The final feature to be previewed before next week’s big (very big) update has been announced, and they’re not kidding when they say it’s a major one. The very way that servers work is changing. Once again, I note that this addresses something I used to hear people complain about in the first year of the game, and rarely hear any more – but that’s not necessarily a reason to ignore it, especially since the megaserver system implements a solution I’ve heard players suggest in-game. There are things I don’t like about it, both for practical reasons and for reasons of principle. However, it’s one of those changes that has made more sense the more I think about it.
In short: while accounts will still have home worlds, in actual play there will no longer be clear divisions between servers. Once the megaserver system is fully rolled out (which will take a few months from the sound of it), players entering any zone will find it populated with people from a variety of home worlds, rather than a specific copy of that zone for their world alone.
Coming back to Lion’s Arch in the wake of recent events was suitably touching. The new background music, called Lion’s Arch Lament and containing echoes of the more familiar ‘Sea of Sorrows’ piece, adds a tragic dignity to the sight of the city, almost completely empty and largely in ruins. After seeing it a bustling city and then a fiery battleground, the emptiness is actually quite striking, as well as the large pieces of Scarlet’s drill which lie embedded where they fell when the thing exploded over the harbour.
It’s the little things, though, that I really appreciate sometimes. In Bloodtide Coast, a member of the Captain’s Council warned my sylvari elementalist that some refugees might be unkind to me, because they equated Scarlet with all sylvari. A refugee in Gendarran Fields assured me that whatever some people said, she knew we sylvari weren’t all like that. And in Lion’s Arch itself, at the site of a new graveyard created to hold the dead from the battles with Scarlet, a human woman took out her grief on me because I shared a race with a psychopath.
These are the touches that make me smile, or even feel a little hurt, when I’m exploring the story ArenaNet’s staff are telling us.
The latest preview of what’s to come in the April 15th feature pack focuses on structured PvP – but if you’re like me and usually figure this means it doesn’t apply to you, don’t turn away yet. The theme of this update to PvP is integration: ArenaNet are looking to remove some of the distinctions which make sPvP its own self-contained game within a game, separated from PvE. Thankfully, none of this update makes it strictly necessary or even too strongly incentivised to participate in PvP play, but it does extend the philosophy that underlies a lot of WvW design (you should be able to entirely level a character and achieve most things through WvW alone if you want to) to structured PvP as well.
Continuing their coverage of the April 2014 Feature Pack, ArenaNet have released three smaller posts in two days: one on ‘social play‘, one indicating even more things shifting from character- to account-bound, and one announcing free armour repairs. Each of these covers some more basic features that don’t need as much elaboration as previous posts, and while not insignificant I think most of them will come as no surprise to those who’ve been following the releases closely – all of this fits along the same principles as what came before.
Information on the April 2014 Feature Pack continues, today with two posts: ‘Introducing the Wardrobe System‘, which explains a new way of dealing with skins and transmutation, and ‘Dyes in the New Account Wardrobe‘, which elaborates on how dyes will work under this system – with the big changes being that dyes will be unlocked account-wide rather than character-specific, as they have been. Here we can already see one of the feature pack’s recurring themes, namely old requests being fulfilled at this very late stage. If I remember rightly, dyes were originally advertised as account-based, but were character-based by beta? At any rate, these changes will shake up the economy as well as the way players kit out their characters.
(Also worth noting: these new posts have a list of titles for the remaining feature pack previews to come between now and April 15th, if you’re interested; next up is changes to the LFG system.)
More teasers for the April Feature Pack (so soon; how much do they have if they’re explaining one thing a day and they still have three weeks to go?!) – this time with two posts entitled ‘Runes, Sigils, and Balance Updates‘ and ‘Critical Damage Changes‘. There are some recurring themes between this and the previous post which highlight ArenaNet’s main goals and priorities for this round of balance – and it looks like serious rebalancing will definitely happen when the Feature Pack actually hits. A lot of the game is going to change, often in relatively small but highly important ways.
ArenaNet today announced the April 2014 Feature Pack, an update for April 15th (not the next patch, you’ll note; that one falls on April Fools…) which contains no living story but purely new game features. It looks to be a seriously big update too, if today’s teaser is anything to go by!
ArenaNet will be covering each major section of this update over the coming weeks, with today covering substantial changes to traits. The short of it is: we’re returning strongly to our roots in the original Guild Wars. Whether or not that’s a good thing at this point, I’m not convinced.