Speculation, leaks, teasers and the ever present hype train have dominated Guild Wars 2 discussion for months now, with the so far successful Living World Season 3 leading players to new places each release, everyone wants to know where to next! Without too many #Spoilers, let’s take a look at some of the juicier speculation we've seen from 2016, and the implications of some of the leaks and teasers we have gotten in the lead up to the new year.
To give a quick summary of what we know and where the story is coming from so far, players have been going to new maps each release following the awakening of various dragons, and before that the rise of an ancient enemy Lazarus the Dire, a Mursaat who absorbed enormous magical power from the explosion of a Bloodstone. The remaining dragons have been seen to be absorbing the power released by the death of their fellows, growing more powerful and creating new minions with the powers of the dead dragons. Taimi has theorized however that the living dragons power might be able to be used to destroy the others, pitting Jormag and Primordus against each other. Finding a way to accomplish that goal, and putting down the loose ends, looks the logical step to take going forward and in to expansion 2.
Starting with the Lazarus story, as it was the first we experienced and are yet to see the continuation, and where that looks like it’s going to take us. This story was a huge moment of celebration for the Guild Wars 1 players in the room, with the return of the Mursaat and the White Mantle. Many players saw a lot of teasers and alluding to Lazarus in the release of the raid wings, especially 2 and 3 in which players directly combat the white mantle who are talking about their unnamed master. As the Mursaat were worshipped as gods by the White Mantle in the original game, it’s not a big stretch to know who they were talking about, and as to it being Lazarus specifically, he is one Mursaat players did not see die, but rather seriously wounded and left for dead, which gave him a big window to return.
This story is almost certainly going to take us to the Isles of Janthir, a location from Guild Wars 1 that is referenced in season 3 by Roxx. The Isles are north of Kryta and west of the Shiverpeaks, and according to Roxx, minister Caudecus is hiding out there. There’s little doubt that the Players, and the Shining Blade from divinities reach or even our unlikely new ally Lazarus himself will be mounting an expedition to bring the White Mantle's leader to justice, with the biggest question being how. Whether it’s a new map or raid wing, the idea of going back to the Isles is exciting, as an important location in the franchise and vital part of the Mursaat history.
Moving away from the Lazarus story, we have the dragon battle royal of 2017 to look at. Killing a dragon off is no small part of the story, and it is highly likely that this is expansion 2 material. Although Braham has rallied the Norn and is looking to pick a fight with the big bad icicle of the north, even his magic bow was only able to chip the tooth of the dragon who has already once before crushed a Norn army. What I expect is the Norn to bravely march off to war, having seen their greatest childhood legend fulfilled, and to once again be crushed, giving free reign for Jormag to push even further south and making him an even bigger threat, just in time for the expansion.
As far as Primordus goes, the we know now that the dwarves are almost all gone now, and that their resistance holding Primordus back from the surface is no longer something we can rely on. The dragon essentially controls the Fire Islands chain now, as far as we know, and is ready to press on against the rest of the world. Players will most likely see at least one more zone down in the fire islands, although it is possible that we don't see it, there is a strong lore reason why the story would take us back to the islands. Besides the great big Bloodstone that sits within the caldera of the volcano, just above Ember Bay is a place called the Door of Komalie, which leads to the Realm of Torment. There are just about a million things that could happen with this door, especially with Lazarus present, and without going in to the dozens of story options available, its highly likely we visit here at some stage.
Starting with the accidental change to the Jungle Wurm textures back in November, and then going even further back to the leaked screenshot of what appeared to be a Crystal Desert location the Amnoon Oasis, it’s getting pretty clear that Arenanet will be taking us, in whatever capacity, to the Crystal Desert. This has huge implication for the story, as the resting place of Kralkatorrik and Palawa Joko the lich, but also for gameplay. The Wurms were accidentally changed to look like Junundu, and were quickly reverted, but not before players took a bunch of snaps that were almost mirror images of the desert Wurms. These Junundu were creatures in the original game who would be used by players to travel across dangerous parts of the desert. If we see a trip to the desert in the living world, then this is a potential mastery for players much like the Thermal Tubes of Ember Bay, but if it comes with expansion 2 then we might expect a potential mount-like creature for us to use in the Desert.
An expedition to the realm of Kralkatorrik adds even more to our mess of dragons, and if he has also been absorbing power from his dead counterparts, then he is even more dangerous that before. Already the size of a city, the last time Kralkatorrik was active across Tyria he created the brand, and defeated Destiny's Edge killing one of their members Snaff. What will also factor heavily is the divide that is being created by having these dragons active. The Sylvari are left semi-leaderless with the injury of the Pale Tree, the humans divided by the White Mantle threat and the discord in their government. The Norn off to war with Jormag, and the Asura will be feeling the threat of Primordus more than any other, being the closest to him and having already been driven from their homes underground by the dragon. Soon the Charr will also have a dragon on their door, and the branded becoming an even greater danger.
No matter what happens, I'm absolutely bubbling with excitement to see where these updates take us. With the continuation of the most lore rich and earth changing living worlds under way, and an expansion around the corner, I'll be glued to Tyria for the next few months to play through the new updates and see first-hand the expansion of this huge world.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy new year for 2017, and hoping to see you out there!