Assault on the Arbor

Later today, we’ll get the latest of the Living Story updates, Twilight Assault, where a new evil has moved into a known Nightmare hideout…

Okay, so, I am something of a sylvari fangirl, as has been evident from before I even started this blog. They have been my very favorite race since they were first announced, and they remain so. When the Living Story began, I had been just waiting for us to get some sylvari story involved in it, and Scarlet became my favorite new character introduced essentially immediately. I had been hoping that she had been one of the missing Firstborn; sadly she is not, but her backstory is still immensely interesting.

Suffice to say, getting the chance to preview this patch had me very excited. Scarlet has decided to move into Twilight Arbor, making it her new base of operations, and Caithe and the Lionguard both want to track her down and root her out. This patch is going to follow in the footsteps of Tequatl Rising, in that it introduces massive, permanent changes to the game, and in particular the Twilight Arbor dungeon.

Party 1This patch introduces a new dungeon path to Twilight Arbor, but the number of explorable paths remains at three total. The Forward/Up path in TA has always been pretty widely regarded as bugged, if not completely broken (those spiders at the end…shudder), and Scarlet’s new path will be replacing F/U entirely. Scarlet’s path is intended for level 80, whereas the rest of TA’s explorable paths are still at level 55, so this required some change in the dungeon’s initial entrances, as obviously the previous method of picking which path you want to do would not work here. When you enter, you’ll encounter Caithe talking to a Lionguard, and you can talk to her and choose to either go after Scarlet, or take on the other dangers of the Arbor.

It’s worth noting that Caithe states that she has her own reasons for wanting to go after Scarlet. Caithe has always been a dark and secretive one, so that just makes me curious if there is history there between the two that hasn’t yet been revealed.

Deciding to track down Scarlet opens a path for you to follow, and shortly after entering it you are boosted back up to level 80. The initial areas are not so different from the usual Twilight Arbor dangers that we are all used to – volatile blossoms, and Nightmare Hounds, Husks, and Vines to fight. But things do change rather quickly, and it becomes apparent that something twisted is going on here.

Sometimes you see things like this.

Sometimes you see things like this.

As this dungeon path was worked on by the groups that did the Molten Facility and Aetherblade Retreat, there will be similarities between those two dungeons and this path. However, one thing I noticed fairly quickly is that there are more puzzle-like elements involved here that will require a lot more group coordination than either of those dungeons did…or that most dungeons in the game require, really. As someone who runs dungeons regularly, I am pleased by this. I like content that requires a fair amount of coordination (and the entire strategy doesn’t focus on a single broken skill, like Tequatl does). At the same time, it doesn’t look like it’s anything that will be terribly difficult; just things that will require people to communicate with each other and coordinate what they’re doing.

One such example of this was a room that contained a sort of maze of fire; through this maze you had to lead a pair of oozes to the opposite side to open the doors, while keeping them out of the fire and keeping them from getting killed by lava elementals. Both oozes needed to get to the end at about the same time, and they were also hostile enemies; AOE attacks could kill them, and they can do devastating attacks if you get too close to them. You also have to watch out for certain enemy types once you start finding Twisted Nightmares; certain ones will set off an alarm until they die, calling in more enemies. Leaving them alive for too long will quickly turn a fight from “we can do this” to “OH GOD WHAT’S HAPPENING WE’RE ALL DOOMED”.

"This job's easy. When Scarlet says to kill, you kill. When she says 'I'm bored', you hide."

“This job’s easy. When Scarlet says to kill, you kill. When she says ‘I’m bored’, you hide.”

We didn’t get to see much of the dungeon in the preview; it was just a taste of what things were going to be, and it only went to the first boss fight. This first boss fight, by the way, looks to be an immense amount of fun; you get to fight two interesting characters known as Sparki (an asura in a suit similar to the bosses at the end of Molten Facility) and Slick (a norn reminiscent of Mai Trin’s lackey at the end of Aetherblade Retreat). The fight itself is another that requires a fair amount of coordination between players; it reminds me with a less intense version of the Molten Facility end fight combined with the mechanics from the Ghost Eater fight in Ascalonian Catacombs.

WIthin the dungeon, of course, there are other new things. There are, for example, aetherized versions of the usual Twilight Arbor weapons, which have a blue glow and are a rare drop from enemies in this new path. There are also aether key pieces, which you can collect; five of them will combine into a key that can open chests found in Twilight Arbor. And, as ever, there are new sets of achievements to earn, along with new rewards to be gained from them – a backpiece and a mini are up for grabs this time around.

This sylvari-loving dungeon runner? Cannot wait to get her hands on this patch and be able to dive in and play through the new dungeon path. My interest has been piqued, and I’m looking forward to digging up more about Scarlet as well as learning this new path, as this one is here to stay!

Dance Dance Revolution

I really wish I had been able to play in the stress test yesterday, because at long last the /dance emote was added in. And I love dancing in games. Whenever I’m idling or waiting for something in Guild Wars, I hit /dance (or, if I’m on my Dervish, /dancenew to spawn the disco ball and then /dance). They’re just fun.

So I was slightly sad that I didn’t get to play with them myself. Then I started watching all of the dance videos on youtube and was just…dying laughing. On one hand, I was slightly disappointed because there’s only one dance per race – no differences for male or female characters. On the other hand, that’ll make syncing up the giant dance parties that will happen (as they always have) a lot more entertaining and easier.

And of course the dances themselves are great. Everyday the humans are shuffling, norn are doing the Carlton, asura like to pop, the charr do the haka, and the sylvari have a very energetic (and cheerful) Punjabi dance. There’s a video here that displays all of them, along with their inspiration (and music).

Also, if somehow you haven’t yet seen this, you need to. Looks like naked dancing in GW is a tradition that will never die.

A pair of star-crossed sylvari

Caithe and Faolain.

Two of the Firstborn sylvari – one born of Night, the other born of Dusk. Together the two left the Grove to explore Tyria, to see their world for their own. They became friends and lovers, but they are no longer.

That fact is not for a lack of trying on either of their parts, though.

I’ll admit that these two have intrigued me for a very long time. Caithe of course I instantly liked from the start, along with my love of the sylvari in general, and as I wrote about last week, the Nightmare Court – and it’s leader, Faolain – is also something that caught my interest. The fact that the two had been friends – one of the main characters of the game, and the leader of the evil sylvari faction (for a lack of a better term) – I thought that was neat, and was hoping it would be explored in-game.

And then Edge of Destiny came out, and it became clear that Caithe and Faolain’s relationship was not one of merely friends. They had been far more than that to each other.

(On a sidenote, I was amused at so many people completely missing that fact, to where Ree stated that yes, they were lovers.)

Their story – what we know of it, anyway – is the classic example of star-crossed lovers, of love gone tragically wrong. Two young friends who set out to explore the world and fall in love, until events tear them apart. Faolain is described as being a dark contrast to Caithe, having black hair, nails, and eyes. Caithe is a melee fighter; as a Thief she takes advantage of weak points in her enemies to bring them down quickly. We don’t know what profession Faolain is, other than that she is some sort of spellcaster; with her sorcery to back up Caithe’s physical fighting, the two would have made a formidable team.

We do not yet know what happened between the two of them. We don’t know what event it was that cause them to begin to walk towards the Nightmare. We simply know that it happened, and while Faolain embraced it fully, Caithe was able to step away before it took her as well. I am fervently hoping this is explored in-game (and I have an inkling that the Twilight Arbor dungeon will do just that). But, at the moment that Faolain fell and Caithe turned back, the two were separated from each other, no longer able to remain together as lovers.

And it’s pretty clear that this fact deeply hurts both of them, and that they still very much love each other, though they cannot be together.

Faolain, for her part, is desperate to have Caithe back at her side, and to bring her to the Nightmare Court. She does all she can to accomplish this. During Edge of Destiny, she poisons Caithe, with joining the Court being the only way to safely remove the poison, and then proceeded to shadow her throughout the book. When the poison made Caithe ill enough to nearly kill her, though, Faolain brought it back into herself, which turned her arm thorny and rotten, but leaving Caithe alive and well. Even as the head of the Nightmare Court, she’s not willing to kill her love, and harms herself to heal Caithe. Still, Faolain is determined, stating to Caithe that “Your heart belongs to me”. She wants the two to be together again – and for Caithe to be at her side in leading the Court.

Caithe is more of an enigma. During the book you do not see much that indicates that she still misses and loves Faolain, but she also strikes me as the sort that will put duty above personal matters. She is one of only two people who have seen Zhaitan and lived; she knows the threats the dragons bring. She is fully focused on that fact, and even after things fall apart in the end she wants to try and keep fighting on. But in-game…she’s a bit different. Time has passed, and reuniting the group is something that seems impossible. She’s instead turned her concerns to more local matters, while waiting for someone else brave enough to help her face the dragons.

Distance is the least of her problems, though…

There’s also a very melancholic air about her, though. She’s not happy, and there are hints all over of that fact and that it’s tied to Faolain. In the story parts that I played, Caithe dodges the subject of the Nightmare Court’s leader whenever it’s brought up, saying she doesn’t want to talk about it. You can find a book in her home titled “Long Distance Relationships: 10 Ways to Make it Work”. During the most recent stress test Dak was playing his sylvari and I tagged along for part of his personal story, where I caught part of a conversation between Caithe and Trahearne where Trahearne said that it was good to see her trust someone again. Though time has passed, Caithe still loves Faolain, and still wants her back. And it definitely strikes me that she would do almost anything, short of turning to Nightmare herself, to be back with her.

And so we have two sylvari, torn apart but still deeply in love with each other, still wanting each other, and both more or less heartbroken by their separation. Both willing to do almost anything to get the other back…but for the two things that would work. Caithe will always walk the edge – I’ve mentioned how much darker than other sylvari she is – but she will never embrace the Nightmare. And Faolain won’t – or can’t, if what Caithe said about never being able to turn back – give up Nightmare. The two are doomed to always plead with the other, but never to succeed. That barrier will always be there. And eventually things will come to a head between the two. As the dungeons are part of your personal story but revolve more around the members of Destiny’s Edge, if there is a big confrontation between Caithe and Faolain, it will likely happen in Twilight Arbor, the Nightmare Court dungeon.

Part of me can’t wait to see what happens, and very much hopes that more of their backstory is revealed during that. But another part of me dreads it, because whatever happens it will likely not be good for either character.

There will be no happy ending for Caithe and Faolain, no matter what happens.

Stepping into Nightmare

The Nightmare Court is not a subject I have written much about so far, despite the fact that, really, they fascinate me a lot. Of course, all things sylvari do, but the Court in particular is something I was interested in seeing more about.

But they were also a topic that we never really learned a huge amount about. However, with the Court being heavily a part of the early sylvari storyline, we’ve seen a fair bit of them now.

One thing that struck me about the sylvari is that they remind me of Jedi. Honor, helping others, and standing against evil is the core of what their society is based on. I also got the impression that the Nightmare is similar to the Dark Side of the Force – once you fall, that’s it. During a story quest I was doing, I even had Caithe say as much to me. Once that corruption takes hold, you’re done for, and there’s no going back. Caithe herself is described as walking the edge of Nightmare, due to her love for Faolain – she above all knows how dangerous it is, how futile it is to try and rescue someone who’s turned to Nightmare, and yet she cannot keep herself from trying to save her love and bring Faolain back to her.

Caithe herself I found to be especially dark for a sylvari – and also heartbreaking, in some ways. She’s not afraid to take actions that others would balk at – there was one point in the personal story where we had more or less captured a member of the Nightmare Court to get information. Caithe wanted to kill her after getting the info, and my character said, no, we should let her go. Caithe agreed…and then proceeded to kill the Courtier anyway. I was actually quite surprised at that. There’s also the fact that she’s very hesitant to talk about Faolain at any point I’ve seen so far, and there’s a certain book you can find in Caithe’s home that just made me go “…awwwwww…”. And yet, despite this, I can’t see any way that Caithe would ever completely give in to Nightmare. She’s tasted it and prowls the edges, but it’s the one thing she wouldn’t do to get Faolain back.

So. The Nightmare Court. Their main goal is to free sylvari from the teachings of Ventari’s Tablet, not believing that human and centaur philosophies are right for a completely new and different race. They also want to embrace and understand the nightmares found within the Dream, instead of simply ignoring them or trying to get rid of them. They wish to eventually corrupt the Pale Tree herself with these nightmares, freeing the sylvari from what they think are the shackles of Ventari’s teachings.

Of course, they do this by committing acts of evil in order to try and bring these nightmares to life wherever they go. I would compare them to the Dark Jedi of Star Wars, if not for one important difference – Dark Jedi tend to be destructive and horrid for their own selfish gains. Nightmare Court sylvari genuinely believe that what they are doing will eventually change and improve the sylvari race and their society.

In a Nightmare Court disguise

I’m sure most people won’t agree with the Court’s view, but they see the atrocities they perform as a means to an end. Among the members of the Court, there’s quite a large variety amongst how they act and behave. Among the Courtiers I met in the game, there was Sariel, a former student of Faolain’s who reveled in violence, Gavin, who did not care much either way and simply saw it a way to complete what he needed to do and still had a strong sense of honor, and the Knight of Embers, who was cold and deadly. They each have their own methods, their own views of things, while sharing the same ultimate goal.

If there is one thing that the Court tends to be, it is obsessed. They are constantly plotting and finding ways to try and spread Nightmare. They are constantly (forcefully) recruiting new members. If they think that something will help them with their goal, they will do it, no matter what it is. They are truly relentless, resorting to mind control to help turn sylvari to the Nightmare when needed. While it says on wiki that Courtiers have every last bit of virtue they had destroyed, I don’t 100% agree on this point – as I noted out above, there are Nightmare sylvari that still have strong sense of honor which is, after all, a virtuous trait. Of course, we don’t know how common sylvari like Gavin are within the Court – are many of the higher ranks that way, or is he an anomaly? Only time will tell.

One thing is for certain – the Nightmare Court will never be able to be completely defeated. It is based on an idea, and killing the members of the Court will not stop that. The Nightmare is born within the Dream, and it’s not unreasonable to think that it’ll be possible, even now, for sylvari to be born to Nightmare.

This is one thing I’m impatient to learn more about as we play through the game, and I’m especially excited to play through the Twilight Arbor dungeon, which is entirely about the Nightmare Court. There’s so much that can be explored here, and I definitely want to see what happens when Caithe and Faolain meet in game.

Some simply shiny sentences showing skritt sentiment.

Dak here, with an in-depth look into one of my surprise favorite elements of the game.

So I briefly mentioned the skritt in my last post talking about the asura.  Now, I’ll be… not so brief.

The skritt are a ratlike race who, along with the asura, were originally living in the depths of Tyria but were driven upward by Primordus and the Destroyers.  They are opportunists, but not scavengers – rather than dig through your garbage, they’ll mooch off you instead; doing their best to convince you you don’t really need that neat shoulderpad, or if your backpack is really heavy they’ll be happy to relieve you of any unnecessary items.  They’re also exceptionally curious, so if they get their paws on an unknown device, they’ll eventually sort out how it works and why.

Now, what makes the skritt so interesting?  They communicate in a high-pitched, almost inaudible chittering, through which they can relay a vast amount of information in a very short time.  While a single skritt is only capable of basic tasks and survival skills, through this chittering a group of skritt can work together to solve a problem.  The larger the group, the more complex the tasks it can tackle.  While a single skritt is rather dim, a big enough group could potentially rival an asura in intelligence.

Over the beta weekend, the skritt were available for interaction at last.  I first encountered them in a fort just south of Artergon Woods: a pair who had been trained for the simple task of guarding supplies.  I was instantly enchanted when I heard them concentrating so hard on guarding that they were, in fact, saying “Guarding.  Guarding guarding!” back and forth to one another.  My amusement was interrupted by a sudden hylek attack on the fort, which a group of players and I managed to repel. (one thing to point out, I love how whenever an event begins, a group of players seem to materialize from nowhere to join in and make the event more… eventful).  The invaders successfully routed, the Lionguard commander in charge of the fort decided it was high time to take the fight to the hylek and regain their stolen items, and sent a single skritt named Rikkiti to a Lionguard assault force near the hylek village.  The event is then to escort her as she runs the message to attack.

Rikkiti started out dutifully enough, but soon was distracted by the much more interesting moa nests by the side of the road. “Stuff stuff stuff!” came her shrill cry, until an angry moa (which we swiftly subdued) scared her off and she fled back to the path.

Imagine, if you will, the sight of some 20 people of all races chasing after an eager, innocent skritt as she quite accidentally attracts the ire of a giant grubs, a golem, disgruntled krewemembers, hungry raptors, and a full pack of apparently teleporting jaguars, with shouts of “Ooh, shi-hi-hinyyy!” and “What’s that!” It was quite the unexpected quest, and a ton of fun centered on a surprisingly endearing individual.

“Sheriff want shinies back. Rikkiti get shinies!  Teach hyleks stealing bad.”
“And did our ineffectual sheriff offer any thought on how precisely we might accomplish that?”
“Yes… no… what?”
“(sigh)Sheriff say how we get shinies back?”
“Oooh.  Deputy talk like Rikkiti stupid! Rikkiti not stupid!”

All the more surprising was when we reached her destination, and it flowed smoothly into a more traditional event: Destroy the hylek village and essentially burn -everything-.

Rikkiti joined us for that, too, and soon she had gathered all the “shinies” from the decimated village and returned to the fort while we taught the hylek chieftain that stealing was bad.

That event chain left a great effect on me, and I was delighted when I moved north into the Brisban Wildlands and found that there was, in fact, a massive skritt city called Skrittsburgh dug deep into a mountain.  While none of the skritt there were as singularly endearing as Rikkiti, it was interesting in another way: With so many in close proximity, these skritt were, in fact, more intelligent.  They were able to speak about more complex ideas and offer rewards for tasks, and as I delved deeper I found among their piles of hoarded items full, working tailoring and smithing stations.  Only a short way away there were even shops run by entrepreneurial skritt.  In the deepest reaches of Skrittsburgh, skritt soldiers held back encroaching Destroyers from underground.  It was a full, living city, and the race isn’t even a main one!  Kudos to Anet for this sort of dedication and the masterful way in which they fully realized this concept.

While I’m looking forward to the entirety of the game, when we hit launch I’ll be putting aside time to spend with the skritt, whether it’s helping them defend what they’ve rightfully stolen, or just chuckling at their more innocent antics.

Gotta give credit, that is pretty accurate.
…hey! – V

Dak’s Beta Weekend!

Time for my take on the final Beta Weekend!

While Verene spent almost the entire weekend as a sylvari, I immersed myself in the much-anticipated experience of the diminuative asura.  Through what I believe to be a combination of factors, this weekend was a marked improvement over the previous two, and the coming weeks will prove a most grating ordeal of impatience indeed.

Dashing, isn't he?

My character of choice this time around was Zott, a dignified asuran Elementalist from the College of Synergetics, with a particular affinity for the lightning strikes of Air attunement.  His first invention was the Infinity Ball, a remarkable device that predicts the future (and so what if it doesn’t predict it correctly every time?).

The asura experience begins with a call for aid in pacifying malfunctioning golems (not yours, of course), which introduces you to the Inquest.  The Inquest is a sort-of krewe, who believe ethics only get in the way of scientific progress, and without them the true nature of the Eternal Alchemy can be unlocked and so enable them to run the world like a massive machine.  During my beta play, this usually manifested itself in experiments fusing asura with their golems, whether the asura in question really wanted it or not.

The asura as a race are absolutely unique, and my new favorite.  The info we’d gotten from the team in the past always seemed to paint them as rather serious, almost dour scientists, studying the world yet aloof from it.  In actual play, this is far from the truth, and the asura don’t take themselves nearly as seriously as the other races think.  For instance, the first area, Metrica Province, contains a school full of asura children (called progeny).  As you walk by, you hear many bits of childish chatter, and one part that stood out to me was the “your mom” jokes.  Oh yes:

“Your mama’s IQ is so low, she thinks norn cows go ‘moot’!”
“Well your mama’s IQ is so low, she thinks ‘elemental’ is four letters in the middle of the alphabet!”
“…Seriously though, your mom is really smart.”
“Yeah, yours too.”

It was a heartwarming, adorable moment that really cemented the asura as a living race for me.
Other notable looks into asura-based humor included “STA/B-0 the Super Golem,” and another golem labeled “OVR-9000.”

The asura themselves seem to slip and then stumblingly recover their aura of dignity in conversation.  And if you look hard enough, you’ll find individuals who just really, really like bunnies.

Open-ended research could mean a lot of things...

Not so above it all, eh Zojja?

The asura starter area, Metrica Province, showcased the refinement of challenge as we inch closer to full release.  Events did an excellent job of guiding you around the area, keeping your experience gained about equal with your level needed for the next zone you were led into, giving the entire area a very dynamic feeling of organic growth.  The next thing you see is always a fun challenge, but never too difficult to take on.  It felt very good and I applaud them for that careful balance.  It also looks absolutely beautiful, and is filled with plenty of neat things to look at and do (oh Vistas, how I adore thee).  It’s great seeing how much the asura have built up in the last 250 years.  The events to be found were all very fun, and granted a new look at the hylek and the skritt (I will have to write a separate post on my beloved skritt).

My personal story was also a kick, dealing with unfusing golems and, eventually, a new application for my old Infinity Ball that, long story short, led to meeting myself as an evil overlord from another dimension’s future.  Talk about your fun cliches!  Every step was well-executed, and it left me eager for more when the game launches for real.

Actually sitting on top of a giant arch.  About 200 asura high.

Waiting…

The sylvari fangirl report – BWE3 roundup!

Eirlyss at the end of the weekend.

The third and final beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2 has come and gone. We just have over a month left until release now.

This is going to be a long month.

As should be surprising to no one, I spent the vast majority of my time in the sylvari areas. My main of choice for this BWE was Eirlyss, a sylvari Guardian. I did create several other characters (Katte, an asura Warrior, Dairina, a sylvari Elementalist, and Riannah, a sylvari Thief…yeah, I like sylvari!), but I spent the vast majority of the time on Eirlyss. I did play all the way through the personal story available for the beta, having chosen having a vision of the White Stag and finding “Where life goes, so shall you” as the most important of Ventari’s teachings as my personal story choices. I have so, so, so many thoughts on the sylvari storyline that I saw that just…wow. If you’re a Guild Wars lore buff? The sylvari storyline will likely be your favorite. In the beta, a few questions were answered, and more brought up.

And it certainly did a damn good job of getting me extremely patient for launch to see where this storyline goes. A small hint – remember seeds that Ronan found and planted one of, that grew into the Pale Tree? We find out a bit more about that.

I also noticed that the sylvari storyline seems to be the widest and the most concerned with the outside world. Yes, the story is still about you, but what I played of the other storylines (completed human, made a bit into the other three), they remain heavily involved with just you. The sylvari storyline is…definitely less so, and I like this. For example, in the White Stag storyline, I was trying to stop the Nightmare Court from corrupting the White Stag, a creature of the Dream that is a manifestation of hope, to despair and letting it loose back into the Dream to try and corrupt future sylvari. I defended the Grove from an attack from the Court. The “where life goes, so shall you” storyline I don’t want to go to into at the moment (I’ll likely dedicate a future post solely to that) involved trying to keep the Nightmare Court from getting what they referred to as the Harbinger, something or someone they wanted to use against the Grove and the Pale Tree. The sylvari storyline also has the earliest mention of the Elder Dragons that I noticed, with the Pale Tree herself telling her that she believed that you and Caithe would be the ones to face Zhaitan, and that you would be victorious.

Talking with the Pale Tree

So, essentially, I really, really enjoyed the sylvari storyline thus far.

The sylvari themselves are, essentially, perfect. I love how beautiful they are, while remaining something that’s very obviously not human. They have this air of elegance and nobility to them…but if you watch their idle animations, you get to see another side, one of a very young race that is intensely curious, and that is full of innocence. It’s just so absolutely perfect – it looks as though they’re humming something in their head, and sort of idly swaying along with it, along with stopping to look to the side as though they just spotted something interesting, as well as the occasional happy grin.

The Grove is definitely, as far as the capital cities go, the smallest of the five. This, however, is definitely understandable, I think. It’s built in several levels, being more of a vertical city than a horizontal one, which makes sense as it’s built into the bottom of the Pale Tree. It’s also the newest of the cities, housing the newest of the races, which logically speaking is also going to be the smallest in population. It shouldn’t be a massive, sprawling city like the others are.

During the weekend I reached level 25, and got 100% map completion on the Grove, Caledon Forest, Metrica Province, and Brisban Wildlands. If there’s one thing I can say, it’s that I wish that the asura and sylvari each had another zone that’s just solely theirs – they share Brisban, which is a level 15-25 zone. I can understand why – the Maguuma Jungle and Tarnished Coast are only so large, after all – but the other races had a 15-25 zone of their own! Not fair, says I.

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed playing Guardian. I tried it briefly during BWE1 and thought it was okay, but I wanted to give it another go. I was undecided between that and Elementalist, and decided last moment that Guardian would be the winner. I actually really, really liked it. Yes, it’s definitely the most support-based profession, and normally I don’t like support. But it’s also a very flexible profession, and I enjoyed being able to swap roles quickly and easily depending on the situation. And my ability to provide support was given the ultimate test during an event in Metrica Province.

Being led to our deaths by Mr. Matthew Medina, aka @barefootmatthew. Whoops :P

Ahh, yes. The Fire Elemental in Metrica. It spawns at the end of an event chain if the previous one is failed and…well. “Overpowered” is an understatement. The first time I tried it I had to map out to a waypoint after dying and reset my skills and bust out my staff so I could lend some heavy support. I then spent the entire fight healing people, setting up walls to block projectiles, and ressing everyone as they died. We did manage to succeed at the fight…however, as I spent the entire fight lending support instead of attacking, I got no credit for the fight. No gold, no karma, no experience, nothing. I certainly more than participated – of everyone on that bridge I probably spent the most time alive and actually doing things – but as I did not directly attack the elemental it didn’t count? I was a bit annoyed.

The main issue with that fight is, I think, just a variety of elements coming together and working off of each other to wind up being far stronger than intended. The leadup to the room where the fight is is a narrow bridge, which creates a massive chokepoint. The boss does massive AoE attacks, as well as spawning Embers which also attack.

I wound up getting killed by the elemental another time on Sunday evening – a note of warning, partying up with an ANet dev will likely cause in you dying. I almost feel bad for the random people who spotted the ANet logo as we ran past and followed along only to be led to their deaths…but on the other hand, I think that attempt was one of the highlights of my weekend. Plus now they know exactly how overpowered that event is, always a plus!

The finale, the Hunger Royale (Hunger Games and Battle Royale combined) was certainly entertaining, but I felt like it was hindered by the size of the map. Metrica was just too large for something like that – we spent the most time just running before we’d come across anyone else. Still, I got to send Dak flying as we wound up on opposite teams, so that was entertaining.

I never did get to climb to the top of the Pale Tree, but I did go up into the Omphalos Chamber and found the highest spot in there I could get to, so I guess that wins!

As far as new additions…I love vistas. Some could be quite the puzzle to figure out how to reach, but as I’m a veteran of games like Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed (and oh how heavily did vistas remind me of syncing viewpoints in AC!), usually just a moment or two of studying the area gave me a path up. They’re also amazing for taking lovely screenshots of the area, something which I took great advantage of.

Now, if only it were August 25th…

The Pale Tree Climbing Expedition!

So, I was thinking things over.

The Pale Tree is massive. It is described as “towering like a skyscraper over the landscape“, with the lower levels of the Tree being the city of the Grove. The pods that sylvari grow in and are born from are high enough from the ground that a fall from them can be fatal.

Guild Wars 2 loves to let people explore. There are jumping puzzles and all sorts of little goodies that you can find from poking around.

Just how far up the Pale Tree is it possible to climb, then?

As I said previously, I already intend to spend most of my time during the upcoming BWE exploring the Grove. Exploring the Grove includes exploring the Pale Tree itself, of course.

And I intend to see just how far up the Tree I can climb.

I’m sure I’ll fall and die many a time during the attempt. But as someone who likes exploring, who likes to find all of the little details, and who just plain loves all things sylvari, I intend to keep pressing on and see how far up the Tree I can make it.

I wonder if it’s even possible to make it to the top…

 

(If anyone wishes to join me, I’ll be climbing my way up on Eternal Grove!)

Sylvari fangirl, reporting for duty!

If you’re on this blog, there’s likely one fact about me that’s quite obvious. If somehow you’ve missed it…I’m a bit of a sylvari fangirl. Just, you know, a tiny bit. From explaining why they’re unique and speculating about the redesign long before it was revealed, to wondering what makes them incorruptible, exploring their sexuality, to writing up a very short story from the point of view of my sylvari character…yeah, I rather love the sylvari. I think the only thing that comes close to how much I talk about the sylvari and how much I like them, is my love of Mesmers. Not surprisingly, my main character in Guild Wars 2 is going to be a sylvari Mesmer.

Then, this morning, ArenaNet posted up a new blog post, revealing that the sylvari (and asura!) will be playable in the last BWE?

Well, I was quite pleased.

…that may be a bit of an understatement.

Originally I had planned on getting my human Mesmer to level 30 and doing the Ascalon Catacombs during the last beta. Now, however…you’ll be far more likely to find me in the Grove. Exploring everything, taking videos and screenshots.

Part of me wants to wait for release to create and play a sylvari. But part of me…the fangirl part of me that fell in love with the sylvari the moment the very first Guild Wars 2 trailer was released back in 2009…doesn’t want to wait. And the “I’ve waited long enough” part of me is the bigger and louder part…and hence I’ll be spending quite a bit of time on the 20th in character creation, making my sylvari and getting her just right. And then screencapping the settings so I can recreate her come August 25th when early access starts.

I’ll see you in the Grove!

Writing your story: An interview with the writers of Guild Wars 2

Have you ever wondered what exactly goes into writing Guild Wars 2? Well, thanks to a recent opportunity I had, I have some answers for you! I was able to interview several of the writers for Guild Wars 2 on what it’s like working on that game that we’re all waiting so very impatiently on.  I received answers to my questions from Bobby Stein, Lead Writer, Peter “The Explorer” Fries, and Angel McCoy, the voice of the sylvari.

As Bobby, Peter, and Angel are all awesome people, the answers I got were far longer and more in-depth than I had been expecting; thank you so much (and also a big thanks to Regina for granting me this chance in the first place)! Without further ado, here’s what you’re waiting for!

Verene: Hello! First of all, I would like to say thank you very much for your time in doing this interview and answering these questions. I’m hoping to get a look at a side of games that many people don’t pay as much attention to, but for most games I find just as important as the artwork and mechanics, and that is the storyline of the game, as well as how it’s written. Guild Wars 2 being what it is, the story is certainly one of the most important parts of it! So, thank you for taking your time to answer these for me.

First and foremost, just how different is it writing for a game from writing, say, a novel or script? And how does writing for Guild Wars 2 differ from writing other games?

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