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Have a super adventure in Guild Wars 2's Back to School release

Anatoli Ingram

It's the end of summer, and school is back in session. That's kind of a bummer unless you're an Asuran kid: Thanks to mega-genius Moto, the lucky little weasels get to play in the Super Adventure Box, a virtual reality educational tool that teaches quick thinking and combat skills. Fortunately for Guild Wars 2 players, the average Tyrian adventurer is probably slightly behind the average Asuran child, so everyone can justify spending a few days weeks hours bouncing on mushrooms and collecting shiny baubles for completely educational purposes.

ArenaNet's Josh Foreman, Moto's real-world representative, gave us a preview of what eager students have to look forward to tomorrow in the improved and expanded re-release of GW2's popular game-within-a-game. Bounce your way behind the cut to get a peek at how you'll continue on your journey to vanquish Lord Vanquish and save Princess Miya!

Talk to the hand

Players got a preview of World 2 at the end of World 1 during Super Adventure Box's initial release. That preview zone introduced several of the mechanics found in the new content, so if you managed to make it through you've got a head start. In this chapter of the story, players will climb high into the mountains to access dojos filled with traps, puzzles, and the occasional giant octopus. (We are not making this up.)

The enemies you'll find in the mountains of World 2 are more complex than the comparatively peaceful denizens of World 1's meadows and forests. As you leap over the mountaintops to try to reach a cluster of pagodas, assassins will leap out to test your skill, frogs will attempt to swallow you up, and owls will dive at you from trees and steal your baubles, the jerks. If you manage to make it to the first pagoda unscathed, you'll find a boss with a new skill to teach you, but you'll need to beat it out of him after learning his fight mechanics. Defeating him will grant you the palm, which will be necessary for working through the rest of the zone.

World 2 seems to be slightly heavier on puzzles than World 1. Your new palm ability can be used to push special blocks from one place to another to create platforms, to stop dangerous traps, or even to block and reflect enemy projectiles. Moto has also implemented cooperative puzzles, which can be done solo but scale up in difficulty to reflect the number of people in a group. The aforementioned giant octopodes are involved in one type of cooperative puzzle, which will require you to use one of the enemies in the environment to help the octopus and unlock the use of new platforms. The environment itself is also arguably more dangerous this time around and encourages players to harness creative thinking in order to get through zones in one piece.

If you enjoyed hunting for hidden treasure in the previous release, World 2 will contain even more secrets, and it might even be worth taking another jaunt through World 1 to see if anything interesting has been added. We were shown at least one new hidden shop in World 2, which offered a new whistle item to play tunes on. It may not be an ocarina, but we're pretty sure Lord Vanquish can't stand against the power of song anyway.

Have a super adventure in GW2's Back to School release
Tribulation mode

While hopping on the happy white rainbow clouds will lead you gently through Infantile Mode, grumpy storm clouds will now allow players to access Tribulation Mode. Calling Tribulation Mode "hard mode" would be disrespectful to how ridiculous it is. It takes everything you thought you could trust about the normal zones and gives it one new, overriding purpose: killing you.

Really, we do mean everything. Nothing is friendly; nothing is safe. It all wants you dead.

It's frankly hilarious to watch a character die over and over in the most absurdly slapstick ways, which we think is a good enough reason to give Tribulation Mode a try at least once, but Josh Foreman wanted to be very clear that Tribulation Mode is intended to appeal to a very small set of players -- specifically, the sort who thought Mad King's Clock Tower was too easy. Comparing the design philosophy behind it to that of games like I Wanna Be the Guy, Foreman explained that he expects people who dedicate themselves to beating Tribulation Mode to spend tons of lives and continue coins in the attempt. He described the goal behind creating such a potentially rage-inducing experience as being similar to playing a prank: In turn, some players will naturally find it fun to get the best of the developer who pranked them. The design team has also made sure that Tribulation Mode has a greater number of checkpoints to encourage trying again, with the caveat that all party members must reach a checkpoint individually in order to activate it. Nobody's getting carried through this one.

Have a super adventure in GW2's Back to School release

A brand-new set of achievements will be available for World 2, but World 1's achievements can still be completed. Players who complete the World 1 meta-achievement -- or who already finished it back in April -- will receive a King Toad backpack skin. A new title will also be available for players who finish the World 2 achievements.

It's our understanding that the original SAB weapon skins will not be returning; however, a full set of new weapons will be released along with World 2. While they'll retain the same cost of 50 bauble bubbles, those bubbles might be slightly harder to obtain this time around as the daily chests for zone completion will be account bound instead of character bound.

In addition to the new skins, Tribulation Mode will offer color variants of the holographic weapons. Creating these will require an item from each of the Tribulation Mode end zone chests as well as a weapon design purchased from Moto, all of which can be placed in the Mystic Forge to obtain the weapon of your choice. Green and yellow weapon variants will be obtainable in this release for Worlds 1 and 2 respectively.

Stay tuned to Massively for more coverage of GW2's Back to School release!

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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