Whether you're a fan of the Black Lion Trading Company's Evon Gnashblade or you're rooting for Lionguard-investigator-turned-airship-captain Ellen Kiel, chances are pretty good that you like playing games. Heck, even if you don't like either Kiel or Gnashblade, you probably still like playing games. On the other hand, if you hate games and just like to vote, you're in deep trouble because the Lion's Arch political process is all about games, which sounds like a great way to let off steam when you feel likeliterally pummeling the supporters of the candidate you hate. Maybe Tyrians are on to something.
In a recent conference call, ArenaNet released plenty of details about what Guild Wars 2 fans can expect to find when they head to the voting booth on July 23rd. Or is it more of a voting arena? Either way, jump past the cut to find out exactly what you'll need to do in order to exercise your ruthless, hardcore, no-holds-barred right to democracy.
The Candidate Trials will be a challenge mission that players can enter alone or in a party of up to five others. You'll choose to support either Kiel or Gnashblade at the start of the challenge and then hold out against against waves of Aetherblades. The bad news? You and your party will be the only thing standing between the sky pirates and a downed airship that they'd like very much to loot. The good news? The more Aetherblades you manage to defeat, the more loot you'll get. More good news: That loot has a chance to include those really cool Aetherblade weapons fans have been looking for since they were first introduced.
The challenge has an increasing difficulty level, split into four tiers. The first tier will definitely be soloable, but beyond that it'll take increasing amounts of awesome on the part of players to defeat the Aetherblades. If you're looking for a group PvE challenge, you may want to head for the Candidate Trials.
Captain Kiel will be hosting a capture-the-flag-like activity called Aspect Arena, which will expand the aspect skills adventurers have gotten used to traveling with around the Zephyr Sanctum. After choosing to gain the powers of wind, lightning, or sun, you'll have five minutes to capture three crystals scattered around the map and deliver them back to three areas in your own home base to
power them up and gain points for your team.
Each of the aspects corresponds to a different playstyle, which will mean varied tactics and ways of getting around the map. Sun skills are tailored for longer-range combat and include heat beams, exploding fireballs, and even black holes that suck in opponents. Wind skills are mid-range, with skills such as wind boomerangs and balls of wind that can be volleyed back and forth between players and their opponents for greater damage. Lightning skills are meant for close-range combat, and players can use them to control their foes and force them into melee. The familiar aspect-based travel abilities will also come in handy for navigating the arena itself.
Evon Gnashblade's hosted activity, Southsun Survival, is the spiritual successor to Hunger Royale, an event from GW2's third beta weekend that fans have been hoping to see make a return. Starting with only a bow and their wits, up to 20 players will do their best to survive as long as possible (reportedly, around 8 to 9 minutes) in Southsun Cove's unforgiving environment by scavenging supplies -- or hunting other players for theirs -- to stave off the Hunger debuff, which stacks over time to tick down health.
If you're the type to turn predatory when threatened, you'll need to arm yourself with arrows for your bow before giving into your baser instincts, but be careful because a missed shot might mean arming your opponent with your stray arrow. If your plan is to hoard supplies, you may not be any safer; you'll have to watch out for traps set by foes that will knock you down and cause you to drop everything you've collected. You'll also need to be wary of alarms and fake supplies, both of which can quickly ruin your chances of survival. If you die, though, you won't be out of the game: Players who wind up in the Mists can collect "revenge motes" that will let them torment survivors from beyond the grave, including summoning one of the worst punishments we can think of for anyone... karka. Ugh.
How will the voting process work, exactly? Players will collect support tokens, which can then be turned in at the Zephyr Sanctum to show support for their chosen candidate. Doing this will grant the voter a support button, along with an hour of support for the candidate that will allow progression of one of two achievement tracks. You'll need six achievements total to complete either the Gnashblade Supporter or Kiel Supporter meta-achievements and receive your very own tiny versions of these important political figures (unfortunately, they're not wearing swimsuits this time). Other players will also be able to see whom you're supporting, something that in no way could possibly end badly in the midst of a bloodthirsty pirate campaign.
GW2's Cutthroat Politics content update will go live on July 23rd and run through August 5th.