The Guild Wars 2 Launch Trailer

September 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, video | 16 Comments
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First of all, if you don’t like spoilers, don’t watch it. Arenanet has made the same mistake that a thousand movie trailers have made and kind of spoiled the ending. Even after they did such a good job teasing it.

I’m kind of a zealot when it comes to spoilers. Maybe not compared to some, but I don’t think if you should go around telling people about Luke’s father in Star Wars if they haven’t seen it. Sure it’s been out a while, what does that matter? If you expect people to enjoy something on the same level you did, try not to ruin the surprise for them.

But that isn’t even the big controversy with this trailer for most people. The big controversy is the seemingly non-sensical live action content of the trailer.

It starts with a man caked in mud watching television. I guess this is supposed to be someone set in their ways, living a sedentary life. Possibly representative of how gamers are sick of MMOs being so cookie cutter, possibly representative of our frustration with the mundane aspects of real life. The riots on television are suggestive of something quite possibly political.

But beneath the surface of that caked on mud is something trying to break free. Something fiery, hot, burning through. Guild Wars 2 or perhaps just our own desires and motivations to break free.

This is all re-enforced by the voice over. A shadow grips the land but we’re too scared to try something new, but now is the time to seize the day.

Overall it comes off a little broad and ham-fisted if you ask me. Going for some kind of artistic merit is fine but this is a video game commercial, let’s keep it simple guys. We’re evoking a lot of things here already and very little of it has anything to do with video games.

Then we see one rioter running down a back alley with a gas mask on. Perhaps they’re trying to evoke something of the Occupy movement here. A certain amount of rebelliousness. And oh look he jumps a fence in one leap! He’s superman! “Parkour is so cool!” said the hipster. “We can exploit that in our next project.” said the film studies student.

Then the rioter spray paints “Our Time is Now” on a wall, only to reveal that she’s not actually a rioter but a model with a fake nose ring! Wow!

So far the trailer is just playing on very tired themes such as opression and youthful rebellion. Fine.

Then a crowd forms and they’re all going to walk on hot coals in some back alley. So, guy covered with mud in his living room, Riot Alice parkouring before she graffitis a wall, and now hot coals in a back alley. All things we do every day right?

I don’t get the coals metaphor. Are we supposed to believe that trying Guild Wars 2 is some form of bravery? That playing video games is a really difficult and painful decision? Video games are like walking on hot coals everybody!

Then comes the only part of the trailer I like.

A woman swims through her submerged living room in a flowing red gown, swimming to the surface. She emerges and transforms into her avatar.

This is what MMOs are about. Sometimes we feel inundated by our normal inane lives. Perhaps we sometimes even feel like we’re drowning in it. Water is typically used as a metaphor for transformation and a barrier between worlds, so when she breaks through the surface of the water she’s entering Tyria. She transforms from her old boring life to a life as an adventurer. It’s just too bad she’s insanely (and I mean insanely) gorgeous. Then again I don’t think anyone but models could live up to the in game character designs Arenanet comes up with.

I just kind of wish they had gone with this theme throughout. A fat bearded man sitting in his living room chair, breaks through to Tyria and transforms into a beautiful norn woman. Real life, you know? It would have been more representative of what we’re doing in Guild Wars 2. Suspending our disbelief, escaping to another world, socializing in that world.

Instead we have messages about seizing the day, overcoming hardship and suffering, taking action to fight for a better tomorrow. It’s practically an ad for Obama, lets face it.

The funny thing is I don’t hate this trailer, not as much as Syp does, or various people on twitter and forums. I think it’s okay. It just could have been so much better.


  1. As I mentioned to Syp, I don’t hate it, I just think it’s a big wasted opportunity. I LOVE the in-game cinematics, I think they are the most original style to come to the MMO space in over a decade, and they simply decided to go with an overused live-action to over-engineered 3D cinematic that is very “meh”. I mean, they look great, but they are not “Guild Wars 2”.

    On the spoiler…well, we all knew who was the big bad of the game, it was on the very first announcement trailer. But I would have preferred to see it only when I got to it (I have not read or watched anything about the last quest because of that reason), considering how crazy looking it is. Now that surprise is gone.

    So I think “hate” is not the word I would use. “Disappointed” is more like it.

    • The teaser trailer in particular was a fantastic trailer, 3 years in between should have given them the time to work something out thats just as good but instead we get this.

  2. Yeah, the bit after the woman changes into her avatar was good. I agree they should’ve done that throughout the ad rather than the weird arty live-action stuff,

    • I joke about this in the post, but I do agree, normal people escaping the real world into tyria. That would have been fine.

  3. Ditto on the woman-to-avatar change. They should have just done that five times, once for each race, with a bit of action set in each starting area. The part before that is just pointless. Like many others on various sites have mentioned, I thought at first I clicked a wrong link and was watching a trailer for The Secret World or APB.

    • I’m not sure how real people would have transitioned to asura or charr but yes, it would have been worth the attempt.

  4. Anet should of just went with an adorable Quaggan, swimming alone in very silent waters, singing the Quaggan song about swimming and flippers being strong. Then, out of nowhere an Elder dragon swoops in and eats him.

    Cue Guild Wars 2 logo.

    End commercial.

    • NOO! Why hurt Quaggan!

    • Also why not throw in some skritt? A skritt and quaggan are playing together in the waves, and instead of spoiling it with some elder dragon, lets have a lietenant dragon swoop in and eat them. Good compromise.

  5. I don’t mind the trailer, in fact I really like the idea. It takes too long to get to the point, but that’s a full length trailer so it would be cut down to be shorter for anything practical I imagine.

    • If they’re going to make a tv spot out of it, hopefully they’ll cut out all the crap, specifically the rioter/graffiti artist and hot coals dude.

  6. Thing about the transition, I don’t *want* to be reminded that I’m in the modern world playing a game. I don’t make avatars look like me. I play games to get *away* from this often stupid real world.

    This might have worked as a TSW ad. As GW2 ad, it’s really, really bad.

    • Well if we had people transitioning into charr they probably wouldn’t look alike. Problem solved!

      • *chuckle*

        Maybe we can lobby for that in the next one. 🙂

  7. Compare the trailer the original Factions trailer with (non-flash version, but the HD version in the related) I still get goosebumps watching it.

    It feels like Arenanet needs to go back to whoever made that one for a re-make.

    • The original prophecies and factions trailers are good, but the teaser trailer for gw2 was fantastic if you ask me.

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