ArenaNet released a double-whammy yesterday with an overview of the city of Lion’s Arch in Guild Wars 2 with a video and a developer post on the creation of the new Lion’s Arch. The city starting from Guild Wars has a rich history both in-game and out. Yet, ArenaNet is starting fresh with the a total re-envisioning of one of the most well known cities in Guild Wars. Will it become as powerful a hub of activity as its predecessor was in its own heyday?
The old city of Lion’s Arch became the iconic outpost in the original Guild Wars Prophecies campaign, and due to festivals and Eye of the North content, it remains one of the three best trade hubs. The final campaign’s Kamadan and the newly added Embark Beach now likely generate more activity. It wasn’t the first Guild Wars town (read: large outpost) as players first visited the ruined Ascalon City, complete with shades of brown and more brown. Nor was it the last as players hubbed around Droknar’s Forge during the level 20 (max) content. Yet, Lion’s Arch became the most popular town out of a total of 5 towns in Prophecies.
I’ve seen this discussed by the community before because it is interesting that Lion’s Arch took the population crown. Droknar’s Forge and Henge of Denravi might have been too sprawling. Ascalon City was too low level and brown. The Anmoon Oasis felt too transient as the real hub in the Crystal Desert seemed to be Augury Rock. Henge of Denravi further faced the same crisis compounded by the fact that in the game’s story it was supposed to be “destroyed.” Yet, many believed the key feature of Lion’s Arch was that it was the first town players found when they started to be ready for trading, socializing, etc. after a long haul through the Shiverpeaks, and it felt like the only town available as players looped through Kryta and the Maguuma Jungle.
In Guild Wars 2, the old has been washed away in the cleansing waters of Orrian tsunamis. The new is now a melting pot city where people of every race (even non-playable) band together as the front-line bastion against the Elder Dragon, Zhaitan. Yet, this is going to be the bastard sixth city with the five playable races each getting their own.
While old Lion’s Arch became the central city by default, the Lion’s Arch of Guild Wars 2 is going to have some tough competition as freshly-hatched players are going to learn to feel comfortable with their home town from the outset. Plus, each player’s personal home instance is located in their home town. It appears that the ace-in-the-hole for Lion’s Arch is going to be it’s location as a stronghold against Zhaitan’s forces making it possibly an active hub for characters at the higher levels.
Regardless, I am very interested to see if there will be a main Guild Wars 2 city or town. Certainly Lion’s Arch can get players away from racial arguments and aesthetic arguments, and possibly even functionality arguments if one racial city has a more efficient layout than another. (With map travel, functionality arguments are going to have small weight anyway.) Will Lion’s Arch live up to its former glory? That’s one question that will have to wait until launch.