Earlier this week the prologue to Living Story Season 5, Bound by Blood, hit the servers and many players are taking their first steps in the newest chapter in the unfolding Guild Wars 2 story. While the possibilities of what is next flourishes, it’s also an excellent time to continue our look back at the story which we’ve experienced thus far. We left off last time with the end of Act II of the Heart of Thorns story and the decision to look for Rata Novus in hopes there might be information about how to defeat Mordremoth. Act III comprises the chapters Roots of Terror, The Way In, Buried Insight, and Sign Cutting.
At the end of the previous installment, we left off having just discovered the existence of Rata Novus and discovered the trail of the prisoner caravan had gone cold. With this information in hand, our merry party decided to search for Rata Novus, much to Braham’s annoyance because he wanted to follow the prisoner caravan and go straight for Mordremoth. With all of this in mind, it’s a bit odd Act III starts with us chasing a prisoner caravan. It was almost as if the last conversation in the previous chapter had never existed. Topping off the disjointedness, when we decide to split the party into a Rata Novus group and a Prisoner Train group Braham insists on going with the Rata Novus group.
I wish there had been some explanation of why we’re following the prisoner train and not searching for Rata Novus, to begin with. There’s no indication of time passing in the story, i.e. no one exclaims “we’ve been searching for this city for weeks” or some such. The way everything progresses it feels as if Act II and Act III have very little or no time between them, so the shift felt weird. Add Braham’s sudden interest in the city to it, and this part of the story is off-putting. His reason for wanting to go to Rata Novus is there might be information there which will help with the fight against Mordremoth. Seems logical, except that’s the exact argument Tiami had made previously, and he scoffed at.
Once we split the party and decided to go back to trying to find Rata Novus one of the first tasks was finding chak enzymes for Tizlak so we could break our way into the tunnels which lead there. The finding of the enzymes was the most frustrating part of this act, it’s also the one part which took a substantial amount of time. The story guide said to kill chak to collect enzymes and bring it back to Tizlak; however most of the chak I killed didn’t seem to drop any. I quickly found a Nuhoch who had lost his warbler and asked me to recover it for him. In completing this task, I got two enzymes, and near where I needed to go to recover the lost warbler, I found another Nuhoch who I could fight to get two more enzymes. It’s likely I just had bad luck with having to kill tons of chak for the two remaining enzymes, but my drop rate was bad enough I was starting to wonder if there were specific chak I had to kill.
After returning to Tizlak, I was finally on my way to find Rata Novus, though there were a ton of chak on the road. Once we did find it, our quest seemed like it had been pointless because there wasn’t much there. That’s when Tiami had the bright idea to power up the systems in Rata Novus to see if we could gain access to the part of the city which was blocked off. This, of course, attracted more chak which needed to be dispatched. During this whole endeavor which would eventually lead us to the Dragon Lab, there was a lot of little character moments sprinkled in the dialogue and action.
One moment I had completely forgotten about is Braham almost had a giant pillar fall and squish him. Luckily Tiami, in Scruffy, was there to catch the pillar and save Braham. It’s a bit funny to me I forgot about this moment because it sets up a whole chain of character discussions about both Taimi and Scruffy’s role in the group. During this series of conversations, the Commander comments on how Scruffy is just as much a member of the group as everyone else. Taimi’s reaction seems as if she’s a bit bothered by the idea of Scruffy being a part of the group, which struck me as odd. However, if you choose to have an optional conversation with Taimi afterward, it turns out she felt like maybe the Commander thought Scruffy was the real member of the group and she was just the mascot. It’s an interesting short convo and set-up some of what comes after well.
On the way to discovering the dragon lab, our merry band runs into an area covered by chak which we not only need to get through, but there’s also a door to the section which is closed because it has lost power. Taimi comes up with the idea to use Scruffy to complete the connection which will destroy him. It’s always been interesting to me she suggested it this time when the last time Scruffy was killed, she freaked out. Of course, that time Taimi was being hunted down by Inquest, and she didn’t have a choice about what happened to Scruffy. Plus, that very well could have been the first time she was without him since she had built him. What gets me a bit is Scruffy paused before doing completing the circuit until Taimi told him she would be alright, which is a crucial moment. She didn’t tell him he’d be alright; she said she’d be alright. So, I guess Scruffy was sentient enough to be aware of the situation and to worry about Taimi.
After making our way through the chak infested pit, seriously, I have no idea what the Asura used this area for at all, we finally found the Dragon Lab! Wooooo! Except… there’s a lot less here than I remember. At this point I have to assume my memories of the dragon lab have been overwritten by what’s there during Season 3 because it is pretty dead and empty. The only “useful” thing we learn is all the elder dragons have a weakness, but we don’t know what those weaknesses are. So, on the one hand, we confirmed we could beat Mordremoth, but on the other we can’t use the same method we used against Zhaitan. I guess that was worth setting aside finding the prisoners for now even though we learned in Act II Mordremoth was going to make copies of them.
One last convo happens before we depart the dragon lab and Tiami decides she’s just going to stay there by herself when everyone leaves and is offended when we question this plan. She even asks if we would balk at Braham or Rytlock staying behind and for some reason the Commander says, “good point.” It isn’t a good point at all! Rytlock and Braham are both fighters who have their weapons, and we’d at least know they’d be able to defend themselves. Taimi however only fights while in Scruffy, and Scruffy was just destroyed. Just leaving her there seems like an odd choice. We did power up the city but powering it up seemed to draw more chak, so I’m not sure that helps at all. Plus, the city’s defenses weren’t friendly to us, though we did destroy a lot of the defenses… which isn’t an argument in Taimi’s favor because those defenses could have helped her too. Of course, tromping through the middle Mordremoth’s stronghold with Taimi in tow sans Scruffy probably would have been a questionable choice as well.
The last chapter of this act has us playing a game of Hot and Cold with a trail Rox left for us to follow. Since each act takes place in a different HoT map, it’s no surprise the trail leads us right into Dragon’s Reach. It’s tempting to say not much of consequence happens during Act III, however, this act mostly deals with character development and setting the stage for Season 3. As a result, this act despite not quite following linearly with the previous one is vital for the story which will come later.