Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ebonhawke, The Hard Way: GW2

Some people are diligently filling out their hearts, finding every point of interest, viewing every vista, making certain nothing's missed before they leave a map (which is what we must now learn to call what we've known as  zones for all of recorded history) and move on. I'm...not doing that.

Last night  in Gendarran Fields my ranger dinged 30. I opened the map to waypoint to somewhere and do something or other when I just happened to notice, way down in the bottom south-eastern corner, the faint white numbers "30-40". Must be an omen. All the other maps around my level are 25 - 35 but here's the Goldilocks zone. Hadn't I better go there right now and check it out?

It was a plan with but one flaw: there didn't appear to be any rational way to get there. So far, every map in Tyria has been contiguous with another of the level below it, allowing a logical, natural progression. This appears to be about the only place where that's not happening.

The map to the west is a non-map called Deldrimor Front, a place that exists in the world but not in the game. To the north-west it abuts the edge of Plains of Ashford, but there appears to be a solid mountain range between them. It seems the only possible access is from the north, through Blazeridge Steps, a map flagged 40-50.

Waypoint, meet Portal
I couldn't see enough detail, really any detail, on the in-game map with its fog-of-war and pastel crayon styling so I turned to the invaluable interactive map at Guild Wars 2 Cartographers. Using that I could see all the connections clearly. I waypointed to Duskrend Overlook, the most westerly waypoint in Plains of Ashford and lo and behold, right next to it is a portal to Blazeridge Steps. How I ever missed it when I opened the waypoint I can't begin to imagine.

As is the way in Tyria, another waypoint stands just across the border. Unfortunately, it's the only one between me and where I wanted to go. My first run got me about half-way before some sort of air-strike painted a red circle around me and sent me in one hit back to The Last Whiskey Bar. (That's the name of the waypoint, not some cheesy metaphor for death, by the way).

I dusted myself off for another run. This time I got 90% of the way, hugging the zone wall like the good old days in Kithicor. Unfortunately some devourers live on the far end of that wall and I dithered a moment too long before jinking to the left as I should have done.

At this point it should have been back to the bar. I was, as usual, lying in the dirt contemplating the map and thinking along these very lines when the now-familiar words appeared on my screen: "A noble soul is trying to revive you".

Room at the Inn?
Much is being made of the social nature of GW2, how the game systems encourage and re-enforce co-operative behavior. It's all true. This particular good samaritan not only revived me, he revived me again when I died again about 5 seconds later and a third time when I died ten seconds after that, trying to make the lip of the ridge where I could drop down out of the devourer nest I'd fallen into. Like The Lone Ranger he didn't wait to be thanked, just did good and was gone.

By the kindness of strangers I was able to stagger on without further fatality to reach the tunnel that took me from the deadly Blazeridge into the merely dangerous Fields of Ruin. Here the creatures only took three-quarters of my health and killed my faithful Wolf-Bear as I ran full-pelt for the signs of civilization I could see in the deep south.

And what civilization! Not only is Fields of Ruin indeed a perfect place for a ranger just turned thirty, it's the hinterland of a full-scale city. I was quite literally open-mouthed to find myself in the Stronghold of Ebonhawke, a fortified city of such size and detail as to dwarf the capital cities of most MMOs. It's almost as though ArenaNet are showing off.

Oh, and what should I find inside the Stronghold but an Asura Gate. And where does that Asura Gate lead? Divinity's Reach. So that 30-40 map does have a level-appropriate access route after all. But where's the fun in that?

1 comment:

  1. No fun at all...I laughed my mtndew up my nose just now. Someday's it just pays to go get rofflstompped by big bad mobs for explorations sake.
    That should be an achievement really...last less than 10 seconds in any map.


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