Exploring the Lost Shores of Guild Wars 2

Exploring the Lost Shores of Guild Wars 2

The Lost Shores event may only last a weekend for Guild Wars 2 players, but don’t think that means ArenaNet just threw it together. It’s a brand new zone for the game, an island called Southsun Cove, that players will be conquering and civilising this week, but will still be around afterwards. It’s an all-out invasion, by a brand new race that will be tearing up the city of Lion’s Arch and destroying its iconic lighthouse. It’s a boss that will only be defeated once, ever, by players who log in this Sunday. And it’s going to be a very busy weekend.

“We started development on The Lost Shores shortly after we shipped Guild Wars 2,” lead game designer Isaiah Cartwright tells us. “Since it’s a one-time event, we want to make it challenging, and make people feel rewarded when they overcome it. We geared it to be so for us in the office, and that usually translates to good players who know what they’re doing overcoming some interesting challenges.”

Challenge is certainly on the menu. As with Guild Wars 2′s dungeons, ArenaNet shows a higher estimation of its players’ skills than most MMOGs, and The Lost Shores will test them. Anyone will be able to take part though, with the new content offering a temporary boost to level 80. Not for nothing is ArenaNet taking the chance to run a free trial weekend during the event, though only for friends of existing players.

The Lost Shores kicks off on Friday, November 16, introducing the Karka – a race of giant crab monsters from the deep, who will initially be almost indestructible. Players will spend the first part of the weekend fighting them back, then scouring the world for an alchemical weapon capable of weakening their shells. This will allow for a more effective rematch on Saturday, and then an assault on their home in the Sea of Sorrows. Finally, Sunday sees whole servers drawn to the island to face the Ancient Karka – an epic world boss.

“In a lot of our playtests, it’s been really interesting,” says Cartwright. “There’s moments where you get completely overwhelmed and everyone’s running away and then pushing back in, and it’ll be really interesting to see how that plays out. It’s going to be different on every world that plays it, depending on who’s there, and how organised they are.”

Exploring the Lost Shores of Guild Wars 2

Karka shells crack during combat, offering live feedback along with the diminishing health bar

We had a chance to play up to, but not including, the Ancient Karka, and have little reason to doubt Cartwright’s claims. For a single weekend’s content, you’d expect a few boss fights and hordes of enemies; instead, ArenaNet is taking the chance to experiment. The Karka are the first Guild Wars 2 enemies to show some degree of combat damage as you fight them, and have double healthbars to factor in the armoured carapaces you have to crack to get at their squishy parts. Instead of merely exploring the island, players end up taming it, with successful questing leading to roads and bridges and outposts being established, and multiple NPCs to align and explore with after the initial successful incursion.

This is largely Guild Wars 2 marking its territory as well. Unlike many competing MMOs, there’s no Horde/Alliance split in its playerbase, with competition restricted to teams in tournament PvP or entire servers in a separate world vs world mode. In World Of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria, the titular island is a battleground for players to (at least in theory) fight over for dominance. Here, everyone is working together towards a common goal, and Cartwright suggests we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in future updates. “It’s one of the pillars of how we built our open world – that everyone can come together,” he says. “I think we’re going to keep pushing the bounds of those challenges.”