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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."