Lake Doric is the best new Guild Wars 2 map in years10 Feb 2017 - Game design
A couple of days ago, ArenaNet released the fourth episode of the third living world season of Guild Wars 2. With it comes a new map called Lake Doric. Originally, Lake Doric was going to be included in the game at release and was likely going to be a peaceful map, as it is situated just north of the Human starting zone and capital city. Almost 5 years later, players can finally visit Lake Doric. In my opinion, it is the best Guild Wars 2 map released in years from a world building perspective. Here’s why.
Divinity’s Reach in the background of the map.
Living World Season 3 is a collection of free updates created to bridge the gap between the first and second expansions of Guild Wars 2. Each episode comes with a new legendary weapon, a new map, new story, a new raid wing and fractal updates.
Season 3 has so far been arguably better received than Season 2. Those who were there to participate in Season 1 still remember the temporary content fondly. A major step up from the previous seasons however is the new map that is released with each episode. The first episode brought us Bloodstone Fen. The second came with Ember Bay. The third one took place in Bitterfrost Frontier. And now, for episode 4, we are playing in Lake Doric.
Bloodstone Fen has been obliterated by a magical explosion.
Unlike the maps released with Heart of Thorns, and the those released with the first three episodes of Season 3, Lake Doric feels like an actual place in Tyria (Guild Wars 2’s world). Bloodstone Fen, depicted above, has been completely obliterated by a magical explosion. In this way, the floating rocks and battles all over the map are believable. However, Ember Bay feels like it was designed to look cool, and then filled with encounters and events because there had to be something to do. There’s a circus on a volcanic island, for crying out loud!
Ember Bay features encounters and locations that feel very much out of place.
There are so many things in Bitterfrost Frontier that feel odd, that I don’t even know where I should begin. Lake Doric however is a very believable and enjoyable map for several reasons.
The temple of the Six Human gods in Lake Doric.
Lake Doric is completely different. The map really feels as if a starting zone was turned into a war zone. There are small peaceful villages that are being bombarded by catapults, a lake that has been drained by destroying a nearby dam, a temple of the Human gods. And throughout this peaceful landscape, war rages between the Seraph and the White Mantle. Brawls between squads of these two armies occur on roads, in forests and in the rolling hills of Lake Doric, as if it were a real battlefield.
A brawl between Seraph and White Mantle on the road between two villages.
Some of the events of the Human starting zone, Queensdale, have been
repurposed for this new map. One example is the training area for villagers,
organised by the Seraph. Seeing these activities return adds to the credibility
of the zone. Lake Doric was just like Queensdale. But everything changed when the
fire nation White Mantle attacked.
Lake Doric also has some peaceful areas, a welcome change from the constant action of past releases.
Lake Doric looks and feels a lot like the maps that players will remember from 5 years ago, when they rolled their first Human character. It breathes new life into an old region, embracing both nostalgia and all the ways in which Guild Wars 2 has grown since its release. With references to both the launch of Guild Wars 2 and even to Guild Wars: Prophecies, the new map feels very much like a gift to the loyal fans of the franchise.
What used to be a fishing village. The player character remarks, ‘Hopefully they will be able to recover from this.’
In my eyes, Lake Doric is so believable as a location, that I would really love to have seen what it was like before it was destroyed. Even amidst all the fighting, it seems like it would have been a wonderful place to live. I think that this map is currently the pinnacle of Season 3 and ArenaNet did a really great job creating a believable and enjoyable location for this episode. Let’s hope the trend continues.
What would probably have been an idyllic lake-side view of Divinity’s Reach, the Human capital city.