The Far North
The last Guild Wars expansion we saw before ArenaNet went quiet and turned their attentions to Guild Wars 2 was Guild Wars: Eye of the North, cleverly abbreviated to GW:EN. This was a thank you to fans, something to keep us busy in the years of waiting to come. In hindsight the first signs of GW2 are there in more than just the story: there are lots of mini-games which replace your skill bar, and dungeons with reward chests. Eye of the North also brought the return of Gwen, the little girl who was a symbol of Ascalon’s innocence, lost forever in the Searing and leaving only her broken flute as a poignant reminder in the wasteland. She returned as a woman grown, but damaged, angry and hardened by her experiences, a symbol of the branch of humanity that would go on to found Ebonhawke and hold out against all the world could throw at them. Gwen is an ancestress of the GW2 humans’ own hero, Logan Thackery.
While the Wayfarer’s Reverie quests on other continents had me looking back at the world I remember, travelling the Far North had me looking forward. Here we first encountered the norn, mysterious and solemn yet bold and boisterous when you got to know them. Here the asura, new to the surface and already acting like they owned it, calling us ‘bookah’ (and you just know it’s an insult even before they explain). The charr got a voice for the first time here, with Pyre Fierceshot revealing the conflicts, motivations and ideals bubbling away beneath our assumptions of savagery. And most ominously, here be dragons. Primordus’s stirrings herald things to come, and features of the landscape hint at what sleeps beneath – the beast in Drakkar Lake and the spiny ridge in the charr homeland were less subtle than when I last visited, more pronounced.
The sites chosen for this quest were less nostalgic and more foreshadowing. Remember these things, it seems to say; they will be important later. Come back to these places, and see what has become of them in the intervening centuries. I’ll be able to start that journey in less than a week, building naturally on this one, moving forward with the future of Tyria.
That last screenshot is an appropriate one for me to end on, I think. My first character in Guild Wars 2 will be a sylvari, and pictured above is the Pale Tree, the future mother of the race. This weekend I will return to this very spot, transformed in the Grove, and walk beneath this tree, and wonder at Tyria in all its glory. I have truly enjoyed this last nostalgic trip around the Tyria that was, and now with a slight, pleasant sadness I turn to the Tyria that will be.