Guild Wars 2: The Gathering Storm comprehensive preview

Guild Wars 2 the gathering storm preview
Guild Wars 2 the gathering storm preview

ArenaNet is poised to put the guild back into Guild Wars 2 with their latest update to Flame and Frost due out today, subtitled "The Gathering Storm". Now before all the lore junkies come chasing me down with torches and pitchforks I know that the guild in Guild Wars does not mean the guilds we players create. I just could not resist the cheesy one liner. Also it is nice to see ArenaNet add new systems to the game that encourage guilds to do things together.

This update has four major additions to the game and a minor change; Guild Missions, the new SPvP map Spirit Rise, the removal of paid tournaments, choose your own daily achievement, and lastly the ability to preview items in the trade post.

First let's talk about Spirit Watch, the new PVP map. Like most maps the first team to 500 points wins. There are 3 things you can do to earn points for your team. Capture points, transport the orb from the altar in the center of the map to any capture point, and kill other players. It is important to note that you can take the orb to any capture point and score, even those controlled by another team. If you take the orb to a point that you control you will earn 30 points. If you take the orb to a point that is either neutral or controlled by the enemy you will earn 10 points. As an added bonus if you take the orb to a point that is controlled by the enemy you will instantly flip it from their control to a neutral status. This map is all about the elevation changes. Ranged characters can dominate this map. You can get a more in depth look at the map in the video below.

In other PvP related news paid PvP tournaments have gone the way of the dodo. ArenaNet's Tyler Bearce has said the reason GW2 had paid tournaments in the first place, "was to create a place for hyper-competitive, highly skilled players to find matches with other players of comparable skill." Now that GW2 has a new rating and matchmaking system there is no longer this need to match the top players. The matchmaking systems will match players of similar skills across the board.

Next up is Guild Missions. There will be 5 types of guild missions available.

  • Guild Bounty - Your guild is tasked with hunting down NPCs. You will be told what general area this criminal can be found. Get your guild together and spread out. This is a timed event.

  • Guild Trek - Your guild will have to find locations across Tyria based solely off of a picture you are shown. Go make friends with explorers and get hunting. This is a timed event.

  • Guild Challenge - This is like large scale events that are currently scattered across the world only it will require a larger number of people to successfully complete. In the demo we had to hold of charr from attacking a remote outpost that was being rebuilt. Think tower defense.

  • Guild Rush - Your guild is tasked with navigating treacherous paths along the wilderness of Tyria. In our demo we were baby bears running through caves. It was a race against the environment and also against the clock.

  • Guild Puzzle - 3 parts brain teaser, 3 parts jump puzzle; oh, and this one is timed too.

In addition to five types of guild missions each one also has three tiers that increase the level of the mission difficulty. The first type of guild mission your guild will be able to unlock are guild bounties. It will cost your guild 30,000 influence to unlock this mission. Once you unlock this mission it will cost you another 100, 300, or 500 influence to start the mission based on what tier you choose to attempt. The other 4 guild mission types cost 50,000 influence each to unlock. It is possible they could reduce the influence cost of guild missions. ArenaNet had already reduced it once yesterday. All of the other guild missions besides bounties also cost guild merits to unlock which you can only earn by completing guild missions. This means that for at least the first two weeks you will only be able to complete guild bounties until you earn enough merits to open up another guild mission type. This is not a quick process but the rewards can be well worth it. The first time you complete a guild mission each week you earn 50 silver and 2 items that are at least rare quality. These two items can be exotics and they do have legendary precursor items on the loot table. Guild Treks do not offer this bonus. They only have guild perks when completed. So in two months when guilds have been able to unlock all the guild missions each member can earn 2 gold a week just from completing their guild missions. They will also earn 8 items that will be rares or better. In addition once a guild mission is activated on the map other players that are not in the guild can participate and be rewarded just like they are with any other dynamic event.

ArenaNet is still iterating on the daily achievement system too. Coming with this update players will be able to choose the 5 daily achievements they would like to earn out of a list of eight that are available to them. The reason behind this is to allow players to pick their own challenges. The cynic in me believes no one will pass up the opportunity to visit the laurel vendor for one of your achievements when it is available. I also know that every time daily crafter is an option I'll be in town hammering out 10 copper bars! This can be a real time saver for people that want to get their laurel for the day and are in a hurry.

You can now preview items that are available for sale in the trade post. You can also see what the weapon looks like sheathed, equipped, or the weapon all by itself. You can also see particle effects on torches. Hooray for fire.

Overall there are a lot of really good changes being introduced with this patch but I do have some concern about guild missions. I believe that some of the mission types are going to be extremely cost prohibitive to smaller guilds and simply joining a larger guild is not the answer. Even though I see the potential for some pitfalls I think the good far outweighs the bad. What do you think of the new features? Please leave your comments below.

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Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a staff writer and online host for and Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen