Guild Wars 2 Living Story: Celebrations and the inevitable gate crashers

After the election of Kiel to the LA council and the departure of Zephyr Sanctum the GW2 Living Story jumped right across to the other side of the map. We found ourselves in Divinity’s Reach for the 10th Anniversary Jubilee of Queen Jennah of Kyrta. This Jubilee coincided with the one year anniversary of the game’s release, so it was a bit of a jubilee celebration for Anet as well. However, like the Dragon Bash before it, the Jubilee couldn’t escape a gate crashing. So, what did we get up to to celebrate and who gatecrashed?

The Jubilee Celebrations:

The most obvious change for the Jubilee was the gentrification of the previous great collapse in Divinity’s Reach, now turned into a Crown Pavilion which hosted the jubilee celebrations.

divinitys-reach-great-collapse1I was quite fond of the Great Collapse, even though it was a last minute change weeks before the game released in 2012. The Great Collapse was reportedly originally a Canthan district of Divnity’s Reach, an area where refugees from Cantha (which was a fan favourite region in the original GW1 but which has been cut off in GW2) were living. At some stage close to release it was decided that they didn’t want this region and nearly all references to Cantha were removed entirely from the game, with the city district being replaced with a gigantic hole as a last minute fix.

That’s supposedly what happened anyway, but Anet have tried to keep the reason behind the Great Collapse quite quiet. Personally, I liked Cantha and would like to see it return, but I’m not losing sleep over it. I mention the great collapse just because I found it interesting in the human city. It was also a centre-piece of an idea I had put on the game forums and got some attention for – jumping puzzles in cities (https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/suggestions/City-Jumping-Puzzles). I had the idea to have a jumping puzzle down the Great Collapse, jumping from planks suspended from cranes to scaffolding. I thought it would work really well, but it was sadly not meant to be.

gw2-crown-pavilion-queens-jubliee-previewTo celebrate, the Jubilee the Great Collapse was replaced by the Crown Pavilion, a shiny new arena where the festivities took place.

What were those festivities? Well, there was a small introductory story of the Queen’s new robot bodyguards malfunctioning, but other than that not a lot of story. The robot bodyguards really didn’t feel right to me, certainly not fitting into the GW world as I knew it. Perhaps that can be forgiven for a celebration event though.

Two festivities were the centerpiece of this release. The Crown Pavilion Zerg and the Queen’s Gauntlet.

200px-The_Crown_Pavilion_mapThe Crown Pavilion Zerg was not an official celebration activity but its what most ended up doing. In the bottom of the Crown Pavilion was an arena divided into 6 different zones, each with a different enemy set. These enemies were high leveled (with your character level matched), dropped good loot and respawned fast. There were also big Champion boss events which triggered pretty regularly, so many players joined a Zerg – a train of people who essentially farmed these enemies.

I took part in the Zerg quite a bit and had great fun. I found it to be a fun way of fairly quickly leveling up my under-leveled alts. I didn’t particularly do it for the loot, but I know that many did. This wasn’t particularly what this release was designed for, but I think it was accidentally one of the best Living Story releases.

The Crown Pavilion zerg showed to me what I find missing from GW2 – a big group of enemies to kill as a big group; ideally a big group of friends. In dungeons we occasionally fight large groups of enemies as a team of five. What the Crown Pavilion made me realise is that I want to fight in a larger group against whole armies, in a truly dynamic world where control can be won from the enemy. That sounds a bit like world versus world, and it is the same core concept other than I don’t like fighting other players – why cant we have this against NPCs? Perhaps its unworkable, but I feel that other games have achieved this, and the original GW1 got close to achieving it.

The Queen’s Gauntlet was the second activity, a dual system against increasingly difficult NPC enemies. This generally went down pretty well as well, although I didn’t take part myself. The final fight, against Liadri was incredibly difficult yet compulsive for many who fought the dual hundreds of times in an attempt to defeat her. Whilst I didn’t take part in the Gauntlet I was grateful that, unlike with the Bazaar achievements, it wasn’t a necessary requirement to take part in the activity to get the overall reward chest.

That’s something I want to happen more often, if the content is good enough it shouldn’t be a requirement to do it to get an achievement. If the content is good enough, you’ll play it and then be pleasantly surprised when you get an achievement reward for taking part – you shouldn’t have to.

The Gatecrashers:

Scarlet_BriarTwo weeks after the opening of the Pavilion the gatecrashers arrived. We were introduced to the boss of bosses, the character behind the Aetherblades and the Molten Alliance – Scarlett Briar.

Scarlett is a rogue sylvari and an incredibly cliqued character. She’s not a widely liked character, but I won’t go in to this too much. It’s probably best to look to other blogs and comments for more depth on that.

Scarlett brought invasions with her, taking place in a random area every hour. These invasions were a good idea, bringing back what I really liked about the Pavilion – hordes of enemies to be fought in a large group. These invasions really showed that GW2 can achieve large scale war events.

Overall, these invasions were intense and good fun – with pretty generous rewards to match the intense combat. I liked these invasions, but now that they continue on sporadically they’ve been largely abandoned (at least on my server). Without the numbers of people taking part as allies, the invasions are nowhere near as exciting and intense. Somehow the numbers need to be encouraged back, but that is a problem with the community and not with the invasions as a mechanic.

Overall:

The jubilee worked for me in terms of gameplay. I enjoyed being in the Crown Pavilion killing mobs and I enjoyed killing Scarlett’s minions in invasions all over the world. I was very glad that none of it was compulsory as such, with the achievement reward chests essentially falling in to your lap if you regularly played any aspect of the content.

Unfortunately, the story was almost entirely missing from these releases other than the introduction of Scarlett. Scarlett, as many players have already commented on pretty extensively, really doesn’t fit in the Living Story for me and I have a lore problem with both her and her Aetherblade minions.

 

Digital Salad – https://lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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