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Guild Wars 2: Gates of Maguuma will be going live today, kicking off the long-awaited Season 2. In advance of the actual patch, ArenaNet released some new screenshots showcasing the new explorable zone, the Maguuma Wastes. Brave the sandstorms and Inquest forces, earn some sweet cosmetic rewards.

Here lies the Zephyr Sanctum, once a beautiful sight and now little more than rubble. While our Living Story heroes gather once more to aid the relief efforts alongside Seraph forces and players, the opportunistic Inquest are already combing through the remains. Remember those crystals all over the ships? The ones we use in the racing events across the Sanctum? Well, the Inquest want those crystals and the power they contain.

What’s actually pretty fun is that players will be able to find and use these crytals too, bringing a taste of Sanctum Sprint to PVE. Much of the zone is designed to accommodate these special abilities, resulting in some interesting vertical environments.

Since the new zone is still in the Maguuma region, many of the non-asura enemies should be rather familiar. In addition to the Inquest threat, players will have to fight off Nightmare creatures, while seeking allies among the hylek.

Getting into the Wastes isn’t going to be easy though. Massive vines try to keep adventurers at bay, and events throughout the day will allow players to launch assaults against the bizarre vegetation; and if there’s one thing Guild Wars 2 players are good at, it’s zerging.

Here are some of the key features to expect, broken down. Note the new scarf and goggles rewards, plus the new Story Journal launching today.

The Fall of the Zephyrites

The Zephyrites are in need of your aid! After they departed from the Labyrinthine Cliffs and the festivities there, the Zephyrites met with trouble in the air. You’ll need to find the ship and its inhabitants and figure out what went wrong.

Digging Deeper

Meet up with Marjory, Kasmeer, Braham, Rox, and Taimi and Scruffy to investigate what’s causing such a commotion and how it’s connected to the fallen Zephyr Sanctum. It’ll take courage and no small amount of teamwork to get to the bottom of things!

Against the Inquest

The commotion in the Maguuma region has garnered the attention of the notorious Inquest. As you venture through Dry Top, keep an eye out for Inquest devices and operatives. They’ll stop at nothing to reach their nefarious goals, so you’d best be prepared for a fight!

Elite Achievements

Once you’ve completed the storyline for Gates of Maguuma, you’ll unlock access to challenging achievements that will push your wits and skills to the limit! Perform daring feats of valor, strength, and sheer guts to prove your worth and unlock rewards! Read more about the Story Journal feature that’s making all Living World story content permanent!

Rich Rewards

This release brings in a whole passel of new rewards, including new crafting materials. Refine Ambrite into sheets to be used in crafting gear with bonuses to Toughness, Healing, and Vitality, or harvest cacti to create delicious new dishes! You’ll also have a chance to find the new Adventurer’s Spectacles and Adventurer’s Scarf, which can be combined to create the stylish and functional Adventurer’s Mantle!

The Living World

The Living World has given Guild Wars 2 players a regular cadence of new game content delivered through seasons, similar to a television series. Players also now have access to DVR-like functionality with the Story Journal, a feature that gives them the ability to save and revisit each new episode they log into to build a growing library of the game’s endless storyline.  ArenaNet has released more than two dozen Living World updates, with each release introducing new story, characters and game play that expand on the rich lore of the Guild Wars universe.

Now all we have to do is wait for the patch to actually roll out. In the meantime, enjoy more screenshots below, or see the trailer that first teased the Zephyr Sanctum’s brutal demise. For those of you who can’t actually remember how Season 1 went, ArenaNet has a video for that, too.