dalada Uplands were areas you could play in. In a far corner of Grothmar Valley, you’ll find some ancient Human ruins along with some ghosts. This is the location of the Doomlore Shrine which was once the entrance for the Cathedral of Flames. That’s not the only history to be found in Grothmar Valley though.

What was in Guild Wars 1 the Ooze Pit dungeon can also be found in Grothmar Valley. Of course these days it is providing Gladium an opportunity to prove themselves while defeating the ooze that pour out of the hole in the ground. This event is only open for a limited time each round and requires a group, ideally 15 people in total to complete it. Sadly there were only three of us when I got the opportunity to try it out, but there is always something deeply satisfying about fighting ooze. We also did a pretty decent job with the event despite our limitations.

What is easily the most interesting spot on the map, the reason the party is being held where it is, is the location where Kralkatorrik once rested. In the past, he slept in an island in a lake, and now that spot is gorgeous. I feel so lucky that I was able to see it without anyone else around. I could see it being a popular roleplaying spot for any rpers who dare leave the bar both because of its significance to the history and recent events in the game and because it really is just beautiful.

While Grothmar Valley is gorgeous and fun to explore, I will admit that it isn’t going to be one of those zones you spend a lot of time in once you’ve played through all the content. It does mean that some of the events will become more challenging to complete but I’m ok with not having a super grind-heavy zone. It’ll give me time to work on some of my ongoing projects and Chef skills. I haven’t reached 500 yet, have you?

I also like that we won’t spend months grinding there because of what we know is coming up in Episodes 1 and 2. For those who missed the announcement, it was stated that the two episodes would take place in the same zone but that the zone would evolve between one episode and the next. New areas will appear with new achievements, new stories, and new events. It sounds a lot like a return to the development style of Dry Top. A style that worked really well, giving us plenty of things to do without having to create totally different zones in totally different biomes like they have been doing with the living story. However, this means we are going to be spending months, possibly as much as half a year playing in this one zone. Bound by Blood is offering us the opportunity to catch our breath before we dive into the meat of the next season.

Bound by Blood is playable right now and it is free for anyone who owns Path of Fire, so what are you waiting for? Jump in and explore Grothmar Valley for yourself.

 

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Guild Wars 2 All or Nothing Preview

As is customary we got an early look at Guild Wars 2 update All or Nothing which comes out on January 8th. The following article won’t contain any spoilers for the story so if you haven’t had the chance to play yet, have no fear, you won’t see anything you don’t already know from the trailer.

Speaking of the trailer, for many of us the most exciting part of it was seeing Logan Thackeray in his shiny new Pact armor. It has a few features that will remind you of his old armor from before Heart of Thorns. As someone who is unashamed to admit she’s a Logan Thackeray fangirl I have to admit, it’s good to see him again. He can be found in the open world in Thunderhead Peaks performing several different tasks.

Thunderhead Peaks

We’re finally getting a break from all the running around desert and tropical landscapes and heading somewhere a little more Norn friendly, the Thunderhead Peaks! Guild Wars 1 players will be familiar with the area which is of course named after Thunderhead Keep. Here you will find old Deldrimor Dwarven ruins, snow, allies from the Pact and other groups you’ve gathered along the way, and of course Branded creatures. Scattered throughout various places are very thin slots in the walls. These are far too big for a mount to get in while also being up too high or too far away from a platform for you to just jump to. Getting inside these areas requires the help of your mount along with the new Mastery skill Bond of Faith.

Bond of Faith

With Bond of Faith, you leap off your mount’s back and fly forwards through the air. At first glance, it seems like this Mastery skill is only useful in the Thunderhead Peaks with the special areas that contain chests full of loot. But, I can see players really getting into using it because it is genuinely fun to use. During our early look at the update, the ArenaNet developers mentioned that this had been a skill they had wanted to introduce for some time now but it took until now to find a place and a time to make it happen. Bond of Faith isn’t for a player with lag issues, however. There were a number of times during testing that I ended up missing my target. While some of this is certainly because I was only just then starting to learn how to use it the skill also seemed to cause lag once the power was activated. With a little bit of practice though you’ll be flying off your friend with ease.

Pharus

All or Nothing also sees the release of Pharus, the new legendary longbow. Going along with the theme of the episode the focus of Pharus is light. The first time you use the bow after it has been drawn you get a bright, blinding light around you, as seen in the photo below. The weapon itself is rather minimalistic. It has a few parts that move but it is generally stationary and sleek looking. I quite like the style, however, I think I would have preferred to have it as part of a Black Lion set rather than as a legendary. But, given that Kudzu is so fancy, it makes sense that Pharus is a little bit more low key. I can see this weapon becoming a favorite of Guardians who are using Dragonhunter. It fits their theme very well.

Everything Else

As part of this update, we have a new unlockable weapon set. Like the Stellar weapons that came out in Daybreak, the Dragonsblood weapon set has more than one level. It also has a connection to what is going on in the world which at least for me, makes it an important weapon set to get for all of my characters. Were I still as heavily invested in the game as I once was I could see myself grinding out weapons to make sure each of my 28 characters has one. But, these days I’ve slowed down a bit so a might only get 3 or 4.

Sadly we didn’t get the chance to take a look at the new tropical-themed Siren’s Reef fractal. But new fractals are always fun to run through as well as being very rewarding.

What happens in the story? Well, we only got a short glimpse of it during the press preview and I won’t be talking about that at all. What we did see lacked context and I have no idea how it ends. Which is just the way I want to be going into this.

All or Nothing launches on January 8th. If you haven’t already done so be sure to log in to get A Star to Guide Us before the launch of All or Nothing for free.

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Guild Wars 2: A Star to Guide Us Preview

Before we dive into the article I’d like to get the usual spoiler warning out of the way. In the following article, there will NOT be any story spoilers. Just based on the little snippet of story that I saw in the press preview I know that I wouldn’t want the story spoiled, so I’m not going to do that to you, my reader. Please keep this in mind when you’re on social media as well and don’t post spoilers. So you might be wondering what will this article be about? Well, I’ve decided to focus on the little things that make a big difference. There’s the second outing of new technology, a little nostalgia, and something fans have been asking for. So let’s dive in.

 

Legendary Technology

It amazes me that even after 6 years of Guild Wars 2 being live, and 13 years of the original Guild Wars new technology, that new ways to use the technology are still being found. I mention Guild Wars because GW2 uses a heavily modified version of the Guild Wars engine. New technology was used to create The Binding of Ipos, the Legendary focus which featured a floating book along with a giant demonic hand. When that was created ArenaNet started considering other ways to use the technology. Specifically, they wanted to create some sort of pet that would go along with you. This is how Xiuquatl came to be.

Xiuquatl features a very cute little flying serpent who will accompany you in battle. Out of combat, the serpent goes away so you aren’t stuck with a little beast following you around everywhere. It was honestly so distracting that I forgot to look at what the footfall is like. Sadly, the scepter isn’t a weapon that Rangers can use at the moment but hopefully, this will change in the future as this scepter would be perfect for them.

 

Hitting Guild Wars Fans Right in the Nostalgia

A Star to Guide Us gives players who also played the original Guild Wars game a nice shot of nostalgia with the introduction of Sun’s Refuge, formerly known as the Sunspear Sanctuary. Sun’s Refuge is an underground, instanced zone that offers the opportunity to expand through the exploration of lore and completing tasks given by those inside. There are also things to do inside Sun’s Refuge including a small battle arena with an NPC who will kick your ass. For roleplayers, Sun’s Refuge offers somewhere safe to roleplay that still has a sense of urgency in the air. Sure, you can rest there for a little while, but ultimately you need to get back into the fight. It also presents a fantastic opportunity for those who are in small guilds that struggle to complete a Guild Hall, like my two-person guild with my husband. No, it doesn’t have any of the features that a Guild Hall has, but it does offer somewhere to be that you can call your own and you can bring friends. Unlocking it is quite easy, all you have to do is play the story as you will be anyway.

 

Player Requested, ArenaNet Delivered

One thing that players have often asked about is seeing important NPCs out in the world. You never see Dragon’s Watch outside of story instances but finally, that has changed. They aren’t quite out in the open world like we had hoped for but it is a step in that direction as once you’ve unlocked Sun’s Refuge, Dragon’s Watch can be found inside, giving us the opportunity for the first time, to interact with these characters outside of the world-shattering story taking place. They all have a variety of things that they’re doing, but it is nice to see them doing more than getting stuck into battle. I only hope that we see more of this in the future.

Another highly requested feature that has been introduced is the new upgradable Elegy Armor. What makes this armor so special isn’t that it glows, plenty of armor does that, but you can change the color of the glow. See the image below with a side by side visualization taken just moments apart.

The world is about to get a whole lot more colorful.

by the amazing Stjepan Sejic who is a GW2 fan.

 

Blowing in the Wind

Jahai Bluffs has a lot of things going on, but there is one feature that stands out more than the others: a massive purple tornado. This tornado travels the map, picking up adventurers and tossing them into the air with ease. Not only is it a great way to get up to some of the higher levels of the map, but it also gives you access to a sky full of volatile magic. The tornado is best used by griffon owners but those who have a glider will also benefit from it greatly. It’s also just a lot of fun to play in and made a great ending to our preview of A Star to Guide Us.

 

A Star to Guide Us is available to play right now so log in and get started! There’s so much more in this living story update that I haven’t mentioned yet, including a raid that ventures into the mystic toilet. Here you’ll finally get to meet Zommoros, the djinn who is the source of all your mystic forge woes and the great hoarder of legendary weapons. There’s also a very handy new mastery which every mount owner will want to get as soon as possible. Six years after launch, Guild Wars 2 is still finding new and interesting ways to keep bringing players back for more.

Please remember to keep social media spoiler-free for a little while so players have some time to get through the content. If you know you won’t be able to log in and play right away, I highly recommend you avoid social media until you’ve played. You won’t regret it.

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Guild Wars 2: Domain of Kourna Preview

Asura, Awakened, and Choya, oh my! Thanks to ArenaNet I got the opportunity to experience the Domain of Kourna, the latest zone added to Guild Wars 2 and I can happily say it’s quirky and a blast to play in. Though anyone familiar with the original Guild Wars has likely been there before. Before we get any further though there does need to be the standard warning. While there won’t be any plot spoilers you may see things about this update and the new zone that you don’t want to read until after you’ve experienced it for yourself. Ahead there be spoilers.

 

Rolling Around

Domain of Kourna Preview

Perhaps the most highly anticipated part of this update is the new mount. If you follow ArenaNet on social media you’ve already seen him dance, and it is an adorable little dance. Figuring out how it maneuvers has a little bit of a learning curve. It starts out fairly slow and terrible at climbing hills but once you get the hang of it you’ll be zooming around to your heart’s content. While it is fun though, I’m not sure it will replace the jackal which of course has its uses in this new area of the world.

Visually speaking it doesn’t seem to quite fit in. It’s high tech but not clearly made by an Asura. So, for me at least it stands out in an odd way. I am looking forward to future skins which will hopefully change how it looks. I’m also waiting to see how long it takes before our little bug friend is replaced with a Choya. Because it is almost certainly coming. Which of course has some disturbing connotations when you consider it.

 

Dance Choya Dance

Easily my favorite part of the entire zone is in the northernmost area where an Asura is studying a group of Choya who are dancing around some sort of shrine. The Asura is studying them and finds that their dance is actually a form of language. You can help them by…getting turned into a Choya. Yes! My dancing choya dreams have finally come true. Once you’ve been turned into a Choya the event is quite simple, watch the NPC choya dance and copy them. If you ever played Spore you’re already familiar with the idea. Stick around for the end of the dance, you won’t regret it.

So, with these new Choya as well as the group of them in the Desert Highlands we really need to consider what we’re doing to these poor, seemingly intelligent creatures. It seems to me like they’re becoming more and more like the Quaggan of the desert, which really means we should stop eating them and all of the other horrible things we do. You wouldn’t eat Quaggan….would you?

 

Cloud of Doom

A cloud of doom surrounds Gandara, the Moon Fortress and it will kill you, fast. The first time I went in I made the mistake of doing it mounted. So first my mount lost health and then I was too far from safety to get there in time. There isn’t enough healing in the world to save you from the cloud of doom. Trying to fly into Gandara from above you’re met with an incredibly annoying invisible wall. So there won’t be any sneaking in.

 

Ships Out of Reach

While we’re on the topic of Gandara there’s one thing that needs to be talked about. There are a few ships which provide great background scenery. In fact, you might actually think you can get on them. You can get close. Very close. The fact that they’re so close you can almost touch them but you actually can’t drove me a little bit insane. I totally understand why they’re there. It just bothered me so I needed to have a little rant. End rant.

 

The Enemy

When we left off in the living story the scarab plague the Inquest was working on was our new concern. It’s still on our minds as we explore this new zone and in fact, Inquest show up quite often in the zone. Though in a somewhat less obvious way than having a giant floating cube city. Of course, they aren’t the only enemy in the zone. We’ll also be going up against the undead and Joko sympathizers. Choyas are of course another issue we have to contend with. Especially while they attempt to attack and invade the areas where some new allies live.

Allies

Yes, we have new allies in this update. But, for those of us who were so happy to see the new Charr have no fear, they make an appearance as well. NPCs actually guard what is my favorite feature of the entire zone. Vine walls that have doors which will open when you get close. Vine walls in a desert? Yep. They stand out as a little bit odd but it’s also cool enough to totally forget that they feel out of place. Also, there is quite a bit of water in the zone. Some of it is toxic though so be careful where you travel. Finally, there are our new allies which I don’t want to talk about too much because there should be some surprises.

 

It’s exciting to be going back to another part of the world and seeing how it has changed over the last 200+ years. The zone is full of places to explore and creatures to kill. But without knowing what the story contains I can happily say that the best part of this update is the new mount. I can’t wait to see how he functions out in the rest of the world. I’m also looking forward to comparing speeds with the raptor and jackal. Will the roller beetle beat them all? Long Live the Lich seems to be packed full of things to keep us entertained and I’ve only barely scratched the surface.

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Guild Wars 2 Preview: A Bug in the System

I recently got a press preview of the newest episode of the Guild Wars 2 living story; A Bug in the System. If you don’t want any spoilers then you shouldn’t be reading this. But, if you want a little taste of what you’re about to dive into. keep reading. Yes, there are spoilers ahead.

Charr players rejoice! There’s finally some love for the master race. Out of my 28 characters, only 3 are Charr. This is partly because they don’t get a lot of love from the devs, so I was really surprised to find out that Charr would play an important part in A Bug in the System. In fact, they play a huge role in the new zone, Sandswept Isles. There we find a new branch of the Charr family, a peace-loving branch. These peaceful island dwellers have a problem though. Their home is being taken over by the Inquest.

A Bug in the System

In fact, it is in this episode that we learn the Inquest are a lot bigger than they originally appeared to be back in the old world. They have their very own floating city. Is it fully populated? I wasn’t able to get inside to find out because it is heavily guarded, but in the area around the city, they did have some very interesting experiments going on that seem to play with gravity. I was venturing into these areas on my own and the Inquest presence on the island is quite substantial so I never really stuck around in one place for very long.

For the guided tour, we were lead through part of the story in an Inquest lab where experiments are being performed on all sorts of different creatures. Because I prefer to have the whole story all in one go and roleplay it I purposefully ignored the plot as much as possible. but one thing I did catch was that the Charr used the word “tribe” to describe their people. It raises a lot of questions. How long have these Charr been cut off from the rest of Charr society? Why are they so far away from the Charr homelands? I hope we get to know these new Charr throughout the events of the story.

It was in this story instance that we saw two new things that ArenaNet pointed out. The first was that these Inquest golems have been given a bit of a visual upgrade from their older brethren on the main continent. I asked if they would be expanding this visual update across the game to all golems and they said that there aren’t any plans for it at the moment. So no, but they have left themselves an opening so they can change their mind in the future if they want to. If I’m honest, I didn’t really see much of a difference, I was busy shooting them with fireballs.

The other cool new feature they showed off were elevators that would take you up to the next floor. The moving platforms were a fun new addition to Inquest labs and I actually find myself wondering now how we’ve managed to go this long in the game without them, and not really missing them either. Either way, yay for new tech! I can’t wait to see how it gets implemented in the future. It would be really fun to see the elevator technology added to the main cities of Tyria in the future. The seed elevator in the Grove is fun, but ultimately it’s just teleporting you with a cutscene. This would allow you to get around seamlessly. It would also be great in Divinity’s Reach where there are stairs that teleport you up and down. It’s unlikely that this will happen however as most MMO developers prefer to focus attention on moving forward rather than going back to older content.

If you’re a big fan of large-scale events then you’re in luck as the Sandswept Isles have one for you, and its mechanics will drive you mad. You’re fighting massive earth elementals while howling winds from a tornado pull you around and around. Every encounter has a few of the elementals and you’ll end up aggroing all of them. Eventually, I managed to find a sweet spot in the geography where the wind couldn’t push me around anymore, but all it took was getting knocked around once before that sweet spot was lost and you were stuck in the twister again. Will people enjoy it? Maybe, once everyone has the hang of it and knows what to do. But personally, I found it to be a really annoying mechanic. It’s especially bad if you’re playing melee. Range is a must as you’re stuck on this merry-go-round of irritation.

There was another feature on the island that I quite enjoyed. When you’re standing in some of the tall grass on the island you become stealthed. It seems like a feature that works best when you’re there alone or when you’re trying to get aggro off of you. From a roleplaying perspective this was a really cool feature, and again I could see it being used elsewhere. Gendarran Fields is the first place that comes to mind. It would give a bit of a tactical advantage in the Bandit bounty events, many of which fail due to a lack of participation. What actual purpose it serves on the isles I’m not entirely clear on, but this may be one of those things that will become clear once I have the rest of the context for the zone.

If you haven’t already watched it I highly recommend you watch the teaser trailer for this episode, if only for the new version of Fear Not This Night which is haunting and beautiful. I really hope that a full version of it gets released in the future. Next week I’ll be writing my thoughts on the full episode after I’ve had time to play the story and play around on the island with the new Charr. A Bug in the System is available to play right now if you own Path of Fire, so what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and log in!

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The Tyrian Chronicle: 4 Things You Should Do Before the Living Story Starts Again

There are only a few days left before the first episode of the new season of the living story releases and that means new things to do. But have you finished Path of Fire yet? Is there anything you can do to be prepared for the update? Here are a few things you should do before the living story starts again.

Finish Path of Fire’s Story

Things You Should Do Before the Living Story Starts

If you haven’t already done so, the most important thing you can do is finish Path of Fire’s story. This will put you in the proper position to be ready for the next part of the story. Can you skip PoF’s story? Sure, if you really want to. But you’ll get more out of the next chapter of the story if you’ve done the one that came before. Also if you’ve somehow managed to avoid having the ending of Path of Fire spoiled, you’ll be in for some pretty big spoilers. After all, this is supposed to take place after the events of Path of Fire. So do yourself a favor and finish the story.

If you’ve already finished it once before, it can’t hurt to have a refresher. It’s short enough that you could easily get it done this weekend. Though the other things on this list should take higher priority.

 

Gather Path of Fire Mastery Points

Unless ArenaNet has decided to drastically change what they put into living story releases, you’re going to need some Path of Fire mastery points. In the previous living story season, the first mastery only cost one mastery point. That should be pretty easy to do since Path of Fire has tons of mastery points available that you don’t need. Will it only be one point again? Possibly, but possibly not. In Path of Fire, we’ve already seen mastery lines that start with needing 2 or 3 points. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume you’ll need 3. What’s the worst that can happen? You can find the mastery points all over the desert. The easiest to get is, of course, the mastery insight points scattered throughout the world. You can find those and many, many more listed in the achievements panel.

 

Finish Lost Lore Collections

Now that we have the most obvious things out of the way lets take a look at one that is a little more obscure and something you might not have thought of. Each zone in Path of Fire has a Lost Lore book collection. The pages of these books are scattered throughout the zones and once put together, they give a little bit of insight into things that have taken place. They answer questions you may have had after you finished Path of Fire. If you want to make it easy for yourself, Dulfy has put together a guide on how to get each page for every zone. It has certainly saved me while I’m looking for that one last page that seems to be hiding in an obscure place.

If you find yourself wondering if you absolutely must do this, I would say it’s a pretty safe bet that you don’t HAVE to. You won’t be missing out on anything huge if you don’t. These just expand the Path of Fire story and give more context to what is going on in the world. That being said, they are a good read for all those lore hounds out there.

 

Check out the Dead Bodies

Have you heard about the dead people and the red lady? I never got the chance to talk about it when it first came up but two dead bodies were found in completely different parts of the world. They were killed by skeletons. The bodies themselves are near statues to Grenth and if you’re there at the right time, you’ll see some skeletons. In Lornar’s Pass, the skeletons appear at night and they’re ready for a fight. They’re armed with the traditional sword and board and covered in a dark cloud. In Queensdale, the skeletons appear just before the Shadow Behemoth appears. These skeletons look exactly like those in Lornar’s Pass but they don’t attack and in fact act like allies.

After you’ve completed the Behemoth (which Piken Square calls Beth) a red wisp-like thing floats towards the dead body before disappearing. It has also been noticed that one of the bodies looks very similar to the Human in Hoelbrak who is trying to convert Norn to the human religion. I also noticed that Beth has a new move where she reaches her hand down into the ground and it pops up behind where the players usually stand for the fight.

What’s going on hasn’t been explained yet but the best theories so far are that the underworld is leaking into Tyria, Beth is getting a revamp, or this is gearing up for the next current event. It’s certainly possible that we will find out more in the living story. So why not go check it out? You might find something new.

 

Featured in Chimes. By Kyla Frank

If you’ve done all these things there is certainly more you could be doing. It never hurts to have more gold, so, if you’re looking for a way to get gold quickly check out the gold guide we made just before Path of Fire launched. Also be sure to check out the sales going on in the gem store and the merch on For Fans By Fans. If you’d like a Guild Wars 2 art book with a Wintersday theme be sure to get your hands on Chimes. It’s being created by fans and all of the proceeds from it will go to Doctors Without Borders. Be sure to place your order for it before December 1st.

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