If you died without completing something important to you, would that regret keep you from finding peace after death? This is the question ArenaNet set out to explore as they built out the stories for the winning weapons from their 2017 “Design a Weapon” contest.
Anyone who was up for the challenge could submit their own weapon design, and the three winning designs would be implemented into the game. A year later, these winning weapons found their way into the world of Tyria, in a ghostly fashion.
ArenaNet received over 900 entries before they stopped accepting them in October 2017, but only the twenty best made it to the final selection round. In this round, which lasted 10 days, players could vote for their favorite. The three winning designs were announced in December 2017: a torch named “Prometheus’ Gift” by Mike Bacchin, or Mikeb; a greatsword by Galacia Barton, aka. glacization; and a sword by Elisha Y, known as EnigmaHyena in the GW2 community.
In August 2018, the weapons became obtainable in-game through three separate collections connected with three summonable human ghosts: “Legend Builder,” “Guide to Greater Understanding,” and “Healing Heir.” Like other collections, they – and the weapons obtained through them – can only be completed once per account. Although the Ectoplasm-Infused Vision Crystal can be created again to summon the collection ghosts after completion, they will not provide any new dialogue options or weapons.
Favor of the Colossus
The first collection, “Legend Builder,” has the Commander meet Bakkin in Dredgehaunt Cliffs. This ghost was a member of the Durmand Priory who’d been sent to explore the Cliffs. As a great admirer of norn culture, Bakkin laments that his mission to this Shiverpeaks region lasted only three months before he died. In his time there, though, he identified three locations that resonate with powerful magical impressions of creatures from the mountains’ past: Snow Leopard, one of the Spirits of the Wild; the dwarves; and the Colossus of Cliffside, better known for his appearance in the Cliffside fractal.
In life Bakkin wished to build his own legend just as the norn do, but lacking their courage, he never found the opportunity. This quest, then, is Bakkin’s chance to use his Priory-gained knowledge to forge something meaningful. After leading the Commander to Snow Leopard’s shrine, a cave beneath Dostoev Sky Peaks, and another in Dociu Excavation, it seems even a ghost can feel heady with power. With the end of the quest nearing, Bakkin retreats to high above Tribulation Rift (near the top of the jumping puzzle, no less) overwhelmed by the realization that his legacy is near at hand: the Favor of the Colossus. The weapon Bakkin forges is a mesmerizing torch featuring two chained hands made of metallic stone that resemble the Colossus’ hands, cupping a glowing purple orb of light. The orb itself has the look of a portal, perhaps a reminder that both the Colossus and now Bakkin live on in The Mists.
The second collection, “Guide to Greater Understanding,” takes us into more familiar human lore: the centuries-old rift between the charr and humans. This quest takes place in the Fields of Ruin, an Ascalonian map with the former human fortress, the Stronghold of Ebonhawke, as its hub. There the Commander meets Xeniph, a blacksmith who served the fortress during the height of the war with the charr. Having died before she completed a blade meant to embody the spirit of Ebonhawke to fight the charr, she doesn’t understand why humans and charr would come to pay their respects to the dead. Her quest is, for that reason, perhaps the most touching – she must come to terms with the fact that a peace treaty has been reached between the two races. In so doing, she will be able to imbue her greatsword with the spirit of this newfound peace and so find rest herself.
This collection is also brief, taking the player to different locations important to Xeniph’s quest, all within the Fields of Ruin. While later locations showcase the effects of the war between charr and humans, her first is a mine that is now tucked away in the Branded Varim’s Run area. The mine itself is known as the Branded Mine and is a jumping puzzle. Xeniph’s confusion about the Branded and seeing humans and charr fighting side-by-side against them is her first step to understanding the changes happening in Ascalon since her death. Before being Branded, the mine’s quarry was sound and one which she used extensively to forge her weapons to kill the charr.
She next disappears to Thunderbreak Hills where human separatists and charr renegades still fight on. The Commander, however, must remind her that they are a minority – a handful of loud voices who stay stuck in the past. Xeniph then visits the Highden Caves, a place she’d never seen in her lifetime because the area was held by the charr. The caves are beautiful and peaceful with the exception of some drakes and harpies. Nature, Xeniph realizes, is also a balance of peace and strife. She finally leads the Commander south of The Ogre Road, to a little farming dell where ogres keep a vineyard – and here Xeniph sees that the land holds hope which inspires her.
Xeniph can now craft her weapon, a beautiful dark blue steel greatsword with subtle purple highlights and an eclipse motif running down the center of the blade. Eclipse, as the greatsword is called, is a visual reminder that darkness – no matter how long – is momentary and light always returns to bring life and hope. Xeniph’s blade will protect this peace.
The third collection, “Healing Heir,” takes us to meet a Zephyrite ghost who doesn’t even know her name (though the game tells us it’s Nayeli). She died when the Zephyr Sanctum crashed in Dry Top and she begs the Commander to help gather the fragments of her body scattered over Dry Top so that she can remember who she is and cross over to The Mists. This quest, then, is the most unusual because this ghost died in the most traumatic manner and, like the Foefire ghosts of Ascalon, has become trapped as a result.
Across Dry Top, the Commander locates bone fragments that belong to Nayeli and, each time, the player is able to help her remember another piece of her own history. In Prospect Valley, Nayeli remembers that she was in the sky flying high above the land. Here we prompt her to remember that she was a Zephyrite – a champion of the Aspects – but something distracted her, a desire for something more.
In the Cavern of the Shining Lights – or the ley-line hub as players call it – the Commander finds another of Nayeli’s bones. The power of the ley-line magic feels unfamiliar to her but she recalls that she wanted to be the Scion’s champion! The Zephyrites, entrusted with Glint’s egg, were trying to reach Tarir when their sanctuary was sabotaged out of the sky by the sylvari, Aerin. During life, Nayeli trained to become the Scion’s champion so that this dragon might fulfill its destiny.
At the next bone fragment, near the Hero Point in Uplands Oasis, Nayeli becomes desperate to be reunited with the Scion’s egg – the Scion we know as Aurene. Nayeli’s agitation makes her confused again, her grasp on her recovered memories slipping. She doesn’t remember what happened or why the Commander is helping her. “Of what use am I? I couldn’t protect the Scion… couldn’t protect myself…” she utters in her despair.
At the final bone fragment in Challenger Cliffs, Nayeli sees hope amid the ruins of the Zephyrites to the east and the rebuilding efforts to the west. In this perspective, she remembers why her soul became fractured in death: “My desire to become the Scion’s champion overcame my commitment to the Aspects. My very soul was split by it.”
Whole again, Nayeli is ready to leave her own legacy: a sword that captures her love of the Aspects and of Glint as a way to thank to the Commander – the Scion’s true Champion. The sword, Scion’s Claw, gleams a familiar blue – the very color of Aurene – with a golden hilt recalling the golden city of Tarir which the Exalted built to protect her egg.
These three collections lead players to explore human motivations for greatness and legacies, and the varied emotions that can feel overwhelming during life. Nearing the end of Living World Season 4 as we are, the collections also feel more poignant, leading us to wonder what happens next in the story after so much death. The quests are easy and quick to complete with the help of completed maps and mounts to reach higher locations, but even with basic jumping and gliding abilities, newer players should not have too much trouble completing them as well. Apart from adding new skins to one’s Fashion Wars arsenal, the weapons themselves are all exotic quality and stat selectable for all of the available stat combinations in the game. Once stats are selected, though, the weapons become soulbound so be sure to choose carefully. And though I understand why ArenaNet chose to make such personal collections more meaningful by making the weapons soulbound, it would have been nice to make the binding account-wide since Commander has become an account-wide title post-level 80 and Central Tyria. The skins, though, are unlocked account-wide via the Wardrobe so happy hunting!