Let me start off by saying that I recently got back into GW2 and I've been playing catch-up through all the story content with a friend. We did Path of Fire and then started on Living World Season 4. Daybreak was actually pretty good. An interesting intro with neat new characters and developments. It felt like an all new adventure. But...ah, then we come to Episode 2. It started off decently enough if a little silly, which I didn't mind. Infiltrate an Inquest base as a golem. We had fun with that! But then...then...we met a certain Charr and it all went downhill from there. Sharply downhill. Like a train plummeting off the side of a bridge with all the souls inside screaming.
I don't even know where to start with this tribe of Charr, these noble savages who escaped from the clutches of the Flame Legion. Was the dialogue and exposition heavy-handed enough that my friend and I were both actively cringing throughout the entire thing? Oh, you know it was. Were the attitudes of the Charr in question so alien to everything their culture had been that they might as well have not been Charr at all? I think you know the answer here.
That entire scenario was so cringe-worthy that we were both caught between grimacing and laughing at the attempts to make it touching and the efforts at serious tragedy. I was rather critical of the original game's somewhat clumsy attempt at storytelling but that was Grade A writing next to this. I find myself unable to express how ridiculous the entire thing was and how utterly jarring compared to the rest of the story and Charr culture in general. Not in a good way, either. It didn't shock us. It didn't humanize the Charr more. It just made both my friend and I shake our heads incredulously at this ham-fisted attempt at storytelling.
This is not a criticism for the story of GW2 in general. We both overall enjoyed both Path of Fire and Episode 1. Which is what made this transition so abrupt and, in my opinion, ill-conceived.
Needless to say, the two of us, after we were done cringing, set out to distance ourselves from this oh so noble and caring tribe as fast as humanly possible. Which led to us finishing the rest of Episode 2. While not as cringe-worthy as the segment with the Charr, it still felt distinctly inferior to the story we'd experienced thus far (and keep in mind that I'd previously played through HoT and some of Season 3 before this, so I'm comparing it to that as well). I understand that the intention was likely providing some more touching and personal moments but in my opinion it failed horribly and just left me feeling like I just sat through a bad B-movie. The scene at the end with the portals was fun, though, admittedly.
The saving grace of the entire experience was incredibly unintentional. Braham, who I wasn't a big fan of prior, managed to redeem himself. Not through dialogue but through what he did. At the part when we were getting the passwords from the terminals there is a room where a bunch of scientists are running around in a panic. After acquiring the password and getting the transmission from one of the two Asura brothers, we walked out to find Braham taking pot shots at the Inquest scientists as they ran around in a panic. Just casually butchering them as they ran and screamed. I laughed so hard at this unintentional butchery that I was crying. I thought to myself: "Wow, Braham is COLD!".
The thing that cinched it though was when we had defeated the Awakened Commander and were on the weird space rock, she begged to be shown the mercy of death. Not a second later, with us both standing there, we see a charged arrow just rocket past us to slam into her head and just take her out. Cue another round of laughing hysterically because apparently Braham has become a stone cold killing machine. The heart to heart right afterward just made it priceless.
So that is my take on Episode 2 of Living World Season 4. I'm hoping, going into Episode 3, that the story will get back on track. I'll likely be playing through it later today with my friend. It isn't my intention to insult the people who write the stories...overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed said stories. This particular one just stood out to me as being so out of place and heavy handed that I felt I needed to share my thoughts on it. If people disagree, that's perfectly fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm still enjoying the game and looking forward to getting a Roller Beetle. I'm curious what others' thoughts on this are.