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Flameseeker Chronicles: A look at the concept art of Guild Wars 2

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

The Guild Wars community, as always, is anxious for any and all news of Guild Wars 2, and the information coming from ArenaNet is increasing on a regular basis. (Hopefully this means we won't have to resort to anything drastic to get news.) GDC was the most recent source of new information thanks to our chat with artist Daniel Dociu, and his panel discussion showed off enough concept art both old and new to keep the community buzzing for weeks. Even better -- or worse, depending on how impatient you are -- they're releasing it to the general public via Youtube in a four-part slideshow to make it last longer.

As we mentioned the other day, it's important to keep in mind that concept art is just that: concept art. It's an idea of how the artists see the world of Guild Wars 2, a way to get a feel for things rather than something concrete saying "you will definitely be able to get 'x' item in 'x' town, and here is exactly what it will look like." We can learn a lot from ideas and sketches though, so follow along after the jump for a closer look at some of the concept art.

Many of the pieces of concept art are familiar ones, either from previous trailer videos or from The Art of Guild Wars 2, but there are plenty of new pieces added in this latest round. The difference is that we are beginning to see many more details as the artists ideas -- and therefore Tyria's future -- come into sharper focus. From the cute-as-a-button Charr cub to the towering structures in Divinity's Reach, much of the new art is both familiar and brand new to our eyes. The world of Guild Wars 2 is beginning to be more fleshed out and detailed, and giving us much more to look at and wonder about. This week we're hopping back aboard the speculation train, picking out a few major details here and there as a starting point.

Housing is an area of GW2 that players have been anxious to hear more about. While ArenaNet's not saying one way or another at this point, we do know that they are very good at what they do, and they don't reveal information by mistake. Art in the first trailer reveals a rustic home interior as well as a look at a sketch of multiple kitchen and home accessories. The latter is very clearly in an Asuran style, with notes here and there pointing out chairs/stools, a bunsen burner, a kitchenette, and a pencil cup. The question is, are these places and things that we'll simply get to see, or are they places and things that will round out our character's home? Time will tell.

Familiar Images
Another very interesting addition to the slideshow came in the form of several familiar images. I'm not talking about previously-seen concept art, I'm talking about screenshots of current load screens from Nightfall and Eye of the North. Not only those, but art of things recently introduced in the current game: Dhuum in all his green-scythed glory as well as Dwayna's Regalia. Speculation on the inclusion of these things could go in any of a dozen different directions. Dhuum and the costumes are recently added items; the artist could have included them to show them off and for no other reason. It could be an indication that more costumes are on the way, or that Dhuum will be a major player in Guild Wars 2. The latter seems reasonable: surely he didn't come all this way only to sit around in his chamber in the Underworld, smacking us around and laughing because we forgot to bring Resurrection Scrolls. An interesting point to note is that the female version of Dwayna's Regalia, pictured at the beginning of the second slideshow, wound up vastly different from the concept art while the male version was nearly identical. It stresses the point that concept art is just as likely to go in either direction by the time it makes it into the game.

Even more interesting was the sudden inclusion of that load screen from Elona. Not concept art -- the load screen. In our interview with Daniel Dociu, we asked about the look of Cantha and Elona: "No. I mean, we may have thought about it, we may have kind of isolated ideas here and there, but we never sat down formally to kind of put all of these ideas out to be collectively evaluated or discussed or processed into a coherent vision."

Is it possible that we got a peek at some of those isolated ideas? Again, speculation could go in either direction here: it was a completely random screenshot inclusion that meant nothing, or it was a very broad hint saying "Now we are going to look at some pictures of Elona." The screenshot is followed immediately by art of lush gardens, which could easily go in either direction. Given Palawa Joko's hijinks with the Elon river, portions of Elona could possibly look that way in the future. Another image, reminiscent of the Jade Sea, is entitled "Naga Obelisk", leading to further possibilities for the other continents of Tyria.

Again, it's all in the details lately. We've had time to process many of the images that we've seen before, such as the vehicles -- land, air, and sea -- and begin looking at the smaller things, such as scale and construction. The two land vehicles we've seen, for example, are incredibly different in size judging by the figure standing alongside each one. The construction of the two is very different as well, with the locomotive-like vehicle sporting a distinctly steampunk look while the other is much sleeker in comparison.

As always, speculation is a very individual thing. We can all reach similar conclusions by following a logical path according to what we already know, up to a certain point. After that, it's every man for himself as we start exploring possibilities. With that in mind, feel free to add your own speculation in the comments -- I'd love to hear what you think.

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