ArenaNet has to be the cleverest game company there is. In the wake of the ever-so-successful Hall of Monuments (the best tribute to lateral progression and over-achievement there ever was) and the build up to Guild Wars 2, what do they do but give Guild Wars 1 its last hurrah, so to speak?
Or rather, one final celebratory encore (since GW1 is not going away, even as the great beast of GW2 at last slouches around the corner,) inviting all of its players to revisit and pay its beauty a respectful toast?
To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists…
Moreover, they are so clever, that they’re making it a shared experience with the excuse of the festival/event of the Wayfarer’s Reverie. Without it, surely some of us would still have made our way in trickles to say farewell (for now), but by making a quest out of visiting some memorable scenic sights, what better way to make sure that more people are able to follow the structure and see what they might have missed (having not seen it for years, or perhaps even, not seen at all.)
As usual, the difficulty level of the quests in Guild Wars has an interesting structure. The more you’ve played, the more you’ve explored, the more places on the map you’ve unlocked with a character, the easier the quest is to get to, generally speaking. Newer players (or a not-so-much played character) tend to find cross country quests more intimidating, as there are so many towns and outposts that aren’t unlocked that one could shortcut from. So it ends up a quest to get TO the outpost (fighting through however many necessary zones or story missions), before the actual quest.
Then there’s the additional layer of player set difficulty. For ultimate face roll, go on normal mode, dump in as many heroes as you can, and presumably all your characters have uber PvXwiki builds like Discordway necros, SoS rits, panic mesmers and what not. Or wander around solo if your build is strong enough. Hard mode generally ramps up the time taken and challenge factor. If you want to min max on time, it’s probably possible to equip a running build and just runrunrun like hell to the quest spots.
I popped in to work on the Wayfarer’s Reverie: Tyria quest. I’m not in a blinding hurry to rush through quest completion, I hit 30/50 some time ago and pretty much decided I’d scraped the ceiling of what I could do without insane grinding, so I experimented with a number of those difficulty levels as my mood took me. A Tormented weapon would be nice if I manage to make it to the end of all four quests by the 25th or 30th, but it’ll only give me 1 more point, fairly meaningless in the larger scheme of things. The true goal was nostalgia.
My wannabe Imbagon paragon was the main of choice, though I was still halfway through getting all the Old Ascalon areas unlocked and accessible for him. My original Prophecies character, a ranger, has been sadly shelved for a long time. I just couldn’t get my head around how to play at long range and he just seemed weaker than the paragon at keeping the whole pack of heroes alive.
I don’t recall how much of Factions I’ve unlocked on him, I may use the Factions warrior when the time comes. Ditto for Eye of the North, which was both attempted on the ranger and the paragon. (Oh, what utter confusion it is to try to have a native character per campaign. In hindsight, should have stuck with one, but how was an altholic supposed to know and resist?)
The paragon didn’t have Serenity Temple unlocked, so I ended up tromping my way through Pockmark Flats and hit the crystal first, before making my way to the temple. I did this one solo, on normal mode, and got pretty good drops of the Wayfarer’s Reverie token while 2-3 shotting every teeny lowbie mob that crossed my path.
I also found some really old screenshots while preparing this post, so old, they were saved in .bmp format, which was an extra nostalgia hit. They were taken in January of 2005. Which presumably means taken during the beta preview weekends, since Guild Wars launched in April 2005. I’ve only edited out my character’s names, since I wasn’t smart enough to remove UI then. Everything else is as it was, lower monitor resolution and graphical setting, no henchman names or levels in the party UI, etc.
I get huge hits of emotional resonance whenever I look upon a Shrine of Melandru. I figure this has to do with my first character being a ranger, and the pre-Searing ranger quest which has you go up to a Shrine and tame one of Melandru’s stalkers as your first ever pet.
That said, mad props and huge respect to Guild Wars for creating such a believable pantheon and putting those graphical touches EVERYWHERE in the game. One look, and you know which altar belongs to Grenth (the Death dude), Balthazar (warrior, sword, fire), Dwayna (blue, angel wings, air), Lyssa (twins) and so on. The lore seeps into you, whether you’re aware of it or not.
And I’ve always thought it such an awesome touch that you can /kneel before the altars and to reward that tiny bit of roleplaying, an avatar of the said god will actually pop up. In some special instances, they’ll offer buffs (but they’re not adverse to you paying them first!) or transport you to really special places, and so on.
I had a fair bit of trouble getting to Flame Temple Corridor for the next landmark on the sightseeing trip, mostly because everything was a big patch of fog in that area. A long time ago, I’d started the paragon on the Great Northern Wall mission, intending to work on the Young Heroes of Tyria book in hard mode, stopped at Fort Ranik and happily dropped everything the moment I hit 30/50 on the Hall of Monuments.
So I made myself cleave slow and steadily through Fort Ranik and Ruins of Surmia missions on hard mode – not that they’re hard, mind you, but they’re time consumingly tedious to roll through – a million and one ‘trash mob’ fights, back and forth to finish the bonus and to wind one’s way around paths one cannot jump down and purposefully placed to make one loop around in circles wondering when one’ll ever get to the end, each eats about an hour just jogging from fight to fight.
It was surprisingly nostalgic to go through them though. At the time, it all looked brown and barren and depressing and filled with endless charr and scorpions and neverending. Now, it still looks like all of the above, but with a little extra spice to the grim bleakness.
Hey, look, it’s the Wall. The one you spend so much bloody time climbing and jumping and clambering over in Guild Wars 2 to get a skill point! Likely not the exact same section of it, but there’s that link, that connection.
And then there are the Flame Effigies. These don’t move, but the family resemblance is there. And it’s amazing how Guild Wars 1 manages to light and make these things look like they’re burning away in such an old game.
I was quite amazed to realize I’d taken a screenshot of the same thing 7 years apart, without prior reference back to the old one. I guess I really like shooting siege machines and wanted to remember it.
Prince Rurik in the Ruins of Surmia. Ah, the horrifying thrill of escort NPC quests as you chase them down screaming, OMG DON’T DIE DON’T DIE, WAIT FOR TEH HEALZ. His redeeming quality, that beautiful flaming dragon sword everyone covets. Wish we could have let him die and then picked up the sword.
Despite better behaved AI, having his hp bar in the party UI, three discordway necros – two sporting rit heals and one with prot monk aegis and stuff – and my paragon’s “there’s nothing to fear,” he almost contrived a successful suicide when I had gotten too comfortable with him behaving and following my party and took a right turn to begin working on the bonus. Then I suddenly realized he’d taken the left turn, towards a closed drawbridge with two Charr and no one else following him except maybe another NPC. Mind you, hard mode, so I couldn’t trust his level 20 self to finish them both at lvl 23 without a scratch. I credit my heroes being able to cast spells through the cliff wall for saving his bacon as I raced back around and up to pull his arse out of the fire.
Now this really brings back memories. The confusion of trying to find “Flame Keepers” to follow, while the Ember Bearers troop down the hill behind you. The ignorance and impatience of youth freely aggro’ing them on purpose and by accident (aggro radius, aggro circle, what the heck are those? See red dot means KILL!) before they can even get to the gate they’re supposed to unlock. Finally, slowly working out that you can indeed let mobs remain alive for 15 or so seconds longer, long enough for them to pull open the gate before you charge.
But now, of course, piece of cake. And all the previous pain of Charr fire elementalists throwing around meteor shower, gone, the only real uncertainty is whether you’ll kill them normally through a steady spear barrage while your heroes discord them, or whether pain inverter will recharge fast enough to watch them blow themselves up by meteor showering the minions swarming them.
I eventually got to Nolani Academy, and then sidetreked off to find the Flame Temple corridor. Now this one I don’t really have memories of. I didn’t even know the place existed until it came time to do the Titan quests, which was only a few years ago, fairly recent. I suspect I must have just gotten pasted by the massive packs of Charr, and hurried away, unwilling to explore a bonus zone without any quests pointing me that way. Or maybe I got there but pushed into Dragon’s Gullet without ever looking backward because it was just a halfway zone.
Not bad looking, but no nostalgia value for me. I poked my head into Dragon’s Gullet long enough to get a screenshot of a rock painting that held distinctly more nostalgia value and remembrance. It’s probably meant to depict Balthazar.
Up next, looking back on the absolute ultimate nostalgia quest of Prophecies – the Villainy of Galrath.