Update Post: November 28, 2023 9:48 am
In my humble opinion, they knocked it out of the park! I freaking love Secrets of the Obscure. Sure, there are some growing pains, but overall it might be my favorite expansion. The two areas that I want to address are the story overall as well as new/improved game mechanics/features. I’ll do my best to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum. If you’re truly concerned about all of that, just know that as much as I loved the content I experienced in the preview event, I have come to appreciate it even more post-launch.
I want to start by addressing the story. I loved it. Because we’re done with the dragon cycle, the team had to figure out new directions to take us players. This has breathed some new life into the story. We’re introduced to the Kryptis, reunite with old friends like Zojja, meet new friends that blow our minds, and more. Overall, the story missions were a lot of fun and it felt like the team decided to experiment more with some horror vibes and it worked! I’m not a big horror guy, but there was new tension as we explored unknown territory figuratively and literally. You’re not engaging with Dragon’s Watch which adds to that tension and creates more of a feeling of trepidation and loneliness. The story-telling is top-notch.
My one complaint surrounding the story has to do with Kryptis rift events. Overall, I really like rift events. However, you constantly hit a part of the story that’s just, “complete rift events until this meter is full.” I understand wanting to make sure players are familiar with a new game feature, but I could’ve done with those sections being a little shorter.
As for the new game mechanics and features, I really like most of them. I’m still waiting to see what people come up with regarding Weaponmaster Training (I’m not good at crafting builds), but I like how classes are being opened up with way instead of just throwing another elite specialization at us. I also like how the Skyscale has been made easier to obtain since it’s vital to the gameplay in Secrets of the Obscure. I am bummed that people who already unlocked the Skyscale have to essentially unlock it again if we want either of two things: the new Kryptis Skyscale skin via A New Look achievement and for a ton of Astral Acclaim (the currency for the Wizard’s Vault). Speaking of the Skyscale, as mentioned in my piece about the preview event, the new masteries in Secrets of the Obscure do a lot to make the Skyscale infinitely better with the new fireball attack, the ability to use updrafts, and even the ability to mount during combat.
I want to back up a bit and talk about the Wizard’s Vault. I know there has been a mixed reception to it. I personally love it. It feels more user friendly in outlining the different objectives compared to the previous system and it’s much quicker to access with a keybind. I also really like the Astral Acclaim system. There are some incredible things you can grab like the gorgeous new Griffon skin, the legendary starter kit, and even some easy gold. I also want to acknowledge that the Wizard’s Vault is not perfect. There are items in the store that are ridiculously bad deals, we had an objective to complete a very buggy mini-dungeon, and more. Thankfully, ArenaNet does listen at least sometimes and recently announced the removal of that bugged mini-dungeon and they’ve announced that they’ll be adding additional objectives. With the September 12 patch, players will be given five possible daily objectives to complete, but will still be required to only complete 4 to unlock the chest. This adds some flexibility that players have been wanting. I’m excited to see what happens as the team further fine tunes the Wizard’s Vault system.
Let’s talk about Kryptis right events introduced with Secrets of the Obscure. Apart from my earlier gripe regarding their slightly forced inclusion in the story, I think these are a fantastic feature. They scale to meet your party so you can even solo them if you can’t find a group, they don’t take too long, and they’re easy to find. I kind of wish that the Heart of the Obscure would continually track a rift so you don’t have to keep pressing the button for it every so often to make sure you’re still headed in the right direction.
I do want to discuss Relics briefly. I think eventually these will be good. Unfortunately, ArenaNet has made the decision to make the tooltips not very helpful. The tooltips tell you a general idea of what the Relic will do, and for some it provides enough information. However, others like the Relic of Cerus just says that it will summon an Eye of Cerus that deals damage. There’s no information about how long the Eye of Cerus will last, how much damage it will deal, etc. Much like the Wizard’s Vault, this is something that I hope continues to be smoothed out to be made more helpful.
At the end of the day, Secrets of the Obscure is exactly the expansion that I wanted. The story feels fresh in a few different ways. The new rifts are fun. I enjoy the Wizard’s Vault, and so much more. I highly recommend grabbing the expansion if you play Guild Wars 2.