Another patch day is upon us. Among other things, Guild Wars 2'sFlame and Frost: Retribution is bringing in a new living story dungeon and some much-needed structured PvP improvements. Over the weekend, members of the press were invited to preview some of the incoming content. I'd like to talk about it with you, so be warned that there are spoilers for the living story dungeon ahead.
Something that I found particularly interesting about all of this is that the Molten Weapons Facilities dungeon is going to be available for less than two weeks. The dungeon is due to exit on May 12th. I had expected it to be time-limited, of course, but I think I was expecting a little more time than that. Anyway, let's dive right into it.
The Molten Alliance has weapons facilities tucked all over the Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau. You'll find entrances scattered about those two zones. More particularly, you'll find a single entrance at a time, but that entrance will move as the days wind on.
The dungeon is definitely designed for a full group, but it seems to be very pick-up group friendly. In a team that had never worked together so far, we didn't have a single party wipe, and one or two of our members weren't defeated at all. That said, there was definitely room for improvement from our run; all told, it took us just under an hour to complete, while really coordinated groups should be able to get through it in about 40 minutes.
Within the weapons facility you'll find a number of ore nodes (including Orichalcum). These nodes have a chance at granting a new type of gem, Azurite crystals and orbs, when you mine them. (They are usable once every 24-hours, as determined by the daily reset time, and are account-bound in use.) Azurite can be used to make gear with a new stat combination of Vitality, Power, and Toughness. Gear with this combination also has a chance to drop in the dungeon itself. After this dungeon goes away, so will Azurite, so stock up on it while you can, I guess.
There are a couple of big fights in the dungeon. The first involves surviving a series of weapons tests. You'll get shoved into an arena and locked in, and then you have to survive several waves of tests (like crazy firestorms, some weird device that delivers a tremendous groundpound that sends off a shockwave, and creepy fire tornadoes) while trying to destroy a generator-type thing. In between the weapons tests themselves, you'll be introduced to a Protector, a type of Molten Alliance mob who mitigates damage to things and mobs near him. This way, when you see Protectors later on in the dungeon, you already know how to handle them. That's kind of a theme in this dungeon: A lot of effects and skill types are introduced early on, then thrown at you in varying combinations until you get to the end and are totally ready to face them in their ultimate form.
The final boss fight is against two ultimate fighting machines. Each of them uses a subset of the skills you've been introduced to over the course of the dungeon. It seems (although time may prove me wrong) that the way to go is to focus on taking out 25% of one of the bosses' health. This will put a crazy buff on the other boss, at which point you need to switch focus until that buff wears off. Then take out another 25% of the first guy's health, rinse, and repeat. When you've killed the first boss, the one left alive will go back up to whole health (yeah, I know), and then it's a fairly straightforward fight. This works no matter which boss you kill first or save for last. We had a fairly good experience killing the one with the jetpack and leaving Mr. Groundpound for last, but (having only run the dungeon once) I can't speak to the efficacy of the other route. As you whittle down the second boss's health bar, he'll grow steadily stronger and drop his big attacks more frequently, so keep on your toes. Also, this fight takes place on a free-standing platform, so I hope you're not the kind to dodge-roll over steep precipices a lot.
The dungeon rewards two boss chests and a handful of money, karma, and experience (thirteen silver, 760 karma, and 88,900 experience for my level 80 Warrior). Additionally, finishing it and seeing the cutscenes with Braham and Rox afterwards will, in conjunction with a couple of the other living story titles, grant you a ticket for some Molten-skinned gauntlets. So that's kinda neat. As far as I know, you can only get those once -- altoholics, know that you have my deepest sympathies and condolences. We're all in this together.
And now for something completely different
Custom arenas and spectator mode are, as you (a clever and well-informed Internetizen, to be sure) likely know, "in." They're for real now.
Everyone who enters a match that supports spectator mode will be able to spectate, and anyone at all can join custom arenas, but only a select few people will be able to host custom arenas to begin with. As the arena beta progresses, more and more people will be able to partake, and then we'll all be able to host one eventually (if we so desire).
With custom arenas comes a much better sPvP game browser. You'll be able to see normal hotjoinable matches as well as custom arenas. You can create filters to see only the sort of arenas you'd most like, you can save excellent custom arenas to favorites, and you can check out all sorts of stuff about arenas before you enter them.
Custom arenas give their administrators all sorts of power over what goes on in a game. While you can't yet add in custom rules like "whichever team kills the opposing Guild Lord first wins" (I asked, though, and they said that such things are always possible down the line), you can do things like push the match score up to 1000 or the match time up to 30 minutes, or you can make the respawn timer individual or lock gear during matches or any of a number of things. You can also do practical stuff like banning players, making players (or guilds) members, or putting up a password.
Spectator mode isn't enabled for all matches, but when it is enabled, you'll be able to swap between following specific players or gazing out from a stationary camera. When following a player, you can choose to see his gear and traits so you can better understand his build. Swapping into spectator mode can be managed through the instructions screen when you first enter a match or later through your scoreboard. You can also use the scoreboard window to swap back into combat (or incidentally, to mark a custom arena as your favorite). As a spectator, you can also see the location of all combatants on your minimap (as well as the location of all cameras).
As a final note, I'd appreciate if you'd all join me in a moment of silence for our dear Super Adventure Box. May we journey again in its solid-holographic lands soon.