Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Act II of Guild War’s 2’s Path of Fire story

In the last edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I discussed the opening sections of Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire‘s story while providing you with a brief overview of what came before it. The return to Elona has been enjoyable and the character dynamics are developing nicely: The sheer breadth of content offered with the expansion in terms of story is fairly impressive and it deserves a thorough examination and explanation, so you know I’ve been bursting to continue covering it. In this edition, I’ll outline the rest of Act I and will begin into Act II: I’ll discuss Night of Fires, The Sacrifice, and Crystalline Memories. As before, expect significant spoilers if you’ve not had the opportunity to enjoy the expansion story for yourself yet.

Where we left off

For a full rundown of events since the PoF expansion release, you’ll want to check out the first part of this story deep-dive first, but I wanted to give you a quick recap of where I left off with my summary before launching into the next chunk of the story. The commander chases whispers of Balthazar around Amnoon and its surrounding areas and hears tales of Vlast, Glint’s other offspring, facing off against the Branded to save the living from the threat. A useful contact in the city named Zalambur uncovers that Balthazar is not in fact after Kralkatorrik as we’d expected but is instead after Vlast, so learning more about Glint’s son becomes paramount to containing the rogue god and the commander heads out to search his encampments for him before he finds Vlast.

Raiding Balthazar’s encampments

Canach and Rytlock accompany the commander to the main Forged camp in the region to attempt to simultaneously cause damage to Balthazar’s forces and lure out the war god from his pursuit of Vlast. The two NPCs approaches vary wildly: While Rytlock is ready to crush skulls and take names, Canach wants a more subtle approach. The commander leads the way to keep the peace and employs a blend of methods, and the player is presented with the option to avoid the sentries setting off the alarms within the camp by vanquishing them quickly. Fighting their way to the inner gates doesn’t reveal Balthazar, so Rytlock suggests that some more aggressive tactics might get his attention more quickly as the party breach the centre of the encampment and targets the Forged’s officers while still dealing with those pesky sentries. Finally, a Forged Bastion must be downed in the centre of the encampment, which hits heavily and takes quite a beating.

With no sign of Balthazar or his herald in the camp, the party make their way to the temple of Kormir to meet back up with Kasmeer. We interrupt her prayers and she asks us what happened, only to be met with our rather disappointing response that we found none of the people we were searching for. A robed stranger then asks to speak to the commander privately, so we join him away from the hustle and bustle of the temple and he introduced himself as a member of the Order of Shadows named Kito. Just as we are all getting acquainted, the Herald appears and attacks the temple in revenge for our assault on the encampment.

The commander and company must then defeat the Herald before she sacrifices the innocents within the temple: Many civilians are in the temple due to being displaced by war, so much is at stake as an immense battle emerges. The commander ushers a flock of refugees safely out of the way of her devastating attacks as the encounter progresses, but the priests inevitably fall and we must let her escape once again in order to save the temple and the innocents within. Kito explains that the path to Balthazar lies with following the Herald, so once we restabilise the temple we plan on meeting with him at Makali Outpost to track her.
GW2 Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire

The Sacrifice (very spoilerific… you have been warned!)

We find a scene of chaos as we begin the next chapter: While Vlast was holding off the Branded outside the outpost, Forged appeared out of nowhere and word is that Balthazar is coming imminently to claim the dragon. The commander asks for help to reach Vlast, but Kito admits that the post is in no way equipped to stand against the god of war and helps the citizens flee to Kormir’s temple while the commander and the party attempt to find Vlast without help. Finding a safe route out of the camp is difficult since scorched earth and blazing fires are now engulfing the Salt Flats and Malaki Outpost, but Canach helps the commander to track the dragon trail through the destruction. We stumble across blast marks that were hot enough to turn the desert sands to glass, but without the corruption noted in similar marks from Kralkatorrik’s Branded, and we know we are close.

We eventually find an elevated rock formation that forms a hidden plateau, and when the party ascends it they are met by none other than Balthazar and his herald facing off against Vlast. The commander immediately recommences the on-again, off-again battle with the Herald, eventually vanquishing her once and for all after she admits that she could not stand against the god’s will and then begs us to kill him. Balthazar uses the time his herald bought him by keeping us busy to ensnare Vlast, but we nevertheless attempt to tangle with the god in a desperate attempt to save him. The commander tells Balthazar that the Herald is dead and he muses that we could have been a worthy replacement for her if we had yielded, but that he could no longer permit our meddling in his affairs and that we would die. He did, however, say that Rytlock would be spared and dubbed the Charr his friend, which shocks us even though we don’t have much time to dwell on the words.

As you might imagine, no player character is as strong as a god, and so no matter how valiantly we face off against Balthazar, the commander is eventually overpowered by his flames. Cue a wonderfully tragic cutscene: Just as Balthazar attempts to finish us off, valiant Vlast dives in front of his flaming sword and explodes into fragmented crystals. When everyone comes to again, Balthazar is nowhere to be seen and Canach and Kas are left trying to help the commander figure out what just happened, while a traumatised Rytlock mumbles in the corner worryingly. Kas notes that the crystals left behind by Vlast’s death look like memory crystals and activates them, realising that they have left behind messages for Aurene. The trio needs Rytlock’s help to decipher the meaning of the message recorded in the crystal so approach the Charr.

Rytlock finally explains some of what happened in the Mists and admits that he now realises the horrible truth of his actions there: He recounts his quest to find his sword, Sohothin, and says he had lost time before he eventually found his sword with its flame extinguished. Desperate, he noticed a chained stranger who told him he could reignite the sword for Rytlock in exchange for his freedom. Rytlock mournfully tells the commander that he asked for no name or reason for his imprisonment and thought only of restoring Solothin. The stranger opened a portal once he was freed and told Rytlock it was his way out of the Mists and he mused that the stranger must have followed him through and could be none other than Balthazar. A grief-stricken Rytlock vows to make this right and seems even more focused on seeing through his mission at the commander’s side, and the party decide to try and infiltrate Glint’s lair and also track down more crystals to get Vlast’s full story. The commander also wishes to call Taimi and check on Aurene because it is clear she knows of Vlast’s death and is in a great deal of pain.
GW2 Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire

Glint’s Lair

The commander races across the desert with the help of the raptor and springer and finds the crystals that contain Vlast’s parting diary to Aurene. He explains that Balthazar is tracking a weapon that could prove to be disastrous in his hands, and a story of strained relations with the races of Tyria and the heavy weight of responsibility emerges as we hear more from the crystals. Vlast’s story is touching and is best listened to in one go for full effect: Luckily, finding all the crystals gives the player an item that replays the dialogue. I feel so sorry for poor Vlast every time I hear it, so I do urge you to listen for yourself. Collecting all of the crystals is optional but I definitely recommend taking the time to do so.

Once Vlast’s story becomes clear to us, we then need to find an entrance to Glint’s lair: We have never walked in the front door, so to speak, so this proves challenging. Luckily for us, our brand new springer mount can jump just high enough to help us find the way in over a locked gate. Once we’re on the right path, we must clear out the Forged in the area and investigate, searching for clues as to what the weapon Vlast refers to might be. The commander discovers during the investigation that they are mining Branded crystal in the area and that they are also building something enormous that requires an extensive tail segment and armour plating. The party also finds an enormous cannon that draws power from the surrounding crystals, and finally, we find some suspicious burned tracks in the area.

The commander and company finally make their way into Glint’s lair after empowering some memory crystals of hers by collecting crystal essences. This is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen, so I recommend taking the optional quest to collect them all and really enjoy the views and heights offered by the basin. Glint hints at life before she was cleansed when speaking through the crystals so, again, the recordings are absolutely worth listening to. A portal opens eventually once we have discovered enough crystals and we can progress deeper into Glint’s lair, and upon exploration, we find some very pertinent pieces of history.

GW2 Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire

Perhaps the key piece within the lair is the spear Glint gave Rytlock and company to kill Kralkatorrik that was fashioned from its own blood, and the party assume that this is the weapon that Vlast was referencing. Unfortunately, the spear is protected by one of Glint’s Facet Guardians, so the party must destroy it in order to secure the weapon. The fight is challenging as we need to shield ourselves in creative ways and use the power of the resources around us to survive. After the battle, we can examine the broken-down, crystalised remains of Snaff’s golem (sniff!) and also an intact memory crystal of GLint’s in the heart of the chamber. It seems that she knew her death was imminent because she couldn’t see beyond the Kralkatorrik showdown, and her hope is that her children would carry on her legacy. It seems we must destroy the spear before it can be used by Balthazar to slay more dragons and destroy Tyria: Nobody is at all happy about destroying it, but the party reluctantly does so.

A broken Rytlock pays homage to the fallen Snaff and the commander ensures that he is coping. He confides in his friend that he feels as though he let his guild and Glint down and that it was she that taught him the ways of the Revenant in the Mists. He has supposed that she intended for him to finish the task that Destiny’s Edge had begun, so he is rather torn about saving Kralkatorrik from certain death at the god’s hands. Rytlock is desperate for a win and seems deeply agitated by inactivity and meandering thoughts, and sets his resolve on downing the god since he can’t have Kralkatorrik. Kas convinces the commander that taking our pleas directly to the gods is probably the only logical next step, convinced that there is more to the story since Balthazar was seemingly imprisoned by someone in the Mists. She points us to a portal into the Mists within the Tomb of Primeval Kings and the party sets off.
GW2 Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire

Over to you!

I wish we would have gotten to speak to Vlast, even a little, before his death. I feel as though the impact of such a tragic loss was diminished significantly by a lack of any true build in this respect, but I do think some of the other story elements make up for it after that quick death scene. Perhaps the narrative team were aiming to create a retrospective sense of regret at his loss by letting us know him more via the crystals only after his death? The crowning achievement in this section of the story has to be the Rytlock revelations: I did gasp aloud at each new revelation and it definitely did have a wow factor. Kasmeer is a letdown for me; I find her to be on the wrong side of nagging in this story segment with not much justification. She seems disappointed that the commander doesn’t share her faith in the gods as if that is at all surprising after one has been attempting to ruin the world. That could just be me though?

Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below! Next time, I’ll finish up my summary of the rest of Act II in preparation for a bumper Act II and final thoughts follow-up.

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see covered, drop a comment Tina’s way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
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9 Comments on "Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Act II of Guild War’s 2’s Path of Fire story"

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Thomas

I used to kinda sorta enjoy running the GW2 missions, but I thought both The Sacrifice and the Glint’s Lair missions were a royal pain and over-the-top difficult. (The Night of Fires mission wasn’t too terrible, but getting Canach and Rytlock to help me kill the sentries was unbelievably frustrating; what a HUGE step backward the GW2 “allies” are from the Heroes of GW1!). I completed these missions once, and I will never run any of them again on any character, let alone some of the PITA missions that are still to come in the PoF story line.

The same perverse mentality that ruined the Living Story missions with supercharged difficulty and boss hit points ratcheted up into the megalomillions is now running amuck with the base story missions. If you have to pore through wiki entries and posts to somehow maneuver and shim-shammy your particular class through a given story quest — a “story quest,” I say, for heavens’ sake — then the problem is poor mission design and balance.

Repeating story missions on alts would have kept me playing PoF a lot longer (as it did in the base game and even in HoT), but somewhere along the line, ArenaNet forgot that story content — STORY CONTENT — should be accessible to a broad range of player abilities.

It’s fine to have hard, challenging content in MMOs, I don’t object to that; but it should not be found in base story line quests, imo, since presumably everyone is ordinarily going to want to play through that type of content.

You don’t put items everyone should be able to reach on the highest shelf.

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haishao

I don’t really understand what’s hard about The Sacrifice, or any other of the story missions for that matter.
GW has never been about standstill auto attacking. So obviusly, if it’s how you play, you will struggle a bit more. I suggest you go play a bit of GW1 to understand where the game comes from.

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Arktouros

Continuing from my annoyance last time…

The Forged assault highlighted many issues with the way story missions are balanced. Handing me a boss to fight with unique mechanics to counter is one thing but then cramming a bunch of non-stop spawning adds on top of it is just unnecessary. If the AI did something like fight the spawning adds while you have to contend with the boss it would be one thing but it’s just all over the place when it comes to allies and balance in missions.

Then we finally come to the part I hated the most about the expansion story and that’s the Balthazar fight(s). Now every fight we have with big daddy B he usually ends up one shotting us after a bit of a fight. Except, spoilers, everyone literally knows it’s impossible they’re going to die. Threatening a player with death in a story in a MMO is unbelievably pointless. So when I hear about the tragic tale of Vlast the only thing I can think of he’s basically a layer of plot armor to keep the character alive until the next time Balthy Z one shots us.

The facet fight was one of the more enjoyable fights in the expansion to me. It has clear mechanics that are designed to be countered I had a lot of fun taking it down. The Rytlock reveals I liked as well because they went with his character rarely being open and only revealing things when he kinda has to.

But the greatest annoyance of all is coming up!

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Bannex

Yup I agree with everything you said. If they’d just acknowledge these story quests are terrible, the story in this game has never been good and they should reinvest in content that people will want to play over and over again like dungeons I’d have very little in the way of complaints.

I did the vanilla story once, hated every second of it. The last fight in Aran was simply agonizing, one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had in mmos. HoT was an abject failure that caused a lot of fans to walk away and while the core game is undeniably fun I must say they really try hard to not give fans what they want.

Pof was a step in the right direction but the story quest is borderline intolerable, again.

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Knox Harrington

Is the expansion still nothing but story? It seems like every site I visit that talks about the expansion only talks about the story. Is there really nothing else to it? I mean, yeah there’s mounts but I’m talking in terms of actual content; stuff to do after the story.

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Thomas

The best part of PoF are the new zones, which are diverse and fun to play through, and the new mounts, which are a trip and a welcome addition to the game.

The story, is, if anything, the worst part of the expansion, not due to the writing and acting, which I (unlike a lot of people, I guess) thought was fairly decent, but just because it’s a total pain to play through the story missions, with tricksy-wicksy game mechanics, OP’d bosses, and swarms of trash mobs to burn through.

Get PoF for the 5 new zones and the mounts; they are entirely worth the expansion price, imho.

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Arktouros

Basically, nope.

Most of the content is a one-time run through style content that you can discover various events, hearts, and map completion and such both once you’ve done much of the content there’s very little there to repeat or worth doing. It’s all solid, and if you’re a GW2 fan it’s 100% worth the $30, but I wouldn’t specifically buy into POF to come back unless you’re already liking GW2 because you’re going to head back to the rest of the game pretty quickly.

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Bannex

Ark is basically right but for me I found the Pof zones to be awesome but the mounts fundamentally change the way you approach open world.

They make HoT tolerable, exploring is a blast and in all reality they’re so fun I’d say that even without the rest of the expansion they’re worth the 30 alone.

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Knox Harrington

Ugh.. thanks

wpDiscuz