Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Red Balloon : GW2

Ten years might be considered a tad premature for a Jubilee but Queen Jennah probably calculated that if she waited the traditional quarter of a century she might not be around to celebrate. Remind me, has that peace treaty with the Charr ever been ratified? And what about all those seditionists brewing up discontent and tossing bombs, not to mention the machinations of Minister Caudecus.

High heels, really?
Add to these destabilizing factors the enigmatic and seemingly inexhaustible hordes of Aetherblade pirates descending from an armada of aerodynamically-challenged airships and it's perhaps understandable that, in an attempt to bolster her shaky rule, Jennah's gone on a charm offensive.

It's no expense spared, too, and given they've not long funded a devastating war, the coffers of Divinity's Reach run surprisingly deep. Makes you wonder about Krytan tax rates. Maybe it explains all the piracy in the farmlands and sullen insurrection in Ebonhawke. Anyway, wherever the gold is coming from there's enough of it to pay for state-of-the-art clockworks to replace the entire City Guard.

Logan Thackeray's not best pleased. Put that down to professional jealousy if you will, but he'll probably be proved right. Handing your entire state security apparatus over to a bunch of mechanical toys could be described as a brave decision. That or insane.

Where do these things come from, anyway? Who designed them? Who manufactures them? Were they adequately trialled before being put into service? Who'll be held responsible when, as they inevitably will, they run amok?

Jeromai has an intriguing theory about what's going on. Me, I just want my balloon.

Carpentry not clockwork
Ah yes, balloons. It's not enough to purchase and deploy an entire army of watchworks across the city, to renovate a gigantic crater and refurbish it as a crazed playground for greed-maddened adventurers, to fill it with mechanical hordes, employ a team of mesmers to keep said mechanicals constantly englamoured and hire a cadre of elite champions to fight all-comers day and night.

No, what good would that be without a fleet of hot air balloons distributed across the entirety of civilized and uncivilized Tyria (Orr always excepted, the undead being notorious party poopers), to ferry anyone with nothing better to do back to the Capital for fun and games at the City's expense? The Court of the Sun King had nothing on this.

Still, it's not my money. Why should I care? I get a balloon!

Thus it was that yesterday was spent traveling first east from The Black Citadel then north through the Eternal Autumn of Ascalon before looping back west across the frozen wastes of Frostgorge Sound. Thence  on to the Norn lands, through Lornar's Pass out onto the tundra of Timberline Falls then deeper south all the way to the sweltering heat of the Maguuma jungle around Mount Maelstrom.

As I traveled, I marveled at the intricate carpentry of the gantries, each dwarfed by the billowing scarlet canopy of a hot-air balloon. At the foot of every gantry waited a Pilot, eager to offer free passage on his craft. Sometimes the balloon was primed to depart, the gates open and inviting., other times some dignitary was late in arriving and nothing could proceed until he was found and safely fetched. A few times I arrived to find the balloon under Aetherblade attack. Now and again the Queen had sent a Champion to give a demonstration of the entertainment on offer in the Crown Pavilion.

I escorted dignitaries. I drove off sky pirates. I
No Bandits, No Pirates, No Centaurs
sparred with Champions. At the top of each gantry stair I found a coffin-shaped coffer full of what I can only call loot. Queen Jenah's largesse truly knows no bounds, nor sanity. I took everything, declined the free passage, jumped down.

Still not got my balloon, though. On to the next stop.

Back up through Sparkfly Fen, heading north once more into Bloodtide Coast. A quick visit to the bank in Lion's Arch to empty my packs then out into Northern Kryta. Gendarran Fields and Harrathi Hinterlands all passed under my weary paws (charr ranger on a mission - got to have balloon to bat about). In the end there was nowhere left to go and still no balloon. I opened my map and waypointed to Caledon Forest and there, after nearly a full day's traveling, finally I received my reward.

Was it worth it? Hell yes! It's a balloon on a string!

I prefer Travel Faciitator
It took all day and it was all fun, all the time (except when a tower bugged). It was satisfying, too, because I chose my own itinerary, took it at my own pace, felt in complete control throughout, knew why I was doing it, knew that I would be able to complete what I'd set out to do and knew the end result would be something I'd value and could keep. If I was tweaking it, I'd cut the requirement from thirty balloon visits to twenty, but that might just be because I know I'll be doing the whole thing again on the second account. Thirty is probably just inside the entertainment envelope.

It was certainly a lot more to my taste than the current favorite Jubilee pastime, zerging the Pavilion. Which, naturally, I'm also doing because, loot.

I can only stand it in short bursts, no longer than three or four boss pairs at a stretch. Necromancer is my farmer of choice for this one; laying down Marks and Wells gets credit on everything and Death Shroud means she hardly ever dies even in massive AE storms. The most difficult part is fighting through the lag to get to the chests. I missed three yesterday because I couldn't even find them in the crowd.

The Queen's Gauntlet  I did only once. I won right on the timer (I was downed when it kicked me out but I got credit for a win). Not felt any desire to try again, despite the stacks and stacks of Entrance Tickets piling up in my bags.

Overall, I give The Queen's Jubilee installment of The Living Story an A* for graphic design, a B- for content and an F for logic, consistency and making any kind of sense at all.

Come to think of it, those grades could stand for the whole of GW2.


  1. Are you kidding me? It's obvious how incredibly wealthy the people of Kryta are. The farmers, for example, are constantly being assaulted by bandits and centaurs, and yet manage to have enough money in reserve to toss out millions of silver to adventurers.

    If simple farmers have that much money, imagine the size of the royal reserves! I bet Queen Jennah sleeps in gold and gems.


    1. One of the mysteries of MMOs is how NPC merchants have the funds to buy everything ever offered them by adventurers, including things that appear to have no possible value whatsoever, yet rarely if ever appear to sell anything to anyone.

      I think it's one gigantic money-laundering scam.

  2. Hehe those balloons are great! Now if only I could beat Liadri... ;p


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