Until they saw the whales.
Strange things are afoot on the shores of Lion's Arch!
If you wander down to the beachfront in the city (so long as you're not on the overflow servers, which evidently aren't special enough to merit beached whales), you'll notice some whales lying around. They don't particularly look as if they're enjoying themselves, and they're accompanied by distraught villagers. If the thought of looking at a beached whale without trying to help is distressing to you, there are water buckets nearby so you can help the poor dears (although their lives don't seem to be in real danger -- yet). Between the weeping of the villagers and the fact that whales aren't precisely known for their fondness of hanging out on beaches, we can assume that something is fishy about this scenario.
Whales aren't all that have washed up on shores. We've seen a passel of new signs posted, a ship come to port, and the beginnings of a new Asura gate.
These words are found on the signs that popped up on Lion's Arch beaches on the first of the month. They're clearly a warning to not enter the water. Other signs, however, have a much more cheerful tone.DANGER!Enter at your own risk!Lion's Arch Authorities cannot be held responsible for missing/stolen/damaged and/or devoured appendages, small children, dinghies, fruit baskets, skritt, pumpkin flavored marshmellows, spoons, goofy hats, Ascalonian salads, pocket watches, earrings, in-laws, spirits of the wild, eye patches, war machines, seraph, rhubarb pies, mystical artifacts of unquestionable power, mystical artifacts of questionable power, seeing-eye squirrels and carp. -- Translation courtesy of Reddit
This one over on the left promises a tropical island getaway. Explorers have found a beautiful new island of epic proportions promising landlubbers a getaway such as they've never before experienced. Citizens are told that they will "swim in the radiant waters," "relax on the beach," and "dance the night away." All these delights will be available, the poster says, via a new Asura gate.
...The Asura gate that has cropped up not too far from these signs, perhaps? It's all very intriguing and will get only more so as details "emerge from the depths."
So what do we know?
We know it's going to be big. The Shadow of the Mad King update was arguably one of the most extensive holiday events in an MMO, and that update went beyond just the holiday festivities. Somewhere between 30 and 50 new events and a handful of mini-dungeons and jumping puzzles made their way into the game at the same time.
We know it's going to one of a kind. The main event will run over the weekend of the 15th of November, although that weekend won't encompass the entirety of the content.
We know it's going to be permanent. Thanks to Game Director Colin Johanson's recent interview with MMORPG.com, we know that the event will be one that "permanently changes the world in some places and opens up a new island," where players will find a "brand new type of dungeon that gets perpetually harder the farther you get into it" with "a whole bunch of new rewards." The island and dungeon will both persist after whatever the mysterious weekend event might be has run its course. Johanson also said that they have developers who will be working in the future to add to the existing content of the new island (like most of their live maps, it seems).
We know it's not just going to be about PvE! ArenaNet will be putting out a PvP map for beta wide-scale beta testing. This most recent update saw the addition of paid PvP tournaments, and we've been told to expect private PvP arenas soon(TM), and this new PvP map will, of course, only add to the existing content for people who like beating each other senseless.
One of the phrases from Johanson's interview that was most interesting to me is "brand new type of dungeon."
It's interesting to me under the assumption that Johanson isn't being deliberately obtuse and using "new type of dungeon" to simply refer to a new dungeon.
That assumption is backed up by the fact that later in the same interview, Johanson dodged a question about higher party caps for future dungeons. I'm really not a fan of donning tinfoil hats, but the man was pretty comfortable admitting that there are no teams "currently working on" other guild halls, player housing, and other features. Is it too much of a leap to guess, then, that that this "new type of dungeon" might be just that? People have been looking for a PvE significance to guilds, and this might just be it.
Within that dungeon we're promised "new rewards." I'm hoping that that phrase turns out to be every bit as interesting as the new dungeon type, but there's not quite as much to speculate about there. There are things that I'd like to see, but I'm not yet sure whether I have grounds for expecting to see them.
As far as the weekend itself is concerned, it looks like ArenaNet will be making these one-off events into something of a trend. Stuff like that is tricky: If you don't have it, you've got people complaining that the world isn't actually dynamic or evolving; if you do, you've got people who'll be upset because they can't make it. For the Mad King update, the one-time-only thing was a cutscene. The stakes may be raised in the future.
Until next time, my brave adventurers, be careful where you swim!
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.