I haven’t had a ton of time to sit down and work all the way through Gates of Maguuma yet, but I have been taking it in small bite-sized chunks. I want to preface my impressions by saying that I’m extremely rusty with GW2 controls — I’ve been playing FFXIV so long that I was really discombobulated when I tried to remember how GW2 worked.
I also haven’t spent a lot of time playing characters after the big stat and attribute change. Zznaf was the only character I had anywhere up to snuff, and I was using a different type of weapon set on him, based on what other people suggested a good power necro build should be. About halfway through trying to play the story scenario, I decided whatever I was using wasn’t working for me, and went back to Rata Sum to pick up my old scepter/dagger build. This helped a lot, even if it’s not optimal.
I want to start with the very first thing you see when starting the new chapter — the Hero’s Journal. I really like how the journal has been reorganized and how it works overall. It keeps things neat and in line, making it fairly easy to determine what I need to do next. I activated the chapter from the book, and quickly got used to the idea that the book (as well as other quest markers) tells me what to do next, and what’s already happened in the story. So, if I ever waned to return to this section, I have a summary to refresh my memory.
I also like that the story comes in bite-sized chunks, complete with appropriate cut scenes (GW1 style), and lots of voice acting. It was easy for me to hop in for an hour, take care of a section of living story, and come back to the rest of it the next day if needed. It’s almost like playing several mini-missions, which led the way across the new zone to the next quest objective.
So, overall, thumbs up for the organization and Hero Journal!
The story picks up where it left off, including all the NPC characters that were introduced in the first season. This can be good or bad, depending on whether you enjoy these characters. I still feel that the way GW2 tackles storyline is more concerned with fleshing out all these pet NPC characters, rather than making the story about player accomplishments. Sure, now the group is looking to you as a leader, and Jory calls you “Boss,” but really… After playing through FFXIV’s story line, GW2 comes nowhere close to lauding the player’s character as much as it spotlights the NPCs.
I enjoy Rox, Braham and Taimi as per usual. I might get flamed for it, but I’m really just done with Jory and Kas. Sorry guys. It was established back in November that these two are an item. They don’t need to constantly remind me of the fact every time they interact throughout the whole storyline. I had to roll my eyes when I realized I was getting shafted with the lovers and their annoying dialogue for the majority of the story — half the time they just stood there and watched me get beat up before finally coming in to join the fight at the end, anyhow.
I also want to note that while I think Jory’s voice actor does a good job of maintaining her tone, her voice and dialect seems more and more out of place the longer I hear it. Especially after I heard her sister speak — they are absolutely nothing at all alike, not even in accent, and it seems really… weird to me.
I did like to see Jory interact with her sister — it’s one of the few times the story takes the focus off of Jory/Kas to explore the fact that there’s more to Jory than just being Kas’ romantic other half. I also enjoyed the insight that Kas provided to the way nobility works in DR. Kinda messed up, but what isn’t.
So far, I’m not finding anything all that enticing in the new storyline, to be honest. It’s nothing terrible — the writing seems better than previous story — but it’s nothing that’s exciting me. In fact, as I noted above, I put the game down halfway through the story to go play another game for a while.
They blew up the entire Zephyr Sanctum, just as I feared. Not happy about that one bit, but I already got that out of my system in a previous post. So, pushing that aside, I came to the story hoping to find something engaging to make up for the loss of one of my favorite places in game. What I get is an attempt at a sabotage murder mystery with a bunch of really annoying Inquest scattered around, blocking my progress.
Oh, man. Those Inquest are annoying! It makes sense why they are there, but on solo mode, some of the fights in the story sequences were pretty tough for me to beat. Those golems with their knockbacks, and Inquest assassins are my new hated enemies. To be honest, I really didn’t enjoy the fighting sequences at all. It might have helped if the NPCs who were there to back you up were a little more aggressive and helpful.
I also got stuck while trying to complete Fallen Hopes — even though I inspected all the clues as instructed, I couldn’t get past 2/3 objectives. This caused me to backtrack for 15 frustrating minutes, trying to find what I missed. Finally, I found a post on the forums that described my issue, and that said the player just killed himself to make the story progress. I did that and it worked. But, still, that shouldn’t have been an issue.
Each time you finish a part of the story, you get loot and the reward screen, just like at the end of Personal Story scenarios. That’s really about the only loot I got from the whole thing, which was nothing exciting.
Overall, it feels like they’ve taken the Personal Story framework and adapted it to the Living World story. I don’t really have feelings on this concept one way or another — I need to see it play out a little more before I have an opinion on it.
I haven’t explored all that Prospect Valley offers, mostly because I’m not a big fan of all the jumping and climbing. Again, my GW2 skills are rusty, but the dash skill kept throwing me off the edge of cliffs, and I really had no interest in climbing the wreckage of the Sanctum. 😦
I found the group events scattered through the area fun, however, when I was joined by other players. There are no hearts in Prospect Valley, and as others noted, the zone feels rather small. I can see this being expanded on in the future, though.
The Town of Prosperity was somewhat interesting. Apparently, there’s undercover copper mining and trading going on there. It was neat to see unexpected NPCs like Riot Alice lurking about. Though, there were one or two NPCs that I just wanted to strangle after sitting there listening to their woeful dialogue over and over again.
I never stuck around for a sandstorm event, but I found the concept of that interesting (depending on what happens). I also didn’t spend much time with the new vendor system. I guess you gather geodes that you can use to trade for goods at the traders if recipes are your thing.
The design of the area is probably clever, if you’re a jump-puzzle lover. But for me, I don’t see it as a place I’d want to hang out much longer than I needed to. Unlike other open world areas, the enemies and travel mechanics are frustrating, and didn’t lead to an enjoyable romp around the zone, or at least, the part of the zone I’ve experienced so far. Maybe now that I’m on the ground, it’ll be better. I’ll have to keep exploring to see.
I haven’t finished the story line, or really explored all the zone yet, but I’m still waiting for that “wow” moment to hook me. I guess there’s supposed to be tension and mystery (Jory says so), but it’s not communicating to me. Maybe I’m just getting more distanced from GW2 developments, because it really seems every time I like something, the writing team just blows it to bits.