Happy Lunar New Year to all my readers! 🙂
As the event is on its second day of run and that the mechanics of it is fairly straightforward, this will be a short post on the appreciation for the event and its special dungeon design. Moreover, it will include the cultural references which the bosses, characters and gears in this update were drawn from.
In celebration of the Spring Festival, the game features a beautifully-modeled dungeon that has been designed specially for the Legendary Hunt. For this mission, you are required to journey into the subterranean depths to defeat the demon Fangliang.
Despite the linear pathway, the 4 separate unique environments provide a somewhat open-world feel to the gameplay and breaking the monotony of travelling from one checkpoint to another. Making your way from the forest, to the temple, into the underground passage gives an impending feeling of darkness before you finally descend into the boss’ lair itself. A similar approach as to how the long time classic Diablo series constructs its maps, which the environment design probably draws its inspiration from.
However, I do find it unfortunate that most (myself inclusive) would prefer the more time-efficient option of rushing the dungeon instead of playing through it past the first round. Perhaps it might be more appropriate to have the bonus WP revived for this hunt for less of an one-time play-through.
The event is rather generous with its giveaways for this festive occasion. Including the 7-day event calendar and event special missions, you’ll get a total of 12 free Spring festival chests. These offer a good selection of epic to legendary boosted Nature gears with a Mossback added into the potential loot.
Cultural Easter Eggs
Academic Note: As much as I dislike drawing references from Wikipedia, these are the only main sources of (readily-available) information I was able to get my hands on for this entry.
After much research, cultural connections with this year’s Zodiac animal seems rather lacking. This, compared to the past 2 years of gameplay (ie. 2016’s Monkey, 2017’s Rooster), seems to be void of direct and/or deeper ties to the animal itself besides the Dog-shaped statues in the first forest zone of the map.
On the positive side, the other themes hold true to oriental mythology.
The demon which you fight is named Fangliang 方良 (or Wangliang 魍魎 if you caught it initially from the Update Log) – an underground mountain dwelling demon in Chinese/ Japanese/ Korean folklore. While it has been written that it takes on plenty of forms, the term Fangliang refers most closely to this game’s variant of a ‘Graveyard demon‘ that eats the livers and brains of corpses.
This aligns well with the theme of journeying into the demon’s abode where you encounter a group of cursed Ghouls in the underground passage, and later multiple cursed Vapidus (a Spirit class minion) in the final area. These could be speculated to be the corpses and their souls that Fangliang had consumed and probably have been manifested to defend the demon.
Although there aren’t many graphical depictions of Fangliang/ Wangliang around, it is interesting to note that the design could be made in reference to a less-known species in Dungeons & Dragons of the same name (ie. Wang-liang). These humanoid cousins of Oni (Demons) and Ogres too fit the description of its cultural counterparts as they are known to live in mountains and can shape-shift at will.
Additionally, they wield customised magical weapons and wear splint mail that fit specifically to their larger body frames for combat purposes. This could be made in relation to the oriental-looking gear it has equipped for this confrontation. Wang-liangs are also known to have periodic invisibility, which resembles the demon’s teleportation ability during the fight.
Another interesting element to note would be the ties to the theme of Journey to the West – a fictional tale that is based on the Buddhist monk Xuanzang’s pilgrimage from Central Asia to India to receive sutras and is accompanied by Sun Wukong (a once-rebellious Monkey King), Zhu BaJie (a disgraced general reincarnated into a humanoid pig), Sha WuJing (an exiled River Ogre). While I’m not going to cover ‘Journey to the West’ since it has been done extensively throughout numerous games and media internationally, the featured ErLang Shen is the subject of highlight for this entry.
The one seeking your help to defeat Fangliang is none other than the 3-eyed demi-god in Chinese folklore, ErLang Shen 二郎神 (or directly translated as ‘Second Son God’). Much of the design of his gear pieces are done right, with the All-seeing third eye embedded in his armour’s headpiece and the signature three-pronged spear which is consistent in the design of his glaive. Moreover, the immensely high stats and magical properties/traits certainly give it the title of being the first ever S-grade gear set.
ErLang Shen has had connections to the literature of Journey of the West as he was responsible for subduing Sun Wukong when he was wrecking the heavens. After competing with Wukong’s 72 transformations and seeing through his disguise, ErLang’s dog Xiaotian Quan (嘯天犬) bit his leg while the gods took him down and imprisoned him. … …perhaps a nod to this year’s Zodiac animal?
Although I’ve not found any ties between Journey to the West and Fangliang, it does seem like a plausible connection since Erlang Shen and Xuanzang’s team have been known to work together to defeat more powerful foes later in the novel. Thus, it isn’t as far-fetched for the game devs to make a mountain-dwelling demon the subject of bounty for this instance.
That’s about it for this short post and once again…
Happy Lunar Year!