Friday, May 18, 2012

The Search for El Dorado

Sometimes its not about the final destination or the prize of success, but the journey it takes to get there. 

Sometimes the reward of a challenge isn't necessarily the material prize that is received afterwards, but the journey it takes to get there.

After the first Beta weekend, I heard rumors of a jumping puzzle in WvW. I searched for a description on Youtube, and with delight found one.  The video blew my mind, but I had a test to study for the same day, so I only watched it with limited attention.

Later, when trying to recollect the video, I only recalled three things.  I remember seeing a waterfall surrounded by snow, two parts to a key that opened up a door, and a puzzle that was mind-blowing beautiful.  I become captivated in the puzzle, and promised to myself I would attempt this puzzle the next time I was able to play the game.  When the stress test was annouced, I knew that this would be my chance.

If any of you followed my experiences in the stress test, I wrote briefly about this experience.  My brother and I jumped into WvW during the stress test.  I immediately jumped into the map function and searched for a snowy  area.  There were no areas in the Eternal Battlegrounds, so we randomly chose one of the Borderlands to explore.  If you look at the map,  the entire top half of these maps are covered in snow.  My brother became involved in a fight down south and I began scanning the entire northern region.  I tried at first just to go up and down, up and down, from right to left.  I had no contextual clues other than a massive waterfall and snow.  I had spent close to ten minutes searching before my brother caught up to me.

After about fifteen minutes, I began to give up hope.  I glanced at the map and looked for some clue so we could focus our search.  I then actually noticed a name, "Faithleap".  That felt like a good place as any to explore.  When I got there, I imagined seeing some kind of magical "hint".  I was hoping for a giant arrow leading our way, instead there was nothing.  I began to get frustrated, and with a heavy sigh my brother and I began heading up north. If we don't find it in the next couple of minutes, we agreed to give up. We traveled past the supply camp, and stumbled upon a cave.  I didn't really pay attention to the amount of attention paid to the cave, and just kept moving forward.  We went through this torch-lit cave and my brother annouced that he saw the passageway split to the left.  Ahead,  I could make out brief light that only meant one thing, an exit.  With each step, I had a sinking feeling that we had found it.

We ran out, and our search was over. A giant, gorgeous waterfall was in front of us.  I have to confess that I may have squealed like a 5 year old at the sight of this beauty.  My brother and I now had to find a way to the top.  I remembered in the video that the player jumped into the waterfall, but I didn't really remember much else. We made our way up a makeshift switchback trail.  We then reached this large stone that jutted outward, the exact stone the player in the video jumped off into the waterfall.  When we got there though, I noticed that the the single waterfall I had remembered, was really multiple waterfalls.  It seemed like I could either jump to the left or the right, and still jump into a waterfall.  I took my chances and chose the left.

I prayed to all of the seven human gods and jumped.  I closed my eyes as I knew that if I was wrong, I would either die or land in the waters below and have to climb back up. My character's body began to fall, and when I opened them, I was in some massive cave-like expanse with roughly 2k hp.  Below me was a lake, and all around me was an enormous amount of floating stones, roots, and vines.  I didn't know where to begin, but we just began jumping across at random trying to make some sense of a path across the chasm.  We discovered the door after 1-2 falls, and realized that the keys were needed to open the chamber.  My brother and I split up at this point and began searching for the two parts to the key.

My brother realized he could use portal to safeguard against a fall.  I was rather jealous, I won't lie.  On a particularly challenging jump, he would lay down the portal, jump, and if he failed he could easily teleport back up.  It was brilliant, and he even came down to teleport me when I was in need.

After about an hour of traversing the puzzle, I noticed that we had some company.  There was a Green Invader in the area, but he was too far away from me to bother him.  My brother warned me that we should all work together, and just leave everyone else alone.  No one wants to be fighting while doing a jumping puzzle. I feel like the fighting would be hilariously fun, but I think we can all agree that we would never finish the puzzle if we fought.  I remained silent, and didn't consent or reject his request.  I have always adopted a "red is dead" mentality in games, but I really wanted to finish the puzzle. I agreed that I wouldn't go out of my way to start a fight.

  Needless to say, when both the Green Invader and I took a plummet simultaneously, he was no longer out of my way.  We both ascended the now well-worn path to jump into the waterfall once more. He leaped before me, but right before he jumped,  I used my crippling skill on my shortbow.  He realized he was crippled too late, and fell short of the jump into the water below.  I laughed with the glee of a two year old, and went for my jump.  I somehow missed the platform and ended up hitting some surface of the wall that killed me instantly.  No one can ever say that the Gods of Guild Wars 2 aren't just.  A ten minute walk back from the nearest waypoint reinforced an important lesson.  Don't be an ass.

I won't lie, I fell a lot.  I think one of the most frustrating moments is trying to position yourself on a branch, and you double tap a directional button, only to dodge off the platform. I don't want to go into detail on how to get to each piece, so you can discover the keys on your own. I feel like it's important to not ruin your excitement of finally seeing the coveted chests.  I will say, however, that this puzzle took roughly two hours to complete.  The awards at the end are alright, but the adventure to get there was far more exciting.  An anecdote, I think, that fits most of this game.  The rewards somehow matter less when you are having fun.


  1. Hmmmm... Mesmers; the undisputed kings of jumping puzzles?
    Access to both swiftness and portals would seem to suggest this was true.

  2. Mesmers definitely have an advantage over the other classes. Swiftness really doesn't help you as much as you would think though. Even with portal,it should be noted that I did finish the puzzle before my brother. I don't believe their advantage is significant enough to warrant a nerf to portal or any other changes to swiftness. The CD on portal is significant enough that you will want to save it for only challenging jumps or to help others. I actually like how certain professions excel at random events without being groundbreaking. It provides a certain amount of flavor to the professions that I quite enjoy.

    1. Each profession definitely has it's own archetype and distinct feeling from the others. I've only played 4 personally so far (necro, ele, thief, and war) but I've yet to come across one that I wouldn't be willing devote considerable time towards mastering. Hopefully the next 4 will be just as appealing.

      *(I should note that currently, the necro and warrior are my personal top two, and will be the first ones I pursue once the game launches.)