Flame and Frost: Living Story Review

The Lion's Arch Fountain is back!
I wanted to quickly provide a review of some of the new content that I have experienced in Guild Wars 2's latest patch, Flame and Frost: Prelude. Specifically I want to talk about the new story elements added to the game. The Flame and Frost story promises to set off some exciting new story lines that will play out over the next couple months. I am excited about the contents of the story itself and the direction Arena Net is taking with content releases.

First off, I personally can not believe how large the patch is, especially after Colin down played its size, pre-release, on the forums. The size of this patch also gives me insight into what Colin was thinking when he said we should expect an "expansions worth of content" in February and March. Seeing how big January's "small patch" is makes me excited for what Arena Net has in store for us in the coming months. I now understand Colin's enthusiasm for the work his team is doing. I think I may be drinking the Arena Net Kool-aid because this patch makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Arena Net has setup the release of the January story into parts to create a "Living Story". As Bobby Stein pointed out of the forums we will not see all the changes at once or even in one week. Instead subtle changes will slowly shape the land and the story. I, personally, love this idea. I liken this to the difference between a movie and a TV show. Up until now we have been getting a movie a month from Arena Net, and now it seems we will be getting a TV show once a week. I like this because I am a more active player and need something to help keep the game fresh between monthly patches. I hope the Living Story will do just that. Releasing the story in smaller doses also creates more chances for feedback on the story to reach Arena Net and for them to modify things and cater to the players. Imagine if the current story had been released in batches instead of all at once. Trahearne would have been killed off two episodes into his story arc due to bad ratings.


The Story, so far


Spoilers begin here!

Heralds, like this one, can be found across the
zones marked with the star icon on the map.
The new story line so far concerns some strange weather patterns and geologic events which have upset the populations of the northern territories. Thus far, this is hitting the Norn and Charr of Diessa Plateau and Wayfarer Foothills the hardest. Streams of refugees are flowing through these zones and it is the players job to help them make their way to Hoelbrak and the Black Citadel. In these cities refugee camps have been setup where we can question NPCs to learn more about these events. NPC's involved in the Living Story are marked on the map with a golden star.

If you speak with the Norn in Hoelbrak you get vague answers. "Terrible Storms" are brewing and "something" is attacking the refugees. The most we get out of the Norn is that "steam's been rupturing up from underground." This steam is causing the weather to go all wonky. What could be the cause? And what is attacking these refugee's? The Norn do not have the answers ... yet.

The story is similar in the Charr controlled lands. Hot air is escaping from beneath the earth and causing havoc with the weather. Although not all the Charr are in on the details of what is going on one Charr in the Black Citadel is more specific. He pretty much straight up blames the Fire Legion saying that a group of soldiers were "run out of their posts by Flame Legion." Is that who is behind this? Time will tell as the story evolves.

A mysterious dead body, that of a merchant, has appeared in the Northern reaches of Wayfarer Foothills near Solitude Waypoint. The body is "frozen and lifeless" and it is "difficult to tell how long ago death occurred". Examining the body further reveals burn marks and trails of blood coming from the ears. Other then that there are no other signs of trauma to the body. In my non-medical opinion it sounds like he was in an explosion. This body seems like a great seed for a story and am excited to see where it goes - CSI Tyria.

For now, players can busy themselves assisting the refugees along the long path they are marching along starting in the north of Wayfarer Foothills and trickling down in two paths to Hoelbrak via Wayfarer Foothills and the Black Citadel via Diessa Plateau. Both zones are low level and offer opportunities for almost every player. The new patch changed the way rewards are handled for scaled down players such that you are always rewarded for your level. That includes chests, loots drops (not crafting mats), and event rewards. It makes being a level 80 in these zones worth it.

Tasks to assist the refugees include, lighting camp fires, healing injured refugees, collecting mementoes from the dead, and completing events. If you finish 75 of these tasks you are rewarded with the completion of an achievement, the title, "Volunteer", and a drawing from a refugee child worth 5000 karma. I completed the tasks in about 30 minutes without any problems. There are three places that the events takes place. Dulfy has all the details up on her page but if you just go to the zones and stick the refugee trails you should encounter them. All the events are the same though and involve killing elementals taking the stones they drop and placing them into an active steam vent. The events can be easily completed solo (I did one my 80 Theif and two on my 20 Mesmer). So far, the events are rather dull but that is to be expected. Hopefully, it is part of the story pacing and not all of the events will be like this.



And lets not forget the stories that started in October and November. The Lion's Arch Fountain and Lighthouse have both seen changes, with the fountain now returned to its original glory.


Conclusions


Work on the new Lighthouse continues.
Like I say, I am drinking the Arena Net kool aid. Overall, I like where they are going with the game and I am excited for the future of this story and for what is to come in February and March. I have a feeling this is just the tip of the ice berg in terms of what Anet has in store. The story, so far, has a ton of great seeds and I can see it taking a number of different paths. The other content is excellent and I hope to discuss it in the days to come.

What do you guys think of the story? Have you been going out into the world to track down every little tidbit you can? Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below.

7 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say you do a great Job reviewing the content! =) Thanks.

    ZoCks

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  2. Amazing job. Quality review:) really really nice read.

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  3. Hoping you would do more review as more patches come to arise. Great Job!

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  4. Charr* just sayin'

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  5. Thanks for the great comments! Glad everyone is enjoying the article.

    Thank you for pointing out that spelling error. Fixed and noted for future reference. :)

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  6. Great review! I would also mention the sand storm in Diessa just north of the Town of Nageling. I don't think it has always been there...

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  7. Boring review that offers no interesting insight and said too many words to convey too little info. 1/5. Not a carebear reviewer who compliments everything.

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