Guild Wars 2's Dragon Bash was one of the festivals I missed the most after it left during Season One, and I was super excited to see it return as an annual festival last year. This year, however, I’ve realized it feels hollow now that it’s reoccurring every year. It’s a moment out of time, which seems not to fit in anymore. Not to say it’s a lousy festival, it’s just not what it was originally, and that makes a huge difference.
Dragon Bash originally came out in 2013 and served not only as a festival celebrating the killing of Zhaitan, but it also laid some of the groundwork which propelled the next story forward. It is because of events that happened during the original Dragon Bash that we had the whole election of Kiel vs. Gnashblade. At that point, we were still of the belief we were going to have to fight all the Elder Dragons, or at least most of them. We had no idea what peril this would bring to the world. So, celebrating bashing dragons fit thematically. It also seemed somehow fitting for Lion’s Arch, a pirate city, would be celebrating bashing dragons.
Fast forward a few years in-game (and seven in real life), and everything is in a very different place now. Not only do we know killing the dragons is not in the best interests of anyone, we know it could ultimately destabilize the world. What is more, we have an Elder Dragon who is friendly with us and wants peace. Sure, there’s craziness with Jormag right now, and we’ll probably end up fighting, but we understand they are sentient creatures with their own views and desires. Imagine how all of this would look to Aurene. We’re celebrating killing her family and showing holographic images of them. Even if she understands and is ok with it, it still feels wrong on some level.
It also doesn’t help that the Dragon Ball Arena is part of Lunar New Year now, so that’s one less activity Dragon Bash has. The Moa races are fun, but there’s nothing really to do with them but spectate, and while that may be fun for some, it’s not the same as having a whole different mode of play. Beetle races are always fun as well. There’s also an adventure to bash the pinatas, because what else are you going to do with pinatas?
The most substantial content is the Dragon Bash Arena. Playable in two modes: an open instance anyone can join and a survival instanced dungeon mode. In both, players find themselves fighting waves of dragon minions and champions. The survival mode is harder and ramps up to a much greater difficulty the longer the group lasts. For me, this is the activity I can easily spend the most time in, but even survival mode gets boring (not to be confused with easy) after a while.
I wish there could be a greater variety of activities. One which probably would be a ton of fun is something based on that time we had to carry Aurene’s egg through the wilds to Tarir. Heck, it could even be something as simple as a team fight where you are trying to get a holographic egg to a goal, and the other team is trying to do the opposite. Or hey, a six-person fight where each player represents a different one of the elder dragons, and they have abilities based on that. Yes, sure, there aren’t six elder dragons now, so it still wouldn’t be story appropriate, but it’d probably be a lot of fun.
It just feels like overall, the number of things to do during Dragon Bash pales in comparison to other festivals like Shadow of the Mad King and Wintersday. Without the story parts holding it all together, it doesn’t feel like a cohesive festival or even one with any real meaning. Wintersday has so many activities to choose from; I honestly feel overwhelmed trying to decide what to do, which is a wonderful problem. With Dragon Bash as it currently is, I log on once or twice, and then I’m done with it until next time. Considering this used to be one of my favorites, my apathy with it now makes me sad.