Monday, August 6, 2012

Dragon Problems

           One of my largest remaining concerns is how ArenaNet plans on tackling the Elder Dragons.  Currently, we know that at the level cap we will be fighting Zhaitan on the island of Orr.  We also know that this “final battle” will take place in an instanced dungeon that we will have to battle our way across Orr to reach.   It was also confirmed today that after we defeat the encounter, if we choose to return, we will fight something different.  What that ‘something’ is still remains elusive.

                However Zhaitan is only one of five Dragons.  There’s Jormag from the Northern Shiverpeak Mountains,  Primordius fighting the dwarves beneath the surface of Tyria, Kralkatorrik who now resides in the Crystal Desert severing contact with Elona, and of course an unnamed dragon affectionately named ‘Bubbles’ by fans that awoke at the bottom of the sea.  (I’m seriously hoping that the fan-made name sticks.)

                Each has a compelling story, but how interested will players be after killing Zhaitan?  If, we do indeed kill/maim/end Zhaitan’s reign, will the other dragons feel as great a threat?

                The Elder Dragons have been described as forces of nature, uncaring about the inhabitants of Tyria or even their own minions.   We have been told that they have been around since the first known event (or it has been speculated that they are perhaps even older) on the timeline, the Giganticus Lupicus or more commonly known as the Great Giants roamed Tyria.  In an interview dating to 2009 and even in today’s Twitch stream, Jeff and Ree revealed that there is even internal strife between the Elder Dragons.  They have no allegiance or alliance and in several areas in-game, we will see the minions of the dragons encounter and fight each other.

                I think Zhaitan is definitely an interesting enemy for the first content release of Guild Wars 2.  However, when you start combining the fact that there are five of them and that the Dragons appear uncaring and un-relatable, we may lose interest as Guild Wars 2 ages and expansions are released.

                At a personal level, I’ve always liked seeing some sort of redeeming quality in my villains.  Arthas was perhaps one of the greatest antagonist in World of Warcraft because his lore was so convoluted and complex.  He transformed from being one of the strongest champions of the good and just, and slowly converted to becoming the Lich King over years of powerful events, that we as players can relate to from both a story and personal standpoint.  I enjoy seeing some sort of gray-scale in MMOs.  Most of the people we encounter in our lives are neither inherently evil nor wholly pure, and having a relatable villain is what makes encounters so widely compelling to players.  Should we kill him, or should we try to save him?  What are we willing to sacrifice to end his reign?  With the inherent characteristics of the Elder Dragons, we are forced to kill them or send them back to sleep.  Is that as interesting a choice?  I think players will have to decide for themselves when we start encountering our second or third Elder Dragon.

                This concern is combined when you start examining the relationships of the other Dragons. It definitely seems that the Elder Dragons are on a relative equal power level, so there’s no reason to speculate that Jormag for example will represent a greater threat to Tyria than Zhaitan.   What prevents a player from saying, “Oh yay, another dragon” with the sort of disdained interest that plagues the fantasy genre. 

                To be fair, the environment changes drastically with each Dragon, and several of them offer a way to expand the world of Tyria outward , even further than the map of Guild Wars 1. Finally and perhaps the greatest counterargument,  I’m pretty sure, the developers at ArenaNet are far smarter than me, and have probably already created a solution to my problem.  However, for now at least, I remain concerned.


  1. Honestly, I don't even know the back story on most enemies I fought in WoW. The original Guild Wars yes, but it was much more story driven. While GW2 isn't as story-driven as the original (it's not mandatory for progression) I expect it to strike a nice balance.

    As for fighting multiple dragons, I expect the mechanics to set them apart. Bosses in and of themselves aren't all that special independent of the mechanics, with some exceptions. Archie was pretty impressive but all I remember of Naxx was some skeletal dude with a lot of ads. Challenging fight but the boss wasn't anything special from an aesthetic level. The frost dragon that proceeded him was far more interesting.

  2. The other dragons will be, problably, at the expansions. Each expansion will open new areas, possibly new races, a we will see new final dungeons with that dragons.

  3. Arthas was THE best WoW villian. He was always taunting you, he was complex but you loved to hate hate him. By the end of WotLK you wanted him to go down. Death wing was...well he was up there, you know flying around. Never really saw him and just seemed disconnected from everything going on until OH! We've got to kill him now. I hope ANet works the dragons story line more along the Arthas style versus the Deathwing style.

    Since the dragons are not amigos, I wonder if there will be quests wherein we'll have to make a choice between two or more of them. The choice may benefit one at the expense of the other or lead to the defeat of one while freeing another. It may very well be something you do not want, a no win situation if you will. Also, it would be interesting if your personal story were some how involved.