This week, the newest part of Guild Wars 2′s Living Story, the Secret of Southsun, was launched. New events in Southsun! A new storyline! New items, both in the gem store and as drops! A new activity!
Of course I went to check it out as soon as I got home from work the day the patch went live.
The first thing you will notice, if you haven’t been back to Southsun Cove in some time (which I had not; I stopped going there for anything but Guild Bounties when they removed the rich orichalcum node), is that things have changed some. Actually, you’ll notice that before you even get there – when you talk to the NPC near the ship in Lion’s Arch, you will no longer get a choice of waypoint to be transported to, but instead you will arrive through a waypoint located on Pearl Islet. An asura gate there back to Lion’s Arch is certainly a very welcome thing.
The biggest thing is the island is far more built up now – settlements for the refugees are all over the island, the previous outposts are larger, there’s a fancy new resort on the southeast part of the island, and Sawtooth Bay is now dominated by a Crab Toss arena. There are also a number of new NPCs around, and talking to certain ones will get you different buffs – talking to a Consortium Negotiator gets you a gold find buff, while talking to a Settler Negotiator gets you a 200% Magic Find buff. These only work while in Southsun, but are handy to have – and not just for the buffs themselves!
Several (well, many) new achievements have been added as part of this section of Living Story, and this is the main way that players are guided through the content. This part I actually dislike quite a bit. Let’s be real – the achievement list here acts as a standard quest log, but with less information about what you’re doing and why you are doing it. And the fact that it is presented in such a way means that players will simply treat it as a checklist – okay, need to do five events with the Consortium buff, done, move on to the next. It’s an easy way to keep track of what there is to do, yes, but I am not a fan of the way they chose to present this.
That said, the rewards you get for two of the achievement tracks are worth it, in my opinion – backpieces that have unique skins and an infusion slot. For collecting ten of the eleven samples, you get the Fervid Censer, and for completing 25 Southsun achievements (a far easier accomplishment than you’d think), you get the Sclerite Karka Shell. Both are account-bound, which is quite nice.
I won’t lie, as a sylvari lover, the Fervid Censer is my favorite new item added to the game. I promptly transmuted mine onto my ascended Fractal Capacitor so that I could wear my pretty flower and keep the correct stats, too! Sure, I can’t infuse it further…but as I didn’t want to anyway, no loss there!
Among other things, it’s worth checking out the diving goggles in the karka hive again – they have a hilarious new achievement of their own, the resort south of Pearl Islet will have you encounter a certain noble from the human personal story wearing not a whole lot (with some very interesting conversation), and crab toss is entertaining, if not completely confusing. The Southsun Supply Crates are a rare drop that are quite neat – I got one as a drop the first day and got a mini – and they can also be bought in the gem store. Veteran karkas are now guaranteed to drop karka shells, and there are new Blooming Passiflora that are guaranteed to give Passiflora flowers.
That said, it isn’t all perfect. First of all, I feel like Secret of Southsun has fallen into the same trap that the previous Living Story releases have, which is too little released at one time. If you’ve got an hour or two to spend in-game, you can power through what’s available so far – I had 25 achievements completed and both backpieces in no time whatsoever. The content so far is very story-light – certain things are happening but thus far there’s no hints as to why they’re happening. You get some backstory from talking to NPCs, but not a whole lot. There are new events around the island…but the ones I’ve seen consist of “destroy the crazed creatures”, “defeat the instigator”, and “protect the victim from attack”. They really don’t differ from that at all, and they’re all on very short cycles which will often lead to multiple events going on at the same time in the same area – not always a fun experience. The events scale pretty well, but you will be fighting a lot of veterans and champions, and they hit hard, so events crossing each other can be quite painful.
The other big issue I have is one I had before with Flame and Frost, but I think it bothers me here more. Once you complete the achievements, you’re left going “okay, what now?” The frequency of events, amount of drops, and the fact that you’ll be running around Southsun with either a high gold find or magic find boost has effectively turned the entire island into one big farm. Follow the events, kill the things, get your money and loot, rinse and repeat. It’s highly reminiscent of how groups will follow events through Orr, or do nothing but chase metas. As someone who does not enjoy farming, and gets bored extremely fast hopping from event to event and meta to meta, I do not enjoy this at all. The next part of the Living Story release is on the 28th, but having completed what’s on Southsun so far, I don’t see myself really going back there a whole lot between now and then.
Overall? I do quite enjoy the Secret of Southsun. They’ve certainly learned from our previous trip to Southsun Cove, and things have improved quite a bit since then. At the same time, though, I wish we had more meat to this story, as right now it feels like we’re just snacking on sweets – it’s tasty, but ultimately it’s made of nothing. It’s definitely worth making your way down to Southsun if you haven’t yet – if for nothing else, to get those backpieces! What do you think of the Secret of Southsun so far?