In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll share my thoughts on the new zone with you while also talking about the zone’s relative location and basic meta. My full thoughts on the actual episode will come in the next edition without the usual first impressions piece, so you won’t have to wait too long for that if you are not playing for yourself and are living this season vicariously through others! Please note that the article contains meta and zone content spoilers, so read on with caution if you prefer to see that for yourself first.
We already know from the trailer that the beginning on this episode centres on the player characters’ most pressing quandary: Where do you even begin to look for a god on the run, and how do you even stop him? The search for Balthazar eventually leads the commander to Siren’s Landing, which, as most avid fans already guessed after the trailer drop, is located in Orr. The area is divided into areas that are heavily influenced by each of the human gods, which I’m supposing is why our search for Balthazar has led us to Siren’s Landing specifically.
The area was once where the sirens of Orr sang the praises of the gods and ancient echoes of their dirges still can be heard here by those who are attuned. The main map lore revolves around repowering relics and refocusing the zone’s innate god magic within each area by using leyline magic to power up shrines and bring Orr back to its original state of godly power. Each area has thematic ties to their respective god, which is a little bit of flavour that makes for a very diverse zone. I was taken on a tour of some of the key map locations and have not seen all the map has to offer: Our guided playthrough lasted for just less than an hour and I spent no additional time in the zone thereafter.
The Siren’s Landing zone mastery activates a rather pretty new UI arc of special abilities called dirges that floats above your character’s head and grants each ability as the linked god’s shrine is cleansed. The triggering of the Chancel of Echoes is a proximity effect that grants the ability for all nearby players who have unlocked the mastery. The lore behind the mastery is linked closely to the zone’s own history: The Chancel of Echoes plays the dirge that relates to a specific god, and the arc shows which dirges are currently active on you. You’ll remember that I mentioned how aeons ago the sirens of Orr used to sing praises to the gods here; it is the echoes that still linger that the player character is attuned to, which is why players are able to get these abilities.
Each ability is linked to a specific god, but that isn’t to say that each ability is only useful in that particular god’s area of the map. Multiple spheres can be active at any one time — hence the lovely HUD-style arc to show which abilities are currently in effect — and some god’s effects are useful in perhaps unexpected areas. I cannot wait to fully explore the zone and find useful ways to apply each effect for myself.
The first portion of the meta that we experienced was an event in which the ghostly kings and queens of Orr are attempting to keep the Orrian power grid alive by using reclaimed essence, a pickup item dropped by killing in-range enemies. The gathering of this energy attracts a champion to the area, and once that champion is vanquished the shrine is fully powered. There are four of these shrines on the map, and powering all of them grants players buffs. We tested this out in the Melandru area firstly, and then also completed the Grenth shrine too. Both shrines were surrounded by undead, but we were told that the other two shrines were protected by other enemies.
The next part of the map meta focuses on the undead in the zone: This undead dragonspawn are largely lost without the guiding influence of Zhaitan, but there are some in the zone who are much more sentient and are powerful in their own right without their dragon. These undead kingpins can bestow this intelligence on other undead so their allies within range will be much more difficult to take down, gaining a whole new suite of skills beyond the usual mindless whacking or grabbing associated with undead mobs. Killing all kingpins spawns a champion kingpin, which is obviously a much bigger challenge to vanquish.
Another noteworthy undead mechanic is that the area’s undead hordes are starved for magic without their dragon and attempt to use nodes attuned to death as a replacement. This harnessing of the isn’t very effective and they mostly explode and die rather than powering up from them. The unchained are ruining the infrastructure here and we don’t want them gaining power, so we are tasked with preventing this. If they do consume too much energy without dying first, they turn into unchained abominations and are much trickier to deal with, providing they are powerful enough to deal with the transformation and don’t explode in the process!
A section of the beautiful Orrian ruins has been taken over by Sylvari and is teeming with new flora and fauna. We began our tour of the zone by checking out a giant arc by which you can find these Sylvari colonisers. After Mordremoth’s death this group of Sylvari, who have stumbled upon some of the lost undead who also happen to be lacking one death dragon too, are attempting to tame the undead in the area and give them a new purpose, feeling some connection to them due to their shared dragonspawn roots. After gathering up the undead and attempting to cage and tame them, one of their leaders springs them from their confines and we walked into the resultant mess in the Sylvari camp.
I particularly enjoyed listening in on the Sylvari NPC dialogue here: There is a definite split in opinion when it comes to the undead, with some feeling that the efforts made so far are not enough to give the undead a chance at being tamed. Others are horrified by the escape and urge the researchers to stop trying to tame obviously evil forces, feeling that the risk to their settlement is too great and that the undead and Sylvari are not at all comparable despite their common dragonspawn origins. It’s an interesting ethical debate that makes the world feel that little bit richer.
We were next directed to the Grenth area that lies behind a beautiful waterfall close to the Sylvari encampment. We stumbled across a denizen of Orr — a rather special unchained giant — that can only be significantly damaged by finding a roaming oakheart to weaken him. We didn’t attempt to down the giant during our tour due to time constraints, though it was explained that he might require a bit of kiting to take down effectively.
We went to the Grenth meta shrine: this was again a shrine with undead around it and the same mechanics as we observed before. The ghost NPCs at each shrine turn into zone vendors that take the map currency, Orrian Pearls, and is where players unlock the area-specific attunements. The Grenth area surprisingly contains friendly wraiths that protect the old shrine: These almost super-powerful wraiths were once tied to Grenth and have been reclaimed from Zhaitan after the dragon’s demise. They easily fight back the encroaching enemy wraiths, and I deeply suspect they might be proof of the Sylvari experiments holding some merit and am excited for the future ramifications of this should it be true.
We then went to the Dwayna area, which is, in my opinion, the highlight of the map. A hot body of water lies below that means we can glide almost infinitely here since it is basically one big updraft circuit. An adorable asuran researcher needs us to collect artefacts for her in this zone because she came ill prepared for gliding and cannot reach them herself. These artefacts are also used to cleanse the gas clouds in the area, which are leftover Zhaitan toxicity, outside of the regular gathering event.
I didn’t manage to explore very thoroughly in the allotted time, but I have it on good authority that heading up as high as you can using the updrafts is worth it. The views in this area are some of the best offered in the new zone and I loved the adaptation of the hot waters from Draconis Mons for this zone. After the artefact collection event, a fantastic showdown commenced with an undead wyvern: I don’t want to spoil the mechanics and details of this encounter, but it should please you if you like interesting event encounters and flashy visuals like I do!
We then headed into Balthazar’s area (I’m sure when the finale drops we will find clues to his probable location here), which is a fiery, battle-heavy area where punching enemies into lava is the best way to get ahead. Some foes, namely the area’s elementals, are impervious to the lava, so you must be selective when choosing to do this. Leyline Scavenger kills give various useful buffs depending on your area, and in the Balthazar zone, you gain an additional knockback that stacks with other knockbacks seemingly for hilarity’s sake. In addition to this, the mastery’s Balthazar buff gives you immunity to the lava, so if you happen to have a pull skill and that buff available to you, then you can simply stand in the lava and pull enemies to their fiery death. There’s a magical lava fountain in the area that you should check out for yourself: It grants a fun ability that works brilliantly with the quirks of the area.
We ended the playthrough by checking out — and swiftly dying to — the new lava worm world boss within Balthazar’s zone. I couldn’t even begin to explain the mechanics to you even if I wanted to because we ran out of time at this point, so I never did get to take it down. I hear that the Dwayna dirge ability is particularly useful for this fight because it is an auto-resurrection that can help parties cope with the challenge.
Over to you!
We didn’t see the full zone but I have to say that I’m thoroughly impressed: I’ve been told it hides some treasures and smaller bosses in the map’s periphery so it is well worth an explore. I am simply bursting at the seams to get my hands on the finale and I hope you all have an amazing day playing through for yourself. Let me know your thoughts on the episode and the new zone in the comments.