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Massively's Guild Wars 2 Queen's Jubilee patch preview

Anatoli Ingram

It's party time again in Guild Wars 2! The young ruler of Kryta, Queen Jennah, is pulling out the stops to celebrate human resilience and ingenuity at the ten year anniversary of her reign. All of Kryta's allies are invited -- yes, even you. Yes, even after that unfortunate incident with the cake. This is a time of healing. All is forgiven.

ArenaNet recently invited Massively to take a peek at what it has in store for the latest living story release, Queen's Jubilee. While the developers were careful not to spoil any plot details, we did get a preview of some of the new content, features and quality of life improvements GW2 players have to look forward to. Jump past the break to check it out!

Massively's Guild Wars 2 Queen's Jubilee patch preview
Getting there

You could just take a waypoint to Divinity's Reach, of course, but that's not nearly as fun as hitching a free ride in a hot air balloon. Balloons will be waiting in every zone (aside from Southsun and Orr areas) to whisk players and dignitaries to the party, but to absolutely nobody's surprise, bad guys will be doing their best to disrupt the proceedings. Speaking to balloon operators will begin escort events with the goal of bringing important passengers to the launch sites unharmed, and you'll have to defeat random spawns of bandits, Aetherblades and other unsavory types -- including some possible surprise appearances -- to do so.

On arriving in Divinity's Reach, you'll find more than just the main event. A footrace has been set up around the city that challenges players to light the beacons of Kryta within a time limit. It's not as straightforward as it might sound, since success will require racers to take some creative paths in reaching the finish line. You'll also need to complete a brief story instance to gain access to the new Crown Pavilion. While some players may balk at that, requiring completion of the instance is a design decision meant to give players more context for the story than the letters and map markers from previous events were able to provide.

The Crown Pavilion

The Great Collapse is looking pretty impressive these days. The formerly hideous, gaping hole has been filled by the Crown Pavilion Arena, a circular structure split into six slices of battleground, each of which play host to a different type of enemy from Kryta's past: bandits, centaurs, ogres, pirates, destroyers, and the Flame Legion. If the idea of dumping a bunch of bad guys in a pit and letting people fight them for laughs sounds kind of morally questionable, fear not! They're actually Queen Jennah's new watchwork robots dressed up with Mesmer magic, and they'll turn into piles of junk to loot the event's special cog currency and participation tickets when defeated. Representatives of the various playable races will be in attendance to act as vendors.

Fans of large-scale PvE may find the Crown Arena fights particularly exciting. The battles are designed for twenty to thirty players, and involve events to take down bosses in each area. Until these bosses are defeated, combatants will have to deal with their individual quirks -- these include cannonballs pelting the arena floor, bombs on the battlefield, and the heat in the room rising to dangerous levels. It's important to note that the boss mechanics have been specifically designed to "blow apart zergs," so if you're expecting to be able to pile on them and unload mindlessly, proceed with extreme caution.

Massively's Guild Wars 2 Queen's Jubilee patch preview
The Queen's Gauntlet

Glass domes circle a walkway far above the arena, and players can enter them to participate in solo fights against NPC challengers. These fights are grouped into several tiers capped off by boss encounters, and will increase in difficulty as you move up the tiers. Queuing up for a battle will cost one of the tickets dropped by event enemies, and when it's your turn to fight you and your opponent will be transported into a dome to show off your one-on-one skills for curious onlookers. The battles have a time limit, though, and running over will result in the floor opening to drop you onto the arena below. This will most likely kill you, so fight fast! Queen's Gauntlet battles are designed to be completed by every class, but victory will require learning each opponent's unique fight mechanics and adjusting builds, weapon sets, and utilities accordingly.

If the fights themselves aren't challenging enough, you can choose to add a gambit for the cost of 1 ticket apiece. The gambits are handicaps, and will apply debuffs such as burning or inability to dodge for the duration of the fight. You'll be rewarded more richly for taking more risks. Defeating the final tier boss, Liadri the Concealing Dark, with every gambit active will earn you a miniature version of her; we were told that out of all of the alpha testers, only 5 had managed to earn the mini. Running around with a little Liadri will be a prestigious way to show off your skill as a superior soloist.

Because the achievements for Queen's Gauntlet are meant to be optional due to the nature of the activity, they have their own category in the achievement UI and are not necessary for completion of the Queen's Jubilee meta achievement.

And more!

The Royal Terrace is a new type of experimental microtransaction that will allow players to purchase access to an exclusive area near the festivities. The terrace boasts a number of conveniences, such as crafting stations, bank access, Asura gates, merchants and Mystic Forge -- all of the comforts of a major city in one convenient location. You can also just hang out there in your fanciest clothes, drinking tea with your pinky up and basking in the warm glow of being a VIP. If you're a Charr, or a human with a street rat or commoner backstory, you could probably be forgiven for rubbing your new social status in the faces of the Krytan nobility. We won't judge you.

The ability to solo queue for structured PvP matches will also be introduced, along with the ability to set a preferred finishing animation for use in both sPvP and world vs. world. You can set your finisher by choosing it from a panel in the UI, and we've been told that they'll be available for unlock from various sources, including the gem store. Temporary finishers will still be usable, and will revert back to your chosen permanent finisher once their duration ends.

Champion enemies will be updated to drop improved loot. Each is guaranteed to drop a bag of valuables, which will have a rare chance to include unique weapon skins. This is meant to make fighting them much more rewarding, and to make events which spawn champion and legendary enemies more desirable. ArenaNet is also attempting to expand the ways in which players can earn income by improving dungeon rewards, and you'll now get a variable gold reward based on the dungeon's difficulty and length at the end of each explorable mode path (or fifty silver for story mode completion). Best of all, you won't have to worry about stacks of dungeon tokens -- or other currency -- cluttering up your bank any more: a new currency wallet will hold everything from Fractal relics to Shards of Zhaitan, as well as pooling karma and coins so that they can be accessed easily by all of your characters.

Stay tuned to Massively for more coverage of the Queen's Jubilee update, which will go live on August 6th!

Massively's not big on scored reviews -- what use are those to ever-changing MMOs? That's why we bring you first impressions, previews, hands-on experiences, and even follow-up impressions for nearly every game we stumble across. First impressions count for a lot, but games evolve, so why shouldn't our opinions?

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