There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Living World in regards to the finale of Season One. Players haven't been feeling like the Living World updates, especially after the long wait only to get Edge of the Mists, are worth all the promises and excitement that has been building behind it. With the end of the Living World Season One coming so close to hand people have to know if this update is living up to the excitement.
Escape From Lion's Arch utilizes design choices and development direction that make it truly stand out compared to the rest of the Living World updates. The visuals, story narrative and the actual combat content are what make up any of the Living World stories. So the question is has this one truly lived up to the hype?
Let’s start with the visual aspects of this Living World update. They really threw everything they had into blowing us away with the whole new revamp of Lion’s Arch and the cinematic that came with it. I hadn’t expected that cinematic to that degree when they told us they were rolling out a whole new type of cinematic process. The degree to which they upturned Lion’s Arch, the detail of the drill, the chaotic ambience is like nothing we’ve seen at all before. They wanted to blow us away aesthetically, and something tells me they haven’t even hit us with the big guns, yet.
The story is one of the more interesting ones to date, as well. The over-all story of loss and disparity that they portray is incredibly against their normal style of leaving the feel of loss out of the story. When you compare Flame and Frost, which was supposed to portray some of that loss, it just doesn’t match up to the feeling you get when you know that a lot of these characters are going to die. The minor stories spread out through the refugee camps are also incredibly detailed and continue to give that narrative of loss and confusion that they have hammered home with this update.
The actual interactive combat content is possibly the weakest link of this update, but that doesn’t mean it is faulty. They don’t necessarily do anything new with this combat content and it is fairly apparent as we see more of the same minions. The main complain I have heard is that ArenaNet doesn’t seem to know how to stop us from doing massive zerg rushes over the map to each different event or point.
In one hand I can agree. I am also very tired of zerging up and dealing with another massive boss with twenty other folks and all I have to do is keep myself alive and auto-attack. It is very much a combat narrative that seems to only be designed to hold us over til the next update, and give us rewards for continuing to participate in the zerg train.
In the other hand I have to ask a question. What could they have done differently in this instance where we need to rush about to various points and save lives? Maybe they could have toned down the children, dolyak and worker escorts for some other form of objective; but this combat narrative is meant to be to drive us together to save people lost in a chaotic sea of destruction. I cannot see what other form of combat direction they could have taken to still fit the feeling of this update.
This update is quickly becoming my favorite because of the clear step up in quality ArenaNet is producing. I hope that with the finale coming, in less than two weeks, we see the “big guns” that ArenaNet has been hiding til now. If they provide the same story and visual elements, but provide up something new to chew on in the form of combat, it will certainly blow me away.