Living Story: Gathering Storm part 2

Yesterday I started discussing the changes to the Living Story by going over the additions to Hoelbrak, the Black Citadel, and Lion's Arch. Today I would like to finish by looking at the achievements you can complete, the new content in Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau, and provide you with my thoughts and speculations on the Living Story so far. There is a lot of stuff to go over so I will get right to it.



Achievements


The first thing to know is that most of the content from the February patch is still available. If you haven't finished your volunteer title you can still head out into Diessa and Wayfarer and help the stream of refugees heading through the zones. There is a lot to do which you can find more details about in my article reviewing the February content


The new content introduced with the latest patch runs in conjunction with the old giving players plenty of time to finish their achievements. There are two new achievements for players to complete this month. The first is titled "The Gathering Storm" and has players defeating Invaders. Dredge and Flame Legion are attacking various targets in the Norn and Charr lands. You will need to kill 150 of them to complete this achievement. In the map below I have marked the location of some of the events where you can find the Invaders. They are marked with a circled flag or a circled gear.


The second achievement is called "Lost and Found" and has players locating trinkets lost by the refugees. The refugees missing the trinkets can be found in Lion's Arch (see yesterday's post). Currently there are two trinkets to locate; Kirk's Goblet in Wayfarer and Malia's Toy Soldier in Diessa. They will spawn at a random location in the zone and you will need to track them down (Dulfy has a map marking some of the possible spawn locations). They can be tricky to find and I wish the NPCs gave in game hints to help you find the specific location. What you are looking for is a sparkling object on the ground (see images below). If you hold CTRL down, as you are exploring, the name will pop up above the object, if it is nearby. Don't give up! If you can not find it right away don't be afraid to ask if anyone has seen it in map chat. 

Once you have found the missing trinkets return them to their respective owners in Lion's Arch. You will be thanked for your efforts and learn what the character plans for the future. Here is Malia's response,

I love this little story. She didn't get to visit Tixx during Wintersday so her now legionnaire made her a replica. Sadly, this legionnaire is now MIA. Touching story and I am glad I could help out. And here is Kirk's response,

Good thing we returned Kirk his mug. Sounds like he will have a tough future and will need a stiff drink every once in a while. Once you have helped Kirk and Malia keep your eyes on Lion's Arch for new refugees needing assistance. Presumably, at least four more refugees will be added over the coming weeks. When they do show up I will let you know here.


Diessa Plateau


Most of the new content in Diessa Plateau is located in the Northeastern parts of the zone near Butcher's Block. The Invaders are swarming into Diessa through Flame Legion portals and Dredge personnel carriers (circles with gears on the map above). These events were not easy on my poorly geared level 60 Mesmer. The Invaders respawn quickly and you can not damage the portal or personnel carrier until you defeat the spawned mobs. Keep at it and call out for help. There are lots of people looking for Invaders to kill in order to finish their achievements.


But, wait there is more. There is also a Charr ranch that will occasionally be taken over which will require liberating (circle with a flag on the map above). I liked seeing this event added to the game because you actually get to see some of the devastation caused by the invasion. It helps me stay immersed in the content.


The last thing of note in Diessa were Flame Legion troops within the Dredge camp at the Burrows of Moledavia. I also checked Flame Legion bases in the area but did not find any Dredge. This seems to be telling of who has the pants in this relationship. I had already finished my "kill invaders" achievement when I found this so I was unable to discover if these guys were included for the kill count (Bhagpuss confirms in the comments they do not count). If they are they would be easy targets to get you closer to your 150 invader kills.

Zola Swiftstep, who I talked about in a blog post on Monday, is still waiting for the Flame Legion attack and seems completely unaware that the Invaders are already here. Maybe this is an oversight by Arena Net or maybe she is keeping tabs on a different Flame Legion base. I hope we see her involvement in events shortly. There are also steam vents north of the Burrow of Moledavia, which haven't changed since I highlighted them in a blog post a couple weeks ago.


Wayfarer Foothills


The changes in Wayfarer Foothills are in many ways symmetrical to those in Diessa Plateau. Often when I find a change in one zone I make note of it and expect to find a reciprocal changes in the opposite zone. For example, you can fend off the invaders portals and personnel carriers here in Wayfarer as well.

There is also a Norn homestead that needs defending. Again adding to the realism of the refugees situation although I would have like to see more homesteads attacked to explain to quantity of homeless seen in Hoelbrak, the Black Citadel and Lion's Arch. One homestead is better than none though.


The final thing to note in Wayfarer is that the Merchant Bodyguard has disappeared. He used to be standing in the tent show below. I talked about him and the dead merchant a couple weeks ago in a blog post. Check it out for more details on this story. The dead merchant is still in the same place and nothing has changed so you can check that out in game (marked on the map above).

I looked around a little more and could not find any other changes. As always, if I have missed something let me know in the comments.


The Castle


The last thing to mention is the castle which as popped up on the Steaming Mountain. This is probably the single largest and most obvious change this patch so I felt it deserved it's own section. I have taken a number of screen shots of the castle and noticed a couple interesting things about it but there are still a lot of questions. As you can see in the image below the fort is actually quite extensive reaching up the mountain.

The gates to the castle are formidable and there is a large invisible wall keep players well back from it (presumably to prevent people from glitching through and seeing what is on the other side).

I have tried to get various angles on the castle to see if I can peer inside. My first attempt revealed a second gate beyond the first.

Looking from another angle I spotted wolf totems within the walls. What are wolf totems doing inside this castle? I originally thought this castle would have been built by the invaders. Perhaps that assumption is wrong.

If you head over to Diessa Plateau you can get a view from another angle. Although you can not see the wolf totems you can see something else of note.


To me that looks like a crest with a wolf on it. So did the Norn build this castle? Do they still control it? There isn't much in game that helps us answer these questions, yet. I could speculate all day about what this could be. I hope to get some facts soon.


Conclusions


Overall, a lot of my concerns about the Living Story have gone away. I criticized the Living Story last week for attempting to tell a story of a scale they were not showing in game. Things have changed in a big way and I am glad to see Invaders and destroyed homes in the world. It adds to the authenticity of the story and helps me stay immersed. I would still like to see some more damage in the world to reflect the scale of the events described by the NPCs.

The only criticism I will level at the new content is towards the "Lost and Found" achievement. I did not like having to wander aimlessly around. I would have much preferred to have been given a hint to it's approximate location instead of just being told which zone it was in. Perhaps, a dialog option on the refugees to ask them where they last saw their prized possession. A minor detail I am sure Arena Net will polish out in the future.

As for the quantity of content I find it hard to judge at this point. Arena Net has stated that we are still within the teaser content and that the story won't really pick up until the end of March. Until we start getting that content I do not see how I can pass judgement. I hope Arena Net will be able to deliver the quantity of content that players are looking for on a weekly basis. If it ends up being as much content as we got this patch every week I believe most people will be very happy. I know I would be.

Personally, I am really enjoying learning about all the characters. The situation with the Grawl is interesting. They seem to be treated like third class citizens and they are not very happy about it. They also do not seem to trust the Consortium. I expect something to become of this and I hope players get to choose sides. Do you help the disadvantage Grawl? Or the powerful consortium? This would really give players a chance to build their character.

Some in my guild suspect that the Consortium or some other agency is acting as a puppet master getting the Dredge and Flame Legion to do their bidding. I am not so sure. I do not think the story will be that complicated. I think it is more likely that the Consortium is merely taking advantage of this situation for PR purposes. I think the Flame Legion is the main force behind this and in return for their services the Dredge have been promised something in return. The first bit of evidence for this are the Flame Legion troops I discovered in the Burrows of Moledavia. This suggests that they are in charge since there are no Dredge troops in the Flame Legion bases. Secondly, the Dredge have most likely not given up their recently earned freedom to the Flame Legion. I think it makes more sense for the Flame Legion to be paying the Dredge for their services. All pure speculation but I do think my reasoning has merits.

As always let me know if I missed anything. I would also love to hear your theories about future events. Also, let me know what you think is the most interesting story covered so far. Thanks for reading my review of the Gathering Storm Living Story content and be sure to check back in the coming weeks for my updates as new content is released.

11 comments:

  1. You might remember my guesses for the Living Story from one of your older blogs and I am a little disappointed that the situation was so.. blunt. No twists, no red herrings. They said it was the Dredge and Flame Legion and it was.

    But oh well, I will live with it. There seems to be less and less clues and hints to do with plot twists in GW2 compared to GW1.

    Anyway, I came here to check what your opinion was on The Gathering Storm after I had made up my mind on where I stand on it. It's interesting to me that your guild mate is suspicious of the Consortium, as am I, and the comments on your last blog post also touch on something big that seems so little.

    As we saw in the Karka calamity, the Consortium are out to make money and look good doing it. They're the shady bunch who cut corners at the cost of the consumer. They discovered a new island and decided to send tourists there before fully checking for safety - and in doing so, disturbed an ancient force that could have destroyed Lion's Arch.

    And now, after a bunch of heroes have fought back the threat, the Consortium are looking to build homes there for the refugees. To the general populace, they will look like heroes. OH WOW, THOSE GUYS SAVED ALL THE REFUGEES. But think about this move. While to the average Joe, Southsun Cove sounds like an amazing holiday spot, if you go there nowadays it is overrun with Karka. The tourists are too afraid to venture from the docks and barely any heroes [players] are there to save the day. It's pure wildlands. But it's ok, right, 'cause no one who goes there ever comes back to complain.

    So the plan is suspicious from the start, but we also hear from the Grawl that they aren't as trustworthy as they seem on the surface. The Consortium are only helping the "higher races" and ignoring the "lower races" - could this be because there is no profit to be made from Grawl? But it isn't just that..

    The Grawl are clearly more instinctual than we. They are more down to nature.. More animal. They will more easily pick up on lies, and these guys do not trust the rations being given out by the Consortium. Is it poisoned? Drugged? Low quality horrible karka meat? We don't know just yet, but it's interesting to note the line "Their smiles don't reach their eyes". It's essentially common knowledge nowadays that when a smile is genuine, the person's eyes usually change slightly to go with the smile. The eyes seem happy. It's a microexpression that's hard to pick up on. When someone is forcing a fake smile, their eyes do not smile too. It's easy to see that it's fake because the happiness doesn't properly show - And the Grawl see this. They know this is fake courtesy but because they are a lower race, this will be passed off as stupidity and naivety.

    Not to mention that the "helpful guards" of the refugee camp are just downright rude.

    Obviously, we shall see as the story progresses to what extent the Consortium are conspiring - how sinister their plans truly are. It is highly possible that these guys are the brains that made the Dredge and Gold Legion team up to begin with - or they could just be trying to take advantage of a naturally produced cooperation for financial gain.

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  2. I really hope there is as much going on as JayR describes. That's a very good reading of the Grawl which hadn't occurred to me.

    It must be quite likely that the original plans for follow-ups to the Karka invasion would have revolved around The Consortium. Supposedly ANet had to do some re-thinking after that event didn't go down as well as they'd hoped but no doubt they would have tried to keep as much of any work they'd done as possible.

    The Consortium might well be the guiding hand behind the Dredge/Flame Legion Alliance. Tyria is steeped in conspiracy, spycraft and secret societies after all. I just hope there are plenty of twists and turns and it doesn't all just go along the obvious path.

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  3. Its funny because I thought the same thing as you JayR. I thought there would be plot twists and all that. Now I am thinking along more straight forward lines. Sure the consortium could be behind everything, but I think it a much more simple theory that they are simply trying to make themselves look good. The only thing that makes me think otherwise are the dead merchants in Wayfarer Hills. If these aren't Consortium merchants then we are seeing another avenue under which the consortium are getting benefits from this attack.

    I think it much more likely that the Flame Legion are behind this. As I pointed out there are Flame Legion commanders amongst the Dredge which seems to imply them being in charge. So, then we have to ask, what do the Flame Legion want? More territory? Control of the Charr? Glory? The old Flame Temple in Diessa?

    As for the Grawl, I am not too sure. As Bhagpuss pointed out in the previous comment section, they could just be crazy and uneducated or tripping on some bad mushrooms. I also had the same thoughts about them being more animistic through their shaman ways. I thought similarly about the line "there smiles do not reach their eyes." It is just hard to trust the grawl. And I do not think it is a matter of a consortium not offering them food, i think it is more a matter of the grawl not taking the food and help as they were their first. Maybe the grawl are just petty and the reason the consortium's smiles do not reach their eyes, is because they do not understand why beggers are being choosers. Who knows.

    And, what the hell is that castle. That thing bugs me. No idea what is up with that.

    That is my take on the situation.

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    1. I had the opportunity do a bit more research on this and I can confirm that killing the Flame Legion in Moledavia does *not* update The Gathering Storm.

      There are very few Flame Legion there but it's interesting that a couple are called "Flame Legion Superior". As far as I can tell that isn't a routine FL rank and I can find no reference to it elsewhere in the game. It would therefore imply that these particular Flame Legion individuals are in charge of the Dredge in Moledavia.

      If that was the case, however, you might think they'd fight on the same side. When I pulled one to see if he updated the Gathering Storm kill count I noticed halfway through the fight that the nearby Dredge was shooting the Flame Legion charr not me. Now that sort of thing often happens when mobs get caught in another mob's AE. Neutral animals do it all the time but it doesn't usually happen between mobs that are factionally allied.

      So I tested it. I ran past a Flame Legion Superior without attacking or doing any damage and when he chased me past a Dredge I cast Veil and vanished. I reappeared out of agro range and watched as the Veteran Dredge made short work of the Flame Legion Superior. Proximity agro, meaning they are different factions.

      Now that could just be an oversight by whoever created them but I note that all the Flame Legion in Moledavia are stationary and placed in positions where no wandering Dredge pass within agro range. Perhaps the relationship has certain...tensions?

      As for the new castle, I went and had a look at that too. You can see it from both Wayfarer's and Diessa, which is impressive. It looks amazing but you have to wonder

      a) How was it built overnight?
      b) Why has no-one official noticed or reported it.

      It's right next to both a Char and Norn outpost on each side of the pass and there are even Lionguard stationed in plain sight of it!

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    2. To answer your question as to why no one has reported the castle.. Well all I can say is that when I ran up there to see the updates, there were already loads of players standing around at the homstead that gets invaded. I ran a little ways North to discover the gate and told everyone in map chat at which point everyone spazzed out.

      I guess people just aren't exploring? They want the content and they want it now.

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    3. I actually meant NPCs reporting it to their NPC authorities in-game but come to think of it you are right too. The Egg Baron's is the only mention I've seen of it so far and I haven't heard anyone mention it in-game. I bet ANet wonder why they bother sometimes.

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    4. I'll have another update shortly, but it seems Rytlock is no longer in the Black Citadel. I haven't tracked down where he is at now but his aide says he has headed to Lion's Arch.

      Last I check the Whitebears and Eir were still in Hoelbrak and had nothing to say on the subject.

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    5. NM Rytlock moving to Lion's Arch is personal story related, haven't found any changes to the world today, maybe tomorrow since the patch was on tuesday this month

      Back to what you were saying though Bhagpuss. It is interesting that the flame legion and dredge agro on each other. Hard to read into that though as like you say it could be an oversight. It seems to me most mobs of different categories (Flame Legion, Animals, Orges, etc everything that counts for kill variety daily) seem to be able to damage each other. Perhaps they haven't got around to making a new group for the dredge and flame legion alliance.

      As for the castle, I have been jumping around it trying to get inside or another view for a while. No luck, although I did find a hole in the map in Diessa Plateau. If you head north to moledavia just past the heart on the western most edge of the map the "skirt" of the mountain is missing and you can get behind the face and see behind. It is before you get to the western most tunnel of Moledavia. You can't get very far, as there is an invisible wall, but I was thinking... this couldn't have been there since launch. It must have been created when they edited the map to add in the castle. So, that raises the question, what WAS here OR what WILL be there... Why did they play around with that chunk of the wall? I'm thinking this will be an entrance to a cave...

      As to your questions Bhagpuss, I also wondered these things. Like it took the Norn the entire month to build the three little shacks south of Dolyak Pass WP yet this castle appears over night? This breaks the immersion for me because I have to immediately start thinking about how Arena Net would have actually got that castle into the world compared with the couple of shacks. The shacks they already had the models for, where as the castle they had to build from scratch. Putting it in piece by piece would have been a lot of work for them and was probably seen as not worth it. Whether this will be covered up with story, idk.

      Which brings me to your second question ... why hasn't an NPC mentioned it. I really hope they don't play the "it was there all along" story. That would be extremely disappointing. If they were really clever they might say that it came out of the mists or its a relic of a the war in Ascalon. But then, why Norn architecture? Also, its not on the map yet like the bridge in Lion's Arch near the lighthouse.

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  4. Came over here from Bhagpuss's site, this place looks awesome.

    Anyways, I'm killing these Flame Legion Invaders and.....their armor seems off. I don't remember ever seeing Flame Legion in those outfits. Their armor very closely resemble the spiky armor that the Blood Legion wears. I simply do not remember the Flame Legion soldiers ever wearing gear like that. Am I just crazy?

    -Ursan

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    1. I will have to check that out. I have noticed some of the Flame Legion in Dredge like outfits.

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    2. Your right the armor on the flame legions guys in the events is different then the armor on the flame legions guys else where. Whether this indicates they are not flame legion or they just got better gear idk. Good call Ursan.

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