We have an official preview of the Guild Wars 2 January patch, which is entitled Flame and Frost: Prelude, and ArenaNet’s Colin Johanson has been busy performing interviews and livestreams to give fans the skinny on the latest developments. There are bits of information oozing out of all corners of the internet, but we’ve done our best to summarize the important pieces below.

On January 28, the Flame & Frost: Prelude update will go live for Guild Wars 2. This prologue will begin a multi-stage story that will be told over the coming months and it’s possible that another elder dragon is stirring up trouble:

“The sky falls and the ground shakes in the lands of the north. Charr and norn refugees crawl from the wreckage of their homes in the Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau, struggling to find shelter in the south. The call goes out for volunteers to assist the victims in this time of need, when earth and sky seem to have become the enemy…”

We’re getting a new currency in the January patch, which will be used to purchase a variety of different items. Laurels (renamed from crowns) will be earned for completing daily and monthly achievements and can be used to purchase a variety of different items: ascended gear (30 new amulets), 5 new utility infusions, Endless Mystery Cat Tonic, unidentified dyes, and WvW items. Laurels can also be used to purchase mini pets including the new posh feline, Chauncey von Snuffles III. Someone at ArenaNet really likes cats.

To make it more fun to earn your laurels, the daily achievements will rotate and change each day to encourage you to explore the open world. An achievement tracker has been added to the UI to make things even easier and eventually we’ll have the option to complete only a subset of the achievements and still fill our daily quota. This will allow them to add achievements for things like completing jumping puzzles or compete in the Keg Brawl mini-game.

The gem store will be stocked with new items including riding brooms, a revamped Box o’ Fun, and Baby Quaggan Backpacks. Nothing says “Fear me!” better than a plush anthropomorphic manatee strapped to your back!

From January 28 through February 4, there will be a special Temple of the Silent Storm week for structured PvP. The regular tournaments will be replaced by two-team/single-round paid tournaments in the Temple of the Silent Storm map. After the special week is over, the kodan-themed map will finally be added to the normal tournament rotation.

The culling issue (a.k.a. invisible army), which plagues World vs. World, is also going to be improved on January 28. Low resolution character models will draw instantly on the screen with the higher polygon versions filling in a few seconds later. They will continue to make improvements to this issue with subsequent game updates.

Mr. Johanson also chimed in regarding the much-discussed legendary precursor weapons. In the short term, they will be adding new ways to find them, albeit with extremely rare drop rates. The long term plan is to have a long scavenger hunt quest that rewards them, but this is currently a ways off.

Last but not least, guesting will finally make it into the game as we reported on last week.

Colin touches on many other topics during these interviews and with that I give you, The Johanson Lightning Round:

  • Log-in rates have been slowly increasing every week for the past 5 weeks.
  • He believes that GW2 is the fastest-selling MMO to reach 3 million copies sold. (Not including China)
  • Human is the most popular race and Charr is the least.
  • Working on new progression paths for World vs. World.
  • WvW recognition: Titles, WvW abilities, Stand out to enemy servers
  • Guesting was delayed because they kept finding last minute game-breaking bugs.
  • Fixing loot so you have a chance to acquire level 80 items in any zone.
  • They want to thin out monsters in Orr and add a few non-contested waypoints to make it easier to get around.
  • New rewards coming to Orr and revamped temple boss encounters.
  • Not working on Guild Halls, but will do them at some point in the future.
  • New playable races are possible for expansions.
  • Preview links for other armor classes coming back in January update.
  • Previews for trading post items being worked on still for the future.
  • Open worlds is the focus for now. Instanced raids not currently planned.
  • Veterans, champions, and bosses will be made more exciting and rewarding.

It looks like the Guild Wars 2 January patch (and beyond) is chock-full of things to be excited about. What are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.beverly Daniel Beverly

    Looks to be a good month(months) to come in my favorite game. Yes!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/oneniisama Bear Powell

    We’ll see how it’s implemented before giving them any pats on the back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nate.pyle Nathan Pyle

    I just got back into GuildWars 2 pretty hardcore.  Loving Arenanet and will continue to support them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/djlanders020 Dave Landers

    Lookin to be some really solid updates. I dig. Looking forward to seeing it in action.

  • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

    Good to hear about the fixes.

    Looking forward to the new gaming content, does seem odd that it’s gated over time. 

    Will be interesting to see the Guildcast reaction to gated content.  The host have been fairly hard to other MMOs gated content, we will see if they give Arenanet a pass.

    • http://twitter.com/RichieProcopio Richie Procopio

      I’m not sure that a story told over the course of several months is the same as having gated content.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.hornsby.7 Jonathan Hornsby

        It is in that it is content you can’t just rush through at your own pace. Personally I was wondering when Arena Net would try this solution. As I’ve said before under another article they are struggling to keep content viable long enough to produce more in the face of a community obsessed with grinding through it, farming mats, and using speed runs to blow through any new content at a rate considered unhealthy for the game as a whole. So far they’ve been trying to counter that with escalating grind, but gated content is another method.

        • St_Draco

          Um, I think you are a little off in your evaluation. They’ve used time to “gate” content in every patch they have released so far. They have attached the progression of a story to each of those elements so that the content did not feel arbitrarily released. You couldn’t do the Mad King’s dungeon on the first day of the Halloween patch, you couldn’t fight the Ancient Karka on the first day, and you couldn’t do all Tixx’s mini dungeon events on day one either. This patch looks to be no different.

          It doesn’t appear to me that ANet has any issue with people consuming content rapidly. The issue they seem to take is people exploiting content to get rewards with little risk. I personally haven’t experienced or perceived any escalated grind. The costs of making/purchasing items has not gone up. It takes the same amount of materials to make a legendary as it did on day one. The diminishing returns that have been put in place were and have been targeted at areas where exploitation has occurred   You can still run as many dungeons as you like and even the same dungeon over and over. You can still do as many events as you like for as long as you like.  The content is not being blocked or slowed. All that is being reduced is your rewards for doing the same exact thing over and over again. It is a design which encourages players to move out and experience the rest of the game and discourages exploitation of game mechanics to get fast and easy rewards. People typically go and farm specific content because it has the least risk for the reward or because the game requires them to in order to access content that they want to do, not because they enjoy that specific content. Note I am talking about specifics and not the general act of farming, which you can still do in GW2 and be rewarded appropriately for.

        • CannibalShinobi

          Episodic content is not gated content, /argument

        • http://twitter.com/Hagg3r Michael

          This is not gated content. Gated content means that you can only access the content once you acquire a certain level of gear or content opens up over a certain period of time. This “content” is story related and everyone will get to see it. Once the content is over, new content will arrive and everyone can see that.

          By your definition of gated content, you mean to say that every single patch that GW2 has not had yet with content is “gated” since we cannot see it yet and that makes no sense.

    • Joseph Legemah

      now a new definition of gated has sprung up. no rest for the wicked or GW2 haters standing out in the rain when their game flops. :(

    • CannibalShinobi

      There isn’t a single mention of gated content.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kirzansix Mike Coulombe

      I wish GW2 had gated content and a progression of sorts.

    • http://twitter.com/QuietNine Quiet

      For a guy who complained so hard about GW2 people trolling WoW news, look at you now. 

      You can run any instance at any time successfully, whether in greens or exotics, in any order without unlocking. You can even run harder difficulties as long as one person in your group has done the regular difficulty. That is not gating. Gating is saying that if you want to run T14, you have to run regular dungeons so you can get strong enough to run heroic dungeons so you can run those until you get strong enough to run T12 and run that until you get strong enough to run T13 so you can run T13 until youre strong enough to run T14. Gating is saying no one on your faction or server can do X until you have done 8 billion daily quests collectively. Gating is saying you can’t be “good” at PvP until you’ve spent 2 months letting downies gank you so you have enough currency to equip the same gear and compete in the same brackets. Gating is saying the currently available content is only available to some a few players. It’s for games where gear supersedes any quantity of skill.

  • John Michael Calcagni

    Looks promising! Really excited about the new currency!

  • MrMonkeyPoop

    So to sum things up, no guilds halls, no guesting, and no TP preview feature and to try to compensate things a shiny new currency?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.hornsby.7 Jonathan Hornsby

       Incorrect; guesting is included in this update, that has already been confirmed.

      • MrMonkeyPoop

        interesting, i must  of mistook the wording out of  context, thnx for the update!

    • CannibalShinobi

      A list of what isn’t included is a real shitty way to sum something up.

    • http://www.kaiketsu.enjin.com/ Corey “Crimzen” Jenkins

       Guesting was already announced previously. It is coming in this patch on the 28th.

    • http://twitter.com/RichieProcopio Richie Procopio

      Guesting is coming in the January patch. I only mentioned it briefly in the article above because I wrote a piece focused on guesting last week.

  • http://www.kaiketsu.enjin.com/ Corey “Crimzen” Jenkins

    I’m really interested in the story aspects of it to be honest. I’m actually kind of glad that the story is something that’s going to happen over the next few months, just so I know it’s something that won’t be rushed. I’m wondering if “Flame&Frost” refers to the elder dragons Primordus and Jormag. Which also makes me wonder that if we end up killing them this early on, if there’s a bigger picture than just the elder dragons themselves. Def going to be interesting to see.

    I know we have some guild feature being implemented down the road, but I’m hoping we get some guild menu UI improvements for now. Overall I’m really glad they’re taking the time to strengthen the “core” game and also listening to feedback as much as they can. It shows that they know what it takes in to make this game successful in the long run.

    • http://twitter.com/QSatu QSatu

       ANet said this storyline isn’t related to dragons.

      • http://www.kaiketsu.enjin.com/ Corey “Crimzen” Jenkins

         Yea I made an edit at the bottom of my post if you read that far :p

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laurence-Hill/774089893 Laurence Hill

    @ MrMonkeyPoop, I think you missed that (maybe even GBTV missed that) in the official preview it says guesting IS in, guild halls was never going to be in this patch it is something that they will be working on in the future, I think the currency is great it means that you can get semi-decent gear in even more ways playing to the philosophy you can play how you want :-)

  • Pete Cuellar

    Quaggan Backpack……That is all

    • Krzysztof Kotarba

      I want to see Elisabeth’s face when she saw that

      • http://twitter.com/RichieProcopio Richie Procopio

        Watch GuildCast tonight and you’ll see her react to it!

        • DoctorOverlord

          Awesome lol  A screenshot of that would probably serve as the visual definition of ‘Squeee’,  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Caliolo/100003765889295 Robert Caliolo

    I would have liked to see something along the lines of a Dungeon crawl.
    Taking the concept of the FotM you would instance in and start the dungeon. go through it like a basic Fractal. When you finish it, you have the option to leave or continue onward further into the dungeon. Opting out will hold your place while still allowing you to rerun that same first dungeon over with a different group.
    As you progress through the dungeon it does get harder and is completely different the the previous dungeons yet still has the same theme.
    There could be 5 different themes associated with the 5 main cities. These dungeons would start in the starter cities as underground tunnels or caves or whatever.
    This allows usage of the starter cities again for gathering and gives a different twist on the “raid” concept… Raiding not for gear grinds but for the fun and adventure of it.

  • Sesimie Dimie

    Look forward to the patch!! 

  • Dubhridir

    call me crazy… but I look forward to them not scaling low level people up for fractals… More and more people are trying to level in those instead of being out in the world. So instead of having people out there,  the vast majority of them are in Lions Arch spamming LFG… its sad really, leveling a character and having next to no one to do those ‘fun’ events with… Well outside of major Boss’s like Jormag… And that’s supposed to be one of the big draws of this game, those dynamic events,  its also their biggest weakness because no one’s out there doing them and its a pain to try and complete them solo, or with maybe 1 other person…. I’d rather fractals be for level 80’s only, and it require you to be pretty well geared, which might get people out there again doing those events for mats, gold, karma or whatever else they need to get the gear they should have doing those

    • Rafat Rashid

      I never seen people below lvl 80 doing fractals past fotm 10. They wont try cuz they will get koed in 2 hits.

      • Dubhridir

         I’ve seen as low as level 20’s in a party I’ve pugged  >.>  And everything in between.. so yea, they do

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/LB5Z5XAKB2VXHPUV33UZSXCEAI Jason

    Jayss123 here good news I updated my Mac Pro. 2006 model from 10.6.8 to 10.7.5 since thats the best I can get and I’m pulling 20+ fps even in DR and LA BUT still Mac will be in beta so no news there still sad. But I’ll now be able to play the game :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthony.perry.357 Anthony Perry

    dammit i need to get my computer fixed soon

  • http://twitter.com/QuietNine Quiet

    Between culling and the way they have handled transfers, Anet has done a good job at screwing over the WvW endgame. 

    While I don’t know if I’ll bother logging in after SBI has imploded, it’s nice to know that if I do, there will be baddy-bad thieves everywhere, rendering instantly and waiting to die.

    • http://www.facebook.com/UnderdogSMO Christopher Smith

      there is sapost to be the first part of the Culling fix on the 28th there basicly rewrighting the code for how characters render. this fist bit is adding low res texters that loud in first and faster. so thiefs shouldnt have that advantage much longer

  • http://twitter.com/AgeNightroad Adrian Lloyd

    “New playable races are possible for expansions.”

    Gimme my Tengu! :D

    • theunwarshed

       and Kodan!!

      • dawolv

         I think Tengu will be first!
        You can see the perfectly rectangular starter Zone already carved out in the current World Map and there are Tengu everywhere.
        Kodan are probably coimg when we go off to fight Jormag though, at least I hope so.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Joey.Morrone Joey Morrone

        Aye. Kodan would be awesome to play as. I never play beast races, but Kodan are too cool.

  • theunwarshed

    i believe doing whatever they can to get people back out into the world is the best thing.  i hate how every mmo always ends up being a cluster fuck centered around one social hub.  

  • ZekePrince

    I haven’t even finished the Fractals yet!  
    But this update sounds pretty sweet.  Can’t wait.

  • bahl isvet

    Man i luv this game, but i REALLY want to duel my mates !!!

  • bahl isvet

    Where is Dueling ? i need duellig , Duelling .. duelling… i wnt deu……

  • http://twitter.com/Spike_BIGB bart van hoye

    is this like a kick off for a new dragon release? :o

    • http://twitter.com/RichieProcopio Richie Procopio

      Unfortunately, ArenaNet posted on the forums that this story arc does NOT involve dragons.  Sure did sound like it though.

  • Jado Cast

    Well,  this could have been titled, “Anet, About Damn Time.”  In other news . . . Richie, you switched your GW2 Stream from Friday to Thursday this week!  Noooooo!  I work on Thursday, what’s up Man?  ;)

  • ZPham

    Sounds great. I hope all of the delayed maintenance on bugs in Wayfarer is due to them just waiting for this update. Poor Scholar Brogun has been standing by the dragon totem for a week just rubbing his hands. Rani is just standing by his armored snowmen and it seems to have permanently scared off the Grawl.

  • DoctorOverlord

    Nice summary.   There is certainly some cool-sounding stuff planned.   It’s good to hear they’re improving the navigation of Orr, hopefully the mess that is Karka Island will be the next one to get revamped.