Welcome to Skrittsburgh!
No, wait, get out of Skrittsburgh you unworthy foreigner. Oh, nevermind, come back in.
This is life as a visitor to the Skritt city. Sometimes the doors are open to you and sometimes they’re sealed shut. Is it because you smell? Do they only let humans in on Thursday? The Charr on Monday? Maybe the Charr get in on Caturday. Of course, Asurans get in on the winter solstice, to celebrate the shortest day of the year.
Actually, Skrittsburgh is the central cog of an ongoing, large dynamic event within the Brisban Wildlands. When the city feels protected, the gates of the city are opened to outsiders. When the city is under siege and the Skritt King has fallen, then the doors and gates close. Foreigners are only let back in when any nearby threats to Skrittsburgh are eliminated, and the Skritt have chosen a new King. Total access to Skrittsburgh is not entirely denied, as the cavernous city also has outer boroughs that offer the player hearts to complete, and some peculiar lost goods thrown around, as well as a beautiful waterfall area. It is normally these outer boroughs which are the key to entrance into the inner sanctum of the King, his treasure chests, and the special Skritt vendors.
A Dynamic Circle
The Skrittsburgh center is sort of the mini-city reward of the greater circle of dynamic events within the area. When the city is closed, you can normally find a dynamic event going on in one of the outer boroughs. These events will wipe out the NPCs in the area if not stopped, but if you turn the invaders back then you’ll please the people of Skrittsburgh. Invaders are the key word here, as Skrittsburgh is walled in by various threats. From the east, the Nightmare Court may arrive to take over the city. From the north, human bandits have set up camp right outside the entrance, and to the southwest, the Inquest is looking to regain some of the disassembled technologies the Skritt have claimed for their own. Worst of all, the Destroyers are still lurking below the surface and may rise up at any time to do what Destroyers do: look ugly, make lava, and destroy everything.
Things don’t calm down for long once you’ve defended and freed the city. There is normally a quiet handful of minutes, until some new dynamic event alert pops onto your screen. Yup, more invaders, but this time if you don’t stop them, they’re heading straight through that open door to take the city or to slay the King. I helplessly tried to stop a Destroyer army and its giant crab boss from eating the King, but I just sort of ran around from the
Destroyer boss until one of his minions gave the King a killing blow. Immediatly after that, all the friendly Skritt NPCs became hostile, and shouted to kick the foreigners out. Next thing I know, I’m booted out of the city and back to one of the outer boroughs.The end effect is that keeping the city open to players will require players to cooperatively push back invaders. It’s tough to stop two invasions at once. Whether it’s the bandits up north or the Nightmare Court coming from the east, it’s more than one player can handle.
Tell Me Of Your Rat-nest Usul
Once inside the heart of the city, you’ll be treated to a town made out of junk. Yes, junk, and I mean that in the nicest way. The Skritt love shinies, and shinies seem to be everyone else’s actual shiny things, or everyone else’s forgotten old junk. It looks like a refugee camp in some ways, like something out of District 9. Still, Arena Net managed to make a junk city look visually interesting. Some parts are even little creepy, with the weird carnival costumes laying around, unused and for no purpose of being there.
What the city offers the player is a full set of crafting stations, a thankful Skritt King with two treasure chests behind him (Don’t miss these!), a skill point challenge or two, some basic merchants, repairs, and special Shinies merchants. The Shinies Merchants have what seem like junk or perhaps crafting goods, like a bunch of wooden planks. They also sell necklaces and weapons, and pretty good weapons in fact. Their offerings have a level 20 requirement, but should be an upgrade at level 20 over anything you have. I bought both the Skritt Pistol and Skritt Rifle for my Engineer.
Odds and Ends
The heart quests in the boroughs offer some nice distractions. I wasn’t a big fan of the Heart in the grub area. It’s basically a kill grubs and collect trophies off them, then hand in the trophies sort of deal. There’s some defective security turrets you can mess with, but those are few and far between compared to the amount of grubs and grub holes waiting to be stomped. My favorite of the various Heart quests in the area was a soldier that needed help near a Destroyer den. In this area, you can kill Destroyers, stomp out Destroyer burrows, or, best of all, pick up fallen Skritt and carry them in your arms back to safety. Your can see the fallen Skritt in your character’s arms when you do this, and carrying the Skritt works like a weapon bundle that offers you a speed boost. I call this the Forrest Gump quest.
Skritt activity continues outside the city as well. A group of Skritt will ask you to escort them on a scavenging mission. This is codeword for stealing Asuran tech from an Inquest lab area far beyond the Skrittsburg borough. Normally, the escort quests in Guild Wars 2 are quite enjoyable. (Yes, you read that right.) This one proved to be the hardest escort quest I’ve had though. I am not sure if it was my relative level or the fact that the Inquest lab was swarming with Inquest soldiers. You can also run into a second dynamic event in the nearby area if someone else has decided to help out a Golemancer at the Asuran secret weapons lab. Completing the Skritt escort leads to another Dynamic Event back at Skrittsburgh, but I’ll keep that scenario to myself.
A Show of Things to Come?
What Skrittsburgh reveals is some of the depth and options that the Guild Wars 2 dynamic event system offers. If they can hide a small city behind the outcomes of dynamic events, then they could also hide a dungeon or a mini-game. Considering what the developers have spoken of in regards to the risen city of Orr, it seems like endgame could play out like a far crazier and larger version of the Skrittsburgh DE system. It has also been recently revealed that the city of Ebon Hawke is in the game, and they haven’t specified if this a zoned city or an open world city. Considering that there are heart quests within the city, I am likely to believe that is open world part of the larger zone its within, much like Skrittsburgh.
The key factor to this is giving the player a sense of bigger, greater, and more wonderous things to do as they level up. I don’t want WoW-raiding in the game. I don’t want gear treadmills. I do want a bigger, badder challenge set before me, and these sort of DE systems can be a part of that.