Thursday, April 29, 2021

Stories About The Dragons

This is going to be short. Like the episode. Oh, and spoilers. It's all spoilers from here on in. Even the pictures. If you don't want to know what happens... look away now!

Heh. Like anyone cares. As they say on the YouTube threads, who's still playing Guild Wars 2 in 2021?  And if you are, who's following the story? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Thought as much. No-one. Only me.

The GW2 forums have been in Read-Only mode most of this week. They're getting a makeover. That's handy. I'd say it saved them catching fire only these days story drops barely make them smoulder. I do like to go and read what other people think after I've finished an episode, though, so this time I went to Reddit.

The quality of discussion is noticeably higher than on the official forums. Plenty of reasoned arguments and well-expressed opinions. If I had to describe the mood it would be "resigned". I read through a lot of a thread called "Can we talk about how ridiculous this ending was?" Yes, we can. Endlessly.

Also, yes it was. Although maybe "ridiculous" isn't the right word. Weak?  Thin?  Unconvincing? All of those occured to me. Also confusing, muddled, inconclusive. Possibly lazy. 

That might be a bit harsh, that last one. Rushed would probably be closer. As in everyone was too busy working on the expansion to give the tail end of a fading project much attention. It's over, let it go.

So, what happens? Taimi and Aurene come up with a back of an envelope plan to get Braham and Ryland to fight each other. We kick the crap out of the pair of them until Primordus and Jormag (who Aurene has on the end of a string made out of ley lines) are forced to show themselves or let their champions snuff it. 

Then we use some prisms Aurene made to kill both elder dragons. Or something. I had literally lost the plot by that point. 

I can tell you what actually happened though. The whole thing bugged out. Twice.

You get the choice of either a one to five person instance, a public 50-80 person world boss battle or a private squad version. 

First I tried to do it solo. Ryland turned up with a bunch of icebrood. I killed them and drove him off. Then nothing happened. It kept on happening (or not happening) until I got bored and went off to see if something was going on somewhere else. It wasn't but I got told that since I was no longer participating in the event I wouldn't be getting any rewards.

It was getting late so I went back to the Eye of the North, logged out and went to bed.

Next day (that's today) I looked at the Event Timer to see if the public event was on there. It was. It is. It kicks off every couple of hours, at the top. I waited for the first convenient opening, logged in with a few minutes to spare, waited for the call, spoke to the NPC when it came, got ported into the instance with seventy or eighty of my new best friends and we all had at it.

It was going very nicely for a while. Well, once my computer had adjusted to the load. I was downed twice in the first thirty seconds because it was so laggy I could barely move but that sorted itself out and then I was fine.

First we bashed Ryland until he ran away made a tactical withdrawal. Then we bashed Braham until he did the same. Then there was some nonsense about ley line energy so we all spread out and blew up the pylons (or something). Then Ryland and Braham both came back for another go round and we all split into two gangs and bashed them again.


That was one of those set pieces ANet love, where you need to bring down both of the targets at the same time. Or, to be precise, within fifteen seconds of each other. 

I remember when events like this were largely beyond the capacity of pick-up zergs. If someone didn't take charge and bark instructions like a drill sergeant the whole thing would fall apart. These days everyone just knows what to do. So we did it.

Then we did it again because ANet love to string fights out by making you do every section at least twice. More pylons. More bashing. In between each round we all ran up to the prisms and got hurled at a dragon so we could use a special attack. Another thing ANet loves. 

All of it was going perfectly. It was loud, chaotic and noisy but I was able to figure out what to do first time which is a huge improvement over some fights I could think of. 

We were into what looked like the endgame. Ryland and Braham were locked in a clinch under a bubble. We had to break them out for the next stage to begin... only we somehow managed to kill one or other of the pair before we got the bubble to burst. That left us all standing about watching Ryland and Braham locked in a clinch that looked like it was never going to end. And it didn't.

It was all a bit of disaster. Eventually everyone gave up and left. I took a few nice screenshots of the two dragons, who were just standing there like dopes, then I left too.

Two hours later I came back and did the whole thing again and this time it worked. Someone called out a warning about not killing too fast at the crucial stage and people seemed to listen. After the bubble popped there was a bit more that I forget and then we all got transported to a ledge where we got to watch a short cut scene of Jormag and Primordus butting heads until they both exploded.

A lot of people had done it before because apparently there are drops and achievements and things that need to be farmed. They all left, quickly. Those like me, who hadn't, stood around for a while wondering what had just happened and asking each other "Is that it?". Then we all left, too.

Back in Eye of the North it turned out there was a coda. A smidgeon of solo story including a reunion with Braham, who turns out to be neither dead nor crazy, or at least no crazier than he ever was. Then there's a final battle with Ryland, the fighting part of which is tedious and pointless but mercifully quick, and whose aftermath is either moving or just weird depending on your stance on charr behaving like humans in a made-for-tv movie. 

The very last thing is a debrief with Aurene, Taimi and Gorrik about which the less said the better. I'd say it was perfunctory but it really doesn't deserve that kind of praise. You can talk to them all individually but I don't recommend it. I did and I kind of wish I hadn't.

The upshot of all of this is two more elder dragons are dead and Aurene and Taimi seem to have done a complete one-eighty on whether that's a good thing. If they even hand-waved that away I must have missed it. Meanwhile, all the dragon magic mysteriously shot right through Aurene and out the other end, on its way to who knows where? 

Presumably straight to whomever we're going to be fighting in the expansion. And since that's called "End of Dragons" and as far as we know there are only two dragons left - Aurene and the as-yet unnamed sea dragon commonly known as Bubbles - well, I'm betting Bubbles got most of it.

But really, who can say? And frankly, who cares? At this stage it's as clear as could be that no-one in the writing room does. Or, more charitably, is allowed to. The prevailing theory on Reddit is that most of the devs wanted Season Four of the Living Story to be the last before they moved on to the expansion but that was overruled by whatever faction was gung ho for there never being another expansion. 

So everyone geared up for an expansion-level version of the Living Story and renamed it a "Saga" to make it clear it was bigger and better. Remember when they said it would be comparable to an expansion? I'd forgotten that. It sure as hell wasn't. 

And then, just as the team had gotten themselves on board with the new plan and turned out the relatively high-quality first three instalments of the Icebrood Saga (well, the Prologue and the first two), there was a change of heart in senior management (or NCSoft, more likely) and it was all aboard the expansion train after all.


Makes a lot of sense to me. Which is more than I can say about the story. As an ending to the Icebrood Saga itself it's a washout. As an ending to the nine-year story of our epic, existential battle with Elder Dragons... yes, well. Let's not go there. The writers certainly didn't.

Of course, as I said, the expansion is called "End of Dragons" so maybe this wasn't the end after all. Maybe that's still to come. Perhaps the whole thing will come good then. We can but hope.

Oh, did I have fun? I don't think I said, did I? Yeah, I did, quite. So long as none of the NPCs were talking and nothing got bugged, it zipped along entertainingly enough. I'll do the big fight a few times more, I imagine. I thought it was on a par with the Shatterer if not as good as Tequatl

At least it was short. (Unlike this post. I lied about that.) I used to complain about how brief the Living Story episodes were. Now I count it as a blessing.


  1. Beautiful screenshots. Whenever get bored with my current games GW2 is the next of the "Big five" I intend to try. Of course I am still going strong in FFXIV and a lot of older MMOs have interesting stuff going on in the next few months.

    1. I complain fairly consistently about GW2 but that's from the perspective of a jaded veteran who's been there since the start. The fact that I'm still there should overwrite most of that moaning. I would absolutely love to be able to come to GW2 now, fresh. It's one of the most visually impressive mmorpgs, it has a vast amount of content and, unlike any others that I play, it has managed to retain a genuinely vibrant, active community at all character levels and all player skill levels simultaneously. Other games have more things to do but I don't know any others that have so many willing strangers to do them with.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide