[GW2] Tequila, Twilight Bitters, and an 8-bit Garnish

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.

The 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.

Grand Re-Opening

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.


9 thoughts on “[GW2] Tequila, Twilight Bitters, and an 8-bit Garnish”

  1. I think there’s less than meets the eye in all of this. As a comics fan of decades-long standing, I recognize conflicted continuity when I see it. It’s one thing to say you’re adopting an approach avowedly based on the episodic, open-ended model of a modern TV series, but while TV shows may have sometimes have scores of writers, all those writers work directly on a single narrative.

    What we have here seems to be much more like the system used by both Marvel and DC in the 1960s through the 1980s (and probably ever after – I wouldn’t know, I stopped buying comics in about 1992). A bunch of different crews are working on episodic content, nominally within the same “Universe” but largely in isolation. The Batman of Detective Comics is barely recognizable as the same character as the Batman in World’s Finest, who seems different again from the Batman in the Justice League, even though all three comics come out in the same month.

    To give a specific example, just what exactly is Rox supposed to be doing in Sparkfly Fen? Have you actually listened to what she says? From the wiki :

    “Tribune Brimstone dispatched me here with one mission: locate and defeat Tequatl and bring back a chunk of the rotter to prove it.”

    “It’s a test to get into the Stone warband. Kill the beast; bring back a trophy. I know, sounds more like a norn thing. Maybe all the time with Braham will pay off now.”

    And when you ask her if she needs a hand :

    “Hmm. The tribune never said anything about teaming up with others. Yeah, sure. Me, you, and Frostbite will crush Tequatl. If you want, you can help us track it.”

    Just examine that for a minute. We’re supposed to believe that Rytlock Brimstone, a Charr who should know just how dangerous a dragon can be if anyone does, has sent a young soldier to kill Tequatl *on her own* as a test to see if she’s worthy of joining his warband. The same young soldier he already knows to have played a major role in uncovering and defeating the Molten Alliance and whom he sent as the official Charr diplomatic representative to the Royal Jubilee in Divinity’s Reach, where she acquitted herself with honor.

    Now he sends her alone to kill a dragon that he absolutely has to know would require several full Charr warbands to defeat in its previous, weaker incarnation. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming he thinks he’s sending her to fight the old Tequatl, this is a suicide mission. He must really not want her in that warband.

    It reminds me so much of the “glory” days of Bob Haney. Anything goes if it gets the character where you want the narrative to go. Continuity? What’s that? If I say Batman can fly, he can fly. Who’s writing this thing, anyway? Meanwhile down the corridor, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams are angsting their way through the dark corridors of Bruce Wayne’s soul and somewhere poor Dick Giordano’s tearing out the little of what remains of his hair trying to work out how all this can be happening to the same superhero in the same week.

    Any sense this ever makes will be retrospective. And then someone will come along after that and rewrite it all over again. Trying to untangle makes for an amusing parlor game or a lively discussion in the bar at a Convention, but hope for anything much more meaningful than that and you’re likely to be very disappointed.

  2. From my personal perspective it’s been a slow 4 weeks + 2 more to come; I did make an ascended weapon for novelty but haven’t any desire to repeat it, and no interest in SAB, massive multiplayer events or non-scaling dungeons.

    Still total faith there’ll be something more to my taste in the next month or two! ^_^

    However; as soon as I read Bhagpuss’ “I think there’s less than meets the eye in all of this” comment, I thought it pretty much perfectly sums up the living story arc from a lore perspective.

    As you wrote Scarlett is being placed in a fairly unkillable position now, and everything seen of Scarlett so far is consistent with their notion of having her be a “cosmic” level villain; 9+ times out of 10 I’m confident all things that happen while we’re in The Scarlet Arc (I petition it be henceforth known as The Briar Patch!) – will just be caused by Scarlet waving her hands.

    I don’t think it’s really accurate to call her a Villain Sue (because there’s nothing coming across to suggest the devs think she’s the bestest villain ever), but since her powerset encompasses: ALL science, ALL magic and making ALL evil factions her minions… there’s really nothing that cannot be attributed to her.

    I would love for Anet to blow our minds with something new & spectacular – e.g. “THE UNDERWATER DRAGON ADOPTED TEQUATL AND YOU MUST STRIKE BACK INTO ITS NEW UNDERWATER LANDS!!” – but realistically it’s going to be a few more snippets of NPC investigation dialogue spread across updates, then the ‘reveal’ that everything is Scarlet using uber science-magic (again).

    My philosophy is just to concentrate on the gameplay content of Living World for now, and not try to invest in the lore or storytelling until Scarlet is shuffled off the stage.

  3. “Then I wonder, for how big Guild Wars 2 appears to be, where is everybody else playing.”

    Speaking for myself I’ve been champ and boss hunting (not Teq :) ) on my 80 mesmer and I have started levelling my ranger who is now lvl 22. I did my first fractal on the weekend. I was really impressed with the level design and the end animation of the huge giant farewelling us made all the effort worth it.

    I am eager to try more fractal’s but it is difficult to get my regular group together and we have not had much luck finding stable large GW2 guilds in the Aussie timezone on SoS. I might try my luck with the LFG tool but I am not really enthusiastic grouping with random’s who tend to drop at the slightest difficulty in instances.

    As for the scarlet event I have no idea what that is except when I see the message I head over to the zone for easy loot. Was the scarlet event related to something else? I assumed it was something ArenaNet put in to keep people busy until the next Living World addon.

  4. I am not particularly surprised at the bush-league writing in the Living Story. I get the feeling that the writing team are best suited to writing short, linear pieces but are all at sea with the more complex requirements of writing a good interactive narrative. BioWare’s said in the past they found there’s not a lot of correlation between good linear writing and good non-linear writing; most of the conversations and one-liners in the Living Story are pretty good but it’s almost always structured terribly.

  5. “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”
    – this exactly. In some ways I can totally understand it, what with zone stories (set in hearts and event chains which are integral to the zone) being stuck in time and conflicting with the desire to move the world forward. I think a recurring living story enemy is the way to go – so that we have three potentially simultaneous storylines, personal story, dungeon story and living story – and that’s what I assumed the Consortium would be when they were first introduced. I expected them to be behind the Molten Alliance through some ill-advised initiative they didn’t think through. It hasn’t been quite that unified though, and now we have Scarlet she really has to last a while, but I don’t know that she was a good choice for this role.

    I agree that Frostgorge has good stuff, and I actually think it’s fairly well equipped to be expanded upon; what is now a Pact vanguard in the north can be reframed as a rear guard charged with holding the border to settled regions against the Claw(s) and such while the Pact pushes further into new zones, without Frostgorge needing much changing from its current state. Bring on the road to Jormag please! I don’t care if it takes a year to actually reach him; make it a real, real-time campaign and I will be thrilled.

    On an unrelated note, can we talking about the notes saying “after the release, [Aether Key Pieces] will only be found in the Tarnished Coast and Steamspur Mountain areas”? Because those are zones which are marked but not opened and I am getting my hopes up here.

    1. Yeah that was a weird way of putting where the key pieces would drop. Would’ve been easier to say Maguuma or just list the zones…

    2. I wouldn’t get hopes up excessively. I took it to mean zones that were on the Tarnished Coast (Metrica Province, Caledon Forest) but not zones like Brisban Wildlands which are also Maguuma Jungle.

      Steamspur Mountains, according to the wiki, is the range south of the Shiverpeaks. The guess is that areas like Bloodtide Coast, Sparkfly Fen, Timberline Falls and Mount Maelstrom all fall under it.

      I don’t know if that’s it precisely, I’m more thinking that Lornar’s Pass (since it has steam creatures) and Timberline Falls may be the Steamspur Mountain range they want to cover.

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