ArenaNet seems to have taken a backseat with giving out too much information regarding the upcoming second season of the Living Story. Today saw the release of another vague artwork showing a road encompassed with thorn vines (see below). Since the usual preview pages have been missing since the start of the last part of the first season, we’ll try to connect some dots and propose an alternative view on some of the material that has been released.
The thorn vines seem to be a reoccurring theme across all released media: the trailer, screenshots (see below) and the above artwork all seem to depict that the vines will play a big role in the upcoming Guild Wars 2 release. Since we’ve known that we would be traversing into a new map with the upcoming season, I’ve been thinking about how ArenaNet might handle this. With the previous new permanent map, Southsun Cove, ArenaNet introduced us by kicking it off with a one-time only event: you had to be there to experience its introduction and the defeat of the Ancient Karka. While ArenaNet will not be doing something similar with the upcoming map, I have a feeling they will try to do something different to support the underlying story: my hunch is that ArenaNet might be using gating-mechanics for progression through the zone, and the thorn vines seem to be conveniently helpful for this. The screenshot below also seems to indicate some sort of vine wall, preventing progression, though others have speculated it to be a screenshot of the entry/exit point (combined with another screenshot of the other side of the valley).
Rather than releasing the whole map at once, and quickly loosing the new feeling, I can see ArenaNet using the thorn vines to create walls to progress through the zone. This would allow them to flesh out each part of the zone one by one and prevent a sense of emptiness from occurring like it did after the release of Southsun Cove. This will also benefit the storytelling aspect of the map since an area can be formed around the story, rather than a story around an already discovered area.
Rounding off, it deserves mention that people on Reddit spotted that the file is stored away with the name ‘Brisban’ included. The fear is that this might mean that we will not be travelling to the new zone before the next update or even later. Even I would like to see a new map being released next Tuesday, but if we wouldn’t, my guess is that the thorn vines walls will delay our progression as discussed above. Judging from the content in the trailer preview for the upcoming release though, some of shots seem to be made on a different map than the updated section of Brisban Wildlands, showing a more rough desert terrain than the re-used ‘desert’ area around Fort Vandal (thanks to that_shaman for the datamined image of the map). Whatever the upcoming release might be, one guess is nearly certain: those vines aren’t there just to be pretty.
What would you think of a more gated progression through the new zone? Would you like it, or do you prefer to have access to the full zone immediately? Let us know in the comments below!