Originally posted on Gamebreaker November 22nd, 2013.
After covering the differences between the Elder Dragons and the Dragon Champion, Let’s talk about what could be done for the next Guild Wars 2 Elder Dragon fight.
It would be really nice to see a significant part of next year’s content to be devoted to taking down at least one of the remaining elder dragons. I don’t really mind that the living story seems to have gone in different direction. There are more things in the world aside from the dragons, but they are there and never dealing with them will make the world feel stagnant despite anything else that happens during the Living story updates. However, the one elder dragon fight we have had so far was a bit disappointing.
At the end of the personal story player characters group up to fight off Zhaitan. This fight is often criticized by players for being a bit of a letdown on a few different levels. I feel pretty confidant the reason we haven’t faced another so far is due at least in part to the criticism Arenanet received from this fight. The biggest issue with fighting Zhaitan was the fight was just boring. I tend to not like “vehicle” fights very much because it always makes me feel like what profession I am and what skills I use doesn’t matter. It’s just underwhelming after working on a character so long only to make it to the big fight and have my character feel like it didn’t matter… was very disappointing.
I was also annoyed we either never saw him up close. Either that, or he was WAY too small to be an elder dragon. Elder dragons are supposed to be huge beasts of raw power and magic. In Arah he seemed no bigger than Tequatl, which is just incredibly disappointing. Additionally he didn’t seem to fight back much. Everything built up to taking him down. That build up felt epic and really got me excited about what was coming only to have me participate in a fight was relatively boring. Zhaitan never directly attacks the ship players are on. Rather, he sends in his minions electing to sit on a tower as we pummel him until he “dies”.
Another point I would like to make is that the death of an elder dragon should radically change a zone. Considering how they affect things when they rise, everything should change when they fall. Unfortunately if this is done in a dungeon everyone doesn’t have to do, suddenly changing the entire zone would be disconcerting for other players. This is sort of the problem Arenanet got themselves into with Zhaitan. The couldn’t just go and randomly make Orr all better for anyone who finished Arah because that would permanently split the community. However, killing him and nothing changing makes it all feel incredibly pointless.
Living Story is an opportunity to do it better
Using the Living Story could be a good way to handle all of these shortcomings. We have already seen permanent changes applied to a zone through the Living Story so it’s not a completely out there idea. Any fight against an elder dragon will need to have a fair amount of “getting ready to fight” stuff to make it feel “real”. No one just wakes up one day and goes “oh I’m going to go kill an elder dragon today”… well no one smart at least. We could have a few Living Story updates dealing with the preparation to fight. Doing standard things like gathering supplies, building weapons and fortifications, finding a lure.
A lure? Yep a lure a is important. Why would a elder dragon come fight us? We are like ants to them, and not the cool scary army ants but puny little black ants no one even notices. There’s no real reason one would feel the need to personally engage with us unless we were doing something which required the elder dragon’s personal attention. And any of the current active dragons will be much more vulnerable on the ground and should avoid landing at all costs, so we would need to find a way to get him on the ground or else we’ll be stuck with another gunship battle. We could possibly shoot an elder dragon out of the air… but finding something he would want seems much more feasible than doing that.
In addition to being able to prepare for an epic battle through living story they could also deliver an epically long battle lasting at least two weeks. I know… I can hear you thinking that having a battle last that long is just unrealistic. Yes, most battles last hours/days. However, there have been a number of battles throughout history which have lasted a long time. In fact, a battle during WWI lasted 10 months. Having the fight with an Elder Dragon last weeks would also give as many people as possible a chance to participate in the fight and see it without making a reoccurring event.
I’d also really like to see the next elder dragon fight be a huge world event. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone participate together on one server. That would be awful. Instead I would like to see something like a world progress bar of how the fight is going to really make the fight feel huge and epic. It would also be pretty neat if they could do something where the elder dragon’s appearance changes over the course of the fight to reflect different steps to beating him being accomplished. It could really be fun and exciting. The last step could also be permanent change in the zone where the fight occurs, which when fighting an elder dragon only makes sense and would really make it feel like something big was accomplished.
That’s what I want to see out of the next fight with an elder dragon, what would you like to see happen?