Christmas Eve for me featured a dungeon run with my friends and family guild to the Ruined City of Arah (wiki link). This is the last of the original dungeons that were in-game at launch. It’s the culmination of the main Zhaitan storyline and also ties up the rather convoluted side-plot of the adventuring group Destiny’s Edge. We’d mostly missed this as it’s told through the story modes of the various leveling dungeons, to date we’ve only run Ascalon Tomb so we missed a lot of the plot development since!
[Obligatory spoiler warning: if there's anyone playing GW2 who hasn't seen this dungeon yet then don't continue reading!]
The dungeon is in several distinct sections. The traditional series of trash and boss fights in an Orrian ruin setting followed by a long series of ship-board fights culminating in the climactic battle with Zhaitan itself. For the most part the land-based content seemed alright, although we had issues with the giant risen boss (the Mouth of Zhaitan) due to his massive area damage attacks. My partner and I haven’t been playing the game regularly since the summer and we were downed a lot more than the others, but it was good training on rotations and dodging! The new 25 point healing talent for Mesmer, Signet of the Ether , seems good for general open world content but in dungeons the long cooldown on the active heal really hurt my survivability.
The first of two ship-based segments was a mess of trying to use turrets to fight off the smaller dragons while also being attacked by waves of risen creatures that were being summoned onto the deck. It was chaotic and frantic but we managed it without too many characters hitting the dirt.
The fight on the last ship, featuring Zhaitan himself was suitably epic for a ‘end of main game’ encounter. Unlike earlier boss fights this was busy but not overly so. Plenty of bad stuff on the floor to dodge and mobs to kill but nothing over the top like the Mouth of Zhaitan’s crazily overlapping circles of doom.
I still think the group mechanics in the game are problematic at times, no trinity with no suitable replacement just makes it feel like a desperate free for all. That said the game remains fun in smaller doses and I’d be interested in playing with our guild group to see some of the dungeons we missed as we leveled past them. The cinematics in this dungeon are excellent and there’s a nice sense of closure on the Orr zone story that would be totally missed if we hadn’t ever done this dungeon.