With yesterday’s patch, this first season of the Living World storyline has come to a close. It’s been an interesting over-a-year, and it’s certainly had it’s ups and downs.
I’ve been skeptical of this Living World concept from the start. As it turns out, some of my worries still hold, and some came to be nothing. Overall, I did enjoy the content that we’ve been given since it started, while it wasn’t always perfect, it was at least generally enjoyable to play through (some things moreso than others).
It was slow to start off, with the updates originally coming weeks apart and being very light in content. Once we got the Molten Facility update, though, things started rolling in a bit more frequently, though it took months for things to start to actually come together and make sense as to how they were connected (and some things, like Southsun, still remain unconnected to the storyline). I also had some issues with how disjointed things felt for a long time – for example, there was the attack on Dragon Bash, and then we went to the Labyrinthine Cliffs. Sure, there was the sub-story there of voting for a new captain on the Lion’s Arch Council, and I loved the Bazaar of the Four Winds update, but it felt…jarring. Once Scarlet arrived on the scene, though, things began to flow together more smoothly.
The dungeons we were given through the Living World updates were phenomenal. Molten Facility, Aetherblade Retreat, and Aetherpath were all dungeons that brought some challenge to the game, but with a bit of skill and time to learn the mechanics, were not horribly difficult. I didn’t do Aetherblade Retreat as much, but Molten Facility we ran basically daily, and Aetherpath is something we still do on a semi-regular basis. The Tower of Nightmares was an interesting intanced area that was like what an open-world dungeon would be like. It was fun to go through, but I admit that I did not actually go through the Tower more than once or twice.
There was quite a bit of time in there that I didn’t really play the game much. Starting during the Halloween patch until towards the end of the Origins of Madness release (so mid-October until late January) I rarely ever was on. Still, in that time I didn’t miss too much – the Tower, which again, wasn’t quite my thing, Fractals, and Wintersday. Origins of Madness was where things started to really pick up, story-wise, and it was clear that we were steaming on towards the end game. Edge of the Mists is surprisingly one of my favorite updates thus far; I don’t like World vs. World much, but I was in the alpha test of EOTM and really enjoyed it, and I hop in there on a semi-regular basis. The Twisted Marionette was a great boss fight, requiring more coordination than most open-world bosses, and I find myself regularly wishing that it had been permanent, as opposed to the Jungle Wurm in Bloodtide Coast.
And then we come to the attack on Lion’s Arch and fighting Scarlet herself, which I’ve already written about, so I won’t go over here much. Escape from LA was a lot of fun, and I found myself running it regularly; helped that it counted for monthly dungeon completer ;) Battle for LA I also enjoyed. I missed most of the bugs involved with it, having done it initially soon as the patch went live, and then not going back in too frequently, but I did still go in and do the Knights and Hologram fights every couple of days. It wasn’t content I felt the need to do constantly, but it was fun nonetheless.
As of yesterday, Lion’s Arch is no longer a battleground, but it is by no means back to its former glory. The city is a complete mess – even more destroyed than it had been while Scarlet’s armies had still been in there. The destruction of the Breachmaker has taken its toll on the city, and now there are pieces of the ship scattered everywhere, including a particularly large one that is taking up most of Fort Marriner. There are several bulletin boards located around the city (one with notices for those who went missing, one memorializing the dead, and one thanking those who fought), and a graveyard. There’s also lots of dialogue to be had if you talk to NPCs.
There’s also an instance in the Dead End in Divinity’s Reach, where you can talk to and witness a number of conversations between the biconic characters. I liked the instance, even if things felt a bit stilted and the pacing was a bit off, and honestly, I think that made it feel a bit more real. We just killed a horrible person that’s caused a huge number of deaths and woke up a dragon. We’re trying to celebrate that this particular terror is over with, but things are far from being back to normal, and so it’ll be awkward. Trying to be happy for the sake of the others while at the same time trying to not dwell on the terrible things that have happened. That’s a thing that happens in real life, so I’m okay with it happening here. I know I’ve certainly been in situations where I had the thoughts of “Okay, pretend to be happy, don’t think about it. Crap. That silence went on for too long. Say something! Ugh, that was awkward.” going through my mind, as I’m sure most people have, and that’s what this instance reminded me of.
On a sidenote, I’ve seen people complaining at the fact that the characters didn’t know that a dragon was woken up right away. We as players saw that cutscene. The characters did not. If you tried to interact with the control panels on Scarlet’s ship, you were unable to unless you were an engineer. So there’s no reason they should have known that.
So at this point, we’re left with…what’s next? We’ve got a major city in rubble and a new dragon waking up. I’m certain that Lion’s Arch will eventually be rebuilt, but it certainly will not be an immediate thing. But for now, we don’t know what’s going to come next. I do feel that things may change a bit with what ArenaNet has learned from the past year. I am personally hoping that the rumors of an expansion coming next year are true, as I would hope that facing another dragon would be expansion content, and not temporary living world content. We know there’s a large feature patch coming soon, but what that will consist of so far we’ve gotten little in the way of hints.
If I were to guess, I’d think that the next Living World story arc will revolve around dealing with the aftermath of what happened (rebuilding LA), investigating events connected to the dragon waking up, pushing further west into Maguuma (read: I WANT NEW ZONES), with things eventually culminating in the dragon fully awakening and revealing itself, and then everything from there on being an expansion. On top of that, I’d really love to see some changes in Orr; I want to see it start to return to its former self, instead of just a realm of the undead. Zhaitan is gone, and I’d like to see this reflected in his influence going away and the land healing.
For now, we just have to wait and see. And hope we get some info soon on what’s to come!