First of all: There won’t be story spoilers in the text. I hope the screenshots won’t include story spoilers either. I tried to be careful with them!
I currently have about two hours in the evening during which I can play games and most of that time has been spent playing Guild Wars 2 lately. Still, since I do not spend all of these two hours playing (and about two hours were also spent fiddling with the total makeover kit with my asuran engineer so that finally, after creating her almost ten years ago, she has a look that I like!), I would say that I’m very casually exploring the new expansion content.
For me, with this expansion, it feels like the early days of Guild Wars 2 again: Back when I loved logging into the game just to explore, see what’s there, collect a few vistas here and there and just follow my asura’s short nose to see where it leads me. I missed this feeling in the past few years. Even when I was having fun in Guild Wars 2, I hardly ever had the urge to log into the game in the evenings. But now that feeling is back! Part of that is because we now have the new maps with the basic mounts unlocked already (at least, if we did so during the last expansion) and it just fits together really well – no need to get to a certain place to first unlock them (well, the turtle mount, but that’s not needed for exploration). At the moment, End of Dragons is the best expansion for me by far!
The first expansion, Heart of Thorns, just frustrated me with the map layout and it’s still my least favourite expansion. Path of Fire was a lot better already, but still annoyed me with the mob density in certain regions… and even though I do love the continent Elona, it didn’t really lure me back into the game as much as I had hoped. And that’s saying something because I started Guild Wars with Nightfall. In fact, I did try out Guild Wars with the Factions preview event and then stayed far away from Guild Wars for a long time because that preview event had confused me too much. And when I did play Guild Wars, Factions was my least favourite content… except for the Jade Sea. Then again, the look of the world never was a problem. I’ve always loved what they did with the world in Guild Wars and in Guild Wars 2!
I love fishing and the mob density in Seitung Province and New Kaineng City is perfect, as it lets me explore the map without having a zillion mobs around me all of the time. The same goes for fishing: I can do so without being interrupted. It happens more often in New Kaineng City with events, but it’s generally still okay!
I do not like the Echovald Wilds too much, though. It reminds me of Heart of Thorns where I also never knew which way to go to end up where I wanted to get to. Also, it’s dark and I don’t feel like stopping my raptor to take a proper look around. I probably should do that at some point, however, because this is something I always love about Guild Wars 2: The way the world looks.
The Raptor Taxi system keeps me from wanting to bite into my keyboard at times when I get lost and have no idea how to reach my destination. Too bad it’s only in the first two maps. I really wish this existed in Heart of Thorns as well! It’s also great because it lets you see the world while you’re on that auto-mount and you can even stop and dismount on your route.
Even though I have been playing a lot, I have not yet fully unlocked the new warrior elite specialization. So I can’t say anything about that. During the beta weekends, I only took a closer look at the Mechanist and my engineer is impatiently waiting for his turn to collect enough hero points to unlock that specialization. I did, however, finish the instanced story with my warrior! I knew I was getting close, but I didn’t think it was the last part already. …It was nice. If I actually liked playing the instanced content, I would probably say that it was great and a lot of fun, but I much prefer the open world maps (not End of Dragons, though… it’s too focused on one thing and the waypoints are constantly contested, so that’s annoying)! Altogether, without giving any spoilers, I loved to see the story wrapped up after almost 10 years.