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Developer Update - Destination: Embark Beach

Welcome to Embark Beach! The newest addition to Guild Wars brings along a variety of new features and improvements. Many of these features aim to improve the quality of life for players in the game, and you'll find specific details about each of them below. We're excited to release this build, as it includes some things that fans have been anticipating for a long time. Whether you're a lone wolf or a pack hunter, we think you'll find something here to enjoy! So without further ado, let's take a closer look at these new features:

Embark Beach


We've added a new outpost, Embark Beach, to the Battle Isles. This outpost facilitates group play by providing a central location from which parties can travel together to other outposts. Within Embark Beach, you'll find four NPCs—representing the Guild Wars campaigns and expansions—who offer travel services to different areas. When you talk to them, you will see a list of destinations broken down by region. Your party can then travel there—as long as everyone in your party has that outpost unlocked.

Zaishen Scouts are now stationed at all of the mission and destination outposts that can send a player to Embark Beach. Are you trying to complete a mission, but there's no one in that outpost to help? Use the Scout's services to visit Embark Beach and find some help there. You will find a wide variety of service and merchant NPCs available in the outpost. This makes Embark Beach a convenient location to prepare for an outing—or recover from an adventure. We sincerely hope that Embark Beach becomes the hotspot for players who need or are willing to give assistance.


Seven-Hero Parties


Players can now take seven Heroes with them instead of three. This feature has been a popular request among players, and we're pleased to be releasing it. We understand that some players prefer to go it alone or would rather play by themselves when their friends are not around. Previously, this meant taking four henchmen along with their Heroes to round out their party. This sometimes caused issues—particularly with the War in Kryta content, where the henchmen available are not of an equivalent level to the content.

Players can set the skill bars for their Heroes in the 5 - 8 slots and customize their weapons, runes, and insignias as usual. However, Heroes in these last four slots will follow the "Order All" flag, as opposed to having individually numbered control flags. We still want to have incentives for players to fight side-by-side. Allowing a single player to extensively micromanage his team would detract from the greatest strength of groups: coordination. By increasing the number of Heroes players can take with them, we ensure that solo players can operate on a level that is comparable to a full group. This provides us with a better baseline for balancing content in future additions.


Mercenary Heroes


A new item in our in-game store, Mercenary Heroes are Heroes made from your player character. A Mercenary Hero retains your character's name, profession, appearance, and armor set or equipped costume. Players then treat them like any other Hero, changing their weaponry, skills, attributes, runes, and insignias as needed. Mercenary Hero Slots are required for this feature, with one Hero allowed per slot. Slots are permanent, but once you own one, you may recreate a Hero into that slot as many times as you wish.

Obtain Mercenary Heroes by talking to any [Mercenary Registrar] NPC located within the major towns and in the Great Temple of Balthazar. These NPCs take an image of your character as it exists at that moment and save it as a Mercenary Hero for other characters on your account to use. Having Mercenary Heroes means that you could potentially travel in a party composed entirely of your alternate characters. Characters will not be able to use the Mercenary Hero version of themselves; this will prevent parties from amassing clone armies. However, every other character on the account will have a Mercenary Hero available to them. So if you have eight characters and eight slots, any of your eight characters could bring the other seven along with him as Mercenary Heroes.

Only level 20 characters are eligible to become Mercenary Heroes. This means that Mercenary Heroes will always be at level 20—you won't need to level them up for them to be useful. We are doing our part to prevent the reckless endangerment of under-leveled Heroes.


Daily Quests in Pre-Searing


Captain Langmar—or Lieutenant, as her rank was then—is making an appearance in Pre-Searing. She's got two good eyes and nine new daily quests with her. These quests will scale both in difficulty and rewards relative to the level of the player taking the quests. Because of this, these quests will always remain relevant to your character's growth if you are trying to reach level 20 in Pre-Searing.

This addition is mostly to provide a legitimate way for players to achieve the Legendary Defender of Ascalon title. Previously, this title was obtainable only through an unusual exploit of the game's mechanics: "death leveling." For this exploit, players allowed enemies to kill them repeatedly until the enemies leveled to a point where they were once again worth experience to the player. This was an incredibly time-consuming process, often requiring months to achieve. While this shows noble dedication from our players, we should not have encouraged such a counterintuitive style of playing. Instead, we are adding these daily quests to do the title justice and to let players legitimately play the game to earn the title. After all, do you really feel like a Legendary Defender of Ascalon after letting the charr kill you endlessly?

These quests become available to players once they reach level 10, to avoid confusion among new players about how long they should remain in Pre-Searing. Because these quests occur daily, obtaining the Legendary Defender of Ascalon title is still going to require a major time investment from the player and should not devalue the achievement of those who already have it.


Kimmes the Historian in Pre-Searing


While we're on the subject of the Legendary Defender of Ascalon title, Kimmes the Historian is now making an appearance in Pre-Searing. He can make dedications to the Hall of Monuments there, so players no longer need to leave Pre-Searing to do so. Titles that you can dedicate include Legendary Defender of Ascalon, Survivor, Drunkard, Sweet Tooth, and Party Animal. For those keeping track, that does in fact mean that obtaining your Survivor title in Pre-Searing will be the ultimate in prestige. Happy hunting!


Skills Vendor in Pre-Searing


We've got one final bullet point for Pre-Searing, and that is the addition of Halbrik, a skill vendor, to Ascalon City. He will sell you all of the skills that your character is able to learn in Pre-Searing, as long as you are of the correct profession to obtain them. This allows characters to obtain the missing skills for secondary professions that they could not get previously. Halbrik is limited to Pre-Searing skills only; he will not sell skills that are unlocked for your account.


Daily Zaishen Vanquishes


In Embark Beach, a new signpost for daily quests allows you to take on Zaishen Vanquishes. Each day a new area will offer a quest, providing extra incentives and rewards for vanquishing that map. You can hold up to three vanquish quests in your log, and all zones that can be vanquished are part of the quest rotation.


Drunkard Title Change


We've changed the method of acquisition for this title, so that players now earn points directly from consuming drinks. The amount of points players earn depends on how strong the drink is. Players previously attained points by having characters spend time drunk, maxing out at 10,000 minutes. This method was convoluted and not clearly explained; players did not receive points unless they were at a minimum tier of drunkenness. Because players went down a tier for every minute spent drunk, many players had to use counterintuitive methods for keeping track of their progress on the title. The new version of acquisition is easier to understand and does not rely on hidden systems. The change does not significantly affect the cost of obtaining the title; however, it does spare people the necessity of spending seven days of real time inebriated in-game.

People who have already maxed out this title will not be affected. People who are currently working on the title will have their progress converted to the new title format, so that no progress will have been lost.


Survivor Title Change


Previously, the Survivor title tracked how much experience a player earned until their first death. When that character died, his progress was frozen. If the title was not maxed, the player needed to start an entirely new character in order to try again. If a character died, it often led to some very unfortunate circumstances beyond a player's control. A lag spike, a power outage, or an impromptu conga line could invalidate countless hours or days of work. There were also vast legions of characters who existed and were well established in the world long before this title was implemented; they almost certainly never obtained it.

With that in mind, we made some changes to the functionality of the title. In the new version, the title tracks the experience that characters gain until they die. In the event of their untimely passing, your title will maintain its current rank; to progress it further, you'll need to start over. For example, let's say that your character achieves the second rank of the Survivor title before dying. Your title-track progress will still display second rank as your current best. To achieve third rank, however, you'll be starting over again from zero experience. This lets you try again without throwing away a character that you've already put so much into. The amount of experience required to achieve the max rank of the Survivor title has not changed.


Minion UI


Do you like minions? Sure, we all do. Do you wish it was easier to keep track of them? If you answered yes, then rejoice, because now it is. "Y" is now the default in-game hotkey to bring up the Minion UI, which makes it that much easier to keep tabs on your Bone Friends. However, beware! A side effect of this change is that you may find yourself enjoying the minion master archetype, rather than relegating this role to your Heroes.


Login As


On the bottom of your character select screen, you will now find a bar for setting your character's status at login. This will allow you to login as "Online," "Away," "Do Not Disturb," or "Offline."


Ready Checks


The Party Formation window has a new UI. To the left of each player's name, you will find a dropdown that displays "Ready" or "Not Ready." This is a quick way for groups of players to ensure that everyone is ready to leave before zoning or entering missions. In order to avoid griefing issues, the game will not prevent the party from proceeding even though players have set themselves as "Not Ready."