Warning: This story contains spoilers for Guild Wars 2's latest content update.
In the latest update to Guild Wars 2's Living World Season 4, "All or Nothing," ArenaNet dropped a bombshell: Aurene, a dragon that was the subject of a number of prophecies and a major character in the game, is no more.
For those who haven't played through the content, I'll avoid spoiling the specifics. But given how unusual it is for developers to kill off a beloved character like Aurene, I caught up with Mike Zadorojny, game director; Linsey Murdock, the game's design lead; and Armand Constantine, the narrative lead, to explore the reasons behind the brutal plot twist.
Armand Constantine: We’ve definitely worked hard to establish a bond with her. One of the biggest challenges, of course, is doing that with a character who doesn’t speak. The length of time she’s been involved in the story is helpful, of course, and so are the moments when she swoops in to fight by our side.
But I think it’s her personal journey that we connect to best: Aurene feeling vulnerable and afraid in the wake of those visions of her death, exploring the scion and champion partnership in Glint’s trials, moments of intimacy and wonder like Caithe’s Branding and how that let Caithe make observations about Aurene’s state of mind. Like with any other character, you try to find ways to understand hopes and fears, interior life, and relationships with other characters.
Guild Wars 2
'Guild Wars 2' Game Director Mike Zadorojny.ARENANET
Newman: Is she really really dead? Like no magical resurrections dead?
Murdock: Aurene lives on in many ways. Certainly in our hearts. Her effect on this world will be enduring, for sure. Processing her loss is difficult, and of course it’s hard to know what is going to happen now so naturally folks want to hold on to any hope they can.
Mike Zadorojny: The best told stories are ones that unfold before your eyes. For players who want to know what lasting effects Aurene’s sacrifice has on the Guild Wars 2 narrative, they should definitely log in when new episodes of Living World are released.
Newman: Aurene's been a strong presence in the story for a while, even enjoying her own musical theme. Why kill her off at this point?
Constantine: What we understand about characters comes down to the choices they make. Aurene foresaw her own death as the outcome of facing off with Kralkatorrik. It terrified her. But despite that fear, and despite knowing what she knew, she charged into the fight anyway. It was a choice about facing down death for the people of Tyria—people she’d grown up among and grown to value and love. One of the things we really care about on this team is being true to our characters and the values we’re trying to explore. Sometimes that leads to moments of triumph, and sometimes to tragedy.
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Aurene battles Kralkattorik in the final episode.ARENANET
Newman: She's been the subject of a few prophecies, but one from Glint indicated that she'd need to replace Kralkatorrik in the Mists. Does she live on in the Mists now?
Constantine: One of the key challenges of telling stories that incorporate prophecy is trying to make the prophecy feel weighty and momentous while still finding a way to tell a story that doesn’t feel like a plod toward a foregone conclusion. The fact that we have multiple prophecies that seem to be at odds with one another helps us play against that potential. We’re telling a story that incorporates Glint’s legacy, Aurene’s vision of inescapable death, and Kralkatorrik’s vision of a world without him. The story of how these all resolve is still unfolding.
Newman: Are there any long-term implications of Caithe being branded by Aurene now that the dragon is dead?
Constantine: We were excited about the idea of exploring some of the maternal feelings Caithe developed when she was Aurene’s caregiver early on, and the chance to heighten that connection between them was definitely compelling. The bond they establish in the Branding allows Caithe to understand Aurene on a deeper level than anyone else up to that point, and she’s able to communicate some of that to us. It’s also part of the reason Caithe is so devastated by Aurene’s loss. But as for how that connection might affect Caithe in the future, we’ll have to wait and see.
Guild Wars 2
Aurene prepares for battle.ARENANET
Newman: Any other story twists - or player responses - that you're looking forward to seeing now that this storyline has gone live?
Murdock: Oh yes, of course! I’m looking forward to all the reactions to every episode we ship, always. Right now, I am mostly focused on the future, the next major plot and character arcs, and how we can create more really powerful emotional moments.
Zadorojny: Episode 5: "All or Nothing," is just one piece of a larger picture. Our goal as caretakers of the story of Tyria is to build towards key moments that can reach our players emotionally. Part of the reason that the response was so pointed was because it was something that was built up from multiple episodes and years of work. If we do our jobs right there will be more moments where we connect to the fans, albeit in different (and not always so somber) ways.
Coied from Full article is here, Forbes By: Heather Newman