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.
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.
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!