Flameseeker Chronicles: Touring Guild Wars 2’s restored living world season 1, Sky Pirates

    
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Ready for another trip down Guild Wars 2’s memory lane, or, perhaps, to experience more of the game’s long-lost stories for the first time? Chapter 2 of Living World Season 1 Returns is now available, and this time it’s all about pirates! And not just boring old water pirates; we’re talking sky pirates, the best kind of pirates!

I know some of you are thinking, “Wait, what happened to Southsun? Are we skipping over poor Canach?” Yes, apparently we are. I’m sure he’ll show up later, but it’s disappointing to skip over his introduction since seeing the main cast’s introductions was kind of the whole point of doing these return episodes.

But that’s neither here nor there – let’s talk about Sky Pirates!

The episode opens on the first dragon bash in Lion’s Arch (this year’s dragon bash opens in a couple of weeks in Hoelbrak), where the Captain’s Council has organized a memorial for those who have been lost to elder dragon attacks. However, someone sabotaged the dragon effigies to kill one of the Captain’s Council! But who?

While the previous episode, Flame and Frost, was rather bland, with a lot of standard fantasy fare and characters that weren’t quite fleshed out yet, this episode has a unique noir crime novel vibe: From the black-and-white cutscene where Logan Thackeray meets Marjory Delaqua in a smoky bar and hires her to uncover the killer’s identity, to tracking down fleeing suspects around Tyria, to the “the murderer was with us all along!” plot twist reveal (even if it was a little obvious).

It seems like ArenaNet never quite figured out how to replicate that part of Marjory’s character again; after Season 1, she has mostly just been a generic human who occasionally investigates things but somehow never gets any more hardboiled detective lines like, “…then he walked in. Logan Thackeray. The man with all the answers. Well, some of the answers, some of the time.” Now that she is apparently getting back into the detective business with Gorrik and Rama as partners, maybe we’ll get to see more stories like this.

By the way, I know that there’s a lot of nostalgia for old Lion’s Arch, and that many players were hoping that, with this release, we could roam freely and hang out in old LA, Pre-Searing Ascalon-style. If that was you, sorry, but you’re going to be disappointed; as with most GW2 story, the parts that take place in old LA take place in instances, and players are restricted to the area around the events. But at least we get to see more of the city than was explorable in the personal story, so that’s something at least. Maybe when it’s all said and done we’ll get one of those portal scroll passes? Only time will tell.

Like in episode 1, much of the final chapter of episode 2 will be familiar to fractal fans, as it is a solo-ified version of the Aetherblade Hideout event dungeon, most of which was later reused as the Aetherblade and Mai Trin fractals. As I said last time, even though this piece of the content existed before, it’s great to see these areas in context again.

It’s strange replaying these events after so so long, but it’s made even stranger because a lot of it was heavily referenced in End of Dragons’ story. I know I’m literally playing the story out of order here, but it just feels all the more poignant seeing Captain Theo Ashford’s death again after Marjory making such a big deal out of it in End of Dragons. At the time, I had to look him up to remember, “Oh yeah, he’s that guy who got one line then died offscreen as a MacGuffin.”

In fact, replaying it reminded me that Marjory doesn’t even know the guy; she only gets involved because she’s hired by Logan Thackeray, and she just leaves after she has identified Mai Trin as the murderer. It almost makes me wonder if, at one point, they planned to bring back Season 1 before End of Dragons? I suppose we may never know.

If you’re an Aetherblade fan, you will want to complete this episode for a neat new cosmetic Aether Visor, which should make a great addition to any steampunk or jadepunk outfit. Also, I will never turn down another free 20-slot bag.

Speaking of cosmetics, this update also brought with it the first of the variants of the Aurene legendary weapons. This set, themed after Zhaitan, is perfect for all your Necromantic and otherwise spooky needs. I was expecting these to be more or less a dye swap of the existing Aurene weapons, but I’m really impressed with the art team’s ability to keep the weapons identifiable as the same set, yet changed just enough that they really do feel Zhaitan-ish. For one thing, their texture looks wet all the time, which tracks with Zhaitan’s raising of Orr, and the weapons’ shapes have an overall unsettling boney and sinewey quality, as opposed to Aurene’s graceful curves. The bone spires that pop up occasionally upon enemy deaths is a nice touch. I can’t wait to see the set’s other transformations!

As I said last time, while Season 1 clearly does not measure up to the high standard set by later Living World chapters, it is still very important to give the proper context to players who didn’t get to do or just don’t remember this ephemeral content.

That said, I definitely liked Sky Pirates better than Flame and Frost. For one, getting to do some events in the old Lion’s Arch was fun and nostalgic, but more importantly, the whodunit story format is something different from what came before it. I’m excited for the next release, which – unless my calculations are off – should introduce Scarlett, who was only teased in this episode. If you haven’t met Tyria’s answer to The Joker, you’re in for a treat!

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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