Guild Wars 2
The vast city of Divinity’s Reach serves as the capital of Kryta, home kingdom of the humans of Guild Wars 2. The capital looms over the starting zone of Queensdale and cuts an enormous, imposing figure, surrounded by gigantic stone ramparts and bulwarks, with towers, turrets and other structures shooting up into the sky from the city within.
There is a great sense of verticality to Divinity’s Reach, as the city spans multiple levels, and uses steep stone walls to showcase the difference in elevation between each. Ramps leading up to the higher levels tower over the districts beneath them. The buildings themselves are also tall and somewhat narrow, and are arranged so that the cobbled streets of the various districts often snake about in labyrinthine patterns, with festival-esque banners running across the space between houses and shops, high above the pedestrians below.
Indeed, there is a fantastic celebratory atmosphere to the city in general. Stalls and shops line the roads, huge plumes of smoke blow out of crooked chimneys and the city bustles with NPCs, nevermind players. Everywhere is lavishly detailed and decorated, covered with gorgeous foliage, water features and sculptures. Consequently, the place feels like a hive of activity, a true metropolis filled with life, even when player population is low.
The city is laid out in a huge circle: at the centre, high above the surrounding streets, is the royal palace, which houses the queen’s chamber and the city court. It is also home to a vibrant arboretum housed under a vast glass ceiling, from which hangs a huge mobile featuring large moons, stars and planets. Leading into this beautiful garden are six colossal ramps. These connect the centre of the city to the levels and districts below, although they are in their own right long, wide streets with buildings and shops lined up along their edges.
The districts themselves are distinct and discrete in ambience and design. The Eastern Commons district houses a year long carnival, and features “Uzolan’s Mechanical Orchestra”, a large musical contraption featuring horns, drums and various other instruments that drones out music in an elephantine roar. Confetti perpetually floats down from the sky above in this district, lending the place a party atmosphere. Another district has an exotic, tropical vibe and features palm trees, fountains and foreign architecture, whilst still another is home to an enormous sink hole, and is surrounded by scaffolding and construction equipment. A small section of one district is given over to a cemetery, featuring gravestones and crypts of varying heights squeezed tightly together. Even the less distinct attractions are still beautifully detailed – from residential gardens to pubs filled with rowdy patrons.
Few games can even dream of coming close to matching the sheer scale, detail and vibrancy of Divinity’s Reach. The fact that it’s part of the world of an MMORPG only adds to the incredibility of this feat. The majesty and breadth of the capital as seen in the initial concept art is captured completely in the finished product. Divinity’s Reach is a true testament to a singular creative vision and an incredible aesthetic design, and stands alone in gaming as a genuinely breathtaking environment.