Our interview with a few awesome GW2 devs confirms more Southsun content and reveals that WvW traps are just the beginning.
With Guild Wars 2 popping out content updates faster than some people can play them, we thought we'd figure out what exactly went into the most recent update, Secret of Southsun. We reached out to GW2 Director of Game Design Colin Johanson, Lead Writer Bobby Stein, and Game Designer Jon Peters to learn more about their newest update and what we can expect moving forward.
The Secret of Southsun is the fifth major content update in five months. What major elements will differentiate Southsun from the Flame and Frost releases?
Colin Johanson: The Secret of Southsun has a very different vibe and experience than Flame and Frost. First and foremost, the location and theme are very different. It's on a tropical paradise beach island (OF DEATH), and it's much more about establishing and building a home for the refugees in their new vacation paradise (OF DOOM). The Flame and Frost experience was much more focused on battling the evil alliance of dredge and Flame Legion across the broken badlands and snowy peaks of the norn and charr lands.
Another major difference is the Secret of Southsun plays out over a much smaller amount of time. The storyline spans one month (and two releases) rather than the much slower four-month long Flame and Frost release, as we ramp up the frequency of newer content going live in the game for players to experience. Also, the world updates are coming much faster; it was a month between each new major update for F&F, while the Southsun Cove storyline has major updates each two weeks to really expand the experience and give the players more new content more often.
Another major difference is when the Flame and Frost storyline concluded, the enemy had been defeated and almost all of the playable content was removed from the world as a result. The Secret of Southsun has a lot of fun, unique content that concludes with the storyline, but also leaves behind permanent experiences for players as a direct result of the outcome of the storyline for players to enjoy for years to come.
Of course, the playable content is very different as well. Southsun includes content like the Crab Toss mini-game, a new open-world beast that is unleashed for large mega battles on the island between lots of players, and of course, the unforgettable Lord Faren on the beach in his finest beach attire.
With each of our releases, we want to establish a different tone and feel, and add new content and experiences that reflect that so every release players have something new and exciting to look forward to.
In that same vein, would someone who hadn't played Flame and Frost find Southsun disorienting?
Bobby Stein: No, certainly not. Like Colin was saying, each Living World story has a self-contained theme, so players should be able to jump in without needing to know about previous happenings and still be engaged. If you've been participating in every release and paying attention to the details and story arcs, you'll have the extra benefit of knowing more about the characters and their motivations, but it's not required.
The Living World content encourages exploration and discovery, though we are providing players with enough context to point them in the right direction so they aren't disoriented. It's like watching the sequel before the original movie. The sequel stands on its own merits, but if you caught the first film you'd know more about the characters and their backstory.
My advice to players is to explore Southsun Cove during the quieter moments. So after you've quelled the settler brawls and taken back the camps from karka stampedes you'll want to read every journal you find and listen to the conversations. The details are there-you just need to find them.
Flame and Frost was an awesome update pack that delivered a steady drip of great narrative and gameplay additions. Can we expect a similar multi-part narrative from Southsun?
Bobby Stein: Absolutely. This month we're focusing on Inspector Ellen Kiel, who some players may remember from the Lost Shores event back in November. She's been assigned by the Lionguard to keep the peace between the Consortium representatives and the disgruntled settlers, who are at odds over some shady labor contracts and questionable working conditions. To make matters worse, the karka and other indigenous critters are angrier than ever, attacking the campsites and threatening the island's struggling tourism economy.
Through playing a mix of dynamic events, exploration, and instanced encounters, players will discover why things are amiss and who is responsible, but will they be able to stop the events that are already in motion? And what of the settlers? What can the players do to help Kiel rise to the challenge? The answers will lead players into the next story arc, where Kiel heads to Lion's Arch for the big Dragon Bash celebration. But that's another story...
How long do you guys foresee releasing monthly updates to the game? As long as possible; or is there a clear plan with an end date?
Colin Johanson: So far, regular game updates have been extremely successful for us since the launch of Guild Wars 2. These updates contain far more than just the new playable content of each Living World experience; they also include new features, fixes, and full game improvements as well. When folks think of Guild Wars 2, we want them to think of our game as the most regularly updated, best supported MMO on the market, all with no monthly fee.
The world of Guild Wars 2 is filled with thousands of dynamic events that constantly change based on the actions of players like you. Fast-paced, action-oriented combat lets you attack on the move, dodge and roll away from enemy blows, team up with other players, and take advantage of environmental weapons to dominate the battlefield! Competitive play in Guild Wars 2 is easy to learn, but offers challenges for new players and hardcore PvPers alike. Guild Wars 2 is your story - your choices determine how your personal story evolves, and with thousands of possible variations, no two players will have the exact same experience.
We want them to think of a game world where the experience can change every month, where there is new content to play that is both unique, as well as new content that permanently stays in or changes the world with each release. We're improving our ability to do this with each month that goes by, and as we continue to improve in our ability to execute this strategy, our players' live experiences will improve as well. As long as that's happening, players keep playing the game as often as they are now, and the game continues to do as well as it is. I don't see us changing away from our strategy of constant regular live releases.
I'm particularly excited about the addition of traps into WvW. Are there any fun or inventive traps not mentioned that you could tell me about? Or hint about?
Jon Peters: I don't want to spoil any specific stuff just yet. However, just like combat is all about roles, so too are their roles that define the flow of World vs. World in Guild Wars 2. In the Mists you have commanders, scouts, siege masters, defenders, spies, and most importantly, the common foot soldier. Every one of these archetypes plays their part in WvW and we feel like we need to create opportunities for each of those roles to flourish.
World vs. World abilities are the first place where we have really started to do this, and we'll continue to add abilities that fulfill more and more of these roles. In that same way, traps are the first glimpse into how we are helping facilitate these roles in more active ways as well. Scouts, spy-like characters, and defenders can make great use of these traps on the battlefield to mix up the tactics.
As we move forward, we absolutely intend to add more WvW traps to help flesh out this particular play style, but we also expect the outfitter to start selling other items as well that should be more conducive to some of the other World vs. World player roles. We'll talk about those at a later date, but we think our players will be as excited about these new WvW features as we are.