End of Dragons First Look

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The following is an unofficial, player-written transcript of the video. The accuracy of this transcription has not been verified by ArenaNet.

The First Look livestream for Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons was presented on July 27, 2021. It offered a preview of features from the forthcoming expansion.

Teaser Trailer [16:27][edit]

Kuunavang: This land, it's a monument to moral resilience. They built new lives upon the very thing that sought to end theirs.

Unidentified voice: Mortals are little flames: brilliant, hot, then gone. Those who face eternity easily forget what lifetime means, what an ending means.

Kuunavang: You know it doesn't have to be this way.

Unidentified voice: No, Kuunavang, it does. They need me.

Introduction [17:20][edit]

Colin, Andrew, and Rubi

Rubi Bayer: Hi, Tyria. Welcome to the Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons First Look. I'm Rubi Bayer, ArenaNet Community Manager, and we are all so happy you're here today. We know you've been looking forward to this for a long time, and we have too. With me are our Lead Content Designer, Andrew Gray, and Studio Director, Colin Johanson. Hi, guys.

Andrew Gray: Hey, everyone. Really excited to be here sharing details about End of Dragons.

Colin Johanson: Hey, Guild Wars community. It's nice to see you all again. It's been a little while. It's nice to be back in the chair.

Rubi: Welcome back!

Colin: Thank you! This is a really big day for us. Back when we started development on Guild Wars 1, our very first campaign was Factions in Cantha, and it was our first ever expansion as a studio. We were coming off of a big win of shipping our first major live update, Sorrow's Furnace, for those of you who remember that. And Factions was an incredible journey and learning opportunity for all of us in the studio. We'd never made an expansion before as a studio, and so many of the lessons we learned from that expansion really resonated in the way even we still approach expansions today. It's been 15 years. (Doesn't feel like that long.) It's been 15 years since we first visited Cantha in the Guild Wars franchise, and it's truly special for all of us to finally get a chance to go back there once more.

Andrew: Y'know, small claim to fame here: If you have a copy of Guild Wars Factions, I can proudly say the screenshots on the back were taken by yours truly.

Rubi: Nice work.

Andrew: Yeah, that's right. So in addition to being the setting of our first ever expansion, Cantha was also home to the final story we told in Guild Wars Beyond, the content we created in Guild Wars to bridge the gap to Guild Wars 2. That content, gw1:Winds of Change, was also the last piece of content I personally got to work on in Guild Wars 2 [sic], so it holds a really special place in my heart. But today we're talking about End of Dragons. Basically from the day we announced Guild Wars 2, players have been "Cantha when?"

Colin: Haha! I remember right around launch, there's an interview with a content creator, MattVisual, and the entire interview he just kept saying Cantha and staring at me over and over again, waiting for me to twitch or give away anything whatsoever that would give a hint as to when Cantha was coming.

Andrew: I remember Dan Howell just straight up hounding me to say "Cantha confirmed" during a livestream.

Rubi: That's right. Well, Matt, Dan, and all of you who wondered about Cantha, today is your lucky day. We promised you a tidal wave of information for End of Dragons, and we are ready to deliver that. We have members of the End of Dragons development team joining us throughout the rest of the show, and this is only the beginning. Today is just your first look. We're going to be giving you more details on everything we announce today, leading up to the launch of End of Dragons. We also don't want to spoil everything. We're going to save lots of things for you to discover for yourself when End of Dragons launches in early 2022. So let's start your first look right now with the brand new end of Dragons trailer.

New Trailer [20:07][edit]

Shing Jea concept art closely resembling the trailer

Aurene: There's familiarity in this strangeness, like a song half remembered, a tune without words to carry it. I know you, and yet... I don't.

Unidentified voice: You will soon, little one.

Joon: Who are you talking to?

Unidentified voice: Just an echo in the Mists, a possibility.

Joon: Look around us. Your children would be trapped in the past if not for me. Their worlds are carved from the jade that I gave purpose. I promised them a future. A century of progress cannot end this way. I'm not— Cantha's not just a spoke in some grand cosmic wheel.

Unidentified voice: Would a great innovator give up so easily on that promised future?

Joon: I won't. I'll find a way to save us all.

Joon: The future is out there. What are we waiting for?

Trailer Hints [22:05][edit]

Aetherblade airships

Rubi: We hope you liked the new trailer. If you're not already, tell us in chat what you think. There's a lot in there for everyone to go back and dig through and find, and we encourage you to go rewatch the trailer after the show and see what else you can discover.

Andrew: Were those Aetherblades that were back there?

Rubi: Evidently.

Andrew: And who was that mysterious asura that was next to Ankka? Could it be the replacement for the untimely-deathed Horrik?

Rubi: Possibly. So we got to see the trailer, and I'm excited for them to find everything out, but that is just the beginning of today's reveals. The first area of End of Dragons we're going to take a look at is a slightly deeper look into the story, the setting, and the world.

Andrew: Something I'm really proud of in End of Dragons is how closely the Narrative and Design team worked together to shape the themes in the story of the expansion. The gameplay and the narrative truly compliment one another.

Rubi: They do. So let's hear from some of those developers on the Narrative and Design teams about the story and the setting of Cantha.

Story in End of Dragons [23:05][edit]

Canthan confirmations confirmed

Connor Fallon: End of Dragons is the culmination of so much of what we've been doing in the Guild Wars 2 story up until this point.

Kwan Perng: We have a lot of really compelling, open story threads that we've built up over the years, and we're going to pay off a lot of them in End of Dragons. And I think players should be excited about how we've weaved all these different interpersonal stories with the great cosmological questions of Tyria into some satisfying payoffs that I think they'll really enjoy.

Connor: Last time we were in Cantha was for the Winds of Change content pack for Guild Wars 1. And what we basically saw was there was a lot of lingering consequences of Shiro's rise. And we teamed up with this group, the Ministry of Purity, in order to try to purify the region. They didn't stop at just trying to purify like disease, they started trying to kick out everybody else who didn't fit with their ideal image of what they wanted Cantha to be like.

Morgan Lockhart: And then they closed off to the rest of the world. And that was where we left things. So it's easy to imagine that because Cantha was closed off, that they would become a time capsule. However, they've been affected by the same events that have been affecting the rest of Tyria. The rise of Zhaitan, the death of Balthazar: all of these things have had just as much of an effect on Cantha as they have had on the rest of the world.

Connor: We actually as a team fairly early on made a timeline of all the major events that happened in the world and how they would have affected Cantha in order to try to figure out how this world would have been shaped over time.

Tom Abernathy: Longtime fans who really loved Cantha in Guild Wars 1 are going to find a ton to love, and frankly new players might have their minds blown a little bit.

Morgan: It wouldn't be Guild Wars 2, it wouldn't be the story of the Commander, without the Commander's allies. In End of Dragons, we find ourselves traveling with Marjory and Kasmeer. I think anybody who really misses Jory the Detective is in for a treat.

Tom: The most important familiar face that's going to be accompanying us on our journey into Cantha is our Aurene. Aurene's story has become sort of the spine of the Guild Wars 2 story.

Connor: Aurene is constantly grappling with her responsibility and how much she needs to do, and her trying to feel that out is going to have repercussions for the entire world.

Morgan: In this expansion, we have really breathed life into every corner of the world that we could. There are so many little moments throughout the world, moments that touch you, moments that make you laugh, moments that make you cry. This team is so good at just bringing emotions to the surface.

Kwan: What I'm most proud about is how we were able to really craft a story that very elegantly blends the gameplay elements that I think Guild Wars 2 is really strong at with a story that just keeps a really frenetic pace and lets you live out in this world while also experiencing a lot of really cool gameplay moments.

Connor: There are so many things that I am excited about people experiencing for the story of End of Dragons. One, just from a design perspective: We have so much technology that has improved or has been entirely new since the last time we made an expansion. And as a result, this expansion has some really unique, cool set pieces that I think are going to blow people's minds.

Voices of the Game - Erika Ishii: Hello! I'm Erika Ishii, and I play Joon in End of Dragons.

Rubi: Like Connor said, the story in End of Dragons is the culmination of a lot of long-running story threads, from stories that began 15 years ago, all the way up to stories and events that you took part in over the past year.

Andrew: And what he said about building a timeline for Cantha was a 100% true. As somebody who loves the world building part of the job, it was a great experience to sit down with the Narrative team and some designers and sort of plot out the last 100 or so years of the history of an empire. It's pretty crazy.

Rubi: Yeah. One of our goals with this expansion is to create a world and story that's familiar and exciting to those of you who remember Cantha from Factions but also accessible and equally exciting to those of you who are visiting it for the first time, and we cannot wait for all of you to step into this new Cantha. Nick Hernandez and Ali B are up next to tell you about map and content design. When we started designing End of Dragons, we wanted to incorporate the verticality that Heart of Thorns brought, and we wanted to lean into the freedom of movement from Path of Fire also, so let's take a look.

Cantha Reimagined [27:58][edit]

Shing Jea: serene, spiritual, spacious

Ali Buntemeyer: My name is Ali B. I'm one of our Senior Content Designers, and I work primarily in our open world area.

Nick Hernandez: My name is Nick Hernandez. I am a Game Designer here at ArenaNet, and I am a content designer for the Shing Jea map.

Ali: So fans can expect from the End of Dragon maps to kind of really feel something new and different that they haven't experienced before.

Nick: With End of Dragons, things are a bit more differentiated between each of the maps, and each of them has their own unique feel. For Shing Jea specifically, tried our best to make content that hits on all gameplay types, right? Think of it like a vacation island. It's like this beautiful, serene, spiritual, spacious (ha!) locale that feels both peaceful and not depending on where you are and what's going on.

Ali: So some of the highlights of the Echovald map are definitely those gargantuan trees, the lake, the rivers that kind of pour into the lake where you kind of have these underground rivulets and stuff like that, where the player can kind of traverse through there. Definitely those gargantuan trees kind of give you that verticality and freedom of movement we talked about before, so if you've got a skyscale, that's going to feel really cool. Cantha is definitely not the same as it was in Guild Wars 1. What you have to remember is that it's been 250 years so how has that area evolved? What's the geography like now? Are the trees still petrified? What's kind of going on with that? As well as the people, right? The people who were there 250 years ago might not be the same people, but there are definitely some familiar buildings and structures.

Echovald: gargantuan trees and verticality

Nick: So what players will find with Shing Jea is that it is topographically different than it used to be, but not to a point where there aren't familiar tones. The thing I'm most excited for when we finally get to release End of Dragons is just seeing how players feel about the maps in and of themselves. I would love to see how people feel about all of the work that's been put into the world and the world narrative and how that gameplay and those stories make people feel and just get reception on what they think of it. I think it's going to be really exciting.

Voices of the Game - Noshir Dalal: Hey everybody, I'm Noshir Dalal. You'll be hearing me as Detective Rama in Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons.

Rubi: We hope you enjoyed the preview of Shing Jea and Echovald, how the game end game world are different now, and how those changes affect map and content design.

Andrew: And that's just two of the maps. When we sat down to make End of Dragons open world content, we kept replayability in the forefront of our minds. We want all the End of Dragons maps to be maps you continue to go to for years to come.

Rubi: Yeah. They reflect the history that so many of you are familiar with. How Cantha changed while it was isolated, the beauty of the game world, and so many things that Guild Wars 2 has to offer.

Andrew: And like Ali mentioned, these maps are tons of fun to explore and are especially fun to explore on your mounts.

Rubi: Speaking of mounts, here's another End of Dragons preview for you.

The Siege Turtle [31:12][edit]

New mount: Siege Turtle!

Kirk Williford: I'm Kirk Williford. I'm a Senior Game Designer at ArenaNet and a team lead on End of Dragons.

Brian Walter: My name is Brian Walter. I'm an animator here at ArenaNet.

Kirk: So Siege Turtle is one of the most iconic and memorable creatures from Guild Wars 1 and Cantha. When we first talked about a mount for End of Dragons, the siege turtle immediately made it on the list and the team quickly got attached to it. Mounts are a defining feature in Guild Wars 2, and with End of Dragons, we wanted to continue that tradition.

The siege turtle is our first multiplayer co-op mount. The siege turtle being a multiplayer mount means you'll be able to pick up a friend and ride around together, but we wanted to make sure that both the driver and the passenger had something fun to do.

Brian: It's a perfect opportunity to bring new players into the game. Since they can just ride on the back, they don't need mounts previously to enjoy the siege turtle. You can pop up your mentor tag and they can jump on the back of your turtle and you can show them around the maps to areas they haven't seen before. Because Guild Wars mounts, we really put a lot of care and research into getting their behaviors to feel believable and alive, I spent months watching turtle videos while prototyping the animations for the turtle. Just turtles eating, walking, sprinting. Turtles do run, there's videos of it, I've seen them. My favorite thing to animate on the siege turtle was just the simple walk animation. It really got me into the mentality of a turtle, watching these giant turtles and how they walk and what their foot placements are. If you actually toggle the walk animation in game, it kinda maps out to more or less a turtle's walk speed. I actually did the calculations and it was like, oh my gosh. That's like the exact speed. Perfect. I nailed it. When you think of turtles, you don't really think fast, so getting this thing to run over terrain in a fun and rewarding way was an awesome challenge.

Siege Turtle walking animation [32:29]

Kirk: The siege turtle is a personal favorite of mine, and I am incredibly excited to see players be able to hop on one for the first time and really experience the power and awesomeness that is the siege turtle.

Voices of the Game - Tina Huang: Hey, I'm Tina Huang, and I play Empress Yin and Kalidris and Akane and Tengu Reporter, and all sorts of other kind of characters that you might meet later down the road in the expansion of Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons.

Rubi: The siege turtle as a two person co-op mount is something we're so eager for you to experience in End of Dragons. I remember several years ago, we had a company-wide meeting to brainstorm what we wanted for the next expansion and "siege turtles" was one of the very first things called out. We all knew that they needed to be part of Cantha in Guild Wars 2.

Andrew: As a loyal member of the Luxon Armada, I agree. And Kirk wasn't kidding when he said that both the driver and passenger get to participate in the fun. You also may have noticed that the siege turtle looked a little more high tech compared to last time.

Rubi: A little more tricked out.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, that's actually a common thread in Cantha. We're going to be telling you more about that. And in fact, there's going to be a article about dragonjade technology on our website later today.

Rubi: Yeah. So the siege turtle isn't the only new method of transportation coming. Kirk still has more to share, so let's see what else he has to tell you all.

Fishing and Skiffs [34:33][edit]

Concept art: fishing from a skiff

Kirk: I'm Kirk Williford. I'm a Senior Game Designer at ArenaNet, and I'm a team lead on End of Dragons.

We've been wanting to put fishing in Guild Wars 2 for as long as it's been around. It just always came down to finding the best time and place. When we were building fishing for Guild Wars 2, we looked at our own personal experiences going fishing and found what was the most memorable. And for me, when I went fishing as a kid, I went with my family. And so when we bring that into Guild Wars 2, we wanted to think about how can we make that a multiplayer experience?

You can fish off of docks or we've created skiffs, which allow you to fish around the waters of Tyria by taking your fishing boat and exploring with your friends. We wanted the waters of Tyria to feel as authentic as we could and most life-like as we could to a real fishing experience, and so there are hundreds of different fish for you to discover in Tyria, all across the world. There are so many that have been added to the game, and kudos to that first person who finds all of them. Including the common goldfish, as well as the most notorious catfish in Ascalon, "Old Whiskers".

Screenshot similar to the fishing shown on the livestream

End of Dragons has five new Mastery tracks, including the siege turtle, skiffs, and fishing, each with their own levels of progression for players to discover as they explore Cantha. I'm most excited about the release of End of Dragons for players to really to be able to come together and experience the world that we've been creating in Cantha. We've all wanted to go to Cantha for the longest time, and the team has done such a great job bringing it to life, and I just can't wait for players to see it.

Voices of the Game - Ry Chase: I'm Ry Chase. And I voice Yao, your local, mostly-friendly agender engineer.

Rubi: Like Kirk said, we've been wanting to add fishing for a long time, and we're really happy with how it's shaping up and End of Dragons. The multiplayer aspects, over 200 different kinds of fish, and the ability to fish from docks, the shore or skiffs. Skiffs, by the way, are another of the five new Mastery tracks that Kirk mentioned along with siege turtles.

Andrew: Going out with your party and fishing is just a ton of fun. You're able to anchor your boat and then just walk around. You can go fishing obviously, but you could also dance. You could play sea shanties with your instruments. And if you didn't catch it, fishing is not restricted to Cantha. You could fish all over Tyria, and if you want to catch every fish in a game, you need to kind of go on a full world tour of fishing.

Rubi: Fantastic.

Andrew: Well, more details on these Mastery lines, as well as the remaining two unannounced lines between now and the End of Dragons launch.

Rubi: Yeah. For our next look at End of Dragons, let's see some legendaries that will come with the expansion.

Generation 3 Legendary Weapons [37:11][edit]

Aurene-themed legendary greatsword unsheathed

Chelsea Mills: I'm Chelsea Mills, and I'm a senior prop artist.

In End of Dragons, we're introducing 16 new legendary weapons, all available on release day. This set of legendaries is inspired by the Elder Dragon Aurene, who plays a significant role in the End of Dragons story. From an art perspective, we wanted the legendaries to show Aurene's journey with the Commander from the first time you meet her as an adorable little hatchling, to now, all grown up as our own elder dragon. The precursors represent baby Aurene while the legendaries represent adult Aurene. Aurene is one of my favorite characters, and I'm so happy that we got to create a legendary set based on her. I can't wait to see players running around in game with the legendaries.

Voices of the Game - Rina Hoshino: Hi, I'm Rina Hoshino. I'm voicing Kuunavang, and I'm so excited that you guys get to be reacquainted with her.

Aurene-styled legendary weapon set

Rubi: These 16 new Aurene-style legendaries are all going to be available on End of Dragons launch day, and if you want a headstart, you can earn a voucher for one of the precursors Chelsea talked about with the current Return to Living World achievements. And we'll talk a little more about that later.

Andrew: I am pumped to get these weapons.

Rubi: I need them.

Andrew: I'm Aurene's champion; I should have legendaries that make me look the part.

Rubi: I'm Aurene's champion.

Andrew: Well... that's debatable.

Rubi: Haha! Next up, here's Cameron Rich to talk about Strike Missions and encounters.

Strike Missions and Encounters [38:46][edit]

10-man content for hardcore players

Cameron Rich: Hi, I am Cameron Rich. I'm a Senior Game Designer here at ArenaNet, and I act as the lead for the Encounters team.

For End of Dragon Strike Missions, we're taking some epic encounters from the story of End of Dragons and we're creating really awesome, challenging 10-man versions of those encounters for you to enjoy. For End of Dragons Strike Missions we're doing something new in that we're adding challenge mode difficulty to each Strike Mission to release with End of Dragons. These challenge modes will be enabled shortly after launch, and they are designed to give our hardcore players, our existing raiders, something to really sink their teeth into. In addition to the challenge modes, we're also going to be revamping our reward system for Strike Missions to simplify and standardize them across the game.

With End of Dragons' creatures and combatants, we're taking a little bit of a different approach with design. One of the common problems that we're trying to address is coming across a creature that's of a high rank that feels like it just has a bunch more health and a bunch more damage. So instead, this time around, you'll see creatures unlock new abilities as they increase in rank. So if you find a creature on the field that's a veteran, might be using one set of skills, and if you come across it again and it's an elite or a champion, it'll have unlocked some new skills along the way that will hopefully test you and your strengths as a player. I am really, really excited for fans to get their hands on the Strike Missions for End of Dragons because there's a lot of surprises that we've been able to put into the design, lots of opportunity to work together with your friends, to overcome some really epic bosses.

Voices of the Game - Ike Amadi: Hi, my name is Ike. I play Gorrik, and as you know, he's the best, and I'm happy to be a part of the cast for End of Dragons. Looking forward to it.

Rubi: We know how many of you are looking forward to taking on some new challenges, and we can't wait to see you tackle these new encounters. You'll find additional challenge modes and improved rewards. What you just saw was a sneak peek at some of the maps for the Strike Missions. We can't show you the bosses or the fights quite yet as it would be a huge story spoiler, so we look forward to when you discover them in the expansion.

Andrew: And you can expect challenge mode to live up to the name. Cam and his team are doing an amazing job creating diverse, challenging content. All of the fights are a ton of fun. They're probably some of my favorite things in the expansion.

Rubi: They are super good. We're also going to meet some familiar enemies from Guild Wars Factions, like naga, kappa and wallows, all updated for Guild Wars 2.

Andrew: Re-imagining these familiar armies in Guild Wars 2 was an exciting challenge, and I'm super pleased with the results. The team is also revisiting how we work at scaling creatures so instead of just getting a bunch of health, they actually get new abilities as they level up.

Rubi: Nice. So Andrew, why don't you tell us who we're going to hear from next?

Andrew: You're going to hear from past me about guild halls.

New Guild Hall: Isle of Reflection [41:48][edit]

New Shing Jea guild hall

Andrew: My name is Andrew Gray. I'm the Content Design Lead on Guild Wars 2.

So one of the coolest things about the guild hall is the location we chose. It is some fine beachfront property in the old Shing Jea Arena. That was one of the most beautiful maps in the original game, and it's even more beautiful in Guild Wars 2. And it also has a lot of historical relevance because it was the location that the original leader of the Ministy of Purity was defeated at the end of Winds of Change.

Guild acquisition works similarly to other guild halls in that you go on an expedition. We did build the expedition a little bit differently this time though, where we focused more on smaller encounters. We made scaling a big cornerstone of it so that even if you're in with a small group, you can go in there and you could defeat it. It's a lot more encounter focused, so you're fighting individual bosses versus "Wow, that's a lot of enemies on the screen."

My favorite highlight is the amount of water in the space. We deliberately chose an island because we wanted it to pair really well with skiffs and fishing. And it really worked out well. It's just a ton of fun to go around with your guildies, going around on a little fishing trip in your guild hall without having to leave in the comfort of your own guild hall.

And then also there's a really large Guild Arena that's right there on the beach. If you're into like Mai Tai-fueled guild battles, this is the guild hall for you.

My favorite part about building the guild hall was honestly just spending time in the area. It felt like I was going on vacation every day because it's so beautiful. But beyond that, when we built the expedition, we decided to build one with a little bit more of a story behind it. You have some familiar characters there, both existing friends and some that you meet along End of Dragons that add a little bit more personality to the acquisition process. And I think players are really going to enjoy that.

Lots of space to decorate

I'm most excited to see how guild decorators use this space, honestly. I'm always blown away at the amount of creativity, the crazy things that they are able to build in guild halls. And when we built this one, we specifically had them in mind. We wanted to leave lots of space for them to be able to build all of their crazy adventures in there. So I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the space that we've made for them.

Voices of the Game - Sarah Sokolovic: Hi. I'm Sarah Sokolovic, and I am the voice of Ankka in End of Dragons.

Voices of the Game - Kelly Hu: Hi. I'm Kelly Hu, and I play Captain Mai Trin in the Aetherblade Armada in Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons.

Rubi: Good work, past Andrew.

Andrew: Thank you.

Rubi: Thank you for sharing all of this and getting players ready for their new Canthan guild hall.

Andrew: I cannot stress how beautiful this map is.

Rubi: It's so pretty.

Andrew: We actually had somebody returned to the company: Darrin Claypool of the Township of Claypool fame. He came back, and the work he did on this map is just phenomenal.

Elite Specializations: The Virtuoso [44:39][edit]

New mesmer elite specializaton

Rubi: At this point, you're probably wondering what's next for elite specializations because we haven't talked about those quite yet. Thank you for hanging in there. Andrew, why don't you get us started?

Andrew: So elite specializations offer players a fundamentally new way to experience their profession. They give players access to new playstyles by changing their professions' core mechanics and unlocking new weapon and utility skills. Our elite specializations for End of Dragons are heavily inspired by Cantha. We dug into some deep lore to truly tie these elite specs into the region. We've also broken a lot of our rules with profession and elite specialization design, and I think players are going to really enjoy the result.

Rubi: Yeah. Today we're going to give you an overview of the core mechanic changes and weapon and utility skills for the elite spec that we teased a few weeks ago. Afterwards, I'll be joined live by a few members of our development team to talk about what's coming next for Guild Wars 2 in 2021, give you our beta dates, and wrap up today's show.

Karl McLain: Hi everyone. I'm Karl McLain, a Senior Combat Designer working on elite specializations for End of Dragons. We're here today to preview some of the abilities for the upcoming Mesmer elite specialization, the Virtuoso. Let's jump right into it.

To begin, let's briefly cover the profession mechanic changes. From the start, you will no longer have access to clones. Instead of creating clones, the Virtuoso will stock a blade on themselves for use with their Bladesong profession abilities. Phantasms will still initialize but will stock a blade instead of creating a clone when they finish with their action. We'll have some brief demonstrations of different ways to gain blades during this preview.

  • Now let's go look at the Virtuoso's weapon, the dagger. The first skill for the Virtuoso's dagger is a consistent projectile attack called Flying Cutter. Instead of a payout of a three auto attack chain, any target struck by three of the projectiles that launches will receive multiple additional attacks on the third impact.
  • The second skill of this weapon is Bladecall. This ability spreads daggers which pause at their ending point or wherever they collide with terrain and then return to the virtuoso for a second attack. If the blades strike an enemy during this ability, you'll stock a blade for your profession abilities. Here you can see a blade stocked above my character's left shoulder, then stocking a second blade shows another above my right shoulder.
  • Unstable Bladestorm is the third ability, dealing pulsing damage along its path and hurling blades at enemies within its reach. Okay, let's use some of these stocked blades we've accumulated.
  • Bladesong Harmony is the Virtuoso's most accessible bladesong, expending each stocked blade separately over a period of time that deals damage to your target enemy.
  • Bladesong Sorrow: each of your stocked blades readies itself, then launches toward your targeted enemy to strike them simultaneously while inflicting confusion. We'll rebuild a few of our blades after this, by switching to a greatsword then using Mirror Blade and Phantasmal Berserker.
  • Bladesong Dissonance: combine all your blades into a single strike that dazes enemies. We'll regain a full set of blades by using the utility skill, Blade Renewal.
  • Bladeturn Requiem will block for a short time and deal damage to nearby enemies based on the number of blades stocked.
  • Your heal skill is called Twin Blade Restoration, which throws daggers at enemies and grants bonus effects if you hit foes with them. As covered before, Blade Renewal will grant distortion and fully stock all blades that can be used differently for each of the blades songs.
  • Rain of Blades [sic] drops daggers on foes for its duration, punishing enemies that remain in its area.
  • Sword of Decimation is a single impact in an area to strategically immobilize enemies.
  • Psychic Force is an area attack around the Virtuoso that pushes enemies away.
  • And finally, Thousand Cuts as your elite skill is a fire and forget line based damaging ability that requires foes to stay in its narrow path for full effectiveness.

So there you have each of the abilities that the Virtuoso can harness for the expansion. We'll cover the traits and other time. We're excited to see how the daggers fly when you get your hands on this burly elite specialization. I've been Karl McLain, and on behalf of ArenaNet and the skills team, thank you and we'll see you again soon.

Voices of the Game - Debi Derryberry: Hey everybody, it's Debi Derryberry, the voice of Taimi, your favorite, my favorite. We're so excited to be coming back for End of Dragons. Oh, there's so much I want to tell you. So great! See you there.

Rubi: Andrew has headed back to keep working on End of Dragons for all of you. Colin has rejoined me and Josh Davis, our Head of Live Operations is here as well.

Josh Davis: Thanks, Rubi. Hello, everybody. It's been a minute. It's great to be back at the studio again, just in time to crash this livestream and I couldn't help myself.

Rubi: Thank you for crashing. Welcome back.

Josh: Thank you.

Rubi: How about the Virtuoso?

Josh: Yeah, so like Andrew mentioned before, we've broken a lot of our pre-existing design constraints and rules around elite specializations with End of Dragons, which I think is going to be pretty interesting overall. I think the fact that the Virtuoso doesn't have a clone mechanic, which has been a staple of Mesmer gameplay since release, is a bit of a testament to this. For me, Virtuoso so feels like an entirely new profession, and I think you're going to see a similar design approach with all of the other elite specializations in the expansion.

Rubi: We can't wait to tell you more about those elite specializations throughout the rest of 2021 along with other End of Dragons features that we mentioned today, like those other two Mastery tracks. We got off to a great start. We got to share so many things about the expansion. Colin, you want to give us a quick recap?

Recap [51:02][edit]

Colin and Josh

Colin: I would love to recap everything from today.

Rubi: 10 seconds.

Colin: So what have we heard about?

  • Canthan region
  • We've got a storyline
  • Mysterious dragonjade technology
  • Creatures and masteries
  • New elite specializations
  • New Strikes, each with their own challenge mode
  • A new Canthan guild hall
  • Fishing and fishing boats (we're calling those skiffs)
  • And two-player mounts!

This is the first time we're adding multiplayer mounts to Guild Wars 2. And one of the things I'm most excited about this expansion is it draws on some of the best elements and lessons from our previous two expansions. For story, we looked at some of the best things that we did in Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire, and then we brought that approach into End of Dragons. And I think it's the best story we've done yet.

And then we looked at replay value. And Heart of Thorns, one of the big things that we've seen comments from our players about Heart of Thorns was they loved the amount of replay value that expansion added to the game. And so we've really invested in this expansion and meta events, in our Strikes having challenge modes, and having a full set of legendary weapons, the full 16 on launch day, day one. There's a lot of replay value, and this is about an expansion that you can play for a long time. And we realize that's very important to our players.

We also wanted to have game systems that impact not just the expansion, but the entire game and really to look at the game deeply and systemically as a whole, the way we've done with gliding and with mounts and other expansions. And so with End of Dragons, if you look at the multiplayer mounts, that is an investment in us saying, "Hey, Path of Fire had mounts, we're going to try having multiplayer mounts with the turtle." And that's really exciting. Fishing and multiplayer fishing with skiffs is a game wide experience that you can have. And I think that's really exciting too. Our mysterious dragonjade technology, you'll find out more about that someday. Also has had this approach applied to it.

Pre-expansion Updates and Betas [52:40][edit]

Colin: And there's two other really big things that we're working on that really play into the story of this expansion. For our World versus World players, Alliances is a major feature that folks have been waiting for for a long time. And it comes in our End of Dragons timeframe. And it's a big thing that we know is about systemically approaching ways to improve the game forever for our players. And then the other big one we're investing in is our technology. And by investing and taking the game from DX9 to DX11 and a lot of the things that eventually will come with that, we really want to invest in holistically, how do we make Guild Wars a better game, not just with this expansion, but for the future?

As a final note for me, though this expansion is named End of Dragons, I want to be abundantly clear this is not the end of Guild Wars 2. We view End of Dragons as the next big stepping stone for this franchise, and we think the best is yet to come. There is plenty more coming after End of Dragons in Guild Wars 2. We're not going to tell you about any of it today, but we're very excited for you all to get to check it out someday.

Rubi: But we do have lots for you to pass the time between now and the launch of End of Dragons. Josh, you're up.

Josh: Yes. Thank you. And we've got a lot to go through, so please bear with me. First in case you've been living under a rock, I do want to bring attention to the Living World Returns campaign, which is taking players back to Living World seasons 2, 3, 4, and the Icebrood Saga. If you're tuning into Guild Wars 2 for the first time in a long while, you're going to want to listen closely to this. So here's how it works: Each Living World episode is available for free during its spotlight week and all you need to do to claim that episode is login. Season three, episode five is in the spotlight starting today. And season four is going to kick off later next month. And just to reiterate, this is a perfect time for veterans and new players to get caught up on the story in preparation for End of Dragons. Each episode has new achievements available, and completing those achievements is going to bring you closer to two fairly big rewards. Like Rubi mentioned earlier, you can earn a voucher for an End of Dragons precursor weapon, which is going to give you a headstart on earning one of those Aurene-inspired legendaries that Chelsea showed us earlier. And if you complete the full meta achievement for Living World Returns, you'll be rewarded with a legendary amulet, which will fit quite nicely into your Legendary Armory. Now it's worth noting that these achievements are permanent, so if this is the first time you're hearing about it, don't worry. You can still jump in a little bit late and catch up on all this content before the release of End of Dragons next year.

But while we're talking about the near future, I'd also like to remind folks that we have the World Boss Rush bonus event kicking off later today. In that event, you can take out world bosses, which will progress a community goal and unlock new tiers of rewards for everybody. And there's more details on that event on the guildwars2.com blog. I believe that was posted yesterday.

The next elite specialization

Like Colin mentioned earlier, we've also got Alliances rolling into beta later on this summer. For anyone who's tuning in who's not familiar with the feature, Alliances is designed to deliver a more balanced World versus World experience by dynamically creating match ups using guilds, alliances (which is basically a player managed collection of guilds), and active World versus World players. This is very different from the current system that we've been using for a number of years that relies on worlds and world linking. And we know this feature is going to have a huge impact on the player experience in World versus World, and we want to work with our players, with you, to get this right. And this is really why we're going to be releasing it in a beta state in phases. This is going to allow us to get feedback on each element of that system before we make it a permanent addition to the game. We mentioned this on July 2nd, but I want to reiterate World versus World is a core pillar for Guild Wars 2, and we wanted to make sure that we delivered something meaty for the game mode, aside from elite specializations with End of Dragons. And this feature is just the first step of many that we have planned for getting World versus World where we and you want it to be.

Now Alliances isn't the only major feature coming before the expansion. Like Colin mentioned before, he's scooping everything. Well, I guess we already talked about it publicly, but we've also, we're working on upgrading the engine from DirectX 9 to DirectX 11. This is a long-awaited and highly-requested update for Guild Wars 2. I think Rubi can attest to that one. And it all starts with an opt-in beta later this year. This changeover is critical for improving client performance and allows us to start ratcheting up our graphical fidelity, which is a longterm effort that we're very excited about. We plan to start these betas in just a few short months, and we'll be back in August, which is just a couple days away, to talk about those in greater detail. My heart's pounding. Haha!

One final note for me: We do have four elite specialization beta events planned for End of Dragons. The first three of these events will each include three of nine new elite specializations. The fourth event is going to include all nine elite specializations and the siege turtle. You'll be able to play with elite specs and siege turtles in existing PvE content, World versus World, and in PvP. And just a general note, these betas are available to everyone, even those who are on free to play accounts. Now the big beat here is that the first elite spec beta is just three weeks away, starting on August 17th, running through August 21st. You'll be able to play with the Virtuoso, which we just got to run down from Karl on, and two more yet-to-be-revealed elite specializations.

Colin: Mmmhmm. And as we count down towards those betas, we'll be revealing all of the remaining eight elite specs leading up to each of the betas. And speaking of, here's a little sneak peek at the silhouette of the next elite spec that you're going to find out about very soon and get to play in our beta on August 17th.

Josh: What could that possibly be?

Rubi: It looks amazing. I can't wait to talk about it.

Merch [58:15][edit]

"Bring Aurene to your lair"

Colin: What was that? Interesting. Now I feel like that's it. Rubi, do we have anything else that we want to talk about today?

Rubi: We have more things.

Colin: There's some more.

Rubi: So first of all, hey, we've been working on this Aurene elder dragon statue, and it is finally ready to share with all of you. You can pre-purchase this starting now until August 20th for delivery in January of 2022. We've also partnered with DXRacer to give away DXRacer Racing Series Pro Gaming chair. Check out the news on guildwars2.com to see how to enter and how to pre-purchase the Aurene statue.

Colin: All right. Surely that's everything. We've covered merch, we've got everything done.

Release Date and End of Dragons Pre-Purchase [58:56][edit]

Shing Jea Mosaic Cape and Flame Serpent Weapons
Canthan Raptor
Shing Jea Dragon Boat Skiff

Rubi: No, there's more. There is one thing that we've seen a lot of you asking about, early in July, early this month, we told you that End of Dragons is coming in "early 2022", and we've been watching all of you speculate about what "early" means. I am super excited to let you know that the expansion will launch in February and you will be to pre-purchase today at 11:20 AM Pacific time. That is less than two hours away. To help pass the time until then or maybe make the wait a little harder, I'm going to let you see the pre-purchase bonus items and what you could get with each edition of Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons.

The pre-purchase bonus items are the Flame Serpent Weapon Chest, the Shing Jea Mosaic Cape and the "Prodigy of Shing Jea" title. You will get all of those as soon as you pre-purchase so you can start showing off some Canthan flair in game right away. Every edition of End of Dragons has some great extras so let's go ahead and talk about those too.

That was a lot, you guys. We hope you enjoyed this first look at End of Dragons and that you are excited for everything else we're going to show this year. Now it's time to start looking forward to the next elite specialization and the first beta event coming in August, which I think August begins technically this week.

Josh: That is very true. One note I want to add in, so you mentioned the Identity Repair Kit that'll be available. There are going to be some new looks with the expansion that players can benefit from so it does come in quite handy, I think.

Rubi: Yeah, this is good timing for that.

Josh: Indeed. Don't forget to check out Living World season three, episode five, which again is going to be free all week. We also have the World Boss Rush event starting today and the World versus wWorld bonus experience week is actually active running until Friday of this week.

Colin: And you can start pre-purchasing End of Dragons at 11:20 AM Pacific time today. Go pick it up, go in game and show off your cool flair. Thanks for joining us, everybody.

Josh: Thanks everybody.

Rubi: Thank you all for joining us.

Josh: See you next time.

Rubi: We'll see you in the game.