We’re now a couple of weeks (at the time of writing this) into Path of Fire, Guild Wars 2’s second expansion. This one has taken us to Elona, the human nation in the desert that has been cut off from the rest of the world since before the launch of Guild Wars 2. The expansion brought with it new elite specializations for each of the nine classes, a new and completely unique mount system, and 5 of the biggest maps that have ever been added to Guild Wars 2. Path of Fire abandons the map metas to go back to the living world ArenaNet set to make from the beginning. The desert is alive and the path is on fire.
Graphics, Sound, and Music – 9/10
With each expansion, the graphics for Guild Wars 2 get better and better and with the improved graphics come all new gorgeous landscapes. There are honestly times when you just have to stop for a minute and take it all in. Characters look better, environments are breathtaking, new UI introductions feel right.
The sounds of the desert are exotic and foreign just as they should be. Though it was somewhat of a disappointment to find the only foreign word they use is a greeting, ahai. A further exploration of the language in Elona would have been fun, though understandably time-consuming to create. The accents of the region also take away from the setting a little bit as everyone sounds like they’re from England. The best sounds from Path of Fire can be heard from the mounts. All the little coos and whistles the animals make give them a unique personality and makes them feel alive.
The music from Path of Fire is epic when it needs to be epic, and relaxed the rest of the time. The main theme that you hear on the character login screen is fantastic for setting the scene and getting you ready to head into Amnoon, which is the heart of the expansion.
Story – 9/10
Guild Wars 2 often gets criticized for having bad writing, but Path of Fire throws all those previous thoughts out the window. In the story, you are trying to stop Balthazar, the human god of war as he does what he does best…makes war. Through a series of events with your allies from Dragon’s Watch, you meet new allies and ancient enemies. You’re brought face to face with the greatest dangers the world has ever seen.
The story is fantastic. It flows well and it doesn’t have any parts that feel like filler. The story is one of those that once you stop you really just want to keep going to find out what happens next, it is incredibly compelling. It’s also a lot of fun to play through. There aren’t many new mechanics to learn as most of the fights are quite straightforward. There is one very big exception that many players are hoping will get changed. The story portion of the expansion has been called short and it is very easy to complete in a weekend, but it also has replayability to it because of the length in a way that Heart of Thorns and the original personal story don’t.
Innovation – 6/10
Compared to Heart of Thorns there isn’t very much innovation in Path of Fire. Most of what was introduced in Path of Fire is based on the systems introduced in the last expansion. There are two places where the expansion was truly innovative; mounts and petless Rangers.
The ability to play a ranger without having your pets jumping in and aggroing things is something that many players have wanted since launch. From the looks of it and the way ArenaNet talks about it, this is something they’ve also wanted for a long time. But, it wasn’t something their tech was capable of doing until they made it happen.
The biggest innovation is the mount system. Unlike other MMOs that give mounts a speed boost or the ability to fly, Guild Wars 2 has gone a little bit further by incorporating them into the environment. They’ve put things up high where only Springers can reach. They introduced quicksand that only Skimmers can go past. They’ve given each mount an important role in the expansion and then they blew our minds by including a hidden mount that sent people across the desert to get. The griffon is our legendary mount. It’s a lot of fun to use and it sure is pretty but it doesn’t really do anything beyond that. It doesn’t even fly.
What innovations they have made are fantastic but Path of Fire was quite light on the innovations, so it didn’t really feel right to give it a high score. I do love my petless ranger and mounts though.
Value for Money – 8/10
When considering value for money there are a lot of factors that go in. No, it didn’t really innovate much and in fact, the story could be considered a little bit short. But Path of Fire makes up for that in other ways. It gives you reasons to unlock all of the mounts and explore and you uncover more about the region thanks to exploration.
Path of Fire is cheaper than Heart of Thorns and judging by the fact that ArenaNet is planning the next living story part to come out soon, I’m not really sure it was intended to keep people busy for as long as HoT either. Still, the zones are massive and unlike the previous expansion, the world feels alive and not at all like a staged map coordinated so metas work nicely. Path of Fire has a lot to offer and is very much worth the expense.
Overall – 8.5/10
With Path of Fire, Guild Wars 2 has inspired my love of exploration and reignited my love for the game. Even though we’re almost two weeks into the expansion, I still feel like I’m just getting to know what it has to offer. I’m looking forward to climbing every cliff, defeating every bounty, and beating every race. This expansion was built with the current playerbase in mind and it shows in the love ArenaNet put in.