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Guild Wars 2's April Feature Pack will improve the quality of life in Tyria

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Guild Wars 2's April Feature Pack will improve the quality of life in Tyria

The first season of Guild Wars 2’s living world ended last month, with the death of the conniving Scarlet Briar. It was a narrative a year in the telling, with a plethora of updates pushing the story forward, adding new content and new challenges. But with that over, ArenaNet has moved their gaze to the game’s systems. This has lead to the April Feature Pack - an update focused entirely on balance tweaks, improving existing systems and “quality of life" changes.

The big features of the update, which will be live within the day, include the new wardrobe system, revamped traits and the megaserver. I had a chat with Guild Wars 2 game designer Isaiah Cartwright to get the skinny on what to expect when the patch is rolled out. 

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Better together: ArenaNet spills the beans on how Guild Wars 2's megaservers will affect other features

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Better together: ArenaNet spills the beans on how Guild Wars 2's megaservers will affect other features

ArenaNet announced the Guild Wars 2 megaserver system a couple of days ago, as part of the April feature pack. It matches players from the same region with the same interests - in terms of how they play Guild Wars - and chucks them all into the same map. And if a chum is on a different map, you can just jump to their version of the world and play together. 

But a big, sweeping change like this naturally impacts other aspects of the game, such as world bosses, map events and guilds. ArenaNet has broken down how these features will evolve to make them fit with the megaserver system. 

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Guild Wars 2 megaservers will fill underpopulated maps with players from April 15

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Guild Wars 2 megaservers will fill underpopulated maps with players from April 15

For all the talk of social systems you’ll hear from designers these days, Guild Wars 2 is already the most social MMO - simply because it’ll re-level your character on the fly to suit the challenge at hand.

It’s about to get a little friend-friendlier, thanks to a new megaserver system that’s willing to partially disregard homeworlds and plonk you in the same instance as the people you’d like to be playing with.

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UNPRECEDENTED APRIL NEWS BLOWOUT: Blizzard Outcasts, Arma 3 Karts and World of Tanks: Crayfish announced

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UNPRECEDENTED APRIL NEWS BLOWOUT: Blizzard Outcasts, Arma 3 Karts and World of Tanks: Crayfish announced

What a relief! To begin a Bank Holiday Monday and be met not by a wave of snoozy out-of-office emails, but an unexpected plethora of games announcements - it's unheard of. Suspicious, almost. During what scientists predict will be a 24 hour coincidence spike, developers from around the world have chosen today to launch shock new games or declare company u-turns. I’m extraordinarily grateful.

There are really too many happenings to separate out into individual news posts, so I’ve dutifully collected them all here.

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Fancy dress: Guild Wars 2's Wardrobe System detailed

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Fancy dress: Guild Wars 2's Wardrobe System detailed

Guild Wars 2 has no dearth of exotic armours, from purely cosmetic items to adventuring gear that provides stat bonuses. The transmutation system meant that you could - at the cost of a transmutation stone - combine the stats of one item with the look of another.  But you actually had to have the items in your inventory, and it would forever take up space in your bank or bag if you intended to keep applying it every time you upgraded your gear.

An overhaul changes all of this with the introduction of the Wardrobe System, designed for all of Guild Wars fashionistas. From April 15th, a new tab will appear in the Hero Panel, one where the skin of every item you’ve unlocked has been gathered, waiting to be applied to a hideous piece of gear to make it look more presentable.  You don’t want to look like a vagrant if you’re invited to a charr tea party. 

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Guild Wars 2 to get 40 new traits via first-ever features-only update on April 15

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Guild Wars 2 to get 40 new traits via first-ever features-only update on April 15

Guild Wars 2’s year-long living story initiative, which ended with the death of antagonist Scarlet Briar just this week, has ensured the lion’s share of each bi-weekly update has belonged to new story content rather than features.

Consider April 15’s update an all-out features blowout, then: a “sweeping range" of new systems and enhancements - and in particular, traits - where previously we’ve become accustomed to a slow trickle.

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Guild Wars 2's Scarlet is dead, but her legacy remains in Aftermath

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Guild Wars 2's Scarlet is dead, but her legacy remains in Aftermath

Bugger. I already used Ding Dong The Witch is Dead this week, so I won’t be singing it in celebration of the demise of Guild Wars 2’s long-time antagonist, Scarlet Briar. After months of scheming and a tale that started over a year ago, Scarlet laid siege to Lion’s Arch and was eventually defeated. And now the citizens of Tyria are going to have to deal with the very messy aftermath. Never a moment’s peace, right? 

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Closed beta, open for business: Guild Wars 2 comes to China on March 11

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Closed beta, open for business: Guild Wars 2 comes to China on March 11

Guild Wars 2 is totally set for launch in China. It’s got the optional pre-level 1 tutorial and hint system ArenaNet wanted for it, it’s got the same one-time-fee business model, and it’s got a local manager with a fantastic first name.

“Given the game's high quality and beautiful design, compared with free-to-play and time-based pay-to-play games, this business model has the highest chance to appeal to the broadest base of players in China," said Atlantis Lai.

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While Lion's Arch burns, ArenaNet fiddles around with an interactive Guild Wars 2 atlas

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While Lion's Arch burns, ArenaNet fiddles around with an interactive Guild Wars 2 atlas

Confession time: I have a love of maps and cartography that borders on a fetish. Back before proper in-game maps were common, my study was overflowing with graph paper covered in labyrinthine mazes and maps of towns, and I often found myself ignoring school work in favour of doodling my own maps of fantasy lands plucked out of my own noggin. Right now, my mouse mat is currently a giant map of the world, and several random maps are scattered across my walls and floor. Yeah, I’ve got a problem.

So I feel confident in saying that ArenaNet is an enabler. Not only does Guild Wars 2 have an absolutely lavish map that I lose myself in every time I look at it, the developer has put up a new interactive map on its site, which is “designed to lead fans through a process of discovery that illustrates the game’s current living world storyline." The bastards.

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Lion's Arch burns in Guild Wars 2 today

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Lion's Arch burns in Guild Wars 2 today

The penultimate chapter of the Scarlet Briar arc kicks off in Guild Wars 2 today. Escape from Lion’s Arch sees the titular city under siege from Scarlet’s forces. As she attempts to burn the commercial heart of Tyria, “Guild Wars 2 will never be the same," says ArenaNet. 

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Guild Wars 2's first city comes apart at the seams in February 18's Escape from Lion's Arch

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Guild Wars 2's first city comes apart at the seams in February 18's Escape from Lion's Arch

Uh oh, fellow Februarians - looks like we’re in for some unsavoury topsy-turvy business in Guild Wars 2’s next living story update. The name alone reveals enough: Lion’s Arch is the outwardly beautiful, slightly empty player capital of Tyria, where all the goodies live. 

So the question is: why would we be wanting to escape from it? And do you think there might be some baddies involved?

The answers: impending death, and yes.

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What Guild Wars 2's Edge of the Mists update brings to World versus World

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What Guild Wars 2's Edge of the Mists update brings to World versus World

Guild Wars 2's Edge of the Mists update, going live today, continues the story of that tricky Scarlet and her aetherblade chums, but more significantly adds a new world versus world map, the titular Edge of the Mists. 

The map is a solution to a problem, more than one problem, really, as well as a place for ArenaNet to experiment with the design of world versus world. Devon Carver, world versus world coordinator, explained the biggest changes Edge of the Mists brings to the table. 

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Chase Scarlet to the Edge of the Mists in the next Guild Wars 2 update

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Chase Scarlet to the Edge of the Mists in the next Guild Wars 2 update

You're probably a bit busy, I get it. Giant, evil marionettes to destory. Three-headed, island-spanning wurms to carve up into little pieces. It's a hard life being a hero in Guild Wars 2. You might even be a little bit tired. Do you feel like you need a nap? Sorry, it's not happening, you've got that cheeky Scarlet to hunt down and her dastardly Aetherblade pirates to put out of commission. 

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Origins of Madness: Talking giant wurms and evil puppets with Guild Wars 2's Mike Zadorojny

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Origins of Madness: Talking giant wurms and evil puppets with Guild Wars 2's Mike Zadorojny

The first, massive season of Guild Wars 2's "Living World" is coming to a close with a bang, lots of colourful explosions, titanic clashes and vicious metal marionettes. Origins of Madness, the first of four updates which will wrap up the season, launches today, bringing with it two dramatic boss battles, a continuation of the investigation into the enigmatic Scarlet and new items and weapon skins.

I got Mike Zadorojny, the Guild Wars 2 design lead to spill the beans - or at least some of them - on the beginning of the end. 

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Origins of Madness update will "rock Guild Wars 2 to the core"

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Origins of Madness update will "rock Guild Wars 2 to the core"

ArenaNet’s debut living world update for 2014 will start with the end of a year long storyline. Coming on the 21st of January, the update promises powerful new adversaries at the command of arch-villain Scarlet Briar. Players will face against the Twisted Marionette, a gigantic robotic weapon that can only be defied by a warband of players. The Great Jungle Wurm is a secondary but equally dangerous foe which was unearthed by Scarlett’s mechanical minions. Being a huge multi-headed creature, it will require a massive calculated response to deal with it.

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Guild Wars 2 supervillain Scarlet Briar's year-branching storyline begins finale January 21

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Guild Wars 2 supervillain Scarlet Briar's year-branching storyline begins finale January 21

This time last year, Guild Wars 2 game director Colin Johanson was riding a wave that hadn’t even started to crest. His game’s concurrent playerbase had grown since launch - unheard of in the MMO sphere - and he was launching the living world concept that’s come to drive Guild Wars’ frantic release schedule in the year since.

While the playerbase hasn’t faltered, that living narrative is coming to an end - the end of supervillain Scarlet Briar, to be precise. ArenaNet suggest that the "worst is yet to come".

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Guild Wars 2 launches Great MMO Migration contest. Free copy to those willing to pledge allegiance

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Guild Wars 2 launches Great MMO Migration contest. Free copy to those willing to pledge allegiance

ArenaNet are looking for able gamers to pledge allegiance to Guild Wars 2. In return for their oath the developer is offering the chance to win one of 5,000 free copies of the game.

It’s one of the more extreme promotions we’ve come across. However, if you’ve been wanting a copy of Guild Wars 2, this is one of the better ways to acquire the game. It’s certainly better than selling organs, robbing an HMV, or pretending you’re writing a feature on the game and requesting a press copy.

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