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Guild Wars 2 – Bound by Blood Press Preview

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down in a press preview for the next Guild Wars 2 update. With it, the “Icebrood Saga” has officially begun, and it begins with a party! This new content takes place in a new map, Grothmar Valley. This is the homeland of the Charr and their military force. I’m going to skip out on discussing the actual story because I’d rather people see how things kick off for themselves, but there is a major part of this latest Living World story that I want to talk about, and it’s the Homecoming of the Charr. There are a series of Meta Events that will be rotating throughout the day, each ran by one of the Charr factions. The “Raid on Doomlore Shrine” is hosted by the Ash Legion, the “Flame Effigy Event” is held by the Flame Legion. The “Ooze Pit Arena” is run by the Blood Legion, and the “Metal Legion Concert”, ran by the Iron Legion. That’s right, you can listen to several original songs by Metal Legion, which are focused on Charr pride, and what makes the Charr so great. Of course, you have to help the band too.

The reward loop for this event/update is a series of Tokens, each rewarded by a faction by completing their Meta Event. Once you have all four tokens, you can turn them in once a day for a shot at some of the exclusive loot in this event. There are some truly gorgeous pieces of gear, such as a Charr helmet, designed exclusively for the Charr (other races can’t wear it). If you win this and aren’t a Charr, you can trade it to other players. This is important because most of the helmets in the game look mediocre at best on Charr. There’s also a T-Shirt! Yes, that’s right, a T-Shirt, and it’s for the band Metal Legion. It’s also fully dyeable, so you can dye the shirt to hide the logo, and it’s another first for Guild Wars 2. You can buy the shirt after completing a couple of tasks, it’s very easy.

The developers are trying a new reward system in this adventure. Instead of unlocking reward vendors as per usual, you can purchase specific items after acquiring particular achievements they are tied to. There are other ways to unlock gear though. There are four weapon skins, for example, which can drop from the Vault Chest, or you can buy one from a Vendor. The Vendor one is not tradeable, where the Vault Chest is. That’s an important thing to know. These weapons are also each themed after a Legion and are gorgeous. There are of course items at each Meta Event that isn’t bound to the chest, such as a new Warhorn! This one is a microphone, used by the lead singer of Metal Legion. No matter what race/class you’re using, it will sound like you are screaming into the Mic, and that’s badass. It’s a rare drop at the concert, but there’s also an account bound one after completing a nice long list of tasks. The new Strike Mission also has some truly fantastic loot, and I love the new stuff you can unlock right now.

While there are four Meta Events, each bound to a Legion of the Charr, there are some passive, more soloable events that players can dive into, such as Target Practice. This one has players moving on rotating, floating platforms. You’ll be given a rifle and instructed to shoot hovering targets in the sky. It’s very relaxing, and a good way to practice shooting. The idea is to show the youngling Charr how it’s done. The targets are player-specific though. What that means is if someone shoots a target you’re aiming at, you’ll still see the target and can still get credit for it. The second separate event was probably my favorite, and it’s a Destruction Derby! That’s right, you get in a car, packed to the brim with weapons, and pick a faction. You represent them and obliterate the other players/cars in a fun, wild event. Consider it “collaborative PVP”. The goal is to entertain the audience, and during the event, everyone is hostile to each other. But what about the serious events? We checked out two of them, as well as the Strike Mission.

Raid on Doomlore Shrine (Ash Legion): This one is being assisted by the Flame Legion. The Flame Legion is trying to prove they belong among the High Legions, since they have been antagonists for a long time. This is one of the four attractions to attend. The Ash Legion wanted to do something with Doomlore Shrine, but a week earlier, ghosts begin to appear at Doomlore, and cubs that wandered in saw mysterious things. The goal is to get rid of the paranormal activity at Doomlore, and it has some pretty damn intense battles to take part in. Tons of angry, powerful spirits appear and it’s up to us to do away with them once and for all. I won’t spoil the boss of it, but long-time Guild Wars fans might see someone familiar.

A Concert for the Ages: You guys probably know by now, I love Metal. All types of Metal: Speed, Power, Doom, Death, Heavy, it’s all good. So to see a metal band perform in Guild Wars 2 is awesome. Metal Legion is a Charr band, and their sound to me feels like a Speed Metal band, but that’s just my take on it. Your goal is to keep the crowd hyped as much as possible. This means by moshing, fixing audio problems, and kicking the stuffing out of rowdy fans that rush the stage. There’s also a majestic fireworks boss at the end, and the Hype Meter can go over 100%, which we would all know if we watched This is Spinal Tap. I feel it’s important to note that my group defeated the score set by the previous media group (and probably were the most metal group because I was in it). The band has four songs, and once I have the link to where you can listen to them elsewhere, I’ll edit it in here. This was something refreshing and honestly pretty goddamn metal.

Strike Mission: The Strike Mission takes place after the main story of this Living World episode, so bear that in mind. Strike Missions are new 10-player activities, that let players face off against incredible bosses. It takes place in Shiverpeaks, but I’ll keep my mouth shut on the story. It’s also important to know that if you try to go in alone you need to have unlocked the Strike Mission first. If you go in as a squad, you can access it no matter what, as long as the party leader has unlocked it. You can go in with a max of 10 players, alone or in a party/squad. If you go in as a squad/party, it is treated as an instance, so you have more control over who you go in with. If you go in the regular way, it’s more open, and it will pair you with random players. It will try to keep your party members with you, if you party in the Public Version, but there are no guarantees.

Taking place in Shiverpeaks, there are some awesome challenges to evade, and a pretty cunning jumping puzzle, which is the bane of my existence in  Guild Wars 2. You cannot mount in here either, so you have to do it the old fashioned way. The positive side, if you’re bad at jumping puzzles: Once someone in your group has completed it, you can teleport to the top and fight the boss. The boss is also super challenging, but a lot of fun to work through.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this Strike Mission, and the content just in general. It all fits together neatly, and I was glad to see such a huge event focused on the Charr. It feels pretty light-hearted at first, and after such a massive battle and all the lives lost, perhaps we need to celebrate a bit. It’s not all fun and games though: something truly titanic lurks. There’s no rest for the heroes of Tyria.

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