GW2: hidden garden

Guild Wars 2 continues to surprise when we play. Sessions can vary a great deal in the balance of content that we end up playing. ‘End up’ is important in that last sentence – it’s very much a game you can play by ‘going with the flow’ and seeing where events, discoveries and general wandering will take you.

We logged in and immediately saw a boss event running (the event is the boss monster, effectively), so we jumped and climbed to that – having done a vista nearby we knew where it was hidden on a cleft in a hillside. This was no weedy veteran, it was a proper champion, a dungeon boss equivalent encounter. So two asura, as awesome as they may be, would not be enough. Meznir called in map and we had one immediate response from a warrior. While waiting for him to port over and find his way up, the boss de-spawned (to be fair there was a warning to get the boss before it could ‘slip away’). This didn’t really matter as there was another boss event nearby so we teamed up for that instead. Then the warrior mentioned that the ‘Keeper of Light’ was up, so we took that much weaker veteran style mob down and a portal appeared – this led to one of the best sessions I’ve had in game to date.

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Through the portal was the hidden garden, a smallish walled-off zone within a mountain side. Minor spoilers hereon down; I can’t avoid them as I simply have to show how beautiful and interesting the design is.

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The area is dominated by a giant tree, which is obviously a jumping puzzle. On the low-mid level is a lone sylvari and nearby, a shiny treasure chest. Said sylvari gives a clear hint as to what four actions are needed but not the locations to achieve the sub-goals. You then go on a grand treasure hunt around the sub-zone looking for ‘key’ items to unlock the chest.

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The tree-climbing part is breath-taking in just how high up you get. We both felt incredibly immersed during this, the thrill of success and real concern over falling. Since I’m bad at coordination in real life, I did fall a couple of times but thankfully having the three of us provided opportunities to res for quick retries. There are no waypoints within the sub-zone so beware, trying this solo could get you stuck with a long and frustrating run back!

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There were some really scary moments in other jumping puzzles within the sub-zone, though nothing like the ‘mushroom bridge’ on the main tree puzzle (you’ll know this is you try or have tried the puzzles!).

gw403After we had all completed all stages we duly opened the chest and shared in chat the loot. Then we traded items since inevitably you get stuff you can’t wear from a chest like this. No thought of greed or selfishness. We’d played together as a cohesive trio for nearly two hours, us two with a complete stranger. He had waited very, very patiently while I failed the main jumping puzzle twice. All-in-all a pretty amazing, and totally unplanned, gaming session!

If you haven’t done this and have GW2, go do it on your next session, it’s great! As I mentioned, I’m not a fan of jumping puzzles, but these were worth it for the stunning views. FYI, we started at the Firebreak Fort Waypoint, I’ll not give any more hints beyond that.

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