[GW2] Ree: Focus on the Enemy

I admit I was a little concerned with the story of Guild Wars 2 within the game. Of the three starting zones we’ve seen, there seems to be absolutely no mention of Zhaitan, the Elder Dragon of Death. This seems very much unlike ArenaNet’s Guild Wars mode of storytelling where the crisis is told early on, such as the dragon-forged destroyers chasing players towards an asura gate. It really wasn’t until late last year at the big conventions did ArenaNet show us “the Enemy” with Sparkfly Fen and the Tequatl the Sunless zone boss. How would our character stories progress from racial issues to Big Bad Zhaitan? How much focus would there be on the villain that had the first Guild Wars 2 trailer dedicated to it?

In the latest lore interview by Guild Wars Insider, Ree Soesbee, hints at the great focus that was originally seen in the first trailer only to be diluted by later trailers and demos of actual play:

GWI: Obviously with the return of Zhaitan comes the return of Arah, so what role will that city play in Guild Wars 2?

Ree: I can tell you a little…Arah is where the dragon lives. Zhaitan doesn’t get up and wander around the world, he sits in Arah and his minions bring him things to eat and things to make him powerful, and anything else that in inscrutable mind of the hurricane is looking for. As a player character, you’re going to need to defeat Zhaitan. That’s simply where you have to go, because he’s not going to come to you. So it’s playable, and we expect the players to look forward to the great battles against Zhaitan, on his turf and in his city. We expect players of Guild Wars to recognize, and players of Humans to point out, that this was once the city where the Gods walked, even if they’re not there now.

She goes on to say that even getting to Orr is a big deal involving a naval attack on Orr. Soesbee also points to many water preserved lore gems found in the still sunken parts of Orr.

I know that Guild Wars 2 has to build that brand, but as a Guild Wars player I kind of want Guild Wars 2: Death Dragon (or another cooler title) instead of Guild Wars 2 [Lots of Stuff]. The Elder Dragons seem so epic and worthy of huge focus. Anyway, I think this is pretty good evidence that there is going to be significant play based on Zhaitan and his minions, likely at the “end game.” Soesbee flat out says that players are going to need to go there to beat him.

I hope that ArenaNet can return some of the focus of the first trailer back to players’ minds. Anyway the whole 7000 word interview is really good. Listening to the audio is even better because Soesbee is so passionate about her work. Check it out at Guild Wars Insider.


8 thoughts on “[GW2] Ree: Focus on the Enemy”

  1. “It really wasn’t until late last year at the big conventions did ArenaNet show us “the Enemy” with Sparkfly Fen and the Tequatl the Sunless zone boss.”
    What about The Shatterer that we saw the year before in the Dragonbrand? He is just the same as Tequatl the Sunless: a elder dragon’s lieutenant.

  2. It really is a fantastic interview. Both entertaining and interesting/informative.

  3. Listening to Ree talk four 40 something minutes is so much better than reading all that wonderful info. Don’t get me wrong, I love the interviews. Just the podcast format is also really nice, especially when dealing with such devoted developers.

  4. Just because they don’t focus down the final boss doesn’t mean the game won’t be as good as you expected! Guild Wars 2 does not have to paste the face of the final boss on the front cover of their box to attract players– anyone who is truly interested in playing Guild Wars 2 will do so because they’ve done some level of research, and realized that the game is well worth the investment! Besides, don’t you like the idea of a grand finale against a boss nobody has ever seen (albeit in the cinematic trailer A-net presented)? It really creates much more suspense and terror when you don’t even know what your enemy is going to look like.

    I think drawing the focus towards the richly diverse cultures within Guild Wars 2 is a much better step than drawing all focus towards a single super-massive, yet rather flat entity who may not even have the power of rational thought.

    1. I agree, but that might be because I role-play and I love the various GW2 races so much. I’m also a fan of games which don’t give away their later missions/story/fights before release – I like working up to it through the game, not the publicity.

      Besides, I’m not in a hurry to work my way through the Elder Dragons, hehe. I’d never thought about sending my characters through Arah though… *lore geek squee*

      1. I’m a HUGE exploration fan, so I’m going to try to thoroughly enjoy the content each unique zone has to offer. I like enjoying my games, not rushing through content blindly to race to the final boss.

  5. I don’t think it’s fair to expect GW2 to get to the meat of the story as quickly as GW1. For starters, there’s 80 levels which gives them plenty of time to build on the story slowly, which is far more interesting. The dragons ARE epic so they should build up to them accordingly.

    They also want to encourage players to enjoy leveling and if the focus is all about a big boss you won’t be fighting for 79 levels, that’s hard to do.

    Plus there’s the emphasis on personal stories to enhance re-playability. They don’t want the experience to be same story, different race and/or profession so that also necessitates a variety of subplots. What you see as diluting the story, I see as adding depth.

    Also, the destroyer storyline in GW1 isn’t introduced until level 10. You’re also a few missions in before you know what you’re ultimately going up against in Factions and Nightfall. I don’t remember hearing about the big bad before leaving Pre-searing in the original campaign either now that I think about it.

    And even then, was it a purely a story telling decision to get to the main crisis early on or did necessity play a part?

    This brings me to the key difference between GW1 and GW2.

    GW1 is a campaign driven CORPG with self-contained storylines, and GW2 is an expansive MMORPG. The approach to story telling should be different.

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