Here’s something interesting. In my previous post about my concerns over the direction of GW2 Living Story Season 2, I noticed comments about plot consistently moving towards the hope of seeing the White Mantle return in GW2. And why wouldn’t it, really — GW2 is teasing a Maguuma area, which is historically tied to White Mantle in the minds of GW1 players.
I started thinking about this, and find it interesting that much more “mundane” enemies (compared to Scarlet) remain the most hoped for. I’m in complete agreement with this, and hope ANet will listen to their long-time fans.
They don’t need to go and invent some insane Sylvari mastermind, all these off-the-wall alliances, and giant mecha marionettes that drop from the sky. I mean… look at all that. It just got more and more silly as they tried to impress the player with Scarlet’s amazing knowledge and creations. Or something.
But why? They have all the lore and tools they need to design awesome villains right there already. They don’t have to keep trying so hard. They could find a way to put a new spin on old shadows, such as the White Mantle and the Mursaat.
Why the Mantle?
But, aren’t the Mantle old news? Why would anyone want to revisit old enemies from an old game? I think it’s a testament to GW1 that fans still look back to those inspirations in hope to see new stories that carry on the flavor of the original.
Warning: Guild Wars 1 Spoilers
The first time I played through GW1, the Mantle left their impression. So, here I am, a part of the group of Ascalonian refugees, who are now homeless and leaderless. The kind White Mantle are offering a safe haven in Kryta — that’s the only light these people have in all the world. Get through the Shiverpeaks. Get to somewhere safe and warm.
When I arrive in Kryta, I find it’s not all kittens and rainbows. In fact, it’s undead and undead. So, being the hero I am, I assist the White Mantle in fighting off the undead. I mean, these guys are trying to protect their people. And yeah, they’re dressed like white knights and all. So what could really go wrong?
I’m rewarded for my assistance, inducted into the order, and set out on missions. I get to lead around this cool floating eye artifact and search for Chosen Ones among the villagers to bring back to the Mantle in honor.
Only… that’s not what was really going on. In fact, White Mantle are some really bad dudes, offering up sacrifices to their Unseen Ones and taking control over the people of Kryta. And here I was, all that time, working with them.
Me, the good hero. I was helping the bad guys. I was one of them. I had no clue I was leading the Chosen Ones to their death.
What a bomb to drop! What a way to take that struggle and make it personal! Not only are the Mantle doing really bad things, but now the blood is on my hands if I don’t stop this. Suddenly, I’m invested and dead-set on taking down the Mantle, even if it’s one Justicar at a time.
And it didn’t need flashy explosions, destruction of cities or ships, ridiculous giant drills… or even dragons (though dragons do make everything better). Even after all these years, I remember this story because it connected me to the lore and the world on an individual level.
This is kind of thing people are looking for when they hope to see the White Mantle return. We don’t need hype and flash. We just need compelling stories, villains we struggle against for a reason, and a world that changes because the player’s hero (and not a bunch of chatty NPC “friends”) stepped up to make it change.