Temple of the Silent Storm (Storm as I’ll call it) is the latest addition to Guild Wars 2’s structuredPvP map rotation and without wishing to sensationalise it, is not only the most visually stunning so far, but probably my favourite map out of all of them.
In map respects, the layout is similar to Forest of Nifhel or Raid on the Capricorn. It plays horizontally with three captures (like all structured PvP maps) and still retains a unique mechanic. Unlike the NPC’s of Niflhel that award points for killing them, or the trebuchet of Khylo, Storm has four meditations that you commune with (3 are unique). Once you commune with the meditations, you or your party will receive a significant buff.
What is most exciting about these buffs is the intensity of them and their impact on the entire map. Where bunker builds are running rampant in structured and tournament PvP, I can’t help but wonder whether the potency of these meditations is intended to stretch and uproot bunker players; to force individuals off of capture points.
Storm differs greatly to the other structured PvP maps in the sense that it’s a warren of tunnels and verticality. Where the rest play on a relatively level playing field (with the exception of a staircase or gantry here and there) Storm really has a wonderful use of different levels. This might make the map difficult for anyone with poor navigation skills, but it makes for much more exciting and scrappy play. In some respects, you might think this map favours ranged players based on the fact they can utilise the various raised platforms and in a sense you would be right. However, players are forced to navigate the network of staircases and tunnels carved through ice if they are to reach the meditations or capture points. Not only does this squeeze player’s together, but will leave ranged players vulnerable as they move from point to point.
Of the four meditations, two are the same (Meditation of Ferocity) and towards the lower half of the map at the left and right hand sides. The other two are unique and in two separate areas: one in the centre, on the middle tier of the map. The last is underground, at the very top.
Meditation of Ferocity provides an additional +3 points per kill to the recipient of the buff, with players able to commune with both meditations for a total of +6 additional points, per kill, for a total time of 45 seconds (they stack in intensity, not duration). This poses an interesting dynamic as there is the potential here to achieve +11 points per kill; a significant number in the hands of a competent player.
The second meditation in the centre of the map is much stronger than Ferocity as it provides double the point gain to your team, from the capture points you currently control. This can be devastating to a team already losing (and unfortunate enough not to commune with it) but a lifesaver for teams needing a boost to catch-up and level the playing field. What makes the central point interesting is the fact that at either side of it are two large gaps in the floor. If you fall down, you’ll plummet to the water beneath and be forced to swim out, before running all the way back up. This makes for some fierce fighting as players battle to commune with the meditation and makes knockbacks and stability all the more useful.
Lastly and the most powerful meditation is underground and surrounded by the water you land in, if knocked back from the meditation above. You can also access this meditation via a tunnel and across a wooden bridge from the Gate capture point (no doubt the new Keep). Six minutes into the map, the meditation will activate and once communed with, will flip every capture point to your team’s control. Pairing this with the doubled point intake from the meditation above yields a huge point spike for your team. Realistically, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to flip the capture points twice in this way unless your match exceeds twelve minutes.
It’s difficult to know how fighting over meditations will pan out at launch as they are undoubtedly powerful and can work for and against the losing teams (rightly so). The fact you have to commune with them for several seconds (around 4) makes it all the more interesting when fighting breaks out over them. There is some really clever design here and congratulations should go out to ArenaNet for their achievement in crafting the map. Not only is it visually stunning but it offers a tactical depth I fear will be missed in the likes of Khylo or Niflhel. What a shame and waste, that it isn't going to be in tournament rotation.
If you want to see more of Storm, I’ve posted an Imgur gallery below as well as a recording of me walking around the map. Enjoy!