With Season Two of Guild Wars 2's living story starting up on July 1st, players are eager for more information. So far, only snippets and clues have teased fans. To try and glean more details, I sat down with Associate Game Director Steven Waller and Studio Design Director Chris Whiteside at E3 2014. Before moving on to what lies in store, however, the devs wanted to look back at the impact of the first season. Oh, and they offered a new trailer that adds a bit more fuel to the teasing fire!
Season One laid the groundwork
Waller described the first season as a time of redefining how the game was presented to players. "Season One was really an adventure into this new style of storytelling for us where we were releasing content every two weeks," he explained. Besides just the creative aspect of developing the content, he also discussed how the structure of the studio was altered to fit the needs of this new plan. "We changed the structure of how we operated," he said. "We reorganized the teams around this concept of getting into the cadence where we are able to generate content, the story, and gameplay experiences on a regular basis."
Story-wise, the first season culminated with the villain Scarlett attacking and destroying Lion's Arch, a major player hub. Waller emphasized how dedicated the team is to creating a good story. He said,
"To make the decision to destroy a city like that wasn't a small one, and something that I think a lot of people in the industry would be surprised about. But I think it showed our commitment to wanting to tell the best story that we could possibly tell. And if it means destroying a major city, then that's what we're going to do."Playing story catch up
One part of Season Two that has already been announced is the introduction of the Living World Journal that will allow players the opportunity to go back and replay the stories of the previous seasons. Waller offered a little more information on this feature, explaining that in order to get the current episode of a season, all a player will need to do is log in once and it will be unlocked for future use. If a player is not able to log in while the episode is live, it can be purchased for 200 gems. For that price players can access the content within the instances and experience it at any time, whereas the open world content will be accessible to all. Waller noted that one of the benefits of unlocking the instances is the ability to replay them after your first time and work towards different achievements.
Waller pointed out that this functionality will start at the second season and will be available moving forward; for now, Season One will not be available. "We'd love to get Season One into the journal at some point, but because it wasn't designed with that initially, there are things that we'd have to look at and possibly redesign in some cases in order to make it fit," he explained.
Addressing Megaserver sorting
While discussing the development of the game, I brought up the topic of megaservers. True, the megaservers have helped populate lower and mid-level zones, but the sorting technology is not quite working as it was originally described and there have been a lot of complaints about the erosion of server communities and roleplay. In response, the devs assured me that they are 100% aware of the concerns and emphasized that this is only the first roll-out. They are looking at the matrix and have already made some changes. "We will continue to tweak the technology based on feedback," Waller said, adding "thanks for the feedback and keep it coming!"
A final hint for Season Two
Although the question about whether or not we'd see the new legendary weapons and a new type of legendary item that were announced in last July's roadmap show up in Season Two was met with a "no comment," Waller and Whiteside did each offer one hint to players for the upcoming release. When asked what each of them would pack for a Season two journey, Whiteside answered "lots of water!" and Waller answered, "food to counter conditions or reduce condition duration." As for any other Season Two tidbits, we'll have to wait longer. As Whiteside explained,
"It's all about discovery, it's all about player engagement. And you don't have player engagement unless there's a sense of mystery and discovery. So we have to be so careful: On one side we want to get people excited, but on the other side we don't want to ruin anything for anyone."Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-12, bringing you all the best news from E3 2014. We're covering everything from WildStar and Landmark to Skyforge and H1Z1, so stay tuned!