Guild Wars 2 — The Catacombs!

“I did not like doing that dungeon.  It made me sad.”

Those were my quaggan-like words to Colin at dinner last night.  Any hardcore Guild Wars fan is going to have his or her heartstrings yanked by this dungeon in a big way.  It begins with a (gorgeous) cinematic featuring Rytlock, who gives a charr’s-eye view of the history of Ascalon, then explains why we’re heading in.  In short, Eir has gone haring off into the Catacombs and is stirring up the vengeful citizens of Ascalon.  Rytlock doesn’t want to see anyone killed, so we need to go down there and haul her out. Want to see it firsthand?  I’ve got an HD video of the thing.  Go take a look, I’ll wait.

Cool, huh?  It may begin with a rescue-slash-intervention, but it wound up as an attempt to retrieve Magdaer, Adelbern’s legendary sword.  In our travels we fought a slew of ghosts, many of whom made me laugh out loud because they are true Guild Wars 1 characters.  There was a monk slinging Ray of Judgement — and I can’t really complain, I guess we sort of deserve that for the way we are currently abusing that skill.  I can confirm that there are mesmers in Guild Wars 2.  Unfortunately they’re not playable because they are dead mesmers in ghost form nailing me with Blackout.  Still.  Mesmers.

The catacombs were beautiful in the way that the current pre-Searing version is beautiful.  Grand and soaring in a sort of decaying way.  I had the same problem I did underwater earlier, in that I was so anxious to inspect every nook and cranny of the environment that I sort of got my butt kicked a lot.  The “end bosses” of this dungeon were a little heartbreaking for those who love the Guild Wars 1 lore and characters: Master Ranger Nente, Kasha Blackblood, the lovers Ralena Stormbringer and Vassar, and finally King Adelbern.  At one point in a quick cinematic Eir expressed a desire to let them just rest in peace, a suggestion that Rytlock quickly overruled.  The exchange brought a little lump to my throat, as did the later cinematics of each of the familiar enemies.

The mechanics of combat here were really interesting to me, because they emphasized two things: First, how incredibly important coordination and positioning are.  There was a lot of disorganized flailing at the start as each team member focused on his or her own combat, but as we progressed I began to notice increased organization.  The more we worked together the more smoothly it went.

Second, this was a perfect example of how versatile each class will be, and it really brought home for me what an amazing thing ArenaNet has done with their elimination of the traditional holy trinity.  This dungeon was extremely difficult.  Before we started coordinating we were dying left and right.

Here’s the thing, though. Our group of five people had four elementalists and a melee character.  Think about that for a second.  No healer. No tank. No minion master.  No Discordway, for heaven’s sake.  (I’m not knocking Discordway, don’t get me wrong.  I sort of love it.  But still.)  We kicked that dungeon’s butt thanks to the sheer versatility of the class setup.  The elementalist attunement shift has a fairly painless cooldown, allowing us to switch to a healing water focus now and again as needed, for example.

This first runthrough was in story mode.  Explorable mode, the mode that allows you to enter a dungeon repeatedly for a much tougher challenge, is one that will require some serious coordination and experience.  I look forward to taking that one soon.

For now, how about more video and screenshots?  I’ve got an eight-minute HD video of Catacombs action courtesy of ArenaNet, and a handful of screenshots that I picked up after begging Mike Z to put me in camera mode.  As with the others, there are also quite a few really beautiful shots from ArenaNet too.  Enjoy the screenshot album!

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Guild Wars 2 — The Catacombs!

  1. Valdur

    Thanks for that awesome video or by the way,the engineer looks great.

  2. Valdur

    edit :
    */Video and by the way,

  3. Elio

    Thanks again for another great write-up and screenshots Rubi. The videos are great, loving how Arenanet are doing their cinematics! My excitement for this game just keeps increasing.

  4. ArcherAvatar

    Oh Rubi! Jealousy has infested every bone in my body! Incredible videos – I love seeing all the little refinements to skill animations that I recognize from much earlier videos.

    There is no doubt that I will be watching this HD vid of the catacombs at least a couple of times everyday for the next month or so…

  5. reborn

    i got goosebumbs from the cinametic am i still normal or have i become a fanboy xD

  6. Oksha Amri

    yesterday I started contemplating giving up guild wars…alas…here we go again!

  7. ArcherAvatar

    I’m really happy about the apparent design choice to compromise on the accessibility/challenging balancing act that always has to be negotiated in an MMO these days.

    Story mode = accessible (shouldn’t prove too difficult for PUGs and folks who perhaps aren’t as ‘hard core’ as your typical raider.)

    Explore mode = challenging (gloves are off now – you’d better know what you’re doing… and so had everyone else in your group. Ventrillo or similar communications are probably required for success.)

    The only way they could have possibly made me even happier would have been if they also said that each time you ran through the dungeon in explorer mode the degree of difficulty is further increased. Naturally, this would appeal to the ‘achievers’ in all of us, and being able to say that your group just completed the Ascalon dungeon in explorer mode on the 10th degree of difficulty. Not to mention that there would be a whole other level of significance to seeing someone walking around in a complete set of a dungeon’s armor.

  8. Gray

    You may want to rethink some of what you said. Several gaming sites are taking your mention of Mesmers as confirmation that they will not be the 8th class, which you have no way on knowing and that’s likely not what you meant in the first place.

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