Will we ever see Cantha in Guild Wars 2? Yes, just not anytime soon.
In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, be that lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.
Cantha has been a great topic of debate. In Divinity's Reach, the Human racial city within GW2, there exists the Ascalonian and Elonian districts, but the area that would have been the Canthan district holds nothing but the Great Collapse.
Late last year, a developer made the comment that the Canthan district had to be removed, but that with so little time before launch the only path available was to create this large hole in the middle of that district. The district had to be demolished because NCsoft did not want the Asian themes in the game and favored keeping it more universal.
So does this mean that Cantha is never coming to Guild Wars 2? No. Chris Whiteside, the Studio Design Director for ArenaNet, said that Cantha isn’t gone for good during his impromptu community Q&A in Lion's Arch earlier this year.
But if Cantha isn't gone for good, then why was the Canthan District removed in the first place?
I don't think the Canthan district was removed to keep the game more universal. In fact, I think it was actually a little bit of the opposite. Screenshots of what the Canthan district would look like showed a very Asian themed area; a very generic Asian themed area that was a mix of different cultures into a single district.
While this probably wouldn't affect most of the current game's population, ArenaNet plans to release the game in the China later this year. Seeing a zone where parts of your culture are mixed with culture of other nations could be a little upsetting. It's like being thrown into a story about people for an entirely different part of the world.
This is the problem that the Canthan district presented, but it was still a good implementation by ArenaNet. The Canthan district was a location for all of the refugees of Cantha when Zhaitan rose beneath Orr and cut off all ties, trade and travel with the island nation to the south. That was roughly 150 years before GW2 and a few years before Divinity's Reach started construction.
That is generations of refugees completely cut off from their mainland and source of their culture. With this isolation it is highly possible that cultural divides would have faded through the generations where citizens no longer focus on being Kurzick or Luxon, but on common ties such as being former citizens of Cantha. What happens over generations of this cultural melding? A homogenized zone of Canthan cultures resulting in a generic Asian district within Divinity's Reach.
So with Zhaitan finally defeated does that mean communication with Cantha could see the district rebuilt? Observant players have noticed some changes coming to the former Canthan district in Divinity's Reach, with signs pointing to the possibility that the zone may be open for players as early as next month's content. I wouldn't hold out hope for this being a Canthan zone resurrection.
Part of the problem was having no flat line for comparison. The district could have been reworked so players saw the area divided into different cultural factions, like a Kurzicktown and Luxontown within the district. It is possible that these strong cultures could have survived separate from each other even without communication back to their homelands. It still doesn't have a frame of reference back to the homeland and separate cultural regions. With Cantha already in the game, you could see Kurzicks in Divinity's Reach and connect that back to the Kurzick region within Cantha which had its own culture and architectural diversity from the other regions within in Cantha. This isn't something you can really get across if each culture only has two or three buildings within a district to distinguish itself.