We jump in for a hands-on preview with the karka invasion set to ruin Lions Arch for everybody.
By Tim Colwill on November 16, 2012 at 12:30 am
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first: the enemies of the Lost Shores event are, in fact, giant enemy crabs.
Well, not exactly. But they may as well be: they swarm out of the sea, as big as houses, scuttling like nobody’s business and trying to stomp you into the dirt. They’re called the karka, and they want to move into Lion’s Arch and set up a new home there. Over the corpses of you and your friends.
Sounds like fun? Well, it is, actually — although it’s tough as nails, so bring your best level 80s and let’s get down to bidness.
One-time only world destruction
The Lost Shores kicks off in unassuming Lion’s Arch next to the old lighthouse, where you’re minding your own business when, suddenly, an enormous karka bursts out of the water, smashing through a ship in the harbour and spearheading a flood of scuttling crab-like enemies who immediately begin to tear you apart.
If you’re not around the level 80 mark when it kicks off, it’s probably best to get out of the way and let your high-level friends take the first wave. During the battle, with nearly a dozen level-capped characters with level 1337 gear (I know, right) and even two twinked-out developers fighting on our side, we were getting mauled.
PC corpses littered the landscape and we fell back to the gates time and time again, only to remember that they had been shut in the face of the invasion. “We’re piling on the numbers here in a way we wouldn’t normally do,” Guild Wars 2 content designer Matt Medina told me over Ventrillo, as my level 80 charr warrior was smashed to paste for the seventh time. “We really want to emphasise the threat.”
And the karka really are a threat. They range in size from smaller, young karka roughly the size of a player to enormous veteran karka who not only leap around with a surprising mobility, but who can spew hordes of suicidal baneling-style larva at you that seek you out and detonate — or just attach themselves to your body and inflict conditions as they gnaw away on your face. Veteran older karka look massive and lumbering, but wait until the first time they curl into a ball and roll across you and your friends like a boulder, only to spring up and scuttle away as you close in.
New shaders, new destruction, new hotness
Fighting the karka is not only an exercise in new tactics and strategy, but a chance to see a whole new shader tech that ArenaNet have put into place. The karka begin each battle looking normal (as normal as possible for abominations from the ocean depths), but as you wear them down you’ll notice that their carapaces begin to take damage, falling off in chunks to expose their more vulnerable innards.
It’s great to see, and really helps give a more meaningful feel to MMO combat, which is something that has traditionally lacked any real visual damage representation. “We are absolutely looking to use this technology in other places,” said Medina to me, but also confirmed that it would take a lot of time to figure out how to do so effectively.
If you happen to be around during the initial wave of the karka invasion, you’ll also see something else: parts of the world literally being altered, permanently, in real-time around you. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you’re the sort who gets attached to relics of the old Lions Arch, well… maybe it’s time to learn to let go.
Follow them home and end it for good
Once the karka have been driven off, a new zone will open up at Southsun Cove, an island in the Sea of Sorrows. If you’re still up for it after the thrashing outside Lions Arch, you can head on over there and try and wipe them out for good. Here you’ll see more world destruction in action, as you follow NPCs around, knocking over trees, building roads and generally making the island more suitable for human habitation — after you’ve cleared the karka off the beach, of course.
Once we hit the island, we quickly discovered that the meddling Consortium’s attempts to turn the island into a vacation resort were responsible for freaking the beasties out and causing them to try and re-locate directly into Lions Arch. Needless to say, the Lionguard aren’t too happy about that and, in a delightful in-game turn of events, will actually abandon the Consortium in anger, leaving you to choose which NPC to follow.
On the urgings of ArenaNet’s excited devs, we followed the Lionguard — who immediately hatched a thrilling, slightly unstable plan to get rid of the karka for good. Naturally, we agreed. What could go wrong?
Shepherding a bunch of NPCs deep into a hive populated exclusively by level 80 monsters isn’t generally what I’d call a tactically sound idea and, if you’re looking for another tough fight, this is the place to find it. Eventually we slogged our way to the bottom, but ArenaNet stopped us before we could lay the smack down on the final boss — the Ancient Karka. That’s saved for the live event only, they said — all the more reason to get in and check it out while it’s happening.
But if you do miss it, don’t worry. Once the Lost Shores is over, Southsun Cove will become a standard level 80 zone, and the large, veteran karka will migrate further inland, leaving the beaches guarded by the less terrifying young karka. You can visit it at any time, and you’ll probably want to: with resource nodes of the new ‘passiflora’ littering the landscape, it’s a valuable place to get mining.
During the game event, Southsun Cove will automatically buff players up to level 80, but post-event it will become an exclusive level 80 zone.
By the same token, ArenaNet explained to us that the karka invasion of Lions Arch will feature activities for players below level 80 to complete, running around as the battle rages and collecting samples for Research Assistant Bardus, who is looking to build a weapon that will penetrate their thick carapaces.
Is it really over?
Ominously, Medina warned us that the karka were actually only in the game because they’d been driven from their deep-sea homes by an even larger, more powerful threat. What could be powerful enough to drive out an entire race of level 80 creatures? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
The Lost Shores event kicks off on Saturday, November 17 at 7:00 AM Sydney time. Be there, and bring a healer. It’s going to be fun.