It must be a strange job, working in ArenaNet's art department. You get to put your heart and soul into creating stunning visuals that will be seen and admired by millions of people, knowing all the while that sometime, probably sooner rather than later, out will come the metaphorical Eraser of Progress and all your work will be consigned to oblivion.
At least whoever worked on the Lion's Arch update that arrived out of the blue in yesterday's patch knew they were working on something that wouldn't be around for very long. After what seems like months...oh, wait, it is months... of pointless clattering and hammering suddenly, overnight, most of the rubble and detritus from Scarlet's Reign Of Terror has vanished.
Replacing it we have vast walls of scaffolding, huge barges of sand and even airships acting as skyhooks. Instead of inept and aimless hammerers there are confident, professional teams of architects and civil engineers, setting up theodolites while their asuran-manufactured golems busily ping asuran-manufactured receptors to measure...something.
Post-patch I eschewed combat in The Mists for once. It was hard to take the eternal battle seriously as an epidemic of bugs saw World Peace break out among players, who all found themselves on the same team, reduced to forming tripartite zergs 150-strong to hunt the Overgrown Grub, just to have something to do. Instead I took a tour of the building site that one day will be Our New Home.
The unfortunate Artist's Impressions released by ANet on the website yesterday, showing what we can expect when the work is complete, suggest Lion's Arch is going to be re-modeled as some kind of cross between a Las Vegas Casino and a Gulf State Shopping Mall. Huge swathes of land have been cleared already. I'm taking it that everything gone won't be coming back, which includes virtually every pirate-themed aspect of the last incarnation other than the hulls that used to hold the Bank and the Black Lion Traders.
It appears the Age of the Pirate is over. The New (New) LA will be a fortified city, something which makes all the claims that it's going to be prefabricated elsewhere and then flown (or possibly ported) in overnight all the more impressive. That has to be millions of tons of masonry they're talking about. I have to ask, if The Ship's Council (or The Pact or The Consortium or whoever the heck is behind all this) has the capacity to move that much rock that fast, why don't they just drop the whole lot on Mordremoth and save us the trouble of going to the Heart of Maguuma at all?
On the other hand, when you look at the angle of the new lighthouse, which is supposedly now complete and ready to begin operation, you have to wonder if they have Clue One about any of this. It looks almost as bad as the old one after the Karka finished with it. That, by the way, has now been completely dismantled. There's nothing left but the rock on which it used to stand.
At least now we can get around town without falling through unfinished bridges or into holes. The jagged shards of Scarlet's machine have been pulled from the walls and the bitter memory of her near-triumph along with them. The refugees seem to have moved on too - or been moved on. Even the camp outside Vigil Keep seems emptier than I remember it, although there are still a few lingerers there, perhaps too traumatized ever to return.
Lion's Arch, between two states as it is, feels oddly serene. There's an unaccustomed sense of space and freedom. The views by night are superb. It's worth the trip just to see them.
And enjoy it while you can because it won't be around for long. Although, honestly, when it's Lion's Arch you're talking about, when was it ever?