Guild Wars 2: Tower of Nightmares Hands On Preview

The fourth episode of the season one re-release is finally here, and it contains my most missed piece of content, the Tower of Nightmares. Aside from the fun of the tower itself, I remember this update particularly fondly as it was the first time ArenaNet made significant updates to any of the launch zones in Guild Wars 2. Other zones had some minor things added here and there, but this update completely changed the experience of being in Kessex Hills, even for new players just starting. It was crazy and exciting, and seeing it come back is a real treat.

When the Tower of Nightmares was first released, it was all out in the open world. There was this strange miasma in the air, and as we worked through the storyline, Kas eventually did her magic mesmer thing and revealed the tower was there. If memory serves, the first half of this storyline ended with the reveal of the tower, and we didn’t get to go inside (or at least didn’t go very far inside) until the next update two weeks later. This time around, the whole thing has been truncated. The Commander arrives on the scene after Kas has dispelled the illusion, and there is a brief instance to meet up with Jory and her. After catching up with them, there’s a short cutscene explaining how they found the tower, and then it’s back out into the open world.

Much like last time, we have to participate in some events around Kessex Hills involving offshoots from the tower so we can make an anecdote for the poison in the air. What is different this time around is there is a lot more variety in these events than I remember there being the first time around. I only remember one type of offshoot event where a whole bunch of the toxic alliance hung around the offshoot, but the main goal was to run bombs to blow it up. However, this time around, there were two events where I needed to escort an asura in a golem suite and protect her while she destroyed the offshoot. There was one event where priory members needed to be protected while they used mortars to bombard the offshoot and one event underwater where I needed to free quaggans from the toxic alliance.

It is possible the variety of events was there the first time, and I don’t remember them. However, the variety was refreshing as I needed to do four of them to progress to the next step of the storyline. There were also a few champions roaming around, which looked like they would count towards advancing the story tracker; however, since I was on the map alone and not on my character, trying out those weren’t an option. Regardless, the open world section was over quickly, and then I could move on to the Nightmare Tower.

This time, the Nightmare Tower functions similarly to DRM missions in that players can join a public instance to work on everything with other players or join a private version with their squad. However, unlike the DRMs, I could not join a personal instance of the tower alone; I needed to have a squad group to select that option. After entering, there’s a series of events to be worked through as we make our way up the tower. For some reason, I remembered the tower as being much more of a maze than it seemed this time around. Maybe it was just old memory hanging out, but navigating my way seemed straightforward this time. There are some interesting story developments that I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t played through this previously, but the last fight is fantastic.

One thing that surprised me is that the difficulty felt pretty on par with how I remembered it, and considering how much player power has crept up over the years, that’s impressive. Not sure how it will feel with other players in there too, but hopefully, that scales well. Another aspect I appreciate about this iteration of the tower is players can enter it even if they haven’t done the storyline for it yet. A dialogue box warns about story spoilers if you haven’t played through it yet, but you aren’t blocked from participating. This is a great option, especially for players who are less interested in playing through the storyline or want to hop into the new thing immediately.

I’m not sure if I will end up spending as much time in the tower as I did the first time; there are so many other options for things to do at the max level currently. However, I am ecstatic to have another choice of a fun activity to do. I’m also a massive fan of having the option to join public groups automatically.

However, since the tower is a progressive thing, I am curious about how that’ll work out on live servers. I’m kind of worried about zoning into towers that are almost halfway done or more when I enter. Nonetheless, I can’t wait for everyone to experience this crazy tower and have many moments of hearing random cat meows and wondering where that sound originated, only to realize later it was a sound effect in game.

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