Fun in the Southsun: Updates to GW2

There's a lot to see and do in GW2's reworked Southsun Cove. Could similar revamps be in the works in other zones?
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Citizens! Do you have a moment? Southsun Cove is now open for (more) business!

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With The Secret of Southsun content patch, Guild Wars 2‘s beautiful but karka-plagued playground is now home to an abundance of norn and charr settlers – as well as members of a few other races – driven south by the Molten Alliance and resettled with the help of the Consortium.

But a wave of discontent simmers under the steamy surface, as settlers clash repeatedly and violently with Consortium representatives. Meanwhile, Lionguard Inspector Ellen Kiel investigates the island to find what lies at the heart of the disturbances.

If that sounds like a lot of story to absorb, it kinda is, but don’t worry. All you need to do is get to Southsun – either by boat from Lion’s Arch as usual or via a new asura gate near the Consortium office and fractal gate – to start the karka-kicking action!

Crab cakes all around!

Other than during the Lost Shores event weekend back in November, Southsun Cove was the antithesis of a “happening place.” Dynamic events – not to mention players – were few and far between and the rewards for taking down the more-difficult-than-average karka were minimal.

That’s all changed now. There are events galore and, thankfully, often enough people to complete them. While the rewards themselves aren’t much more than what you’d find in other open-world areas, you can get a substantial bonus to Magic Find or Gold Find by speaking to a Settler or Consortium Negotiator, respectively. That should make it worth your while.

It makes you think that ArenaNet has noticed how much time people spend in Orr, specifically Cursed Shore, farming the large events and wanted to produce another max-level zone with similar incentives. Southsun Cove might be a testing ground for this theory, with an eye toward implementing similar rewards for adventuring in other, lower-level, areas.

I still love leveling in lower-level zones, but the rewards just don’t match what you can get in Cursed Shore for farming events, and the population is indicative of that. While ArenaNet might be hesitant to let you acquire Tier 6 crafting mats in, say, Harathi Hinterlands, they could implement some kind of zone-wide boost to Gold Find to make it possible to earn enough cash to be competitive with the loot rate in Cursed Shore.

More to explore

The update also adds plenty of new events to Southsun Cove, which seem to spring up at an accelerated rate. Maybe that’s just a result of there being so many people in the area, but combined with Southsun’s relatively small size, the experience gets a little repetitive.

What the area lacks – so far, at least – is that singular, long-chain meta-event that leads to a legendary boss fight and loot to match. I’d wager a boatload of gems that that will be in the offing for a future update.

Fortunately, there’s a fair bit more going on than just your standard events. There are loads of new achievements for the area, flowers to hunt down, jumping puzzles, and the crab toss mini-game. Oh, and there’s a nude beach – well, as nude as you can get in Guild Wars 2, that is.

But wait – there’s more (maybe)!

So is Southsun just a new, limited-run, open-world farming spot? After you get through the cool factor of exploring (or re-exploring) the zone, you’ll get a feel for where events spawn and what’s needed to complete them. Don’t be fooled by the lack of [Group Event] next to their names; many are difficult to complete solo, thanks to the preponderance of level 81+ mobs.

And when that bit of wonder has worn off? Hardcore farmers might shuttle back and forth between Cursed Shore and Southsun Cove for a little while, but at least that gives us twice as many zones that offer max-level loot. And because Southsun auto-levels characters up to 80, you can hang out there with your sub-80 friends.

That’s another reason why I think it would be a good idea for ArenaNet to take this approach with other zones. During development, we heard about how it would be possible for, say, a level 80 character to hang out with a friend in a level 30 zone and both be challenged by it and receive level-appropriate XP and loot.

While I’ve received level 80 rares (and I think exotics, though I’m not totally sure) in low-level zones, several drops are closer to the unadjusted mob level, and my level 80s just have no need for level 38 weapons and Tier 3 crafting materials – not when I could get level 75+ weapons and T5/T6 mats for those drops if they were somewhere else.

MMO players are nothing if not efficient, and this has led to a larger percentage of players in high-level zones than might have been desired. ArenaNet can’t just make loot equivalent across all areas, lest people would farm level 10 mobs for exotics, but they can boost players who want to revisit old areas without feeling like it’s costing them time that would be better spent getting top-level loot.

Limited time offer! Act now!

The patch notes for The Secret of Southsun say that the content will only be around until June 11. I don’t mind time-limited content, but it would be a shame if, once it’s over, Southsun will become the same deserted scrap of land that it was for the last six months (or at least since that rich orichalcum node went away).

I hope some part of the “new Southsun” sticks around, something more than just the new environs and NPCs, and that ArenaNet can use the experience to help revitalize other less-traveled zones. But I could do without Lord Faren in his Speedo.

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Jason Winter
Jason Winter is a riddle wrapped inside a burrito, smothered in hot sauce. Mmm... burrito...