In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll wrap up my PoF story impressions and will conclude with some hopes for today’s season launch. This will be a lengthy one, fair reader, so get comfortable for a bumper read! As ever, there will be significant spoilers throughout for anyone who has
been living under a rock not finished the PoF story and has missed the new season hype.
I highly recommend catching up on the full story breakdown before continuing on if you haven’t already, but I’ll provide a quick refresher of where we left off here anyway for those who need a reminder of where we left off. Lost on what to do next, the commander listens to Kasmeer and decides to appeal directly to the gods for help with the Balthazar threat. She points us towards the Tomb of the Primeval Kings where a portal to the Mists lies, but access is not easy. We eventually convince the ancient king ghosts that we are not robbers or Joko’s minions and gain entry to the portal and enter to seek out the wisdom of Kormir.
We are scattered when we land and the commander must find Rytlock, Canach, and Kas before venturing forward, where the party solve a puzzle and prove that they are worthy of visiting the godly Sanctum where Kormir is. Once we stumble across the god, she explains that the gods have departed for the good of Tyria and that they will not return to help in this battle, that Balthazar was cast down and is no longer a god, and that the party were on the right path all along in their efforts to learn more about Vlast while combing the desert. Kormir admits that the other gods have long since departed and leaves to join them after offering this reassurance.
Zalambur points the commander and company to the Elon Riverlands to track down a Priory researcher who might know more about relics relating to Vlast, and after much investigation in the region, the commander eventually stumbles across the lost city the dragon was raised in. On the surface, the city seems deserted, but we eventually find that the inactive Exalted in the buried city are actually Forged that we inadvertently awaken, much to the annoyance of the last remaining protector of the city. It transpires that Balthazar wanted Vlast because crystal creations are the natural weakness of Kralkatorrik and he hoped to harness that, and moreover, that Aurene could be instrumental in rebalancing the natural balance of Tyria. The commander shifts focus to protect Aurene at all costs and we agree to gather ourselves at a high point to meet the airship to head to her.
The beginning of the act is rather dramatic and the action meets us as soon as we head about our plan: Rather than hailing the airship as expected, Balthazar corners the commander and overcomes the character easily, only keeping them alive to force Aurene to come to him and walk into his trap. As soon as the fledgeling is secured in his binds, Balthazar deals the death blow to the commander and the lights go out, with the last sight the commander sees being Aurene trapped and frightened.
Once the game resumes, the player perspective shifts and the spectral avatar awakens with no clue of who he or she is or what their purpose was, but the spirit has a strong desire to find the answers to those questions. In our quest, we stumble across an imprisoned Palawa Joko, who is unamused at the fact that we do not recognise that name. He explains that he was working to secure troops for Balthazar and was double-crossed by the fallen wargod, and his rage at the betrayal and his treatment here is palpable. Nenah guides us away from him as he blasphemes, claiming to be a god of the desert and cursing all who defy the proclamation.
We are led to the Judge, who explains that traumatic deaths often result in spirits forgetting who they were, and Nenah reveals that we are in the Domain of the Lost, where such spirits must work out their name and purpose before they are lost forever. The judge must know who the spirit is and where they came from in order to determine their final destination, after all. Other spirits have borrowed our name and we must defeat them to gain it back again, and then a very condensed snapshot of the commander’s history emerges as the spirit pursues Purpose. The commander remembers everything and vows to return to Tyria and stop Balthazar if there is any way to and returns to the judge, who can now see the commander clearly to give a final judgement.
The commander’s body is lifeless, but if he or she manages to defeat the Eater of Souls, the body could perhaps be reanimated and allow us to return and fight on. We do so and are strengthened enough to return, and we learn that Joko cannot face judgement since he is not truly dead but that his prison is there by the will of Balthazar and cannot be removed by the judge. Joko tries to barter with the commander as we depart for his freedom, offering the commander his army to help vanquish the fallen god, but we decline, which invokes his anger. A shocked party welcome us back to life, if a little hesitantly since they all observed the commander being very much deceased, and the commander formulates a plan to use Kas’ powers to disguise the party to take control of Joko’s army.
Our Order of Shadows contact Kito is flabbergasted by our death and awakening and is keen for answers, which the commander promises if he will help us gain access to Joko’s Awakened army. A plan is set to lure in Joko’s Archon for the commander’s mesmer disguise plan: Kito agrees that if the army believes the orders came from Joko then the Archon’s word would be acted upon. The commander sets about faking a Sunspear rebellion in the Awakened camps to ensnare the Archon, which attracts Iberu’s attention and allows us to intercept him at the bone palace. Angry at our deception and already unimpressed with our previous meddling, he attacks, but the commander soon vanquishes him and Kas sets to work disguising the party as the Archon and his entourage.
Our disguises are quickly tested as the commander seeks out the Vizier and Wurmmarshal within the palace, but the deception goes unnoticed and the commander successfully gets both leaders onside and also finds out the locations of the other warmasters. On our travels, Agent Hamma explains that, in Vabbi culture, Joko is a god and Awakened are not feared but are seen as friends and family, simply another part of the life and death cycle, and she urges the commander to resist destabilising the region by branding the people evil and challenging those beliefs until a new system is in place to replace Joko’s reign. I loved this political aside and think it is totally worth a mention here even though it isn’t totally key to the story’s progression.
We learn that Troopmaster Ogun would be rather keen to exact revenge on Balthazar anyway due to Forged raids on his encampment, so the commander chooses to leverage this information to sway the leader to follow along. It transpires that he would be only too keen if the Forged weren’t right on his doorstep, so we agree to demolish their portal if it frees up Ogun and his scant band of recruits. Upon our success, we hunt out the final leader we need to have Joko’s full army under our control, who turns out to be in charge of a highly skilled mounted combat wing. The Beastmarshal was not easily convinced that the Archon could lead her troops and so the commander had to use a special mounted speed boost to prove their worth. After wrangling admirably, even the Beastmarshal falls in line and the commander asks the party to make final preparations for battle with Balthazar.
It’s time to face off against the god of war once more at the Kodash Bazaar and the commander and company look across their Awakened troops before the battle and ponder the likelihood of success. Rytlock decides that the commander should wield Sohothin, believing that Balthazar’s ire will be focused on the commander alone. The other party members decide to man a gate to the bazaar each to prevent Balthazar walking in without warning, and the commander is alone. The commander organises a cull of the approaching Forged army and notices Balthazar on top of a Warbeast with Aurene trapped inside, so when the fray is somewhat calmer the commander heads further into the bazaar to find the Warbeast and save Aurene. While in pursuit, Taimi attempts to contact us, but her garbled message is indecipherable and the commander has no time to find high ground. We know the message is something to do with elder dragons and balance, but no more.
As we had surmised in Glint’s liar, the Warbeast is a dreadful machine that can harness Aurene to destroy Kralkatorrik, and the dragon has been engaged by the time we engage the Warbeast. The commander ultimately succeeds in destroying the machine after a lengthy battle, but Kralkatorrik has taken so much damage by this point that it could be too late. Balthazar is not shocked at our success for long and engages the commander, and the battle practice we did with baby Aurene comes in handy as she joins the fight against the god and coordinates her attacks with those of the commander. Balthazar is slain, but his body expells untold amounts of magic since he spent so much time gathering it in his quest to regain his godly strength. This magic is absorbed by both Aurene and Kralkatorrik, and both dragons flee in the resultant commotion.
The party agree that it is best to meet up at Amnoon to discuss what has happened to the dragon and its scion, but when they do so the Councilor accosts the commander for a celebration and speech, refusing to listen to any negativity. The commander is understandably torn: As much as Amnoon needs a little hope and positivity, the commander also sees how pressing it is that the city prepares for the emergence of an empowered crystal dragon and scion. The player chooses some speech options and the party gather with a newly arrived Taimi and Jory to watch the fireworks and figure out how to deal with the new dragon threat when an enraged Kralk makes an appearance over the city.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the final encounters and the majority of the third act. The only real complaints I have revolve around believability: How likely is it that Balthazar would leave Aurene in a state in which, should the Warbeast meet resistance, she would be able to turn on him? If the prison Joko was in was held by the will of Balthazar, why didn’t be appear and take his wrath on the commander immediately after the god’s death? These are points to ponder as we head into Season 4 today, especially since we will likely have to balance the renewed dragon threat and Joko simultaneously now due to the happenings of PoF.
Speaking of the new season, I would love to see Taimi take the lead in retaming Aurene as we go forward, using her portable Scruffy 2.0 lab as protection to take the brunt of her new power and ire as well as a hub for her draconic energy rebalance efforts. She will likely use Aurene as a smallscale case for a hypothesis for calming Kralk, though something is telling me Caithe might feature again in the protection of Aurene at this testing time. Attempting to reunite the guildmates will be challenging and will likely take up a great deal of the season’s activity too: There is no use saving Kralkatorrik if Braham loses patience and wages war on Jormag while the commander is occupied.
What do you think of the PoF storyline? Share your Season 4 predictions with me as well in the comments section. I’ll try to check in as I begin to play to update you on my first impressions.