GW2: The Cliffs and the Colossus

It’s me again, back to share another “down the rabbit tunnel” trail of maybe-lore with you all!

This one is more of a foggy could-be, mostly via neat visual thematic links that were -probably- done on purpose (and also convenient in terms of saving development assets.)

As serendipity would have it, while cycling through the fractals by my lonesome to get to the Uncategorized fractal to take the last post’s screenshots, I got into the Aquatic Ruins fractal.

Yeah, yeah, we know, fisherfolk, krait, slaves, dime a dozen, seen it before. Whatever, glowing plants, dolphins, big freaking jellyfish, generic aquatic environment, no?

aquaticfractal

Then I stopped.

Self, I said. I have seen this style of wooden architecture before.

In fact, come to think of it, I think I’ve seen this sort of grey cliff terrain before, with these kinds of plants… as I looked -up- at my surroundings.

aquaticcliffs

Come on, haven’t we all seen this sort of glow before? (Or after. I get so confused with time, damn fractals…)

labyrinthinenight

Ok, this is a night time pic, but yeah. Towering grey cliffs, bushy trees, wooden bridge architecture.

bazaarof4winds

It’s obviously not at the same point in time, of course.

Let’s hold off for the moment on trying to track down their origins, besides a faint nagging suspicion that these fisherfolk (a sea-faring people? their architecture seems to suggest it) could be the proto-Zephyrites of today.

I dived into the aquatic fractal for fun and to look around a bit since I was alone.

statuesunderwater

Oh man, more of these guys.

If you look up to the first two pictures, you’ll see that the folk in the aquatic fractal have been both busy using these statues as part of their impromptu raised platforms and trawling them out of the water with makeshift cranes.

We all know who these statues depict, right?

colossus

Yep, him again.

Self, said I.

I HAVE SEEN THESE GREY CLIFFS BEFORE.

And this freaking type of plant.

And the wooden scaffolding, for that matter.

W.

T.

F.

All right. Assuming these aren’t just all a lazy reuse of assets, they all have to be linked in some manner. Just… possibly at very different points in time.

Let’s get ourselves geographically located.

lcliffmap

Whyever did they dump the Labyrinthine Cliffs all the way over here?

Where is here and what was around here way back in the past?

The furthest past map I could find was naturally, were Guild Wars 1 maps.

Also, this is a beautiful fan-made one by Redditor that_shaman circling around the intarwebs that overlays GW1 landmarks over a GW2 map – I embed a copy here for your reference.

guild_wars_2_points_of_interest

It doesn’t include the Labyrinthine Cliffs, but we can use the prior map pic to fit it in along the coastline of Tyria, just north of the continent of Elona, sorta southeast of Kryta and south of Ascalon.

All that surrounds this place is a bunch of dwarf-related missions in Guild Wars 1. That doesn’t seem related at all. Dead end, perhaps.

So again I began trawling through the lore.

How about the krait? Where do they come in?

There’s a surprising amount of lore about the krait in the above link, which I think we’ll see more of when we start exploring Bubbles and underwater-related stuff, but the wiki doesn’t say much about their past history:

Krait history, especially prior to fifty years ago, is still mostly unknown. During this time all that’s known is their activities of enslaving shipwrecked sailors and that in 1078 AE, they already had a presence on the Tarnished Coast. Fifty years ago, however, they were forced out of the Unending Ocean’s deepest trenches, their former homeland, by the deep sea dragon‘s forces.

Well, that doesn’t help us very much, especially since we know krait were present in Guild Wars 1 too, so they’ve always been around being nasty slavers. But hang on, what and where is the Unending Ocean? Says the Guild Wars 1 wiki:

The Unending Ocean, also known as the Great Sea and the Clashing Seas, is the giant body of water that separates the continents of Tyria and Elona from the continent of Cantha. The island chain known as the Battle Isles resides within the Unending Ocean, between the three continents. In ancient days before the Exodus of the Gods and the distribution of magic, the Margonites ruled this ocean before they lost their humanity.

The Krait are known to live on the ocean floor of the Unending Ocean.

The Unending Ocean proper is marked on the GW2 map as being southwest of the Ring of Fire island chain. Cantha, in the lore, is southwest of that.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but technically, the Unending Ocean could maybe touch the Labyrinthine Cliff area since it’s all one big patch of water. The Elon River flows into the sea, but that sea seems to be unnamed.

But hang on, what’s this reference about the Margonites?

They were a bunch of demonic followers of Abaddon that we fought in Guild Wars 1. They were apparently previously humans before Abaddon transformed them, and my jaw dropped as I read further:

Before the Exodus of the Gods, the Margonites were a seafaring people who chose to worship Abaddon exclusively, rather than all six gods. In 175 BE, they ruled over the Unending Ocean and they began to create settlements on the coastlines north and west of Elona.

Sea-faring people?

Settlements on the coastline north of Elona?!

Reading further still:

Finally, at an unknown point in time, but presumably after the Exodus, Margonites who were still human reached the Crystal Desert by sailing over the Unending Ocean, and built the structures in the Thirsty River and everywhere around the Mesa.

I’ve made a little love and gratuitous screenshot post about the Crystal Desert before. The civilization that existed in the Crystal Desert once upon a time was culturally obsessed with building giant statues.

What do we have in the Aquatic and Cliffside fractal but a whole bunch of giant statues?

Are the people we see in the fractals ancestors of…descendants of…argh, somehow related to- Margonites, or the seafaring human stock that would spawn the Margonites some day?

I’m going to take a random stab at placing the Aquatic fractal in history.

It’s got to come after the Cliffside fractal because all the giant statues are sunken underwater, and there’s stone ruins in the depths too.

At what point in time in Guild Wars history do we know there was a humongous flood?

1219 AE Zhaitan, the Elder Undead Dragon, awakens. Orr rises from the sea. Lion’s Arch floods. Contact with Cantha severed.

That’s my best guess.

The fisherfolk may be the ancestors of our modern day Zephyrites of Canthan or Elonian descent and may have also been the descendants of a culture of seafaring humans.

Some of those seafaring humans may have been Margonites who worshipped Abaddon and got sucked into the Realm of Torment with him, and some of whom (who probably did not worship Abaddon) survived and turned southeast across the Crystal Desert/Sea (or were there to begin with.)

Incidentally, there’s one other GW1 reference I found interesting,

According to An Empire Divided, historians believe the Luxons once sailed in the Crystal Sea over a thousand years ago. Incidentally, this may be where the Margonites sailed. Due to the removal of knowledge of Abaddon, some knowledge of the Margonites has been removed, leading scholars to view them as myths, thus possibly causing a confusing between the two sea-faring people.

Maybe there aren’t two sea-faring peoples. But the very one and the same.

How about the Cliffside fractal? At what point of time is this situated in?

For this we have a source:

“The idea was that that particular fractal was that it reflected something that happened in the distant past. Something that happened in Tyria’s beginnings where there was this kind of colossus around.”

So we know it took place in very early history, possibly even prehistory.

We know that there was an Age of Giants very early on before the Age of Humans, though different tellers differ on the specifics since it’s sooo far back in time. Giganticus Lupicus was one of the giant races that may have roamed the land around this time.

The Colossus most probably isn’t a Giganticus Lupicus, since those have dog-like heads and the Colossus doesn’t. It’s possible it was a Giant of some other sort that was trapped and chained by the early humans of this period.

But here’s where it gets really interesting, it has been suggested that this fractal was inspired by the myth of Prometheus, or at least one of the designers makes reference to it in a podcast.

What is the myth of Prometheus?

Prometheus was a god who brought fire down to man. And for his hubris, he was chained up as punishment.

Is there a parallel myth in Guild Wars lore?

I bring your attention back to the GW2 timeline, coincidentally at the beginning of one era of history, where the very tame description awaits:

0 AE The Exodus of the Human Gods.

1 BE The Human Gods give magic to the races of Tyria.

Really? The human gods, plural?

The Guild Wars 1 wiki (and further links off the GW2 wiki) tell the real story:

Abaddon was the God of Water and Secrets, though has since fallen. Like the other gods, Abaddon’s origins are shrouded in mystery. The Apostate speaks of Abaddon gaining his power from an older, deposed god, however nothing more is known about this. Abaddon was once fanatically worshiped by the Margonites, a nation of sea-faring humans. The phrase “act with magic, act within reason, act without mercy” is attributed to Abaddon’s teachings. He also had a temple in Orr, the Cathedral of Hidden Depths.

In 1 BE, he spread magic to the races of Tyria, and thus indirectly responsible for the wars that came afterward. King Doric pleaded to the gods and they rendered magic into the five Bloodstones, diluting their gift. Abaddon was incensed and went to war with the others, and he was eventually struck down at the Mouth of Torment, in a blow that turned the Crystal Sea into a desert. There, Abaddon was sealed within the Realm of Torment and the city of Morah was established to watch over the spot where he fell. Shortly after his defeat, the gods left the world in an act that came to be known as the Exodus.

ABADDON gave magic to the humans. And eventually, he was attacked by the other five gods and locked in the Realm of Torment. Is he our sad Prometheus?

prometheus

This is how The Colossus looks at the beginning of the fractal. Sad, tired, head lowered, staring at the Archdiviner kneeling at his feet.

divinerfeet

The Margonites are said to have fanatically worshipped Abaddon to the exclusion of all other gods. This particular group of humans has also (eventually) fanatically constructed a ton of Colossus statues.

The GW1 wiki provides us with another intriguing drip of lore:

And so it came to pass that Jadoth, being persecuted by the horrific Forgotten armies, and hounded from his home, did seek refuge among the cooling mists of the Crystal Sea. Untold weeks passed as Jadoth huddled in his sanctuary, with nothing to see save the endless ripples of the boundless ocean.

On the 51st day of his exodus, a frightful sight manifested before Jadoth’s eyes: the unmistakable shape of Forgotten warships upon the horizon’s shimmering edge.

And prayed Jadoth, “Abaddon! Lord of the Everlasting Depths, Keeper of Secrets, open mine eyes and bestow upon me the knowledge of the Abyss that I might smite mine enemies and send them to the watery depths!”

An unsettling silence swept across the waves. The twilight sky shattered and stars streaked down upon the Forgotten armada. The seas boiled and ruptured, and gave birth to a maelstrom from which not even light could escape, and transforming the sky above into a midnight void.

And thus was magic gifted to Jadoth, chosen of Abaddon, the first of the Margonites.

— Scriptures of Abaddon, 1 BE

Does the Archdiviner represent Jadoth?

Yes, I will die just to give you all a relatively close up shot.
Yes, I will die on purpose just to give you all a relatively close up shot. He’s a Legendary, I don’t think I have the hours to kite him, assuming he doesn’t regen.

Did he, in fact, trick or fool an initially well-meaning Giant by name of Abaddon into gifting him with magic, and then turn around and entrap the Colossus into becoming a living idol for his people? And for a whole new fanatical religion that would later be the basis of the Margonites?

The Margonites of GW1 have a purple glow about their demonic form. The Archdiviner of the Cliffside fractal shoots purple magic bolts (and he’s certainly no mesmer.)

demonicseal

Those seals/chains are purple and demonic.

History, after all, is often rewritten by the victors.

The wiki, by the way, includes some pictures of Abaddon:

File:Abaddon mural (Gandara).jpgFile:"Abbaddon God Statue" concept art 1.jpg

Good lord, you say. Look at his face. That’s not anything like the Colossus. Surely you’re not going to tell me he’s just wearing a mask or helmet? How about them clawed hands?

Remember, he was imprisoned within the Realm of Torment, which probably twists anything residing within after some time.

And it would be quite possible for him to have descended into madness and desire revenge for what the Five Gods did to him, pre- or post-imprisonment, and to have eventually welcomed the role his fanatic followers thrust upon him.

How about a GW2 source? Also from the wiki, Abaddon has one temple, the Cathedral of Hidden Depths, accessible via one personal story chapter:

File:Cathedral of Hidden Depths.jpg

I dunno. But there seems to be some resemblance.

A more tame version would be that the Colossus is the older, deposed god that Abaddon and his followers obtained power from. Which would make the Archdiviner Abaddon and the fractal an echo of him conducting a ritual to steal that power, except we get to set the Colossus free in the fractal.

Still, if the Human Gods were actually Giants with magic that the human race worshipped once upon a time, that might explain why all statues of them are so bloody huge.

All rather interesting in the light of the new short story about Scarlet that Anet has released and further speculation on Reddit that Scarlet may or may not have absorbed the powers of Abaddon or become a god herself in some fashion, no?

Here’s looking forward to more story revelations from ArenaNet, per Living Story episode, just to see how many things I get right or wrong. 🙂

Exciting times ahead in Guild Wars 2!

Feel free to leave your sobbing about how we’re never going to see a Fall of Abaddon fractal now in the comments…

GW2: PSA – Where and How to Vote in Cutthroat Politics

I do not do purely informative posts often. But I’ve been seeing a spike in search engine stats from people just googling “gw2 voting” and I think they’re totally lost on where to go and what to do.

In a way, it serves as subtle criticism that ArenaNet’s made it not 100% obvious this time (because I too got a little lost looking for where the eff the support baskets were, having not read Dulfy this time around) and that players themselves often don’t pay enough attention to say, quest text in general or the stuff on the minimap in this specific case.

I assume you’ve managed to follow your mail and talk to Ellen Kiel and Evon Gnashblade to hear their stances. And clicked on the little “Show Me” button to see where they are.

The “Audience with the Master” small story cutscene is indicated on the minimap and is located on top of the Zephyr Sanctum airship.

airshipminimap

(If you do not have a Sky Docks waypoint already up from the last two weeks, you need to go to Lion’s Arch, catch the ship there to the Labyrinthine Cliffs, and work your way up using the aspect crystal jumping – or beg a kindly mesmer to help you skip the jumps.)

And so is “Candidate Support” – the location of the voting baskets where you throw your support tokens into.

supportbasketshere

You get two support tokens from your mail for free. You will get plenty plenty more doing nearly any content in GW2 – they randomly drop from mob kills and I’ve seen them turn up at the end of jumping puzzle and other hidden chests in the world, but activities related to Cutthroat Politics – like the new Southsun Survival and Aspect Arena minigames and the Candidate Trial challenges will tend to yield more guaranteed amounts.

You will then receive a representative token that you can double-click and show off a pretty icon floating either to your left or right shoulder to show your support for either candidate.

Doing things like dungeons, fractals and events in Ascalon and Kryta for the charr and human candidate respectively, with the support showing, will net you some achievements. Check your Living World – Support Ellen Kiel and Support Evon Gnashblade tab in your achievement panel for more details.

Yes, you can do both sets of achievements. As an achievement hound myself, despite my rhetoric, you can bet some votes snuck in there for Evon. His reminders are getting a tide annoying though, so once all the repping things are done, everything’s going into the other basket.

I’ll be back later with more analysis on the other stuff. Here’s a ❤ for the candidate trial design to tide you over. I’ll tell you specifically why later.

GW2: Love Song For the Labyrinthine Cliffs

“I can’t sing a love song
Like the way it’s meant to be
Well, I guess I’m not that good anymore
But baby, that’s just me…”

moonlitserenade

I should like this update. It hits all the discovery and wonder and awe notes that (map) Explorers love.

Indeed, when I first set foot into the Labyrinthine Cliffs, I switched my graphics back over to auto-detect settings, crashes be damned. After all, with content that can be solo’ed at one’s leisure (or also done in a group for those who have friends,) I wasn’t inconveniencing anyone but myself.

thisisgoingtobeagoodday

ArenaNet proves once again that they are the masters of gorgeous gorgeous fantasyscapes.

Running around it gawking at everything, talking with every single NPC that could be talked to, scraping all the corners of the map made me a happy happy charr.

farminginparadise

It is perhaps ironic that the first thing I did was run away from civilization to discover all the yummy skale (blood!) and krait (scales!) amidst some totally awesome surroundings and make a mental note that I would likely have an excellent time here later farming in bliss.

becauseitsthere

Then of course, the climbing up things that look vaguely climb-able began.

whenyouwanttobealone

And there was a brief side trip to plunge into the deeps and explore potential hang out locations… because there’s nothing like being underwater when you really want your alone time.

studyingthelayoftheland

Throughout this initial exploration, there were, of course, places where I noted sky crystals to be eventually got around to, and a few swarms of folks buzzing around with their unique movement skills hopping on poles (and generally missing) and the odd fella falling out of the sky.

Eventually, I did get with the program and start my way up the city, with one’s incessant curiosity creating no end of chaos and corrupted creatures to mark my progress.

marrymelady

❤ this lady.

meddlingwithforces

Charr need no burned books. Or I’m real sorry your book got charred.

It did take me a while to figure out the whole ‘new movement skills’ thing, since I somehow failed to walk over the sun crystal by the Sun Aspect tutor and thus failed to ever get past the waterfalls. Fortunately, in my enthusiastic exploration of just the ground floor alone, I eventually stumbled into a wind crystal thingmajig and went “eh, how did I get this 1 skill?” and worked it out slowly from there.

One of the most positive things I can say about this content is that one can discover and learn this at one’s own pace. This is good. Excellent, really. I sidetrekked to grab some of the easier sky crystals while trying to work out how the movement skills functioned and they served as little tutorials and side puzzles.

The lightning crystal took me quite a bit to get the hang of, and I eventually turned off fast cast ground targeting in order to get it more precisely aimed. Ironically, I managed to get the manual mode working more smoothly than the automatic one – probably because I didn’t have a clue initially when it was going into automatic and kept trying to steer and aim, and there may have been some latency issues being all non-North American and all that. Which wasn’t great when you’re several miles up in the sky and need one perfect jump or else…

There was much cynical reflection that the learning process made a good sneaky goldsink with all the emergency waypointing while in freefall.

madeitup

I did make it all the way up in the end.

ohtheirony

Oh, the irony. Everyone ignored him, of course.

beyondthispointthis

Beyond this point, this, you… Zephyrite.

And got 40 sky crystals, without the help of any guide whatsoever.

Which is also excellent, by the way. I really like and appreciate that there are some, what, 52 or so sky crystals lying around and only 40 needed for the achievement. This gives a lot of leeway for people to stumble onto crystals and work out how to grab what they can see, as well as give up on a few that are beyond them, while still being able to complete it via a natural, organic process of discovery.

Instead of running around feeling frustrated that one is on 38 of 40 and DAMMIT I CAN’T FIND THE LAST TWO I NEED, which naturally then segues into slavishly following someone else’s list and video guide.

Au contraire, there’s a lot more freedom here and the only mild nitpick I can give is that my finger got tired of holding down CTRL to scan for sky crystals by the time I finished the achievement (how about a toggle, eh?)

Other minor nitpicks are, imo, a result of the fast pace of development of Living Story content. Like how I ALWAYS find a way to get stuck.

whyme

Literally, the first instance even before you hit the new zone, where you listen to Magnus and Ellen Kiel. I walk down the steps afterwards, hoping to see if the sleeping Mai Trin had anything to say, promptly slide off it and into the gap between cage and stairs and end up trapped. Thank goodness for the exit instance button.

And low res for the new stuff ain’t that pretty, as compared to the old stuff. I have to switch into it now and then for better performance and framerates, especially when attempting tricky jumps, and it’s a little disappointing to see that less of a polish pass was done on the low res stuff. The Dead End Bar for the Sky Pirates patch was pretty plain with minimal settings on. The sails and cloths in Zephyr Sanctum are also just flat panes of color.

lowresdive

At least the masts here are thicker than the one I scaled for the other diving locations. I’d also question whether this set of goggles was really the Best. Dive. Ever, but I was so relieved to find no sharp protruding objects or tricksy rocks on the way down that I didn’t want to think about it too hard.

Difficulty level for this felt about right, I slipped off quite a couple times trying to figure out a way to get up there, with no reference to any video guides but only had to waypoint in a few instances – the rest was just spent resetting by clambering back down and collecting all the crystal charges again for the next try.

All in all, I think this zone was a pretty big win for ArenaNet. I can see myself spending quite a lot of time here in the coming weeks, and would be sad to see such a gorgeous zone vanish when its time is up.

I also like the movement skills in theory. It sort of recreates some of the City of Heroes feeling of superspeed and superjumping.

Except that lag and rubberbanding and latency always seems to be a perennial problem for them to get around when coming up with all these fancy schmancy new skills, and 1, 2 and 3 are really awkward keys for this sort of thing.

Which brings me to Sanctum Sprint.

Reading the previews, this was the one thing in the update that I wasn’t super keen on. (Achievement rewards and new revamped UI go without saying that it’s universally welcomed – though it’s harder to see at a glance now what one’s progress is on certain things.)

A competitive race. Involving new movement skills.

Whee.

For someone who lacks much of a competitive bone, this doesn’t really tick any boxes in a list of my preferences.

Objectively though, it’s not -too- bad.

If one ignores the very strange occurrence of plunging you directly into a game (in the last place) and the even stranger bug which dropped me into a PvP match the first time I talked to the NPC. (It was like, umm… this loadscreen seems ominous. Er, yeah, this scoreboard… hey, I really don’t want to be here, this character isn’t even specced for sPvP and wasn’t that a Sanctum Sprint NPC I talked to?)

I still enjoy Rollerbeetle Racing in GW1 more – probably because of the whole shapechanging aspect of the roly poly beetles providing a certain anonymity and the whole race feels smoother, shall we say. Fast to hop in, fast to start, fast to run through, fast to end, and the rewards both had meaning (in that 1st to 3rd got something, 1, 3, 7 tickets, iirc) and were fairly inconsequential (if you lost, no tickets, boohoo, whatever, the tickets could be got in other ways too.)

Sanctum Sprint is a spiritual successor to that, but it feels a little more complex and has more moving parts to keep track of. Which then ends up as potential clogging in the works.

The Z axis is in play here, making the race immediately more vertical with the annoyance of falling. Rubberbanding while using skills and weird shit has been known to happen. There’s an ungodly long wait time after you complete the race and have to sit around waiting for others to make it – many of these others having loaded in mid-race and thus given up any semblance of even trying to hurry. I’m already beginning to consider keybinding to more convenient locations the movement skills – except I’m all out of controls, and I don’t own a Razer Naga.

Nor do I quite understand the point of enabling the people in the first few positions to massively screw things up for the rest by dropping fake powerups that launch – that’s just furthering their already sizeable lead, and ensuring the after-race wait time for everyone in the back to be even longer.  Surely for excitement’s sake, it should be enabling those behind to catch up and slow down those in the lead instead (which only sometimes happens.)

The reward system is a little odd. I mean, I quite like the communal aspect of “just finish the race and you’ll get a prize.” It’s inclusive in that sense. The bag of coins yields a decent healthy and encouraging amount of silver for the time spent. But when RNG comes into play and the sixth and eighth place pulls out the aspect skins from the chest and the first few just get greens, it just feels an itty little bit odd.

Most of the race-related achievements are fairly doable and do not involve any weird counter-productive to the objective hijinks.

I don’t know that I’m ever going to get the first place one. Especially as more people get more skilled at the race and have better latency than I do. It’s a little depressing to consider the prospect, but well, I end up in 2nd to 6th fairly regularly, it’s possible that one might get lucky at some point. Or maybe people will get bored and leave only those still seeking the achievements nearer the end of the week. Maybe.

The focus on jumping puzzles is also a little worrisome. Some days, I wonder if things aren’t getting too action-y for my old brain. (Even Belcher’s Bluff has such a short delay time between skills.) I visited Spekk’s Lab and promptly failed at the many timed jumps, plunging into lava repeatedly – but at least there was a respawn option, so it wasn’t AS frustrating, and some kindly mesmer finally took pity on me and left a portal where I was bound to respawn. Still, it’s not too many of them, and there’s always portals, and I guess they need a reason for the community to revisit some of the ignored content, so perhaps it’s acceptable.

At any rate, when I get frustrated, there’s always taking a break and wandering the open world farming kites and fortunes. There’s much less pressure in this update, I feel, for whatever reason. It seems like two weeks will be sufficient time to get to most of it. Eventually.

With time to enjoy the pretty scenery.

zephyrcoda