Divinity’s Reach- Epitome of Power

As part of my “Architecture in Gaming” series here is another one of my favourite in-game architectural locations: Divinity’s Reach, from the Guild Wars series.

“Divinity’s Reach is the greatest city in the human nation of Kryta. It is laid out like a giant wheel. Its upper city contains Queen Jennah’s royal palace and the Chamber of Ministers. Six high roads, each dedicated to a god, divide the lower city into districts.” In-game description

In Guild Wars 2, the quality of the architectural rendering makes it stand out in particular from the rest of the locations in the game (my opinion as a castle and cathedral admirer).

Below is my Asura admiring the view.  This screenshot was taken quite early on in the game for my character as I went straight there after completing the Asuran starting area, but I think it is a fantastic example of how much the city impacts on the Kryta landscape.

divinitys reach

It made me think back to my undergraduate studies where I was studying the architecture of medieval castles comparing those of King Edward I with his “Iron Ring” of Welsh castles, to that of the academically controversial Bodiam Castle. Are castles built for defensive purposes or are they intended as romantic allusions?

From the exterior, Divinity’s Reach looks strongly fortified with its gargantuan stone outer walls which circle the city, numerous amount of towers and a colossal portcullis.  To an outsider, the fortress is impenetrable and ticks all the boxes for the ultimate military structure. It is an exemplification of human domination over the Krytan landscape.

It is the combination between military stronghold and a fantastical, fairytale-like city that makes Divinity’s Reach stand out as an iconic structure to me. When you enter the interior walls it becomes apparent that despite it’s military mask, the city itself is highly sophisticated displaying a vast range of vernacular medieval-esque buildings.

gw015

The city is divided into districts, as commanded by it’s architectural design. These represent the hierarchy of society, as does a medieval castle, for example the higher up the structure you head the people who inhabit those areas are of higher status, in this case the lower districts are for the everyday citizens and the highest towers are Queen Jennah’s palatial complex.

Before I played the game I previously posted here about how the concept art of Divinity’s Reach reminded me of Mont Saint-Michel. Now I have played the game and explored the city I still agree with that comparison, and I think overall what ArenaNet was trying to portray with this location was the element of strength and power combined with a sophisticated civilisation in a race (in the context of the game- the human race). When compared to the architecture of the  other in-game races (such as Charr, Asura etc) their architecture also represents the ideals of their race.

Lastly, this is very true to architecture from history and to other countries today as our buildings become our identities, representative of the times. It is interesting how we implement these sort of ideals to in-game cultures as well.

For more architecture in gaming click here!

DivinitysReachHD

15 thoughts on “Divinity’s Reach- Epitome of Power

  1. I still can’t figure out how to gain some access to some of the locked off areas of Divinity’s reach to complete the map, there are some locations in the top right that I can’t access and it must come as part of a story quest I haven’t received yet.

    • you can get in there by going to the instance entrance. the entrance is on the ring, facing the area you have not visited yet. you should get a message that reads something like “enter instance”.
      it is the human quest area, so if you still can not find it, try making a human character and follow the green personal story star.
      you do not need to be a human to go inside, you just need to know where :P

  2. They are the human ‘personal instance’, the Salma District, which is accessed through a gate right by the ‘Salma District’ waypoint.

  3. The only strange part about Divinity’s Reach is the enormous portcullis in the front; what in the blazes needs a gate of that size to go in and out? I don’t think the dragons use doors, and whatever came out of it would certainly not fit under the bridge a short distance away.

    Mr. Justin Germino — the top right of the map is the “Home” for Divinity’s Reach. You’ll have to enter the instanced version of your “Home” and get the Points of Interest that way. :)

      • That would be amazing, hah! I WOULD like to see what purpose it serves, if there’s some other sinister reason for it existing (since we’ve seen some pretty dark things in the storylines). Maybe in the future, we might be so lucky!

  4. I’d be very interested to know what human ideals you think are portrayed through the architecture of Divinity’s Reach, and what ideal you think the other racial cities portray. One of the things I like about GW2′s races is that even though human still feels like the default for many of us, the humans of Tyria do feel like they have their own distinctive culture (complete with flaws and prejudices). Architecture in gaming, interesting topic!

    • I think that the humans wanted to portray themselves as the leading race of Tyria through Divinities Reach through power, law and sophistication- it’s name also suggests something holy/divine, as is the “Six high roads, each dedicated to a god” as quoted in the game. This religious civilty is very much what some of the other races lack, for example the Asura are all about technological advancement, the Charr represent an almost barbaric race with their war machinery, the Sylvari and the Norn are the ones in touch with nature (Sylvari with plants, and Norn with the wilderness and hunting).

      Yes I agree- think a future post is very much needed on the other racial cities too! Watch this space!

      • Divinity Reach and human cities are the representation what we think we humans look like, the Medieval or Renaissance dream, or at least it’s what we wanna show to the world. Charr, their cities and their lives, represent what we humans really are. Ashamed or not, they don’t represent our architecture but our real principles, or desires and actions. And they do so with a very special Roman way. I, on the other hand think that it’s a terrible mistake for Norn and Charrs to love to die in glorious battle. If we stick to evolving and civilization principles, Charrs rely on war knowledge and warfare, It will be highly unwise for them to let they soldiers to advance recklessly on battle and die, “It is not the roman way” whereas then Norn civilization relayed in forging a legend and glorious death in battle, more like a prove to others. Lets be honest those Norn are Viking, German, Celts and Druids all together. And as for Sylvari, well… they still are still an uncompleted race, uncompleted Matrix race.

      • Absolutely, the races are portrayed as though one is the antithesis of another, each of them having ideals that often conflict with one another. Also each can be interpreted as a facet of our own human nature today and throughout history.

  5. Completely game-unrelated (sorry!), but was wondering if you could explain more about why Bodiam Castle is academically controversial?
    I love castles – especially ruins – and like to learn more about them :-)

    • Hi, I love castles and ruin too! Bodiam Castle is academically controversial, or at least was to begin with. The debate was about deciding whether it was used for military defense or if it’s architecture was romantic by alluding to the idea of defense. It sways more to the romantic side as the surrounding moat isn’t very deep (apparently you can walk through it) and the crenellations aren’t big enough to hide an archer, so as a defensive fortress it wouldn’t last very long in a seige! :)

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