I’ll be the first one to stand up and say that I’ve never been hugely happy with the living story releases. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they aren’t, and sometimes they feel like they’re just designed to keep people distracted. Now that Season 4 has started I wanted to take some time to discuss the things I think Guild Wars 2 Daybreak did right. This isn’t to say everything was perfect. Perfection is impossible. But with Daybreak, ArenaNet did quite a few things worthy of praise.
Before we go any further, yes, this article is full of Living World Season 4 Episode 1 spoilers. If you haven’t finished the story yet please stop reading this article. Come back after you’ve finished it. You’ll have a greater appreciation for what’s discussed and you won’t have anything ruined.
Final Warning: Spoilers.
Different Classes React to a Situation Differently
When you’re locked up in a prison cell a Mesmer isn’t going to react to the situation the same way a Warrior is. There’s also no reason, in world at least, why they wouldn’t use their strengths to get out. Thieves would pick the lock, Mesmers simply teleport out. For the first time, this is exactly what we see and it is amazing!
It’s much easier for the developers to have everyone react to the situation the exact same way. But with that ease, you give up a little bit of the Commander’s personality. Allowing each class to react differently to the challenge in front of them makes it a little more personal.
It also gives the story replayability. Now, I’m not suggesting that people will replay the story on a different character just to see one little change in one moment. But, if ArenaNet continued this trend and it popped up more often I could certainly see myself playing the story once on every class just to see all the different ways my character does things based on class or even race.
All of the Mounts Are Useful
One of the biggest irritations I had during Season 3 in relation to the maps was that the masteries that we had spent so much time working on in Heart of Thorns were barely any use at all on the living story maps. ArenaNet has already shown that won’t be the case in Season 4. Domain of Istan offers the chance to use every one of the mounts. Each one of them has time to shine on the map. I think it’s even better done than the Path of Fire maps which each tend to focus on the mount you can get in that map rather than making all of them useful. It might be a small thing but it was really important after going through Season 3 where most of the masteries weren’t very useful at all.
GW1 Character Gets Treated Kindly
In Season 3 we had the opportunity to meet a couple of important people from Tyria’s past, namely Livia and Lazarus. Many long-time Guild Wars players who had played the original were really disappointed by how both of the characters were treated in the story. There was absolutely nothing to suggest that Kerida, the Shining Blade we’re with is Livia until it’s revealed. There was no impact on the encounter and there was no lasting impact afterward either. Livia hasn’t been seen or mentioned since we parted ways. Would she not have been an amazing ally to have in the fight against Balthazar? Equally, there was a problem with Lazarus. He was very quickly killed and if you haven’t played the first Guild Wars game there was absolutely no reason for him and his defeat to be in the game.
Thankfully ArenaNet has heard the community’s feedback and the cameo in Daybreak was written in a much better way that was treated with respect. This time around it was Koss. There were hints that he might be seen before we actually saw him and there is a connection to Path of Fire as one of the NPCs you meet is a distant relative of his. Koss himself was handled with care. Yes, the encounter was somewhat brief. But there was a bit of fluff text for people to enjoy and there was also the sense that if we manage to defeat Joko we may see Koss again in the future.
Braham is Less of a Jerk
So Braham only drops in briefly and very unexpectedly but he seems to have cooled down a little bit. Will he finally be ready to listen to reason and act like the mature Norn he should be? I suspect we’ll find that out in the next episode. I didn’t immediately feel the need to punch him and I did like that Rytlock growled at him. I’d like to see more of that until Braham mellows out. And I would like to see Braham fixed. I think his character had a lot of problems with inconsistent writing in Season 3. But, thanks to the AMA shortly after Daybreak released we know they’re going to put a lot more focus on continuity between the different episodes. So, my fingers are crossed that Braham gets better.
The Map Will Keep us Busy
I really enjoyed Bloodstone Fen. I actually ran through it with all 26 (at the time) characters that I had. Every zone after that, from my point of view, went downhill. They were places where the story happened and once you finished the story you had no reason to be there anymore. I don’t think this is the case with Domain of Istan. It looks like there’s a lot to do and there are meta events to take part in. Unlike Season 3 maps I have a feeling we’ll be spending all of our non-Wintersday time in Istan and I love it!
Season 4 got started with a bang! The stakes are high and ArenaNet seems to be getting more comfortable with what they’re doing. I have a lot of hope for the next update which is expected sometime around the end of January to the end of February. What did you think of Daybreak? What did ArenaNet do well with the release? Is there anywhere they could still improve?Related: ArenaNet, Guild Wars 2, Living World, MMORPG, NCSoft