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