Sunday, April 21, 2013

Now Where? : GW2

One of my projects, leveling up a character all the way to 80 in GW2 "by completing each Map in consecutive order by level range and geographical propinquity" as I pedantically and pretentiously described it last month, ran into an unexpected problem. Maps in Tyria aren't laid out like that.

You might think I'd have noticed after playing the game for the best part of a year and having spent thousands of hours there but no. Instead here's another very instructive lesson in how memory works. Or rather doesn't.

As I remembered it, Charr, Norns and Humans all have a clear, linear path of progression right to 80, should they be dull and unimaginative enough to take it. Charr level up in Ascalon, Norns in the Shiverpeaks and Humans in Kryta.

No they don't. There is a linear progression of sorts for both Norns and Humans but it's somewhat convoluted to say the least, and also involves a great deal of overlap. For Humans it would go

Queensdale 1-17
Kessex Hills 15-25
Gendarran Fields 25-35
Lornar's Pass 25-40
Dredgehaunt Cliffs 40-50
Timberline Falls 50-60
Mount Maelstrom 60-70
Straits of Devestation 70-75
Malchor's Leap 75-80

The linear path for Norns is exactly the same from Gendarran Fields onwards, simply replacing the first two maps with

Wayfarer Foothills 1 - 15
Snowden Drifts 15 - 25

Charr have no linear path at all. I should have remembered that, what with the Big Ebonhawke Adventure and all, but I didn't. Ascalon has maps that go all the way from 1 to 70 but they aren't contiguous. There's that gaping hole from 30 to 40 for which you either leave the Charr lands for the Shiverpeaks or Kryta or do the suicide run through Blazeridge Steppes to get to the Charr's 30-40 Map, Fields of Ruin.

It's almost certainly no co-incidence that to get to Fields of Ruin safely, a twentysomething Charr needs to travel to Divinity's Reach and use the Asura Gate to Ebonhawke. After all, the Charr's entire recent political and military history is dominated by the truce brokered by Queen Jennah and the delicate, ongoing negotiations for a lasting peace. Nudging a young Charr out of his Ascalonian comfort zone and into the Capital of his erstwhile enemy is the kind of invisible storytelling MMOs really should be all about.

When it comes to Asura and Sylvari, there's really no pretense at all at any kind of cultural progression. The Sylvari haven't even been around for a quarter of a century and the Asura are effectively refugees so neither  has much of an established homeland available to explore, although the Asura are working on it. Once my Asura Ranger finished up Metrica Province and Brisban Wildlands that was about it.

My wont in any MMO is to run about like a kitten in a snow flurry, tearing off in one direction after anything that catches my eye, then spinning round and haring off in another because the wind caught my fur funny. It's an approach that tends to lead to knowing a lot of locations very well indeed and others not at all. Forcing myself to hit every point of interest marked on the map and complete every heart was a very different experience.

The level of detail is just astounding. I didn't just do the stuff I was told to, I spoke to every NPC that would talk to me. I followed golems and Asura around and watched what they got up to in their own time. I joined in every event, climbed anything I could climb, dived down anywhere I could swim. You could spend weeks in Metrica Province just trying to get to the bottom of all the feuds and mysteries there.

Brisban Wildlands is a change of pace. It's well named,  a scrubby, unloved-looking place and at first sight there doesn't seem to be much going on. There's more to it than meets the eye, though. A lot more. It has some spectacular set pieces and some quite stunning hidden gems, like the mushroom valley and especially the event where some mysterious supernatural creature turns the Great Hunt of a bunch of Sylvari back on them. I felt like I'd walked into a horror movie.

At level 30 the question is where to go next? Brisban Wildlands connects to Kessex Hills, but that's another 15-25 map and that would take me to Gendarran Fields, which is only 25-35. I'd be completing one map under level and in doing so leveling far enough to be over-level for the next and then I'd never catch myself up.

Instead I decided to pass through Kessex and Gendarran Fields along the road and head into Lornar's Pass. Which puts me on the same track as a Human or a Norn. Only better because, Asura. At the rate I'm going I should be in Orr some time around Wintersday.


  1. I was running around Metrica on my Sylvari the other day, in Soren Draa, and started following this little message golem as it ran from lab to lab like a little voicemail machine. It soon became clear that no matter the message it received, when it delivered them it added hostile/annoying parts to them and was sowing discontent all over the place. I though it was hilarious.

    Metrica has some of the best NPC interactions, if you stick around and stalk them. Another good one is the father who sends a chaperone-bot along with his daughter's date.

    1. I followed that golem too! All the way round his route. I couldn't work out what was going on for ages. I kept waiting for a fight to start.

      I didn't see the chaperone-bot though. I'll have to go look for it. Even though I spent days there I'll bet there's loads of stuff that I missed.

  2. Everything's better, because Asura. Those animations have really grown on me.

    Idly contemplating a lot more asura alts now, but I guess I should finish the one of every class I already have first.

    Oh, and friend yanked me into Goemm's Lab in Metrica Province. It was evil but fun.

    1. Something about playing a very small race with a very large ego just works for me. Asura, gnome, ratonga, I feel at home with them all.

      That said, I'm really itching to get my Charr engineer started. Playing an Asura ranger is very different to playing a Charr ranger so I'm expecting great things of the next reversal.

  3. I know this is a bit of an older post, but I'm wondering where you took the screenshot of the third image down? I'm trying to find it to see where it is and have been everywhere I can think of for Sylvarians... Thanks!

    1. Hmm, looking back at my screenshot archive at the shots before and after that one I would say that's the pool you land in if you jump off the waterfall at the Gotalla Cascade in Brisban Wildlands.

  4. As a new player the zone progression is a little offputting at first. I'm Norn, so like you said Wayfarer Foothills first but even doing it to completion meant I couldn't comfortably do Snowden Drifts. I found I had to do other another race (Charr) starting zone by which point I overlevelled Snowden Drifts. I then ran into the same issue, too low to do Lornar's Pass so I did the secondary Charr zone. Again in Lornar's Pass I did it too completion by level 35, and it's meant to last until 40, so now I'm going to have to do another zone (probably do the human start and secondary). I just feel it breaks up the story a little too much for players who do want to follow a races path to the end.


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