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The Head of the Snake

 
Arenanet has officially confirmed the next episode of the third season of the Living World, Head of the Snake, will be launching on February 7th 2017.  The release will feature the continuation of the ongoing story, starting with a plot arch with Queen Jennah, and a new raid wing.  The full press release can be found below.

The White Mantle has slithered into the cracks in Krytan society, and now in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns it’s time to expose them. The next episode of Living World Season 3, “The Head of the Snake,” is coming Tuesday, February 7. “The Head of the Snake” sees the advancement of the story as Queen Jennah summons players to her side, where they'll act as her personal witness in uncovering the nest of corruption in Divinity's Reach.
 
Along with “The Head of the Snake” will come the brand-new raid wing “Bastion of the Penitent”. The destruction of the Maguuma Bloodstone has opened a mysterious portal in Bloodstone Fen, and beyond it lies a sinister and ancient place with little chance of escape. This raid will provide players with four bosses to overcome as they discover what mysteries are still chained behind its walls.
 
In preparation for this new, exciting content, ArenaNet will be holding a sale for the Heart of Thorns expansion! Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is now on sale at 50% until February 8, for anyone who wants to join in and explore. To access new Living World content players must own Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns; by simply logging in they can bank episodes to play later. They don’t need to have completed the storyline in the expansion to enjoy Season 3.
 
Season 3 content is intended for level-80 characters. Every purchase of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns comes with a Level-80 Boost, which will raise one character to max level and get them equipped to enjoy all the content available in Guild Wars 2, including Season 3.

 

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It’s time for long winter nights, snowball fights, and exchanging gifts. Wintersday arrives on December 13! Join your friends in Divinity’s Reach for this traditional Tyrian holiday, and visit Toymaker Tixx in his impressive Infinirarium. ArenaNet developers will be celebrating the release alongside players, so look for them in game and help us spread seasonal cheer!
 
If you’re looking for something a little more intense than snowball fights, PvP League Season 5 will begin on December 13 as well. Keep an eye on the official Guild Wars 2 site for more info!

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Cracks in the Ice

 
Arenanet has announced through the press channels that the next Living Story episode, titled "Cracks in the Ice," will launch on 21 November 2016.  The release includes a new map in the shiverpeaks, and a new nightmare fractal.  The press release is found below.  
 

 


“The next episode of Living World Season 3, A Crack in the Ice, is coming next Monday, November 21. The season follows the aftermath of Heart of Thorns – a flood of unbound magic, the rise of two Elder Dragons, and the birth of the dragon Glint’s child, Aurene. In “A Crack in the Ice,” players will follow that story into the Northern Shiverpeaks, territory of the Elder Dragon Jormag. Along with “A Crack in the Ice” comes the brand-new Nightmare fractal. This five-person, instanced dungeon takes players on an upward climb through a massive tower, which is heavily guarded by powerful abominations and their toxic experiments.”

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Beginning October 18, 2016
Shadow of the Mad King, our annual Halloween festival, returns with ghoulish capers, spooky fights, and holiday fun! Gather together with the citizens of Lion’s Arch to enjoy another year of tricks, treats, and terrible jokes.
 

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Ascent to Madness
Delve into the Mad King’s lair! This devilish boss encounter will bring you face-to-face with King Oswald Thorn himself for a frightful fight. Be on your guard—the diabolical monarch has deadly tricks up his sleeve. Cater to the king’s capricious whims, and you may survive.


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The Mad King's Realm
Brave travelers can go trick-or-treating in the Mad King’s Labyrinth. Face off against the undead armies and festive frights bound in the Mad King’s Labyrinth, open haunted doors to kick off events, and beware the grisly monsters that prowl the maze!
 

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The Mad King's Clock Tower
Race against time in the Mad King’s Clock Tower, Tyria’s most haunted jumping puzzle! Leap over the crumbling remnants of the clock tower, but be on your toes—one wrong move and you may fall into the rising tide of horror. Can you conquer the cruel clock tower?


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Lion's Arch Festivities
Enjoy the spooky atmosphere of Lion’s Arch, which is decorated every year for these traditional festivities. Doors to diverse attractions will dot the map, candy corn vendors will share their wares, and King Thorn himself will appear to tell his horrible jokes and play Mad King Says!


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Tricks and Treats
What would a Halloween festival be without treats to go along with its tricks? Collect frightful rewards—like new weapon skins and miniatures–to keep the spirit alive all year long!


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Beginning on October 18, the annual Shadow of the Mad King event returns with ghoulish capers, spooky fights, and holiday fun! Get ready for another year of tricks, treats, and terrible jokes as the pumpkin-headed former ruler of the Thorn dynasty graces Lion’s Arch with his presence. Collect candy corn, play all of your favorite Halloween activities, and earn sweet new rewards. Keep an eye out for ArenaNet staff members in Lion’s Arch from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM Pacific Time (UTC-7) on October 18!

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Rising Flames Release

 
Arenanet released the newest Living World update today, Rising Flames!  Read the full press release below.

Today, ArenaNet has added the next episode of Living World Season 3 to its award-winning, industry-leading MMO, Guild Wars 2. Rising Flames is set in a location that is familiar to fans of Tyria’s lore and players of the original Guild Wars.”
 
In the previous Living World episode, Legate Minister Caudecus revealed himself as the leader of the nefarious White Mantle, but his plans for the organization were thrown into disarray when one of their ancient gods, a mursaat called Lazarus, reappeared and accused him of being a heretic. And the tumult in Tyria burns even hotter with the discovery that the Elder Dragon Primordus is stirring once again. Will players be consumed by the flames?
 
Along with Rising Flames comes a new PvP map called Eternal Coliseum. In this new conquest map, players will fight for the favor of a roaring ravenous crowd inside an arena inspired by the real-world Roman Coliseum. Players attempt to gain control of three capture points. Each conquest map features a unique secondary objective that gives the map additional strategic, tactical depth and can change the tide of battle. At set intervals during the match, artifacts of the gods will become available for capture. Capturing the Sword of Reaping will automatically defeat any downed enemies that you strike and provide a 20% damage bonus to your entire team. Capturing the Shield of Life will give the player that wields it a free resurrection when downed in addition to 5000 bonus health and 100 toughness for the entire team.
 
The release of both Rising Flames and Eternal Coliseum is in keeping with ArenaNet’s stated cadence of providing new Living World content on a 2-3 month schedule. The bundling of a Living World episode, a new PvP map, and updates to other areas of the game such as Fractals is designed to truly give a wide swath of our player base more of what they want and love on a regular basis.

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Out of the Shadows Released


Arenanet has released the first Living World update of Season 3, titled "Out of the Shadows." You can read the update notes here. Below, you can find the impressions of the release from the press demo I was able to partake in.

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On the 21st of July, I had the opportunity to get some impressions on the Living Story Season 3 Episode 1 release, and play through some new content. I was unable to attend the PvP session, but did hear some great details that are coming with this update. Let us begin with the content I did not play.

PvP Updates

I overheard a few developers talking to the press about PvP updates. For starters, the big updates include the fact that queuing is now possible outside of Heart of the Mists, and that the two current beta maps are coming out of beta. Skyhammer has gotten some smaller changes, which I was unable to get details on. Revenge of the Capricorn is a reimagining of Raid on the Capricorn, the old sPvP map that was removed from the game due to the desire to push aquatic combat out of sPvP. PvP seasons will now be continuous, in which the current time periods where no season is active (such as up to this release) will become an off-season, with all the features of the current season system, but without a set time limit or rank reward.

Class Balancing

All the classes in Guild Wars 2 have received an update, as is standard for these update from Arenanet. I was unable to catch many of the changes, but many of the changes and balancing focused on removing certain builds from the current raid meta. I was only able to get a few details on the elementalist, which has had its staff skill 2 (lava font) and tempest overload air severely nerfed in an aim to remove it from the raid meta.

Fractals

Although I was unable to play these, the new Chaos Isles fractal features the anomalies seen in the open world to create an almost dreamscape-like experience. The Chaos Isles show instability within the fractals, with certain existing fractals mashing together into an entirely new fractal.

Story

Since the end of the Heart of Thorns expansion storyline, burials and ceremonies must be had, and celebrations occur throughout Tyria. As you progress through the aftermath, you receive a note from Taimi regarding a strange anomaly. You set out with Desiny's Edge to investigate this anomaly, which brings you to an area of an unstable bloodstone. As you approach the bloodstone in the pact's final airship, the bloodstone explodes (or rather, overloaded by ley energy and the instability caused by the players in the final raid wing), bringing you to the new map with this release, Bloodstone Fen.

Bloodstone Fen

Players of the first Guild Wars will remember Bloodstone Fen. The map, about 1/8th the size of the Silverwastes but more vertical than any other map seen before, features the bloodstone and its instability after the explosion. The map plays on the nostalgia from the first game, featuring more than a few references to the White Mantle, the organization which was initially a protagonist and eventually one of the main antagonist's of the game's original campaign. Justiciar Hablion features as one of the first open world bosses, where he throws you into the sky to discover one of the new feature of the new map, gliding skills. Arenanet discussed their desire to add environment specific skills to maps, and the new mastery allows you to unlock skills for use in Bloodstone Fen. The instability of the ley line energy around Bloodstone Fen, which spawns new items such as leyline updrafts, causes these skills to be extremely powerful. The first skill, a simple pulse, did an average of 2x as much damage against enemies as normal skills. More skills were unlockable, but this was locked for the press demo.

After the Hablion fight, spirits can be seen amassing during the night portion of the map's meta event. The bloodstone explosion has released many sacrificed generations to the bloodstone, and they are uncertain as to how to act. Many events rely on putting them to rest, or damaging them until they remember who they were, and that you are not the "bad guy." This map is one large homage to the White Mantle and the Bloodstone saga, and it seems obvious the story is heading in the direction of the eventual return or revival of the White Mantle, as hinted in by the trailer and the playable portion of the demo.

Story Hints

Only one mission was playable in the press demo that was completable (this particular story mission required a group to advance due to open world champions that have to be killed, which is difficult with one player). However, material provided by Arenanet shows hints that the Mursaat may be on the return. One image in particular which may be discussed is an image showing a heart that perfectly fits within a mursaat armor plate. This is, however, speculation.

In Closing

It was enjoyable to play a very small demo of the incoming PvE content and hear some upcoming changes for the game. As a fan of the Mursaat, this release excited me more than it should! It should be noted that the content outlined in this post was played in an unfinished stage, and changes may have occurred. There is also a lot more content in this release than outlined here. Living Story Season 3 Episode 1 release on the 26th of July 2016, under the name "Out of the Shadows." Back to Top

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ArenaNet has announced that the third season of Living World will be released two weeks from now on July 26th. Here's some of the previous plot points as a refresher:
  • The Elder Dragon Mordremoth, which unleashed its hordes of minions across all of Tyria and all but destroyed the world’s united military force, is dead, but the cost of victory was high. Tyria as a whole has a lot of regrouping to do to figure out how to move forward.
  • Elder Dragons feed on magical energy. When Mordremoth was killed, a burst of that magic flooded back out into the world, and some of it settled into the magical Bloodstone deep in the jungle. There’s an excess of magic now that’s bringing a lot of factions out to try to take advantage of it.
  • The White Mantle, a group of religious zealots who worship an ancient magical race called the mursaat, have been stirring up trouble both in Kryta and in the Maguuma Jungle - the area introduced in Heart of Thorns. The latest raid showed that they were trying to harness the power of the Bloodstone in an attempt to resurrect one of their gods.
  • Taimi, a young asuran researcher, was left in the subterranean city of Rata Novus, a long-lost headquarters for intelligence on the Elder Dragons and how to destroy them. With Zhaitan and Mordremoth already defeated, she’s turning her prodigious intellect towards uncovering the weaknesses of the remaining threats to Tyria.
  • During the course of Heart of Thorns, players found and protected a dragon egg – which is rare enough on its own, but this egg comes from Glint, a former servant of the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik who rebelled against her master and tried to protect the races of Tyria. The future of this egg is a big question mark: will it take after its mother? Did the power released on Mordremoth’s death affect it? Will it be an ally or an enemy of the races of Tyria?
Check out the official blog for any questions you might have regarding the upcoming season.

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