This weekend the wait is finally over. Guild Wars 2’s headstart begins and all of those early adopters who pre-purchased the game can rampage across Tyria without fear of character wipes or the fleeting glimpses given by stress tests.
In anticipation of the event, I thought I’d write about a chunk of real estate that helped give the game its name and will form the overarching story of Guild Wars 2. It also promises to bring an aspect that I feel has been somewhat missing from the many superb systems we’ve seen so far.
But more on that later.
The place I’m speaking of is Orr; once home to a gleaming, bustling beacon of power, then a watery grave and now the home of one of the most powerful entities to darken the face of Tyria.
Orr will be where Destiny’s Edge will need your to take on the might of Zhaitan and where the first chapter in Guild Wars 2’s story will end.
So it’s just a bit important.
The History of Orr
Orr was mainly known for the city of Arah. This holy city was the home of at least three of the six human gods, Balthazar, Dwayna and Melandru – Grenth, Kormir and Lyssa rounded out the list. These are the gods who comprise the choices when you create your human character and whose statues are seen in Divinity’s Reach.
Grenth and Kormir were not always counted among the six gods. Of particular interest is Kormir’s predecessor Abaddon, the god who decided to throw magic among the human races like confetti at a wedding; which caused all sorts of strife.
This sudden amassing of power among the humans led to wars that threatened complete extinction – think Mutually Assured Destruction without the fun acronym or bothersome politicking. King Doric made a trek down to Arah and begged for the gods’ intervention before all that was left was a bunch of cinders and a deflating sense of disappointment.
The rest of the gods weren’t exactly pleased with Abaddon’s actions and a war broke out. Abaddon was defeated; the remaining gods tried to limit the excesses of magic – which worked temporarily — on Tyria and then left in the event called the Exodus.
As is often the way, the measures taken to take back the power of magic only worked to a degree, the Bloodstones in which the magic was trapped began to leak.
The hunger for power was rife again and guilds across Tyria began to battle ferociously, which led to the Guild Wars after which the first game is named – no it isn’t about the PvP system.
Bludgeoning each other to the point of exhaustion and destruction, Ascalon, Kryta and Orr ceased their conflict due to the invasion of the Charr. Making the warring humans look far more appealing to each other than being ripped apart in a whirl of fur and fang, the three factions put aside their differences to attempt to fend off the new threat.
It didn’t go well.
The Charr brought on The Searing and laid waste in massive swaths with magical fire that wreaked havoc in Ascalon. It didn’t take long for the warbands to head to Orr.
The personal advisor to Orr’s King headed deep below the former home of the gods and sought out a power to hold back the Charr from Arah. Though you might hope these nutters would have learned their lesson by now, this advisor — who I imagine gave great advice like “Running with scissors is fun” — used a scroll of immense power to stop the Charr in their tracks.
It worked a treat as the magic decimated virtually the entire Orrian peninsula, sinking Arah below the seas and creating a whole bunch of very startled and newly deceased human ghosts.
Nice work there fella. /facepalm
The Big Bad
If you look on the world map in Guild Wars 2, you’ll notice that Orr isn’t just a big damp patch between a few islands anymore. Orr came back to the surface thanks to the main villain of GW2: Zhaitan.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – by the much missed genius Douglas Adams – contains this explanation about space:
“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
Now replace the word “space” in that quotation with “Zhaitan” and you get a good idea where I’m going with this.
Zhaitan is an Elder Dragon. They make other dragons look like disgruntled turtles.
To add to the slight problem in dealing with something that can raise a whole peninsula when it wakes up in the morning, Zhaitan also has dominion over the dead. That includes those that were already floating around Orr and those it added when it sent out a massive tidal wave which put Lion’s Arch underwater – hence LA’s current eclectic, boat based layout that arose from its rebuilding.
Anyone who has attempted to sail those waters since, has been killed and added to Zhaitan’s considerable army – up until the time you make your character in Guild Wars 2 on Friday night/Saturday morning/whenever you buy the game that is.
If Zhaitan can be taken down, it would open up passage to the currently lost Cantha – logical direction for the first expansion?
So that’s why Orr is so incredibly important. It is a place pivotal in Tyria’s past and your character’s future. You’re going to need some serious help and getting together the heroes of Destiny’s Edge is your first step – for more on that have a read of my piece on Logan Thackeray.
At the End, It’s Just a Game
Why I think Orr has additional importance is that it contains something even more mysterious and discussed than its lore: Guild Wars 2’s endgame.
Of course GW2’s design means that there is more to do at max level than Orr. But for me, it is vital that Orr brings the kind of large-scale challenge that makes guilds vital.
I’ve been known to go off a bit about guilds. So here I go again.
Right now, there are plenty of reasons to be in a guild. The social possibilities that Guild Wars 2’s systems allow are fantastic. You can join a guild to be among like-minded fans of crochet while also belonging to a PvP guild that delivers furious face pwnage.
For a purely social guild, for WvW focused guilds, for sPvP guilds, for casual PvE guilds; Guild Wars 2 has plenty to delight in.
For guilds focused on large-scale, challenging PvE content, there hasn’t been much in evidence.
Orr could be the answer to that issue.
Initially you will be hitting Orr across three fronts like a scene from Lord of the Rings meets Bands of Brothers. You will have to take those landing points and head into Arah itself, freeing up the shrines to the former gods to unleash their power and give you access to Zhaitan.
How you might possibly take down Zhaitan is something that makes my brain boggle.
What I hope is that the coordinated effort to keep those temples free of Zhaitan’s forces — with the constant threat of those event chains going in the wrong direction — requires strong PvE guilds to enter the fray.
If Orr delivers the kind of epic, challenging experience that will please players who have been living in raids for over a decade – note I didn’t say it has to be a raid – then ArenaNet might really have made a game for almost everyone.
Thanks for reading.