Guild Wars 2 players have been given an exciting way to bridge some of the game’s story gaps with the return of Living World Season 1 content, which is being added to the game permanently via five story-based episodes. Episodes 1 and 2 have already been released, with the exciting and much-anticipated Episode 3 releasing in the near future.
Curious about what we might be able to look forward to in Episode 3, the return of Living World Season 1 content as a whole, and what else the team might have cooking, we reached out to the Guild Wars 2 team with a batch of questions. Helping answer our questions and shed additional light on Living World Season 1 and Guild Wars 2 is Joe Kimmes, Season 1 Team Lead, and Indigo Boock, Season 1 Narrative Lead.
Guild Wars 2 interview with Joe Kimmes and Indigo Boock on Living World Season 1 Ep. 3
Shacknews: Firstly, why did the team decide to revisit Living World Season 1 as a series of story-based episodes in Guild Wars 2?
Joe Kimmes, Season 1 Team Lead: We’ve felt the absence of Season 1 since its conclusion – as the story continued into later seasons and expansions, having a piece of the narrative that players couldn’t experience firsthand was always a sore point. Key moments like the introduction of steadfast allies and recurring plot points made Season 1 a noted gap in the story between the core game’s Personal Story and the beginning of Season 2.
Bringing Season 1 back in some form has been on our minds throughout that time, and a few things lined up to make now the right time for it. Previous experimental releases helped prove that the Season 1 content could be brought back – the Scrying Pool missions in Icebrood Saga and the independent Twisted Marionette release last year – and with the End of Dragons expansion concluding one of the game’s longest running narrative arcs, it was the right time to connect it all together.
Fitting it into story chapter releases, compared to its original seasonal structure, made the most sense. We wanted it to play just like the later releases in Season 2 and onward – a replayable chapter that each of your characters could experience or repeat. Upgrades to our storytelling tools have helped out as well – since the original release of Season 1 we’ve developed a lot of improved methods for having player-specific story in the open world, and that let us bring the old content into a linear structure in ways that wouldn’t have worked at the time.
Shacknews: Can you talk a bit more about Living World Season 1 Episode 3? For example, how many story chapters will there be, and are there any new rewards or achievements?
Joe Kimmes: Episode 3 has 5 structural chapters – three story missions, an open world investigation and a brief epilogue. Just like Episodes 1 and 2, there are new achievements to earn, as well as many of the original achievements from the first release. By completing the new achievements, you’ll earn some new rewards like the Watchknight Greaves and Pavilion Champion’s Wolfblade, a clockwork themed sword.
Shacknews: Do all Guild Wars 2 players have access to this Season 1 content, including Episode 3?
Joe Kimmes: Yes, we’re adding the Season 1 content as part of the core game, so it will be permanently available without any unlocks or expansion ownership needed.
Shacknews: What have been some of the team’s favorite story beats written for Guild Wars 2 over the years? Adding to that, are there any aspects of Season 1, particularly Episode 3, that the team is especially fond of?
Joe Kimmes: Without spoilers, I’ve always really enjoyed the revelation at the end of Season 2 that leads into the Heart of Thorns expansion. That background lore was planned from the very beginning of Guild Wars 2, so it was a long term payoff to see the player reactions. Some of the first bits of teasing on that plot point start in Season 1 Episode 3, and I’m sure players going back to it now will notice some foreshadowing.
For Episode 3 in particular, I’d have to call out the scenes where we meet the main antagonist of Season 1, Scarlet Briar. It’s a memorable moment, and going back to retouch those scenes brought a lot of nostalgia. We were able to give Scarlet’s first appearance and first boss encounter some extra polish, so I’m excited to see players encountering her in person for the first time or revisiting those memories.
Indigo Boock, Season 1 Narrative Lead: Like Joe said, it’s really exciting that we get to introduce Scarlet to the world again. She turned into such a critical character for the franchise, and her actions arguably set the path for the rest of Guild Wars 2’s narrative. Her actions carry such an enormous amount of weight — even more than anticipated when she was originally written. When Joe was able to piece together the story into something linear and playable for the Journal (our in-game story tracker), we had the opportunity to revisit a few key moments so that her introduction hit especially hard.
One thing I did keep in mind while writing, though, was that Scarlet is an incredibly nostalgic character within our player base (myself included, some of her scenes encapsulate some of my most potent memories while playing the game). While we had the opportunity to strengthen her introduction and really pack a punch, we also strived to maintain what made the players so passionate about her to begin with. A few new lines, a handful of new audio logs, and, whew, I’m so excited for players new and veteran alike to experience this content. Scarlet is a hurricane, and Tyria can’t catch a break.
Shacknews: Do you have a go-to creative process when it comes to game narrative, and has writing story content for Guild Wars 2 been challenging at all?
Indigo Boock: That’s a tough question! It’s challenging in that the world of Tyria is ENORMOUS. There’s so much rich history and lore in every corner of the game, and it’s so critical to make sure I have eyes on all of it. I read a lot — I play both Guild Wars 2 and the original a lot (seriously, no one should know how much time I’ve put into both games). I always do a ton of research before I start writing, making sure that we’re telling not only a compelling story in any given region of the world, but making sure it’s consistent with prior lore and thematically appropriate. It’s all about constantly absorbing content and throwing ideas in front of the team to pick apart (narrative very much encourages cross-discipline collaboration). I also look to real history, literature, and media; I play a lot of games, too.
When it comes to the nitty gritty of the process, I write a lot of drafts. A lot of them. I put scripts in front of the team as often as I can when I’m working on a piece of content, fielding as much feedback as I can. I’m lucky in that so much of the team is incredibly passionate about the game, and all have unique perspectives and expertise about the franchise (and some of the team has been around since the beginning; those folks are absolutely critical in this process). I also try to stay aware of threads that are particularly enticing to our players, making sure that we’re being as engaging as possible.
Shacknews: Outside of Living World Season 1, are there any new features, updates, or content additions coming to the game that Guild Wars 2 players can look forward to in the future?
Joe Kimmes: One of my other responsibilities is the game’s festivals, so I’ll give you a little tease and say that I’m working on a new Skiff race and adventure for Festival of the Four Winds. As expected, boats don’t really turn on a dime, so it’ll hopefully be a bit of a challenge to set a top score!
Shacknews: Are there any upcoming in-game events that you can hint at that Guild Wars 2 players should keep an eye out for? Also, what have been some of your favorite recent in-game events?
Joe Kimmes: The Festival of the Four Winds is coming up this summer, and is actually a bit of an accompaniment to Episode 3 – the original release of Clockwork Chaos was a takeover of the Queen’s Jubilee festival, which was later incorporated into Four Winds to make a single unified festival. If you’re interested to see more of the Crown Pavilion, it’s a great time to pick up some of the old rewards from Season 1 as well as new items.
Shacknews: In your opinion, for gamers unfamiliar with Guild Wars who are considering jumping into Guild Wars 2, what’s the best way to start? For example, what should players focus on gameplay wise, and story wise?
Joe Kimmes: I really endorse taking things at your own pace – tackling the basic leveling hearts and events in the open world and the early Personal Story is a good way to get your bearings in Tyria, and the newer content being created is permanent so you aren’t risking missing anything. Once you reach max level you’ll have gained a lot of familiarity with the game and be ready to head into whatever story content suits you – Season 1 is the direct followup to the Personal Story, but if you want to jump into the full expansion storylines I won’t be offended if you play things out of order.
Shacknews: Not sure if you can answer this one… but are there currently any plans to develop a third Guild Wars game, or perhaps revisit past titles in a remaster or remake sort of way, like 2005’s Guild Wars?
Joe Kimmes: For the time being the team is currently focused on continuing development of content for Guild Wars 2.
Shacknews: Finally, what else do you want Guild Wars 2 players to know about Living World Season 1 Episode 3, and where should gamers go to stay up-to-date on all things Guild Wars 2?
Joe Kimmes: When you’re reading this we’ll be hard at work on Episodes 4 and 5, so I hope you’ve enjoyed Season 1 so far and are looking forward to its conclusion! Seeing the story returned to the game and getting the chance to take a second look at this content has been a fun journey, and I hope the result is satisfying for the fans who have waited so long for this.
Indigo Boock: Yeah, watching people revisit this content (and for many, experience it for the first time) has been a pure delight. Episodes 1 and 2 really built up to Scarlet’s reveal and I’m thrilled for players to take on Tyria’s most nefarious sylvari. Episodes 4 and 5 are currently in-process, but I’m eager for players to dive into the twisted mind of Captain Briar as we reach that conclusion. It’s definitely a climactic one.
We want to thank the Guild Wars 2 team including Team Lead, Joe Kimmes, and Narrative Lead, Indigo Boock, for taking the time to talk to us about Guild Wars 2 and Living World Season 1. Guild Wars 2 is available now on Windows PC.
For more on Guild Wars 2, also be sure to read through some of our previous coverage including the Spring 2022 roadmap reveal for Guild Wars 2 and promise of a fourth expansion.