It’s time to continue taking a look back at the story ArenaNet has been telling for the last ten years in both books and Guild Wars 2 itself. In part 3 we covered the beginning of the Heart of Thorns storyline through to the end of ACT I. For this installment I’ll cover Act II of the HoT storyline. As always, if you haven’t played through the story of GW2 and read the books there will be spoilers.
I have to admit feeling a bit of narrative whiplash going from “Prisoners of the Dragon” to “Prized Possessions.” From the beginning of the HoT storyline we were focused on finding Destiny’s Edge, and right after finding Eir she was killed, and then we immediately go “oh hey egg.” I don’t remember feeling as if it was so abrupt the first time, I played through the story, but it stood out to me this time around. I’m also retroactively sad about Braham taking care of Eir’s body off-camera. I understand for many reasons the story had to keep moving forward; we were in the middle of Mordremoth’s home after all. Just a bit more transition would have been nice though.
Prized Possessions takes us to my favorite zone, Auric Basin. Shortly after arriving we met an Exalted name Ruka who tells us they were once mortals who the Forgotten chose and changed into their current forms so they could protect Glint’s legacy. What was interesting in the first meeting with the Exalted is how much they seemed to resemble the Mursaat who were a bit of a problem in the original Guild Wars. However, the Exalted quickly showed themselves to be no friend of the dragons and after helping us recover the egg from Caithe, who dropped it when Vinetooth Faolain showed up, provided us a safe place to leave the egg.
After reaching the egg chamber in Tarir, the Commander then has to prove themselves in three different trials: Trial of Strength, Trial of Wit, and Trial of Leadership. Leadership is my favorite trial. The Commander is transformed into a bunny with limited skills, and then they have to go around and revive fallen allies and lead them through. This trial is an actual test of patience and picking when is the right moment and place to fight and is the most closely aligned with what the goal of the trial is. These trials are designed to make sure whomever the egg chose as its champion had the qualities needed for the struggles ahead.
After completing these trials, the Commander gains access to the egg room and can place it on a convenient holder. Once this is done, we get a compelling vision of the current state of Zojaa, Logan, and Trahearne. This vision is horrific, and it’s clear they are all in a fair amount of pain and turmoil, but it’s also where we found out the plan to make mordrem copies of them. Though one interesting thing I noticed this time around is Zojaa is just shown getting into a pod. It’s only Logan and Treahern who get copied, and more emphasis was placed on Treahern rather than Logan. I can’t help but wonder if since Treahern is a Sylvari is it more accessible for Mordremoth to copy him? I’d have to assume the Logan copies would also be plant versions of him, so maybe there’s something there which makes it easier to copy a Slyvari. Or perhaps Treahern is just that special.
After leaving Tarir we quickly discover the hologram trail Taimi left to lead the way to where everyone went while the Commander was busy with “stuff.” These recordings were the first iteration of the communicator we have regularly used in more recent storylines. I had forgotten about this part of the storyline entirely, and it was nice to revisit Taimi’s first attempts at recording messages. Although it wasn’t strictly required for the story, it was a pleasant fun side excursion before returning to the pressing matters at hand. In particular the message where Taimi spends the entire time trying to confirm Scruffy is recording and as a result give no useful information whatsoever. I almost feel like someone was thinking of their parents trying to use a camcorder when they were a kid.
Of course, after catching up with the group, it turns out Taimi has wandered off, and no one is quite sure where she went. They lost Taimi in the middle of the Jungle! Thankfully she’s quickly found, and the reason she wandered off is because she found some technology which turns out to power a map of ley energy concentrations. This map is one of the first times we see not only the dragons represented as extensive collections of ley energy, but it also is the first tangible indication we have of Mordremoth being stronger than Zhaitan. At this point we had no explanation of why he was stronger just that he was stronger.
Additionally, there’s another large concentration of ley energy which turns out to be the lost city of Rata Novus. This city is something of an Asuran legend, and most don’t believe it ever existed. So, the revelation this city exists and the Exalted and Asurans had allied together against the dragons was quite the revelation. After much discussion with our group, Braham rejoins at this point; it is decided our next objective is to find Rata Novus. This makes sense as we don’t have any direct lead on finding Logan, Zojaa, and Trahearne and finding more potential allies seems like a good idea. Plus, if the Asurans there had been studying the dragons they might have knowledge which would be useful.
There is one aspect of this choice, which particularly bothers me, though. At no point does the Commander mention the vision and the awareness of knowing that if we don’t find our friends soon, we’ll be fighting an army of them. Sure, talking about visions would probably be a bit weird, even in a magic infused place like Tyria, but this information seems incredibly pertinent and surely would have made finding the prisoners a much higher priority. Considering we had no real leads at this point it probably does make sense Rata Novus was the next target, but not even having the conversation about what was happening to the others felt odd.
With the decision to push onto finding Rata Novus made, Act II of the HoT storyline ends. The threat of what will happen if we don’t find the missing people looms large, but the potential help we can find in Rata Novus takes precedence. On to Tangled Depths!