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TMORBG - Temper's Massively Overblown Ranting Blog [about] Gaming

After 25+ years of gaming, it's fair to say that some opinions written here may be older than some of its readers.

Author: VanadromArda

Guild Wars 2: Predicting Zhaitan

Posted by VanadromArda Tuesday August 14 2012 at 11:30AM
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Predicting Zhaitan Title Image

An Article by TemperHoof (August 2012).

        Table of Contents

   Are the Dragon boss fights of Guild Wars 2 really as epic as they say they are? I’m going to come right out and say it — no, no they are not. Early footage of the great dragons of Guild Wars 2 has been available on the web for nearly two years now, and what betas and additional footage have revealed in recent months do paint a pretty clear message of what we can expect from Guild Wars 2 post release. But what I aim to wager with this article is that Zhaitan, the most powerful and supposedly most epic boss of the first stage1 of Guild Wars 2, may not be as epic as some may expect.

   In recent vodcasts, the ArenaNet team has spoken a great deal about the Ruins of Orr, a great land mass that Zhaitan himself erected from the deep sea. The peninsula remerged and became known as the lair of Zhaitan, the great elder dragon of the undead. While the events leading up to Zhaitan himself may be epic in their scope and scale, the battle itself may be quite lackluster in comparison to those events. But in what way exactly will such a fight with such a massive dragon be considered lackluster?

   Just because Zhaitan will be big, doesn’t mean the fight will be anything more than an impressive visual: an unarguably stunning show of cinematic craftsmanship. Will the battle itself truly feel dangerous and have the kind of real skill driven difficulty it takes to make such a powerful dragon truly memorable for all who encounter it? Probably not! The key to this reasoning is looking back upon the trends of MMO gaming and taking a look at some of the most epic dragon battles. We will see why Zhaitan may not be as epic as he could be, and why we have to deal with that reality. We will also look over what we as customers can do in the future to help improve our overall gaming experience, and question ourselves what it is we really want — and what really, truly is... epic.



Zhaitan Side View


   While there are many definitions, only two really seem to come to par with what we as gamers tend to relate with the word.

  1. heroic; majestic; impressively great.
  2. great size or extent.

   We also have to remember, what may be epic to one person may not be epic to another. Everything boils down to experience, and let’s be honest with ourselves — a lot of people who are going to be playing Guild Wars 2 may not have actually experienced many impressive MMO battles and may have a very low bar of expectation. Some people on the other hand have seen it all, and have taken down some of the greatest dragons that gaming has to offer — and it is those people who may see Zhaitan as coming up a bit short. Yet that doesn’t mean the battle will be any less visually impressive.

   For me, Epic means not only big and visually stunning, but also incredibly challenging and difficult to master. Something which takes a lot of work to overcome and the chance of failure is so high that managing to come through by the bare skin of your teeth is utter satisfaction. So to this degree, I do not expect Zhaitan to live up to such expectation and standards. If anything, I may be harshly underestimating him by looking through the lens of age, experience, and also a realistic prospective of Guild Wars 2’s true core PVE audience — the casual MMORPG gamer.

   Guild Wars 2 wants to be inclusive, not exclusive. They want to include you as a gamer into some of those big, great moments of monumental cinematic history. Instead of feeling the risk and potential stress of massive failure, they want you to be a part of a greater moment of unanimous success. You are but one of many people, not Aragorn ready to challenge the dark lord Sauron, but one of the many faces who get lost in the crowd who stand behind that truly epic figure. You are not merely watching the battle from a sofa prospective, but watching the battle in a more intimate viewpoint in the middle of the chaos.

   And chaos Guild Wars 2 offers aplenty. Instead of epic, these dragon battles are more chaotic in nature. The chaos comes from every direction, and the more people who are present for the battle the more chaotic it is likely to become. This is what the developers intend, for if there is much more chaos on the screen then the player will be less likely to notice just how static and potentially uninteresting the actual dragons they are fighting really are. Is this a harsh critique of ArenaNet’s choice of boss fight style? No, I see it as more of a compromise.

   ArenaNet may be meeting people halfway, giving them a little bit of what they expect and taking it a step forward without going all the way in the direction of cliff-steep difficulty scaling. They want you to have your cake and eat it too. Let’s be frank here, ArenaNet will likely want users to win fights more often than lose them. All of this is just critical foresight, but all of it comes from reasoning. Dragons are not new to MMOs, and have really been a staple in a lot of RPGs since the old days. Everyone looks forward to a big fight with a dragon, and over the years some of them have been much harder than others.

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Guild Wars 2 Dragon

The Dragons of Old.

   Let’s roll back the clock a little and look at some of those big dragon battles from other RPGs and see just why it is that the west seems to desire a more light-handed approach to the subject. Why do western RPGs pussyfoot around when it comes to what are supposed to be some of the biggest bad-asses of all gaming? So now we take a brief glance of some major dragon battles of gaming that have taken place between 1999 and 2012. To get a fair look, I’m going to separate western and eastern titles in order.

   One thing you’re going to notice is that I pull in quite a few dragons from World of Warcraft and especially Monster Hunter. Let’s put it this way, Monster Hunter is the World of Warcraft of Japan — I’ll go into this later.

Kerafyrm - The Sleeper – Western DragonEverQuest (1999)

Image / Video

   This massive dragon was a one-time only boss. Known for being the most difficult boss in EverQuest and considered unkillable for a long time. This great beast took a lot of cooperation and hours to take down. While it only offered a handful of animations, it was a challenging battle for many EverQuest players. And those who took him down had a real pleasure — because once he was killed he would never-ever respawn on that server again. As the video shows, there isn’t much to him in the way of cinematics. As a matter of fact, by today’s standards he looks silly. Yet his poor looks didn’t make him any less challenging or memorable.

Xanxicar Pre-Nerf – Western DragonDark Age of Camelot (2001)

Image / Video   

   The great twin headed dragon of the Crystal Cave, Xanxicar, before his difficulty was reduced, was perhaps one of the hardest raids available in any game at the time. While once again not a cinematic masterpiece, this limited animation creature still proved a great challenge for those in the game. People who defeated him still look back fondly and wear their victory as a badge of honor. Those who beat him talk frequently about it when looking back on their exploits amidst gaming with good friends and good times.

Bahamut – Eastern DragonFinal Fantasy XI Chains of Promathia (2004)

Image / Video / Theme Song

   Final Fantasy XI was really one of the first MMORPGs to really weave a massive dragon boss into a rich story. Seen in several cinematic encounters throughout the historically long and difficult campaign that was Chains of Promathia — fans of Final Fantasy finally had a chance to test their metal against the king of all dragons himself Bahamut. Before and after the battle there were cinematic movies, but the fight itself was still just a standard collection of scripted animations and basic attacks. The script and numbers were more impressive than the actual look of the fight, despite Bahamut having a beautifully detailed model.

Lao Shan Lung – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter (2004)

Image / Video / Theme Song

   Before World of Warcraft there was Monster Hunter. While it was only released for the Playstation 2, it was an entirely online game. The single player didn’t even have most of the game’s content available to play, and players who enjoyed the online experience had to face Lao Shan Lung as a Right-of-Passage to gain full access to that content. That’s right, he wasn’t the final boss — Lao Shan Lung was just the sub-boss. Lumbering and large, he never really directly attacked players except when he stood on his hind legs before a bridge. Otherwise most of the battle was just beating on him as he ventured through a canyon.

   The battle had many cinematic encounters, but each time the player was physically part of the cinematic. Players could even man ballista, cannons, and a massive drill which could penetrate the massive dragon’s belly if properly timed. It required skill and teamwork, but the dragon seemed rather oblivious to the player most of the time. While massive in scale, Lao Shan Lung was actually one of the weakest and uneventful of the encounters in Monster Hunter — but it was and forever will be an entirely memorable experience.

Fatalis – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter (2004)

Image / Video / Theme Song

   More difficult, more cinematic, and more memorable than Lao Shan Lung; Fatalis, the final boss of Monster Hunter, really put the player in the middle of a fight with a big dragon. After a grand entrance with thunder and lightning streaking across the sky, the massive black dragon would drop down into the courtyard of the castle and the players had to deal with him the hard way. While cannons and ballista were available, they were largely ineffective against this massive beast.

   Players had to utilize either powerful close range weapons to knock him down or use explosive ammunition and guns to shoot him out of the sky. There were no stages to this fight other than you could repeatedly repel him three or four times in 45 minute intervals. During the battle he’d show signs of scarring, including his eye being ripped out, horns being blown off, wings being torn, and his chest being scarred.

   RPGs in the East began to take steps toward bringing dragons to life with more lifelike animations and more unpredictable behavior. Less and less were fights about numbers, but more about the fighting the beast as though it were real — and really, really hard.

Onyxia – Western DragonWorld of Warcraft (2004)

Image / Video

   By now a trend had begun to be set in stone in the west. Clearly people were alright with large dragons that remained fairly static throughout the battle and performed merely a handful of animations. Onyxia is just one of those big dragons who performed difficulty through code and predictable stages. Long seen as one of the premiere raids in World of Warcraft, this impressive dragon was long sought after for rare loot and bragging rights. Yet while difficult, there was nothing visually striking about this dragon — but players who fought and defeated it found it memorable. A shame that all Onyxia is good for these days is really amusing Meme2.

Valakas – Eastern Dragon Lineage 2 (2006)

Image / Video

   With a slightly more cinematic approach to massive dragons: Valakas was, for a while, considered the ultimate boss of a server. About as large as Onyxia from World of Warcraft, this blistering fire dragon sported a mixture of cinematic intro and outro with some quality animation during the fight itself. Indeed, it only sported a handful of animations, but the model it boasted made an impressive show. While the battle was not quite as dynamic as a more action RPG approach like Monster Hunter, the battle was still one of the most impressive dragon battles you could find on the PC at the time.

White Fatalis – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter 2 (2006)

Image / Video / Theme Music

   Still leading the way in realistic dragon animation and action, Monster Hunter once against proved its merit by sporting a new version of Fatalis. This time the creature is white and sports a number of new animations. While there have been many versions of Fatalis before this one, the White Fatalis is known for being a very cinematic experience as you battle this beast on the highest floor of a ruined tower. With a storm raging all around you, the massive white Dragon often rained down lighting upon his foes making the fight very unpredictable. Not to mention, the music really does have a big effect on the battle itself.

Nightbane – Western DragonWorld of Warcraft: The Burning Cursade (2007)

Image / Video

   Another oversized and perhaps silly looking undead dragon from the World of Warcraft era, Nightbane did a least mix it up a little with brief periods of flight and minion summoning between each of its standard animations. Though it’s pretty inescapable that even after years, dragons really haven’t evolved very much in their looks and behavior in the west. They are more about looks than behavior, and they certainly do look like dragons but still perform like any standard everyday monster.

Sunlathir Western Dragon Warhammer Age of Reckoning (2008)

Image / Video

   For people who were new to Warhammer back in 2008 and decided to play the Dark Elves, they were introduced to a pretty impressive dragon for such low levels. But while the fight was interesting for mixing it up with a big gold dragon, many people couldn’t help but notice that dragon had similar behavior and animations that were familiar to creatures of Everquest back in 1999. While the dragon looked better, there was still lack of actual fluid movement.

   A hit box that didn’t make sense confused players and an oddly rotating pivot point based around that hit box made for ugly execution — western dragons simply were not evolving in how they moved and reacted to the player. At the time, Western MMOs began to come across as being trapped in the past when it came to large scale dragon fights.

Monster Hunter Dragons (2008 2009)

   Clearly Monster Hunter continued to dominate this field for several years by throwing down new and more impressive dragons with each update and expansion. Since that game specializes in massive dragon hunting and slaying, it pretty much owned this department in many ways. I would argue Monster Hunter was truly the cutting edge of dragon hunting, but I can’t help but still feel that its potential will be forever held back by lack of quality localization and a company who has turned Monster Hunter into a product pusher in recent years — this too I will clarify on later. But for now, these just speak for themselves.

Berukyurosu – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter Frontier (2008)

Image / Video / Theme

Jhen Mohran – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter Tri (2009)

Image / Video / Theme

Raviente – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter Frontier (2009)

Image / Video / Theme

Shinryu – Eastern DragonFinal Fantasy XI Heroes of Abyssea (2010)

Image / Video / Theme

   Final Fantasy XI still managed a visually impressive dragon, despite being limited on an aged engine. Shinryu kept the Eastern tradition true with cinematic into and outro, realistic animations, and powerful attacks that can be seen as well as felt. With difficulty that is on equal ground with several tough bosses — Shinryu’s only flaw is the game system itself. Sadly he was far too easy to kill with the right tools, and once he was defeated the hard way a chain-reaction occurred, which only made him easier and easier as time pressed on. Beautiful arena though. That alone is probably more memorable than the fight itself!

Deathwing – Western DragonWorld of Warcrtaft: Cataclysm (2011)

Image / Video

   Finally deciding to mix it up a little, Blizzard took a page from Eastern dragon battles and added some cinematics. Though the attempt merely broke the battle up into separate arenas where the players would still be gathering in a cluster and beating on odd things that weren’t very dragon-like. Indeed, the overall size of Deathwing was so big that he just wasn’t visible to players most of the time. The only time where he was actually visible was in the very cinematics where the player really didn’t have much an impact on the fight itself. It did show some evolution in the west, but clearly not enough to make a memorable impression.

   The battle did do its job, but the dated engine and low quality graphics really took away from the overall experience. As many games were already miles ahead, World of Warcraft joined the party way too late to have a meaningful impact on the evolution of dragon battles.

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Zhaitan Stands

Why So Different?.

   Well, back in 2004 there was an interesting division.

World of Warcraft — A highly advertised game came out for the PC in the United States but wasn’t released in Japan.

Monster Hunter — A highly advertised game (in Japan) barely made a blip on the radar in North America, wasn’t advertised at all in the United States, and was released only on consoles — which wasn’t a heavy hitter for gaming state-side just yet.

   Gaming companies took it as cultural differences, evolving certain gaming mechanics in two vastly different directions. The west embraced World of Warcraft, which steadily made gaming easier, and the east embraced Monster Hunter, which steadily made gaming more challenging. Both of these games have existed for just about equal amounts of time in the gaming world, and both are suffering from age and decline.

   While it has been well versed why World of Warcraft is on the downslope, it is important to cover why Monster Hunter is suffering too. Currently the game is struggling because the company releasing it is mainly using it to push outdated products. Instead of evolving and pushing the limits of gaming systems with complex AI and rich graphical battles, Capcom is content making low quality ports that don’t strive too far beyond what they’ve already achieved. Risk and experimentation have been replaced with familiarity and normality.

   Like World of Warcraft in the west, Monster Hunter has deeply seeded itself into casual gaming culture which probably is the biggest hindrance to its evolution. Capcom exists in the exact same trap that Blizzard is in with World of Warcraft — profits and sales mean more than the continued evolution of gaming.

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Guild Wars 2 Dragon

Where does ArenaNet fit into all of this mess?.

   Well this article is about Zhaitan after all. There may be expectation that perhaps Guild Wars 2 will offer the next bump up in evolution for MMO gaming, especially in the dragon battling department. But from what ArenaNet has put on display so far, it’s pretty clear they’ve decided to find a more neutral ground on the subject to please both camps. This is the element of the compromise I mentioned before.

   By observing some of these videos, we can see some of the bigger dragon battles that Guild Wars 2 offers to us this year. Are these dragon battles bigger and better than all the rest we’ve seen before? No, and that’s pretty clear in the videos themselves.

Tequatl the Sunless Guild Wars 2 Dragon – (2012)

Image / Video

   We can see already that Tequatl has a more classic Eastern introduction. While the animation is very cinematic in nature, it doesn’t stop the flow of gameplay for a full on movie — this perhaps is one of the few new things these dragon battles do offer to the table as potentially new. Whether or not Sunless has a theme song is also unknown, many of these tech demos were filmed well before the game was fully completed. So it’s tough to say just how much has changed in this encounter, but it’s safe to assume that the structure of the fight hasn’t altered too much since last year.

   By watching the video we begin to see that Tequatl has only a handful of movements and animations and he remains largely static and stationary throughout the entire battle. His model and animations are a step way above average Western MMOs, giving him a very fluid look for each of his actions. Yet instead of merely pouring down massive amounts of code and script to overblow the overall difficulty of his limited animation sets, ArenaNet has decided to litter the battlefield with various forms of busy work to keep several players distracted and occupied.

   In many of these dragon encounters there is more to worry about than just a dragon. There are dragon minions being unleashed, guns to man and repair, obstacles to take down, and players to support. With so much going on there is little time to notice that the dragon itself is still pretty docile. This feels like more of a hybrid of western and eastern dragon encounters, but still strongly leaning more towards the more bland western side of the equation.

   Another example comes in the form of The Shatterer, a sizable champion dragon that still is dwarfed by the still unseen Zhaitan.

The Shatterer Guild Wars 2 Dragon – (2012)

Image / Video

   Once again we are blessed with an amazing cinematic intro, outro, and various fluid animations which are superior to other western MMOs. But as the battle progresses, we are left with very much the exact same formula as Tequatl the Sunless. The Shatterer is indeed a very big and visually impressive dragon, but one which only utilizes a handful of animations and doesn’t move at all from its fixed position upon the battlefield. Players keep themselves busy in numerous ways, being tasked with lots of distractions throughout the entire battle.

   Zhaitan may not be so different.

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More than just Boss Fights.

   But this is not a purely negative outlook on Guild Wars 2. What may make up for the lack of depth and evolution in these grand dragon encounters may be made up for in how much these dragons effect the world outside of the quests they’ve been driven into. With the exception of World of Warcraft Cataclysm to some degree, many of the massive dragons witnessed in MMO history have not had a direct effect on the game they exist in. They were merely there waiting for players to come to them.

   Guild Wars 2 changes it up by pushing the envelope with a Live Team3 which creates unpredictable events caused by the dragons during normal gameplay. Zones which may seem predictable to some, can suddenly become corrupted by The Shatterer just casually flying by.

   This by far is more than just new --- it’s also hard to fully imagine. So without risking over hyping the game with assumption, I am merely going to leave it here. The dragons may have numerous parts and encounters throughout all of Guild Wars 2, and it is unlikely they will be so easily beaten upon the release of the game. Many of the most powerful dragons may continue to haunt and plague the world for months to come — giving you as the player even greater stake and reason to truly hate them as you witness their impact.

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Shatterer Flight

Predictions of Zhaitan.

   The ultimate boss of Guild Wars 2 is, upon release, Zhaitan the Elder Dragon of Orr. I stated at the very beginning that the battle with Zhaitan, and that is the final battle with him, may not be as epic as we may want to believe. Yet it is my strong belief that Zhaitan is much more than just a creature waiting to be reached — he does not merely linger in a lair at the end of a long dungeon. The end game of Guild Wars 2 has been spelled out pretty clearly by ArenaNet, they have spoken of the Ruins of Orr and the great siege upon it.

   But there needs to be reason to advance upon Orr, there needs to be a drive more than just merely the swarm of undead flooding from its borders. Zhaitan may appear in the story at choice portions, making Final Fantasy XI-like cinematic appearances potentially leading to brief but memorable moments throughout the game. Everything will inevitably come to a battle with a large stationary dragon that’ll probably play out much like Deathwing from World of Warcraft. A truly massive dragon is likely to have stages, and in each of those stages will become weaker and weaker.

   Whether the dragon itself will be slain so soon in Guild War 2 is tough to say. But without a doubt there will be plenty for lots of players to do during the battle with Zhaitan. Cinematic moments are inevitable at this point, but each one will probably play out without stopping the game to watch a film. How big Zhaitan is and how much players will be able to physically affect him with normal attacks has yet to be seen, but it’s probably safe to assume that just about anything a player has in their arsenal will largely be useless.

   Furthermore, ArenaNet may be potentially sitting on something we haven’t seen yet. While I won’t go as far to say that an entire zone could very well be Zhaitan, it is safe to say that an entire zone can be devoted to merely fighting him if it comes to that. Either way, because of his size, he’s going to have limited movements and animations. He will not depart too far from western traditions aside from his fluid animations and cinematic impact. He will be beatable, and not overly impossible for people to slay. Because it will take an army to defeat him, it is unlikely an army of players will end in failure each time.

Will Zhaitan be difficult like Eastern Dragons? Unlikely.

Will Zhaitan be killable? Unlikely.

Will Zhaitan have Deathwing-like stages? Likely!

Will Zhaitan’s battle match the formula near beat-for-beat like The Shatterer and Tequatl? Likely!

Will Zhaitan have a Theme Song like Eastern Dragons? Very Likely!

Will Zhaitan remain static and largely motionless like Western Dragons? Highly Likely!

Will Zhaitan only have a handful of repeated animations and signature moves like Western Dragons? Highly Likely!

Will Zhaitan have lots of busy work for players to do during the battle so they don’t have to focus on Zhaitan? Highly Likely!

Will Zhaitan and all events relating to him be memorable? Highly Likely!

Will Zhaitan have cinematic impact like Eastern Dragons? Extremely Likely!

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   ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 may not step up to plate for evolving and furthering massive scale dragon battles very far, but what they do bring to the table is taking the dragons out of the battle and putting them into the world. Sure Zhaitan may not be the most revolutionary gaming experience, but it may be all about the journey — not the destination. So far ArenaNet has proven that they can bring something new to the table, and it is clearly not the dragons fights themselves. They’ve not only promised, but shown they can have dragons shape and affect the world to help drive a great story through the work of an active Live Team.

   Because of that reason alone, the battles with the dragons themselves may pale in comparison to the rest of the game. They may truly be lackluster and limited in their execution, and may keep player’s senses busy with distractions to avoid seeing the clear lack of animation and variety. Yet the actions of a dragon can be much more than just mere animation and attack. The actions of a dragon can be far reaching due to the efforts of a diligent Live Team constantly changing the game as it is being played. This alone gives the dragons infinite possibility outside of the battles they are normally seen in, and put them in a unique position to provide emotional impact on the player.

   Perhaps one day we can urge companies like ArenaNet to go a step farther and make those battles more lively and unpredictable. The resources are there, and now with Monster Hunter on the decline there is certainly a vacancy to be filled in the area of more lively and action driven battles. Indeed, I would love to see Dragons in future installments of Guild Wars 2 be much like those beasts of Monster Hunter. Zhaitan doesn’t have to be so complex, but there is absolutely no reason why smaller dragons can’t be just as memorable.

   Without a doubt we all love dragons, maybe ArenaNet can pick up the fallen torch from the east and carry us all into a new age of dragon hunting. Maybe we can all finally enjoy the thrill of the hunt that has long been postponed in the west!

   Unlikely, but I remain optimistic.

   The potential is there, and if we want to see dragon battles become more rich and complex — all we have to do is make it known that such a thing is really in demand in the west as well. Are we really satisfied with big, beautifully animated sitting ducks that wait to be shot at? I believe western gamers are better than that. Then again, I’ve been wrong before.


1 First Stage – Guild Wars 2 will have several updates and expansions that will continue to drive the game forward and shape its overall story. While not everything may be available at launch, it is likely things will emerge in a matter of Stages. These can be considered Episodes, Updates, etc. But the first is of course, where it all begins.

2 Meme – The Onyxia Meme I speak about is the famed 50 DKP Minus raid rant.

3 Live Team – Guild Wars 2 will have a full time team of operators overlooking several zones of the game and dropping in random events that may never happen again. This is the whole idea behind the ‘Living, Breathing World’ they aim to present. The major story behind the game are indeed the Dragons, and it is likely many massive events will be related to them as the game matures.

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Don't Forget to BUMP this Article!

Badaboom writes:

When talking about Dragons, for shame for not mentioning the fire & ice dragons of Darkfall.

Anyways, look forward to playing GW2 and experiencing the Dragons!

Tue Aug 14 2012 12:50PM Report
Lurianar writes: Can't really agree completely, from what I remember from gamescon in 2011, The Shatterer fight was highly dynamic. While the dragon himself wasn't the most dynamic one ever done (for gameplay reason, if he would just run amongst players this would mean 99% chances to fail), the events you'll have to do sideway will be amazing. I also don't worry about the difficulty, when I see a level 6 charr shaman in the starting zone wiping over 20 players trying to kill him in a matter of seconds :) Tue Aug 14 2012 12:55PM Report
zero462usa writes:

If you want to show unpredictable then you should've shown boss battles from Tera. They may not've been "dragons" but the videos you showed as "epic" are LAME.

The battles of GW2 are 10x better than anything else out there because they add the element of "there is more to do when battling than just what's in front of you." The dragon battles could be scaled up in difficulty as well but then everyone would be crying because "we can't beat them." /wrist

There is always room for improvement but this just seems like another "doomsayer" article that isn't much better than the trolling posts on the forum. What is the point again? oh, GW2 isn't the 2nd coming? no kidding, but it is a HUGE step in the right direction. THose "dragons of old were all lame, they pale in comparisson to the video of the Shatterer LULZ

Tue Aug 14 2012 1:21PM Report
VanadromArda writes: Nothing "Doomsayer" about this article Zero. I merely provided a lot of history to show where we've come. Also, I just wanted people to look realistically at Guild Wars 2 and not expect more than they are likely going to be getting. When dealing with the concept of huge dragons, it's easy to let one's imagination run wild. Tue Aug 14 2012 1:34PM Report
bcbully writes:

Call me crazy, but this is a rather scathing perspective. 


For the record this western gamer craves challenge.

Tue Aug 14 2012 1:51PM Report
Istavaan writes: so you've seen year old footage of the dragons and now you are an expert..well done sir! Tue Aug 14 2012 2:09PM Report
VanadromArda writes:

Would you perfer I draw predictions from my pocket, or maybe a magical top hat? :)

Yes the footage is pretty old, but there may not be a whole lot of alteration to those battles. I'm positive things changed, but at the same time I'm sure those changes were minor. Nevertheless, this is an article about guess work.

Not to mention it's always nice to remind people we should always strive for better!

Tue Aug 14 2012 2:13PM Report
otacu writes: Well it's a nice article. I hope Zhaitan will be a really epic fight. Who knows? Maybe ANet has some surprise up their sleeves. Tue Aug 14 2012 2:31PM Report
keirion writes:

I wish you would have brought into play the things we KNOW about Zhaitan being different from the demo battles with other dragons we've seen:

1. You will only get to fight Zhaitan once per character, which means the fight is probably a personal story encounter not a repeatable DE.

2. They've considered/attempted (unclear whether it will be in release) to make Zhaitan's death (body) be a lasting visual in the appropriate region of Orr, implying that he will probably b e dying.

Tue Aug 14 2012 2:48PM Report
VanadromArda writes: Keirion, you did say it was unclear. I'm not sure how ArenaNet is going to execute Zhaitan in this game. I did just my best guess work is all. This is about prediction after all. :) Tue Aug 14 2012 2:52PM Report
keirion writes: Yup! That just seems like important info (especially it not being repeatable) for predictions. :) Tue Aug 14 2012 2:55PM Report
Magnnarot writes:

The fight with Zhaitan is going to be inside a dungeon, 5 man battle (yet unknown if it is in story, explorable or both modes). It will be nowhere close to the zergfest dragons we have already seen. There was a leaked map of Arah a while ago, containing spoilers of the battle, I am sure you can find it if you search deep enough. =)

You might want to rewrite your article with this new amount of info, as for the dungeon he will be in: this is the wikia article on it

Tue Aug 14 2012 3:01PM Report
Magnnarot writes: Sorry, forgot to add, of course there is a high probability we will get to see/battle Zhaitan in open world Orr itself, but that is not yet confirmed. Tue Aug 14 2012 3:02PM Report
VanadromArda writes:

Magnnarot, I appreciate the info but I don't think the article needs to be adjusted or re-written. I never made an attempt to really try and nail down any exact details of what the fight will be --- as I don't have an honest clue.

The article is mainly about not expecting too much overall. :)

Tue Aug 14 2012 3:04PM Report
Magnnarot writes: Ohwell, just trying to help. =x Tue Aug 14 2012 3:13PM Report
zero462usa writes: I wish this article would've been written for SWTOR instead. Tue Aug 14 2012 3:17PM Report
Sentaph writes:

Magnnarot is correct, Zhaitan is confirmed to be a 5 man dungeon that is the final story mission for every character's personal story.


As for the article, I'm surprised there wasn't more focus on the mechanical side of things. An open world boss involving 100 players can't play the same as a boss in a single player game. Where does he go? How does he interact with the players? In fact, most single player games haven't been able to figure out how you fight something larger than yourself. How many games involve anything other than quick time events/shoot it a lot? Dragon's Dogma and Shadow of the Colossus are two good examples, but how would they work in a multiplayer environment?


I don't doubt that Zhaitan will be much like the other bosses, however, I think an exploration of why this is beyond "western games don't do giant monsters well" would have been helpfull.

Tue Aug 14 2012 3:23PM Report
Cursedsei writes:

Sentaph, Monster Hunter pretty much deals exclusively with beasts that are easily twice as big as you, if not larger.


And its why it seems to pop up so much as a "right" way to do it. However Monster Hunter cannot be compared to all the other presented games because it isn't like those  games in any way or shape. At most its co-op, not MMO, heavily zoned, and entirely lacking in any form of leveling in order to maximize on the whole "skill" side of the game. Trying to compare that to a bunch of tab-targeting "gear-grind stat-dependant" MMOs is like trying to compare an apple to a carrot.

They are two wildly different beasts that you just can't compare in order to come to some conclusion on how another game might handle it. ArenaNet is willing to overhaul things, they've been doing it in beta all the time and before it as well. We have zero clue on if the shatterer or the other has or hasn't been altered internally.

Tue Aug 14 2012 3:44PM Report
VanadromArda writes:

I'm showing what has been done an how two different styles of approach can get two very different outcomes. I covered both regions because well, they are indeed large scale dragon battles no matter which way you look at them.

I wanted to show all of those games because I wanted to better illustrate where Guild Wars 2 exists --- and it exists somewhere between those two game styles. Neither classically Western or classically Eastern, the Dragons of Guild Wars 2 barrow a lot from the past without pressing forward in dragon development.

I'd personally like to see some advancement in the future, and Guild Wars 2 does appear to have a good ground work in place to really make for some interesting dragon battles if they really wanted to. But let's not forget, Guild Wars 2 is more than just battle mechanics --- it does things neither eastern or western games really did before. ArenaNet has brought the dragons into much more of the game.

Tue Aug 14 2012 3:51PM Report
Sentaph writes:

Ah! See, that I can get behind. So I guess my question is: how CAN mmos innovate giant monster battles? Only a handful of games I found deal with it well, but they aren't well suited to multiplayer.


I agree that stuff like the Branding event from BWE2 was great, and I'd love to see more. But how about the fights themselves? Someone mentioned a Shadow of the Colossus-style jumping puzzle. I can think of others, but it almost always necesitates an instance, or an entire zone designed just for the fight. Do you think there's a way around that?

Tue Aug 14 2012 3:56PM Report
VanadromArda writes:

Personally? The bigger they are the more difficult they are to deal with. Even Monster Hunter made lots of restrictions on their really-really big dragon-types --- one fight being limited to a boat for example.

A Shadow of Colossus-style approach to boss battles is presumably a fun avenue for a lot of people. But what I've discovered is that bigger doesn't always mean better --- Monster Hunter alone can reveal that. 

We know there isn't climbing mechanics in the game, but as pointed out there are jumping mechanics. What I feel may be a good approach for Guild Wars 2 is merely my opinion, but I'd like to see ArenaNet focus on smaller scale dragons. 

Bigger ones seem best suited for larger team efforts, such as having an entire team or people not simply ride on a ship --- but physically man it. Jumping mechanics could be used to scale portions of a vessel to reach points of avantage. I think team work managing to successfully pilot and maintain a ship would be a more interesting experience in my opinion for the bigger beasts.

As for smaller dragons. More intimate, up-close and personal battles using Guild Wars 2 already fluid combat system with much more upredictability and agressive behavior would be a truly pleasurable experience too. Maybe once again using jumping as a method to gain the utter hand in the enviroment, rather than physically climbing a creature.

Tue Aug 14 2012 4:08PM Report
Eir_S writes: I thought it was a good article, I read the whole thing for once on this site.  Interesting comparisons and theories, we'll see how it turns out in the end soon enough.  Bravo, Temperhoof, for wrting a well thought-out piece. Tue Aug 14 2012 4:15PM Report
Sentaph writes:

Small to midsize might be the way to go. I've seen a few smaller bosses that are very dynamic. There's definitely a certain size where things just get unmanageable.


Something I can't believe I forgot though: we have footage of players on an airship being attacked by a dragon midflight. This, like the metrica provenance jumping puzzle eliminates the need for specially designed zones since it take place completely mid-air. Now, I have no idea if such a battle takes place in-game, but having an airship battle against a large dragon might be just the solution!


As for zhaitan, I have two preditctions myself, based on his two mile wingspan. One, I think the massive armies that are the focus of Orr content, and more specifically your chosen Order (since Zhaitan is part of personal story) will play heavily. Because of that, I'm also thinking that the players will have a specific task in the battle, probably to take some sort of superweapon and attack his weakpoint/his essence (ala Destiny's Edge book).

Tue Aug 14 2012 4:20PM Report
AonSao writes:

I agree with this article 100%. While the visuals are impressive, the dragon fights are subpar. I had a chance to play both the Shatterer & Tequatl dragon fights at conferences. Both were zergfests where little strategy was needed complete the encounter. I found myself getting bored spamming my damage on the dragon, bc I didn't have to put any thought into it.

The dragons don't even target specific players. They have "general" attacks that splash damage around the battle field. So, unless you are a moron you can easily avoid it.

On top of that, if you have 25+ people fighting a dragon it can't possibly kill you all before you are able to resurrect eachother.

Tue Aug 14 2012 5:15PM Report
Eir_S writes: AonSao, you make a good point.  What I'd propose to ANet is having a cooldown timer per person for the downed mechanic ressurection.  It might ensure that fights are a little tougher.  I hate to think of a massive enemy being anything less than a cakewalk because of all the people with the power to rez.   Tue Aug 14 2012 5:39PM Report
unknown769 writes: well judge from what i read ican really say you dint not play gw at all,even tho zaithan is wating in a room waiting to be killed  then what? gw  1 was like that and still epic Tue Aug 14 2012 5:45PM Report
Sentaph writes:

I would say that it's simply a matter of scaling. Being able to rez sure didn't save anyone's skin from the Flame Shaman in BWE1. They've also stated that the conventions where scaled so that people could finish content within the 45 minute window. Of course, that doesn't guarantee anything in the final product, but I think it does point to scaling as being the tipping point, not being able to rez, or "targetting 1 player out of the 100 that it scales to".

Tue Aug 14 2012 5:47PM Report
Magnnarot writes: Really big bosses could be improved a lot by changing the HOW you fight them, not a direct confrontation, like leading a big wurm inside a cave to prevent it from moving and such. This kind of approach is what I feel MMOs are missing, small races will never be able to take on gigantic opponents head on... or atleast shouldnt be able to. Tue Aug 14 2012 6:44PM Report
prpshrt writes: All I know is Zhaitan WILL be pretty darn massive and will pop out of your screen and eat your face if you're not amongst an army of npc/players and not geared properly. But in all seriousness, I feel like it would be more about the journey as well. Oh well game's not out yet so there's no use in making premature assumptions Wed Aug 15 2012 12:04AM Report
therez0 writes:

I just want to make perfectly clear:

Shatterer and Sunless are NOT dragons.  They are SHARDS of a dragon (two dragons if you want to exact--Shatterer is to Kralkatorik and Sunless is to Zhaitan).

The early esitmates of comparison was that Sunless is 1/8th the size of Zhaitan.

It's also been rumored Zhaitan (as well as the NPC heroes of Desitny's Edge) can also be controled by members of the live team during an encounter.

But the real epic part of battling the dragons, is that there are three factions (Durmand Priory, Order of Whispers, and The Vigil) in the game, each with a different tactic for fighting against the dragon.  The progress of each of these factions towards fighting the dragon is determind by players; one faction may pull out ahead and fight the dragon first, only to get wiped out; two factions might get there at the same time and have better luck; and possibly all three factions arrive at the same time, only to find out that their efforts are working against another. 

Thats going to be the epic part: getting to the point where you can even fight the dragon.

Wed Aug 15 2012 1:42AM Report
Kniknax writes: OP, you need to play EQ2 and check out their dragons :) Wed Aug 15 2012 1:43AM Report
VanadromArda writes:

Therezo, "Sure Zhaitan may not be the most revolutionary gaming experience, but it may be all about the journey — not the destination."

And regardless of what The Shatterer and the Sunless are, the key of the article is to break down and analyze their events to makes some educated guesses on the game. The idea is to not try and expect too much from Guild Wars 2, and of course not to lean heavily on rumors.


Wed Aug 15 2012 1:57AM Report
Indrome writes:

... or... you know... ANet could've actually thought about what they do with their GAMEBOSS and constructed the layout and mechanics of the encounter to something completely new and engaging... they've done that with everything else so far.

Interesting compilation about the dragons of MMOs... but everything beyond that point is mostly guesswork.

I mean... I myself can come up on the spot with at least 5 ideas how to make that encounter like nothing anyone's ever experienced. Why shouldn't ANet?


Wed Aug 15 2012 5:30AM Report
Indrome writes: oh, btw... +bumped! :) Wed Aug 15 2012 5:31AM Report
Mildoze writes: I think devs should change they way they deal with "end game" content Big Bosses, like death wing and others. I think it should be a server wide effort to "unlock the boss". Then, instead of players gearing up while the boss waits for you to down him, have the boss attack major cites and such, giving players a chance at an encounter that could let them kill the boss. Like the dragon from everquest, have it so the boss is on a week/month w/e cooldown. Wed Aug 15 2012 10:30PM Report
Fuerchtegott writes:

Thanks for this very informative opinion piece, TemperHoof. I am glad that there are still some articles on this site with substance even if it's "only" a blog entry by a non-official writer. We need more than these.

To all the ppl saying that everything but the histiography of dragons in this article is guess work, I would like to say that this is in the nature of a hypothesis. However, unlike a simple guess, the author did a good job explaining how he came to that conclusion.

What I also really liked a lot is the inclusion of images/videos/theme songs.

As someone said before what would be perfect is to analyze the underlying game mechanics of every dragon to find out whether there are mechanics that support a challenging experience and others that don't.

Thanks for this piece.

Thu Aug 16 2012 5:50AM Report
verenov writes: THIS what we've come to bickering over? It seems today that gamers are soooo spoiled, imo. Whiners saying " wasn't EPICCCsss enough!!" WTF is epic to you people? Playing the game, character being hit, and YOU sitting behind your keyboard develop a nose bleed?? Everytime your toon gets hit you experience a shock through the keyboard emulating real pain as you fight a dragon? This is sad, guys and gals. These fights are going to be fun. From an IMMERSIVE point of view (you gamers DO remember immersiveness, right) these fights are very epic. Don't look at this as yourself playing your character. Use your f*&^ing imagination, place yourself in the shoes of the your avatar on the screen, and IMAGINE the scale of what he/she (YOU) are fighting/experiencing. These fights will never be EPIC enough until we as gamers relearn what it is that makes gamers so different from the rest of the population: we're IMAGINERS...we're DREAMERS. We enter these worlds of fantasy to experience them from our characters point of view, not from a person-behind-a-keyboard point of view. When we relearn this one lost childhood ability, our gameplay experience will increase by tenfold.

P.S. See you in Tyria. :)

Fri Aug 17 2012 9:21AM Report
tokini writes:

article should have been called "Why i like monster hunter"


Sat Aug 18 2012 1:13PM Report
kanwal236 writes:

Those dragons in your list are your definition of epic? >_>

I agree the attacks of the GW2 dragons are a little lacking, however their visual epicness is off the charts.  Anet is not the only game dev to want to try to be different, take a look at these dragons:


Ignore the koraen in the 2nd video, that content is available in NA too, game is Vindictus.  These dragons are Epic, both in looks and gameplay, you have to actually dodge, crazy idea right?!  There is nothing epic i see about any of the dragons in the videos listed, except for the GW2 videos.  

Sat Aug 18 2012 8:24PM Report
VanadromArda writes: I have a personal thing against anything Nexon. Sun Aug 19 2012 7:12PM Report
VanadromArda writes: Oh and, no one has commented on one simple thing. Did anyone realize that I was right? Tue Jan 29 2013 9:36AM Report
MMOExposed writes: Right about what? Sun Jun 23 2013 5:34PM Report writes:
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