The new car smell has worn off Guild Wars 2’s feature pack, which is great because it’s not a car and that was getting a little weird. Whatever your opinion might be on GW2’s living world, players have gotten used to biweekly content updates, and while it’s refreshing to have a break every now and then, people are starting to draw comparisons to drought conditions while scavenging for any hints as to what might be coming next. ArenaNet has been busy with the Chinese beta and feature pack release, but letting us roll around like tumbleweeds for a bit is probably a good way to dry up any lingering burnout from the first part of the Scarlet arc.
In the aftermath of the Battle for Lion’s Arch, we were nevertheless left with a lot of information to sift through and a few pointers as to where the story might take us next. At the very least we have enough to fuel speculation, which is my second favorite pastime (right after fearing people off of cliffs in Edge of the Mists).
The mall at the edge of the world
Popular YouTube personality WoodenPotatoes released his own set of predictions for the coming season in video form. While I think some of those predictions are spot-on, others — such as his guess that the Zephyr Sanctum won’t be returning — don’t seem quite as likely.
The Bazaar of the Four Winds update was well-received by the playerbase, for good reason. Not only did it introduce a beautiful new zone with fun mechanics, an entertaining scavenger hunt, and a constant supply of stuff to fight, but it also clearly had a great deal of love put into it. The idea that ArenaNet wouldn’t bring it back just because Lion’s Arch is currently kaput is a bit odd; after all, the Zephyrites weren’t even officially allied to LA until the end of Cutthroat Politics. Furthermore, the Bazaar of the Four Winds itself is an independent gathering that occurs whether the Zephyrites show up or not; all it needs to get a party started is a place where the merchants are unlikely to be rousted and driven off by local authorities.
If anything, I think we’re likely to see the Zephyr Sanctum and bazaar return sooner rather than later. Bazaar traders were a sink for excess goods, and it’s about time we had something to do with our bank tabs full of Bloodstone Dust and Blade Shards (it’s at least been confirmed that we’ll meet a merchant with an interest in the latter). Visually, Vigil Keep doesn’t make for a particularly welcoming place to congregate. While the destruction of LA has probably helped to repopulate the main cities, megaservers make that something of a moot point, and poor Gendarran Fields could probably use guild wars 2 gold from being used as a repository for services. So here’s my wild prediction: The Zephyrites will liberally interpret their trade agreement as being with the citizens of Lion’s Arch rather than the city proper, and we’ll see the Bazaar of the Four Winds repurposed as a neutral hub, at least temporarily.
Why would they do that? Captain Ellen Kiel does have a certain amount of pull with them, and while nominally the Zephyrite alliance is with the Captain’s Council, I have a feeling that the ownership of LA itself is going to be in dispute in the future. This has potentially massive implications for the trade agreement with the Zephyrites: Their leader, the Master of Peace, originally sparked off the Cutthroat Politics election by declaring that the trade agreement would be given to whoever could win the support of the people. The Council is intent on clearing out any civilians from the ruins of the city — not just for their own safety, mind, but because they no longer have any reason to be there. Some of those people are looters, but others are former citizens who want to access the wreckage of their homes, possessions, and lives. I believe that this is setting the stage for future conflict, especially since the Captains’ Council chose to ignore Kiel’s warnings about an impending attack by Scarlet and are probably due for a challenge on their fitness to run the city. Even if we don’t rebuild Lion’s Arch in season two, I doubt ArenaNet is going to let the zone sit untouched by the living world story for long.
As for the Zephyrites, I think their connection to Glint has fewer implications for encountering Kralkatorrik than it currently does for the potential of Elder Dragon minions to shake off the yokes of their toothy masters. If you’re unfamiliar with Glint, know that she was a former servant of Kralkatorrik whose compulsion to serve was broken; she turned against him and became a benevolent (if not entirely forthcoming) agent against evil. She also had a cute baby dragon, the fate of whom is currently unknown. Some fans have guessed — correctly, I think — that the Zephyrites are literally protecting Glint’s legacy and might as well stick a “baby on board” sign on the back of their skyship.
The concept of a free minion’s child being born uncorrupted by their respective Elder Dragon is potentially very interesting because we know of at least one other large, magical, benevolent parent figure who has recently proven to not be one hundred percent willing to share everything she knows about the dragons: the Pale Tree.