Lion’s Architecture

June 24, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 1 Comment
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I logged into Lion’s Arch yesterday and was completely surprised. I try to be reasonable with my expectations. I knew Arenanet was looking to rebuild the city but there was no use getting my hopes up if all it amounted to was a few new buildings and some minor adjustments. I didn’t know what to expect so I didn’t let my imagination run wild. Even when they started to release concept art that showed vast changes to the Lion’s Arch of old, I held back any enthusiasm.

Lion’s Arch in the original Guild Wars left something to be desired. I could never imagine that people actually lived and worked there. It was a settlement at best, but never felt like a city to me. 250 years later Lion’s Arch felt much improved in the sense of feeling lived in, and it certainly had a pirate aesthetic, something straight out of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World. But I always felt it lacked something more. Here was the central city of the Tyrian continent, a megapolis that took in all comers, no matter the race, the creed, or guild. Yet there was little splendour, little wonder. A charming pirate shanty town that reminded me of Bree in middle earth, but not Minas Tirith. Not a center of commerce or important strategic target for the enemies of Tyria.

And now it has that sense. A sprawling city, filled to the brim with hidden nooks and crannies, it’s not just some rehashed version of the old city. Completely redesigned architecture, layout, aesthetic. The old Lion’s Arch had me wondering if those rickety docks could handle large amounts of cargo, the new Lion’s Arch has a lobster.

I’m loving the inspiration behind all this. It feels like 15th century london, particularly with buildings lining the bridge, and every city should have alleyways and dead ends. The ambient NPC dialogue is abundant with new and old characters to eavesdrop on just about everywhere you go. The defenses seem significant, the various organizations, from the consortium to the vigil seem to have actual space to work in, and by god does the center of the city feel open and beautiful. I even put Necronomnomnomicon straight to work. The consortium’s taxes aren’t going to consult themselves.

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I love the jumping puzzle and I love the karka hunt. Amazing how little real content Arenanet can put into a patch to whip up my hunger to play Guild Wars 2. The last 6 months have been pretty dead, but I’ve played for hours on end the past two days. The JP stretches all over the new LA, just when you think they’ve done every last variation on how to do a jumping puzzle they throw in something new. The hatchling hunt is fun too, and doing both these activities without resorting endlessly to a guide made it that much more fun.

I have but two quibbles. I felt like the Guild Initiative headquarters was far too much like the old Lion’s Arch, not matching up with the new look, and partially based on the old bank. Also, I have this thing about names.

Quibbles aside, Lion’s Arch is looking great. If this is what Arenanet can do with one city I have renewed enthusiasm for Heart of Thorns.

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