Guild Wars 2 Dragon Wagon
The animated cinematic that followed Scarlet’s defeat and death is stunning, and I’ve probably watched it 10 times already. I liked Scarlet, although these last few updates have had to make up for somewhat thin characterization until now. If she had been this intense and clearly tormented from the beginning, I think she would have been better received by players; according to comments from the writing team, Scarlet’s personality change was significant, but if she was on a downward spiral, it’s odd that she seemed more together and dangerous from The Nightmares Within onward. The short story What Scarlet Saw got inside her head a bit but gave little indication of the loneliness and complex emotions toward Omadd hinted at in Origins of Madness and Edge of the Mists. It’s unfortunate that we really got to know her and find out the most compelling things about her only right before it was time to finish her off for good.
I’m not going to discuss the whys and wherefores of Scarlet’s plan or the identity of our new dragon friend, Scales McGee, until ArenaNet directly confirms it; we’ve still got an epilogue coming up on March 18th, which will wrap up some of the outlying story details. We can be pretty certain, however, that we’ve got ourselves a new big bad, and it sure doesn’t look like Primordus, Kralkatorrik, Jormag, or Bubbles.
The fandom’s perception of whether or not dragons are a good thing for the game has changed quite a bit since launch. I’ve always been sort of iffy on dragons as an enemy myself; Zhaitan was really cool-looking, but the final battle against it was infamously underwhelming, and the dragon itself never appeared enough to be truly menacing. The idea of Elder Dragons as forces of nature beyond good and evil and with minds outside of our realm of understanding is pretty neat, and I infinitely prefer it to having a big lizard inexplicably channeling Cruella de Vil, but we also never really saw Zhaitan do anything. We saw the effects of its power and interacted with its minions, but it was hard to feel super invested in something that barely realized we were a threat until we were all but doing the Batusi on its doorstep.
If there was one unifying theme in criticism of the first living world season’s story, it was probably the fear that ArenaNet was leading us all on a tangent and that nothing it wanted us to be invested in would have any real payoff down the line. It was hard not to wonder if the main story had been suspended, especially amid comments that seemed to indicate an unwillingness to disrupt the flow of the gw2 gold. At the time I was told about the last four season one releases, I was unsure which direction the story was headed in, and I was frustrated at how detached most of it seemed to be from GW2’s already extensive established lore. The looming threat of Puff the Magic-Devourer was enough to make even me — a less than avid dragon fan — feel some relief. It meant that the living world story was not simply a filler arc meandering its way to a neatly self-contained conclusion.
My hope is that ArenaNet will take a subtle approach to our dragon pal and perhaps confirm the existence of a dark sentience with a compelling personality and motivations. Scarlet became more interesting — and well-liked — when players had a definite indication that she wanted something more concrete than to sow chaos. She seemed to be under the impression that awakening the dragon was somehow necessary, and through her journal and the information uncovered in A Study in Scarlet, we can probably conclude that Scarlet at least was able to assign some kind of personality to the thing whispering in her head.
I don’t expect (or want) a dragon that’s not dedicated to destroying life on Tyria as we know it, and I don’t think we’re likely to get a “good” Elder Dragon that secretly wants what’s best for us, as some fans have suggested. What I do hope we get is a charismatic dragon, who may not have a valid point but is capable of making the audience wish that it did. An evil that sincerely promises something of high emotional value — such as love, freedom or security — is interesting because it can encourage audience investment without needing a moral leg to stand on. The most fascinating and frightening part of Zhaitan’s corruption wasn’t its power to command mindless servitude but the way in which many of its more powerful minions seemed to have had existing devotion twisted to replace the original subject — whether the Six Gods or even the Krytan throne — with Zhaitan.
One thing is certain, either way: Scarlet arguably won. She may have died in the attempt, but at most the main cast escaped with their lives. The Breachmaker completed its task, and things are potentially about to get a whole lot hairier. Or scalier. Whichever.