Much has been written, said and video-recorded about Guild Wars 2's new World vs World arena The Edge of the Mists, but thus far the discussion's focused almost exclusively on the map's mechanical aspects and how it will affect over-long queues. Though last week's teaser trailer hinted that Scarlet's evil designs could bleed into the Mists, developer ArenaNet has thus far kept the details under wraps. That's created rampant speculation and debate about what's really going down in the next few months, but starting today, some of our curiosity will be satisfied as we embark on a quest to reveal the frightening vision of Tyria's most infamous uber-villain.
Of course, it's not as if players don't already know something's up. For months now, destructive events have plagued Tyria, and its inhabitants have guessed that these are linked. With last month's release The Origins of Madness, players began to realize the scope of Scarlet's villainous intent as well as the resources necessary to derail it. And though groups of heroes have kept Scarlet's weaponized marionette at bay, only a few have yet to defeat the giant three-headed wurm terrorizing the Bloodtide Coast. With so many things going haywire, players are looking for answers and they're not the only ones. Detectives Marjory Delaqua and and Kasmeer Meade are determined to get to the bottom of things as well, and in The Edge of the Mists players join investigative forces with these two iconic characters.
It's been a while since we've seen Marjory and Kasmeer's talents at full strength (not since they helped put assassin Mai Trin behind bars) and here players will accompany them as they collate and examine evidence. Designer Theo Nguyen says, “The investigation is a recap for people who might have missed some previous story points, who might not have been following since the beginning. This is definitely a great place to jump in if you're not familiar with the story or if you've missed a piece. We want everyone to be on the same page leading into the finale.”
What's exciting about the investigation is that unlike other recent Scarlet-related content, it has little to do with combat. Rather than spending half an hour whittling away at a giant, three-headed annelid, players will enjoy a more story-centric experience revolving around obscure clues and historical artifacts from past releases. They'll also get reacquainted with Emissary Vorpp, an Asuran teleportation specialist who's called in as an outside expert on all things Scarlet. (It should be interesting to see how that triumvirate works out, considering Marjory and Kasmeer seem to be getting closer on a personal, as well as a professional, level.)
While Delaqua Investigations is busy chasing Scarlet down from a law-enforcement perspective, Asuran prodigy Taimi continues with her fan-girl-powered Scarlet-stalking agenda. Having run away from her guardians, Taimi uses her considerable manipulative skills to bamboozle Norn guardian Braham Eirsson into becoming her reluctant escort. On paper, Braham's job is to take Taimi back to Rata Sum. In reality, Taimi manipulates him into going along with her plan to follow Scarlet's trail into the Mists. This plot thread not only gives ArenaNet the opportunity to introduce players to The Edge of the Mists map, it also allows them to further players' understanding of the main characters. Designer Scott McGough uses Taimi and Braham as an example:
“We've established that Taimi's an orphan. The question of Taimi's guardianship is very much up in the air right now, she's under the protection of Rata Sum's Prodigy Protective Services but at the moment she's a student in the Synergetics college and she's interested in exploring other options. That creates some friction between her and her mentor Zojja.
"Taimi's fascination with Scarlet largely is a case of hero worship. She looks at Scarlet and she's willing to overlook the villainy and the mass murder and the destruction inflicts, for a crack at the kind of freedom she sees Scarlet enjoying. She's a genius but like all of us at a younger age, she has impulse control problems and sometimes this stirs up trouble. I think players will see that from the very beginning when they follow her into the mists.”
[Side note: Taimi's introduction as Zojja's former ward in The Origins of Madness sparked excited speculation within the Guild Wars 2 player base about the possibility of Zojja's voice, Felicia Day, returning. While ArenaNet hasn't confirmed Felicia Day's participation as yet, they have confirmed that Zojja and Taimi will see each other again by the end of this year.]
In regard to Taimi's dupe, er—escort Braham, McGough says: “He has a Norn's sense of honor and a Norn's sense of 'I want to do things that expand my legend,' he's going to make sure he gets Taimi home. Braham doesn't think too hard about things, but hanging out with Taimi's going to force him to think a little harder than he's used to.”
According to ArenaNet, there should be plenty of opportunity for Braham to put those underused gray cells to use once he and Taimi reach The Edge of the Mists. Though primarily a new map for World versus World, The Edge of the Mists is cleverly introduced through Taimi's quest, and ArenaNet hopes the map's beauty will entice PvP-averse players to give World vs World a try. That said, the team assures players that PvP will never be forced upon them.
“The thing we're not going to do is make players run all over The Edge of the Mists map and do a bunch of things to complete the story when they could be killed by other players,” says Nguyen. “The appearance of the map ties into the story we're telling, but we want to keep a separation between PvP and the story components.”
The design team further went on to say that the far-reaching Scarlet investigation ties the main game world and The Edge of the Mists together as Delaqua Investigations' discoveries and Taimi's studies begin to converge. The main thrust of all this new content is social and puzzle-based gameplay and as such, is equally accessible to die-hard guildies and habitual solo players. Clearly, the purpose of the narrative aspect of The Edge of the Mists is to catch us up on everything that's happened before and fill us in on Scarlet's Machiavellian plans. More importantly however, ArenaNet warns that it's also our last chance to take a breath before all hell breaks loose in the land of Tyria.