After a far too long break, Living Story has started up again, with yesterday’s release of Echoes of the Past. The story continues on where it did before (presumably some time has happened since the Summit at the end of the previous episode, but it’s not really specified), with trying to organize efforts against Mordremoth. We also are introduced to another level 80 map, the Silverwastes, which has rather a different feel to it than any other map in the game.
I’m not going to go into the story part of the update too much, simply because there’s already a ton of other people doing so right now. It is extremely lore-heavy, however, and one hell of a nostalgia bomb for Guild Wars 1 players. The Priory has a massive library in its basement, with all sorts of neat, creepy, or just plain magical things…as well as an artifact that sends you to somewhere perhaps slightly unexpected.
Also, it has books. Lots of books. Lots of little tidbits you can read. It’s really cool.
But besides that, there’s also the new map, Silverwastes, that I mentioned. And it is, as I also mentioned, very different from other maps in the game. As far as size goes, the map itself is a bit smaller than Dry Top, though one advantage it has is that we apparently get the full map right away (it does not appear that it expands further, but there may be other zones that will open off of it). The story will lead you there, but if you are impatient, you can access it through Vandal’s Claim in Brisban Wildlands.
As far as location goes, it is north of Dry Top, so for GW1 zones that would place it roughly around Mamnoon Lagoon and Silverwood (hence the name), perhaps very small parts of Aurora Glade and the Sage Lands. It’s a much less vertical map than Dry Top is, which is very much a good thing as there’s no real Zephyrite presence here and hence no aspect crystals. Instead Silverwastes is a Pact staging ground, to take on Mordremoth, and is very clearly a hostile area.
In short, there are Mordrem everywhere.
It also differs from Dry Top in that Silverwastes is full of very old, crumbling structures – the forts that the Pact is trying to hold, as well as a number of other ruins that are scattered around. Dry Top really didn’t have anything like this; other than Prosperity, there was little in the way of actual buildings.
Silverwastes is a map where essentially the entire zone is one big meta event. Dry Top worked something like that, where you wanted to get the favor level as high as possible before the sandstorm to max out rewards, but Silverwastes operates very different to that. In the Silverwastes, there are four forts that the Pact is attempting to hold and defend from Mordrem attacks, and over time they can be upgraded. The most common events that happen in the zone are defending a fort, retaking a fort if that fails, guarding supply bulls that travel between the four forts, and thinning out the Mordrem. As forts are held and upgraded, the meta “timer” fills; when it fills, the Champion Mordrem bosses are available to fight.
It holds some similarity in World vs. World, in having to take and defend areas, upgrading them, and making sure supplies get delivered, but at the same time it’s very different.
Like in Dry Top, completing events grants you a new currency item (Bandit Crests, this time), and they can be spent on a number of items, including keys to hidden chests, new stat type recipes, and some other neat things. I feel like the costs of these items, as well as the speed of gaining crests, are far better balanced than the geodes in Dry Top. You still only get a few per event completed, but events are far more frequent than in Dry Top, so it’s much easier for them to build up.
I’m sure the list will expand as more things are added (I’m almost certain that will be the case, in fact), and there’s one item in particular there that most people will probably be working towards getting two of anyway.
Chests work a bit differently in here; you get Shovels for various things (LS episode rewards, the occasional event reward, etc.) and can use those to dig up chests, which then can be unlocked with a key. When a chest is uncovered, it’s pinged on the map and is visible to everyone. I also find that the loot out of the Bandit Chests is, so far, better than the loot from the Hidden Chests.
There are new achievements; they primarily revolve around various steps of the meta event (defeating the Champions, defending upgraded forts, killing various rare bosses), as well as other things such as collecting Lost Badges, uncovering a chest, and donating crests.
There are two new collections, and…MY FAVORITE THING…a new armor set.
Not an outfit. Not something gemstore-exclusive. But a new armor set that can be unlocked through playing the remaining Living Story episodes. In fact, there’s two armor sets. The first is the Carapace armor set, which can be unlocked gradually; the shoulderpiece is the rewards for completing episode 5, and more pieces will become available during episodes 6, 7, and 8. It’s quite a nice armor set, too, being butterfly-themed…so naturally I decided I must have it.
You can also buy pieces of the set with Bandit Crests, for 1000 crests. If you want the set for more than one armor weight, you can either do it this way, or by running another character through episode 5 – whichever way you’d prefer to do it. And if you want the second set, Luminescent, you’ll need to do this anyway. Luminescent is essentially the Carapace armor, but shinier, and it’s unlocked through completing collections.
Part of the collection for the shoulders requires having all three weights of the Carapace shoulders, so it’s pretty safe to assume that will be required for the other armor pieces as they become unlocked as well. Some of the other requirements are fighting each of the champion Mordrem bosses…and getting all of the story achievements for the episode. So it’s not exactly easy (I tend to skip story achievements because I just don’t find the rewards worth it)…but definitely doable. And hey, now I have an actual reason to do those achievements, so that’s neat. Maybe.
The second collection involves collecting all of the Luminescent armor pieces, which gets you a title. A very neat title. I like it. I want it.
So…new story, new map, and new armor. Are there downsides to this patch? Well…yes. I find that I’m not entirely fond of Silverwastes. Navigating the zone can be difficult, and while it’s a small zone, there’s only one waypoint. I definitely feel like the size of the map is far too large to only have that one waypoint, as it means you’re going to spend a lot of time running around…and oftentimes finding events blocking your way…which can mean death if you’re not careful. Event frequency is very high, which is nice on one hand, but annoying on another. It’s definitely a bit irritating to finish a defense event, rebuild the fort, and have it come back under attack almost immediately. It also means that events overlap a lot, which can make the supply escorts a fast failure if the bull’s path goes through other events in the area.
I’m finding myself feeling about it like I feel about Dry Top – fun enough, but not really my type of thing, and if not for the fact that I need to spend a significant amount of time there for the Carapace and Luminescent armors, I probably would stop going there fairly quickly.
Overall, though, I do enjoy this patch a lot. The New Player Experience soured me on GW2 for quite a while, even with a lot of the changes having been adjusted, and while Halloween got me playing the game again, it was this update that I was looking forward to. I was hoping it would get me back into the game, give me things I wanted to do, to work towards. This patch does that in the best possible way, and I just have to say…it’s about damn time Living Story picked back up.