So! Let's take a look at what ArenaNet brought us in the past week.
If you've logged on since the patch on the 28th, you've probably noticed that your characters all got a piece of mail from one their respective races' Persons of Import. Those mails point you to heralds in and around the main cities who in turn give you a bit of ominous background about mysterious events happening in Diessa Plateau and the Wayfarer Foothills. Welcome to the living story!
Stepping out into either of those two zones will most likely land you face-to-face with a broken down sign or three in need of repairs. These signs, which read "refuge" in New Krytan, were the first little bits of the Flame and Frost content proper (and incidentally, part of the first title attached to the story arc). Along with sign posts, you'll find campfires in need of lighting and refugees in need of escorting. It's a dangerous road from wherever they're fleeing from to the safety of Hoelbrak and the Black Citadel, so be a hero and help them out. (Do not be a conniving pretend-hero and help them out only after letting them fall so you get extra achievement points. That's just evil.)
Talking to different NPCs will get you a little bit more background to the story -- we know that steam is erupting from the ground in the North and that terrible storms are brewing. Some Charr blame the Flame Legion, but steam vents don't really sound like their MO in the humble opinion of yours truly. In the northern bit of the Wayfarer Foothills, you can find a super creepy, inspectable dead body that shows signs of burn marks all over and has blood draining from its ears. Something is clearly rotten in the northwesternish bit of Tyria. Strange things are afoot at the Diessa Plateau.
If you help out enough refugees, light enough fires, and build enough signposts, you'll earn yourself a shiny Volunteer title and a little drawing from a refugee child that's worth a handful of karma. It's been noted that some poor urchin has been giving herself carpal tunnel syndrome by drawing hundreds and thousands of these drawings, only to have them carelessly ripped to shreds and consumed by karma-hungry heroes.
C'est la vie.
This patch also revitalized a lot of content, which is pretty awesome. Now, rather than having to repeat the same tasks every day for your daily achievement, you'll find a bit more variety to the tasks, and they change from day to day. While I'm not sorry to see the ultra-finicky kill combo achievement dropped from the rotation, the inclusion of things like daily crafter, daily healer, and daily dodger is a nice change of pace.
While these are still relatively simple (one was, I kid you not, to go visit a laurel vendor), they're driving people to specific parts of the game or gameplay. While I certainly don't avoid going underwater, it's nice to be nudged in that direction (although it's also nice to only be nudged in that direction for 25 kills). I was a wee bit surprised to find myself in Orr when dodging first made its way into the rotation, to find /map and /local chat filled with people asking how one was supposed to dodge. This new system of dailies is clearly meant to remind people of basic bits of the game, and give them a nudge to try other bits of content. None of it is especially onerous; I was inclined to grouse about the daily crafter achievement until I tried it out and realized that I could just refine ore into ingots and other maintenance tasks like that.
Add in the laurel system as a way of earning Ascended gear, obsidian shards, and delightful little things like a neverending cat tonic, and you've got yourself a wonderfully revamped system.
Dungeons no longer allow you to revive at a waypoint (or travel to a waypoint at all) while members of your party are in combat. To keep things fair, several encounters have been reworked to not uh, encourage rez-rushing so much. (The degree to which this effort succeeded will vary greatly depending on whom you ask.) That isn't really all that problematic -- after all, you've not been able to rally at a waypoint in Fractals since that dungeon was added. Fractals itself has been made infinitely more enjoyable with the change in the way leveling works (you can now go in at the highest level available to anyone in your group, rather than the highest common level) and the ability to reconnect after leaving or being kicked from the instance. Huzzah!
And other stuff
The list goes on and on! I mean, literally -- January 28th saw the mother of all patch notes, the very note from which all other notes were formed, get posted to the forums. The rich orichalcum vein in Southsun is no longer, well, rich. The tyranny of Pistrix the
One of the first things I saw upon logging back in after the patch was someone shooting The Dreamer -- specifically, I noticed that the projectiles coming off the shortbow were now galloping unicorns (complete with rainbow hair and and ArenaNet brand on the rump). A handful of the legendary weapons got a bit of a visual update. That sent the prices for a few precursors soaring skyward in anticipation of other update. (Which I'm in favor of -- I think, for example, that all legendaries should get footprint effects, rather than the special few.)
What did you find to be the most interesting or helpful bit of the January patch?
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.