Flameseeker Chronicles: Everything you’ve missed if you haven’t played Guild Wars 2 since Path of Fire

From the lore and mounts to content and the Icebrood Saga


There are a lot of great MMORPGs out there, and even if you enjoy Guild Wars 2, maybe it’s not your main game. Maybe you got excited for the expansions but haven’t found time for every Living World release, perhaps even not any of them. Now the siren call of End of Dragons has drawn you in with promises of turtle mounts and jade robots, but you haven’t the slightest clue what’s been going on in the story or what the endgame scene looks like now.

Don’t worry – Flameseeker Chronicles has your back! Let’s catch up on all of the story events and content additions to the game since the Path of Fire expansion. We’ll do the lore section first, and obviously, spoilers will abound, but that’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?

Living World Season 4

As you may or may not recall, Path of Fire climaxed with a dramatic boss fight to take down the rogue god Balthazar. As he exploded and released all of his magical energy, Aurene (the peace-loving dragon you helped raise from an egg prior to PoF) managed to get some of it, but Kralkatorik unexpectedly showed up and snatched away most of it away from her.

Rather predictably, Living World Season 4 started with Kralkatorrik showing up and wreaking havoc, spawning a brandstorm over Amnoon. The commander (that’s you) and friends manage to repel the Branded, but Kralkatorrik disappears into the mists.

When it rains, it pours, and the story soon pressed pause on Cranky Kralky in favor of Palawa Joko, who has come back from the dead yet again, as one does when one is a lich, and brought the scarab plague with him. It is soon revealed that the scarab plague is being artificially recreated by the Inquest, who have allied themselves with Joko.

Conveniently, Taimi has a contact on the inside, an old college friend named Blish. Blish and his brother Gorrik were lured into Inquest service by their deep interest in entomology and the chance to study extinct scarab beetles. Too late, however, they realized the evil purposes the Inquest had for their research, and now they want out.

The commander finds new allies in the Olmakhan, a tribe of Charr who left Charr society long ago to live peacefully and in harmony with nature. Though peaceful, they are far from defenseless, and are eventually convinced to help us fight the Awakened Inquest using their powerful sand manipulation magic.

Once inside the Inquest base, we rescue Gorrik and Blish, and to everyone’s surprise, Blish is a golem. Apparently he had some form of terminal illness and transferred his consciousness into a golem to extend his life.

Finally, it’s time to assault Joko’s fortress. There’s a long and convoluted fight, but suffice it to say, The Commander kills Joko! And he immediately rezes because he’s a lich. He traps our heroes and begins monologuing about his greatness when Aurene appears and eats him, finishing him off for good. (If you’re a Joko fan, don’t worry; he showed up as a ghost in the Mad King’s Labyrinth at Halloween this year to trade quips with King Thorn.)

If you thought that sounded like the end of Season 4, you clearly forgot about the Elder Dragon we started it off with! Don’t worry; everyone else forgot too. It was a weird move to have two different villains in one season, but whatever.

We soon find out that Kralkatorrik has gained the fun new ability to open mist portals all over Tyria. Blish has the idea to create a tracker that will allow us to monitor Kralk’s movements, ultimately heroically sacrificing himself to make it work.

Through a vision left by Aurene’s mother Glint, the commander learns how to craft dragonsblood spears, which can wound Kralkatorrik. Aurene also receives a vision of a number of possible futures for herself… all of which end in her death.

Now that we can track him, an epic battle with Kralkatorrik ensues. It seems like we are winning, causing some major wounds to the crystal dragon, but ultimately, Aurene is killed while shielding her allies. Our last hope, gone. You really should go play the story, both her actual death in episode 5 and the funeral in episode 6, because it’s probably the most emotional moment in all of Guild Wars 2. Well done to the music team, voice talent, and everyone involved in making those scenes so powerful.

We all know, however, that major heroes always have plot armor, so, once the brand crystals are removed from Aurene’s body by Caithe and the Zephyrites, she regenerates herself. “Eating a lich has its advantages,” Aurene explains. I cheered along with Braham, who laughs and cries, “Praise Joko!”

The commander and revivified Aurene pursue the still-recovering Kralkatorrik through the mists, ultimately grounding Kralkatorrik in the middle of the Endless Ocean, gravely wounded and pinned under various material picked up in the godrealms. Players get to finish off Kralkatorrik in an epic metaevent that takes place on the back of the massive, immobilized dragon himself.

Ultimately, Kralkatorrik is able to tell Aurene that he has been driven mad by consuming too much wild magic, and ultimately freely gives up his life so Aurene can replace him as a new, uncorrupted Elder Dragon. With his dying breath, he cries out for “Mother,” which will doubtless come up again at some point, likely in End of Dragons!

New mounts

Even if you collected all of the mounts in Path of Fire, including the hidden and rather expensive griffon, you don’t have the whole collection anymore! Season 4 introduced two more mounts: The roller beetle and the skyscale.

If you ever wanted to hitch up a chariot to Sonic the Hedgehog and spindash around Tyria with him, well, first of all, that’s an oddly specific request, and second of all, they couldn’t get the license, so the next best thing is roller beetles. Unlocked fairly easily with a short sidequest after completing S4E3, this mount is for people who have gotta go fast, and aren’t too worried about turning. When its booster kicks in, it’s the fastest mount, and while it’s really slippery and difficult to get used to, racing around Tyria with it is a blast. There are even a number of race tracks in old, core Tyria maps to try your skill at. (Check out our tips and tricks guide!)

Second is the skyscale. I’ve got to be honest, this dragon mount is one of the most convenient things you will ever get in Guild Wars 2, but unlocking it requires unprecedented levels of grind. Seriously, you could probably craft a legendary weapon in less time than it would take to track down all the clickables in obscure little corners of the world this achievement takes you to, even with a guide. At least it’s not quite as expensive as the griffon, I guess? Sadly, I can’t really say it isn’t worth it, as it is the single most convenient way to get around.

If you’re a WvW player, you will also want to know about the warclaw. Unlocked through WvW ability points rather than a mastery track, this fearsome-looking mount won’t replace any of your others in the open world, but it is the only one you can use in WvW maps and packs in some nice utility there. With full unlocks, it runs a little faster than a player with swiftness, can unstealth nearby enemies, sports an engage skill that deals extra damage to downed foes, and allows the use of a grappling hook to damage gates for PvDoor. It was designed to not be “necessary” to contribute to WvW fights, but having it certainly gives a bit of an edge.

The Icebrood Saga

I know I recapped a lot of detail about season 4, but that’s because I think there was a lot that might be relevant to the upcoming expansion. There is less to recap with Icebrood Saga, not because nothing interesting happened (though some have made that accusation), but more because Icebrood Saga was really self-contained. For all its faults, I do appreciate that at least.

The expansion opens with a big Charr party in Grothmar Valley (complete with a super fun rock concert event) thrown by the Blood Legion Imperator, Bangar Ruinbringer, to celebrate the return of the Flame Legion to the rest of Charr society. Believe it or not, it also starts by introducing us to Rytlock’s family: Crecia Stoneglow, an “old friend” of Rytlock, and their son, Ryland Steelcatcher, who is Bangar’s right hand man.

It turns out Bangar is a Charr supremist, and about half of the Charr follow him on a quest to subdue their own Elder Dragon to rival Aurene. During the festivities, Ryland swiped Braham’s bow, which once belonged to his mother and has since been enchanted with the power to damage Jormag, and Bangar plans to use it to subdue the Elder Dragon of Ice and Persuasion.

In Bjora Marches, we meet Jhavi Jorasdottir, descendant of Jora of Guild Wars Eye of the North fame. With help from her and the Raven spirit, we find the remains of Almora Soulkeeper, leader of the Vigil. There is a boss fight with the Fraenir of Jormag, and, after we defeat him, he is reanimated by Jormag so we can chat. Jormag claims that they simply want to help us, to preserve the world from an oncoming threat.

We learn that Ox, Eagle, and Wolverine, the lost Spirits of the Wild, did not die as previously thought but were merely corrupted by Jormag. We help Braham clean them, then assault Jormag’s champion Drakkar. Bangar shows up with Eir’s bow and steals our kill, and Braham is able to take the form of Wolf for the first time.

At this point, we kind of ditch the Norn stuff and go back to Charr civil war! We assault Bangar’s stronghold, and once we get there, he is betrayed by Ryland and ends up corrupted by Jormag. Jormag again offers to help us, warning us that their twin brother and opposite, Primordus, is awakening and will soon wreak havoc on the world. However, it soon becomes clear that Jormag’s idea of “preserving” the world is to freeze and corrupt its inhabitants with Jormag controlling it all.

Braham comes up with the plan to offer himself up as the champion of Primordus, with the Spirits of the Wild shielding him so he retains enough of himself to fight only Jormag. Long story short, it all climaxes with a big world boss-style battle between Primordus and Jormag, or, more accurately since the actual dragons just sort of sit there and watch, their champions Ryland and Braham, with players in the middle trying to maintain equilibrium between the two dragons and their minions.

Rather anticlimactically, after the fight the twin dragons end up just sort of… canceling each other out? There’s a big magical explosion, Aurene tries to absorb what she can, but some of the energy gets pulled away somewhere. Taimi is excited to get to work studying this phenomenon with Gorrik. Uh, purely for science reasons, and not as an excuse to spend more time with Gorrik, right?

Braham survives unscathed (because plot armor), but Ryland refuses to stop fighting, and his father, Rytlock, ultimately has no choice but to end him.

Strike Missions

If you missed the Icebrood Saga years, you also missed out on the new 10-player group instances, called strike missions. At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about strikes. I’m not a big raid person, and I generally prefer smaller group activities to larger ones. Guild Wars 2’s raids proved to be no exception, and apparently I’m not alone because it seems like raids have had trouble gaining traction with the majority of the GW2 player base. So when strikes came along, they looked an awful lot like training wheel raids. When I gave them a chance, though, I realized that strikes are their own thing, and differ in a few key ways that make them more in line with the Guild Wars 2 ethos.

First, strikes are a lot more bite-sized. Whereas raids have a chain of multiple bosses with trash and story and between, strikes generally cut right to the chase and simply pit players against a boss, and that’s it. You can do the so-called easy three in about half an hour, and the so-called fast five in less than an hour. Also, they are more accessible. Your group doesn’t have to be 100% perfect on every mechanic, and that’s ok.

It turns out strike missions aren’t just an Icebrood Saga thing; they will continue into End of Dragons, which has been confirmed to contain four new strikes at launch. If you are disappointed that strikes are easier than raids, don’t worry, because the EOD strikes will also feature hard modes, which ratchet up the difficulty and add new mechanics for a more raid-like experience.


Ok, strike missions are all well and good, but what about fractals? Well, if you’ve been gone since Path of Fire, you’ve got four new fractals to explore! Check out Twilight Oasis, Deepstone, Siren’s Reef, and Sunqua Peak. That last one will be of particular interest, not only because it takes place in Cantha to get you psyched up for End of Dragons, but also because it includes challenge modes which unlock an additional boss.

You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that four fractals in over four years isn’t a lot, but at least it’s better than nothing.

And now you’re caught up! There’s a good bit more story that I glossed over, so I do recommend going back seeing it all for yourself – Season 4 was, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Guild Wars 2 storytelling so far – but that should be enough to get you going on End of Dragons without feeling too in the dark. I also glossed over some gameplay things like legendary trinkets and signets, as well as build and gear templates. Not knowing about those won’t stop you from enjoying Cantha or its story, but you might want to look into them if you end up sticking around Tyria long-term. And I hope you do because it sure feels like a great time to be a Guild Wars 2 fan right now!

As a bonus, this morning ArenaNet dropped its own brief trailer highlighting the game’s story leading into End of Dragons, so here’s a video view of the lore to date!

Flameseeker Chronicles is one of Massively OP’s longest-running columns, covering the Guild Wars franchise since before there was a Guild Wars 2. Now penned by Tina Lauro and Colin Henry, it arrives on Tuesdays to report everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see explored, drop ’em a comment!
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