The real deal


I’d like to trade these magic crystals
with just a proper, working heart
One that tracks the winds that call me
and guides me straight towards my past

The flying haven of the ‘Zephyr Sanctum’ has landed, bringing along some exceptional goodies for Tyria’s inhabitants. This release has been entitled by the community as the best patch ever, and, reasonably speaking, who am I to disagree?

Everything feels new. First of all, a new PvE zone has been introduced, which will sadly go away in four weeks, with an upcoming update. I’m saying sadly, not only because more permanent content is always welcome, but mostly cause this place looks gorgeous. The ‘Labyrinthine Cliffs’ are located at the southern part of the Deldrimor Front and they are basically the home of the mythical ‘Bazaar of the Four Winds’. Traders from all over the world pay a visit to this peculiar marketplace these days, to bargain for their wares and close, what they hope to be, some pretty successful deals. Game-wise, this area acts as a wealth sink, stabilizing parts of the economy and bringing the prices of some worthless materials on par with the rest. I could call the idea behind it a mechanism to be honest, as I could easily see the Bazaar come and go in the future, when needed, by the ingenious economic minds that work at ArenaNet.

The attraction of the Bazaar though this time around, lies among the clouds, in the sky. The mysterious ‘Zephyr Sanctum’ hadn’t been so close to Tyrian soil for many years. Its’ passengers and masters, the Zephyrites, have studied the element of air, separating it further into three forms, which they have come to call aspects. Those provide the players with some special abilities that enhance the way they move within the 3D environment, turning the whole place into a gigantic jumping puzzle, or as I would better say, a magical funfair. The achievements that accompany the content feel much less grindy than those of previous releases, which is something that the players have demanded for some time now. By playing their way, they can easily gain access to some of the new rewards that have joined the fray, as ArenaNet seem to have found, at long last, a solution to the effect of the RNG factor.

82176KitefinalBelieve it or not, the fun doesn’t end here. Two new activities have been introduced, one of which is designed as a permanent addition to the game. ‘Belcher’s Bluff’ is a variation of the classic Rock-Paper-Scissors mini-game. The players are called to beat their opponents in a drinking competition, with the rules being fairly simple: “Whoever is the last one standing on his/her feet is victorious”. Last but not least, except for challenging other players, stakeholders can try out their capabilities against NPCs scattered across Tyria. The second activity that showed up is ‘Sanctum Sprint’, an MMO equivalent to Nintendo’s Mario Kart. Being a clone of a highly respected genre, Sanctum Sprint can’t do without its’ core features. Thirteen players race against each other using the aspects of the Zephyrites, while picking up various boosts along the way. This super fun and addicting addition is going to hook me up in game for sure for the next month or so.

Other than new content, this update goes back to make over some features of the achievement system. The overall achievement UI has received an overhaul, making it easier to track down tasks that have yet to be completed. Additionally, further categorization has been implemented in the panel, laying the foundations for upcoming Living Story chapters and game modes. What’s interesting though is that for the first time players get rewarded for achievement hunting. Every 500 points a chest pops up at the bottom left corner of the screen containing shinies. The pool of prizes can include brand new skins, laurels, coin and even gems.

And what about the competitive side of the game, you may ask? PvP players should definitely not feel left out. On the contrary, a new sPvP map has been introduced, called Skyhammer. Apparently, it features a gigantic cannon that spreads terror to those that do not control it and unstable panels that go off when players stay on top of them for a couple of seconds. Skyhammer focuses mostly on area control, making builds that rely on stability pretty viable, if not necessary. Even if I have yet to try it out myself, the idea of approaching different playstyles colors me interested. Finally, World versus World gets the usual treatment of additional ability lines, with Build and Repair masteries making an appearance.

That’s all for now folks. Summing up I would suggest you all to give this patch a go. ArenaNet seems to have learned a lot through all previous releases and the feedback that came along with them from the community. You may think that I may be exaggerating, but I would easily rate this patch as perfect. That’s the kind of content I was expecting since release, and that’s what I’ll personally be expecting in the future, as the standards have been set too high. I’ll see you all, once again, soon enough, as do not forget that we’ll be getting new content at a biweekly cadence from now on.

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