During my time spent running around the new level 80 map I was able to see most of the new island. It seemed some parts were gated off by the terrain, but I didn’t have time to locate the routes to some of the inner locations. What I did see (about 75%) contains some of the most impressive art direction in the game thus far. The concept of a lush tropic isle tucked away in Sea of Sorrows was, in my gushing opinion, hit out of the park.
You get to the map from one of the piers in Lion’s Arch. After completing stage 2 of the event and unlocking the voyage, players are able to board a ship and sail to one of two destinations. The npc who can port you is identified by a small corsair icon above their head. You can take a similar NPC to get back to lion’s arch from the island. This porting doesn’t cost any money. Taking a waypoint still costs gold however.
The two destination ports for Southsun Cove are Port Pride and Port Lion. Once you select one, and after a pretty cinematic, you find yourself on the northern shores of the island. Southsun Cove is the native homeland of the karkas, and dream destination getaway for the Consortium. The beach head is not quite like the beaches of Orr, though it is ripe with enemies.
While playing during the preview event I was with a group of players and developers, and they immediately started tackling a dynamic event at the shore to clear the karkas there. I was having none of that group stuff however, and headed the other direction west around the map. The archipelago-esque shore quickly gives way to a maze of caverns on the west of the map. Dense coral like structures rise from the sea with many nooks and crannies to explore.
I will say exploring this was difficult. The mobs I encountered ranged from Reef Riders (breeze riders with mohawks), drakes (and their brood mothers), skales, and of course karkas. They weren’t as tightly packed as the risen in Orr tend to be, and I didn’t notice any pull effects like those infernal Subjugators have, so that’s a relief. But the main impediment to travel was the density of events, which made the zone very lively (and very chaotic to explore). I didn’t go very far between locations without seeing a dynamic event spawn, sometimes two.
Karka come in three flavors (that I found). Hatchlings are easy and like little half life 2 head crabs. If they get near you they will latch onto your face and back and apply un-cleanse-able conditions to you. The most I had on me at one time was 3, i’m not sure if you can obtain more. Young karka’s are slightly larger but didn’t put up too much threat to my level 80 Mesmer. The Real baddies though are the Veteran karka.
The veterans have strong leg armor that they gain as they grow up from younglings. This armor essentially gives them 2 health bars. As the first bar depletes you’ll see the leg armor chip away actually deteriorate. Once that health bar drops, it will refill and you’ll be left fighting a now naked, armorless, veteran karka. These fights can be very difficult, as the veterans have very strong aoe and roll attacks.
Fighting through those things, It appears most of the events in this zone consist of fending off local fauna or helping the consortium build their island paradise. I followed the main karkas chain some, but did not get a chance to play it through to the end, it appears that part of the map was barred off. I’m told it’s spectacular and very climatic however.
As far as gathering nodes, this zone should work well for high level players. The only plants I saw to gather were pisaflora that dropped passion fruit, a level 50 crafting mat. I can confirm there is orichalcum and ancient wood present on the map as well, so level 400 crafting mats are present.
Time will tell if this can relieve some of the pressure from Orr as the go to spot for level 80 players. My brief time there seems to indicate the zone has enough going on, and is simply stunning, to fulfill that need. Not to mention the enemy variety is fantastic, since as more than one commentator has mentioned: risen are getting a bit old, and the cove seems like a great vacation.