Welcome back as I recap the story of Guild Wars 2 thus far. Last time we left off having found the legendary city of Rata Novus and learned all of the Elder Dragons have a weakness. Which is good to know, but there was no indication of what Mordremoth’s weakness was at all. We also found a trail left by Rox and were hot on her and Rytlock’s heels.
Before I get into the story in the last act of Heart of Thorns, I want to point out the fact I had forgotten entirely Act IV of HoT is only two chapters. The reason for this is each act took place in one of the new HoT zones, which was great. However, Dragon Stand is more heavily a meta map than any of the other maps in that you can’t even get into most of the zone unless the events have been progressing. As a result, having the story out in the map itself would have been problematic as it would have significantly slowed the player's ability to experience the story. So instead of a mix of an open-world and instanced story, we got two very long chapters that were all instanced.
Overall approaching the story, this way, was the right choice, especially for players who want to focus on experiencing the story. Needing to find an active map to be able to get through the story would have been terrible. However, the downside is players need to have a big chunk of time available for each chapter because if you leave before the end you have to start that chapter over next time. Also, the checkpointing system, especially in Hearts & Minds can be quite frustrating making deaths overly punishing.
But onto the story!
Right, when we meet up with Rox she informs us that they believe Logan and Zojja are being held near to where we are. So yay, sending them ahead was worth it, but then things get a bit odd. The Commander sends Kas to go in and confirm precisely where Logan and Zojja are so we can rescue them. I guess since she’s a Mesmer she can disguise herself pretty easily, but it just felt out of place to me. Of course, there’s also no one in the group who would have probably had a better chance of getting in unseen. Well, aside from Caithe, who I had forgotten was even present at all. Of course, the Commander wouldn’t send her in because after all the craziness with the egg and Sylvari turning on everyone we don’t trust Caithe enough for a mission like that.
When Kas returns, we find out Logan and Zojja are indeed there, and they are in pods. At this point it’s mentioned that Mordremoth might be wanting to make copies of them, which is odd because at no point did the Commander tell anyone about the vision we had when the egg was placed in Tarir. Of course, we can assume the conversation happened offscreen, but it would have been nice to see how everyone reacted to it. Nonetheless, we must split the party and whomever the Commander chooses to go to will be rescued first, and the other character will remain in the pod longer and will be comatose when they are taken out of the pod.
When I’ve played through the HoT story previously, I always saved Logan first, so this time I decided to get Zojja. Everything pretty much proceeds the same either way, but it was really interesting to me Zojja seemed to be fixated on Taimi and where she was. Granted, Taimi was not with our merry band at this point, but it was odd to me Zojja would be so focused on her. Taimi was Zojja’s apprentice, so they were undoubtedly close, but her concern seemed as if it was pointing towards more than that. I couldn’t help wondering if maybe while Zojja was a prisoner, she was seeing visions about bad things happening to Taimi and if maybe there’s more of a connection between the two. Like perhaps they are related in some way.
Shortly after finding both Logan and Zojja, Faolin shows up to taunt us about our fight against Mordremoth being futile, so of course, we give chase. During this chase Caithe pipes up about wanting to be able to fight and needing to help take down what remains of Faolin. This was kind of hilarious because until she said something, I had forgotten she was around at all. I thought she was still back hanging out with the egg. Eventually the Commander relents and lets Caithe join the fight but warns her not to do anything questionable.
All together we quickly kill Faolin, but then right when we are finally about to rescue Trahearne he’s pulled away into what appears to be a vortex of ley energy. Following him here takes us into the second instance, Hearts and Minds. After fighting our way through some Mordrem we finally make it to Trahearne, but he has been somehow physically attached to the vines in this area. Through talking with him we come up with the idea of using Trahearne to enter the dream and attack Mordremoth in his mind. Which, I’m sorry, seems totally crazy.
Of course, not everyone can go into the dream because since only our minds are going in, our bodies would be left unprotected in the material world. Right off the bat Rytlock and Marjory say they want to stay out in the material world, which is always hugely disappointing because those two are the two I would most want in there. So out of the remaining choices I chose Braham and Canach, which leaves Caithe outside to help Marjory and Rytlock. One of the cool things about the Hearts and Minds Mordremoth fight is who you fight changes depending on who you bring with you. Braham has a dark vision of Eir, Canach is a version of himself who fell to Mordremoth, and Caithe has you fight the Pale Tree.
Each fight has its unique mechanic, and once you figure it out the fights are relatively simple, but they take a long time. Especially, if like me, you’re running a build that’s on the lower end of DPS output. Further complicating this is there is no checkpoint after each fight, so if I died while I was fighting Mordremoth I’d have to start the whole think over again. During each fight, we get to have conversations with the various characters we’re fighting. Nothing overly important is said during these conversations; after all, they are illusions, but it was a cool touch during some long fights.
After returning from the dream, we have a second or two of being happy before Trahearne drops the bomb of “oh yea Mordremoth put a seed of himself inside me so you’ll have to kill me too.” At this point there’s a bit of a drawn-out discussion about if that is necessary, and I would have liked some option just to interrupt everything and kill him. Not because I hate Trahearne or anything, but the debate always feels pointless to me. There’s no reason to not trust Trahearne at this moment and delaying only helps Mordremoth. So being able to cut through it all and do it would have been nice.
After killing him with Caladbolg, there’s a cool cutscene where it looks like ley energy shoots out from the Jungle, and at least some of it goes to the egg we left in Tarir. At the time, we didn’t know what that would mean. There were a lot of theories, I know I was concerned the baby inside it might have been corrupted from the energy. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and we’d get to meet Aurene soon enough.
Initially, there were a lot of complaints about the end of the HoT storyline. One of the biggest complaints was the during the story there is one brief mention of the Pact moving into Dragon’s Stand. What is happening is while we are heading in to attack Mordremoth’s mind the Pact is attacking his body. The parallel between these two actions could have been made much clearer and would have made the end of the storyline feel that much more satisfying. The other complaint was unlike after killing Zhaitan there was no party after killing Mordremoth, which I honestly like. We killed Zhaitan largely unscathed, whereas killing Mordremoth came at the cost of Eir, Trahearne, and quite possibly Logan and Zojja. As a result, while I felt relief it was bittersweet, and I did not at all feel like partying.
So that’s all of the story through the end of HoT. Next time I’ll pick-up with the story which takes place in Season 3 of the Living Story.