Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s Out of the Shadows

    
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I figure that it’s been long enough for the majority of you to have run through Guild War’s 2‘s first instalment of the Living World Season 3 story, which is a huge relief because I’ve been dying to share my thoughts with you all. Sure, I shared my initial impressions with you on launch day, but I was rather light on the details since I was being so careful not to ruin your fun prematurely and I hadn’t been exposed to much of the content anyway.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m going to talk about the good and bad of the opening chapter, and then I’ll perhaps even reevaluate some of my predictions for the season after appraising my accuracy. If you haven’t had the chance to play through Out of the Shadows for yourself, I recommend giving this article a miss until you have: There will be spoilers ahead for those who are not aware of how the storyline has progressed.

img 01Out of the Shadows: The story so far

Just to refresh your memory in case you blasted through the entire chapter on the first day and haven’t felt motivated enough to replay it for the achievements, the chapter opened with a touching tribute to the beautiful fallen hero Eir Stegalkin in which the player character is convinced to form a new heroic guild to unite the remaining protectors of Tyria to prepare for future dangers. You are reminded through the memorial dialogue that Eir’s work is far from over and must be carried on: While dragons still threaten the safety of the Tyrian races, the player character cannot and will not down tools. Your toon gives an amazing speech to the assembled mourners and pays personal tribute to his or her fallen friend. Rox gatecrashes with an injured but very much alive Garm by her side (got me right in the feels, I tells ya!) and convinces your character that a new guild of dragonslayers is needed.

Taimi sends word to Hoelbrak for your character to join her in Rata Novus as soon as possible. Rytlock decides to accompany your character, but entering Rata Novus triggers the impressive security system and caused quite a stir with Phlunt, who is already not your biggest fan after Taimi attempted to withhold research on Dry Top back in Season 2. Taimi is still keeping her secrets from him, of course, and the player eventually gains access to her secret lab by either crushing another sentry golem spree or outsmarting the system by memorising colour patterns on a console. It is here that Taimi points to Glint’s egg as a healthy flare on her leyline map and notices that the northernmost Bloodstone dot is flaring up. After leaving the lab to avoid any suspicion from Phlunt, the player character, Taimi, and Rytlock bump into Almorra Soulkeeper, who asks the player to fill in the now-vacant Marshal role, which you promptly turn down due to the office-based nature of the role after Trahearne’s demise. Almorra also hand-delivers a summons to Rytlock from the Black Citadel that he crumples and discards in front of everyone.

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Canach shows up in Rata Novus to meet you about some delicate political business on the behest of Anise, who still holds Canach’s billet. One of the ministers had fled Queen Jennah’s custody and Canach has tied his whereabouts to a centre of White Mantle activity in northern Maguuma, coincidentally where Taimi saw that hotspot earlier on her leyline map. Almorra takes you on her airship to the new zone, Bloodstone Fen, and then we’re treated to an expanded version of the airship flying into an explosion/implosion cutscene we were exposed to in the teaser trailer. The player character and company piece together that the bloodstone has been destroyed and that Canach’s crew could have been in the blast zone since they travelled separately. Upon scouting the ruined citadel, the most immediately noticeable aftereffect of the strange blast is that chunks of land are weirdly suspended in the air between magical orbs and human spirits have escaped from the bloodstone and are haunting the area.

Venturing further into the blast zone, the player learns that those within range — friend and foe alike — must feed on bloodstone magic and are now maddened with a constant hunger for magical energy. Taimi has bugged the commander with a little radio and chimes in on the state of the area, asking the player to find out how the maddened blast victims are harnessing the bloodstone power trapped within bloodstone shards. Killing a cleric grants us the ability to harvest bloodstone nodes and pick up magical energy that literally hangs in the air of the place. Armed with this new ability and the new Counter Magic mastery, your character checks out the blast site and defeats the White Mantle present there while having a good old heart-to-heart with Caithe. Now suspecting that Caudecus is behind the bloodstone explosion, the player character ventures on to the White Mantle colosseum to ambush their ranks and try to detain Caudecus. Justicar Adrienne protects the corrupt minister and harnesses powerful bloodstone magic to protect herself from your attacks, but luckily the new skills you have learned allow you to outsmart her and break her shields by countering her magic.

Canach asks to handle the discussions when you find Caudecus, and once tracked down, the minister arrogantly admits to his treachery, giving the party the justification required to confront him. After quite the battle with a jade construct, none other than Lazarus himself shows up, calling the minister a heretic and claiming no interest in the Krytan throne. Canach attempts to use the commotion to finally get to Caudecus, but a Mesmer who sides with him whisks him off to safety. The party decides to hunt down Lazarus, believing he is responsible for the blast (since Caudecus showed no signs of absorbing the magic himself), and hopefully catching Caudecus in the chase. Just as the new guild members joke about it being a nice first mission that shouldn’t threaten the world too much, Taimi pipes up over the radio to announce that Primordus is showing as active on the leyline map, pulling the player between a mursaat and a dragon. Whew!

img 04What I rated

I loved the opening scenes and most definitely felt a heart pang when Garm came limping into Eir’s wake. I felt so many emotions during that first episode that I didn’t know whether I should be laughing or crying, which is in no small part down to amazing scripting and stellar voice acting. As ever, I adored Taimi, and I feel as though the character is only getting better with increased exposure to her new friends. The fun encounters and absolutely hilarious dialogue were most definitely needed to break the mood after Eir’s funeral, so the great timing deserves a mention. I really adore the new zone in terms of navigation: ArenaNet is most certainly on to something with its exploration of verticality, and I really enjoyed the layers it provided to one tiny little zone. Again, the timing of the explosion served to change pace very neatly after all the laughs in Rata Novus.

I loved that all the turmoil from Season 2 only served to make my favourite characters stronger. No more stupid arguing among heroes, no more wallowing in grief for those who have been lost: This season seems to be all about rising above the worst of times to bring about the best of them. A new guild was a great move, even if it was entirely expected, because it allowed for a renewed sense of purpose and hope for the Tyrian heroes. If my buddies aren’t eager and raring to go, I could never expect the remains of the Pact to shape up either, so it’s nice that many of the most wounded heroes are finding some resolution. I’m hoping that the currently ill and immediately occupied heroes falls into that category too once they come back into play.

img 02What I hated

Many threads were continued — if not fully answered — in the first chapter, but I was really hoping to see more about that damned egg after it eating up so much of Season 2’s story time. It feels as though it’s just sort of been put on hold and I don’t like it after putting in so much effort to bring it to safety. Some tension between Caithe and Taimi was hinted at in Taimi’s pre-season diary entries, so I was really hoping to see this play out as I had predicted. At least Taimi was able to use the leyline magic to pinpoint Primordus’ rising I guess. Equally frustrating to me was not checking in on the Pale Tree: My main is a Sylvari, and I do worry about the mother, you know? Caithe mentioned her in passing, but I felt that the player character should have wanted to check in on her after the immediate threat of Mordremoth was dealt with.

Although I’m excited about Primordus, I think he could have slept in a little while longer to give me time to deal with more stuff. Honestly, don’t they teach dragons politeness in the great All? I explained before that I don’t feel that Tyria is ready for a new dragon rising, so I do hope combating Primordus isn’t too rushed like the Mordremoth threat was. How much death can the Tyrian races really take in such a short amount of time? Fans have been asking for some resolution of the currently open story arcs, but we’re still left with more questions than I’m comfortable with.

Oh yeah… and I still wanna know who bloody E is!

gw2What’s next?

I think I can safely say that Primordus’ death and Glint’s egg-hatching will be this season’s finale now. What I can’t quite work out is where ANet is going with the White Mantle thread: I can’t see how Caudecus could possibly stand up to Lazarus and unite the White Mantle under him, but we’ll see how that plays out. Either way, I doubt that Queen Jennah will be safe in the immediate future. Anise has always given me the creeps… anyone else? Canach does like to play games, and I wonder if she will try to force him to help her take the throne from her worried and vulnerable Queen “for the good of the nation”? I’m not getting the sea dragon I was hoping for, but I guess I should have known that considering how much ANet likes to hate on its underwater combat system.

Over to you!

Overall, I did enjoy the chapter and my thirst for more story content has been somewhat satiated. I’m taking the frustration I feel over loose threads to be a sign that the story is compelling, and although the new zone is rather small, I do have fun gliding around there. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with the wait for chapter two, but here’s hoping it’ll build on the solid start to Season 3 and that things will only intensify from here.

What did you think of Out of the Shadows? Give me your personal rate and hate summaries in the comments below.

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.