[GW2] Seeds of Nightmare

Back from disease and travel, Mrs. Ravious and I played through the Seeds of Truth update, which is the seventh episode for Season 2 of the Living World. In the usual Season 2 fashion (especially this second half) there is a story instance and then two action sequences. There will be spoilerosity as I want this post to focus on the story of the update. I’ll get to the other updates in the maps and what not later.

So to catch up, the story is now revolving how one of Glint’s dragon eggs can change the world. Except that Caithe, one of your buddies from the core game’s story, just up and stole it once you got it off the Zephyrite leader’s still warm corpse. That was the cliffhanger last episode, and now the Living World starts to tell us why. Or, at least the seeds of why.

Using memory seeds given by the Pale Tree, the leader of the sylvari, the player takes on the role Caithe. It is pretty fun playing as Caithe because the new skills are ridiculous. In the first instance she is perma-stealthed, and in the second she gets to use all her bag of tricks, such as a thief dagger/dagger dual skill times three that also deflects projectiles. Her elite is an unbreakable stealth that works for a short time.

I felt the story was beautifully told. It is a story of how rocky the sylvari race’s start was even with the Pale Tree’s guidance and Ventari’s “commandments”. Except I got to see it. In the first instance there was the divide between the Firstborn who have been around for over a decade and the newly minted “secondborn”. ArenaNet also shows us the first hints of the Nightmare Court throughout the episode. I really like how it felt like the sylvari were finding their feet, even if it was against the Pale Tree’s wishes.

Throughout the second instance I played as perma-stealthed Caithe with Faolain (current Nightmare Court queen) tagging along as we infiltrated an asuran lab that had been experimenting on, and killing, sylvari. The writers portrayed Caithe as a weird catalyst. She was doing heroic things, but could not stop Faolain’s more amoral or rash decisions. I felt like how I would assume a mother would watch her son committing a wrong. The love is too strong to see the fallout of the wrongdoing. Caithe, even then as a Firstborn, felt immature. I liked how dark and brutal the adventure seemed even as we were saving all the captured sylvari, including Canach. (I honestly wouldn’t be surprised now if Canach’s end game was to attack Rata Sum.)

Before we entered the third instance, Mrs. Ravious warned me. It was a cryptic warning, and I actually thought she was warning me about the gameplay. She said that a lot of feedback was that it was a “bad instance.” She knows I don’t like spoilers so she clamped up without further explanation.

There we headed to a centaur camp in the Far Silverwastes. Earlier in the day I had already been to the open world Far Silverwastes to get the skill points. There were no centaurs. A hint of things to come.

The third instance was a beautiful piece of storytelling. Caithe and Faolain had traveled to the Silverwastes to meet Wynne, another Firstborn who appeared to know things about sylvari mysteries. Faolain didn’t like that Wynne appeared to have power, which was not utilized. Faolain didn’t like that Wynne was out there cajoling with the centaurs. So Faolain brought along a bunch of sylvari thugs to try and drag Wynne home. Yes, I can see where this is going so that in the current times there are no centaurs.

Naturally as the centaur leader pulls me aside to talk about Wynne being a guest, Faolain attacks the centaurs. I rush out as legendary Caithe to bring the hurt. But, I – Ravious – don’t want to. It’s perfect how ArenaNet utilized a memory to force players to do the wrong thing. To make the wrong choice. Again, Caithe just cannot reign in her love, Faolain, and they slaughter the centaur camp and the boss. (I also love ArenaNet’s thematic for the centaurs of wind, lightning, and rock.)

The best line by far was at the end where Faolain exasperates how ‘Wynne is just running off again’. Faolain just cannot imagine why with an entire centaur tribe worth of corpses – and hooves – all around Wynne would act so rashly. It’s so telling. So good. Bravo, ArenaNet.

Wynne rushes off past her dead centaur friends and passes through an engraved solid boulder [door] to seal herself away from the world. And that, my friends is where we are hanging by this cliff.

This is the story of how Caithe failed. This is the story of where Caithe and Faolain’s grand adventures as loving travelers started to end. This is the story of why Caithe stole the dragon egg. Now what the dragon egg has to do with Wynne, and how reparations will be made, I have no idea. But this is a story I felt like I could bite my teeth into. And, I’m still chewing. Not for answers, though, just for the sheer depth of the story.

Mechanically, I feel like ArenaNet is shining in the second half of Season 2. The second instance was a great puzzle, and it was a lot of fun being permastealthed. The third instance had a fun boss fight which I blundered through. I am sure whatever achievements there are will be difficult for that boss. The only thing I did not like was that Caithe did not have a downed state, which made it a bit difficult when playing with Mrs. Ravious who did have a downed state.

What I feel is that ArenaNet for a long time was pressing forward with their “base”. This has been a problem with their storytelling since Guild Wars 1. Even the expansion to Guild Wars 1 Prophecies did little to leap off all the mysteries of Prophecies. Instead we pressed forward to learn about the norn, asura, charr, destroyers, etc. I felt Chapter 1 of Guild Wars 2 was very similar. Why were we dealing with the sylvari psycho and her newly created armies instead of all the problems of the core game that were left hanging? By Jormag’s Tooth!

I am glad that ArenaNet is using Glint. I am glad that ArenaNet is using the story of Caithe and Faolain and the Nightmare Court. Even though Mordremoth is a new threat, there is so much history. Even the utilization of Trahearne is a welcome sight. I am really liking his role now. (I like my role now too; although being called “boss” is getting kind of old). I hope ArenaNet continues this trend. Their lore base is so big it seems silly to press forward without utilizing parts of it.

It is short, but it is short and delicious like a perfect plate of nigiri. You can find American deep-fried 90% rice sushi rolls elsewhere.


2 thoughts on “[GW2] Seeds of Nightmare”

  1. Hmm. I’d have to see it again to be sure (always hard to take in the fine details on a first run through) but I really didn’t get much of the motivations you impart to Caithe and, while I thought the narrative was interesting, I found it somewhat incoherent, mostly in that final instance with the centaurs.

    Who was Wynne? Why did Faolain feel she had some right of control over her? Why does Caithe act like such a ditzy ditherer? If it’s from love of Faolain I must have missed that part. I know they are in love but the jump from loyal lover to active participant in mass murder is too big a stretch for me. Then again, I am willing to believe Caithe is another Sylvari sociopath like Faolain, Canach, Scarlet and all the rest of the wooden rogue’s gallery.

    I also think it just won’t wash to excuse the incredible paucity of progress in the narrative by dint of the supposed quality. Even if it IS high-quality for the genre (and I am not saying I agree that it is) it’s still around 10-15 minutes of material. That would be pretty thin gruel stretched over two weeks but presumably there will be a hiatus for Wintersday, meaning this episode is all the story we will get for about six weeks.

    It was also an extremely buggy update. There’s a thread on the forums about a bug in the Inquest section, where you can get stuck in Stealth, unable to interact or fight. It happened to me but I was lucky enough that it happened after combat had already begun, so I was able to sit for five minutes and watch Faolain clear the room, which moved things to the next stage and reset my stealth. More seriously there’s a major bug that renders guild banks unuseable. That’s affecting all four of our accounts and is a major pain.

    While I find the story interesting, although I played GW1 a fair bit I am not all that interested in re-hashing the past. ANet’s writers seem to have gone from one extreme (ignoring their pre-existing fanbase altogether) to the other (playing directly and unilaterally to that fanbase). Having had enough time now to see LS2 and having the leisure to think about it, I definitely preferred Season One. I gave that a B- when it ended; I’d be surprised if Season 2 scores that highly.

  2. Hated the centaur killing, and this issue sort of came to an abrupt halt when it was framed as four memories to relive, and the last one being behind the locked door. I wonder if it was pushed back only recently even the trailer showed the door cliffhanger. On the other hand the new jumping puzzle is immense, and have spent hours on it so far,.

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