Welcome back again for part 2 of the third article in a four part series speculating the future of Guild Wars 2. If you are just joining the conversation you can find the first article here and the second here. As I mentioned in the first article, this series isn’t speculating how successful Guild Wars 2 will be but taking a what if look if they add a feature or an event happens in the lore. In this article I talk about another race being added post launch.
I am going to assume that you have read Part 1 of this article. If you haven’t, you should probably go read it first because some of the points I will make are built off information I had brought up when talking about professions being added post launch.
As I mentioned in Part 1, the original Guild Wars series added two new classes with each new campaign. ArenaNet has said however, that they do not want to continue this trend in Guild Wars 2 for a variety of reasons. I don’t think it is necessary to have new professions for an expansion to be successful, but it does leave a bit of a gap in expanded content. A gap that could instead be filled with the addition of a new race. To give a bit of reference, every World of Warcraft expansion has added either a new race, a new class, or in the case of Mists of Pandaria both.
In an interview not long after the initial announcement of Guild Wars 2 back in 2007, Eric Flannum was asked what choices we would have for our characters, the question specifically mentioning how there was only 1 playable race and an increasing number of classes as campaigns were added. Eric said, “Right now we’ve got five races announced, and we’re not saying exactly how many, but that’s not the total amount that we’ll have, we’re going to have more in the future.” Now this was said a long time ago and a lot of things have changed since then with ArenaNet’s iterative approach to design. Just because ArenaNet has an iterative process does not mean that everything changes however, and the evidence we have seen more recently points to the Tengu being a candidate for a future race.
When the Guild Wars 2 novel Ghosts of Ascalon was released it came with a basic world map on one of the first few pages. The map got attention since it was the first map the players would see of Tyria after all the changes to the land between GW1 and GW2. Another feature on the map that garnered attention was a thick circle outline around an area labeled Dominion of Winds. Through a couple of interviews with developers it was revealed that the circle was a great wall built by the Tengu, a race of bird people players fought with and beside in the original Guild Wars, and that there was a Tengu City behind the wall. In addition we were told that this Dominion of Winds would not be an area accessible at launch.
All five of the races that are available to players at launch in Guild Wars 2 have their own main city, so the reveal that there is a Tengu main city that won’t be available at launch opens the possibility that the Tengu will be added as a playable race. After the Beta Weekend Events allowed players to see the size of the wall, including the map area the wall blocks off, it showed that the wall encompassed an area not only big enough for a racial city but also for a starting zone for the Tengu. A starting zone is the other factor all the other races have: Asura have Metrica Province, Charr have Plains of Ashford, Humans have Queensdale, Norn have Wayfarer Foothills, and Sylvari have Caledon Forest. The fact that the wall contains room for a starter zone means that if they do add Tengu as a playable race there is going to be a zone that is quintessentially Tengu which is what all the other races have with their starting zones.
So there is room and opportunity for the Tengu to exist as a playable race. What else is needed for an entire race? Lore, racial skills, racial armor and weapons, and a fully voiced personal story. The Tengu are a race that existed in the original Guild Wars and were brought to light with various quests and events, so a background for lore is already there. The lore even already explains why there is the wall and their unwillingness to join the other races. In the past the Tengu have been subjugated, forced to flee their homes, and then completely kicked out of Cantha by Emperor Usoku’s non-human stance.
In the southwest corner of Lion’s Arch there is a closed gate in the Tengu Wall guarded by a group of Tengu. If you talk to the leader, Yuki Honestcrest, he will say “We must soon determine with whom we will fight and with whom we will ally.” So they have not decided to be your friend or your enemy, which is interesting seeing as there are enemy factions of all the other races out in the world. This deliberation also sets up for a division of the Tengu should they become allies (and playable races) so that there would also be an enemy faction of Tengu who still distrust the other races. If you continue talking to Honestcrest about why the Tengu distrust the other races he simply says “It’s not for me to speak of these things to your kind. Not yet. Perhaps in time, should your race prove worthy.” Which is a nice way of hinting at the lore and story behind the Tengu without spoiling a possible personal story story.
Racial skills wouldn’t be too hard to add (especially considering they cannot be used in structured PvP lessening the need for absolute perfect balance) and new armor and weapon skins are practically expected to be added in any new expansion. The one thing that would take the most amount of work would be the personal story. Not only would you need to write the story, but you need to create the missions to tell that story all on top of completing the new expansion’s story for all the races if the new race is added in with a full expansion. Also you need to fully voice not only the Tengu specific storylines but all of the Vigil, Durmand Priory, and Order of Whispers joined storylines and dungeons for the new playable character race.
I want to finish this off with saying I think the Tengu would make a great addition to the expansion that leads us into Cantha. As I mentioned the Tengu have a deep history of subjugation and then being kicked out completely of Cantha. It would be a cherry on top for the Tengu to be one of the races that comes to save Cantha after being abused and kicked by the humans there. This is also why I think that the first expansion will be Cantha. The Tengu City is in the middle of Tyria, there is rumored to be a lot more Tengu in the Maguuma Jungle just to the west of the current playable areas, and the only thing keeping Cantha cut off from Tyria was Zhaitan and his minion armies that the players will defeat at the end of vanilla Guild Wars 2. If there is a theme behind vanilla Guild Wars 2 it would probably be uniting together, uniting the races and Destiny’s edge, all to overcome challenge. So following that up by going with this band of races to an area that treated outsiders horribly before eventually kicking them all out I think would be a good transition to whatever thematic story ArenaNet wants to tell us next.
Check back next week for the fourth and final article in the series: What if the gods never left us?