Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire Demo Impressions
I played Guild Wars 2 when it was in its infancy, and then I kind of fell away. Engineer was in a bad state, and it was the class I invested the most time into. So I was a little disappointed when their damage didn’t really match up with the rest of the damage classes. I wasn’t having fun, so I left the game behind. I liked the concepts provided in Heart of Thorns but it just didn’t grab me, if you will. Some of the stuff in the game really didn’t catch my eye so again I found myself not purchasing the expansion. The story trailers I watched were pretty good, but the life of a game journalist is not always one where you can just play whatever you want. Most of my free game time is already set aside for a review, a future retro review, or the livestream. We stream as a team, and we have to play what’s going to bring people to the show. However, this weekend I found a bit of free time to play Guild Wars 2’s “Path of Fire” demo weekend.
I imagine it was to get people excited about the upcoming expansion, which is pretty smart. People who haven’t played much Heart of Thorns and want to get back into the game [or are like me and missed HoT entirely] can make a character and just jump into the prologue for the story. There are some pretty positive things going on here, like the story. I really enjoyed chasing down Balthazar’s crew, though I wish I had not played a Ranger. You made a new character for it, and instead of playing what I know, I jumped right in with a fresh class I had never played! Fun! Or, you know. Not. I had to spend a bit of extra time getting used to what their buttons did and finding the right pet. Turned out to be the Wolf, for me. But anyway. Instead of being in the jungle, or the sun shrouded by a canopy of treetops, instead, we’re in the desert! We’re immediately greeted by hot sun, hot sand, and by the time we get very far … Fire! Because that’s what we need. Fire, in the desert.
We’re chasing the minions of Balthazar, the God of Fire, War, and Challenge. That in mind, chasing him around the desert doesn’t sound too ideal. The Herald of Balthazar is the main focus of much of the scripted story I played through. He’s leaving slowly, and we’re chasing him for all we’re worth. I couldn’t hurt him no matter how hard I tried. I dealt a little damage here and there, but I did just enough to cause him to stroll away, completely unconcerned. He gets away because he’s a villain and it’s only the prologue. I assume this Herald will come back later and the heroes will have to put him down once and for all. One of the bright points, if you will, was a part of a village was engulfed in flames and throwing buckets of water on the inferno, I found my first mount! The Raptor mount is the first mount they showed off, but this is where I had my first problem: Motion sickness!
Anyone who knows me knows I can get pretty bad vertigo/motion sickness. I can’t play VR games, and most motion games can really upset me after a while. Didn’t take too long for Guild Wars 2. Maybe it’s the motion blur. You don’t get to keep the Raptor yet; you have to complete the mission. If you use the ability/dismount, it goes away and you have to get a new one. This was tedious, but not bad. You have to earn the saddle, after all. One thing I wasn’t wild about was that using the Mount’s ability dismounted you as I said. The skill was cool though! A wild tail swipe that hit everything around it, and it also had an incredible long-jump. It was just a little jarring I suppose. I was hoping they would have actual mounted combat, but it’s not too late for that. As the story ends, we head to the first main hub, The Free City of Amnoon. The demo “opens up’ at this point, where you can do a variety of tasks. If you have the ectoplasm [which is, if I’m being honest, kind of a weird currency] you can gamble. There are Bounties, which are probably my favorite part.
The idea is that they will take you to areas of the map you might not normally go to, an incentive to explore the world. There were some pretty great items to farm too! The loot was pretty fantastic, which is likely one of the big things to take away from this. I mean, if the loot starting out is awesome, people are going to come back for more when the expansion is live. There are lots of new unidentified items out there in the sands, and while it might seem great to salvage all that gear if you aren’t identifying them, but that’s not a way to get Ectoplasm. They can have exotics, rares in them, which is fantastic! But what are the odds of it? It’s a system that I like in theory, but I hope that it won’t turn into a horrific gold sink where only the rich will be able to easily identify items, and instead, they won’t be trashed/sold because inventory space is at a premium.
Overall, it wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely fun. There were pretty large gaps of land where nothing was going on, but the game’s not live yet so I expect as much. And it’s a desert … regardless, it felt pretty empty. I saw very few players around me, which could be due to when I was playing. I enjoyed the story I was given, and I am glad to see that you don’t need Heart of Thorns or to complete it to jump into Path of Fire. You probably will want to know the main story to get what’s really going on, but it’s not a requirement. But there is great content you’ll probably want from Heart of Thorns: Revenant, Gliding, Elite Specs. You can’t have Revenant without Heart of Thorns after all. The problems were mostly minor, stuff that can be fixed as time progresses. I feel like ArenaNet’s working pretty hard to clean up after HoT. My thoughts though after playing, is that it has the potential to be a blast. I’m worried that identifying items is going to be frustrating and bankrupt casual players. Filling hearts felt incredibly grindy, especially the early ones. But I am looking forward to seeing what unfolds, and if the changes from Heart of Thorns to Path of Fire are all positive ones. Seeing Amnoon again was fantastic too. But I do know that my time in Path of Fire so far was a mostly positive one.
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