We got our hands on some of what GW2's April patch will bring. Verdict: Awesome!
Later today ArenaNet will release the April content patch for Guild Wars 2. The patch will include the fourth and final chapter of the Flame and Frost Living Story content as well as Custom Arenas and Spectator Mode for sPvP. In preparation for the exciting new content some press sites were given early access, and of course ZAM was right there with them.
The Flame and Frost content revolves around the new Living Story dungeon. In the dungeon players will join Braham and Rox as they assault Molten Alliance weapon facilities, rescuing prisoners and destroying the Alliance's weapon production.
Initially the dungeon will be entered in the Wayfarer Foothills southeast of the Vendrake's Homestead waypoint. I say initially as the entrance will change as new weapon facilities are recovered. Entrances to the dungeon will always be in either Wayfarer Foothills or Diessa Plateau. The change in entrance will also become apparent in the dungeon itself. If the entrance is in Wayfarer Foothills, players will be helping free captured Norn prisoners. If it is in Diessa Plateau, however, players will find Charr prisoners instead.
If you read the Retribution interview here on ZAM last week, you may remember that the developers designed the dungeon to teach the players the enemy’s abilities over the course of the dungeon. Not only is this the case, but it was done pretty well. The dungeon doesn't hold your hand like a new player tutorial, but slowly introduces more things that can get the players killed. The first “boss” isn't really a boss but an elaborate trap for intruders.
Inside the cage players are trying to destroy a core in the center of the room to shut down the security systems and open the door to proceed. The security and the occasional spawn of “trash” (see veteran) mobs are likely to get in the player’s way. The first security measure will be familiar to players who have played parts of last month's Flame and Frost content: Flame Tornadoes. There isn't just a single tornado, however, but a line of tornadoes that moves from one side of the cage to the other, and to keep players on their toes the tornadoes can start from any of the four walls of the cage. After the tornadoes seem futile, the Alliance throws down some lasting fire AoEs that cover most of the room.
If that didn't work the Alliance has a new way to bring some pain. In each of the four corners is a big hanging weight that drops to the floor, crushing players. Being crushed, however, isn't the big concern as the heavy weights will cause shockwaves that players need to avoid either by dodging, jumping or outrunning the wave. If you are still alive now the dredge may decide to shoot all the things at you at once.
The next area players will proceed to is the coolant system. In these areas players will slowly acquire frostbite similar to what players experience in the Snow-blind Fractal. In each room of the coolant system will be a control console that will shut off the fans when destroyed and stop the buildup of frostbite. The frostbite debuff will slowly wear off when out of the range of an operating coolant fan.
The next major section of the dungeon that players will face is the boss battle. During this battle players will face a pair of Dredge and Charr bosses. I won't spoil this fight for you, but just know that these bosses will throw at you anything you have faced so far and most of those things hurt a lot.
After defeating both bosses players will blow up the main reactor and try to outrun the mountains falling on their heads. At the end of the dungeon there are two ways to exit, either through the elevator (by using the control panel) or by clicking the exit instance button in the bottom right corner that is seen at the completion of any instance in the game. The two exits, however, will not take players to the same place. Using the Leave Instance button will deposit players outside the entrance while the elevator will put players outside on the opposite side of the Shiverpeaks from where they entered (so if you entered in Wayfarer Foothills you would end up in Diessa Plateau when using the elevator exit).
There are a few bonus rewards that players can get throughout the dungeon. There are a few prisoners who didn't make it scattered in out of the way places. Searching the pockets of these fallen NPCs will yield an item that can be turned in to an NPC somewhere in the world in exchange for a Jug of Karma.
For players who liked the pair of final bosses, there is a tonic to turn into the Charr boss and a mini-pet version of the Dredge boss.
Crafting will get some new recipes and throughout the dungeon were also a handful of Mithril Ore nodes and a couple Orichalcum nodes. These nodes are fixed and can only be mined once daily per account.
Lastly is the addition of a new stat combination called Sentinel and is Vitality/Power/Toughness. Inside the dungeon players can get drops with this new stat combination as well as Sentinel Insignias.
All of these rewards are only available through the dungeon which will close when the rest of the Flame and Frost content is removed from the game.
After finishing the dungeon once, players can unlock new instances in the Black Citadel and Hoelbrek to follow up as Braham and Rox report in. (While in the instance with Rox, you should spend some time talking to the captured Molten Alliance prisoners.) Following up with both will reward an achievement and the title Avenger of the Disposed.
Along with the new content is a new meta achievement for completing the other Flame and Frost instances. Completing this achievement will reward the player with a Fused Gauntlet ticket. Using the ticket spawns a merchant to buy a Flame and Frost themed gauntlet armor skin. The ticket isn't used up until exchanged for one of the gauntlets, so don't feel forced into picking one after summoning the NPC.
The Custom Arenas and Spectator Mode are a good addition for sPvP, but are pretty straightforward. ArenaNet released a couple of videos yesterday going over both of these awesome features.
In addition to what ArenaNet has said, there a few options available to the leader of a custom arena room. Players can set things like the score and time limits, but going too far from the vanilla setup will cause the room to have no progression. This means getting no glory, statistic or achievement progress. From what I can tell this occurs in cases of setting matches to end quicker than normal. Sure you can set your room to finish after just 1 point has been scored, but you won't get glory or daily/monthly progress for the match. There is also a check to force no progression in case players want to mess around without messing up their statistics.
There are the Lock Gear and Lock Skills options for a custom arena. These prevent players from changing gear or skills during a match. The reserved slots option allows owners to reserve spaces that will only fill for the white-listed players or guilds filled in at the bottom of the custom arena editing window. Not only can owners pick who gets reserved privileges, they can also ban people from joining their custom arena and also have the ability to move players to the team or even kick players out during matches.
Spectator Mode will be available to all players to use on any hot-join or custom arena room that supports spectator mode (there is an option to prevent spectating in custom arenas). Custom Arenas however will be entering a Beta phase where only select players and community sites will have access to create them. After the Beta is over Custom Arena Starter Kits and Time Tokens will be available through the Gem Store.
Matt "Mattsta" Adams