The Icebrood Saga
Since the final episode of Living World Season 4 last May, the Guild Wars 2 community has been wondering where the game will go next. To answer this, ArenaNet held a live event at the Moore Theatre in Seattle to announce the future of our Living World.
The first thing we learned was the new name. What we’ve been calling Living World Season 5 is now The Icebrood Saga. The Prologue episode, Bound by Blood, will be free to all players who own the Path of Fire expansion on September 17th. You can watch the chilling Icebrood Saga trailer below:
Narrative Lead Julia Nardin and Narrative Designer Novera King told (and teased) what they could about the upcoming story.
The Icebrood Saga will start in the charr homelands and then take us to the Far Shiverpeaks. It is heavily centred on norn and charr cultures, with Jormag as this season’s’ primary antagonist. There will, of course, be Svanir involved — Jormag’s minions who have been quietly watching us kill dragon after dragon after dragon. We’ll find out more about the Kodan’s relationship with the norn, and discover what happened to the Spirits of the Wild who went missing (Ox, Wolverine and Eagle) during the norn’s exodus from their original home.
All that is bound to give us lots of epic action if the last season was anything to go by, but there promises to be plenty of character-driven drama to intersect with the more obvious dangers. The personal histories of Rytlock and Braham will be explored. Rytlock has cubs, as mentioned in his Requiem story, but he’s been away for a long time. Braham failed to live up to the prophecy he triggered when he didn’t kill Jormag in Living World Season 3. What happened to the guild he named Destiny’s Edge?
We also learned that Bound by Blood’s new map is called Grothmar Valley — a callback to Grothmar Wardowns from Guild Wars. We will go to the charr homeland to attend an all legion rally, where there will be Blood, Ash and Iron, as well as Flame in some capacity. Celebratory activities include a rock concert and effigy burnings. This Prologue episode is to give us time to enjoy the current state of the world before what would be the ‘big event’ which begins the story in earnest. However, that’s not to say this will be an entirely peaceful affair.
The charr ceased their hostilities against humans and signed the Ebonhawke Treaty because of the threat posed by Kralkatorrik. Afterwards, they joined the other races in the fight against the Elder Dragons. There may be some who do not think this alliance is necessary anymore. Are the treaties they made with the other races still valid? With all the legions coming together, is it possible for a Khan-Ur to come out of it? These were a few questions the narrative developers teased as possible points to consider, but should not be taken as definite plot points.
There’s also some personal drama between Rytlock and the Blood Legion Imperator, Bangar Ruinbringer, as shown by a cutscene near the end of the live announcement stream.
Developers Clayton Kisko and Jason Reynolds also gave us more information about the gameplay we’ll experience in the Icebrood Saga.
Episodes 1 and 2 will take place in the Far Shiverpeaks and will have a deeply interwoven story. They will also share the same map which will dynamically expand from 1 to 2. This will be similar to the original implementation of Dry Top, where more of the map became accessible as the story progressed. The tone of these episodes will be different from the prologue as they go for something more along the lines of Lovecraftian Horror — a subgenre defined by a cosmic fear of the unknowable, with themes such as helplessness and insanity.
Existing masteries (including gliding, mushrooms etc.) will be used in future maps and a new mastery line will be introduced with Episode 1. This new line will be tied to the Spirits of the Wild, with the first one revolving around the Spirit of Raven.
A new type of content, known as Strike Missions, is coming with the new Living World. This is 10-player content against challenging bosses and are meant to be an easier stepping stone to raids. This comes with a Public Mode where anyone looking to go for the same boss as you in the map will be put in the same squad, which should allow for more organisation as you tackle open world content together.
The first Strike Mission comes out with the Prologue and is the Icebrood Construct. It will evolve from the Prologue to Episode 1, so it will not only have a new model but also new mechanics. Another Strike Mission will be released with Episode 1 and that encounter will be against the Boneskinner.
New World Bosses will be included to the game, with the first one coming out in Episode 2: Drakkar. For those who don’t know, back in Guild Wars there was a frozen lake called Drakkar Lake, named after the creature that you could literally see slumbering beneath the ice. Now we finally fight it!
So why is this a ‘saga’ and not a ‘season’? ArenaNet wanted it to encompass more than just story updates. This will feature expanding maps and other types of content they have not yet revealed.
Heart of Thorns is now free with Path of Fire
This is in effect from now on. If you have already purchased Heart of Thorns, you will be given a HoT Veteran Pack. This bundle will include a Mordrem Glider, a new title: Vanguard, and a voucher for a Gemstore armor skin.
A new armor set will be added for the three weights and automated swiss tournaments will be implemented. There will also be mini-seasons between the conquest seasons.
More information on the future of competitive gameplay can be found at this forum post.
Briefly mentioned were the upcoming WvW World Restructuring and Build and Gear Templates.
To celebrate the coming 20th Anniversary of ArenaNet, they have partnered with Dark Horse Comics to create a new artbook: The Complete Art of Guild Wars. It will feature never seen before concept art and will be available in the Spring of 2020. It’s available for preorder through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and local comic shops.
In addition, Funko Pop! are making Guild Wars 2 figures in the form of Aurene, Rytlock and Palawa Joko. These will be available in January. They will come with a code for an in-game Funko Pop! mini.
More merchandise can be found in this blog post.
Special thanks to Angel from Gamers Giving Back for helping with the research for this article.