Flameseeker Chronicles: Feast or famine

Wow! I've joked to other Massively staffers that some weeks I really struggle to find content for Flameseeker Chronicles, while other weeks I struggle simply to stay ahead of the information avalanche. That has never held truer than it has this weekend.

I had planned to cover the huge Guild Wars update this week, then focus on the Guild Wars 2 Thief next week after its reveal at PAX. Thanks to an information leak on the Thief, ArenaNet was forced to hastily rework the release schedule and lift the embargo on the class.

We'll be getting much more information on the Thief all this week, but for now we've got a pretty good first look, so I'll give both Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 equal time. We've got a lot to talk about, so let's get started. Hit the jump and let's see what's going on in Tyria!

The Thief

I've been fascinated by the mixed community reaction to this class, mostly because it contradicts so strongly my feelings on it. There's never been a doubt that my first Guild Wars 2 character will be an Elementalist. Every class reveal so far has been competing for second place with me, until now.

That's right, the Thief is the first of the classes revealed that has made me consider shuffling my beloved Elementalist class to second place in GW2. Maybe it was just seeing the class up close and personal, but I love the style -- both appearance and functionality. I know people have complained about some of the gameplay and the lackluster class name, but I'm honestly not seeing it. The mechanics we've seen are such fun to me. You have to admit that sneaking up on a moa, yanking a handful of feathers from his back, and flinging them in his eyes will be pretty disconcerting for him. It makes sense, it's effective, and it makes me laugh -- I'm perfectly happy.

The dual pistols -- particularly the Unload skill -- were a big hit with the community, but for me it's not just that the class has a cool gimmick. This has the makings of a complicated class, one that is difficult to learn but has enormous potential. That versatility and complexity are the very qualities that impressed me so much about the Guardian. As Marketing Manger Chris Lye explained, "We've talked about how our combat needs to be very positional, very action-oriented, and nowhere is that more true than with the Thief. In order for a player to be successful playing a Thief, they have to be very mindful of what's going on and how to use their abilities to get in and out of combat, stealth, recover health, things like that."

This is a class that will make you think -- from what I've seen, it's got that in common with the present-day Assassin. The Assassin is a much-maligned class, but my opinion is that it's because so many people don't play the class with the required finesse. I can easily see people rolling a Thief, playing it for a few hours, deciding it sucks when they get their butts kicked, and abandoning it. While this concerns me a bit, I think a lot of players will recognize the enormous potential that lies in the Thief's abilities and take the time to learn.

I'm excited to see what more we learn of the Thief this week, but my first impression of the class is the best I've had of all six GW2 classes so far.

Guild Wars update

This update was exciting to me, in large part because I'm thrilled to see ArenaNet still supporting Guild Wars to this extent. Most of the updates in the past year have been a part of Guild Wars: Beyond, bridging the gap between GW1 and GW2. While I love this, it's also great to see tangible evidence that ArenaNet is continuing to support Guild Wars as a game in its own right.

The high points are the addition of Embark Beach, seven-hero parties, and mercenary hero slots. The overall goal seems fixed on making it easier for everyone to get into gameplay. If you're a group player, Embark Beach is going to help you find a group more quickly, but solo players have the real advantage with this update.

Seven-hero parties are something that players have been asking for loudly and frequently for a very long time, and it's nice to see ANet finally address that demand. Mercenary heroes are a great nod to altaholics, and I view it as a good addition to the NCsoft store.

Mercenary heroes are fantastic to have but not necessary by any means -- you can always run a full hero party for free. But if you'd like them as either vanity items or for the ability to run a specialized build, you're free to purchase some. The price point has been a subject of much debate, with some players declaring them overpriced and others declaring them just right. It's impossible and silly to try to declare on someone else's behalf what is and is not a good value for his entertainment dollar, so I stay out of that debate. I will say that this sort of optional/vanity item is exactly the kind of thing I like seeing in a game store, and it's nice that you get a price break for buying more mercenary hero slots. Well done, ArenaNet.

Finally, I really love seeing the title updates throughout the game and the addition of new quests and NPCs in pre-searing. Pre is arguably the most beautiful and peaceful area of the game, but after a while there's just no reason to stay there. This gives more incentive, something that I think is a very smart addition. Another welcome perk would be some sort of storage in pre. Now that we as players have more incentive to stay there, we've got to have a place to keep our stuff!

Don't get me wrong -- I fully understand why there can never be account-wide storage in pre. It would throw things way off kilter, both from a story standpoint and from an in-game economy standpoint. However, it would be great (and practical) to treat one of those buildings in Ascalon City as an armory or vault, allowing players to purchase some sort of vault space. I'm sure I echo the feelings of many perma-pre characters when I say I'd even pay real-world cash for that.

Those are the high points of the recent flood of news coming from ArenaNet! Keep your eyes on Flameseeker Chronicles over the upcoming weeks as I keep track of how gameplay changes and evolves with these new additions. See you next week!

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at rubi@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.