Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Piece Of Lost Dead Past

One of the featurettes included with Guild Wars 2's latest update, Visions of the Past, is the option to replay four instanced scenarios originally released during the first season of the Living World. I remembered the quartet quite well.

The North Nolan Hatchery was, I thought, the very first Living Story instance although looking back it seems Braham's retaking of Cragstead were both part of the March 2013 update, Flame and Frost: The Razing.  Back then I was quite complimentary about the Rox vignette, saying "The nursery instance was exactly the right degree of hard. I completed it without dying but I was downed a few times and it looked touch and go for a while".

That's quite instructive, isn't it? I very much doubt anyone's going to get downed in the Nolan Hatchery this time around. I did the instance yesterday and it was distinctly on the easy side. I brisked through it with only half a mind on what I was doing. We've all come along long way since 2013, not least Rox.

Before you get to relive the glory days there's some paperwork to complete. I was expecting one of ArenaNet's patented "Collects", GW2 code for quests, but it turned out to be a lot simpler than that. All you need to do is visit each of the orignal locations where the instances took place and find a "memento" of the occasion.

The hatchery and Braham's village, Cragstead, were both turned into permanent zones in the game when the Living Story moved on. You've been able to visit them, walk around and chat to NPCs there for years. I guess that dims the nostalgia a little but it makes finding the mementos very straightforward. Just go into the instance and keep heading deeper until you can't go any further. There you'll find a sparkling ground spawn with a big label atached. Can't hardly miss it.

The other two are very slightly harder to spot. The two instances in question no longer exist in the game so the mementos are just lying around outside where they used to be. I had a bit of trouble with the one for the krait tower, now lying in pieces across much of Viathan Lake in Kessex Hills, to the point that I eventually cracked and went to YouTube to watch a video made by someone with better eyesight than me.

Not only was the damn thing in pretty much the first place I'd tried, I'd actually looked right at it, seen it, wondered what it was, then left it lying there so I could spend ten minutes swimming about in toxic waste. Somehow I missed both the sparkles and the sign. Go me!

The last one is definitely the "hardest" to grab, although that's not saying much. It's pretty straightforward to find but karka are annoying even now. and it's down a coral run close to the jumping puzzle on Southsun Cove that's teeming with the infuriating little crabs..

Each pick-up completes an achievement and allows you to access the related instance from the Scrying Pool in the new Eye of the North. I did them all before I went back so I'm not sure if you can use them piecemeal or wehther you have to collect all four to make anything happen.

The four instances you receive access to are:

The only one I've done so far is North Nolan Hatchery. Cragstead I remember as being fairly dull and the toxic tower/krait tower as annoying but Canach's Lair I must have liked well enough because I wrote a guide for it. I might do that one again if I'm stuck for something to do some day.

Other than that, I'm not really all that fussed. It's nice to have the option, sure, but I can't honestly say I've thought about any of these instances even in passing these last six or seven years. Now, if it was the Marionette...

The decision to make the instances uniquely available via the Scrying Pool is very interesting. Anet could have chosen to place the zone-ins at the original locations or even through a UI element but instead they made sure we'd have to travel to the Eye of the North each time.

There's a clear intent to turn the Eye into something more than just another service hub. As well as the season one missions you can also access all the sub-raid "Strike" missions from there. It has something of the feel of one of the lobby zones from the original Guild Wars, particularly with the Xunlai storage chests lying about by the wall.

Eye of the North is described as an "upgradeable instance", which is true if what you understand by the word upgrade is "pay a one-time fee to use our services". I really can't see any point in this but I guess it's harmless enough.

Why anyone would want to access these services in this location sufficiently often to justify the effort and expense involved in setting them up beats me. I'd just hit "B" and go to the WvW hub for banking and broking, then hit "B" again to be returned to the Eye. I certainly wouldn't pay fifty gold for the privelige although I imagine some GW vets will think it's worth it just for the nostalgic frisson of banking with the Xunlai again, even if the Xunlai themselves are long gone.

As for crafting, I suppose you could just about imagine someone needing to make something urgently before a Strike mission but it's a bit far-fetched.

And that's about it for the Visions update. I quite enjoyed some of it.


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