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Flameseeker Chronicles: Lion's Arch unveiled

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

What a week this has been for Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 fans! ArenaNet has been doling out interviews right and left, we're expecting another class reveal soon, and the icing on the cake was a gorgeous flythrough video of Lion's Arch in Guild Wars 2.

There were some great blog entries from Matthew Medina and Ree Soesbee to go with the video, and while I loved reading those and was delighted to see the new map, there was a lot to be gleaned from the video. I loved the ambient sound, the NPCs, and the overall feel of the city, but there was much more beyond that. Follow along after the jump to see what else we can see from the video.

Lion's Arch is definitely not a human-only town, but there's a "resilience in the face of overwhelming odds"-feel to this city that I find familiar thanks to the humans of Tyria. It doesn't get much worse than a cataclysmic flood, a giant dragon, and hordes of undead wiping out a major city, but when the floodwaters finally receded years later, the citizens looked around at what was left and said, "All right -- what can we do with this?"

Every square inch of Lion's Arch speaks to that, and I love it. Look at the buildings created from broken ships, the bridges and walkways constructed out of salvaged wood (wood planks, I assume), and even the windows framed with parts of much smaller vessels. The stone towers appear to be built from the same stone you can see in the structures in present-day Lion's Arch, and the idea that those responsible for the rebuilding effort salvaged them from the ruins of the old buildings fits with the feel of the city overall. The Lion's Arch we see in the video might be relatively new, but it's got a strong sense of history and familiarity.

There's a lot of interest in Guild Wars 2 from people who don't necessarily play Guild Wars (which is great, but seriously, you guys are missing out!), so you may not know the full significance of this video. Lion's Arch has a massive presence in Guild Wars: Prophecies. It's where Prophecies characters pick up the missions to travel to the other two campaigns, it's where all the cool parties are during annual festival events, and more recently, it's become the central location for the progression of the War in Kryta events. All players have to go through Lion's Arch when traveling to and from Tyria, and the smart ones will stop to look around at some point or another. Lion's Arch is a gorgeous city in its own right: a sprawling coastal town with a combination of natural beauty, commerce, and decorative structures such as the central plaza complete with large fountain.

Because of this, fans of Guild Wars 1 have a heavy interest in seeing what Lion's Arch is going to become. How has the city we know changed? How has it recovered from the events that destroyed it? Is it bigger, better? How far have the citizens gone with the recovery?

The design of the city tells us a lot by the materials used, but there's much more to it. I've noticed that the artists really favor high, soaring walkways and arches to convey a sense of size, and that trend continues in the new Lion's Arch. By all appearances, your character will be able to explore both up as well as out, so it's nice to get a look at the scope of the city both up and out.

The city has been recovered from a huge disaster, and while the structures indicate that, you can also see clearly that those responsible for the rebuilding didn't want to stop at a simply utilitarian city. This hub of travel and commerce for the five playable races has its share of beauty too -- you can see it in flowering plants, decorative statues, and more.

We got some great information about the rebuilt Lion's Arch from the blog entries, and I'm sure we'll hear much more as time goes by, but for the time being the flythrough video told a tale as fascinating as anything we saw in text.


My PvP experiment is continuing -- I certainly got a better feel for Jade Quarry thanks to sheer hardheadedness and repetition. Unfortunately, I'm running pretty consistently into one of the biggest reasons I dislike PvP: I'm lonely!

I've mentioned many times before that I'm a highly social player, and the style of PvP that I've been experiencing up until now is the polar opposite of everything I love about playing MMOs. In both Random Arenas and Jade Quarry, you form a completely random group of strangers that disbands the moment the event is over. You can get around that by syncing with friends, but since that feels a little cheat-y, I've avoided it.

Trash talk was a bit of a concern, but there's been none. It's a bit of a mixed blessing because while nobody is calling me horrible names, it's because nobody is saying anything at all. I may as well be playing with a lot of heroes with some seriously good AI. I want to continue this project until I leave for E3 at the beginning of June, so it's definitely time to move forward. This week's project is GvG -- I'm in an alliance that is almost exclusively PvE-focused, but they're a great bunch, so I'll be asking around to see whether anyone's up for some beginning GvG training.

Hopefully an organized group of people I know and like will alleviate the current problem: feeling so isolated that the entire thing feels like a chore. The next week will tell, so wish me luck and I'll see you next week!

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at

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