By Jaime Skelton (MissyS), Senior Editor
Swordsman Online is preparing a Halloween treat of its own this week: the launch of its first expansion, Gilded Wasteland, on October 23. Don’t worry, this update isn’t about ghosts and goblins and candy. Gilded Wasteland aims to deliver both new content for high level players, and improvements for players of all levels across multiple systems. While you’ll have to wait just a little longer to get your hands on the update, Perfect World Entertainment let us get an early look at the content.
Head-to-head with the Eminence School
Anyone who’s played at least the first ten levels of Swordsman is already familiar with the Eminence School, the “bad guys” who have been trouble since level one. Up until now, players have been on the chase, but Gilded Wasteland changes that. High level players will be able to finally face the Eminence School on their own turf.
The expansion raises the level cap from 89 to 94, and with it come three new zones (plus new dungeons). Thankfully, you don’t need to be level 89 to start experiencing the new content: the first zone is designed for level 80 characters, and the first dungeon for level 84. Of course, even if you are level 89, you’ll want to go through all of the new areas as they tie into the main storyline.
The first of the zones is Ping Liang, a vast mountainous region based on the geography of Northern China. Players are then lead to Dukhan, a desert-like region that’s design was influenced by western games like Uncharted. Players will find a new city here, along with the Empress’ Palace, the penultimate instance of this expansion where the best gear can be found. Finally, players can also venture into the Shadow Mountain Plains, which mirrors the Mongolian steppes, and players will face Mongolian raiders as they come through breaches in the Great Wall.
In addition to a glance at these three beautiful and enormous zones, we were also given a run through the Road to Eminence, the first of the new available dungeons. Here players will find themselves battling against some of the Eminence’s finest, facing off against formations of martial artists, trained vultures, and a master that battles, in part, by moving great stone pillars around to attack the party.
High level players will also be treated to new Celestial Weapons. These weapons are the first of their kind, and far better than any currently available weapon. These weapons grow with the player, earning their own experience by being ‘fed’ special loot drops, and also lots of choice in stat selection. Best of all, they’re completely free – players will get access to them, and the ability to level them, through normal gameplay.
More than One Way Forward
High-level players aren’t the only ones gifted with new content in Gilded Wasteland. Players of all levels will find benefits in a few key changes, including the companion system and PvP.
The companion system (Swordsman’s “pet” mechanic) is gaining an upgrade with the new cultivation system. Those who’ve played Neverwinter will be somewhat familiar with this mechanic: players can now send their companions out on timed quests. The companion will then return, having gained experience. As they level up, they will gain focus. Through this system, players will have greater control and benefit from companions, especially as they gain usability in PvP.
The first news for PvPers is that the arena, which has previously been stat neutral, will now allow players to toggle on the effects of skill upgrades, lost arts, and other character bonuses. While the arena will continue to offer an even playing field, players who are looking for a more competitive twist will now have that option.
In addition, a new PvP system arrives with Gilded Wasteland: battlegrounds. The first battleground, Lok Yan Battlefield, will offer a 6v6 “capture the flag” with a twist, as players must instead escort a lion dancer back to their base. The second battlefield offers classic team deathmatch for those who don’t want to mess around.
Perfect World Entertainment has been promoting this new update for virtual wuxia enthusiasts since early September, and it’s worth the wait. Story enthusiasts will the chance to enact their character’s revenge, end-game players will have instances and new weapons to keep them busy, and PvPers will have new ways to face off against each other. If you haven’t yet tried out Swordsman’s fluid combat and unique story approach, now is the perfect time to try.