As someone whose favorite playable race in Guild Wars 2 is the Charr, I cannot express how excited I was when I first heard that the new season of the living story would involve them. While we Charr fans may be in the minority we have been waiting effectively 7 years for new Charr content in a big meaningful way. Sure, there have been Charr every step of the way, we saw them fighting back the jungle in Heart of Thorns and we met the Olmakhan tribe in Living World Season 4. They’ve been there, they just haven’t had their time in the limelight, until now. Below are my thoughts on Grothmar Valley, the new zone that we can explore in Bound by Blood. There won’t be any story spoilers, so feel free to keep reading if you’d like to know more.
The Ascalonian zones have always been some of my favorite areas in Guild Wars 2 from an aesthetic point of view. They feel the most realistic out of every part of the world. Grothmar Valley, which is located in the heart of the Blood Legion Homeland is gorgeous. Truly, the best Ascalon has ever looked. It’s the type of place that just feels like home, even if you aren’t an 8-foot tall fur covered war machine.
While you’re in Grothmar Valley there’s a festival taking place that has everything you’d expect to find at a Charr festival. There’s a shooting range, live bands, great food, and a giant wooden Charr effigy, just waiting to be burned. There are a number of different events to attend and it’s important to know what the current time is for the server, which differs from real-world time. You need to know this because there are several signs telling you what the upcoming events are and they use server time.
Thankfully, it’s very easy to know what the server time is at all times as there is a toggle to make it visible.
- Hit Esc to bring up the menu you use to log out, select Options.
- On the General Options tab, which is the tab the menu will open on located User Interface
- Under User Interface you’ll see In-Game Clock:
- Set In-Game Clock to Server Time
- The clock will appear on the bottom left corner of the mini-map.
Keep in mind though that this is the server time and it is not the current time. This is something that is often confused since there is nothing to indicate you’re looking at server time instead of local time. If you like rather than turning it on you can activate it for a moment just to check the time then turn it off again before you close the options window.
While the festival is fun, it’s actually the history of Grothmar Valley that I loved the most. In the days of Guild Wars 1, Grothmar Wardowns and Dalada Uplands were areas you could play in. In a far corner of Grothmar Valley, you’ll find some ancient Human ruins along with some ghosts. This is the location of the Doomlore Shrine which was once the entrance for the Cathedral of Flames. That’s not the only history to be found in Grothmar Valley though.
What was in Guild Wars 1 the Ooze Pit dungeon can also be found in Grothmar Valley. Of course these days it is providing Gladium an opportunity to prove themselves while defeating the ooze that pour out of the hole in the ground. This event is only open for a limited time each round and requires a group, ideally 15 people in total to complete it. Sadly there were only three of us when I got the opportunity to try it out, but there is always something deeply satisfying about fighting ooze. We also did a pretty decent job with the event despite our limitations.
What is easily the most interesting spot on the map, the reason the party is being held where it is, is the location where Kralkatorrik once rested. In the past, he slept in an island in a lake, and now that spot is gorgeous. I feel so lucky that I was able to see it without anyone else around. I could see it being a popular roleplaying spot for any rpers who dare leave the bar both because of its significance to the history and recent events in the game and because it really is just beautiful.
While Grothmar Valley is gorgeous and fun to explore, I will admit that it isn’t going to be one of those zones you spend a lot of time in once you’ve played through all the content. It does mean that some of the events will become more challenging to complete but I’m ok with not having a super grind-heavy zone. It’ll give me time to work on some of my ongoing projects and Chef skills. I haven’t reached 500 yet, have you?
I also like that we won’t spend months grinding there because of what we know is coming up in Episodes 1 and 2. For those who missed the announcement, it was stated that the two episodes would take place in the same zone but that the zone would evolve between one episode and the next. New areas will appear with new achievements, new stories, and new events. It sounds a lot like a return to the development style of Dry Top. A style that worked really well, giving us plenty of things to do without having to create totally different zones in totally different biomes like they have been doing with the living story. However, this means we are going to be spending months, possibly as much as half a year playing in this one zone. Bound by Blood is offering us the opportunity to catch our breath before we dive into the meat of the next season.
Bound by Blood is playable right now and it is free for anyone who owns Path of Fire, so what are you waiting for? Jump in and explore Grothmar Valley for yourself.