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Why is Ascalon so... boring?


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Just doing map completion for the 10th time and noticing, once again, how boring it is to roam Ascalon for one reason alone:

Don't get me wrong here, there are beautifully designed spots and generally lovely textures and lighting, but: This is supposed to be the part of the world haunted by ghosts, condemned by tragic events to walk the world of the living forever, a country rich of (dark) history with a the past that has supposedly left its marks all over it.

The previews (like artwork) were hinting towards a "spooky theme", so I was super excited about it (i.e., pre-release) and couldn't wait to explore "the scary land of the undead", including souls of those I used to know in the flesh in GW1.

Instead:

  • we have cheerful countryside music accompanying us on our journeys.
  • there is no creepy fog or dark skies to suck you in and make you feel uneasy about crossing those haunted lands.
  • ghosts walk in the brightest, sunniest of daylight - how atmospheric (not). :s
  • there is generally too much "normal life" mixed up close with the ghost-themed spots (there should have been separate maps for both, some with the "haunted theme", some where Charr reside).
  • even the dungeon fails to get under your skin and give you goose bumps.

When I first explored those maps, I was baffled, thinking, "This is supposed to be old Ascalon, haunted by the souls of loyal subjects cursed by their king's actions?"

To me, Ascalon is the biggest design disappointment in all of GW2, due to how bad the ghostly theme was implemented. Anyone else feeling this way still, even after six years? :/

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Simple. GW2 is not a horror game. It was never intended to be super dark. Although with the story up to it and some of the artwork, I do see where you are coming from with having expected that though. And maybe it could have been a little bit more like it.But honestly I never even thought about it once.

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@"Zeefa.3915" said:Simple. GW2 is not a horror game.

"Horror"? =) No. There is a difference between "scary" and "horror". I don't need horror, but I want the elements to fit together and not be randomly glued together leaving you in sheer boredom with the results. All other regions have fitting themes where the elements work well together and the atmosphere manages to engulf you. Not so in Ascalon. It is completely soulless (except for the spots branded by the Shatterer, the Ogres as such, and - of course - Ebonhawke <3 and its surroundings).

It was never intended to be super dark.

(A) There is enough "dark" stuff going on in the story from the start, and (B) I am not asking for "horror" (where people are scared to death and kids run off crying for their parents), I am asking for appropriately atmospheric-themed maps; if you can't do it properly, just don't include ghosts - as simple as that. ;)

@Randulf.7614 said:I've never liked it since the start. The brand bits are interesting and the overall story is actually very rich, but it lacked a lot of atmosphere and interesting scenery mostly.

This. :+1:

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@"Okami Amaterasu.9237" said:Maybe Ascalon isn't as "creepy" or "haunted" as you want, but that definitely describes Orr and the Risen/Unchained. I love the eerie but beautiful tracks that play there the most. Maybe you were looking for Orr?

Nope, I am definitely talking about Ascalon here. Orr was a disappointment too in terms of the undead, because fast running, talking, karate-trained zombies aren't particularly scary, either, but that's a different story. ;) ("It begins!" God, everytime I hear that before an Orr zombie comes running to attack me with a spinning kick makes me want to bite its head off. =) ) At least the Orr maps are well-themed and you can get a sense of what they are supposed to present.

@"kurfu.5623" said:Sorry that you're bored. Move on.

So I am not allowed to post criticism when it comes to mind? Maybe hear if others might have had similar expectations?

Thanks for your sound advice, it was very helpful. I feel much less bored now that I "moved on." ;)

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Ooh, I forgot: The two places I think are 100% perfectly designed are:

  • Bria's house in the woods southeast of the Iron Marches. There is only dim light falling through the trees, and the event with the kids fits the theme of a spooky witch's house.
  • The kodan settlement northwest of Fireheart Rise (and, I agree, Fireheart Rise as a whole fits its theme perfectly, and there are no ghosts where they don't belong ;) ).
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It's natural we all have a different opinion on this and that's the fun part! Wouldn't be good if we were all the same in any case.

That being said, I agree with OP. I don't know but I get a bit bored in 'new' Ascalon, perhaps it's all the yellow grass and not enough magic to it, like what pre-searing Ascalon had. We had those amazing secret zones and sun beams coming through the forest. Remember Charr Homelands too? ^^ I expected the 'regrown' Ascalon to be something like that, but with a more eerie and haunted feel to it, due to ghosts and the old wounds.I have to say there's too much of a cheery tone to it, especially the music which forces me to mute music entirely and just travel without it when going through Ascalon zones.I love the branded parts, those are spot on! I also love some parts of the Fireheart Rise and the jumping puzzles. It's nice recognizing some of the old zones too, but I feel it could've been done a wee bit better.

To people who say that GW2 is not a horror game though...what does seriousness and depth have to do with horror? GW2 is way too light and happy when it comes to story and atmosphere. I really wish it had a more serious and deeper atmosphere, like what GW1 had.( I keep saying this in almost every thread I post, but yes...atmopshere and music is a huge deal to me, as well as serious storytelling. I'm not getting immersed with some of the GW2 areas and story unfortunately)

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@Ashantara.8731 said:Ooh, I forgot: The two places I think are 100% perfectly designed are:

  • Bria's house in the woods southeast of the Iron Marches. There is only dim light falling through the trees, and the event with the kids fits the theme of a spooky witch's house.
  • The kodan settlement northwest of Fireheart Rise (and, I agree, Fireheart Rise as a whole fits its theme perfectly, and there are no ghosts where they don't belong ;) ).

I would add the old ascslon ruins below the black citadel. There is a certain atmosphere there that captures the right mood and nostalgic flavour

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I loved Ascalon, and i don't think it was poorly designed at all, its just not what you wanted it to be.

Out of all of the racial lands, Ascalon is easily the most dirty of them. Its the furthest from modern civilisation--as the Charr civilisation is the most minimal of them all, and focuses entirely on function over presentation.

The Sylvari are very clean with their plant-based technology that ensures a perfect harmony with nature, the Asura are highly advanced and have a unity with nature of their own (look at how they embrace natural overgrowth in their cities), and the Humans, while not being close to nature, still have lush, green lands and their mostly, primitive farm-era technology fits in well against that background.

Whereas with the Charr, you have grungy, industrial-era iron architecture jutting awkwardly through what are mostly ruined lands, have almost nothing to do with nature and they even seem willing to actively consume it for their war efforts (a central theme in Iron Marches), with the only stone buildings or other "high fantasy" elements being leftover from ages past, and all of their areas, even the starting area, are haunted by ghosts, dragon minions, renegades, rogue magicians and wildlife and have the most open and dangerous expanses with a few of the Ascalon maps being little more than war or survival camps, depending on how well the Charr are fairing in that specific conflict.

You don' t see it as being dark, but I would argue it is the darkest place in the game next to Orr. The reason it has the high adventure theme is because these are the kinds of things that Charr are literally born for, it is their way of life.

Its not scary because they aren't scared of it.

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Just want to add that I absolutely love all the Ascalonian jumping puzzles, as they give that exact feel of ancient, haunting and some of these puzzles give the adventurous and beautiful feel that Pre-Searing Ascalon had.Blazeridge Steppes jumping puzzles, Plains of Ashford jumping puzzle (ruins).As mentioned earlier, I love the feel of Ruins of Rin in the Black Citadel, the area looks really amazing.It's nice going beneath the well in Diessa Plateu and seeing all those ruins deep inside too.I also agree with @Hannelore.8153 comment. It makes sense considering the Charr are there, the place changed drastically, but I still feel some of the zones could've been done better. For example, yellow grass in particular makes it look a bit meh, to me at least.We could've seen some more of the thick forests and more grassy/flowery parts. I mean 250 years is a long time, undoubtedly we could see some of those red flowers sprout and cover the fields etc. Places where nature got untouched by Charr and technology, as well as some more seared parts. I really love how Fireheart Rise captured the Flame Legion feel.

However...while the setting, as described by Hannelore, is dark to a certain extent, the music absolutely kills the atmosphere. I mean really kills it. The trumpet tunes that are beyond happy like going on some picnic instead of exploring zones rich of history and pain kill the whole purpose of the zone's feel.There's like...1-2 tunes that fit, one of them being the Old Ascalon theme from GW1, the other being the tune with those choirs and beautiful voices.The rest of music is beyond happy and unfit for the zone where Charr and Ghosts live.The music that plays in Ascalon is more fitting for Queensdale and human populated zones who are going on an adventure. IMO I feel that Charr need some heavier and darker tunes. They aren't folk to be toyed with. They are proud, they are strong, they are dangerous. They don't go with light tunes.

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Sad because I absolutely LOVE Ascalon (especially the soundtrack that plays in these areas) but everyone has different opinions and that's okay. In my opinion Kryta is the most boring area but it also got its very own specific charme to it just like any other map. Actually I think all areas are special in their ways but some strike me more than others like for example Ascalon, Orr, Maguuma, The Heart of Maguuma, Crystal Desert, some of the Elonian maps or the Shiverpeaks. But that's all just from a gw2 perspective. I found Kryta a bit more beautiful in gw1 because of the more "tropical" and "wild" aproach it took in certain places. Maybe there's hope that the Underworld and the Realm of Torment return as well in gw2.

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@Zeefa.3915 said:Simple. GW2 is not a horror game. It was never intended to be super dark. Although with the story up to it and some of the artwork, I do see where you are coming from with having expected that though. And maybe it could have been a little bit more like it.But honestly I never even thought about it once.This is the biggest contradiction in GW2. The voice acting and how the story is told is certainly childish and not dark. But when you look at what's actually looking it is dark and horrible. We just go through it with a childish attitude and cutesy, quirky npc's. I mean with have undead taken over large sections of land. Evil scientists with the darkest plans. Dragons and dragon armies. A race born of dragons that can be completely mind controlled. More undead roaming the deserts and making undeath a cool thing (think how twisted that is) and all creatures being absorbed into mindless minions in the brand that spans half a continent. People dying everywhere. You can't go anywhere and walk five feet or you're under attack again. Did I mention demons (oh sorry, destroyers).

It is super dark. It totally is. But we prance around in it like we're impervious to it all and shrug the horrors off like they barely exist. In a way the way our characters go through all of this is perverse. It's sick. But the story writing within this setting is a complete disconnect from what is actually happening around us. I never understood this and it's part of the reason why GW1 had more impact because the story telling was in line with the events that took place. It's flower power amidst a nuclear war and it just doesn't make sense. The tone of the game just doesn't match what's actually happening. It's a desperate fight with death and monstrosity all around.

If it wasn't intended to be super dark, they certainly have a strange way of doing that. It's like having a dark war movie and having a bunch of giggling 7-year old's speaking in the voice over.

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All in all, seeing as that we all have different opinions and that we all love different areas, I feel ANet has done a great job. There's areas for everyone's taste and they truly nailed it.

The greatest improvement they could do, for me in any case, would be to make it so that music stops playing when changing zones. Say like...Divinity's Reach theme shouldn't play if I teleport from it to Black Citadel. It's so...out of place.Same goes for zones, as I can TP to Orr and some cheerful tune will play which is arghhh...it always gets me xDI just wish we had more gloomy themes in Ascalon.Plains of Ashford is totally ok to have a cheerful vibe, same as Diessa Plateu. It's two main Charr starting zones which can have the adventurous feel to them, the rest however......zones like Blazeridge Steppes, Fields of Ruin, Fireheart Rise and Iron Marches could do with some less cheerful vibes and more of some serious tunes that add to the atmosphere. Describing the Flame Legion, describing the Brand and the past from humans of Ebonhawke.

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@Ashantara.8731 said:

@"Okami Amaterasu.9237" said:Maybe Ascalon isn't as "creepy" or "haunted" as you want, but that definitely describes Orr and the Risen/Unchained. I love the eerie but beautiful tracks that play there the most. Maybe you were looking for Orr?

Nope, I am definitely talking about Ascalon here. Orr was a disappointment too in terms of the undead, because fast running, talking, karate-trained zombies aren't particularly scary, either, but that's a different story. ;) ("It begins!" God, everytime I hear that before an Orr zombie comes running to attack me with a spinning kick makes me want to bite its head off. =) ) At least the Orr maps are well-themed and you can get a sense of what they are supposed to present.

@"kurfu.5623" said:Sorry that you're bored. Move on.

So I am not allowed to post criticism when it comes to mind? Maybe hear if others might have had similar expectations?

Thanks for your sound advice, it was
very
helpful. I feel much less bored now that I "moved on." ;)

orr undead are not meant to be those type of zombies, and vanilla orr was extremely oppressive and dangerous, before they nerfed it. Orr is supposed to feel like a warzone against powerful and indefatiguable force

Ascalon isnt supposed to be scary really, it is supposed to seem like a fallen land, beautiful, but a bit sad, This is part why it seems trapped in autumn tones, full of ruins, and most of your interaction with ghosts are more melancolly of spirits trapped in the past than scary.

now, how well its executed? i don't know, but i think your expectations are based less on gw and more on generall tropes. We can say regardless, it failed to give you the feelings of the areas. That said, nothing is perfect

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Problem is rather simple, it's a starting map... from an appeal standpoint, childish and carebear atmosphere is more suitable to keeping new players, until they invest enough to stay. If it was not a starting area it would be a different story. Orr is by no means a vacation resort and doesn't give any cheerful vibes what so ever, mechanics aside at least.

Also maps wont get changed no matter how much you ask for it. Anet can't be bothered to fix bugs from beta and you want map changes? Phlease. Anyway, people have different expectation on how an idea translates to practical execution. Not everyone wants ascalong to be sad/spooky/horror/dark/etc map. Not everyone will see the story of that map this way. Not everyone wants it to be the way you want it to be.

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