I had a nice chance encounter the other night.
I was in Auric Basin doing events, having observed that my stock of aurillium currency was dangerously low, and hey, map rewards were on shiny bauble week, providing a good excuse to get off my lazy arse and do pylon pre-events for aurillium and exalted keys.
(I rarely do Octovine, much unlike the rest of the known world. That might change soon, as some of my longer term goals have a pressing need for Octovine-related loot.)
A bunch of events later, I was up to about 900 aurillium and 70ish exalted keys, which is pretty good for my level of lackadaisical Octovine participation. It was still extremely -early- for Octovine. One hour early, in fact.
So I was standing around, semi-afk at a waypoint, trying to decide if I should keep playing in Auric Basin and wait it out for one of my rare Octovines, or waypoint away and do something else (I don’t Octovine much anyway) or just log off GW2 and do something else.
Out of nowhere, just trundling along the raptor-infested lanes, comes a guy on his turtle.
His heavy footed, inertia-laden acceleration is suddenly cut short by a Veteran Mordrem Vinetooth, and before you can blink, both of them are locked into deadly combat. The turtle stomps, a couple of times, struggling. The vinetooth is still at half health.
I don’t even think.
I’m already there, in 900 range, unleashing a blast of necromantic green energy at the Vinetooth, as I race up and swing myself into the gunner’s seat.
The ammo is all there and waiting for me. A hail of 5 artillery shots rains down on the Vinetooth. I trigger the turtle shield that protects the mount’s health and gives back more ammo.
The turtle driver, with sudden renewed energy, starts to rev up his jump jets, which burns the Vinetooth a little more. I trigger the turtle Overdrive, which boosts the mount’s speed, acceleration and turning. Not that it really does much, since the turtle is stationary, but just in mutual response, a silent signal that “yo, I see you moving, here’s your speed if you want.”
He activates his Bond of Vigor, the ammo comes back as if we have an army of skritt fast reloading for us. I fire it all just as quickly, a hail of luminous green fire on the Vinetooth.
Another stomp. Another few more shots. The Vinetooth perishes.
It’s the start of a beautiful, temporary, friendship.
The turtle driver resumes his ponderous patrol through the paths of the Auric Basin.
I go along for the ride.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do anyway, so why not let him take me for a spontaneous adventure?
He’s quite a clever driver. He goes for the speed mushrooms and the adrenal mushrooms. I boost his speed with Overdrive whenever I can.
He slides through tunnels of vines and cave entrances I would have thought the turtle would never fit through. It does. Albeit with a bit of ponderous turning and shuffling now and then.
I have ammo, so I herald our passing with artillery shots on all available targets. We share xp anyway, and a bit of loot is nice.
It is tremendously cathartic to take out groups of pocket raptors with one or two shots. His slam cleans up the few that escape and rush us. At most, one more shot on ourselves directly (good thing no friendly fire) and that cleans up any mini-dinosaurs that think we’re good eating.
I go through a bunch of jungle boars. Rolling devils are nothing, turtle siege ammo and slams come with defiance breaks.
We pass some new players (with less than 50 odd mastery points) locked in deadly combat with a few normal dinosaurs. One helpful shot cleans up their fight. We are small gods, passing through the night, raining down sudden judgement on prehistoric creatures, blessing momentarily bewildered players with nary a word and leaving just as suddenly as we arrived, skidding around the bend with all the grace of an accelerating hippo.
We start visiting events. We show up at a half-health Vinetooth Prime and add a little fun artillery color to the mix. We survive that, barely. We tangled front and center with the Vinetooth for as long as our shield and health lasted, then we fled and orbited it with artillery fire while the rest of the zerg swarmed it.
We lost, rather squarely, to the event with three Elite and Champion Bristlebacks. Turns out we finally found a bigger reptilian. Three of them, anyway. Our turtle died. We cleaned up on foot.
He found an adrenal mushroom, and we had our turtle again. Onwards to high adventure!
High indeed, as he got a little trigger happy with the jump jets as we drifted right over a cliff. Turns out, if you drop a turtle from high enough, it does indeed go splat. Very hard. And so did we.
Alas, small gods lose to fall damage. The newer players had their turn in the sun as they scraped us up from the floor.
We took out Aurum, the gold ooze with nary a scale mussed.
We did get mauled by the Mordrem Stonehead Alpha and Beta – or at least the turtle did. Our driver started calling for help in map chat, as there were only three of us there. Oh, ye of little faith. We took them out in the end, by ourselves, on foot, with mutual rezzing as needed whenever one of us missed our sideways dodge and got rolled on.
Once done, it was back to turtle adventure! The driver was reluctant to waypoint – I think he thought that both of us had to do so. I told him to go for it, as I wanted to see how it actually worked. Sure enough, once he waypointed, I got the loadscreen without having to do a thing and just came along with him, still mounted. I think it works like that within the same map.
We did a few more quarter city perimeter patrols, while he searched for a nice direction that he wanted to be at for Octovine. By now, it was about 15 minutes to Octovine. How the time had flown by!
Alas, he decided on south and decided he needed to go AFK for the remaining time. So I bid him thanks and adieu. South ain’t really my thing, no pushes and I dislike swapping to pulls, which drag all the ugly in my direction. I rather shore up a less populated direction, so I popped on over to west and didn’t see him again until the final post-victory treasure chest opening sequence, where we were far too busy opening chests to allude to our brief, but fiery, testudine acquaintance.
If there’s one thing I really notice in the End of Dragons expansion, that I hope the developers continue and aren’t discouraged by the flocks of players calling for more and better closed silos to solo or squad in, is the design work of building bridges and scaffolding across the deep divides that Heart of Thorns first engendered.
The turtle is a two player mount. It is built to synergize. Like combos, before people figured out how to blast their own fields and do it all themselves. It is designed for driver and gunner to make a social connection, no matter how small.
The gunner goes nowhere that the driver doesn’t take them. They offer trust and the wheel to the driver. (Of course you can always choose to get off, if the driver is a maniac.)
The driver creates the experience for their gunner. How fast, how slow, whether you’re in range or no, how awkwardly or smoothly you both travel. There is naches, the feeling of pride or gratification at someone else’s achievements. You set up that shot the gunner took.
The driver opens up access to their turtle. It’s not open by default. By doing so, they are inviting another to share in the experience. It’s a social gesture.
The gunner does have a bit more fun. That’s the point. It’s the pleasure of supporting another, carrying them on the back of their turtle shell, both together on the same road, greater than the sum of the parts.
Calling for “oh, more attacks for the driver” misses the point entirely. Yeah, I know what you want. You want to just trundle around solo on the turtle by yourselves, stomping stuff, and pretending to be prestigious, with the doors to turtle boarding closed. You want a shiny WoW dragon in GW2.
No, the turtle is a tank. Not an MMO tank. A military tank. Driver plus gunner. Still needs infantry support. But when driver and gunner share the same mind, it’s a beautiful thing. And it’s beautiful design.