I bought the Path of Fire expansion on Friday morning, about four hours before launch time. Not that it matters, but I hope that my purchase was late enough that it doesn’t “count” in the video game industry’s pre-order shenanigans. It was early enough that I got the bonuses, though. (Not that I’ll ever use them.)
When I logged in around 11:30, I realized that I had not yet started the Living Story Season 3, and I remembered that I had planned to finish that before going into Path of Fire. (I actually meant to finish it before buying Path of Fire, but I forgot about that part.)
So while everyone else is checking out the Crystal Desert or whatever, I’ll be bringing you up-to-the-minute reporting on the Living Story Season 3.
The first episode is called Out of The Shadows and contains six chapters. I was surprised that there were so many. It took me around two and a half hours of game time to complete it over the course of three days, not counting grinding for the Mastery Point.
It starts with Eir’s Memorial in Hoelbrak. (When everyone toasted, “To Eir!” I, of course, responded, “Is human!”) Then we pay a visit to Taimi in Rata Novus, and take an airship to the new map Bloodstone Fen, where a giant bloodstone exploded. Kind of.
As usual, I don’t fully understand the story. At this point I mentally hear static whenever people try to explain what’s going on because it never makes any sense to me. I feel like there’s some foundational piece of Guild Wars lore that I just don’t get or never heard that renders everything after it nonsensical. As if I’m reading Game of Thrones but I don’t know that the seasons are longer than normal.
Anyway, the new map is another Heart of Thorns-style map, full of verticality. There’s an entirely new set of Ancient Magics Masteries added with this map, the first one of which (“Counter Magic”) is required to finish Episode 1. I ended up going back to Verdant Brink to grind out the majority of that Mastery, as there weren’t very many people in Bloodstone Fen doing events. (In fact I didn’t see very many events to do.)
When you first get to Bloodstone Fen, you are required to visit several places in the zone before you can continue the story. During this part, I rage quit twice. :) There was one particular point, the Colosseum of the Faithful, that I tried to fight my way up to twice, and both times I gave up and concluded, “Screw this. This is impossible. I’m just going to start Path of Fire.” But on the third try I figured out that you can glide over to that spot without having to defeat the hordes of Veteran Angered Spirit mobs. That was the most irritating part of the episode for me. I get very irrationally angry when I encounter difficulty simply running from one point on the map to another point on the map to continue a story.
The inevitable tedious, drawn-out boss fights occur in the final chapter, Confessor’s Stronghold, where you confront this guy Caudecus. Allegedly we are supposed to know him, but when I hear the word Caudecus, I only know of the Caduceus Rise dungeon in Rift. (I know, I know, different spelling.) Then some guy named Lazarus shows up, and Caudecus gets away. Then Taimi tells us Primordus is active and the episode ends, as if we’re supposed to know who or what a Primordus is. (Spoiler: It’s a dragon.)
So by my count there are three different foes to deal with by the end of the episode. Since I played the Path of Fire demo weekend, I can already sort of guess who one of them is and which one will end up being the most important.
Curiously, I noticed a lot of people have gone into Path of Fire to get their mount, and then returned to older areas. I saw a lot of raptor mounts jumping around Heart of Thorns maps and Bloodstone Fen.
UPDATE - The Video