GW2: Living the Living Story

Reflecting on Diessa Plateau

I remember the first day I logged in to the Living Story. It was all rushrushrush.

Read mail. Check Achievements bar, aha, 75 event-related things to do!

Teleport to hometown, chat up the heralds, get pointed to the two zones in question.

Quick teleport to Diessa Plateau, run about, see a star on the map, find a Memento Collector. Find a sign post. Fix it. Screenshot it for later decoding. (Still haven’t gotten round to it. Prolly says something like Safety or Refuge, maybe.)

Run about along all the roads, following the signpost trail like breadcrumbs, see refugees, help refugees, see refugees get slaughtered by mobs under the aegis of insistent players begging others not to kill the mobs so they could keep reviving the NPCs for the ‘chievo.

Give up with mapchat and swap zones to Wayfarer Foothills to pretty much do the same thing – Hansel and Gretel across the snow, doing both rupture and non-related dynamic events along the way and scavenging mementos off fallen Norn like a hungry vulture.

Hit the 75 mark, admire shiny title (which I don’t wear since I prefer the GW1 HoM ones,) decide I’d seen the majority of the prelude event (Flame rupture, check. Frost rupture, check. Refugees, check) and log out for the day.

Content locust, much?

That’s how MMOs have trained us, no?

Sometimes, less is more.

Perhaps it only works for a certain type of player, but the slower-paced nature of this “event” has allowed me to rein back the Achiever and let the Explorer out to play.

I’ve been happy to take my time and amble around enjoying the scenery, content to let further discoveries happen at a more organic pace.

The next day, while wandering around Diessa Plateau at a more sedate speed to see if anything had changed, it struck me that there seemed to be a lot more obscuring dust and fog effects than I remembered seeing before.

duststorm

Memory is a tricky beast, and for all I know, they could have been there since game launch. I could have sworn the cratered devastation where the Blood Legion wanders around wasn’t that foggy when I was doing the heart there. I would have been really grumpy trying to find stuff to pick up and separatists to fight through that kind of sandstorm.

Who would know, without screenshots? I failed to take any relevant ones earlier, so I can’t check back.

I’d prefer to think of the dust and fog as related to the ruptures though. It makes for a good story.

The next two days I spent in Orr on the grand screenshot project and didn’t check in on the two zones. I did however stumble across the Refugee Coordinator in the Black Citadel that I had previously missed and talk to him, learning about possible Flame Legion involvement.

Today, I wandered back into Diessa Plateau to check on things again.

I had the fortune to witness an entire roleplaying warband – some eight to ten odd members – slow marching their way out of the Black Citadel and headed to the town of Nolan on some business of their own.

At the same time, a Living Story dynamic event had started, so non-roleplayers (or the simply non-involved) were also kept busy fighting off earth elementals and sealing ruptures.

rupturewarband

The Charr warband is on the road in the background.

Somehow, the conjunction of the two incidents helped me to immerse a lot more into GW2 as a world, instead of seeing it as a bunch of maps with a metagame overlay of orange swords and shields and circles.

Ambling further on my way to check out the north side of Diessa Plateau for any possible hints of refugees/source of troubles – Dredge and Flame Legion both, I caught sight of something incongruous through the trees.

frostrupture

Is it? Could it be?

Surely, those mountains were not steaming when I was last here as a lowbie.

prollynew

Closer inspection suggested, yes, these are probably new and related to the Living Story. They looked rather like the same steam vents that pop up in the rupture events – with the kind of less textured detail one might expect from something quickly modeled for a temporary event, rather than permanent environmental background.

The dredge certainly seem to be brewing up something under that mountain…

I spotted no change in the dredge area of northwest Diessa yet, though I wisely took a few screenshots to record memories now, to potentially check later.

Meandering further along, near the skillpoint with the scorpions… Could it be, what is this I see?

morevents

More vents? More steam? They probably weren’t there before.

I sidetreked to the lake to finish up the aquatic combat part of the daily, then noticed that the Font of Rhand was open and there seemed to be a few people inside.

On a whim, I waypointed over to the Incendio Templum and headed through the gate. It’s been a long time since I was last there – beta and launch – and I loved both my forays into the Font mini-dungeon.

rhandgate

It was rather sadly obvious how newer players differ from those in beta. (During launch, one guy led the way with me as a backup to go get the statue’s sword and the rest following blindly.)

I’m not the kind of player to spoil secrets by immediately spilling the beans, so at first I held back from solving anything to give the others time to run around and explore. (It was also useful for me to see which exactly gates started out closed and what triggered each.)

It turned out that what they did was leave everything alone and run back and forth from closed chamber on the left to underwater chamber on the right and stare in perplexity at the un-pullable chain and the rock gate blocking the way to the next room that they knew they had to get into. One or two guys vanished, presumably given up or decided they’d seen everything.

Sighing to myself, I decided to trigger the first step before I ran out of fellow compatriots. (Spoilers to the Font of Rhand follow in story form.)

I headed back to the three old statues in the first room and attacked them to get the statue head. One other guy joined me.

As I picked up the head to bring to the mortar in the closed chamber on the left side, he dashed off and left before seeing what I did.

At the time, I -presumed- he knew, like me, what to do and had left me to go do it.

Which I did, stuffing the head in the mortar and letting it fire to bring down the ceiling, and ventured back to the underwater chamber on the right side – whose chain could now be pulled and the rock door busted down.

Two or three others had already swum into the corridor with the fire breathing heads and past into the chamber with even more fire-breathing heads.

They were swimming around and opening caskets in a frenzy, so again I presumed one of them knew what to do and left to go get the statue’s sword – the last key needed.

(Which, by the way, is in a side corridor down from the room with the three old statues. Kill the Flame Legion veteran, which opens the door behind him, and climb the pillars to reach and jump towards and pull the chain – which releases the statue’s sword buried in the rock below.)

I’ve always gone to fetch the statue’s sword, so I’ve always been just a mite fuzzy on what exactly to do in the room with the fire-breathing heads and the icy torches. Usually by this time, most of the heads are out and one guy is yelling at the others to get their act together and get the last few done.

To my immense bemusement, the other three players are -still- swimming around aimlessly and randomly firing at all the enemies that popped out of the caskets. All heads are still breathing fire.

Guess this was a perfect opportunity for me to figure out the exact secret of this room.

Not wanting to be like a drill sergeant, I left the others be and touched an icy torch for the hell of it. Immediately, I was surrounded by an aura of ice. Reading the tooltip that popped up for the aura, it said something like “reflect projectiles off bubbles and turns them to ice, creates icy aura of rejuvenation.”

Well, okay. Seemed clear enough.

I opened a few caskets, got a bubble to pop, switched to my trident which is a long range projectile and reflected it off the bubble (which is also conveniently described as “reflects missiles.”)

Immediately large, vivid icy snowflake effects shot up around the bubble and me. Nothing happened to the head yet though, but I wasn’t anywhere near it.

Sure enough, the moment I got in front of the head and got the icy aura near it, and then swam away, the head stopped breathed fire.

Well, there you go.

I wordlessly demonstrated by doing, six heads, willing the players around me to catch on and actually learn by example and observation.

Instead, one player vanished, another continued swimming around aimlessly and the last, hooray, the last actually touched an icy torch and was surrounded by the icy aura. But promptly couldn’t figure out what the heck one was supposed to do with it.

Seeing that a few of the heads I put out were firing again, and fearing I was going to run out of comrades before getting to the boss at the end, I spoke up and described exactly what to do.

“Touch the icy torches to get the aura. Use projectiles and reflect them off the bubbles to put out all the heads.”

I neglected the swim near the heads part, but I figured I had to leave -something- for them to figure out, right?

In the end, I think one of them got the idea, and between the two of us, we got all the heads put out and the gate slid open. As we swam in, someone asked, “Anyone know what to do after this?”

Ah, a straight question. I reply to straight questions. “Yes,” I said, “We need the statue’s sword. I put it down and lost track of it. Anyone picked it up?”

Silence.

One look at their player models said no, they were carrying their speargun harpoon gun thingmajigs. I had to keep swapping between the statue’s sword and the trident to ice the heads, so it was no wonder that eventually my luck would run out and the sword would disappear and respawn.

“Oh, okay, I’ll go back and get it,” I said. “Can someone hang around here and open the gate for me please?”

“k” was the one letter reply.

Retracing steps through all the above took a while, dragging angry red mobs behind me while I was in flimsy magic find gear, especially when I kept missing my jumps because I was in a hurry and the veteran respawned on me.

“Blazebane went to get the sword,” was what I overhead him say to the other.

A minute after that, I was hauling the sword back through all the stuff, apologizing for the delay to find only that one guy who had stayed to pull the chain and open the gate for me.

Where’s the other guy, I asked.

Silent shrug. Went out and left, apparently.

Sheesh.

Just the two of us? Against the Champion Rhendak the Crazed?

I remembered the crazy six to eight man fights where he’d go after us like a shark and get stuck in the ceiling swimming around, while the water boiled all around us and people got toasted alive by the fire breathing dragon heads at the bottom. On the bright side, he dropped a chest per player that downed him.

Well, this would be interesting.

My principles about spoilers don’t apply in cases of immediate self-preservation, and this was one of those times. “Ok,” I said, “Swim out to the outer chamber for revives. When he throws a fireball at you, dodge because the water will boil around you very shortly. And try to keep near the top because of the fire-breathing heads below. Let’s give this a shot.”

Turns out Rhendak has had some changes made to his encounter. (Or the tweaks happen automatically when fewer players are in play, but probably the former.)

For one thing, there were no fire breathing heads, for which I was very thankful, because it gave more room to dodge and maneuver.

He also used to spawn like a trap when someone opened the grand-looking chest – but this time, he was just there already.

I had quickly gotten out of my yellow power/precision magic find gear and swapped into my P/T/V exotics for better survivability. This had the amazing side effect of turning me into the main tank. Barely any fireballs went after the other guy. Hooray for highest toughness aggro mechanics.

It was an epic dodge battle of ranged tanking.

boss

I slipped up once and had to bail out to the outer chamber to bandage heal up, and the other guy followed me – either to revive me or he didn’t want to tank it – which led to Rhendak leashing and regaining all his hp.

Following which, I decided to stop obsessing about doing damage and focus my best on swimming out of the way, dodging when necessary, and self-healing what I didn’t manage to move out of range in time. Basically surviving or heal-tanking, though it was more dodge-self-supporting.

That left the other guy free to unload on Rhendak.

And we downed him. Just the two of us.

Alas, he only dropped one chest (of blue loot), not the chest per player that I remember from way back when. The grandiose chest behind him though, contained some zone level-appropriate loot, instead of being the trap it used to be.

All in all, still fun. I am fond of the Font of Rhand.

That was a satisfactory cap to the day’s daily. Tomorrow, further ambling about the Wayfarer Foothills.

P.S. I am aware that much of the stuff I discovered over the course of several days probably all arrived at the same time in the one big update. That’s my point, that more time between each event change allows for a more organic process of discovery, if players can get used to this new style of “event.”

I need a better word. Event brings to mind something momentous and earthshaking over the course of a few days, which the Living Story isn’t. Yet.

Occurrence? Incident? Happening?