The long awaited first episode of Season Three for Guild Wars 2 was released last week and boy did it impress!

The first episode, entitled Out of the Shadows, brought a lot more content than people were expecting. With roughly two hours of story content, a new Player-Versus-Environment map, a new PVP map and a whole host of incredibly useful quality of life updates (seriously… some of these QOL are incredible), the first episode really delivered.

Over the weekend I managed to play through the story mode and explore a large portion of the new PVE map and I’ve got to say… I like it.

The story of Out of the Shadows takes place across several instances with the plot following on from the end of the Heart of Thorns. I won’t spoil what happens, what I will say is that there are A LOT of twists and turns for Guild Wars fans, especially towards the end the chapter which gives plenty of hints about where the next expansion will take place and what its focus will be.

Playing through the story instances of Out of the Shadows will take the player to the new map, Bloodstone Fen.

Bloodstone Fen is a map many fans of the original Guild Wars will fondly remember. When players return to the map in Guild Wars 2, they’ll find it very different because the Bloodstone that was once in the map has exploded… completely changing the map’s landscape. Indeed, it seems as though the explosion has effected the map’s physics and sanity of its inhabitants.

The state of the map lends itself well to plenty of fun gameplay mechanics. Bloodstone Fen is a map very much so created for gliding (a new mechanic added to the game on the release of Heart of Thorns). The map is very vertical, with there being plenty of spaces to explore both up in the air and down on the ground. I quickly found myself flying from the rock formations in the sky down to the surface and below. To make map exploration a little bit more exciting, the map features exclusive gliding fighting mechanics. From the sky players can now bombard enemies with abilities.

There are a variety of fun meta events which take place around the relatively small map, as well as plenty of rewards for players participating in them. Some items which were previously locked behind the raids are available to purchase on the map with the map currency (which requires the player to complete events, fly around and mine nodes). It can take a while to get everything required, so I’m sure the map will stay popular for quite a while.

Overall, I’m really happy with what I’ve played so far. I’m going to dive into the new PVP map sometime soon, but for the time being I’m having a blast just running around the Bloodstone Fen map participating in all of the various events.

The story for this first episode ended on a cliffhanger… which hurts because I honestly can’t wait to see where Season Three will go next! But it could be a while until the next season… so it could be a long wait. Let’s hope not!