This week's article of The Scrying Pool looks at how Scarlet fits in the Living World releases.
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.
Scarlet Briar is the main villain in Guild wars 2’s Living World. She first appeared in the August content and has taken center stage in almost every content release since. Now with every content, there is almost a lack of suspense as the tag line is just Scarlet did it.
ArenaNet has on occasion likened the Living World initiative to a television series. Every other week players experience the next episode of GW2tv. At first I thought this was an odd comparison to make for MMO content updates, but now that we are through with the first year of this initiative I can see why the television series comparison makes sense.
In a modern television series, each episode has a contained plot that fits into the greater vision for the series. Imagine a super hero television show. Each episode has the main hero defeating a different bad guy every week, but things like the character’s growth and interaction with supporting characters carries over throughout the season.
In Guild Wars 2, we are seeing something very similar. In the first four releases of the initiative we were teased about, introduced to and subsequently defeated the Molten Alliance. At this time we followed the refugees to Lion’s Arch and beyond while also being teased about a mysterious stranger that was behind the formation of the alliance. A couple months later we discovered the existence of the Aetherblade pirates and in the next episode captured the Aetherblade captain Mai Tri who gave us a short tease about how she was going to be in trouble with a then unknown Scarlet.
Then in August we were introduced to Scarlet who was impressive enough to steal the show from her own army of clockwork automatons. She has since continued to steal the show with her short appearances, alongside the reveal of the Toxic Alliance and the recently added Thaumanova Reactor fractal.
In almost all of these releases, Scarlet was not the main attraction. Some, such as the Thaumanova Reactor, only include a handful of lines delivered at once by the villain. Without those lines, the main story for that release would remain mostly unchanged.
Scarlet is the last five minutes in that hour long episode that ties everything into the season long plot. For this I think Scarlet is done well. She has a few lines here and there, maybe even a short cinematic like what is seen at the end of the Nightmares Within patch. The problem is not Scarlet; it is the rest of the content not taking the lead.
Television shows will include the season long plot in the last five minutes of each show, but they do this after giving 40 minutes of juicy action committed to that episode’s plot. In Guild Wars 2, it is not that Scarlet’s five minutes is overpowering the other 40 minutes, it is that each content patch is lacking in a good story. Instead of a 40 minute to 5 minute split, it is more like a 5 minute to 5 minute split.
Take for instance the latest Toxic Alliance. For what reason did the Krait and Nightmare Court come together to form an alliance and what did they hope to gain? During the Nightmare’s Within content, there were some lines of dialogue that hinted to the Nightmare Court just using the Krait. If they are just using the Krait, what do they hope to gain? Was it for the overgrown slug or something to do with all the nightmare spreading plants that are trying to spread across Tyria?
The Flame and Frost content is hard to compare to since it didn’t have to compete head-to-head with Scarlet, but at least we knew some of the reason for the Molten Alliance, including to build more powerful weapons for each side and a small hint that, with the Flame Legion’s power, the Dredge were building a computer.