Living World Season 4 kicks right off with Episode 1 bringing releases to three gametypes in Guild Wars 2. When we load the game we have a new map, a new fractal dungeon, and new raid. I am more of an open world PvEer myself so that’s going to be my focus.
Firstly, a new map has been released and we are going back to Istan! Original Guild Wars fans will be excited to come back here as it was the starter map in the Nightfall campaign. Just like in the original campaign we have Kamadan, Jewel of Istan. Unlike in the original game though this is not its own instance where players can spam map chat to trade with each other (giving the original instance of the city the nickname Spamadam). After 250 years Istan has fallen out of the Sunspearheroes’ hands and into the clutches of the undead lich King Palawa Joko. He has since renamed the Kamadan to Palawadan.
The first story instance of this episode starts us right off directly after the last moments of the Path of Fire expansion. The crystal Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik has made his way south over the Free City of Amnoon leaving behind his destructive brand along his path. In swoops our dragon ally Aurene, now bigger and fiercer looking after absorbing some of the power of the fallen god Balthazar.
Aurene then sent the vision to the minds of the party of a destroyed city ransacked with chaos, our ally, Agent Kito, from the Order of Shadows identifies the city as a city to the south in Istan as Fahranur. With the help of Agent Kito we are able to book passage to the Isle of Istan.
Once in Istan, our mission is to meet with the local Sunspear resistance at the Astralarium. To gain their trust we spread the truth about Palawa Joko’s lies and tear down his propaganda.
Once you’ve gained their trust you are led down into the secret archives where you decipher a message from one of the books. This opens a portal down into the Sunspear stronghold where you get to meet leaders and recruits. We are then told that the Spearmarshal is out recruiting and we should seek him out. We meet a priest with information of his whereabouts only to be told that the Spearmarshal has been captured by some Corsair pirates.
At this part of our story fans of the original game will find an easter egg and then some. Let’s just say the phrase “North! To Vabbi!” is brought up by the captain of one of the corsair factions (See Notes for link to video reference). We are given the quest to hunt down a lost heirloom of the Corsair captain in order to trade for the Spearmarshal. And in the cave…let’s just say the feels hit SO HARD. I’m not spoiling, but if you are into the first game DUDE!
After a short battle you attain the lost heirloom and take it back to the captain, the joke’s on you she sold the Spearmarshal to an enemy faction an hour prior. From there the player character comes up with the plan to turn ourselves into the enemy faction, the Mordant Cresent, so we can break the Spearmarshal out.
As planned the Corsair pirates “capture” us and take us to the prison where the Spearmarshal is being held. We are going to be led to the dungeons but not before the Corsairs reveal another trick up their sleeves. They brought the strongest grog they could make to toast to King Joko with the enemy, making them much easier for us to deal with when we are trying to break out. Before they toast Taimi, the asura child prodigy, contacts us over our radio: King Joko has captured her. The warden knocks us out for making a scene.
We wake up in a cell next to the Spearmashal and the guards around us are swaying from the grog. We make it out of the cell and almost sneak passed all the guards, but there is no sneaking passed the warden. She was one hell of a fight, with telegraphs on the ground reminiscent of bullet hell games. Her fighting style was a treat for the Guild Wars 1 fan in me as she is a dervish, a profession not available in Guild Wars 2, and just like in the first game she is able to channel aspects of the gods. So, for example, she channels the aspect of the goddess Lys, the goddess of illusions, to create clones of herself that we have to fight until we find the true warden.
Eventually, we make it passed the warden and break out meeting up with the Sunspears to fight the enemies outside. The heroes friends all come together too, with our dragon friend Aurene breathing fire from above.
Once the immediate danger is gone we make our way to the First City Fahranur after receiving a message from Taimi that she thinks she’s there. There are traps there protecting the city, but they are easily bypassed with the raptor mount. As we go through the city we see asura technology everywhere, including communicators that are transmitting an asura screaming in agony and pleading for mercy and help. The voice is heavily distorted, so, to be honest, tensions were high for me. I couldn’t help but think “Is Anet really going to do something horrible to a child character? OMG”.
We make it deep into the city when we get to a blocked off area, filled with the dead bodies of asura Inquest, the evil faction of the asuras. Canach, the redeemed antagonist and token Sylvari in the group, sets explosives to the door to knock it down. It works, but the building is old and it knocks down the ceiling above us. We would’ve been crushed but out of nowhere, the brooding teenager Braham himself leaps to our aid using a magical shield to protect everyone.
We make our way through and find Taimi on a platform surrounded by awakened Inquest. She cries that she’s sorry and that he made her open the gates. After that line we see awakened leave the room and into portals leading… somewhere. We run up to Taimi to see if she’s hurt and we see a curious circle of dead asura around her. They suddenly rise up, awakened, a deliver a message from Joko: The portals lead to our beloved Tyria and he is going to reshape it into his own image. Additionally, Taimi is trapped inside her golem with a limited air supply so good luck getting her out alive! (All said with menacing glee.)
Then commences the last battle of the patch: getting Taimi out of her newly outfitted golem, which she lovingly outfitted all kinds of things to protect herself. All within the timeframe of the oxygen level countdown. We get another cool bullet hell battle, but with one more cool thing: in a previous room there were objects that we could pick up, one of those were crystals we used to hold down the buttons of some traps and the other were some basically balls of electrical energy. The balls of energy had no instinctive use in those previous rooms. But they come into use here! They are acquired by destroying the portals that lead to the rest of Tyria and they destroy the electrical storms created by the golem. If the electrical storms are not dispersed with this ball of energy you aren’t able fight the golem. So it was really nice, to see that little hint at the beginning of the instance pay off.
We defeat Taime’s golem and save her from suffocation which was very well and unnervingly acted by the way, props to the actress. She insists she is fine and she said that Joko was researching something about bugs. On top of this since he took over Inquest bodies and minds, he now has access to their knowledge, including how to make portals appear wherever he wants, without actually building a physical asura gate somewhere.
After the dialogue with the different characters we are able to go to all the different gates that we destroyed and look at where they were going, which was to various core Tyrian maps. I’m excited to see what kind of events the dev team thinks up this time.
I’m also excited to know that those maps will get an influx of players that they probably haven’t gotten in a while since the new maps from the expansion and the first episode from this season came out. This is also a really good opportunity for the dev team to get Path of Fire players out in core Tyria to basically advertise the mounts that you get from the expansion, which is similar to what they did after gliders came out with Heart of Thorns.
Notes (Also some spoilers):
North! To Vabbi! : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxmkAoLC6_4
IT’S Koss! Ahh! The Sunspear warrior and all around BADASS from Guild Wars 1.