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Who is Scarlet Briar Really?

David North Posted:
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ArenaNet has created some great villains for the players of Guild Wars 2 to hack and slash, from ghosts to dragons. Many of these terrible beings are used in the story lines to act as a single target for players to unite against. But one character is the topic of several current happenings in Tyria. Of course I'm talking about Scarlet Briar, the mastermind behind many of the tragic incidents taking place in the living story.

Scarlet Briar, once known as a curious Sylvari named Ceara, has created the Molten Alliance, the Aether Blades, and the Toxic Alliance. For months she has been a thorn in sides of players. In the main story the dragons were a terrible threat, but something different was needed to keep players interested. So why not a manic that can rally a bunch of bad guys like a super villain group?

Dragons are awesome, there's no doubt it. They allow for epic fights that we hunger for when playing a game. So does Scarlet make as interesting a threat? Scarlet is a very different take on the “main bad guy.” While she has several talents as an engineer, she isn't an all-powerful being. Instead shes one that uses her talents to create a situation that makes it seem like she's all-powerful.

Scarlet and her masterpiece, the Twisted Reaver.

Scarlet also has this really weird personality. It's very clear that see isn't sane at all. We first met her making an assassination attempt on the Queen of Kryta, which ended up being a failure. Still she laughed about it! What could make a crazy lunatic like that? All we know at the moment is that during her travels and studies around the world, she may have seen how the universe works, or what’s known as the Eternal Alchemy. This belief gives her an attitude that she can now mess around with the inner workings of reality. Shes doing things just for the sake of seeing how her actions change things.

We could go on and on about the inner workings of the character, but the events still haven't really given us a lot of face-time with Scarlet. The writing is on the right path to creating a really great character. But if you don't read the lore she can seem like a very bland and simple bad guy. All we see is a Sylvari who likes to cause trouble. There isn't a whole lot to go on and in many ways she becomes annoying.

Scarlet probably has a plan behind everything she's done, with each “experiment” leading towards the next.  There are about a hundred different theories out there, but all we know is that there is a method to Scarlet’s madness.  So far players have been able to thwart every evil plan Scarlet has come up with, and escaped without a scratch. It really is annoying to try so hard, and stay alive while doing it, only to have your enemy fly away in a ship laughing at you. This type of activity has been going on for months, and we don't really see Scarlet breaking a sweat.  Whatever Scarlet is planning, we aren’t close to stopping her.  She’s always one step ahead. 

maybe players may just join Scarlet to be on the winning side.

Scarlet has potential to be a great villain. She’s got a secret agenda, loves explosions, and has an army of minions at her command. Add in her interesting origin story, and the unending quest for knowledge, and all the pieces of the puzzle are there. Sadly the events haven't given us much of a reason to be interested in this character. I find myself wanting to read the rest of the story in a book, because so far everything written about the character has been more interesting than the character that is actually portrayed in game.

While I love running around with players to run through hordes of enemies, I like to have some RPG in my MMO. Guild Wars 2, since launch, has been very story driven, so it would be nice to see the events return to that type of design. I think the development team needs to look back at the Flame and Frost events, and how they used story instances to focus on introducing characters like Rox and Braham. If they can pull that off, I think Scarlet will become the character ArenaNet wants her to be.  

What do you think about the Scarlet Briar character?  Do you think her plans are more interesting than the character we see in the game?  Let us know in the comments below.

David North / David North is a freelance writer for MMORPG.com.  David loves to play and makes games, but now he writes about them!  If you want to creep on him and make fun of his ability to draw, follow him over on twitter @David_the_North.

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David North