In better days she'd have been able to wander up at will but the freedoms we once enjoyed have been taken away. Now, we work. To move from one area to the next it's necessary to complete all the steps of the Main Quest sequence and that takes a deal of soloing.
We'd done all bar the Corsair Captain but we weren't going anywhere without him and to have a chance we'd had to pootle around for a fair old while leveling and gearing up.Our first two or three attempts ended fairly disastrously even at parity and we were resigned to over-leveling, when by luck my Goblin discovered the Captain might be a whizz with a tiller in his hand but was all at sea running through the rooms of his lair. Can't recall ever employing room-to-room kiting tactics before but we soon got the hang of it once the Goblin noticed that the Captain didn't regenerate health when he couldn't find her, while she could drink potions at leisure hiding in a room just down the corridor.
We pass, though, don't we? The Goblin's eighteen like Alice and she killed the Captain. She can go through, right? Well, technically, yes. But then again, not really. Through to the Vale, sure. Out the other side to Meluan's Gate? Not so fast. The guard has a list of rogue clockworks blocking traffic and he needs a candidate for the job. She's like Alice you say? Well, good; she just got elected.
Well, I thought we were done. After running the clockwork gauntlet and reeling back stunned by the sheer beauty of the long-desired but scarcely-imagined Meluan's Gate, we went exploring. Many photographs were taken, many oohs oohed and aahs aahed until eventually time came to see what there was for us to do. There was nothing.
At last I decided it must be the one thing we hadn't done back in Heartland Road. We'd killed the Corsair Captain in the questline but not in his "Raid" incarnation (a CoS Raid ideally being three people but entirely possible solo). Thought that was optional but hey, it was literally the only thing listed under "Completion" that we hadn't ticked and when you've waited this long, what's another ten-minute kite? Back we went.
Well for heaven's sake! Of course we would! If it means we get to kill more creatures and take their stuff we'll write the bloody letter for you and not even tell your mother what an uptight little jobsworth she's got for a son! She probably knows, anyway.
So there my Goblin sits, back in the Siren's Dive, having a quick stiffener before the action begins and we do it all over again to get to the next hub. Despite the horrible design decisions, vicious content gating and serious lack of population, I still have plenty of time for City of Steam. It could be so much more but it is what it is and that'll do. Me and the Goblin aren't stopping till the end of the ride. It just might take a while.