This morning I had my coffee while doing my daily. As usual, I do my last 1-2 daily achievements in World vs. World. The exit portal from that eternal battle heads in to Lion’s Arch, where I usually log off now. It’s just a nice place to be. A place with history.
When I logged on – in Lion’s Arch – I had an NPC on a broomstick floating by. Other days I see Suriel the Blazing Light jogging through the city to train for her next fight. The city feels alive, but more important than activity, the city feels personable.
I know friends who have bought the gem store broomstick so when Mr. Broomstick goes floating by the pot stirs with a plethora of those memories. I have fought Suriel, and her presence brings up memories of the Queen’s Gauntlet and that whole celebration. There are memories and secrets tucked in to every corner of the city. Bhagpuss covers secrets quite well.
I think ArenaNet hit the perfect MMO city for those two reasons – memories and secrets, that is. Any MMO developer can create a fantastic city of activity and architecture. ArenaNet themselves created five more. Yet, unless there is a connection to be there, all the superficial beauty in the world is wasted.
Holographic Rata Sum
Take for example, Rata Sum. This is the beautifully designed city of the asura. There are geodesic monuments floating around while golem servants wander about during the day. Bits of nature organically pushing their way in to the world of mathemagic. There are discussions on science and reality and mini-issues with the Inquest and golem uprisings. And, for all that, if there was an activity heat map it would be centered around the basement where bankers, trading post, and crafters are within a stone’s throw of one another.
Even with my asura characters, I don’t feel a connection to the city. I guess I have an alma mater with my chosen college. I guess I have a home. Yet, it feels superficial. I have no memories of gameplay, Living World, or the future tied to Rata Sum. It’s just a place to do business. (Plus it has a gaping hole that makes me sab… I mean sad, but we won’t go there.)
My recent place of business used to be the airship from which I can freely warp to from anywhere. It was a snug, mostly hollow place with all the crafting stations and merchants I would need stacked together. It was an airship, which was pretty cool, but that was about it. No memories, no secrets. I have since decided even with longer jaunts between bank and trading post, I much prefer the depth that Lion’s Arch provides.
My Memories Coalesced
In Lion’s Arch, I’ve had dealings with Evon Gnashblade throughout the Living World updates. I can go find “three” of him in the city. I voted against Ellen Kiel so I am sure to spit in the captain’s Crow’s Nest Tavern when I walk by. There’s bits of Scarlet as well. The karka were a pretty big deal, and seem to still have possible hooks in the Guild Wars 2 story future.
Of course, there’s a lot of memories of Lion’s Arch actual. The old one, naturally. ‘Wasn’t this the place that used to…’, I would start thinking. It’s very meta, but that’s fair game I feel for game designers to make that connection. I like stopping for a moment and reflecting on what used to be where. A walk down memory lane. I’ve stopped multiple times under the big Grand Piazza dome wondering where the Lion Statue went.
I wish there was more Season 2 as well in Lion’s Arch. Why aren’t there Zephyrite and Pact refugees? I don’t want a constantly updated Lion’s Arch where Zephyrites make a hovel until they rise again and then the Maguuma frogs come in. I’ve already talked about how messy it gets when parts of the map become “current”. I want a permanent token of that memory, like a Zephyrite sand merchant, or a Pact fleet survivor who has defected forever after facing the Vinewrath.
Brain of Thorns
I hope ArenaNet takes this ideal to heart going forward. I hope they keep linking memories forward and backward. They already have a great memory device in the form of fallen airships. We already met Laranthir in one outpost after he fell from the sky. Eir and friends were in another. The Zintl, who have a slight story in main Tyria, are in another outpost. What else is out there from our past? I hope something reminiscent of Scarlet.
What would be awesome if as the Heart of Thorns maps progressed if the stories told in one map directly relate to the stories in another map. The Nuhoch helped defeat the Zintl in Verdant Brink. Perhaps in another map the Zintl enact revenge. They might even call me out as the wyvern slayer, or some such. The more mnemonic links the better!
One thing I am nervous about is the possibility of a new city in Heart of Thorns. I am not sure ArenaNet has mentioned it either way, but conventional MMO practice tells us that a new city is a pretty common expansion occurrence. I will say that the fact that they just sunk so many resources in to Lion’s Arch is a good indicator that there won’t be one, at least not the normal Guild Wars 2 city size. Perhaps the guild halls will replace that common occurrence. I’d also rather they keep focusing on Lion’s Arch personally.
The racial cities are good enough for what they stand for. Lion’s Arch, though, is amazing, and I hope it continues to grow with my Guild Wars 2 memories.