While we’re sitting pretty in between preview weekends, I want to present the idea of creating a new starting zone in Guild Wars 2. This zone and personal story would take place in Elona and start at roughly the same time as the other starter zones in the world. I will look at the location, what the zone would be like, and the personal story that will ultimately tie back into the personal story that is already in the game.
It all begins when you decide to create a character. You’re given a choice of starting locations when you pick a Human. You can either start in Kryta, as Guild Wars 2 has you doing now, or you can begin in Elona. If you choose Elona you will be limited to only tanned skin colors as you are creating an Elonian. Your starting armor will also be more in line with local standards. For the sake of ease, there are no options for the personal story. There is only one story for all who start in Elona.
Much like Humans already do, you begin outside a city where there is an attack in progress. Only this time it is an attack from minions of Kralkatorik instead of Centaur. Again, much like the Human tutorial we already have, you are named a hero for saving the city.
Entering the World
After you wake up, you will go around the city, inside and out, completing hearts, protecting the city from invasion events, and cleaning up after the last attack. If you own Path of Fire and have already unlocked your mount, you will be able to use it right away. If you haven’t bought Path of Fire you can get a very basic raptor, with no attacks or long jumps, from a vendor. This incredibly basic mount costs you a few silver per hour to use and cannot be used outside of this zone. You continue doing this until you reach level 10, at which point you’re contacted by the council who wish to hold a feast in your honor.
Personal Story Chapter 1
The feast is the start of your personal story. While I’m not 100% sure on the details of this story, it will have you crossing the zone, going through the brand, and into the snowy mountains in the west. Along the way, you will face the dangers of the desert, the Branded, and the Risen. In the mountains, you’re injured and fall into a raging river. Unlike other personal stories, you can only enter the last instance once you have reached level 20.
Personal Story Chapter 2
The reason you have to be level 20 when you start the last instance of the personal story is that it jumps straight into Chapter 2. You wake up on the shores of a strange island, in the distance however…there is a ship. Running along the shore you find you’re actually approaching some sort of bazaar. Yes, you have washed up in the Labyrinthine Cliffs. But it is the off season and the only people here are bloody pirates. You’ll have to win them over to earn your way into the main land. Do this by completing hearts and story instances. At the end, you’re brought to Lion’s Arch.
Personal Story Chapter 3
While in Lion’s Arch, you find yourself pulled into a series of events that deal with three factions; The Vigil, The Order of Whispers, and The Durmand Priory. At the end of these events, you are invited to join the order of your choice. From here on, the personal story is standard.
Let’s rewind a little bit now and go back to this new starting zone since we still haven’t actually taken a good look at it. You begin in the lower right corner in the city. Please keep in mind that none of these places have names. That’s something for someone else to work out. This city is relatively new and sprang up around a fort. It is the home of those who were displaced by the brand’s creation. The only stone building is the fort. The rest of the structures are made of wood, reeds, and mud.
The Fort was originally built at a watering hole which thanks to engineering masters has managed to sustain the city and its people. Outside the city is a trade route that heads north and south. South takes you out of the zone into a Path of Fire zone. You have to be level 80 and own Path of Fire to gain access. To the north, you cross into mountains and find yourself right next to the city of Ebonhawke. Access to core Tyria is blocked for Elonian players until they have played through the personal story, however.
Most importantly, this zone can be accessed as part of the base game. You do not need Heart of Thorns or Path of Fire to play in this zone. This zone offers an opportunity for f2p players to get a small taste of what Path of Fire is like. Want more? Buy Path of Fire.
Beyond the city, you have your standard dangers, events, and hearts to complete. There is even a new world boss to add to the rotation. What you won’t see, however, is any of Balthazar’s new army, the Forged. Or if you do it is one small raiding party in a far corner of the map, a long distance from anyone who is on the path of the personal story.
Enemies you face include those you would see in the desert, the brand, and snowy zones. Based on the demo we can even say that there are friendly Ogres. This offers opportunities for more variety in the hearts. All of which are of course repeatable.
If we want to have a zone wide currency, which is a pretty popular choice for ArenaNet these days, we could go with Branded Crystals. They are being collected by an Asura (possibly a member of the Priory?) who will give you sweet rewards for them. Of course, the only way to get them is to kill Branded.
Anyway, this is only one possible route that ArenaNet could take to introduce an Elonian starting experience. I’m rather fond of it because it uses the Ebonhawke gate and brings back the Labyrinthine Cliffs, while also allowing ArenaNet to introduce base players to Path of Fire and hopefully get them hooked. Yes, it does have a lot of gaps, but I leave you and ArenaNet to fill them in.Related: ArenaNet, Column, Guild Wars 2, MMORPG, Path of Fire, The Tyrian Chronicle