Guild Wars 2 is the only MMO I allow myself to play, mostly because I don’t have time to check other games of the genre while I’m pretty invested in this one (I will make an exception for Crowfall). I’ve dedicated hundreds if not thousands of hours to this game and a good amount of that time was spent in the previous expansion, Heart of Thorns. I thoroughly enjoyed the expansion despite its rushed narrative and various other flaws that came to surface the more I played. Being on a tighter gaming budget I was reluctant to dive into the newest expansion, but I gave in as I wanted to explore the Crystal Desert and see the continuation of the story.
For a story that follows after some pretty questionable narrative moments, Path of Fire does a great job at getting the players reinvested in this universe. The story doesn’t rush the players through its events, but the sense of urgency is retained and perfectly reflected in every step. Every action sequence has its moments of respite. This helps the narrative to provide context through dialogue and allows the players to get reconnected with new and familiar characters while better understanding the new gameplay mechanics. The whole story component feels like a coagulated package that makes up for a better experience.
It’s good to see that many things have changed for the better. The sense of exploration has been improved since Heart of Thorns, mostly because the new maps are not sharing the same annoying layered design anymore. There is still verticality, plenty of it, but the kind that doesn’t get the players frustrated and confused. The addition of mounts is a game changer in how the vast territories of the Crystal Desert have to be traversed. They feel like a more inspired design choice than the glider which still has some uses in the new areas. I wish I could say the combat has been improved as well, but it’s the same chaotic and annoying mess. The Elite Specializations add a bit of flavor to the mix, yet I don’t feel like it’s enough. There are plenty of persisting problems that this expansion couldn’t fix, but I wasn’t expecting any miracles and probably no other experienced GW2 player did so I won’t go into details.
After 10+ hours spent with Path of Fire I declare myself pleased. I’m enjoying the improved narrative, the new gameplay mechanics and the vast and beautiful areas of the desert. As with any MMO, the problems will become obvious later on, but until then I will probably have dozens if not hundreds of hours of online fun.