The release of End of Dragons in march 2022 brought new areas, new Elite Specializations, new features and more to Guild Wars 2. After more than 200 hours of playing the new expansion, here is the review!
- What will be answered in this article?
- End of Dragons Story
- Elite Specializations
- More to explore!
- Meta Events
- End Game Content
- End of Dragons vs. Heart of Thorns & Path of Fire
- End of Dragons Soundtrack
- Final Verdict
What will be answered in this article?
In march 2022, the long awaited third expansion; End of Dragons, was released. Although the expansion is called End of Dragons, it’s not the end of Guild Wars 2. There even is a fourth expansion in the making. Let’s look at End of Dragons first and answer the following questions:
- How does this expansion hold up?
- Should you buy it even months or years after its release?
- And is it better or worse than the other expansions?
End of Dragons Story
Let’s kick things off with the story of End of Dragons. After all, the story is the first bit of content you get in contact with in this expansion. I can be short about this. The story of End of Dragons is great.
The voice acting is great, the cinematics are amazing. And without spoiling too much, the story instances have a grand and great atmosphere.
Let’s discuss about the first 30 minutes of the story. Don’t worry, there are no major plot twists to be found here. If you want to go in completely blank, scroll down a little!
The story starts with Aurene, an elder dragon, calling for your aid. Aurene feels a strange shift in an invisible web of Ley Line Energy. These lines are essentially the lifeblood of the world of Tyria. So, if anything is off about it then something is wrong…
You and your friend Gorrik meet up with Ankka, a former colleague of Gorrik. Ankka claims to have important information about the Elder Dragons and the shift in Ley Line Energy. Instead she kidnaps Gorrik and sets off to Cantha. Ankka also reveals that she is part of the Aetherblades, a group of sky pirates that wreak havoc around the world. Of course, we want our buddy Gorrik back so we set in the chase. During our attempt something terrible happens to one of our main characters and rest… that’s for you to discover.
Although this is a typical start of a Guild Wars 2 story, the story becomes more interesting the more you play it. It has its twists and turns and surprised me a couple of times. Over the years, the writing of stories has significantly improved. Back in the 2012 to 2015 era of Guild Wars 2, the stories had a lot of witty and funny moments. This made some of the stories harder to take seriously.
Since the Icebrood Saga, a series of major patches in 2019 to 2021, the writing of the stories in Guild Wars 2 have become much darker, grim and serious. This darker and more serious atmosphere can also be found in the End of Dragons expansion. Don’t worry too much though.
The witty jokes are still there. It is expected that the end of this story will be the beginning for a series of new Living World updates. So, there will be plenty of new stories after you have finished the End of Dragons story.
Every Guild Wars 2 expansion so far adds new Elite Specializations to the game. These Elite Specializations are enhancements for the current classes in Guild Wars 2. Elite Specializations give each class access to a new weapon, a number of new skills and unique class mechanics. If you want to know more about these Elite Specializations, make sure to check out my video about it.
The Elite Specializations in the End of Dragons expansion align with one of the gameplay fundamentals of Guild Wars 2.
Since its release in 2012, Guild Wars 2 has tried to reinvent the wheel of MMO’s. ArenaNet, the developers of Guild Wars 2 aim to let each class be useful and give them numerous ways to play. This means that every class should be able to tank, deal damage or is able support.
The Elite Specializations in End of Dragons fill the playstyle gap for a number of classes. For example, the Guardian was not able to provide the Alacrity boon with the current Elite Specializations. The Elite Specialization in End of Dragons for the Guardian, the Willbender, CAN provide Alacrity to allies.
This is also the case with the Thief. This class was not really able to support their allies.
The End of Dragons Elite Specialization for the Thief, the Specter, changes that. With dark and shadow magic, the Thief is able to effectively protect allies from harm.
Although, the addition of new Elite Specializations let players play whatever they like, there have always been Elite Specializations better than others. Some are better at providing specific buffs and others are better at dealing damage. Therefore, it might still happen that players in end game groups prefer one Elite Specialization over another.
It is best to not discuss the effectiveness of the Elite Specializations of this expansion. This has changed numerous times over the last months due to several balance patches. So, the new elite specializations do not necessarily have to be the best Elite Specializations to fill a specific role.
To conclude, the new Elite Specializations are fun and fit in the current meta. And also, play the ones you like. Because even though it might not be the best pick right now, it will probably be in the future.
More to explore!
The new Guild Wars 2 expansion also introduces the player to Cantha. A continent that players from the original Guild Wars are familiar with. This continent is full of Eastern influences and colorful environments. From the get go, the player has access to 4 new areas to discover:
- The colorful Shing Jea island
- The dark and gothic inspired Echovald Wilds
- The cyberpunk and technology driven Kaineng City
- The mysterious Dragon’s End
Each region is distinct from one another and have their own world events and collections. Like all other maps in Guild Wars 2, it has a number of heart quests, vistas, point of interests and hero challenges. If you complete all of these activities on a map, the player is given a generous reward.
Completing these objectives can be challenging for newer players to the Guild Wars 2 franchise.
For veteran and existing players, this can be relatively easy. Using the Skyscale mount you can easily navigate through the new regions.
Some regions, like Kaineng City and the Echovald Wilds, can be somewhat frustrating for players without a Skyscale. These maps have many layers and are vertically aligned. This means that you have to navigate and look in order to find your way up or down. Although this might be fun when you first enter a map, it can get annoying when you are on your way to a specific objective. I have a Skyscale and I can quickly move up and down a level. And that sometimes feels unfair to players that don’t have it.
This has been a problem with a small number of maps in Guild Wars 2. And this sadly still occurs in two of the four new maps in the End of Dragons Expansion.
The new meta events on these maps are really worth playing. These grand battles have good rewards and large epic and visually appealing battles. They have a good replayability and there are a significant number of players participating in the events. As of right now, the rewards are good but are in some regard less rewarding compared to other meta events in Guild Wars 2.
In order to keep these meta events running and populated I feel like some of these rewards can be increased. Let’s hope that these get even better in the future.
End of Dragons also brings a number of new features and masteries to Guild Wars 2. These are the new masteries that you can find in End of Dragons:
- Jade bots
- Arborstone Revitalization
- Siege Turtle Mount
So, next to the story and exploring there are tons of other activities you can do. These activities are all tied to the current mastery system in Guild Wars 2. In order to unlock or improve in these features you have to gain a level and obtain a mastery point.
These mastery points are easier to obtain than other expansions. It is easy to unlock most features by obtaining the mastery points you find along the way. However, if you want to complete all mastery tracks you have to put in some extra effort. In order to get the mastery points you need to max. out a Mastery track you must complete a number of harder achievements.
I think this is fair. You can use all the masteries that End of Dragons has to offer by just playing through the story. If you want to use these mastery tracks to their full extent, then you have to complete a series of (harder) achievements.
Fishing, of course, can be done near water. Whilst fishing you see two bars that you have to align in order to catch a fish. Instead of standing next to the water, you actively have to participate in order to catch a fish.
There are also collections tied to fishing. Fishing at different spots all over the world let’s you catch different fish. This is not limited to just Cantha. Even fishing during the day or night can make a difference for the fish you catch. The best part is, you don’t have to look far to obtain the fishing mastery. You get it very early while playing through the End of Dragons story.
Skiffs go hand in hand with fishing. These are also unlockable early in the End of Dragons expansion. Skiffs are small boats which you can use to set sail on open waters. You can even bring your friends along and fish with them on a Skiff.
Jade bots are also unlocked through the story. These little helpers can help you with a lot of things. They can give you an upward boost whilst gliding, can set a personal waypoint where you can respawn whenever you die and revive you when you’re down. Next to that, they can also light up lanterns, provide additional buffs and open chests!
These little helpers are fun and easy to use. You don’t need to summon them, they are always there.
There is however one downside I have encountered with the Jade Bots. The Jade bots and their additional buffs and enhancements are character bound. This means that you have to craft a Jade Bot Power Core for every character you want to use it on. I feel this makes this feature unnecessary. And it can be troublesome for players that play a lot of characters.
This might change in the future though! Always keep an eye out on the Guild Wars 2 Wiki to know the most recent changes to these Jade Bots.
Arborstone is a settlement located in the Echovald Wilds in Cantha. This settlement is located near the House zu Heltzer from the original Guild Wars: Factions. Back in the original Guild Wars, this was the home of the Kurzick faction who played a big role in the lore and story.
Arborstone Revitalization allows the player to continue to expand this settlement by unlocking more tracks using your mastery points. It possible to expand Arborstone with Crafting Stations, a bank, a Trading Post, a Mystic Forge and much more!
While in Arborstone you also gain a resting bonus which grants you bonus experience. This is similar to resting bonuses in other MMORPG’s. The amount of resting bonus you receive depends on your Arborstone Revitalization mastery level.
Siege Turtle Mount
The last mastery in this Guild Wars 2 expansion is the Siege Turtle mount. This mount is unlockable after you completed the End of Dragons story and discovered most of Cantha. Mounts were introduced in the Path of Fire expansion so they have been around since 2017.
The big difference with the Siege Turtle mount compared to other mounts is that it can carry two players instead of one. One player drives the Siege Turtle, the other one uses its cannons.
In order to obtain the Siege Turtle you have to finish a collection. This will take you some time but if you have completed the story and most of the other content then it should not be too hard to complete. Therefore, the Siege Turtle mount is quite accessible.
End Game Content
Does the End of Dragons expansion introduce us to new end game content? Well, yes and no.
End of Dragons does not introduce the player to new game modes. However, it did add new Strike Missions. These Strike Missions are tough boss battles designed for 10 players and are based on encounters from the End of Dragons story. These new Strike missions are definitely harder than the existing ones. So yes, it does add new challenging end game content to the game.
On top of that, the new Strike Missions even have a Challenge Mote. This makes the new Strikes Missions even harder and are designed for extremely organized groups. So, if you want challenging content, End of Dragons got you covered. It is also expected that there will be more challenging Strike Missions in the near future!
End of Dragons vs. Heart of Thorns & Path of Fire
So far, the expansion is really good. But how does it hold up against the two older expansions; Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire?
In terms of story I believe that End of Dragons has the best written story. Also, the cinematics are significantly better than the older expansions. However, if you just started playing Guild Wars 2 and you hop into End of Dragons right away, you’ll be bombarded by new characters and regions you have never heard of. This might give you trouble understanding and following the storyline. So, if you want to play the story in a chronological way, then you might be better off purchasing the older expansions and living world episodes first.
Regions & Maps
In terms of regions and maps, I think it is comparable to the Heart of Thorns expansion.
It has great and fun world events and quests but two of the four maps struggle with vertical map design. Getting to an upper or lower level might be troublesome for some players. The Path of Fire expansion did not have any of these maps and was therefore easier to navigate and explore. The End of Dragons maps do have a lot of variety though. They are all very distinct from one another.
End of Dragons introduces, by far, the most new features of any Guild Wars 2 expansion. These features are distinct and are gradually introduced to the player. You are not bombarded with new features from the get go. The developers found the perfect balance here.
End Game Content
In terms of end game content the End of Dragons expansion does well. It introduces players to new and more challenging Strike Missions. One of them is arguably the hardest piece of end game content yet! However, if you are really into raids, then you might feel a bit disappointed or left out since the expansion did not release any new raid wings yet.
End of Dragons Soundtrack
End of Dragons also has a brand new soundtrack to enjoy. All musical compositions have an Eastern theme. All the tracks are superb! Make sure to give them a listen!
What’s the final verdict for the End of Dragons expansion?
End of Dragons is great. It’s an 8.5 out of 10.
It is what you expect of a Guild Wars 2 expansion. The expansion is of great quality but chose a somewhat safe route. It did add a number of fun, new features but did not add anything game changing. End of Dragons continued to build on existing features that were already introduced in previous expansions or content updates. Take for example, Mounts and Strike Missions.
Although there is nothing wrong with that, I hoped for a little more.
If Guild Wars 2 keeps dropping expansions like this at a more rapid pace then I’m sure it will keep a big, long lasting audience.
Should you buy Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons?
So, should you buy End of Dragons? As an existing or returning Guild Wars player? Yes, definitely. As a new player, I would suggest playing the other expansion first. Just to get to know the game, especially the story, and its existing features a little better. After you are done with that, pick up End of Dragons.
Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons
End of Dragons continues to expand on great, existing features from the Guild Wars 2 universe. Accompanied by a strong story and rich, colorful environments this expansion is a must have for any Guild Wars 2 fan. A strong foundation for the stories to come!
- Elite Specializations9.1
- New Regions8
- End Game7