The hype train is building this week, and I wanted to help the effort by sharing my launch countdown checklist with you all so you can join me in looking forward to the expansion drop. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll speculate on main story points I hope to see in PoF, give pointers on prepping for Friday, and share some of the upcoming must-see ArenaNet launch materials. I’ll mainly just throw some ideas out that might help distract you while you wait on the big day. Do take note that those who wish to avoid all information about the expansion before Friday should give this column a miss for now in case of spoilers.
1. Read Scott McGough’s Elonian timeline
In my humble opinion, narrative lead Scott McGough’s Road to the Desert article is an absolute must-read from ANet’s prelaunch material. Even lore enthusiasts can appreciate the brief historical summary offered by McGough; it sets the tone for PoF and solidifies the narrative team’s vision for the current take on the Elonian desert. Considering the amount of time that has passed since we were last in the area — both in lore terms and in the physical sense — a recap is most welcome in my book.
I can imagine how much emphasis the narrative team had to place on the historical context of such a well-loved zone, especially when it has over 1000 years of history to cram into every story thread and line of dialogue. Abaddon, Palawa Joko, Kralkatorrik, and now Balthazar: The Crystal Desert has seen world-changing strife many times over at this point, and the original Destiny’s Edge crew are particularly scarred by their experiences there from the Kralkatorrik showdown. Going into the new zones with that all-important context will be critical in my opinion, so brushing up before Friday is highly recommended.
2. A healthy dose of story speculation
Obviously, Path of Fire will heavily focus on the whereabouts and actions of Balthazar, but what direction his narrative takes and how he interacts with the other main players in the Crystal Desert remain very much open to speculation. WoodenPotatoes created a fantastic summary of the core speculative storylines that we can almost expect to be featured in the expansion story, which you can watch above if you missed it. He posed some very pertinent questions that many of us, myself included, have been asking since the patch announcement trailer went live. This is the perfect time to collect your thoughts on where the story might head and make your predictions before the expansion drops.
My most pressing questions that I wish to see answered revolve around discovering more about what the gods have been up to since they were last seen. Why has Balthazar chosen to return now and what has caused his ire? Why did he choose to assume the facade of Lazarus when many would have willingly bent their knees to him? How does his return tie into the current affairs of the other gods, and how did he get that mirror? If we get even some answers to these questions, I’ll be a happy lady. I’m hoping for something a little bit more than one god cast down from among the others; I’d like to see some great rift that makes gods choose sides and either advocate for the Tyrian races and dragonkind or aid Balthazar’s revenge plot, though his dialogue so far hasn’t hinted at him having any allies.
Then we have to consider how this shift fits in with the main threats that already exist in the Crystal Desert: Kralkatorrik and the original members of Destiny’s Edge have unresolved business, of course, and that’s bound to cause an interesting conflict in the main players’ minds as they now must try to save the dragon who slew Snaff and ruined the guild. Can we actually save the dragon from a god, or will the world be irrevocably affected by yet another dragon death? What would a battle between Balthazar and Kralkatorrik look like, and how can we possibly intervene meaningfully in such a battle? I think we need a hero that is greater than the player character and his or her friends at this point!
I am imagining that our best efforts could very well fail unless another god (or five) decide to help. I’m predicting the death of Kralkatorrik and think that perhaps Aurene will be forced to place herself in great danger to save Tyria by soaking the magical overspill caused by another dragon downfall. We can also practically guarantee that Rytlock will finally open up after watching the expansion teasers and hearing the demo weekend audio, which will have its own impact on the direction we move in. I’m sure we will also reapproach Braham and perhaps find time to check in on some of the casualties of Mordremoth once again since we have such a great need to. Lastly, Palawa Joko will have at least some passive influence over what happens in the area, though I can’t quite predict how that will play out.
3. Preparing our characters for PoF
Now that you’ve considered the history and future of the Crystal Desert, you should turn your focus to preparing your characters for PoF too. This will take on a different form depending on your motivations, and it could be as simple as restyling your characters’ gear or hairstyle to suit the new desert environments we’ll be navigating in a few days. You might even decide that you need to begin a new legendary journey to arm your new elite specialisation: The choice lies with you, of course, but I find preparing creatively as well as practically for new builds greatly entertaining and worth the time sink.
Aside from the aesthetic, you might decide to work on playing through any incomplete story chapters you still have outstanding, especially if you chose to skip purchasing HoT and are jumping back in now. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend getting that gliding mastery unlocks: Although we’ll have mounts that fill a dizzying array of travelling needs, gliding is always going to be handy in such vast new zones. While you’re working on the HoT mastery accrual, you might as well hit some hero points if you don’t already have some ready to unlock that new elite specialisation you’ll want to play with.
Dedicated players will have completed these steps already: Although time is short, it could be worth your while building up a little gold stockpile by following some of the tips shared by MMO Games’ Shannon Doyle (but don’t ecto gamble unless you’re a massive risktaker), or check out Kroof’s video above.
4. Watch the launch trailer today and get hyped
If you’ve been waiting impatiently all day as I have been, you’ll have seen the launch trailer above just a while ago; if not, I highly suggest you do! I am super stoked after watching it and my mind is working overtime trying to extrapolate from the teases shown. I wish I had seen it before writing my speculation section and not just this morning, that’s for sure! I have some thrilling theories that I don’t want to share just yet in case it’s totally spoilerific, but the dialogue choices were particularly interesting! I won’t say more since it’s so new… shutting up now to let you watch it and ponder, promise!
5. Rewatch the launch material and tune into the launch stream
Finally, if you’ve checked off your prep list and are positively bursting while you wait, don’t forget that on Thursday all the launch-related Guild Chats, dev diaries, and videos will be running again on the official Twitch channel. I really enjoyed the launch content, even though it was rather low-key. Additionally, you can share your excitement with the masses on launch day by joining in on the launch day stream fun, where you’re sure to find some fun surprises and giveaways too.
Over to you!
I am doing my best to keep myself busy over the next few days and I’d love to hear how you’re filling the time between now and Friday. How have you been preparing, if you have, and what are you hoping to see in terms of story? Let me know in the comments. I’ll be back sooner than expected with a launch diary, so you won’t have to wait too long to hear my first PoF impressions.