Between cursing at Steam and Shatter, I put in some good time with the next Guild Wars: Beyond chapter, Hearts in the North. I know I am a little late to the party since the content dropped nearly a month ago, but I had to take a small break after vanquishing Elona and getting my Hall of Monuments past 35. I have plans for 40, but it does feel like work sometimes. Thankfully, I have plenty of fun available in my gaming stable. (I want to take a moment to curse at Shatter’s Bonus Mode again. Thanks.)
This next small chapter in Guild Wars: Beyond is a great break from the grind involved in working on the Hall of Monuments. Instead of running around in a party of 8, players take the reins of Keiran Thackeray, an ally of the Shining Blade that went MIA in the beginning siege of the White Mantle on Lion’s Arch. Keiran gets his own skillbar, and the gameplay is balanced for him and his sidekick, Miku, to stand against hundreds of White Mantle.
I have to say that after running around with an “eight-headed hydra” of my character and 7 computer-controlled group members, having just one guy to worry about is pretty refreshing. I don’t really agree with some of the community reaction that this style of gameplay is readying fans for Guild Wars 2. I just think that the Guild Wars Live Team felt it was a good time to return to some of the great gameplay originally offered by the Guild Wars Bonus Mission Pack. This was a really good choice in my opinion.
Here’s how the chapter works. The play goes out in to Kryta and the Maguuma Jungle to find detritus, such as a tarnished emblem, and then they bring it back to the mysterious Hall of Monuments, where a vision emanating from the spiritual resonance of the item is shown to the player and Gwen (Keiran’s future bride). The vision is where the player assumes the role of Keiran. It’s a pretty nice way to tell a story through the limited means available both to the Guild Wars engine and the resources available to the Live Team.
Except, that it either turns in to a frustrating hunt for items or a mad dash to the spoilers at Guild Wars Wiki. For example, the first leg of content occurs in Watchtower Coast, where the player finds an Embedded Arrowhead, and where Keiran’s first mission, Auspicious Beginnings, occurs. The first mission ends on the west side of Watchtower Coast, where the White Mantle target runs west in to the Divinity Coast mission area. Back at the Hall of Monuments, Gwen cries and asks the player to find more “traces.”
The next item is a Tarnished Emblem found nowhere near Divinity Coast. Instead it is found on the way to Maguuma Jungle in the Majesty’s Rest zone, which doesn’t even directly connect to Watchtower Coast. There is absolutely no hint that the White Mantle target, Danthor, is heading in to the Maguuma Jungle. Miku doesn’t mention it in Auspicious Beginnings. Gwen doesn’t mention it as a gut feeling in the Hall of Monuments. Nothing except Danthor’s westward heading. This snipe hunt happens twice more with only a word or two more for a hint at the maguffin’s location.
For me, this was incredibly frustrating. I don’t want to be forced to choose between going to the Guild Wars Wiki for crucial answers or spending a large chunk of time wandering around holding the alt-button down looking for crap on the ground in zones that would not become, later known, even part of the Hearts of the North chapter. It comes as a surprise to me that this small chapter did not also benefit from an over-arching quest, like the one that was finally added for the War in Kryta. Small hints in a persistent quest-style reminder would have gone a long way. Accessibility has been the big blemish on ArenaNet’s scorecard for an otherwise amazing Guild Wars: Beyond campaign.
There is still plenty to look forward to in Guild Wars. Supposedly there will be another costume set for Wintersday. We have the Hero update to look forward to, and many people are excited to return to Cantha for the next big chapter in Guild Wars: Beyond… Winds of Change. Hopefully they keep accessibility of the content much more in mind in Cantha, but until then I suggest judicious use of the Guild Wars Wiki.
my name is ink catherly. I can see the sky