Rebuilding Lion’s Arch Should Have Been Interactive

We now know the new improved Lion’s Arch will be in the next content update for Guild Wars 2. After just shy of a year and a half (about a year in game time) after the city was attacked and ruined, it will finally be rebuilt. Unfortunately Arenanet missed a golden opportunity to give their players a way to be personally involved in the rebuilding effort.

You might be thinking to yourself “hey we got a poll and got to pick names of some locations” and yes we did get to do that. However, how important is a name really? As much as I really dislike the name Phoenix Roost, at the end of the day it is just a name. It’s intangible. We got to actually help people evacuate and helped defend the city; why don’t we get the chance to actually help rebuild as well?

gw281I know we aren’t going to get anymore Living Story before Heart of Thorns launches, we’ve known this for quite a while. What we are getting are various events to fill the time between the end of Living Story 2 and HoT and although the rebuilding could have happened as part of the Living Story, nothing says it has to be a Living Story update.

Imagine instead of logging in one day to a completely rebuilt Lion’s Arch there’s a month long event which progresses in stages over the course of the month. Each week could be a new set of events for players to participate in to help with rebuilding. Some events could be as simple as donating various supplies to the cause, others could be more complex.

Maybe there’s a group out there who don’t want Lion’s Arch to be rebuilt? Maybe they feel like having a city which symbolizes the great things the different races can accomplish when they work together is a bad thing because they don’t want peace between the races? There could be events where players need to protect the workers or caravans arriving with supplies. Or maybe even search out these groups and deal with them directly.

There could also be events where the players could more directly help with rebuilding. Maybe help to clear out the harbor rubble or laying boards and bricks to build the different structures. These events could even be sequential where if the goal for one is met, there will be a break and at a predetermined time the next leg could pick-up where the last left off. If the goal wasn’t met the event would repeat until it was.

At the end of all of this we’d finally get to log in and see what our efforts built. Players would get the feeling of being a real part in the rebuilding and feel like they did something which actually made a difference. We could point to a memorial and say “I helped build that” or a building or road or harbor. There would be real attachment there.

gw284The downside of this is it would be nonpermanent content and some players really don’t like the possibility of missing something. This criticism was a big part of Areanet’s choice to make the Living Story content replayable; which was a great choice on their part. However, nonpermanent content still could play a valuable role in Guild Wars 2. As it is once Lion’s Arch is repaired players won’t be able to go back and experience the different stages it has gone through anyway. So it is already nonpermanent content some people will never see.

It’s also worth mentioning this is likely not the last time Lion’s Arch will be at least partially destroyed, and it would be surprising (and a bit sad) if no other major city is ever destroyed. Even though players couldn’t experience a specific rebuilding event again, they likely would have the chance to participate in others based on the same concept.

At the end of the day I’m glad I got to be a part of protecting Lion’s Arch. I’m glad it stayed in ruins for a substantial period of time. I’m glad it is being rebuilt in stages, and it isn’t being rebuilt to be exactly as it was before. I just wish I could have had a hand in the actual reconstruction.

Let’s Talk About Guild Wars 2′s Living Story Season 2

Originally posted on Gamebreaker May 7th, 2014.

The first season of the Guild Wars 2 Living Story wrapped up back in the middle of March and the “Big Features” patch is done, so now seems like a good time to start thinking about what I’d like to see happen in the next season.

Mordremoth and the Sylvari

In the very last story instance to wrap up everything from Season 1 Taimi talked about how Scarlet has awoken Mordremoth. She sets the stage for what will likely be the first act of the next Living Story Season, Mordremoth awakening and becoming active.

We know he is starting to stir because of the tyriaquakes which have been happening ever since Scarlet set off her device. However, he’s clearly not fully awake since nothing catastrophic has happened just yet. When he does wake we should see some zone altering changes and an outpouring of plant minions.

On that note the fact this Elder Dragon will be obviously of a plant type, there should be some interesting implications for the Sylvari. I wouldn’t be surprised to be meet another group of Sylvari who represent what they would have become if the Pale Tree’s seed hadn’t been stolen. If no one else does the Priory should be able to connect the dots on it. Assuming the truth of the Sylvari isn’t just said outright, there might be some people questioning if any Sylvari can truly be trusted. Additionally it will be interesting to see how the Nightmare Court reacts to all of this. I’d expect the Sylvari to also have a lot of soul searching to do. If any of them suspect they are creations of Mordremoth’s then there would be a whole interesting moral dilemma for them to deal with. What matters more? Who created them and why or what happened to them which made them different than what they were intended to be?

seperator2Rebuilding Lion’s Arch

Currently Lion’s Arch is just a mere shadow of it’s former self, which it should be. Rebuilding this city should absolutely take a lot of time and we definitely should not get LA back to exactly how it had been before. Rebuilding too quickly or making it exactly the same again would just undermine the importance of it being destroyed.

At the same time it shouldn’t just be an NPC only rebuilding process. Instead of having the rebuilding be a small event which happens during this season Arenanet could make it longer one which spans the whole season or more. For example one part could be a collection of wood and metal to help the rebuilding. Every person who contributed could help the process along and once a certain number of materials were collected that stage would be done.

With the implementation of the megaserver Arenanet could even set to goals for the entire population of GW2 to work on together. And it doesn’t need to just be collecting materials, there’s all sorts of events which could be utilized to help players feel like they really had an important part to play in the rebuilding.

New Boss Fight

Currently in the new universal Boss Timers there is a spot for an TBD boss. Now first thing first, it is unlikely this fight will be Mordremoth himself. I’m not sure how Arenanet intends to implement Elder Dragon fights in the future but making them a reoccurring fight seems unlikely. The only way I could that working out is if we fought him until he was forced to retreat, and then after he was beaten a certain number of times the final fight would be triggered (which would probably be a different fight). After that the time slot would go back to being a held time-slot for when the other Elder Dragons are faced.

While all that is possible, I don’t think it is likely. All the other dragon fights on the timers are champions of other dragons so it probably makes sense for Arenanet to stick with this pattern. The only real issue with making the new boss fight be the Champion of Mordremoth’s is we might find ourself in a similar situation as we are with Teq. If the plan with Living Story content is truly to tell stories which have a real and tangible affect on Tyria, fighting the same bosses forever will need to be addressed at some point. The current issue of still having to fight Teq after Zaihtan has been defeated for people who have finished the Personal Story.

Pacing

I’m not too worried about this next season of the Living Story starting of as slow as the last one. Near the end Arenanet really seemed to get a handle on how to present the story in an engaging way and when to reveal important info.

What I am concerned about is better story progression overall. My biggest annoyance with Scarlet was how we were always trailing behind her and never actually prevented her from doing anything. Every time we faced her it was on her terms and while we might have accomplished little things (like destroying the nightmare tower) it was only after she had accomplished her goal for that particular endeavor.

We a absolutely should face technical failures when facing very formidable beings. But never having any real success is extremely discouraging. I’m not saying we should be given some simple tasks to get our successes and make us feel good, but we should be able to at least occasionally actually accomplish something.

guild wars 2 mmorpg features 2     Lets Talk About Guild Wars 2s Living Story Season 2The new icons

One big loose end still out there is Rox needs to go face Rytlock and wrap up the whole part about how she was supposed to help kill Scarlet to get into his warband. I was really disappointed to see there was no real personal growth and self awareness from her at the end of the last season. Braham could use some personal growth and self awareness as well.

Mr. E… Yea we still don’t know that is or really anything aside from whoever it is was trying to help Marjory. I really hope that side story is developed more.

Taimi and Zojja could really use some “on screen” time together. All of their interactions so far have happened somewhere else and the we just get a recounting of what happened from Taimi, which is just disappointing. I’d really like to see how those two affect each other over time.

All that boils down to…

A catastrophic awakening of Mordremoth, some interesting consequences for the Sylvari, a new dragon fight, new icon character development, and an engaging rebuilding of Lion’s Arch. For everything I am expecting to happen (and I am sure there will be other things I haven’t thought of) I would guess the next season will last either an entire year or maybe a bit more. What are you looking forward/hoping to see?

What If Scarlet Doesn’t Die?

Quick word of caution, if you haven’t done the current Living Story story instance there will be some minor spoilers in this article.

The beginning of the end has started for the Living Story Season 1, and with it there have been some interesting developments. Our merry little band of NPC characters has now grown by one with the addition of Taimi, a precocious Asura who pretty quickly attaches herself to Braham despite his protests. Taimi’s ultimate goal seems to be to meet Scarlet and become her apprentice and eventually overthrow her. That’s a pretty big aspiration, even for an Asura. If we assume the speculation about this group of heroes basically being a Destiny’s Edge 2.0 is correct, then with the addition of Taimi we have one spot left to fill. And no Sylvari.

One of the more interesting conversations in the story instance happens between Rox and Rytlock. He finally tells Rox she can join the Stone Warband if she kills Scarlet. Now, I am pretty sure Rytlock isn’t saying Rox needs to go challenge Scarlet to a duel or anything, that would be a bit silly, but rather she just needs to be a big part of the effort to take Scarlet down. Similar to when Rox was hunting down Tequatl. Of course hearing this news upsets Braham because he still is dealing with his abandonment issues and there is a fight between them which is sadly reminiscent of Logan and Rytlock.

However, I don’t think the goal here really is to rip Rox away from this group. I’m expecting some character growth to happen with her where she realizes she already has a group she belongs with despite them not being Charr. Now this certainly could happen with Scarlet being killed and having Rox be offered membership and at that point realizing she doesn’t want to leave her friends behind… but feels a bit meh and formulaic. Now I am finding myself leaning more towards hoping there is some possible way to save Scarlet, and possibly even having Rox be the one to make the call not to kill her. Which is weird for me since I have been championing the idea of Scarlet dying one way or another.

Which leads me to an interview gamerzines posted with lead designer Mike Zadorojny in which he said something really interesting:

“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.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.”

Now there are a few important things here. The first is this apparently is confirmation someone or something is controlling Scarlet. Now this is a really sad and almost perverse revelation for Scarlet personally. Right from the beginning she has always wanted to do her own thing and break free from any concept of what she was supposed to do. To know most of what she accomplished has only been under the influence of some other being is just sad. This fits nicely in with the bits from her journal in game which also indicate she was aware on some level of this thing trying to control her and her struggle against it.

The other important part is he mentions we will see her transformation. Which seems to possibly indicate we’ll somehow see the events when she was in the Asura contraption and see this thing take over her. Or possibly the events in the Edge of the Mists update will be a look into the pass and we might see the end of her struggle against this thing. Though it seems like an odd choice to at this point somehow go back in time and see things which have already happened. It’s possible but I’m not convinced that’s where this is going.

Instead, I am leaning towards in the next patch we will learn what is controlling Scarlet and we’ll either figure out how, or start working on figuring out how to free her from the control of whatever it is. Now there is some basis in the lore where Destiny’s Edge used magical tattoos to prevent the dragon champions and even Kralkatorrik from controlling their minds; it should also be possible to free someone of mind control using some sort of similar method. In this case the transformation we would be witnessing would be Scarlet going from this crazy, random, weird mess to a whole person who is possibly a bit horrified at some of the things she has done. If that’s how things play out then it is quite possible for Scarlet to then join up with our merry band of adventurers and work to try and rectify some of the damage she caused.

My only issue is while I could see things playing out like this and it makes sense, I have very mixed feelings about it all. I think it would be really cool if she died in a fiery ball of villainy; but if she is just some evil god’s pawn I’d rather she die under her own free will saving everything. I mean it would be cool to get to know her as a real character with a personality aside from brilliant insanity… Completely depends on how they play it out in game though. But I think it’s a very real possibility she might be the last member of the new icons group.