Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Now The Drizzle

Yesterday saw the appearance of the latest instalment in Guild Wars 2's Icebrood Saga, entitled No Quarter. There hadn't been a lot of hype. I'd almost forgotten about it.

I finally remembered at around eight in the evening. I logged in and did the first part, then took a quick look around the new map. That took me about forty-five minutes altogether.

This afternoon I picked up where I left off and finished the whole thing. The story, that is. It ran about the regular length, something around three hours, not counting the time I spent wandering about, exploring, taking screenshots, admiring the usual, exemplary efforts of ArenaNet's art team.

As usual, it's difficult to say very much about the narrative without spoiling the story. I may do a post on that in a few days, once people have had a chance to take a run at it themselves. Or I might have forgotten about it by then and not bother.

One thing I will comment on is the absence of voice acting. Due to the exigencies of the pandemic it's not been possible to orchestrate the necessary audio work but ANet decided not to let that delay the release. All the dialog is there in text and speech bubbles but the NPCs and the player character express themselves only in occasional grunts and murmurs.

It does feel a bit odd at first. Personally, I'd have done away with the grunting. I soon got used to the silence but it had the unexpected effect of making me aware that GW2's voice acting is generally not at all bad. I could hear some of the characters speaking in my head in the voices of their regular actors, which is quite a compliment. I'll be glad to have the voices back, whenever that's possible.

Moving on to the new map, Drizzlewood Coast, it would be perfectly safe to discuss that in some detail without worrying about spoilers, only first I'd want to spend quite a lot more time there. This is the map that's supposed to be a PvE version of World vs World, which should make for an interesting comparison, only I'd probably need to play through the whole meta at least a couple of times.

As the above screenshot suggests, there certainly are similarities. That could be a bunch of players ramming a tower in Eternal Battlegrounds. If it was, the door would have lasted longer than ten seconds. If this is WvW it's WvW on fast forward.

I spent about thirty of forty minutes running about after a tag, fighting charr soldiers, protecting supply dolyaks, knocking down gates and taking territory. It all culminated in a large-scale battle at the bridge. Bits of it felt like WvW but a lot of it felt far more like many other big map metas - Silverwastes or Dragon's Stand, for example. I'm going to have to see a lot more before I can tell if it's really anything new. I'd be very interested to see an experienced pugmander lead here, though.

First impressions, then, very favorable. Decent story, no overly-annoying, artificially extended boss fights, large, attractive, interesting new map. I'm not sure I can really see much of a difference in format between the current "Saga" and the previous "Living Story" but in terms of quality, execution and content the Saga so far has been a major improvement.


  1. Hnnnugggh.

    (Agreed. I do wonder if being forced to read the text helps with more immersion for those who bother. It reminds me of oldschool games where this was a norm. For those who don’t bother to read chat text, it goes without saying that they’ll need the voice acted lines eventually to bring the story to them.)

    1. I was thinking about that. I wonder if I really would go back and play through the whole thing in a few months just to hear the voices? I might, because it's an easy episode to do and, ironically, an awful lot of it is just standing aroudn listening to charrs arguing.

  2. I missed the voices very much. I'm so used to listening to the characters talk while i look around and admire the details of the maps that i missed whole conversations and had to reread then in the textchat.

    The grunts are a little annoying but at least they alert you that you have something to read in game.

    Also the world feels much less alive without the little discussion you always hear in the background. I hope they can deliver the voices soon.

    I always felt the full voice acting is something that make GW2 really special. FF14 for instance feels very empty to me. And the constant switching beetween voice acting an speech bubbles in cut-scenes annoys me.

    1. I was surprised how much difference the absence of voice acting made, particularly on my character and Rytlock. I've done most of the Living Story on the same character, a male asura, and even though at first I didn't think it sounded like I imagined my character would, by now I'm so used to it I can't really imagine him speaking any other way. And Rytlock is always a joy to hear - his lines felt a little flat without the line readings, which was a shame considering how central to the plot he is.


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