Today is the launch of the next season of living story content for Guild Wars 2, Icebrood Saga. However, aside from being the next chapter of the story for Guild Wars 2, this update also brings with it some features we have previously only received with paid expansions. Last week I had the opportunity to check out this new update ahead of release and not only experience the story firsthand, but to also poke around the new map a bit. So let’s dive right in and discuss some of the exciting things arriving today. I’m also going to steer clear of any story spoilers that weren’t shown in the trailer.
We start by returning to check on how things have been going since we were forced to retreat at the end of the prologue. Unfortunately, we find the keep deserted and must start a search for our friends. This search takes us into the new map Bjorn Marches, though it should probably be called Bjorn Tundra because it’s much more of a frozen wasteland than anything else. Seriously there’s an ice storm that’s continuously going so not only is it snowy and covered in snow, but it’s also sort of hard to find your way around at first.
One of the most exciting aspects of this episode is the whispers everyone hears throughout the episode. These whispers are consistently clawing at each character’s most closely held worries and their own perceived failings. Of course, some characters are more susceptible to this than others, but it was fascinating to see how each handles these moments. Aside from hearing their reactions, there is also a visual which happens to indicate when they hear the voice in their head. These are small moments for the most part, but it goes a long way towards continuing their story arcs. Especially certain characters we haven’t known for long.
The Mastery system has also been expanded with the addition of this chapter to include masteries to make use of the new resistance system. These mastery tracks use a new type of mastery point, similar to how expansions worked previously. There are three different resistances that players gather from various mobs on the map. Each resistance is related to a type of creature, and every resistance is strong and weak against another resistance. ArenaNet did a great job of outlining the system in this blog post for a more in-depth look at the system.