The quasi-monolithic list of changes to the game as part of today’s Living Story content drop have been released, and there are some pretty big things here. Of note, the next chapter of Flame and Frost has been brought into the game, leaderboards for WvW, sPvP and achievement points have been added, a new WvW leveling system has been implemented, new items have appeared in the gem store and an update to the NCSoft user agreement has been made, requiring all players to re-agree to the agreement prior to getting in game.
The update also includes story instances for the Living World. Those are detailed below, and the rest of the biggest updates are included after the jump. If you’ve got about an hour to kill though, you can read the notes directly by going here.
OPEN WORLD: The Molten Alliance has begun spying on the people of Wayfarer Foothills, Diessa Plateau, the Snowden Drifts, the Plains of Ashford, and the Iron Marches. The Vigil have stationed collectors in these areas to reward adventurers who return logs of all data collected by the enemy.
INSTANCES: Living Story instances telling the stories of both Braham the norn and Rox the charr have been added to the world. In-game mails and achievements have been implemented in order to aid guidance to the relevant locations. These instance locations are marked on the world map with a golden portal marker.
Like portal-bombing in WvW? Get your fix in today, because tomorrow, once culling in WvW is gone, you won’t have the model loading lag to rely on for a couple seconds of cheaty-face stealth any longer.
In an interview with GW2Hub, ArenaNet developers Habib Loew, Mike Ferguson & Matt Witter sat down and gave some more detail into tomorrow’s content drop, which encompasses the second chapter of the Flame and Frost updates and includes a wealth of World vs World updates.
The interview is loaded with some great info, but there’s a few key details worth celebrating. First, up to 300 models can be rendered on-screen at any given time with the update, but the option’s menu will allow you to take control of that number if need be:
We’ve then introduced two new client options to help you control the way characters are represented once they’ve reported to your client. If you turn everything all the way up to maximum, we can draw up to 300 players on the screen at a given time. After that, we start displaying them as name plates only.
Another interesting note:
The culling system being turned off is about improving the player experience, to make sure they can see everyone in the fight. Given that, our goal was to at least make performance no worse.
You may notice some frame rate changes but if you find that performance isn’t to your liking, the first thing I would suggest is that you change the World versus World character quality setting. Making this lower will increase the number of models that are using the lower resolution version, which will have a dramatic impact on your frame rates. In the event this doesn’t work for you, then you can always change the WvW character limit lower to shift more people to name plates only
There are other tidbits on new merchants offering “skins that are new to WvW that were previously unobtainable there,” Ferguson says in the interview. While they aren’t totally new skins (meaning they’re attainable elsewhere in the game), “what we’re doing is setting up a merchant that you can purchase your stat combinations from and an appearance option and kind of combine those. That’s how you get your piece of gear.”
There will not be any new ascended gear for WvW in tomorrow’s patch (so keep building up those fractal relics and laurels), but the developers have also not ruled that out as a possibility in future patches:
It is definitely on our list of things we want to add to it, it’s just that we encounter some issues getting it into this particular build.
So how has feedback for the changes fared so far? Says Leow:
The play test that we’ve seen so far, that have been internal, the reactions are incredibly gratifying to watch. The typical reaction is “Holy crap! this is going to be huge!” it usually comes not when they first start playing, but once they start to play with the settings. When they can turn the settings up and see 300 people, that’s usually when they get the “Holy crap! this is going to huge” moment. Ten minutes later, gamers are pretty good with what we give them so I expect they’ll get used to the new system very very quickly.
Again, check out the full interview here. We’ll see you in-game tomorrow!
If you’ve hung around World vs World long enough, you’ve probably heard people talk about culling. It’s a huge issue where your game client is either unaware of or unable to render entire players (or NPC’s, as this sometimes happens in large PvE gathering as well.) Imagine a giant mob of 100+ Mists invaders coming by and killing you, and you didn’t even know they were there because you literally could not see them. This is culling. As mentioned, it’s super prevalent (and a major pain) in WvW when the battle lines can be moving and you’re caught unaware and die from invisible enemies. Habib Loew over at Arena.Net earlier today proudly proclaimed that they are “ending culling” in the March 26th patch.
If you’ve ever played World vs. World in a large group, you’ve probably noticed that there were some enemy players that you couldn’t see. That was an unfortunate side effect of a process called culling. I’m pleased to announce that in the upcoming patch on March 26, we’re going to turn culling off completely in WvW. This will make invisible enemies (except those using invisibility skills, of course) a thing of the past.
Great news! Visible players everywhere! Problem solved! Right? Maybe? If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking the following: Wait a minute, isn’t culling mostly a graphical issue with computers not being able to render models fast enough? In that case, you’d be partially correct. There are multiple types of culling, or rather, multiple things that can go wrong with getting a character model to show up that the community as a whole calls culling collectively. But, when ArenaNet refers to culling, they’re referring to one very specific version of culling, which is the data the server reports to the client being limited, and thus causing the culling effect. Here’s Loew again, emphasis is mine:
For the sake of clarity, I want to make a clear distinction between our usage of the term “culling” in this post (meaning to limit the amount of data the server reports to the client) and other uses of the word “culling” related to graphics (discarding backward facing triangles in models, triangles or whole models that are occluded, etc.). Our changes are to the client/server culling and have no bearing on basic graphics operations in the GW2 client.
Yep. Got an older computer? Culling will still exist for you. Guild Wars 2 is insanely CPU intensive, and large WvW battles push even high end Core i7′s and AMD FX’s to their limits. Chances are, if you’re running on older hardware, culling is in fact not dead for you. If anybody remembers back to the early days of the game, the client/server culling wasn’t an issue then either, as the server more or less just sent everything. What was an issue though was there being so many models to render that it tanked many computers that could otherwise play the game. If you tried to walk out into a starter area a couple of hours after launch, you probably have an idea of what I’m talking about. ArenaNet has added some extra graphical options to help relieve this problem. We’ll go to Loew one more time:
Under the new system, characters can be rendered in three different ways:
- High resolution models - These are the high-res character models that you’re all already familiar with.
- Lower resolution fallback models - These are the models that we’ve been using as placeholders in WvW while the hi-res models load. They differ depending on race and armor class, though human, sylvari, and norn share the same model.
- Nameplates only - We don’t render the model at all and instead only show the nameplate for that character.
We’ve also added two new options to allow players to select how WvW characters are displayed:
- WvW Character Limit - This controls how many of the reported characters render with a model and how many are rendered only with nameplates.
- WvW Character Quality - This controls how many of the characters rendered with a model use the high resolution models and how many use the lower resolution fallback models.
This is a good solution, and much, much better than the status quo, but it’s not quite the “end of culling.” I guess nameplates are better than nothing.
The much anticipated update to World vs World has been delayed from its anticipated launch of February to March, with ArenaNet saying they want more time to test and polish the new content. Game Director Colin Johanson took to the forums to deliver the news, and to detail more of what we can expect for WvW updates in the future. WvW is the one major area of Guild Wars 2 (the other two being PvE and sPvP) that has not received much attention. While we’ve seen a new arena in sPvP and plenty of new content in PvE, WvW has soldiered on with only some balance changes since the release of GW2.
Some of the new content we can expect to see in March include a new progression system, new titles, and WvW specific bonuses and abilities. Johanson also laid out some other improvements we will be seeing for World vs World, not in March but in future updates beyond that. Those include…
- More work on the culling issue (where the engine cannot render models fast enough, leading to players being temporarily invisible. This is prevalent in other parts of the game, but hits WvW the hardest, where entire enemy groups remain hidden until you’re already dead.)
- More incentives to win in WvW beyond the point totals and the minor temporary bonuses that servers
- Ways to help more people play WvW, such as dealing with queue issues that occur on very active WvW servers
Specific details are sparse as of now, but Johanson tells us that more concrete information will be given as the updates get closer to launch. It’s apparent that ArenaNet are having trouble setting reasonable update timelines, as releases getting pushed back are becoming regular announcements. The “expansion worth of content in January and February” has turned in to February and March, for example. All of the free content has been awesome, but let’s hope the release date estimation improves in the future.
You can read the original forum post over on the Guild Wars 2 Forums
Today, ArenaNet announced an upcoming release, the Flame & Frost prelude update, via the official Guild Wars 2 website.
The details of this update include a new PvP mode as well as a new map for paid and free PvP tournaments – Temple of the Silent storm.
Outside of PvP, there are new achievements to be earned daily, as well as unique ones for each day of the week. Along with these new achievements comes a new achievements tracker as well as redeemable tokens in the form of laurels. The laurels can then be used to obtain rewards like ascended gear and transfusions.
Guesting is also officially in, and while being free the free world, transfers are being replaced by gem-paid world transfers (as they were originally intended to be).
There will also be continuous updates in terms of balance, UI and bug fixes along with some cool new items in the gem store (two words: Quaggan Backpacks).
Quite the start to the new year, and this is only the prelude. Hit the update for the full story and comment below!