I would be lying if I said that I was not anticipating the upcoming patch to be released for Guild Wars 2 on Wednesday (February 22). Not a good or bad one, as I have had enough time playing the game to know – when it comes to balance patches – keep expectations low. The same can be said about the recent story update, “The Head of the Snake.”
I will get into the story later with a spoiler warning for those that happen to stumble upon this writing without having played it, though interested. As for the balance patch, a post on the official Guild Wars 2 forums from ArenaNet‘s Communications Manager, Gaile Gray, which posted:
We’ll be making a game update on Wednesday, February 22 that will include skill balancing. Members of our skills and balance team will be on the official forums for a while after the build goes live to discuss those changes with you.
To take part, please join the new thread we’ll post after the build goes live. For our players who participate on the French, German, or Spanish forums, we will provide a list of highlights from the conversation by the end of the week.
Balancing in video games can be a difficult thing, especially when there are three separate modes to consider, with a wide variance of factors and situations that can and will occur. Depending on who you ask, the vocal minority usually has a string of past accounts to cite the short-comings of the balancing team.
The outcome of the patch notes may read differently from what the post has stated come Wednesday, but Guild Wars 2 has a solid history of rumors and leaks by users as true – for the most part, anyway.
Moving onto the story of “The Head of the Snake,” so by all means: SPOILER WARNING.
I guess I should say that I reinstalled the game after a two month break, so with this update, I did not have high expectations for this continuation of the story. The high points being a new area, Lake Doric, to explore and a new raid wing for the raiders.
Story-wise, Captain Logan Thackery NOT joining the
Justice League player’s guild, Dragon’s Watch, and instead, choosing to take a position offered to him in the Pact is by far the best use of the character and voice actor, Troy Baker.
Haven’t been fond of your character starting a guild which had a preset name, albeit, voted for from a selection of three generic-fantasy options. It always felt like a lost opportunity. Possibly, a chance to introduce a 6th Guild slot exclusive to the story, in which the player could choose the logo and the guild’s name.
Remove the “Dragon’s Watch” line from the voice actors’ scripts and leave it as: “I’m forming a new guild, would you like to join?” It would have made it much more of a personal investment for the player, but oh well, let’s get into the Rogue One aspect of the latest chapter.
One story sin of mine is introducing or reintroducing a character just to kill them off. In returns Demmi Beetlestone. Daughter of the shady politician that we could all see was a bad guy, that escapes because daddy was a bad guy, and apparently underwent training in the Order of Whispers – the ninja CIA of this universe.
In essence: daughter is reintroduced out of nowhere since her first and most recent appearance was when the game launched back in 2011; she wants revenge on dad for being bad and doing bad things; you confront bad dad politician with the daughter; she gets shot by her own dad; Demmi’s best friend, also recently introduced out of nowhere, that also just so happens to work with her dad, has a change of heart when Demmi is shot and helps you reach bad dad; you put the beat down on the politician only to return just in time for the Demmi’s final words with her best friend; her best friend accepts her fate and is punished by being the new combat servant of another character; in the middle of all this, you saved a salad man that also chooses not to join your
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen guild.
Where this gives me a headache, is not only did they reintroduce the daughter, Demmi, just to kill her off as a plot device for her best friend to have a change of conscience and become potentially the next member of your guild (remember this prediction in the future); it’s just plain bad.
What I didn’t mention above is that Demmi’s final words mention seeing Tybalt: a character that is only in the core game’s campaign that is beloved by (most) players, and died, sacrificing himself during a massive battle, so you could escape.
I’d be lenient on this one, but it comes off like those movies that purposely uses nostalgia so you can be emotional, so that they don’t have to write a bond being formed or a connection to the audience with that character because: it makes you emotional remembering something, right?
For the love of diabetic medication and pharmaceutical profits, again, missed potential and with one simple tweak: Demmi faked her death and was playing her best friend in order to save her life due to her affiliation with her evil, politician father.
I know, that sounds dumb, but hear me out. Demmi works for the Order of Whispers, an organization renowned for subterfuge, deceit, and working in the shadows. During the final mission of this chapter, Demmi mentions that she would like to try to talk to her friend that is present in the area in order to convince her to stand down (and possibly defect).
Countess Anise, a powerful and important NPC joins you on this mission, stating that her best friend is as good as dead because of the side she choose. So, rather than take advantage of the lessons, training, and affiliation with CIA ninja organization; they write Demmi generically emotional and kill her off.
Congratulations. The writers could have done a plot twist, and utilized the background given for that character, to prevent people who would have typically rolled their eyes (like myself) at such twists, in order to build upon and develop a character!
Your character will know, that Countess will know, the Order of Whispers and even the Queen will know that Demmi is alive, but her best friend won’t. Then, you can continue to use the side character and have subtle dialogue in future chapters of keeping the secret hidden, and introduce an aspect of uneasy character morality.
Demmi’s best friend is on-call for whatever is needed of her as punishment and is plagued by her best friends death. You know this, and yet use this to your tactical advantage. What kind of possible conflicts and turmoil can arise from this? Plenty. Instead, just toss that for short-term payoffs that may or may not work – mostly the latter.
It’s like how the movie Passengers would have been generically OK if they just had Jennifer Lawrence’s pod also malfunction. Instead, an interesting premise of Chris Pratt’s character purposely waking her up, trying to conceal that it wasn’t some malfunction, and sealing her fate before reaching a new space homestead for selfish reasons; only to forget it and throw it away at the end for explosions.
I want the story of Guild Wars 2 to be good, not to confuse liking something as a correlation to its quality. Realize a person can like something that is bad, like those 50¢ cups of ramen noodles, and still recognize that it is bad. It’s okay, you can like bad things. However, when it comes to Guild Wars 2’s story, I simply can’t.
Time will tell. Hopefully, things will improve in areas that are currently lacking. That is, unless ArenaNet is secretly working on Guild Wars 3. If so, soft reboot the franchise like Hollywood and pretend everything that happened before kind of didn’t happen at all.
Cheers, and to retake all the time you spent reading this, purchase an hourglass, turn it, and by the time all the sand drops to the lower end – your time would have all been but retrieved. Magical McGuffins, deploy!