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Hey everybody, my name is Andrew Gray. I took over as Content Design Lead a few months back and I want to talk a bit about last year, this year, and what's on the horizon for Guild Wars 2.

First, 2019 was hard. I've been with ArenaNet since 2004 and I can say without question that 2019 was the studio's most challenging. Many of the people who left in 2019 were not involved in the day-to-day development of Guild Wars 2, that much is true--but they were our friends, colleagues, and in some cases literally family. All the teams were affected by saying goodbye to so many colleagues. I'm proud of what we were able to ship under the circumstances, but we also understand the legacy we are trying to carry forward with Guild Wars 2; rather than slip into a status quo, we are all determined to create an even better game moving forward.

We've got our footing and we have exciting plans for the future of GW2. I can't talk about what I'm most excited for yet, but I can tell you 2020 is laying the groundwork for an exciting future. Here are some of the highlights:

Living World

  • Between episodes two and three, we already mentioned we'll be releasing a special new type of content called Visions of the Past; we'll have more details on that at PAX East.
  • I can't go into a ton of details on episodes three and four because, you know, spoilers and all, but I can tell you the map is meta-focused with a push-and-pull feel similar to WvW in a PvE setting. We want maps this season to bring something to them that makes them a permanent part of your play experience. That's why the culmination of Bjora Marches is a world boss and we're striving for high replayability for the episodes three and four map. We want it to be a unique, fun, and rewarding experience that will be part of your daily/weekly play cycle.
  • After episode four, again I'm going to be somewhat vague here, but we want to revisit some of the types of content we pioneered in the past. We learned a lot with Living World Season One and one thing it did very well was to bring the community into the story, and make their actions drive the plot forward. The Nightmare Tower, the election between Evon Gnashblade and Ellen Kiel – these things are memorable experiences because the community's combined efforts had an impact on the world. As you may have noticed, we've been testing tech with things like the boss rush event, that we hope to leverage later on in The Icebrood Saga to create a unique, community experience. But, learning lessons from Season 1, the bulk of this content will be built in a way that it is still playable after the Icebrood Saga comes to a close.
  • Generally, as a team, we are placing a greater emphasis on repeatable content (open world events, world bosses, WvW, and yes, even Fractals (hint hint)). We want to make the types of content that have a lasting, positive impact on the game, so expect that design approach to focus on that more going forward.

On the topic of Fractals…

  • Reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated, though I apologize that our silence on the topic raised that concern.
  • I am personally committed to Fractals and see them as an area that deserves more focus and attention going forward. I'm happy to announce that Cameron Rich, who worked on Fractals during Season Three, will be taking the reins on a new Fractal as he rolls off his current duties. This Fractal will feature a challenge mode. Beyond that, I'm working with the Systems Design team on more plans to keep Fractals fresh and exciting. I'm excited and when everything is ready to share, we'll have more details.

Raids

  • Raids are a trickier beast. They're a unique experience and community that we want to find better ways to support, the biggest challenge in creating more is the small audience they attract. We gathered data to determine why, and the most common answer was that there is a giant leap in difficulty between raids and other endgame content, and there isn't anything to help players work their way up.
  • Our intention was for Strike Missions to be that intermediary step into 10-person content. As we've mentioned before and you've likely noticed, strike missions are getting harder. Once a full suite of strike missions is complete there should be a graceful ramp up to the existing raid content rather than the imposing leap that previously existed, and our hope is once that ramp is in place, the number of players participating in raids will go up. In addition to that, we're striving to make improvements to Strike Missions themselves to make grouping easier, and to improve the rewards. We hope this will help introduce more people to 10-person content, which will in turn increase the number of people interested in Raids.
  • Regardless of if that succeeds or not, we understand the importance of balancing our efforts between accessible content with broad appeal, and content that appeals to the more hard core audience, and recognize that we need to do a better job of supporting the latter.

I'm excited for what's coming next. There's going to be more news coming out throughout this year that will make it pretty damn clear why, but in the meantime, we're incredibly grateful for all your constructive feedback and continued support of the game.

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Communication!I nearly fell out of my chair reading this!!!

Not sure I entirely agree with the direction you are going in, but 100% love the fact you have decided to talk to us in some detailed summaries after so long a drought. I just hope you bring depth as well as replayability. The Saga has been significantly below par for your established capabilities so far imo (Drakkar and the map designs are examples of this) and really needs an injection of something in the next episodes to make it special, with a much needed emphasis on quality to give the replayability you are striving for

Whatever is coming and recent criticisms aside, please keep the communication coming - this is a welcome start!

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Every time I read one of these posts, it always make me really wish guild mission support was still a thing. I was happy when they were added to the game - and disheartened as they were left to the side of the road as the years passed.

Beyond that, this looks very promising. Keep the focus on open world and group activities - that will be the saving grace of this game.

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NICE!Replay-ability is a major thing. I enjoy the story but I usually just play it on one character and thats it. Seeing a new fractal, raid, or change to pvp which affects the repeatable content thrills me so much more. Please keep up this open communication, it is great for the community!

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Im sorry but your "idea" about strike missions making more people get interested in raids is just absurd.....people dont play raids because they are really hard (nothing wrong with this) but the GW2 reward system sucked from day one (so investing a lot of time and hard work to get nothing in return is not much of an incentive) ! Also not even mentioning WvW is really sad.

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Long time no hear. Keep us posted. We like our devs close to us... speaking of devs. Will I be able to achiev the achievment of killing (downing ingame) a dev anywhere near? (I'm in Europe) >_>Taking the words of Randulf in the first post I add: "take a time to breathe in and sink in" Look out your windows and look at the worst game in history in metacritic by USER score standards.Feel us. Don't trick us. :) We like you.Thats why we always appreciate the comunication. Maybe you guys should spend more time playing your own game with the comunity.Keep it coming. We surely are looking forward for the updates.

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Personally I'd really like information about whether new elite specializations are at all on the map, for me hearing that there was gonna be another season of living story instead of an expansion was a disappointment, simply because it meant no new elite specializations as those as add a lot to the game imo.

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@Fire Attunement.9835 said:

  • Raids are a trickier beast. They're a unique experience and community that we want to find better ways to support, the biggest challenge in creating more is the small audience they attract. We gathered data to determine why, and the most common answer was that there is a giant leap in difficulty between raids and other endgame

If you want more people in raids get rid of LI and KP linking - make them go straight into your wallet as a currency, without the ability to link. I know that people will ask for titles, legendary armor or collection items, but it'll be a first step in the right direction. Implementing raid-finder system should be the next step i think. And also you should take a closer look how things done in other MMORPGS - particularly in FFXIV, players should get punished for leaving their group with a lockout from instances for a certain time.

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  • ArenaNet Staff

@Komodoro.7154 said:Will I be able to achiev the achievment of killing (downing ingame) a dev anywhere near? (I'm in Europe) >_>

A quick note on this: we have a weekly Let's Play WvW livestream every Thursday at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time (UTC-8). Our devs alternate between NA and EU worlds each week, so you have a regular shot at it! You can watch live on twitch.tv/guildwars2

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I am happy to see such a post, yet I gotta add more to your plate:

Guilds should interface with more content in this game. Their systems have so much room to be more robust and it's one of the big targets to strengthen communities and bring in more players. There are many ways for them to be brought to the forefront. The game already favors solo play, so that needn't be changed, but please take additional steps to interface Guilds and their systems into more of the Guild Wars experience.

On the other hand... While people have been frothing at the mouth to see a 'communication' post like this, I'm certain a lot of the more cynical players (even myself) would be happier when the items above get shipped. I know 2019 was rough, and I know the community at large knows this too, but it's time to get serious.

Best of luck, I hope to see some great things soon.

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I'd love to start raiding but It's too difficult for new raiders to join raids as groups want proof of experience with a currency we are unable to get because we can't get into a raid group because they want a currency we are unable to get because we can't get into a raid group because groups want proof of experience with a currency we are unable to get because we can't get into a raid group because groups want proof of experience with a currency we are unable to get because we can't get into a raid group because... you see the problem?.

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I know that some people this applies to won’t see this or care about this, but all the people complaining about the fact there was nothing said about WvW need to pay attention to what was in this post. If you read through this post everything is for PvE content so why should there be stuff for PvP when it’s clear the focus of this post was on up coming PvE content.

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Hey Gray, first of all thanks for the feedback and letting us know what's up.

I have 2 questions:

I can't go into a ton of details on episodes three and four because, you know, spoilers and all, but I can tell you the map is meta-focused with a push-and-pull feel similar to WvW in a PvE setting.

Can you tell us how much of a Dragon Stand and less than a Drakkar meta is gonna be the map?

In my opinion Dragon Stand was a master peace of a map, a really good way to group up "casuals" and "hardcore" players with mechanics, dps, events etc, a whole map organized together the right way. I see that you guys have been trying to do the same specially now with Drakkar, but _pumping up the health bar of a monster is not the correct _way to do so.

Our intention was for Strike Missions to be that intermediary step into 10-person content. As we've mentioned before and you've likely noticed, strike missions are getting harder.As a returning player from a 2 year hiatus I love this, back when you guys released W1, 2 and 3 it could only be adapted by "elitists" which is why the buying of kills market got so popular. But the new fight colors don't help at all to identify key stuff. With the whisper of Jormag , taking out the bugs, the amount of visuals make it hard to identify even key mechanics like the chain, so please have that in mind for future fights, and don't get me wrong the cluster of stuff happening with Mathias is amazing, we can call it chaotic good, but the colors on the floor and whats happening and environment elements are just on point. The whisper of jormag has a shad of blue on top of a blue with more blue and white stuff happening around which makes it kind of harder than it should to identify key stuffs.

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