I am pretty excited about tomorrow’s update bringing a new path to the Twilight Arbor dungeon. Once Leif Chappelle broke radio silence on the official forums I knew that this update would be top notch. Chappelle worked on the really fun Molten Facility dungeon and he joined forces with the krewe of Aetherblade Retreat, which was also really well done. These folks, in my opinion, understand what should be a dungeon in Guild Wars 2.
However, this is a level 80 dungeon. I noticed between school starting and a vacation right after school started (I believe corpocratic discussions amidst Disney-beings is more worthwhile for my daughters’ futures than grammar and recess)… where was I, yes… I had stopped writing the New Players Guides. Believe you me, this was not a conscious decision. Thankfully some part of my gray matter had seen the pattern before I did. ArenaNet has been mixing their drinks lately for end game players.
The Bartender’s Mixture
The latest update, as I said, brings a level 80 path to a level 55 dungeon. This is not a huge deal since I would imagine that most explorable dungeon runners are well out-leveled to the “level” of the dungeon. The other bit of the update is that World vs. World matchup chests, which won’t make sense to any WvW greenhorn. However, these small chunks are more noteworthy when zoomed out a bit.
Previously, Clockwork Chaos started the trend upwards with the Scarlet invasions. These hours of farming happen in mostly low populated zones, but they begin at least at mid-level. Super Adventure Box came next. While any character level could play the asuran’s game it was largely for players returning to Super Adventure Box. This led to Tequatl’s sunrise, where only crazy end game players should apply to stand around and coordinate the open world raid. And now, back to the level 80 dungeon path. This Living World drink has been of late for the bar regulars.
I enjoyed the Living World cocktail from this stand point. Mrs. Ravious jumps at the chance to do Scarlet invasions whenever she can, even if it still devolves in to pirate champ hunting. I am enjoying my nightly tea with Tequatl, and as I said above, I am excited about the new path in Twilight Arbor. I am pretty sure I will be playing a bit more WvW with a new meta-achievement coming (only players completing the meta-achievement will get matchup rewards). Then I wonder, for how big Guild Wars 2 appears to be, where is everybody else playing.
Most nights now we are struggling to get a Tequatl overflow started. This past weekend the average drink order was to fail Tequatl right at server reset since we didn’t have an overflow or leadership, and then smash his face good the next time around in an overflow. Now I knew that many people have sworn off the mossy beast like a hangover from a 30 year scotch (shhh, we won’t tell them), but still my server is “Very High” in theory. What makes it so appears to be a bit of a bartender’s mystery. Scarlet invasions on Sanctum of Rall don’t appear to be even getting close to hitting overflow anymore.
The Scarlet Brand
One liquor I really want to focus on is Scarlet because she is really important in understanding what ArenaNet intends to do with their game. First, I need to head back to the game at launch… namely the war against Zhaitan.
At launch everything in PvE was built towards beating the elder dragon Zhaitan. The leveling experience started with regional conflicts, but quickly trended towards all eyes of Orr. The personal story followed the same path with the back end laser focused on killing Zhaitan, and even the dungeons had a looser arc that culminated in a story towards killing Zhaitan. Then we “killed” Zhaitan (yes, I am one of those conspiracy theorists). That bottle of black whiskey should be dry, and opening another one could mess up the whole bar scene.
Scarlet is the beer tap that never seems to run dry. It’s starting a bit slow, but as of tomorrow it appears that two permanent pieces of Scarlet content will exist. Scarlet invasions, which admittedly could be ripped out of the game, appear to have no end, and now a whole dungeon path will be permanently fixed on that bit of red ale. Should we ever defeat her ArenaNet is going to find themselves back at the point where we “killed” Zhaitan and all of the sudden all of Orr doesn’t make sense. Expect Scarlet to become a house brew.
I don’t pretend to even comprehend ArenaNet’s plan or the ultra-complex whale of a beer that is Scarlet. I just leveled up my 3rd level 80, and in Frostgorge Sound I hit a moment of melancholy in revisiting the kodan. The story told throughout Frostgorge Sound, especially with regard to the kodan, is so good. I think the zone is one of the best, and there is so much more to tell. This is of course one bit of the whole, yeah there is another elder dragon to fight. The expansionist stories throughout Tyria are everywhere including Orr, and instead ArenaNet seems to have taken a wild swing in another direction that no one seems to understand. I think I might be beginning to understand a little, but it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is not an obvious direction at the very least.
The bottom line though with Scarlet is if it doesn’t make sense to the regulars, how is it going to make sense to any boomerang customers. How am I supposed to explain the Scarlet happenings in the context of the original game? It is one thing to remind an old, lost player about the kodan and then say that the content is continuing on from that story. It’s another to feebly explain that Scarlet has nothing to do with any of that player’s game experience and is a whole new thing.
Brushing the Floor Off My Cheek
Picture a mirror world where ArenaNet released an expansion “Scarlet’s War (and Karka Friends)” where we were introduced to the new enemy in the manner of say a World of Warcraft expansion. That sounds pretty good.
Picture another mirror world where the Living World continued on from the original game that picks from any one of those juicy bits they left dangling, like the gate to the Crystal Desert. One of the tangential stories of the original game gets an expansion. For example, in that mirror world things would be centered around say Brisban Wildlands where there are weird enemy alliances and headed westward where we find Scarlet is the why there are Maguuma Wastes!
Instead we have a Living World with little-to-no grounding in the original game revealed in bite size chunks leaving much of the whole picture missing. Scarlet appears to have zero ties to the fall of Zhaitan. The karka (un)officially did at one time since their appearance was due to Zhaitan’s lessened influence in that sea, but again karka really feel like they came out of nowhere. The most excitement I have seen come from Scarlet is when she used the steam creatures because there was a mystery from the original game. There was finally some grounding, however slight.
The same goes for Tequatl. Here was an encounter we knew and loved/hated, and there is a story reason it became so much more a threat. Of course, ArenaNet won’t tell us why, but at least there is some sense of grounding.
I’m starting to agree with Wooden Potatoes’ stance that perhaps an expansion level update is needed to re-ground old players. ArenaNet has restructured their company to give us the bi-weekly updates. Now there needs to be a big splash to get people back in the doors. With 8-15 teams beyond the 4 Living World teams I am hoping one of them is working on such a splash.