“Nothing is sacred, everything can be destroyed.”
If for whatever reason you stopped playing Guild Wars 2 over the past year, do yourself a favour and start playing again!
Big things are about to hit the land of Tyria, but don’t take our word for it. Heed the advice of Guild War 2‘s lead designer Mike Zadorojny who recently spoke to us about the big plans ArenaNet have for the conclusion of the Living Story: Season One.
“Basically this entire time we’ve been doing this massive story, with lots of undertones and hidden plots throughout this entire year, and over the next four releases we’re tying all that together,” he declared while talking us through the forthcoming updates.
“We’re doing it in an epic fashion with some major revelations and some things that’ll change the face of Tyria as we know it.”
Guild Wars’ Living Story strategy is most easily summed up as an attempt to keep the story of Tyria moving post-launch, with the introduction of one-off events and permanent inclusions which expand the gameworld and introduce new characters while evolving existing ones. This strategy began in January 2012 with the Flame and Frost Legion: Prelude update, and since then ArenaNet has been adding more and more content to Guild Wars 2 for free at an increased frequency (as often as every two weeks), with recurring antagonist Scarlet Briar at the centre of everything. Each new update extended an elaborate and at times confusing tapestry of allegiances and enemy factions, ranging from airship-bound Aetherblade Pirates to deranged Nightmare Court, all of whom were working on behalf of Ms Briar towards a mysterious yet seemingly grand goal.
Such a steady stream of worthwhile content had rarely been attempted in an MMO before, especially one that didn’t require players to pay a subscription fee, and while latter updates like Nightmare Tower energised the community with a wealth of new content to explore, earlier updates like Last Stand at Southsun Cove fell flat with bugs marring an otherwise lacklustre story. Crucially, ArenaNet has been learning from their mistakes and with each update are getting better and better at adding features fans care about and extending the story in an entertaining, more detailed, fashion. Outside of the Festival events, the most recent update Origins of Madness has been the best yet and finally padded out Scarlet’s character, which has been an issue ever since the evil mastermind was first mentioned in the game’s fiction.
Oddly it was outside of Guild Wars 2, where players actually got to learn of Scarlet’s motivations and back story, via a selection of short stories on the game’s official website. This reliance on supplemental material to fully grasp the Living Story is something fans have complained about for a long time, and it seems Arenanet have finally listened to this feedback, as starting with the Origins of Madness update, they’re finally allowing those brilliant short story details to bleed into the actual game.
Bundled in the most recent patch was not only an opportunity to battle more minions of Scarlet, including a giant robot lady marionette and refreshed Jungle Wurm boss, but also an opportunity to visit Scarlet’s secret underground lair and take a peek into her psyche via previously locked away journal pages.
“This is the first time players get to see a little bit of the history behind Scarlet and tells the back story of how she looked into the eternal alchemy, and saw something looking back at her,” Mike explained in a typically excited fashion.
“This malevolent being out there was so powerful that it started taking over her mind and giving her suggestions in terms of what she should be doing and things like that. There is a big point here, in terms of the battle between Scarlet’s free will versus this creature’s and you’ll see her transformation.”
Previously Scarlet Briar has been viewed as a kind of Joker-esque character, a mysterious antagonist who twists things behind the scenes for no reason more than her own personal amusement, but this most recent patch has changed that from an in-game perspective, echoing the consistently entertaining short stories which still remain buried in ArenaNet’s news archive.
That’s enough about the past though, what about the game’s future? What “malevolent being” is ‘Mr Z’ is referring to? This is ‘the’ question that Guild Wars fans have been scratching their heads over for the past year with Scarlet’s behaviour proving erratic and unpredictable, but the exciting thing is that over the next four updates (scheduled to launch from now until spring) all these questions will be answered and more as ArenaNet set up what will be a grander and more personal plot for Living Story: Season 2.
“A lot of the focus of these final releases will be putting the player character at the centre of the story again. For the personal story it was all about the player’s journey and during the last year we’ve been telling the story of the world. Now we want to get back to why the player matters in the story,” Mike again foretold, with the promise that Tyria won’t be the same after this current season wraps up.
“Nothing is sacred, everything can be destroyed,” he revealed in a rather foreboding manner.
The point that we’re making is this – Guild Wars’ Living Story is finally beginning to pay off and over the next four releases players, be they returning or long term, will get to see everything that ArenaNet has been working up to for the past year without the need to plonk down any extra money. Many MMO developers would either charge a subscription fee or force the player to snap up an expansion in order to enjoy this extra content, but instead ArenaNet are giving it away for free in the hopes that they’ll hook you into their game for the long term.
Inevitably the trade of for this kind of event-driven update cycle is that the really meaningful story content won’t stick around for long, but then isn’t that what the term Living World is all about? Giving players an opportunity to explore meaningful moments that are finite and unreplayable, offering them ownership of said moments, empowering them to tell there friends ‘I was there way back when…’. You know, like you would in the real world when something momentous happens!
Well, something momentous is happening and is about to happen in Tyria, and if you care about the MMORPG genre or gaming in general, you owe it to yourself to be part of it.
Tags: Guild Wars 2
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