The February game update for Guild Wars 2 included an overhaul to the explorable modes of the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon.  Many of the encounters have been tweaked to provide a more challenging and polished experience and in this video guide, we cover all of the major changes.

Ascalonian Catacombs has been one of the more popular explorable dungeons since launch due mainly because of how fast you could complete it. ArenaNet hopes that now players will want to run the new encounters because the challenge is engaging and fun.

I had the opportunity to run all three paths of the revamped dungeon and the video above illustrates my findings and general impression of the changes. Overall, I think the dungeon is an improved experience. Difficult content is scarce in Guild Wars 2 and I’m glad to see that several of the bosses and encounters take more coordination from your group.

The Ghost Eater boss at the end of explorable path 2 is the highlight of the changes. The mechanics are completely different and employ an amusing and fun mechanic involving weapons that look like Ghostbuster proton packs. Don’t cross the streams!

The Queen Spider can no longer be skipped and will assault your group with an immobilizing web that is deadly when combined with venomous pools on the ground. The Howling King and Colossus Rumblus boss fights are also revamped and for once you won’t be cursing the useless NPCs that follow you around for no reason. Both Hodgins and Warmaster Grast have key abilities that help you overcome these end bosses.

The redesign isn’t all puppies and flowers, however. The normal gravelings have a knockdown attack, which gets old very quickly. The graveling stalkers have a ton of health, burrow underground, and gain evasion on hit, making encounters with them long and not enjoyable. At least all champion level monsters are guaranteed to drop blue or better loot now.

Overall, the new Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon shows that ArenaNet has learned some things about encounter design since the launch of Guild Wars 2. I look forward to seeing how they handle the redesign for the other dungeons, particularly Citadel of Flame and Sorrow’s Embrace.

What do you think of the changes they made to Ascalonian Catacombs? Let us know in the comments below.  For more Guild Wars 2 videos, check out my YouTube channel and subscribe!

  • Jado Cast

    Great Job Richie.  I did path 1 right after the patch, and it took us about 3 wipes before we figured out the ring of fire trick.

    You should consider doing one of these for each dungeon.  This is really well done!

    • EndrzGame

       I agree. Great video and would like to see one made for each of the dungeons and maybe some fractal footage as well.
      Keep up the good work Richie! Your stuff is always entertaining and informative.

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

        Thanks for taking the time to respond.  I appreciate it. 

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

      Thanks! As they continue to revamp the dungeons, I’ll continue to cover them.

    • Chris Catone

       I’ll second that.

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

    Awesome vid richie, haven’t gotten a chance to check out the revamped version yet, but I’m really glad they’re doing this. Thanks for covering some of the changes.

  • http://twitter.com/halloikama rick

    Great video Richie. I have done path 2 and 3 after the patch, I love the path 2 with the ghostbuster thing  my favourite bossfight in the game but the 3rd path….. I’ve done it 2 times now and every time we get to the boss the warmaster makes his shield too late so we all whipe and while we are fighting for our lives the warmaster decides to make a shield after the rocks have fallen.. i hop Arenanet will improve this.

    • Chris Catone

      I had that problem with path 3.  It seems like there’s a weird bug where he just won’t put up the shield (even though he was clearly still alive before the rocks came down) which made it a little frustrating (plus I was in a pug that thought it productive to keep zerging to the wipe without changing a thing…

      • theunwarshed

         ditto.  there’s a niche in one of the pillars where you can stand to avoid the falling debris as well as take the KBs better that makes this encounter doable.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AVPO7ELJ3JI6QXK2K2GLR7YGNU KotCR

    Bosses are more interesting which is good; But currently they are right now ruined by buggy mechanics or poorly implimented features such as Grast not auto-rezzing on a wipe, or the Ghost Eater boss being able to regenerate HP too quickly in between the periods of time he is vulnerable. Kholer at least seems alot better; He’s slightly more interesting and appears to have less HP making the fight less unneccessarily drawn out. People still just skip him all the time though; They really need to increase the incentive to fight him.

    Secondly, too many knockbacks. As the video said, taking away control from the player for prolonged periods of time never makes for a fun-game. If you want a smooth run a Guardian is pretty much required for Stand Your Ground, else everyone will spend half the time on their ass, which isn’t fun at all. If they wanted to disable the players abilities more often, I feel like if they are insistant on having so much enemy CC they should have just used a lighter disable affect like Daze or just Immobilize instead of Knockdown or something; Still limiting the player’s options but not taking control away from him entirely. Knockdowns on mobs in any game should always be used sparingly and tactically; Here they’ve just thrown it on everything for the sake of it, making it a far more boring and uninteresting mechanic in this dungeon.

    And third, as mentioned again, too much HP on trash mobs and the Troll. Then adding basically 50% invulnerability time on a trash mob that already has way too much HP is incredibly boring and monotamous, especially seems you have to fight these trash mobs every single path.

  • http://twitter.com/WindFall259 Eddie

    I think the intention of the new attack with the champion graveling stalker is to promote dodging as much as possible, since it only gains evade if the burrow attack connects to any player.

    I still don’t like the amount of knockbacks and knockdowns most gravelings have, especially its repeating chomping attacks when you’re disabled for 3-5 seconds. But perhaps it’s to suggest everyone using stun breakers/stability skills.

    • Chris Catone

       It’s how they discourage running past trash though the one time I’ve been in AC since the patch everyone ran anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.head.56 Aaron Head

    having knock backs/knock downs on the gravelings is stupid, the spider queen i dunno if it was bugged or what, but the poisons circles were not dissapearing when the new ones were being laid so had 4 constant poison circles during the whole fight leaving very little room to dodge/manuever, and i did not notice 4 constant poisonous circles during your video, Kholer is constantly being skipped still, so they need to make him more rewarding, although he is less tedious now, it just feel’s like there trying to kill pug grouping with this update, once i figure out a clean way to run this, it wont be as annoying to fight, i do like the fact the champion burrow into ground and knock back, great feature to add, atleast the end bosses got better, but drops still suck IMO

  • http://www.facebook.com/imthefackinantichrist Jacob Stevens

    Honestly, this revamp is just ridiculous. Sure, it adds a bit more challenge to it, but at the same time, isn’t AC the first dungeon you get to do in the game? Yes, so why make it harder than the dungeons that are later on? It makes no sense, really. The knockdowns are annoying. Spider Queen imo does too high damage, with too much aoe for the room that you’re in. Kholer was not much of an improvement, however it wasn’t much of a negative thing either. He is a tad bit more difficult with the priority of also focusing on the adds, but altogether he’s still just the same boss, and is still being skipped. Even more so now that the waypoint is nearly useless since you can’t use it during combat anymore. The evade on hit is rather annoying, not challenging, just time consuming, and I don’t know about everyone else but that’s not fun. The same goes for Ghost Eater. Oh my god, THIS guy. It’s not that he’s hard, although his aoe rings get really annoying. It’s the fact that it is just so time consuming, ESPECIALLY with a pug group. None of the groups I have been in have been able to pick up on the fight, altogether it just made path 2 a complete waste of time in every instance I have been in. Ghost Eater now sorta reminds me of Dwayna in a sense, given that you need to damage him as fast and hard as possible while also taking his shields down just as fast since he’ll heal if you don’t. It’s already been mentioned, but they really did make pug grouping a lot more useless for this dungeon. Perhaps with a solid group of people that knows what they are doing, it is easy mode still, but the likelihood of having a pug group like that is next to none. All in all, the worst thing about it is what I’ve already mentioned, they raised the difficulty way too high for it being the first dungeon in the game.

  • Putin the Terrible

    The begging of the video was about to cause me to click off the page but the rest proved to be valuable info so thanks a lot!