Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Going Fishing

I've been so hyped for the third Guild Wars 2 expansion, End of Dragons, I completely forgot ArenaNet were doing a Livestream about it today. I only happened to catch the big reveal by sheer chance.

I'd been playing New World all afternoon and having a very good time, not least because the player hordes have dispersed across the wilderness, taking most (although not all) of my technical issues with them. I only stopped because I dinged Level 12 and then almost immediately got trained by some skeleton so far above my paygrade all it had for a level indicator was a leering skull.

It seemed like an appropriate time to take a break and get a coffee. I closed the game down and flipped through Feedly, as you do, where I saw a post from MassivelyOP that mentioned the Livestream in the title. With my memory jogged I was quite excited to take a look at the bullet point list of features. I've been keeping my fingers crossed for housing although I know it's not going to happen. 

And I wasn't disappointed. Wait, let me re-phrase that. I was disappointed. Very disappointed. In general, that is. I just wasn't wrong. There is no housing. Guild Hall decorating does not count, any more than the dismal Personal Instances ever did.

MOP were live-blogging the highlights. When I arrived they'd got as far as Seige Turtles. I read through the line items and my shoulders sagged. Oh dear...

Because I have this blog, because I have a history of writing about GW2 here and because I could see the Livestream was still going on, I felt honor-bound to watch the rest of it. It wasn't terrible as these things go. 

The pre-recorded parts were professional enough and the live parts were unembarrassing, which is quite a high bar. Everyone seemed calm. No-one shrieked or capered. They didn't even laugh at their own jokes. Or, indeed, make any jokes. I thank them for that.

For once, the problem wasn't in the ineptitude of the presentation. It was in the mediocrity of the content. I could summarize the main features in a nice, neat list but what would be the point? If anyone's really that interested I suggest they go read the MassivelyOP report. They do that there.

I can sum up the entire expansion in a sentence. No, not even a sentence, a phrase: more of the same. That's literally what we're getting. A new continent (Cantha, as we all know), a story to take us through it, a full set of new Legendary Weapons, a full set of new Elite Specifications, a new Guild Hall, new Strike Missions... 

Which is fine. I have no problem with an expansion that adds more of all the things people already know and like. That's very reasonable.

My problem is this: they aren't the things I like. It's a list of the things I either don't much bother with in the existing game or, worse, things I actively avoid. 

Cantha, as a concept, does nothing for me. Never has. It's fine. I don't mind that we're going there. I just also don't care that we're going there.

Elite specs, something that  would probably be called new classes in other games, are mostly a nuisance. If they're too good everyone piles on and they end up being nerfed anyway. Conversely, if they're not wildly better than the old ones, people treat them as a novelty then ignore them. Also, with another round of Elite Specs the game will effectively have three dozen "classes". Good luck balancing that, ANet.

Legendaries I find pointless. Some, although not many, of the skins are quite nice but the grind needed to get them, in all the variations so far tried, is my literal definition of a waste of time. I was grimly amused to hear this referred to in the livestream as "replayability". Words, as Humpty Dumpty liked to say, mean what we choose them to mean.

Strike missions are an interesting focus point. I came in about a third of the way through the stream but I didn't hear anyone mention raids, although someone did refer to Challenge versions of Strike missions (also coming with EoD) as something for the raiders to do. I'm guessing GW2 is done with raiding now and this is what we have instead.

On that theme, we appear to be done not only with dungeons (We've been done with those for the longest time...) but also with fractals. Again, they don't get a mention. Suits me. Never saw the point of them, either.


I won't go on picking the thing apart line by line. It's too depressing. The expansion is going to double down on some of the things I least like about the game, although in its favor it's also going to double down on ignoring a few others I can't stand, so there's that.

Turning negatives into positives, I was very pleased to hear almost nothing about new mounts, other than the ominous Siege Turtle. No mounts is good mounts... er news. (There are no good mounts.) 

The Siege Turtle is the death knell for any last pretense of gravitas for a game whose credibility as any sort of virtual world has been going belly up for a while now (something I fervently hope the turtles will do if you hit them with a cannon.) That said, this seems to be another piece of fan service, calling back to the original Guild Wars, so I guess that battle was already lost long ago.

The turtle is a multiplayer mount, something that brings to mind the worst excesses of World of Warcraft, although unless I misheard, "multi" in this case means just two people. They'll be useable everywhere the other mounts are, as far as I could gather, so that's going to be fun.

One possible sliver of light: the access quest for the new Guild Hall is supposedly scaled to suit smaller groups. I don't imagine it's going to scale far enough to allow tiny guilds with two or three players to complete it but we can hope. It does at least suggest someone finally realised there's a problem there.


I've left the one genuinely intriguing, potentially exciting announcement to the end. We're getting fishing! And not just fishing but fishing boats! 

This was the part I wanted to hear a lot about so naturally they'd already finished talking about it by the time I got there. Fishing is a mastery, which is fine. I like masteries, as a rule. The boats are called skiffs, which suggests something very flimsy, but the skin they briefly showed looked to be a decent size, something like the longboat in Valheim.

Fishing will be possible all over Tyria, not just in Cantha, and therefore I hope it's safe to assume the skiffs will be too. There's a lot of water in Tyria and this might begin to explain why ANet put all that effort into updating underwater skills a while ago. 

There are going to be various betas for the Elite specs before launch. Anyone can join in with those, even free to play accounts. Ther first of the already-announced betas for the upcoming World vs World revamp, Alliances, now rolled in with the EoD feature set, starts in just three weeks. 

Finally, we have a release date. Okay, not a date. That would be asking too much. A release month. End of Dragons drops in February 2022. Pre-orders begin today.

I can't wait. Oh, hang on... yes I can.

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