Yesterday was patch day, and with it came no few changes to Guild Wars 2 – one of the biggest being the removal of the old traits and skills system, replaced with specializations. As of yet, things aren’t perfect there – conditions are a bit too overpowered, and world bosses too weak – but it’s in, it’s here.

I’ve actually done little to play around with that yet, however, as the other major part of the update has fully grabbed my attention.

(Fair warning – this post is highly image-heavy.)

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Fixing the Personal Story

The Personal Story is a large part of Guild Wars 2, and yet it’s one that’s always had its issues. The September Feature Patch restructured the Personal Story, moving it to chapters available every ten levels.

There were a lot of reasons I disliked that move. The biggest one is that early personal story is a good way to level up a character and immediately immerse you in Tyria; now a new character cannot start until they are level 10. To me, this feels more disconnected than having a new step available soon as the previous was complete, but with a level suggestion on it. The other big issue that was created by this change was later parts of the story going completely missing.

During the Light in the Darkness story step, your character is asked by the Pale Tree what their greatest fear is. This response used to lead to one of three different storylines, depending on what you responded with. This arc, called the Greatest Fear storyline, was removed entirely with the September patch. While this storyline was removed, though, there were reports from people playing through that the following steps seemed disjointed, and still contained references to the storyline that now did not exist. A problem? Yes.

This is how my Chapter 7, the story having been completed back at launch, looks. Everything in the current order after Battle of Fort Trinity is in Chapter 8.

This is how my Chapter 7, the story having been completed back at launch, looks. Everything in the current order after Battle of Fort Trinity is in Chapter 8. I had chosen “Letting an innocent die” as Liusaidh’s greatest fear.

There’s been talk for some time now of the story steps being restored to where they were and the Personal Story being fixed, and today Bobby Stein made a post on the forums outlining exactly what is going to be happening when the changes are made. Essentially what will happen is that the story steps will go back to their previous locations – the Greatest Fear storyline will go back to comprising Chapter 7, and the steps that are in 7 currently will return to Chapter 8, as they were initially. There’s no date as to when this patch will go live, but Bobby notes a few things – if you haven’t completed A Light in the Darkness or Forging the Pact, you shouldn’t have any problems. If you have completed Forging the Pact and went ahead to Battle of Fort Trinity, you will not be able to play the Greatest Fear storyline. And if you’ve gone past that, you must complete through Source of Orr to start Chapter 8, otherwise you will be skipped straight ahead to Victory or Death once the update goes in.

I’m summing things up, so make sure you read the post for more in-depth info.

The other big change that’s being made is to Arah. At current, the personal story ends with having to complete the Arah dungeon in story mode.

This is and has been a problem since launch for several reasons.

To start out, essentially the entirety of personal story was designed to be able to be played alone. Sure, some steps are easier if you’ve got another person with you (I’m looking at you, Claw Island), but it was essentially soloable. Suddenly you are faced with a dungeon that requires a full team of five players. It’s a bit of a disconnect there.

To do Arah, you needed to find a group of four other people to do it with you. Now, here’s another issue – Arah’s story mode is long, and has a lot of places where you’re just sitting there waiting for things to happen. That made it hard to find groups, and even in a guild it wasn’t a dungeon you’d do at the spur of a moment. I always hated when people asked to do Arah in guild chat – not because they wanted to do it (I’ve done it a good dozen times since finishing my own personal story to get others through it), but because I’d have to tell them no, not right now, this is a long mess of a dungeon and if you want to do it, we need to plan ahead and get a group together in advance. If you didn’t have people willing to do it? Forget it. I know people who’ve been done with their story for months but still haven’t actually finished because they still need to do Arah.

And so here we get the other big change being made. Arah, as a story mode dungeon, is being retired from the game. Instead, it will become the Victory or Death story step (which before simply told you to go do Arah). It will not require a group of five – while you can go in with five people, the difficulty on it will be scaled down so that someone can do it solo. As a result, you can only do it once on a character (unless you join in with someone doing it), Arah explorable modes will be unlocked by default, and the Arah PvP reward track will be unlocked by either completing the PS or doing an explorable mode.

This is a fantastic change. This is going to make it so much easier for people to complete the content. No longer will they have to wait for a group to be able to finish their story – they can jump in whenever they have the time to do it. I feel that this is also acknowledging the fact that a lot of people will be moving on from the Pact Tyria to Heart of Thorns content soon, and so this will allow new players to get into the action quickly.

Overall, I approve heavily of this change.

There’s no date announced when the change will go in, but Bobby does mention in the forum post that it will be at least eight weeks from now – which gives people plenty of time to get to the correct story steps so that they won’t have to worry about anything breaking or missing any content.

Also, on an aside, this is the sort of communication I like seeing. Straightforward information about what’s going to be happening and why, and what to expect. I’d like to see more of this, please!

A Time-Limited Person’s Guide to the Silverwastes

So it is no secret that I have little free time these days, as my inactivity on this blog shows. My work schedule is such that the hours I’m free during the day are when no one else is online, and generally are taken up by other things that need to be done (sometimes, being an adult sucks).

The Silverwastes is a fun map to farm; you can get a good amount of loot from there, and you’re basically required to spend time there to get the Carapace armor sets. The entire Breach event cycle can take a while to complete, which can be tricky if you’re limited on time. And so here I am to help you with that!

Step One: Get your stuff together.

If you’re farming in the Silverwastes, you’re going to wind up with a bunch of stuff. Bandit Crests, shovels, keys, sand, etc. If you have multiple characters, try and remember who has it all, and try and keep everything together. That way you won’t get into the map and realize that a different alt has all of your shovels or something like that.

sw-invIt’s not organized, really, but it’s all there. Stacks of crests, shovels, bandit keys, nightmare key pieces and key, etc. Also, make sure you have salvage kits on hand and that your bags are otherwise pretty empty. You’re going to wind up with a lot of loot.

Step Two: Get to know the map.

Silverwastes is kind of an annoying map to navigate, in my opinion, but updates have made the map easier to get around. There are, for example, three waypoints now, instead of one. You’ll only really need to worry about two of them, though.

sw-mapCamp Resolve is the start of the area; this waypoint is always available to you. The one in Sharp Valley – Hidden Depths Waypoint – was added when the Labyrinth was added, and this waypoint may contest if there’s an event going on there. I highly recommend uncontesting this waypoint as soon as possible if you see it contested; the event is not hard and can be done solo in just a few minutes. Having this waypoint open makes it much easier to get to the western side of the map, and is especially important to have open during the Vinewrath fight.

There are also skritt tunnels that let you shortcut through the map; the tunnels link up in pairs. They are not always open, however; if bandits have overrun the skritt camp, you have to wait for that event to activate (sometimes it takes forever and is really frustrating) and then kill bandits until it completes. The most important part of the skritt tunnels is that the Far Silverwastes can only be accessed that way, and you’re required to go there to do certain steps of the Living Story. Otherwise, Hidden Depths Waypoint is more important to keep open.

Step Three: Use the Looking For Group tool.

Let’s talk map hopping. I get that some people don’t like it, and that there should be more rewards to incentivize staying in a new map and building it up. I agree, to a certain extent. The problem is it can take a long time to build up a fresh map. While many map hop to get the most rewards they can, others do it because they’re limited on time.

sw-lfgApparently TTS was setting up for Triple Trouble when I was taking screens today. Other than that, as you can see, people advertise Silverwastes maps in LFG. This helps to build up a map that’s already gained some momentum, as well as to get it as full as possible, so there’s as many people around for Vinewrath as possible. The Breach bosses can be done with only a handful of people each, but you really don’t want to have only five people in a lane at Vinewrath.


The most common things you’ll see are maps around 30-70%, maps where Vinewrath is starting, and maps where people are doing chest runs. Silverwastes parties and maps do fill quickly, so if one you try is full, don’t worry too much – there’s new ones being advertised all the time. Most of the time if a map is advertising Vinewrath starting, I don’t bother – they’re trying to squeeze a last few people in if possible, and chances are it’s full already. Anything above 50% I find chancy about getting in, though ultimately it depends on the time of day. Right around now, getting into a 70% map wouldn’t be difficult. During prime time, trying a 40% map may get you “map full”.

If you’re going to make a listing in LFG for your map, by the way, try and be accurate about how much progress has been made. Don’t list as a 50% map if you’re only about 25% of the way through. Yes, since it’s just a bar with no markers you have to estimate and the estimates may not always be entirely correct…but being that far off isn’t simply a poor estimate.

Step Four: Know the encounters.

When you’re doing the Breach and Vinewrath, make sure you know what you’re doing. Of course, in some cases other people make it hard to do the fight properly – people who stand on the lip at Copper while fighting the Husk and shouting “NO AOE” will make the fight harder (hint – you just need to kill the poison bubbles before they reach the husk. AoE is perfectly fine. Also if everyone’s on the lip there’s a risk of the husk resetting; melee is quite safe if there’s someone kiting the offshoots). And sometimes things just go wrong.

But for the most part, just be aware of what’s going on. If Vinewrath is starting and there’s 60 people at the south lane, go to the middle or north – they nearly always need people. Don’t tunnel vision in on protecting only the siege carrier and forget about what’s going on at the ammo pile – trust me, you do not want to have to be collecting ammo while there’s a Champion Terragriff rampaging around because no one bothered to keep watch on what’s happening there. The north lane is especially bad for this, because of how it’s set up.

And make sure you know the encounters for the bosses themselves. They aren’t hugely difficult, and generally there’s someone in say chat who’ll give a brief instruction of what to do. For the Beekeeper, bring bees to the honeycomb and stand behind it when he goes to the front of the room. Reflects are useful against the Mangler; kill the pustules that spawn and then go stand in the white pyramid on the floor when he goes to the front of the room. Pop the flowers when fighting the Dark Wing and stand on them when he goes to the front of the room.

Step Five: If you defeat, it is faster for you to waypoint.

This is why you want the Hidden Depths waypoint open. Frequently it’ll be faster for you to waypoint there and run back to wherever you were if you are defeated. Now, if you’re downed, people will res you. But a defeated person takes a long time to res, especially when you’re in combat. I have seen the Breach fail because of everyone at a boss slowly getting defeated and refusing to waypoint and run back, causing the boss to reset.

Step Six: If you’re limited on time, skip the Labyrinth until later.

You can open the Greater Nightmare Chest as many times as you have complete keys. So if you finish Vinewrath and don’t really have much time to do anything else, just save up your keys. You can use them later, when you’ve got some more time available to you.

Step Seven: Opening bags and salvaging everything will take forever.

I’m not kidding. You get a lot of champ bags, bags of gear, etc. from doing these events. It will take you a good amount of time to open everything up, salvage stuff, sell off items, and so on. Silverwastes is brutal on inventory management. So, again, if you’re out of time, leave that stuff for later when you can dedicate a good fifteen minutes to getting everything organized.

Step Eight: Have fun.

Don’t force yourself to farm Silverwastes (or run dungeons or anything else) if you don’t enjoy it. I enjoy Silverwastes, but I rarely have the attention span to go through it more than twice in a row. So I don’t. I go do something else instead (once I’ve emptied my inventory). This is a game, after all, so you should make sure that you’re having fun with whatever you are doing.

No Turning Back

With Tuesday’s release, Point of No Return, the second season of the Living World has come to an end, and boy has it done so with a bang. The name is an incredibly accurate description of the events that take place – there is no going back from what has happened. A terrible truth has been learned, the attack has been launched…things have changed.

Okay, before I start too much, I’m just going to point out that this will be rife will spoilers. Good? Good.

So, finally the threads have come together (for the most part). If there was one thing about this storyline, it’s that frequently it felt like we were pursuing a number of disparate threads; the sudden switches between the content of the different instances could be jarring at times, as it didn’t feel like there was much to link them together. Jumping back and forth between directly fighting the Mordrem and things like digging around the Priory could seem weird. This patch brought together most of those events, but there’s still tons of questions left.

I just love this loading screen.

I just love this loading screen.

So, in a fast summary, previous episodes saw us trying to find out what the Master of Peace had been up to while the Pact readied to launch their fleet. Going to the Priory brought us to Ogden Stonehealer, a familiar face to Guild Wars 1 players, who led us to Glint’s Lair. There we found that the Master had been protecting Glint’s egg. We track down the Master, but he is killed, and Caithe steals the egg and vanishes. The Pale Tree is distressed by this fact and gives us “memory seeds”, which we use to relive moments in Caithe’s early life, in an attempt to find where she had gone. We also essentially witness the birth of the Nightmare Court through these memories, which revolved around Caithe and Faolain trying to find Wynne, another Firstborn, who knew a secret about the sylvari that Faolain was determined to discover. The previous episode saw us faced with a cave that was locked with unknown magic, but that we needed to gain entry to.

Point of No Return picks up with our character returning to the Priory with Marjory to find out how to enter this cave. This instance is another GW1 lore bomb; it will certainly be very familiar to those who played Prophecies. Don’t forget to interact with that Old Mirror! Having found what we needed (hopefully), we head back to the Silverwastes to meet with Logan, Eir, Zojja, and Trahearne, before setting off to where we must go. Camp Resolve falls under attack from the Mordrem first, and they are barely fought off. Do make sure to stick around for the dialog after the fight ends – the conversation between Zojja and Logan is quite funny (clearly the years and events of the game have healed the rift between the two quite well), and there’s a rather sweet one between Eir and Braham.


The third and final instance, The Mystery Cave, is the heavy one. Once we gain entry, we’re faced with a massive cavern, with everything a glittering gold color, and there is an entrance (blocked with a sandfall) of a massive, ancient structure. This cave reminded me heavily of Elona; in particular it reminded me of the Hidden City of Ahdashim.


Scattered through the cavern are a few objects – some chairs and mugs and a blanket – which the game makes a point to state how odd it is to find something so ordinary in a place like this. Near the blanket is the place for the final memory seed, and we learn what happened so long ago.

First of all, I believe that this is the point where Faolain fully embraced the Nightmare, and where Caithe finally turned away from her and stepped back. Having finally tracked down and cornered Wynne, Faolain is so determined to learn what this secret is that she decides she will torture it out of her fellow Firstborn. Wynne is terrified by this; she knows how far Faolain’s cruelty will go. She begs Caithe to kill her, knowing that if Faolain found out this secret, she would not keep it to herself, and it would mean the end of the sylvari.


And so we learn that sylvari were created by the jungle dragon, Mordremoth. Born to be his minions. When you confront her back in the present, Caithe confirms that what you saw was true – that she did indeed murder one of her fellow Firstborn, and that sylvari were indeed born of Mordremoth. She also says that at this point, the secret will make its way out either way – sylvari have been starting to lose control of themselves. She then vanishes with Glint’s egg, saying to remember that she is on the same side you are.

Okay. I have to admit. I am not exactly happy with the revelation that sylvari are dragon minions, and that old fan theory being proven to be true. I have never been a fan of it. I don’t like the idea that a playable race was made to be minions of a dragon. It just sits poorly with me…plus I love sylvari too much to want to think that my beloved flowers were created by a dragon. However, it does add an interesting depth to sylvari and the game’s lore, and I certainly cannot complain about the presentation of this information. But there are still questions that this brings up.

The first is, what exactly is the Pale Tree? The popular theory has always had her seen as a champion of Mordremoth, but with how things have been presented it does not point at this being the case. Rather, I believe her to be something of an anomaly, with the early tending of the sapling by Ronan and Ventari, as well as the teachings on Ventari’s tablet, subverting her nature to be opposed to the dragon. There is also the Dream; this is something that not even she fully understands, despite being the guardian of, and she’s the only one who can directly access. It is known that there is at least one other sylvari tree in Tyria, and the single sylvari that has been met from that tree, Malyck, had no connection to the Dream and knew nothing of it.

So I believe that what we currently know points at the Pale Tree likely not, in fact, being a champion of Mordremoth; she was actively working to protect the sylvari race, and Mordremoth sent his champion, the Shadow of the Dragon to directly attack her. The Dream and Wyld Hunts are also concepts that are unique to sylvari born of the Pale Tree, so far as we know (we know the Dream is, at any rate), and it’s worth remembering that at current, if you play a sylvari, you currently have the Wyld Hunt of destroying Mordremoth.

Somehow I doubt the dragon had any control over that.

gw222So my personal theory remains much as it was the last time I wrote about the topic of sylvari and corruption – that it is a strong connection to the Dream that is important for protection of sylvari. Some things have changed, however; knowing now that sylvari are the creation of Mordremoth explains their inability to be corrupted by the powers of the other dragons. It also explains why the two sylvari we know to have been corrupted by Mordremoth, Scarlet and Aerin, were able to have that happen – Scarlet learned things she shouldn’t have and made herself Soundless, and Aerin also was Soundless. Cutting themselves off from the Dream made them open to Mordremoth, who was able to then take control of them. The Pale Tree is currently in a weakened, near-death state, which likely is the cause of sylvari starting to lose control; without her to guide the Dream and her children, her protection against the dragon is become weaker and weaker.


So the big question here is (or one of several, anyway), what is going to come of the sylvari? Clearly not every sylvari will come under the thrall of the dragon – it’s simply not possible for that to happen without turning many players’ characters evil. Caithe appears to still be fully in control of herself despite being highly secretive and running off with what everyone considers to be the key to defeating the dragons. In the second cutscene you see, Canach is present, facing off against a large mob, and states “Stop treating us as monsters, we are not the enemy.”

Just what is protecting some sylvari from this corruption while leaving others open? I’m guessing it’s any number of factors; a strong connection to the Dream, a powerful Wyld Hunt, a particularly strong will in an individual, or the presence of especially powerful magic could all be things that lend to this. As sylvari players, we have the first three present, coupled with the fact that our current Wyld Hunt is to kill Mordremoth. Canach is the very definition of stubborn, plus his recent association with Anise means that he is frequently in the company of an exceptionally powerful mesmer, which could be assisting.


What role will the Nightmare Court play? We see Faolain in the cutscene in the midst of a fight, but it’s not obvious what side she is on; she impales and kills a being that does not look to have any vines or other corruption around them (like other creatures scene in that part), however, so I’m doubting she’s on the side of good. I would hazard a guess that the Nightmare Court, due to their darker natures, will be more open to corruption, despite the fact that they still maintain a connection to the Dream. I had assumed previously that the Nightmare Court would be likely to side with the rest of the sylvari in a fight against the dragons, but with what we now know, I’m finding that less likely. It’s far more likely that they would revel in the chaos and let themselves become corrupted, seeing Mordremoth’s corruption as freeing others from Ventari’s teachings.

And the most important question. WHERE IS ALL OF THIS GOING. Well, right now we have something of a hint…


…and shortly we will know more. This logo was leaked early Tuesday morning by someone doing some digging around and discovering that NCSoft had trademarked the name “Heart of Thorns”, and then it was shown at the end of the second cutscene. It was followed with when to find more information – at PAX South. And, well, I really think we’re finally getting an expansion announced. People have said that before, but I think this is it.

Several things here to look at. First is the very fact that the name has been trademarked. None of the other LS stuff has had that happen. Usually trademarks are only filed for if it’s something big. Second is the fact that the second season is over with, and realistically, very little has happened other than set up a much larger story. Third is the panel at PAX South itself. It is a Saturday panel in the main theater. Saturday is a prime day at any convention – that’s when the big things happen. That’s when the most people are there. It’s always the busiest and biggest day. Then, the fact that the panel is in the main theater. That is huge. Looking at the PAX South schedule, there are only ten panels (and two concerts) in the main theater. A very notable fact there is that the GW2 panel is the only game specific panel. The panelists listed? Colin Johanson and Mike O’Brien.

Add all of that together. Trademarked name for something teased at the end of a LS season with an announcement at PAX, on Saturday, in the main theater, being the only game to have a panel there, and who is presenting the panel…they are absolutely announcing something huge. They would not go to that much effort for something like another LS season.

Also, I feel the need to point out that I will be at PAX South, and so I am just a tiny bit excited to be at this panel and see what’s going to happen.

We really have hit a point of no return. If nothing else, the title of the episode is true in rather a number of ways.

The Silverwastes

After a far too long break, Living Story has started up again, with yesterday’s release of Echoes of the Past. The story continues on where it did before (presumably some time has happened since the Summit at the end of the previous episode, but it’s not really specified), with trying to organize efforts against Mordremoth. We also are introduced to another level 80 map, the Silverwastes, which has rather a different feel to it than any other map in the game.

I’m not going to go into the story part of the update too much, simply because there’s already a ton of other people doing so right now. It is extremely lore-heavy, however, and one hell of a nostalgia bomb for Guild Wars 1 players. The Priory has a massive library in its basement, with all sorts of neat, creepy, or just plain magical things…as well as an artifact that sends you to somewhere perhaps slightly unexpected.

Also, it has books. Lots of books. Lots of little tidbits you can read. It’s really cool.

I want to live here.

I want to live here.

But besides that, there’s also the new map, Silverwastes, that I mentioned. And it is, as I also mentioned, very different from other maps in the game. As far as size goes, the map itself is a bit smaller than Dry Top, though one advantage it has is that we apparently get the full map right away (it does not appear that it expands further, but there may be other zones that will open off of it). The story will lead you there, but if you are impatient, you can access it through Vandal’s Claim in Brisban Wildlands.

The Silverwastes

The Silverwastes

As far as location goes, it is north of Dry Top, so for GW1 zones that would place it roughly around Mamnoon Lagoon and Silverwood (hence the name), perhaps very small parts of Aurora Glade and the Sage Lands. It’s a much less vertical map than Dry Top is, which is very much a good thing as there’s no real Zephyrite presence here and hence no aspect crystals. Instead Silverwastes is a Pact staging ground, to take on Mordremoth, and is very clearly a hostile area.

In short, there are Mordrem everywhere.

It also differs from Dry Top in that Silverwastes is full of very old, crumbling structures – the forts that the Pact is trying to hold, as well as a number of other ruins that are scattered around. Dry Top really didn’t have anything like this; other than Prosperity, there was little in the way of actual buildings.

Just out of the frame is the corpse of a giant.

Just out of the frame is the corpse of a giant.

Silverwastes is a map where essentially the entire zone is one big meta event. Dry Top worked something like that, where you wanted to get the favor level as high as possible before the sandstorm to max out rewards, but Silverwastes operates very different to that. In the Silverwastes, there are four forts that the Pact is attempting to hold and defend from Mordrem attacks, and over time they can be upgraded. The most common events that happen in the zone are defending a fort, retaking a fort if that fails, guarding supply bulls that travel between the four forts, and thinning out the Mordrem. As forts are held and upgraded, the meta “timer” fills; when it fills, the Champion Mordrem bosses are available to fight.

It holds some similarity in World vs. World, in having to take and defend areas, upgrading them, and making sure supplies get delivered, but at the same time it’s very different.

Almost two stacks of crests, and I really haven't spent a huge amount of time there yet.

Like in Dry Top, completing events grants you a new currency item (Bandit Crests, this time), and they can be spent on a number of items, including keys to hidden chests, new stat type recipes, and some other neat things. I feel like the costs of these items, as well as the speed of gaining crests, are far better balanced than the geodes in Dry Top. You still only get a few per event completed, but events are far more frequent than in Dry Top, so it’s much easier for them to build up.

I’m sure the list will expand as more things are added (I’m almost certain that will be the case, in fact), and there’s one item in particular there that most people will probably be working towards getting two of anyway.

Chests work a bit differently in here; you get Shovels for various things (LS episode rewards, the occasional event reward, etc.) and can use those to dig up chests, which then can be unlocked with a key. When a chest is uncovered, it’s pinged on the map and is visible to everyone. I also find that the loot out of the Bandit Chests is, so far, better than the loot from the Hidden Chests.

There are new achievements; they primarily revolve around various steps of the meta event (defeating the Champions, defending upgraded forts, killing various rare bosses), as well as other things such as collecting Lost Badges, uncovering a chest, and donating crests.

I may have gotten my 13k chest today.

I may have gotten my 13k chest today.

There are two new collections, and…MY FAVORITE THING…a new armor set.

Not an outfit. Not something gemstore-exclusive. But a new armor set that can be unlocked through playing the remaining Living Story episodes. In fact, there’s two armor sets. The first is the Carapace armor set, which can be unlocked gradually; the shoulderpiece is the rewards for completing episode 5, and more pieces will become available during episodes 6, 7, and 8. It’s quite a nice armor set, too, being butterfly-themed…so naturally I decided I must have it.

Liusaidh showing off the light Carapace set.

Liusaidh showing off the light Carapace set.

You can also buy pieces of the set with Bandit Crests, for 1000 crests. If you want the set for more than one armor weight, you can either do it this way, or by running another character through episode 5 – whichever way you’d prefer to do it. And if you want the second set, Luminescent, you’ll need to do this anyway. Luminescent is essentially the Carapace armor, but shinier, and it’s unlocked through completing collections.

The collection for the Luminescent shoulders.

The collection for the Luminescent shoulders.

Part of the collection for the shoulders requires having all three weights of the Carapace shoulders, so it’s pretty safe to assume that will be required for the other armor pieces as they become unlocked as well. Some of the other requirements are fighting each of the champion Mordrem bosses…and getting all of the story achievements for the episode. So it’s not exactly easy (I tend to skip story achievements because I just don’t find the rewards worth it)…but definitely doable. And hey, now I have an actual reason to do those achievements, so that’s neat. Maybe.

The second collection involves collecting all of the Luminescent armor pieces, which gets you a title. A very neat title. I like it. I want it.


So…new story, new map, and new armor. Are there downsides to this patch? Well…yes. I find that I’m not entirely fond of Silverwastes. Navigating the zone can be difficult, and while it’s a small zone, there’s only one waypoint. I definitely feel like the size of the map is far too large to only have that one waypoint, as it means you’re going to spend a lot of time running around…and oftentimes finding events blocking your way…which can mean death if you’re not careful. Event frequency is very high, which is nice on one hand, but annoying on another. It’s definitely a bit irritating to finish a defense event, rebuild the fort, and have it come back under attack almost immediately. It also means that events overlap a lot, which can make the supply escorts a fast failure if the bull’s path goes through other events in the area.

I’m finding myself feeling about it like I feel about Dry Top – fun enough, but not really my type of thing, and if not for the fact that I need to spend a significant amount of time there for the Carapace and Luminescent armors, I probably would stop going there fairly quickly.

Overall, though, I do enjoy this patch a lot. The New Player Experience soured me on GW2 for quite a while, even with a lot of the changes having been adjusted, and while Halloween got me playing the game again, it was this update that I was looking forward to. I was hoping it would get me back into the game, give me things I wanted to do, to work towards. This patch does that in the best possible way, and I just have to say…it’s about damn time Living Story picked back up.

Shadows Have Fallen

Yesterday was the release of Episode 4 of Season Two, The Dragon’s Reach: Part 2! I was out most of the day, but I ran through everything yesterday evening. I will say that if you haven’t played it yet, I would do so before reading on, as this post will be full of spoilers. Fair warning now!

I have to admit, I found Part 1 of the Dragon’s Reach a bit underwhelming. A large part of it was due to the bugs in it upon release – much of the content relied on open world events, and there was an error with them not triggering as they should. There’s also the fact that a large part of it was fetch-and-carry as well as trying to placate various people. I just want to make a point real quick here. Everyone who complained that our characters were the second-in-command of the Pact, as opposed to the leader? If we were the leader, this is what we would have been doing all throughout the personal story. Not going out there and actually leading troops and doing things, but doing the paper shuffling behind the scenes. Keeping people happy. Coordinating everything and making sure it’s all where it needs to be. Coaxing cooperation and funds out of people. It’s okay in small doses, but anything more than that does not make for compelling gameplay.  And at the end of Part 1, I felt like little had been accomplished. It’s not a nice feeling.

anisekasPart 2 starts off with you attending a party with Kasmeer. Rumors are going around that Queen Jennah conspired with Scarlet in the attack on Divinity’s Reach. She cannot leave the city until her name is cleared, and so Kasmeer calls on you for help. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed this quest quite a lot. Having to get information from party-goers without arousing suspicion, and then pressing someone to see how they will trip up in their story; it reminded me of a mix of Assassin’s Creed and Phoenix Wright. The best part of this, though, is the ambient dialogue. Just spend some time hanging around the different groups and listen to their chatter – it’s highly amusing. I love good ambient chatter, and the fact that this is instanced means I can just idle around and listen to it all.

Once we clear Jennah’s name, we head back to Dry Top to assist Taimi. She’s still dealing with Councillor Phlunt while she works on her device; I’m just going to say that I don’t like Phlunt. I will not make any of the crude comments I’ve seen floating around about him, but he’s not terribly nice. These encounters have some interesting mechanics for bosses (a Mordrem that is magically shielded, and then an Inquest golem that has light crystal powers), which is always welcome! I like bosses with unique mechanics, especially for instances.

There is one thing that I feel is really underscored during this portion, more so than at any other point, and that is the fact that Taimi is a child. It’s strange, because repeatedly she’s told she cannot do something because it’s too dangerous for her or she’s too young, but rarely does Taimi ever act childish. She’s so very intelligent that sometimes it’s easy to forget how young she is. But here we see her acting rash, doing something rather stupid and dangerous due to personal pride, and getting herself in trouble. We see her truly terrified, upset, crying, and clinging to Braham for safety. And during all of this it’s just made so painfully clear that for all of her intelligence and self-confidence, she is still very young, and there are a great many things about life that she hasn’t yet learned. I found that a good thing to emphasize, even if I did want to just hug Taimi at one point.

This all leads into the World Summit, the final instance for this episode, and clearly the main focus of it. This is what we’ve been working towards for two episodes now – the meeting of all of the different world leaders, to try and unite everyone against the threat that is Mordremoth. One thing I did enjoy about this was how clear it is that your player character is so highly respected by everyone.

trahearnedialogAs shown in the dialogue above, Trahearne tells you early on that he’s only here to give you support, but this is all you. Later on, he’s asked about Mordremoth, and he essentially says that he knows almost nothing about the dragon – that you, the player character, are the one to talk to about that. It is you that presents all of the evidence about Mordremoth that has been gathered, to show the threat that it poses. It is you that counters the arguments of the different leaders, and it is you that they all defer to. It is made clear that, although you are not the commander of the Pact, you hold a position of respect and authority that is recognized by the leaders of all of the races. And you know what? I like that. It’s nice to see NPCs acknowledge your actions. We, as players, were the ones that defeated Zhaitan and Scarlet. We’ve been investigating Mordremoth. And those of the highest ranks recognize those facts and while they may argue, they agree with you because you know more about these things.

Of course, nothing can ever go quite smoothly, and the Omphalos Chamber is attacked by Mordrem, including a dragon lieutenant of sorts…one that will look very familiar to those who play as sylvari. It is in fact the Shadow of the Dragon that is fought in the sylvari opening instance, which, if you do this as a sylvari, will be confirmed by the Pale Tree telling you that you saw this in your Dream. The fight itself is actually…fairly difficult. Lots of AOEs everywhere. Lots of conditions. More adds spawning as you progress. Limited amounts of time in which to attack. It is not an easy fight. And it takes a huge toll on the Pale Tree, who shares a vision with you before she collapses…as well as a confession – that she is fading.

gw857The Avatar of the Pale Tree still lives, but she is unconscious and if you return to the Omphalos Chamber after completing this episode, it is still very dark in there and you cannot interact with her. It’s a bit awkward as other NPCs are still there, but I do like that bit of persistency, as if you go there on a character that hasn’t done Episode 4 she is still as she was before. It does leave me wondering just what the Avatar was doing that weakened her so greatly, and how this is going to play out in the future. The Grove is a part of the Pale Tree, and if the Tree is weakening, what does that mean for the city? What does that mean for sylvari who have not yet awakened?

Unfortunately we’ll have to wait some time to find out, as we’re now on a mid-season break, and the next episode is scheduled to come at some point in the fall. However, a new feature pack was announced today that will be coming on September 9th, and there is another very important event coming up soon – Guild Wars 2 turns two in two weeks! So I expect we’ll get some sort of update in two weeks anyway, then the feature pack after that, and then probably a few more weeks until Season Two picks back up.

And hey, maybe in that time, I’ll actually try some of the achievements.

Foefire’s End

This week, the trailer for next week’s living story release, The Dragon’s Reach: Part 1, was released. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it, because that’s what I’ll be talking about today.

Done with it? Okay. Let’s get started.

The part I’m most interested in starts around :36, with Rytlock. He has decided to make an attempt to break the curse laid on Ascalon by the Foefire. Whether or not he’s successful? Well, that remains to be seen. But let’s look at some facts and see what we can find:


The Foefire was a last-ditch effort by King Adelbern, cast as the Flame Legion overran Ascalon City. The charr had been warned of it, by a group of their own that had been sent to infiltrate Ascalon City and kill Adelbern; instead they found his servant, Savione, who warned them that the king was mad and what he planned. The Flame Legion chose to press the attack anyway. The city was overrun, and soldiers attempted to make a retreat, but Adelbern refused to let them do so, and instead unleashed the Foefire. This had the effect of killing the charr breaking into the city, but also obliterating every single human in Ascalon – not just the city, but for leagues around. Their bodies were destroyed, and their souls cursed to forever “protect” the land, seeing any living thing that crossed them as hostile, and to constantly reform themselves when destroyed.

There’s no way of claiming that this was either an intelligent nor a sane decision from Adelbern. It was, quite frankly, monstrous. And it clearly was not cast with the intention of killing charr, but rather with the intent of cursing and damning the very land itself. He was willing to murder all of his people, instead of letting them escape. It was very much a case of “I’ll break everything instead of let someone else have it”.

And so now, 237 years later, we see Rytlock making an attempt to break this curse. Clearly things with Mordremoth are heating up enough where they feel they need every potential ally they can get their hands (or paws) on. Why is Rytlock trying to break this curse? There are a couple reasons for this. It could be that he’s doing it as a final peace gesture with the humans – I will break this curse over members of your race in exchange for your assistance. It could be that they think that when the curse is lifted, the ghosts will still remain, and could be a potent force to use against the dragon. It could be that he’s attempting to remove a potential food source for the dragon.

There are also a number of other questions that are raised here. Why has it taken someone so long to try and break a curse. Why is it Rytlock making this attempt, and not someone else? What are the chances of it even succeeding?

So let’s take a look at some more information here.

First off, King Adelbern himself. He was the last king of Ascalon, though he was not actually in the line of inheritance. He was descended from King Doric, so he was of the royal family, but he was not in the line of succession for the crown; he had been a leader of his guild during the Guild Wars and was elected king through popular demand. He was a popular king, but there were Royalists that wished to dethrone him and put Duke Barradin, who had been the heir, on the throne. Adelbern’s son and heir, Rurik, was to marry Althea, Barradin’s daughter. This marriage was likely arranged to strengthen Adelbern’s (and hence Rurik’s) claim to the throne. It should be noted that Barradin himself did not press his claim.


King Adelbern had been the wielder of the magical sword Magdaer, while Rurik had wielded its sister-sword, Sohothin. These two swords are powerful Orrian magical artifacts that predate the Exodus of the Gods, and at some point (it is unknown) they were gifted to the Ascalonian royal line from the Orrian kings to ensure peace. Magdaer was shattered upon the casting of the Foefire, the spell having drawn on the magical power of the sword, and Sohothin was presumed lost when Rurik’s undead form was defeated at Hell’s Precipice. Somehow Rytlock found the sword; how it wound up back on the mainland is unknown, though it could be connected to the volcano at Abaddon’s Mouth erupting not long after Rurik’s final death.

We don’t actually know the words or terms of the Foefire curse. According to legend, the curse will be broken if either Magdaer or Sohothin return to Ascalon City in the hands of the rightful king of Ascalon.

Magdaer itself hasn’t been seen for some time – two years of in-game time. Eir retrieved the pieces of it from the Ascalonian Catacombs and said she knew a smith that could reforge it, but we do not know if this was ever successful.

So, with all of that information, look again at the trailer, especially of Rytlock’s actions. And notice one very, very important thing. He wasn’t in the Ascalonian Catacombs, or any sort of city. He was in Duke Barradin’s tombs. The tomb of the man who would have been King, who was the brother of the King preceding Adelbern, and was next in line to inherit the crown. In other words, the true king of Ascalon as of the Searing and the Foefire.

There are a lot of puzzle pieces here, but when you look at all of the information we know, looking back at the lore from Guild Wars 1, those pieces start to fit together. However, there are still large gaps here.

We don’t actually know what Rytlock’s true intentions are, or what he’s actually trying to do here. He may be trying to break the curse itself, thinking that bringing Sohothin to the resting place of the last true heir of Ascalon will be enough to satisfy the legend’s instructions on breaking it. It may be that he’s trying to awaken Barradin, to give him the sword, so he can break the curse, hoping that the presence of Sohothin would awaken some lucidity in Barradin’s mind (this theory would require Barradin to have died previously to the Foefire, most likely; it’s notable that we don’t actually know when he died).


And keep in mind, we don’t actually know how the curse can be broken! We don’t know what Adelbern actually said. What we know about how it can break is prefaced by “according to legend”. Fact of the matter is, no one that was in a position to know exactly what Adelbern did survived. Ghosts that were killed by the Foefire see everything as a threat; they are effectively mindless creatures at this point. We encounter others who were turned into ghosts by the Foefire in the Ascalonian Catacombs story mode, but Ralena, Vassar, Nente, and Kasha were all presumably killed prior to the Foefire, and hence they still have some control over their minds and awareness of what is going on.

Curses, as we are used to them from fiction, are a thing that are rare in Tyria. There is the Foefire, and the magical enslavement that was laid on the souls of the Orrian royal family when Zhaitan plundered their graves…but there are few others that we know of (if any). Hence, I want to quickly go over how curses typically act in fiction. They are a powerful type of magic, used to cause or wish harm upon a being or a thing. We’re all familiar with fairy tales, correct? Curses abound there. And there are a few common things – the wording on them must be precise, they are a type of magic that can often twist itself into something unintended, they can turn on their caster, and while it often seems that there is only a single way to break a curse, oftentimes a bit of creative thinking will present other options.

There is also, as I pointed out, the fact that Adelbern was not the true heir to the Ascalonian throne and hence not the true heir to Magdaer’s powers. Magdaer was a sword gifted to Ascalon as a symbol of peace. Poweful magical objects can oftentimes take on a mind of their own, as well. It is unlikely that Adelbern fully understood or was able to use the magic in his sword; it is also possible that the sword itself disapproved of the curse (it did break during the casting of the Foefire).

Even the very phrase “true king of Ascalon” leaves a large amount of interpretation, if that’s what’s needed. Does that mean Barradin’s ghost, who was the next in line of inheritance? Does it mean Adelbern’s ghost, as he was the king at the time? Or could it refer to a living member of the royal family? And even that opens a hundred different possibilities. The royal families of Kryta and Ascalon both descended from King Doric – so could Jennah break the curse? Is there another branch of the Ascalonian family still alive somewhere, perhaps? We already know of at least one, Wade Samuelsson; royal families tend to be large and have many branches and cousins upon cousins, so there’s always the possibility that there are more branches of the family we don’t know about that could be alive. Or, could it refer to the charr? After all, the charr lived in Ascalon before humans did – the Searing and the war between the two were the charr trying to take back their homelands.

Speaking of Jennah – while it is known she’s descended from Salma, it’s worth pointing out that on the family tree, she is not shown to be related to any known members of the royal family. Is she a direct descendent, or perhaps descended through a cousin? There is Roderick, who is possibly Baede‘s son, and possibly Jennah’s grandfather, but neither of those things are actually known for certain.

So there’s a lot to think about here. I don’t know if Rytlock will be successful in whatever he’s trying – I think it’d be neat if it did break the curse, but I also think it’d be equally funny if absolutely nothing happened. Realistically, I’m sure that Rytlock’s attempt at breaking the curse will be the very last thing we see during Tuesday’s update, and we’ll have to wait two weeks to find out what actually happens there (ArenaNet likes ending with a hook like that). And, personally, I do hope the curse gets broken…because that would mean a major revamp of Ascalonian Catacombs, and while I love that dungeon, it would be nice to see something new. It also wouldn’t be the first time Living Story massively altered a dungeon.

A lot of questions here. A lot to speculate on. What do you think will happen? Or, for that matter, what’s even going on here?

Tangled Paths and Eternal Fears

Well, that sure was an update wasn’t it? I laughed, I cried, I remembered that the Pale Tree and I are already on excellent speaking terms, and there’s no reason why I should have to wait two weeks to have an audience with her! But most of all, I was intrigued by the news found in this update, and some bits in particular have my mind absolutely spinning with possible implications. And so, it’s time for another installment of Dak’s Overly-Deep Analysis Corner!

But let’s back up – Just to be safe, this post will be rife with spoilers. If you haven’t played through Entanglement yet, stop reading, go play and see it all for yourself, then come back and read this. We good? All back? Sitting comfortably? Let’s go!

So, the more easily understood big plot point first: The thorn-covered vine tendrils we’ve been seeing aren’t simply signs of Mordremoth’s corruption – they are Mordremoth. Physically, they are connected to the newly-awoken dragon, and since the end of last season, it’s been quite literally extending his reach across Tyria.

And that reach is the first point of my speculation. Just how far has Mordremoth extended his planty grasp? Luckily, as the Dragons are attracted to magic, we have a handy indicator of Mordy’s current range: the waypoints it’s been prodding at, entangling, and sapping of energy. These waypoints have been found from Brisban and Kessex, along the edge of the Sea of Sorrows to LA and Bloodtide, all the way out to Timberline.

Don't mind me, just poking this floating rock!

Don’t mind me, just poking this floating rock!

There’s a couple neat points here. First, with the exception of Brisban (which has proximity to the Maguuma Jungles) every one of those areas has been subject to Risen. Which may relate to something that’s intrigued me since the early days of the game: Dragon minions stay out of each other’s way. It has always been status quo that Ascalon belongs to the Branded, the Shiverpeaks are Icebrood, and the coasts of the Sea of Sorrows, belonging to Maguuma, Kryta, the Steamspurs, and Orr itself are the domain of the Risen. The only oddity are the Destroyers, who pop up where they will, but they only make things more interesting, because in the areas that they do emerge (Kessex, Maelstrom), they still avoid the Risen. It seems that in some capacity, the Dragons, while not necessarily allies, follow a sort of standing boundary where they’ve split up Tyria, but don’t bother each other.

Which is why it’s interesting that Mordremoth seems to have, in some way, laid claim to zones previously “belonging” to the now-eradicated Zhaitan. Is it, somehow, aware of what’s happened to Zhaitan, and now stepping in to pick up the pieces? We still don’t know much about how the Dragons think, but it’s certainly possibly from what we’ve seen.

Second neat point is, look at the map. Dry Top, Brisban, Kessex, LA, Bloodtide, Timberline. It describes a rather clear arch, following the coast of the Sea. It’s not random, we know, because now we understand the ley lines, and the waypoints that exist were placed atop strong ley line nexuses. Fort Salma and Fort Concordia both harbored strong magical objects, and were subsequently overgrown with Mordremoth’s vines. The vines in Dry Top are around the Zephyrite crash site, where the ground is now scattered with Glint crystals, even more magical objects. Taken all together, I believe that Mordremoth’s vines are following the ley lines underground, surfacing where they detect strong magical energies directly above. If the Breachmaker woke the dragon by tapping into the nexus beneath LA, it seems Mordremoth has followed that same line back, and is branching from there for unknown reasons. The question now is… will the Dragon reach north, deeper into Kryta? Or will it loop south, into Orr, now free of any more than the lingering influence of its dead kin?

Mordrem Path

The vine path of harassed waypoints, from Dry Top to Timberline.

But wait – there’s more. At the very end of Entanglement, we see what Scarlet saw – a vision of the Eternal Alchemy. A symbol that we’ve been told represents the Pale Tree leads us into seeing a collection of globes similar to orreries, or spherical astrolabes. The center, largest sphere, according to the books in Scarlet’s hideout, represents Tyria. Arrayed around it are six smaller orbs in various colors. We see them spin, and then the green orb slams into the center, seeming to consume it as we hear a low snarling. This is what Scarlet saw, what pushed her to insanity! But… what does it mean?

This part is obvious; note the colors of the arrayed orbs. The choice of colors is far too exact to be coincidence, they represent the Dragons. Six Dragons, six orbs, surrounding the world of Tyria. What is interesting is the placement.

Can I have one for my living room?

…can I have one for my living room? V: Uhh, where would we PUT it?!

The Eternal Alchemy, as understood by the asura, is the equation by which the world is balanced. It is a massive mechanism, a machine, by which existence turns, inexorable. It’s a system of balance. The concept of a balanced system of existence isn’t a new one; world mythology has the idea in spades, with opposite elements or beings perpetually in… not so much combat, but opposition that keeps both sides in check. In the array we see here, the bright green orb – Mordremoth – is directly across from… a dull, grey/green-and-black orb, which by process of elimination must represent Zhaitan. And speaking of elimination, we sure managed that, didn’t we?

Which brings me to my point on this vision: I think we made a huge mistake, one we could have never known we were making! We destroyed Zhaitan, throwing the Eternal Alchemy out of balance, and leaving Mordremoth unopposed, perfectly poised to consume all of Tyria. And Scarlet found that out. She knew the Dragons consumed magic, and she discovered the Cavern of the Shining Lights, a powerful ley line nexus. In her own mad way, she confirmed her theories across Tyria, and then occupied Lion’s Arch, where she could use the ley lines to strike Mordremoth directly. But was her intention to cause the vision… or prevent it? Was it, perhaps, all a ploy to force the Pact to rally against Mordremoth specifically, so that we could eliminate it before the imbalance destroys Tyria? Why would she wake it early? Perhaps it was a desperate act; can you imagine how utterly lost we’d have been if the Pact were fighting, say, Jormag, focusing their efforts elsewhere while Mordremoth awoke and took control unopposed? Or perhaps even with Mordremoth slumbering, simply leaving one side of the balance intact would have had untold effects on the world.

This all remains pure speculation on my part… but I believe the pieces are there. Are we now in a race against time, to stop a Dragon we accidentally aided? Perhaps we’ll find out… you know, in two weeks. When the Pale Tree can fit us into her schedule.


EDIT: Aaand we’ve found another vine-harassed waypoint, this one in Lornar’s Pass, Guutra’s Homestead!  This new waypoint follows the arc I drew out, and alleviates a concern I had about the vines skipping from northern Bloodtide to Timberline!  (Interestingly, the Cascade Bridge Waypoint north of it is vine-free, but flickering…) If any of you find a waypoint I’ve not mentioned, please comment and let me know.  I’m keen to map this phenomenon accurately.


I have not written anything about the living world story so far, but there is one aspect of it that has caught my interest and I’ve been thinking on a lot the past few days. Namely, the subject of sylvari and dragon corruption.

If you remember, some time ago (nearly three years ago!) I wrote on that subject, back when the sylvari redesign was first revealed. One of the things that was included with the new sylvari information was a very neat little bit of info – that sylvari cannot be corrupted by the dragons; they simply die instead. I found this fact endlessly intriguing, and had some ideas on it. Interestingly enough, at some point in the interim that bit of information was removed from the sylvari page – it’s no longer documented there. Doing some digging through the Wayback Machine shows that this information was removed at some point between May and September of 2012 – so it must have been taken out with the site redesign that occurred around the game’s launch. There are a few mentions to this fact in the game itself, however; I managed to find one of the personal story quests that makes mention of the incorruptibility of sylvari, and I’m certain there’s at least one or two more mentions, but I can’t find them.

It seems, though, that this inability to be corrupted is something that is changing. Before I go further, I am going to just go ahead and point out that this will have spoilers for Gates of Maguuma. It’s been just about a week, so I’m not going to avoid them any longer, but they’re there. If you haven’t yet played it, read on at your own risk. There’s also spoilers for Season One, but…that’s been over and done with for some time now, so do they really count as spoilers now? Anyway.

I also want to point out, since people always mention it – Nightmare Court corruption is not the same as dragon corruption. They wish to “corrupt” the Dream and free the sylvari from Ventari’s teachings. There is no indication at all that this has anything to do with dragon corruption, which is what is meant when “corruption” is spoken of.

I just really like this screenshot from the end of season 1.

I just really like this screenshot from the end of season 1.

Scarlet Briar was, undeniably, crazy. Whether or not she was actually corrupted by a dragon, when she looked into the Eternal Alchemy with Omadd’s device, she saw something that terrified her – something that would haunt her for the rest of her life. It was something that broke her mind. That caused her to break away from the Pale Tree and throw away her previous life as Ceara. When it comes down to it, we don’t actually know a whole lot about her motivations, why she wanted to drill into the ley lines. We can only make guesses based on what we know of the nature of magic in Tyria, what we know of the Elder Dragons, and what we know of Scarlet herself.

It is known that the dragons consume magic – this is something that was a large part of the asura personal story, and is brought up again several times later in the personal story. Ley lines are essentially rivers of magic that run beneath Tyria’s surface. During Gates of Maguuma, we learn that there was a ley line hub near Prosperity, that was discovered by a miner. There is also a drawing you can find in Scarlet’s room of what appears to be a map of Tyria, with the Pale Tree at the center of it.

(Some people have also pointed out that this map bears a remarkable resemblance to the Realm of Torment of Guild Wars 1 – which raises some interesting questions…)

Scarlet’s actions at the end of Season One had the result of awakening a dragon – something that we still don’t yet know the full consequences of. Whether or not she intended to awake Mordremoth is up for debate – in her journal, Scarlet said that she must “confront it and put an end to this madness”. It could be that she saw Mordremoth, saw the destruction that it could cause, and by trying to interrupt the ley lines was attempting to prevent it from awakening. On the other hand, the argument can be made that by drilling the ley line, she was essentially calling to the dragon, to awaken it. We don’t know, and we may never know.

One thing that is mentioned is that the only things that Scarlet could have brought into the chamber – when her mind was opened to the Eternal Alchemy – were things already within her, which suggests there was something she knew that was kept hidden from her. We can only speculate on what that thing could be.

So, we have a new dragon awakening somewhere in the jungle. The Zephyrite ship was brought down over the Maguuma Wastes, and we find out during the story who did it, but we also learn some interesting things about the Zephyrites in the process. For example, the fact that they were essentially followers of Glint:


And that they use the magic inherent in her remains to fly their ships and also for the aspect crystals.

Now, the question can be raised – just what were they doing heading off in that direction? They tend to visit out of the way locations, but most of the Zephyrites are of Canthan or Elonian descent, and there’s simply nothing out in that direction anyway, that we yet know of. Cantha and Elona are both south of Tyria, so it is odd that they were flying northwest. And there was Glint’s baby from Guild Wars 1, that as of yet we don’t know the whereabouts of…

There was also Aerin. He was a sylvari that was originally a trader at the Labyrinthine Cliffs, and convinced the Zephyrites to let him join them. You find out during the investigation of the crash that he was the saboteur that took down their ship. It was also said in dialog during the quests that Aerin was a Soundless.


This is highly relevant; the Soundless are a faction of sylvari who have chosen to cut themselves off from the Pale Tree and the Dream. They are not like the Nightmare Court – who keep their connection to the Dream, but have turned their back on the Pale Tree. They, for the most part, simply want to live their life without the pressures and burdens that being a part of the Dream entails, and meditate regularly to keep this connection closed.

Which is very similar to what Scarlet did – she was, for all intents and purposes, Soundless herself. Marjory, during the investigation, says that Aerin reminds her of Scarlet. There is also an interesting point in the fact that, if you encountered Aerin in the Cliffs, he was very much not a Soundless – he would talk about the Pale Tree and even pray to her, so him becoming Soundless is a very recent event.

There is a popular theory going around that the Pale Tree herself is in fact a dragon champion. This is not a theory I’m a particular fan of, but I do have to admit that events make that idea make more and more sense. If you speak to her of Scarlet, she mentions having tried to protect Ceara from herself, which ties back to the idea that there may have been something she had known that was kept from her.

And this all ties into the fact that sylvari are supposedly not able to be corrupted by dragons…and yet it appears that two of them have had just that happened. Both were Soundless, cut off from the Dream and the Pale Tree. Both of those had ties to the newest dragon that has arisen. Mordremoth, the jungle dragon. If the idea that the Pale Tree is a champion is true, then it would make sense that she could protect her children from the corruptions of the other dragons, but also that her protections from Mordremoth may be weaker, and that an active connection from the Dream is needed for this protection to work.

There is one potential gaping hole in this, which is Malyck. However, I’m not sure he’s as much of a hole in the theory as he could be; he has not been seen since the personal story steps with him early on. While he has no connection to the Dream, he also says that he has a feeling of distance and loss instead. He went west into the Magus Falls to try and find his Tree, but never returned. And if you encountered him in the personal story, there is mention of him in the Nightmare Chambers from the Tower of Nightmare. It may simply be hallucinations, but it may also be that Scarlet encountered him – something that is quite possible, considering the direction he set off in. We simply don’t know what has happened to him or what he may have found. And it’s worth pointing out that west is where Mordremoth is supposed to be now awake.

I hope that sylvari and corruption is something that is brought up at some point in the Living World storyline. I would love to see some concrete information about it at some point. I’d like to find out what happened with Malyck, and what caused Aerin to become Soundless. I’d love to find out what Scarlet’s ultimate motivations were with her studies of the ley lines. So many new questions…

The Gates Have Opened

Yesterday, season two of the Living World, the Gates of Maguuma, released, giving us our first taste of how the living story is going to be handled in Guild Wars 2 from here on out.

Thus far, I am quite impressed with what we’ve been shown so far, and eager to continue on.

Now, I’ve been taking something of a break from the game the past couple of weeks. A combination of stress in my personal life and just a general feel of burnout made me just not have the desire to log in. It happens, and for me, is a thing that tends to happen fairly regularly with games. All that said though, I was pretty excited for this new release. New content was exactly what was needed to make the game feel fresh again, and also made it apparent just how used to the biweekly content cycle I was.

So yesterday morning…might have found me breaking the map in Brisban, waiting for the new update. Hee.

At least I wasn't the only one.

At least I wasn’t the only one.

It was an entertaining way to kill time while waiting for that ten minute warning to pop up – all sorts of entertaining glitchy things would happen over in that corner. Things like jumping near a ledge and hovering. Of course, when I logged back in after the patch hit, I kinda was stuck in the map.

At least this time was due to something I had actually done and not an occupational hazard of playing a mesmer.

That's also a really good shot of my mesmer. Neat.

That’s also a really good shot of my mesmer. Neat.

I…kind of wasn’t able to get out of that corner. Oops. Waypointed out, partied up with some friends, ran back, and we decided to immediately dive into the story.

I’m not going to talk about the story much, because it just came out yesterday and I don’t want to spoil things much, but…it is so very clear that they listened to the criticisms of the first living world season and personal story, because the quality is far higher than previous releases. Amazing lore information (when you enter the zone – talk to Nimbus. Go through everything he’ll say. Just do it. You won’t be disappointed.), great NPC interactions, and just good stuff all around. The writing is a lot tighter than before in general. Also, there was actually a lot of story given to us yesterday. Episode one consisted of something like a half dozen different story steps, and it gave us more story in one go than we’d see across several releases during season one. So that was a definite improvement that pleased me and I hope continues going forward.

One nice little touch about the story journal, by the way, is that if you go back through everything, it lists what year it all took place in, so we can see how time has progressed in game. It doesn’t have the season one stuff listed, but still, a neat little feature. Two years has passed in-game now.

I blurred out the text, so no spoilers here!

I blurred out the text, so no spoilers here!

So! The zone itself. We are heading into Dry Top, as was correctly guessed by Dak last month.  The entrance was basically exactly where he guessed it would be, so that was neat to see how spot-on accurate he was. The zone itself is very small – Dry Top in Guild Wars 1 was a tiny zone, but not quite this small. However, I doubt it will stay this tiny – I’m certain that as events progress in the story more of the area will open up and we’ll eventually head through into new zones.

The zone so far.

The zone so far.

As small as the zone is, though, it feels larger than it actually is…due to the fact that it has a large amount of verticality to it, and requires use of Zephyrite crystals to navigate fully. Which, by the way, is not as easy as it sounds, as they are crystal fragments and have a limited timer. Personally, I find the timers to be a bit frustrating at time, and spend a lot of time backtracking all over to find the crystals I need to get somewhere, only to have them run out halfway…but if you move fast enough, you can get to all sorts of crazy places in the zone.

That's a jumping puzzle, by the way.

That’s a jumping puzzle, by the way.

One of the main features of the zone is a sandstorm that blows through every 40 minutes. While the sandstorm is active, there are different enemies in the area to fight, as well as Buried Locked Chests to track down and open. They are very much worth hunting down, as they give quite nice rewards. Champ bags, new crafting materials, possibility of new crafting recipes, and so on.

If I may go on a temporary tangent, in fact, I just want to say that the rewards this time around? Very nice. I think they took to heart that a lot of people were finding rewards to be too stingy, and they decided to change that. Every story step I completed basically had me going “sweet, sweet loot!”. I’ve also had good luck with getting tier 6 materials as drops.

Back to the sandstorm! It definitely is an interesting mechanic. It also makes traversing the open parts of the zone very disorienting. It, in fact, got me killed during my very first trip into the zone yesterday. Whoops.

This is what exploring during the sandstorm looks like...and that's surprisingly clear for that area.

This is what exploring during the sandstorm looks like…and that’s rather clear for that area.

Environmental hazards tend to be a common theme in Dry Top. There’s the fact that most of the zone is a vertical maze that will have you hopping across precarious poles (and probably swearing profusely as you fall to your death). There’s the sandstorm. And there’s also a quicksand river that surrounds the town of Prosperity. When I got killed due to the sandstorm? I wasn’t aware the river was there nor could I see it, and walked right into it. It will kill you pretty fast. There is in fact an achievement for managing to stand in the quicksand river for at least 15 seconds and live. I’ve been seeing a lot of people try and fail that one so far, which is pretty entertaining to watch. It is possible to cross it safely, using crystal aspects, luckily. Generally if you get stuck in it, you are not getting back out.

While taking these screenshots, I watched someone try and live quite a few times. Key word: Try.

While taking these screenshots, I watched someone try and live quite a few times. Key word: Try.

There is, of course, a number of things to do in the zone. There are quite a few events that happen there, and completing events while the sandstorm isn’t active raises favor with the Zephyrites. Raising favor with them will change the things carried by merchants, as well as changing the prices on some of them. The events that happen are a good mix – one is essentially a capture the flag/keepaway game with Inquest, there are standard “rescue X NPCs”, hunting down and killing certain champions, blowing up a cave-in, and so on. There is also one area that only opens up during a specific event, and keeping that area open requires succeeding at that event, as well as followup ones that happen.

Some of the new stuff you can buy.

Some of the new stuff you can buy.

New items you can get include a new armor/weapon stat type (stats are toughness/healing/vitality), as well as new cooking recipes, and lockpicks that you use to open those chests you find during sandstorms. You’ll note that there’s a new currency at work here – geodes are a new thing that you can exchange for these new items. So far I’m kind of back and forth if I like geodes or not. They can be used for a lot of things, and it feels like getting them in large quantities will not be easy unless you farm events and get to favor tier two or three. You need them for lockpicks so you can open the chests so you can get Ambrite (the new crafting material). You need them to buy the new recipes. There are Piles of Silky Sand that drop, and you can use ten of them to try and get a geode, but so far I’ve gotten very low returns on that – over a stack of sand resulted in about three or four geodes total.

…but on the other hand, this has been around for all of a day and is permanent, so in the long run, it probably is not going to be an issue at all, and I’m likely just approaching it from a “this is going away in a couple of weeks” mindset, which will be hard to break out of.

And, one last thing, which just made me absolutely giddy yesterday:

I'm talking to myself.

I’m talking to myself.

Among the new NPCs scattered around the zone is one named Alana. For those who don’t know, that is my real name. I had been told ahead of time to look out for an NPC sharing my name, but that’s all. She’s actually the second NPC named for me (there’s also Explorer Verene, who runs in circles around Gavbeorn’s Waypoint in Cursed Shore), but still. So very cool 😀

Thus far, I’m quite happy with the new living world stuff. I’m excited to see where things are going to go from here. I want to see more of the zone and figure out exactly what’s going on.

Is it time for the next release yet?