Two Path of Fire preview weekends were announced right after the expansion reveal: August 11-13 (open world and raptor mount) and August 18-20 (PvP and WvW with new elite specializations). Anyone with a GW2 account in good standing can participate in these preview weekends (and since the core game is free, anyone can create an account). This last weekend, I jumped into the open world preview to check it out. After a cutscene showing the player flying over the Crystal Desert, I was placed into a story mission that sets up the tone of the expansion. Upon completing it, I was placed in the Free City of Amnoon, which I assume will be a major hub in the expansion. From there, I was free to explore the open world around the city.
During my time exploring the open world in Path of Fire, I found and tamed a new Ranger pet (the Sand Lion), completed some open world events, fought brand-new enemy types (the sand sharks were both super cool and super annoying), and attempted a Champion-level bounty (a new type of open world encounter). I also unlocked a Mastery Point (by playing a type of Diner Dash mini-game in the city) and the Raptor mount. I wasn’t one of the people who desperately needed mounts in GW2, but I did find the Raptor mount fun to have. He had a tail spin that I could use to dismount and damage enemies (after ranking up the mount’s first mastery level, this tail spin did more damage). The small part of the open world I was able to preview contained more of the things I’ve come to expect in Guild Wars 2 with some slight twists and variations. Most notably, the Crystal Desert feels like a new land, which I think is really important to the experience. And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Crystal Desert’s skyline is absolutely breathtaking.
Though there wasn’t a huge wealth of things to do in the short first preview weekend, it did whet my appetite for the expansion. I’m a big franchise fan, so uncovering some of the story’s big mysteries is an exciting prospect for me. Not to mention I’m simply dying to try out the new Elite Specializations. Path of Fire releases September 22nd, 2017, and I hope to be in the thick of things when it launches.