Well into its second year of life now, Guild Wars 2 continues to keep the virtual populace of Tyria busy thanks to its Living Story. Through the initiative, players have fought off underground invaders, taken part in an election, and dealt with some sky pirates, but a lot of events have been building up to the latest update which goes live today. In the newest instalment of the Living Story, supervillan Scarlet Briar takes his forces and attacks one of the most iconic locations in the Guild Wars series – Lion’s Arch – and developers at ArenaNet are saying that the events of this invasion are going to have a lasting effect on Tyria.
In anticipation of the update we invited member of the community to submit some questions to Mike Zadorojny, the design lead on Guild Wars 2, so we’ve got his responses, along with a quick overview of Escape from Lion’s Arch, after the jump.
Here’s the official blurb for the Living Story update:
For the past year, players have battled Scarlet’s minions, foiled her schemes, and discovered more about her sinister goals. Now, after months of planning, Scarlet’s attack on Lion’s Arch sets the stage for a final ruthless push in her still mysterious grand plan. In “Escape from Lion’s Arch”, players battle alongside the Lionguard to take on Scarlet’s dark allies and evacuate as many citizens from the city as possible. They will face ferocious challenges as her minions roam freely through the besieged city and in the waters of the harbour. To protect the innocent, players will have to battle everything from the brutal charr of the Flame Legion and the towering clockwork watchknights to vicious creatures such as the krait and the feared Aetherblade sky pirates.
As all of this takes place, a deadly miasma poison spreads across the city, forcing desperate survivors into refugee camps in the outskirts. At the Vigil Keep in the Gendarran Fields, players will find a new rallying point and an impromptu hub of trades and services they’ll need to defend Lion’s Arch. Only they stand between Scarlet and total devastation for one of the most important cities in Guild Wars 2.
So, without any further ado, here’s what Mike Zadorojny had to say!
Q: It's been stated previously that "expansion–level content" could be introduced as part of the LIving Story. Many people doubt that whether, given the amount of dev work required, it's actually feasible that we'd be introduced to new playable races or permanent zones in this way.
Mike Zadorojny: Just wait. We're just getting started for the year. We are coming up to the climactic final 2 releases of Season 1. We're fully committed to bringing amazing experiences to our players.
Q: With the apparent destruction of Lion's Arch imminent, is there any chance that our Tengu neighbours to the West in the Dominion of Winds could be drawn into taking a more active role in the story? If not, is this level of speculation for future Living Story releases even remotely plausible?
Mike Zadorojny: The tengu are very staunch in their belief of not getting involved in conflict of the other races of Tyria. However as the chaos of Lion's Arch approaches their territory they defend their territory with extreme prejudice. We're excited to see this level of speculation from our fans. We hope to continue the story of our Living World with some surprises that we hope our fans don't expect.
Q: I want to know what will happen to LA after the war, will it once again be our hanging spot or will the rebuilding take some time? I just cant imagine a holiday taking place anywhere else.
Mike Zadorojny: Scarlett's forces are entrenched in Lion's Arch and have brought destruction with them. It will be up to the players to retake the ruined city. If they're able to do that, then hopefully the citizens can focus their efforts on rebuilding.
Q: How big of a roll is Ellen Kiel going to play in this whole thing?
Mike Zadorojny: Ellen Kiel is right in the thick of things. She's helping organize forces to retake the city from Scarlett's forces. During the initial chaos of the invasion, she deputized Evan Gnashblade forcing him to aid in the frantic defence of the city.
Q: This question is not exactly related to EfLA, but hey - Are there any plans to put subtitle translations for other languages into Guild Wars 2 at all?
Mike Zadorojny: Our goal is to make Guild Wars 2 a global experience that can be enjoyed by all. Right now we’re focused on bringing the game’s unique experience to China.
Q: With the siege taking place across Lion’s Arch, how will this affect the progression of personal stories? As I recall, there a a few missions that use Lion’s Arch for its location. Have those been reworked to go elsewhere, be it temporarily or permanently?
Mike Zadorojny: Players will be able to find Kouris in Gendaran Fields that will sneak them into the ruins in order to progress their personal stories.
Q: With the Cutthroat Politics episode of the Living Story, players got their first chance of shaping the outcome of the narrative by picking their chosen candidate. Will EfLA provide another opportunity for players to directly impact the Living Story and the game as a whole?
Mike Zadorojny: We want to finish this storyline with a bang, and as such we’ve crafted an epic story experience that will keep players excited right to the end. Our goal for the Living World is to keep our players involved in shaping the future of Tyria.
A quick note: If you want to get involved in shaping what happens next in Guild Wars 2, you might want to get involved in what ArenaNet are calling the Collaborative Development Initiative, which opens a formal channel for the community to discuss all things Guild Wars 2. You can find out more by clicking on the link here! - Carl
Q: The Lost Shores event provided a once-in-a-lifetime feel that, despite the hectic server issues, provided a sense of history to those that took part. Are there plans to provide such an event for EfLA and/or future instalments of the Living Story, or did the time-sensitive aspect and server stress during TLS make it a bridge too far in terms of delivering content effectively?
Mike Zadorojny: We hope to capture the sense of excitement and exploration that we've presented in the Lost Shores Event. We want to give players the opportunity to experience events like the Ancient Karka battle, without the time pressure.
Bonus Q: My colleague Jon pointed out to me on Twitter that, with it being set in Lion’s Arch, it was ripe for punnery (yes, it’s a word now) and general film references. As such, did it at all cross your minds to call this episode “Battle for L.A?” (Other suggestions we came up with were L.A. Confidential, and L.A. Law. We apologise for nothing.)
Mike Zadorojny: We had a lot of fun internally with "punney" names with various aspects of the release. Predominantly these come from Game Designer Karl Horvath. But we’ve even seen the players get excited about this as well. For instance, one player mentioned online that his character of “Snake Pliskin” can finally take center stage.
A huge thanks to Mike for taking the time out to respond, and to everyone who submitted questions for him to answer! For more information on Guild Wars 2, you can head over to the official website.