Flameseeker Chronicles: Deep-diving Guild Wars 2’s A Bug in the System (Part 1)

Season 4 of Guild Wars 2 Living World was off to a roaring start with Daybreak so I was expecting a solid follow-up in A Bug in the System, and I can now say I wasn’t left disappointed. ArenaNet‘s focus on interesting story delivery hasn’t waned with time and the narrative is greatly improving as a result: Moreover, the teaser trailer for this episode was stronger than any of the Daybreak or even Path of Fire marketing content in my humble but honest opinion. I’ve rambled on about this before, but the trailer had a smooth delivery and polish that simultaneously captivated current players and contained enough information to entice newbies. The episode is gritty, dangerous, and humorous, and I’m delighted to share its twists and turns with you.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll discuss the main plot points for this episode and will share my highlights with you. This article is best read after completion of the episode if you’re worried about spoilers, though tags will be used where needed to avoid the biggest spoilers.

The story so far

I’ll provide a brief synopsis of previous events just in case you missed my Daybreak deep-dive. A brandstorm ravages Amnoon and we must save its citizens, and while doing so we find Aurene, who gives the commander a vision that ultimately leads to us tracking down the Sunspears to enter the city of Fahranur. Joko has put a high price on the commander’s head so help is difficult to find in the Astralium due to Joko’s menacing influence on Istan, but Archivist Salwa eventually trusts us enough to show us into the Sunspear base and where all the uncorrupted historic texts have been stashed away for preservation. It transpires that the one person who can get us into the city in the vision has been captured by the Sly Corsair family, presumably for the bounty on his head.

The commander comes up with one of the craziest plans in the history of the game: The commander agrees to be “captured” by the Sly Corsairs and brought to Joko’s minions, where the hope is that Zaeim can be broken free from jail once we get there. The plan is rumbled when Taimi chooses an inopportune time to talk over the communicator, and we wake up in the slammer next to Zaeim without our gear. Once reunited with said items, we hear a terrified Taimi on the communicator: Joko has found her and abducted her, so we make chase to Fahranur. The commander discovers that members of the Inquest have become Awakened and one has control of Taimi’s Scruffy golem suit with her inside it. We rescue her and this is where A Bug in the System begins.

Tracking the Scientist

The commander must locate an Inquest base that is linked to Fahranur and Agent Kito is the logical person to approach first, who points us to a transport facility behind a waterfall as a first step in tracking down the scientist Taimi mentioned to us. It isn’t long before Kito has devised a simple plan for the commander to take the place of a delayed convoy to get access to the facility, and he also casually mentions that Joko’s agents have been digging for Primeval remains. A reluctant and still petulant Braham and a long-suffering Rox help the commander with overtaking the specimen convoy: Nobody could possibly bat an eye at the commander inside a transport golem, right? That just leaves Rox and Braham to get in, and Rox comes up with the fantastic idea to shackle the pair and pretends they are specimens. Braham is not at all taken with the idea of being shackled under the commander, but he reluctantly agrees for the sake of Rox.

Reveal small non-story spoiler
Rox’s voice has mysteriously changed: There’s a new voice actor!

Within the base, clever Taimi brings our suit’s toolset online to enable the commander to open the door, and then Braham and Rox must be deposited in the specimen processing area. This leaves the disguised commander alone to covertly locate the tracking hub: The drones within the facility, however, are able to see through the golem disguise, so some degree of stealth, good timing, and subtlety is needed to successfully navigate through the area. It’s quite hilarious watching Rox and Braham be processed at the same time: They’re bathed and louse-powdered while the commander zips through the facility beside them.

Taimi seems very preoccupied with tinkering and the commander eventually teases out of her that one of her dear college friends named Blish has sadly gone over to the Inquest. The commander eventually must solve a colourful floor puzzle that revolves around diamond colour patterns that must all be filled with colours when complete. This opens a portal into Rata Primus proper as expected and the party ventures through to find Joko.

The Test Subject

Rata Primus turns out to be a rather sinister lab that relies heavily on testing on live subjects, much to the horror of the commander. Our poking around reveals that some “cadaverous” intruders have been spotted, so it follows that we are on the right track. The player has the option to release specimens, and the floorplan leads us neatly to a central enclosure that contains an exotic strain of Charr. This mysterious Charr is arguing with Inquest staff when the team bursts in to help her: A fight with some angry security golems ensues as the contamination containment protocol kicks into gear, and when they are defeated it increases in level and the threat on our lives is enhanced. Luckily for the party, the mysterious Charr knows her way around and leads us all to the roof and potential safety.

Along the way, Taimi’s pain at friends turning to the Inquest is compounded when she learns through a distress call that Blish’s brother has also fallen to them. Nevertheless, the message lets us know that Awakened are within the main complex of Rata Primus, and our new friend explains that we can see the campus from the roof where we are headed. The security’s cleansing system is in high gear at this point, however, and our only choice when we reach the roof is to jump before the entire building blows. Cue a dramatic plummet and lots of fire and smoke – cool!

A Kindness Repaid

The entire party is a little blurry and weary after the dramatic exit, but everyone survives the leap in one piece. The strange Charr references nature when she says that her guiding us to safety was just a kindness repaid, and she worries that we have created such a stir that more danger lies ahead of us. She nevertheless agrees that since we have common enemies, she will speak to her village elders for us and see if we can’t help one another. We learn a little bit about her tribe and hear its name for the first time on the journey: The Olmakhan seem to be a breakaway from the Flame Legion who moved south long ago in search of a more peaceful existence. Rox admits to her that she is a gladium, and she reassures her by saying that she had been taught that a Charr with no tribe is simply one who hasn’t found one yet. The guards of the elders eventually allow this Charr to bring one of our party to follow the mysterious Charr, who we learn is called Boticca, to meet the elders, and the commander is the obvious choice. Braham tags along with Rox who is curious about how the Olmakhan live while we conduct this meeting, which doesn’t go as smoothly as hoped.

The elders will not entertain the idea of war and would prefer to abandon their home rather than defend it, seeing an offensive as an absolute last resort. Just as Boticca is explaining and suggesting that what happened to their people at Inquest hands was horrific, a cub named Efi comes in and starts asking after his father who left with Boticca. The elders’ attempts at patient placation fall on deaf ears and the cub darts away, exclaiming that the cubs will go find his father if the adults won’t act. Boticca asks the commander to look after the cubs while she explains further the horrors she endured to the elders, and the grateful elders bid us leave. When we find the cubs, they do not wish to listen to an outsider, but we know how best to win over Charr cubs and tells them they should train with us first to ensure they are as strong as can be. This is a fantastic insight into the nature link this tribe has and the type of encounters we’ll have in their territory: elementals and effigies are summoned to attempt to best the commander.

Just as the cubs learn that staying put can help protect their tribe best, it’s put to the test: The Inquest drops some very tough golems on the village in response to the escape earlier. Luckily we have assistance, and a more tempered Braham shields the cubs while the commander mows down a path in between the invaders to get them to safety. The escort mission is rather long, but eventually, Braham and the commander get back to the village and must help hold the line against the invading forces and fight off those who have encroached the village and the council chamber. These are some beautiful fights that culminate in a fantastic encounter with the Mark II Beta Exterminator Golem, which is a fantastic breed of killing machine that is extremely hard to down and is exceptionally good at dealing damage. It actually kills an elder, so the commander bravely decides to take it on alone. It happens to be vulnerable to ley energy, which is the ticket to its defeat. The elders decide that they must face off against these raiders and agree to stand with the commander after our epic battle to save their home.

Over to you!

This is such a battle-heavy living world drop, which might feel overwhelming to some players, but I nevertheless enjoyed it because of the characterful injections throughout that helped to temper the heavy themes of throughout the story. I won’t go into my hated and rated at this point and will instead cover it in part two of the story breakdown, but I have to mention that Braham is starting to step up his game after his encounter with the willful, hurting Charr cubs who mirror everything he’s going through. What did you think of the latest story drop? Let me know in the comments.

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.
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