I have seen the question “What happened to Lion’s Arch” asked frequently in Lion’s Arch map chat in the last few weeks. I will gladly give you an answer here: Scarlet happened. But as I was thinking about how to explain the happenings in as few words as possible (the chat in Guild Wars 2 does not really allow for lengthy replies), I realized that since launch, a lot more has happened to Lion’s Arch. Usually nothing this big, but still big enough to show you here. So before we get to the most recent “happening” (also known as the destruction of Lion’s Arch), let me take you back in time.
A word of warning, this post will be picture-heavy and you may have to scroll quite a bit. ;)
Guild Wars 2 launched in August 2012, but before that, players who had pre-purchased the game got to participate in the so-called “BWEs” (beta weekend events). During one BWE in April 2012, I went through Lion’s Arch to take the first screenshot gallery of what seemed to become an addiction of mine later on. Go here to view it.
Not long after launch, the first Halloween was celebrated. I still fondly remember the one moment we had all been waiting for. No, actually, it was controversial. ArenaNet had announced that something would happen that would only happen once. So, if you weren’t able to attend for whatever reason, you would miss it. Thankfully, while it was great to watch, there were also players who recorded it and I don’t think it’s less impressive to watch it now: The Mad King broke free into Tyria and destroyed the Lion statue. It wasn’t until January, 2013, that the statue got fully rebuilt, by the way.
While this destruction was the only more permanent change, the temporary decorations in Lion’s Arch were still awesome to look at, too!
The inhabitants of Lion’s Arch did not get a lot of rest, as in November 2012, Karka attacked Lion’s Arch. This time, the Lion statue was safe, but instead, the Light Tower got destroyed. This was another one-time event, but without such an impressive cutscene. Still, the lighthouse got destroyed and was not rebuilt like the lion statue. Instead, a new lighthouse was built a bit next to the old one.
Fast forwarded to December, 2012. The first Wintersday in post-GW1 Tyria. Again, the focus of attention was on Lion’s Arch and the whole city had been decorated accordingly. This time, nothing had been destroyed, but instead an enchanted snow globe had been put on top of the Mystic Forge.
I thought the decorations for Dragon Bash in June 2013 were less elaborate than the Wintersday ones. When I looked at my screenshots, I realized that I had just forgotten how Lion’s Arch looked during that event.
It featured, as the name suggests, lots of dragons: dragon piñatas, a huge dragon hologram and dragon decorations! During this event, one member of Lion’s Arch’s Captain’s Council, Captain Theo Ashford, got killed by assassins.
After that, if I remember correctly, Lion’s Arch had some time to rest and relax from all the celebrations until the election for the free spot in the Captain’s Council in July 2013. As probably most of us know, Ellen Kiel had won the election and was consequently shown as a hologram instead of the lion statue. Thankfully, this was only a temporary change!
Halloween 2013 was pretty much like Halloween 2012, except for the lion statue not getting destroyed that year. Wintersday 2013, too, was like Wintersday 2012.
February 2014 marks the time when Lion’s Arch was changed in a much more drastic way than a lot of players thought ArenaNet would dare. I managed to take some more screenshots of Lion’s Arch before it changed to its current state. Scarlet and her minions started the full-on attack on Lion’s Arch. You can find a few of the screenshots I took during that attack here. By the way, Scarlet and her minions had planted a huge drill in the water in front of Lion’s Arch, in order to disrupt some ley lines which ultimately woke up the Elder Dragon Mordremoth and that’s why Lion’s Arch is destroyed now.
In March 2014, we had managed to get rid of all the miasma, and players tried to fight over Lion’s Arch and get rid of the invaders. We succeeded, but the result is the Lion’s Arch you can see today. As you can probably imagine by now, I have a screenshot gallery for this version as well!
Just in case you’re confused: Almost everything that Lion’s Arch had to offer can now be found in Vigil Keep (see here for a guide on how to get to Vigil Keep and the other cities). The laurel vendors can be found in the races’ cities as can be the crafting areas. If you want to get to Southsun Cove, you can find a portal in front of Vigil Keep (where you can also find the NPC to join the activities).
But don’t be sad. The Lion’s Arch we see today is not the Lion’s Arch of the future. As mentioned on MMORPG.com, the Zephyrites will help rebuild Lion’s Arch. So it looks like the tradition will continue and Lion’s Arch will begin to change its face again soon. :) However, we do not know yet whether Lion’s Arch will become the central hub again like it used to be in the past.