Flameseeker Chronicles: The disappointing second half of Guild Wars 2’s Icebrood Saga

This is the way The Icebrood Saga ends: Not with a Ka-Braham but a whimper

    
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Welcome to part two of this overview of Guild Wars 2’s The Icebrood Saga. Last time, I talked about how the first half of this Saga was largely about readjusting expectations. Not so much about disappointments, but about feeling out what was and wasn’t going to be included in this new brand of Living World season. I’m sorry to say, however, that the latter half of The Icebrood Saga was almost entirely about lowering expectations in a long, slow decline that ended in more disappointment.

Like last time, spoilers abound, this time all the way up to the ending of the most recent release, so consider yourself warned!

After the kind of weird, anomalous side story that was Steel and Fire, ArenaNet was back to more normal releases in March of 2020 with Episode Three: No Quarter. However, just as production on this chapter was beginning, the COVID-19 pandemic was also ramping up here in the United States, and while the development team at ArenaNet was able to switch to remote work during lockdown, voice acting proved more difficult to implement safely. As such, No Quarter and its followup, Jormag Rising, were released with subtitles only.

As someone who grew up in an era when voice acting in games was unheard of, and later on, a novelty, I thought I would adapt quickly to the silence, but the story portion felt very flat without it. I guess you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.

And it’s too bad because No Quarter and Jormag Rising were actually pretty emotionally charged stories. No Quarter starts with peace talks between the United Legions and Ryland Steelcatcher, who is now second in command of the Bangar’s Renegades. Things quickly fall apart. Joined by the commander and the Divinity’s Reach forces, the United Legions manage to push back the Renegade forces, and the commander discovers the location of Ryland’s secret base.

There we manage to subdue Cinder Steeltemper, Ryland’s second-in-command. The plan is to use her as a bargaining chip to get Ryland to talk. Rytlock and Crecia think perhaps he can be swayed to join the United Legions, and for a moment, it looks like it might work. Iron Legion’s Imperator Smodur has other ideas, however, and mercilessly kills Cinder in front of Ryland because he would rather continue the bloody conflict than see it end peacefully. Smodur is the worst, and while it would have been perfectly understandable for everyone to stand by while Ryland tears him apart, Crecia protects him with a magical barrier, leaving Ryland to slink away, now without a warband, renewed in his hatred for the opposing Charr faction.

The fourth episode, Jormag Rising, opens with the news that Jormag is resting beneath the enemy citadel in the north of Drizzlewood and that Bangar has set up a factory using the ice dragon’s blood to convert his army into powered up Frost Legion en masse.

Smodur finally gets what’s coming to him at the receiving end of a sniper’s bullet in a raid on the United Legions’ forward position. It was a little anticlimactic for an “ally” we had been hating for a while now (some even thought maybe he was a double agent for Bangar, sent to stir up trouble among the United Legions and cover up some of the Renegades’ mistakes, but that never went anywhere), but at least his idiocy wouldn’t bother us anymore.

With the help of Braham and the Spirits of the Wild, we find a back door to the enemy citadel, and manage to find Bangar. For a moment it looks like Ryland has switched sides, as he helps us defeat Bangar, but it turns out it was only a ruse, as Ryland becomes Jormag’s new champion, Bangar is icebrood-ified to become the new Voice of Jormag, and then Jormag fully awakens.

The Drizzlewood Coast meta event is one of my favorite things to do in Guild Wars 2 right now. I like meta events in general, but this is my favorite because of the variety of things there are to do in the southern half, followed by everyone in the map coming together for some epic boss fights in the northern half. Not to mention the fact that it’s a pretty good place to make money! To be honest, though, I liked it better when it was just the southern half; it drags on just a bit too long as it is now. I suppose there’s nothing stopping me from only playing half of the event and then bailing. It’s not as if I would be missed among the zerg.

Next came the Champions releases. Shortly after the release of Jormag Rising, ArenaNet announced End of Dragons, the third expansion to Guild Wars 2. It seems to me that this announcement signaled the end of serious development on The Icebrood Saga. Remember those lowered expectations I was talking about at the top? This is where they start to come in.

ArenaNet announced that Episode Five: Champions would be split up into four short chapters, each released as part of the regular two month cadence. Rather than the story instances and new maps we were used to, Champions introduced the concept of Dragon Response Missions, bite-sized, repeatable instances taking place on old maps that scale to your group size. What else can be said about DRMs? They were a cool idea on paper — I love the idea of story instances doubling as repeatable content, and the fact that they scale to however many people you want to play with — but they ended up being a disappointment overall.

There isn’t a whole lot of story to recap in Champions, especially when you consider that it was spread out over more than half a year. Primordus became active, and we scrambled to stop his minions as they invaded the surface. Jormag is driven mad by the rising of their twin and starts freezing and converting to icebrood everyone that they can. Braham figures out that the only way to stop Jormag, as is his destiny, is to become Primordus’ champion, with the Spirits of the Wild helping him maintain control of his will, in hopes that they can steer the twin dragons to destroy each other.

Then we got to the final chapter, Judgment. Let’s just be upfront about it: I was incredibly let down by this finale. Don’t get me wrong; the world boss-sized Dragonstorm instance was fun (check out Tina’s take on that here) and the rewards are actually good for a change, but… that’s really it for this release.

After the two dragons’ champions are defeated, Aurene pulls all of the good guys to a cliff, allowing Primordus and Jormag to attack each other directly, and they just kind of… explode. That’s the end of the boss fight. Then there’s a short, 5-minute instance where we see that Braham is magically OK (the Spirits just sort of fly off without so much as a “thanks for letting us borrow your body”), as is Ryland. But Ryland, clearly incredibly weakened by the ordeal, refuses to stop fighting. Rytlock and Crecia try to reason with him, but he pulls a knife on Crecia and Rytlock is forced to put him down. While the Charr parents are left to mourn, Aurene flies in for a quick conversation, and that’s the end of The Icebrood Saga.

At first, I just sighed. Over a year of story that had overall been fairly engaging had just culminated in this very weak ending, and the worst part was that I saw it coming. The releases of the Icebrood Saga got increasingly thin as they went on, with the final episode stretched out into four chapters, which reused old maps with minimal adjustment, each released a couple of months apart. Not only were the stories thin, they didn’t seem to have any clear direction or purpose. Clearly, the team had moved on to End of Dragons development. I had braced myself for a rushed, disappointing ending, but this chapter had even less wrap-up than I had feared. I feel like that Malcolm in the Middle meme: “I expected nothing, and I’m still let down.”

But the more I thought about it, and the more I looked back over the story in preparation to do this recap, the more I saw the wasted potential here, and the more disappointed I got.

Not only did the story abruptly kill off not one but two elder dragons, but one of them is Primordus, the one who introduced us to the concept of elder dragons in GW1’s Eye of the North expansion. Worse still, we never really got to see him do anything. Sure, we fought some destroyers in dragon response missions, but destroyers have been popping up in the game since day one. There’s even a destroyer world boss in Mount Maelstrom. Primordus certainly never felt like the terrible, world-ending threat we were told he was. Jormag, on the other hand, showed up and actually messed with us for the better part of a year, with sinister whispering and manipulation and betrayal. It just feels like a waste to kill off Primordus with so little ceremony.

Mourning.

Then there’s the matter of all of the story threads that never went anywhere – and there were a lot. We can be fairly certain that there was content cut from this saga because the original announcement trailer teased a number of plot points that we never saw. Where were the centaurs enslaving humans? What was up with that shipwreck? We will probably never know. Guild Wars 2 has always had story beats that ended disappointingly or abruptly, but a lot of these were just outright forgotten about.

I think the biggest and most glaring of these dropped story threads was Eir’s bow. If you don’t recall, in season 3, Braham enchanted his fallen mother’s bow with an ancient Jotun magic scroll, and later used it to crack Jormag’s tooth. This marks Braham as The Norn of Prophecy, who is destined to defeat Jormag or die trying. Cracking the tooth is supposed to prove that he has the strength to defeat Jormag, which is kind of a big deal for Norn. The Icebrood Saga opens with that bow being stolen by Ryland Steelcatcher and used as a rallying point by Bangar Ruinbringer. Later, it is used against us when Bangar decides to steal our kill after we defeat Drakkar.

Early on, it seemed like the bow was a major plot point, with the implication that it had some magical power over Jormag. But then we never hear about it again. How hard would it have been to have Lava-Braham find the bow and use it in the final fight against Jormag? Or Ryland try to use it against Primordus? Instead we just kind of… forget about it. I guess the prophecy was technically about Braham killing Jormag, not about his bow, and I guess he kind of does that (with a little help from up to 80 Commanders and a smattering of other NPCs), but it’s strange that Eir’s bow just abruptly disappeared from the story.

Speaking of forgotten Norn plot threads, there’s also Jhavi Jorasdottir. The first few episodes of this Saga were pretty Norn-centric, and Jhavi felt like a the main character in the two Bjora Marches releases, with a family history of fighting Jormag no less. Then the story shifted back to being all about the Charr and their civil war, and we never really heard from her again. She popped up in one of the DRMs and for the final battle, but she didn’t really do anything after Shadow in the Ice. Why introduce a character only to ditch her immediately?

While I may play a murder hobo in video games, in real life, I consider myself a pacifist. Violence almost universally begets more violence (perhaps with a few caveats, but you didn’t come to this site to read about my personal philosophy). Because of this, I always find it refreshing when a character in media doesn’t just go in guns ablazin’ and kill all the bad guys because they’re bad guys but instead works to come up with a peaceful solution to a conflict. True pacifism is not passive but active peacemaking. But I get incredibly frustrated when media portrays a pacifist character as a super powerful but inactive observer who refuses to do anything until things get really bad and then they end up just killing all the bad guys anyway.

This is what happened with Aurene.

Again, I’m apparently an optimist, and I thought maybe ArenaNet was going to do something clever with Aurene that would allow her to put a stop to Primordus and Jormag without violating her principles of non-violence and preservation of life. But no, in the end, she just ends up orchestrating a giant battle. It’s like Man of Steel; if Superman was just going to snap Zod’s neck and be done with it, why couldn’t he have done it before he destroyed half of New York Metropolis? That doesn’t make him a sympathetic character; it just makes him look foolish. It feels the same way with Aurene. Why didn’t she just bait the two dragons into fighting each other in the first place, before they amassed as much power and destruction as they did?

Speaking of destroying elder dragons, we also kind of handwaved the fact that destroying any more elder dragons was supposed to mean horrible calamity for Tyria. This whole saga, it has been a foregone conclusion that we either have to help Jormag kill Primordus or help Primordus kill Jormag. Why did nobody even consider some other plan? I would have at least expected better from Taimi, who was the first to theorize that killing more elder dragons would have disastrous consequences and previously built a device in Season 3 to put these two dragons, specifically, back to sleep.

I wasn’t even clear on whether the plan in Judgment was to have Aurene absorb all of the released dragon magic or fire and ice magic were supposed to cancel each other out as long as they’re released at the same time. Is the plan to eventually just have Aurene absorb all six elder dragons’ energies (plus one rogue war god and one Joko), making her one, giant superdragon? Isn’t absorbing too much magic the thing that’s supposed to make elder dragons go mad and try to kill everyone?

At least it seems like they’re going somewhere with this one. Aurene briefly mentions at the end of Judgment that she braced herself the influx of power, but then some of it got pulled away to somewhere else. Presumably, we will end up following this magic to Cantha, and that’s how End of Dragons will start. Or maybe it will just be forgotten. I don’t even know anymore.

So there you have it. With apologies to T. S. Eliot, this is the way The Icebrood Saga ends: Not with a Ka-Braham but a whimper. I could go on about how Ryland’s arc was disappointingly predictable, or how Bangar ended up being just a cheap misdirect who ultimately didn’t matter to the plot, or how they were clearly setting up a new Khan-Ur and it never happened. Or I could even grouse about that vastly overpriced and time-intensive dragonscale cape. But I think you get the idea at this point. The Icebrood Saga started off OK, and I tried to be optimistic about it as it slid down hill, but I ultimately came out deeply frustrated. It had some flashes of brilliance, but it ultimately ended in disappointment. It deserved a better ending than this. Those two elder dragons’ story threads deserved a better ending than this.

Now we wait until July to get more news about End of Dragons. Am I worried that this expansion will bring similar disappointment? Not particularly. If anything, the fact that the Icebrood Saga was so hastily wrapped up is a sign that ArenaNet has all hands on deck making that expansion as good as it can be. It’s just unfortunate that the decision makers chose to sacrifice The Icebrood Saga for that. I guess, given the choice, I would rather have a good expansion than a good saga, but there are so many ways this ending could have been handled better.

As the Commander said to Aurene, waiting is the hardest part.

Flameseeker Chronicles is one of Massively OP’s longest-running columns, covering the Guild Wars franchise since before there was a Guild Wars 2. Now penned by Tina Lauro and Colin Henry, it arrives on Tuesdays to report everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see explored, drop ’em a comment!
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Jim Bergevin Jr

This is pretty much how Guild Wars fans felt for the better part of a decade. This has been SOP for the ArenaNet of 2008 and beyond. The ones who made the GW legacy what it was have long since been gone, and it has showed for years.

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Fenrir Wolf

Can I share my take? I think what upset me the most about it was the anti-intellectualism.

Yes, admittedly, our culture loves its… entertainment where we hit first and ask questions later. A lot of the feelings I have bound up in this revolve around the errant simplism of what a manipulator is. I’ve had some education on this, which means I know a hting or two, and I’ve had experience with the kinds of charlatans and con artists who so expertly can manipulate others. You see, much of real manipulation has to do with wanting to feel clever without the effort.

The average person of the status quo doesn’t realise that a simplism is not a real replacement for valid data. I think a lot of it comes from Occam’s Razor and how… wrong it is. I think that people have taught themselves to think in that sort of way. Here’s an article that explains it better than I could.

https://towardsdatascience.com/stop-using-the-occams-razor-principle-7281d143f9e6

There’s this fantasy where a shadowy cabal of experts are trying to keep the truth from you, because you could easily understand it if it was presented to you right. You couldn’t, though. That’s the problem, you just couldn’t. This is why specialists exist, people dedicate their entire lives to such singular puzzles. It’s hubris and arrogance beyond sane measure to think that you could.

That’s why this is actually a thing:

https://www.sciencealert.com/most-anti-vaccine-conspiracies-online-come-from-the-same-12-people-study-shows

You see, the best manipulators are those who utilise this method. They’re brilliant chameleons as they’re fantastic at convincing you that they’re acting in your best interest. You likely know a few manipulators without realising that you do. I mean, if you’ve ever victim-blamed or made excuses for a known abuser? You’ve been manipulator. They’ve likely played upon the just-world bias.

I’m going to try and make clear what any of this has to do with Guild Wars 2. The thing about true manipulation is that you don’t need to be intelligent to do it, it’s mostly about charisma. There’s cunning, confidence, and the ability to intimidate subversively in there because those are all useful, but you don’t need to be intelligent. I mean, just look at the popularity contests we see in politics and the kinds of vile manipulators who’ve made it in. Were they clever?

It’s a very anti-intellectual perspective to believe that it’s a requirement for manipulation. This has some unfortunate consequences. You can research the many reports on victim-blaming if you like, whether with adults or children, to glean some perspective as to why it’s a very real issue, and why our entertainment shouldn’t portray manipulators in such an inacurrate way. Admittedly, it’s been doing that for a while, so people believe that intelligence and manipulation are interchangeable. Nonsense.

For being of average intelligence and of higher intelligence than my abuser, I was accused of doing things to wind them up, to control them, and if I were so smart surely I could’ve conceived of a scheme to escape. It doesn’t work that way. You don’t need to be dumb to be intimidated by this massive, aggressive simian with power over you. Especially as a child. I’d think that’s obvious, but not to as many as one ought think, which is depressing.

I’ve found, of all media, the best wa to explain this to others is the DCAU Batman episode “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”

The thing is is that many tech bros and the likes aren’t that clever, they’re just manipulative. They’re good at using smart people to their best advantage. There’s almost nothing that they could claim as their own, the parable of Nikola Tesla should be used to explain that more often. Tesla was caught up in a web of very conniving—yet not very clever—charlatans.

The problem with simplisms is that you can present just about any dumbed down personality stereotype and have a character claim it’s manipulative. The investment and the immersion a person has within this narrative lets them simply believe this without questioning it, which is a human function I don’t appreciate. Thus, they’ll allow themself to absorb simplisms, to be educated by dubious sources.

I like Moffat as a writer, for example, but Sherlock made it clear that he didn’t understand what an autistic person was, and couldn’t tell the difference between an autist and a sociopath. The end result was a simplism that occupied the venn diagram space where the two shared certain traits, without explaining why they’re different. It gave many the perception that autists are sociopaths, and vice versa.

The truth is is that you could present anyone with any kind of personality stereotype, and then have a character claim that they’re manipulative. This will be parrotted by others because they won’t think about it, they just accept the simplism. They don’t realise that a simplism isn’t a valid replacement for real data. So they believe that this is how a manipulator works. In the case of Guild Wars 2, Jormag is a really old and harmful trope. So why was I excited?

Well, damn fool that I am, I thought it looked like they were setting up to challenge it. I’ll try to convey my thinking about this and why I was fooled. I feel like an idiot for being taken in, but then anyone can have a blinkered perspective. I wanted it too badly.

If you look at Jormag without any of the surrounding aspects of the narrative? They pattern-match best as an HSP who’s a doting nanny. I’ve met many people like that. Sadly, thanks to our… entertainment, that kind of person is now falling under suspicion. That’s frustrating because there are many nurses who have that personality type—or one very similar—which adds weight to anti-vaxxing. They’re trying to manipulate you. It’s vexing, I’ll say that. It’s oh so vexing.

The thing is though is that any personality stereotype could have been used for Jormag. You could’ve used a dumbed down take on Gandhi or Nelson Mandela and the end result would be the same if a character accused them frequently of being manipulative. This sort of thing happens all the time and it’s very frustrating for people whose personality types get used by these stories and aren’t in the least bit manipulative.

So why did I think Guild Wars 2 was different?

The first inkling I had that it might challenge the problematic perspectives that upset me so is how Jormag is presented. All they want to do is talk, they want you to converse with them. When they say “maybe you should listen,” it’s with such ire and frustration that a sensible mind just couldn’t see that as manipulation. It’s when someone keeps responding with aggressive simplisms, anti-intellectualism, and assumptions rather than curiosity, investigative queries, and the like that an intelligent person might feel a little put out. Especially if you’re also set on killing their kids.

I got that impression from Jormag. The reason they didn’t like mortals much is because most mortals were inherently so anti-intellectual, that they wanted to hit first, kill first, and then scapegoat later because they did the wrong thing and don’t want to have to accept responsibility for it. This is how our worst political leaders have done things; they will act without thinking, then blame another for the consequences of their own irresponsibility. It was made obvious that Jormag’s power of persuasion was to force the person to listen, not to obey. So there’s no harm in conversing with them.

However, superstition and myth, magical thinking, and simplisms makes them look like a manipulator. I mean, so far so good if you want to challenge this. This is all a really good setup for challenging anti-intellectualism and how easily people are conditioned to believe nonsense.

They then compounded this with Jormag often sounding very scared, vulnerable, and angry in an anxious way. Again, I’m a little baffled as to why they gave Debra Wilson those exact motivations to work with, as it only made it even more clear that somehow Jormag was a victim of abuse. This is where it gets really nasty, now we’re getting to the core of why I found it so incredibly upsetting. Jormag is opening up to Aurene, showing their pain.

There are other things we learn prior to and following that aswell. Priorly, we learn that Jormag is exploring the Mists, to what end we don’t know. They’re not devouring magicks, nor are they destroying. So why are they doing that? The game never tells us, it leaves it hanging there as a question that will haunt anyone who pays attention. It almost seems as though Jormag is trying to run away at this point, but we’ll circle around back to this.

The thing we learn after is that the reason Jormag is so openly conveying such emotions is out of desperation. We learn that they are an abuse victim. The plot thickens. It turns out that Jormag and Primordus share a mental link, so Jormag is thus forced to watch everything that Primordus does. Next, in the Gendarran Fields, we learn that the fire dragon’s nature is insidious, he’s vindictively going after by far the most vulnerable to maximise his violence.

Jormag is forced to watch all of it. Now, as any sort of creature of compassion, one would be driven almost insane by this. I mean, if you were forced to sit in a chair and watch HD torture gore porn all day, as realistic and sick as it could be, well… I think you might end up a little traumatised too. It all starts to come together. Jormag is traumatised! Oh, they are going to challenge anti-intellectualism! Hence my excitement.

(Continued.)

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Fenrir Wolf

(Continued.)

So, why then did Jormag flee to the Mists? They were looking for the path of least resistance. Their goal was to find a world where their link with Primordus couldn’t follow. If that were possible, they wouldn’t need to confront Primordus. This had never been an option before, it was only post the release of Balthazar’s energies that they gained access. So this was all new and exciting, full of potential. If it were possible for them to find a place there? They wouldn’t need to confront the fire dragon. They could just take their Icebrood, their Frozen, their children, and live peacefully.

Sadly, that wasn’t to be.

They were put back into conflict with Primordus, they begged Aurene for help in the way that an abuse victim would, and as is often the case, it fell on deaf ears. Aurene chose to blame the victim, thus so far holding up the usual anti-intellectual narrative. I had believed, however, that with how far they’d gone with this, the goal would be to throw shade upon anti-intellectuallism for blaming the victim. I felt that everything was heading in that direction, there were many pieces to this puzzle that came together to reveal that Jormag wasn’t even remotely manipulative, that they were simply intelligent, compassionate, and trumatised AF.

Even their comments regarding mortals can be seen as disdain for anti-intellectualism, that mortals prefer to act first and ask questions later. There are exceptions, and those exceptions prefer to converse before taking action. Hence Jormag’s value of a worthy interlocutor. Everything was in place for them to bring shame upon anyone who’d believe that a victim was a manipulator, who’d given themself so freely to anti-intellectualism.

I needed that. So I went along with it, believing it, like a damn fool. In the end? Let’s kill Jormag without ever conversing. So that means that the perspective of Jormag—whose character trope was that of a highly-sensitive doting nanny—as a manipulator was now embedded in the minds of many. So if anyone acts like Jormag? They’re a manipulator! Oh good, confirmation bias for anti-intellectualism!

That’s how they hurt me.

There are intelligent HSP/autist children out there who’re the victims of abuse but most often get accused of being the abuser just because they’re different than their parents. If you’re not so inclined to believe that, then I invite you to look into the Judge Rotenberg Center. it also makes life difficult for medical practitioners, as a comforting personality is now viewed with growing suspicion.

I was an imbecile to trust them. The only time you ever see anti-intellectualism countered is in an indie. If I hadn’t gone on from Guild Wars 2 to Below Zero, which was a game that did value intellectualism and pacifism, then I would’ve still been more angry about this. As it is? I still feel hurt. I feel utterly betrayed. This was an effort in backstabbing.

They could’ve made a difference. They could’ve challenged victim-blaming and anti-intellectualism. They could have, but in the end… They were cowards. And it devastated me.

Footnote: I love dragons too, so that didn’t help either. I’m very fond of dragons. The thing is, though? A lot of autistic kids love dinos and dragons, so this would’ve been a brilliant abstraction through which to tell them that the abuse that’s happening to them isn’t their fault. I’m still emotionally affected by this, so I forgot to bring this up. If they had gone through with it in a way I’d hoped? It could’ve been a message about abuse to the affected, to any younger folk playing Guild Wars 2.

Instead, the message is “Hey, don’t bother. You’re not worth anything. No one cares about you. Just get yourself killed.”

Wonderful.

(Okay, maybe I am still a little angry. I hope you’ll see it as justified. I just want to be able to share my thoughts regarding this.)

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styopa

“If anything, the fact that the Icebrood Saga was so hastily wrapped up is a sign that ArenaNet has all hands on deck making that expansion as good as it can be. ”
That’s a rationalized statement of hope, not of known fact.

It’s a fun game, but the recent chapter being titled IBS was not wrong. Braham-cracker’s Big Day Out was a snore.

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Ardra Diva

GW2 has never and will never disappoint me. From being B2P, to being a very good game, it’s just been a blast for me.

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Bruno Brito

will never disappoint me.

That’s a level of dedication that i wish i had. But i know it’s completely unbased in reality.

But i’m glad you’re having fun. That’s what matters.

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DJ Meowth

Okay?

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

You captured a LOT of my thoughts here. Narratively this entire “saga” was a huge letdown. Lots of huge potential started at the beginning, then we jump all over the place, then we get DRM’s.

Honestly it feels like they were struggling to go somewhere to begin with, and by the time the DRM’s started that they’d pulled most of the team off IBS to work on End of Dragons, leaving a skeleton crew left to finish out the story. And I think everyone just wanted to be DONE with this arc, even at Anet. The limitations (staff/budget) combined with that meant we got tons of abandoned story beats/arcs, things from the announcement that never appeared, and an insanely rushed ending that doesn’t seem remotely satisfying to most folks. That and Aurene seems to have become their latest McGuffin to get them out of any corner they’ve written themselves into. I don’t have the deep background on Primordus that others do, but even I feel like they did him dirty and we missed out on some excellent story/lore with how rushed he was (but hey, his head looked cool!). I think it was a screenshot of a line from Jhavi after the fight, but she just kinda dismissively motions that you killed not one…but two dragons. And that summed up how what should have been a hugely epic confrontation ended up being a disappointing mess : |

I’ll strongly agree that Drizzlewood (both parts) are the best part of the update, and IMO some of the best zones in the game. Some of the ideas explored were interesting, if incomplete. The last fight with Primordus and Jormag LOOKS great visually, and is well designed itself (even if insanely disappointing). There are some things to like amongst all the disappointment.

Even with how much I disliked the DRM missions and the last update, I’m oddly back into the game again. Fixing up older builds that I run with that needed some improvements, working on achieves and catching up with some of the mastery grinds (which are admittedly pretty awful, especially with how niche these masteries are) and spending more time exploring some of the zones/doing some of the DRM’s.

I’m doing my best to keep my expectations very low for EoD. I got burned hard in HoT and Anet doesn’t have the best track record for consistency, even when they’re not having layoffs and senior level departures like they’ve had in recent years. It’s weird to me that they’re a studio that focuses on one thing but still seems to struggle to find their “groove” after nearly a decade while most other more recent MMO’s have found their swing (ESO, FFXIV, BD etc.) with steady updates that are pretty consistently the same quality. I hope it’s good, I want it to be good after how underwhelming IBS (especially the latter half) has been, but I just don’t have confidence.

Do we even know who the new lead for GW2/Anet is yet? Either I missed that or it’s something they still haven’t announced publicly >.>

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Nope they still haven’t announced it publicly. I’m really curious who steps out on stage in July.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

It’s weird that a game that’s been out for nearly 10 years doesn’t have a “face” in a time when there’s a “face” of just about every game. Kaplan gone? New person in his place announced the same day. Ghostcrawler gone? Ion got their back.

Anet’s silence on this, and the general “iron curtain” that is that company compared to most others is very frustrating, and doesn’t instill a ton of confidence.

Good luck to whoever ends up being the sacrificial lamb tossed on stage to bear the brunt of whatever player frustration there will be.

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Fenrir Wolf

The thing is is that Mike Z, the last sacrificial lamb, wasn’t one because he was loathed by the community. It was because he knew that ArenaNet was understaffed, and that they wouldn’t be able to make any further expansions. He spun that with marketing speak as best he could, but with how little staff and leadership they had, an expansion was never going to happen.

NCSoft got greedy and pushed an expansion on them, demanded it, told them to wrap up everything else and just make an expansion so they could get money. Typical NCSoft mismanagement, it’s why so many games have been sunsetted under their… care.

Mike Z refused and got fired for it. They currently have no leadership, which you seem to have noticed, no leadership and they have to make an expansion. I’m not holding out much hope for End of Dragons. I don’t blame ArenaNet entirely for this; I understand they have their share of blame but most of it lies at the feet of NCSoft.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

NCsoft forced them to do an expansion? Where’d you hear/read that? Because it seems he simply left to go to Wargaming.

Everything I know of how NCsoft operate contradicts what you wrote. They support their western studios and give them every opportunity to succeed while staying hands off. It sadly hasn’t always paid off (WildStar), but it’s lead to some long running games (GW1/2, and CoH had quite a long life even if it still had some legs in it).

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Matthäus Wey

Ncsoft pushing an expansion was probably the best thing that happened to them, aside from them dropping all side projects, resulting in a refocus on gw2

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

If they’d just accept that they need to do a full expansion at least once every two years we wouldn’t have these problems. Okay, we might have the occasional mid-expansion lull but I’d take that any day over the nine-year chaotic scramble to fill self-imposed quotas, follow arbitrary cadences and chase off after every crazy hare some monomaniacal manager sets running.

Every other mmoprg of GW2’s size and stature manages to bring out expansions and updates in a predictable and timely manner. They aren’t all great but at least everyone knows where they are. It works better than anything ANet have tried so maybe it’d be worth a go?

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styopa

“Every other mmoprg of GW2’s size and stature manages to bring out expansions and updates in a predictable and timely manner. ”

Blizzard: ORLY?