What a Canthan Expansion Could Mean for Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 gave us a small sneak peek at their plans for future content this week in the form of an early piece of concept art. Are you seeing what I’m seeing? The Eastern-styled architecture, jade tones, swinging bell, flowering cherry blossom trees, and towering waterfalls… Sure looks a lot like Cantha to me. And it’s flourishing.

[SPOILERS BELOW]

Cantha’s Isolation

It has been over 200 years since Cantha closed its borders to the outside world. After the defeat of Shiro Tagachi, the last we heard about the continent of Cantha, was that Emperor Usoku and the Ministry of Purity had purged the lands of the sick, rebels, and any non-humans. This event is what pushed the remaining Tengu to Tyria and Elona. Currently, we have no diplomatic contact, but there is apparently an old map of Cantha within the Durmand Priory.  The very existence of the continent is at least still known or speculated, and if we know anything about the Durmand Priory it’s that they’ll do anything in the pursuit of knowledge.

Described in the Movement of the World, the rise of Orr and the dangerous seas further drove the divide between Cantha and the West, almost reinforcing  their decision to remain isolated. If they truly haven’t established any contact with the outside world, it may be safe to assume that the fierce dictatorship that forged our last image of the continent is still strictly in effect.  A Canthan Scholar can also be found in the Plaza of Kormir within Divinity’s Reach to reiterate this point.

Renaissance Period

Being isolated from the outside world means that their own culture has had even more opportunity to thrive and expand, probably focusing on the arts and music. If the concept art is any indication, Cantha looks beautiful on the surface. But, we all know that appearances can be deceiving.

Living Story Season 5: Icebrood Saga

In the current living story, the Commander is dealing with the powers of a new Elder Dragon Aurene, and the impending threat of a Charr civil war with a possible dragon of their own: Jormag. As we go ever north into the snowy foothills, it feels like we’ll be stuck in the snow for a bit. When the threat of Jormag is dealt with, where will our heroes go to next? Will we actually see Jormag dealt with inbetween expansions like Kralkatorrik was in season 4? It’s entirely possible. It is foreshadowed pretty frequently that the people of Tyria still haven’t quite accepted Aurene’s place in the world-yet. Imagine how the people of Cantha would react to seeing Aurene in all of her glory.

Kuunavang and the Jade Sea

When the Jade Wind swept across the land 200 years ago, the Jade Sea was turned to…well…jade, and in it, most of the Saltspray Dragons native to Cantha were killed. There are a few that remained, including the powerful Kuunavang that helped the players in Guild Wars: Factions defeat Shiro. If Canthan legends are to believed, she still remains in the Harvest Temple, the epicenter of the Jade Wind where Shiro first fell. However, pools of green water were starting to form in the midst of the Jade Sea after his death. With the barrier of Zhaitan being dealt with, and the Jade Sea no longer solidified, this would create a clear ‘path’ for our company to sail to Cantha. Now we just need a reason.Jade Sea in Cantha

Resources and manpower for another giant global threat? Maybe there’s something bigger stirring that we aren’t aware of. Living Story Season 5 has given us a strong indication of Jormag presenting himself as a pretty big threat through his possible manipulation of the Svanir and the Charr Blood Legion. If Jormag is dealt with, maybe we won’t have to go to Cantha. The Commander and crew may kick up their heels and celebrate, thinking that all is at peace in the world when it’s all over.

Maybe…Cantha will come to us in the form of an emissary that dared to pass through previously treacherous waters. We have already been introduced to the Mists and the inner-workings of the Underworld. Cantha has very strong ties to the Underworld, and could possibly reach out for assistance. It would have to take something pretty drastic for their people to break their isolation in search of help. With the recent dealings of the Seven Reapers and Dhuum, this theme, however, may be closed.

Closer to the Stars

There is one quote from the Guild Wars 2 wiki that I can’t quite shake:

The Elder Dragons represent a force much larger than their material form would suggest, and the constellations themselves are altered by their awakening.

In Factions, the player became Weh no Su, or “Closer to the Stars”. This is the Canthan equivalent of Ascension, and is described as a “state of communion with the Old Gods.” If the constellations were altered with the awakening of the elder dragons, what does that mean in the case of the Celestials? With each expansions and living story, both Aurene and the Commander’s power grows. Could we be moving towards Ascension and Weh no Su?

Canthan Celestial

New Races Unlikely

As perfect as a time to implement Tengu would be, I don’t think we’re going to see new races anytime soon. There’s too many resources and probably too much reworking that would have to be done in order to incorporate the Tengu into our wardrobe system.  I would honestly have really loved to see any interactions between the Tengu and the modern Canthans of today. It’s a divide that is similar in some ways to the Ascalonians and the Charr.

Emperor Usoku and the Ministry of Purity sought to eradicate anything that wasn’t envisioned in their perfect society and the Tengu didn’t fit that mold. But, the Emperor and the Ministry aren’t the people. The citizens of Cantha have possibly been subjugated to 200 years of propaganda and insistence that the outside world is dangerous. Something’s got to give. There are always those that are curious about the outside world, and some that believe that there has to be another way of life. Like the Ascalonians were prejudiced against the Charr, it is highly unlikely that the Tengu will embrace the Canthans with open arms.

Specs Instead of New Professions

More than anything, I wish we could get the Ritualist profession. It would work so perfectly with Cantha, and how the main story keeps weaving in between the gods and the Mists. It just makes sense. However, with the recent lackluster response to the Revenant, it just doesn’t feel like ANet is ramping up to give us a new profession. Instead, what we might be able to look forward to are new Specializations themed around the previous professions from the original trilogy.

Canthan Ritualist

The gem shop offers another nail in the coffin. It seems like the Guild Wars 2 shop has been teasing us lately with callbacks to Guild Wars attire. We’ve seen a Monk outfit, a Paragon outfit, and a Ritualist and Dervish outfit. Similar to how I doubt we’ll ever see Widowmaker in Heroes of the Storm because Nova has a Widowmaker skin, it seems a little off to offer an outfit for a class that you have plans of implementing in the future. Instead, it just feels like they’re trying to appease those who were fans of the professions.

Though, all of this is just wishful thinking. I was hoping that they might do something similar for Paragon, but PoF didn’t bring that specialization to us. Instead, we got to see the current iteration of the Sunspears in Elona and stare longingly at them through the glass. But, that may be how it is just meant to be. We aren’t Canthan or Elonian. Those professions are specific to their area and culture. The races we play are for all intents and purposes-Tyrian. In the previous Guild Wars trilogy, we actually played as a Canthan or Elonian, and if you didn’t start in their area you wouldn’t start with access to those professions.

Final Thoughts

I could go on and on and on with what this news means for the world of Tyria and our Commander, but it’s all really just speculation. I think the groundwork has been laid for something really and truly amazing that the fans have been begging for since Guild Wars 2 first launched. If done right, the introduction of Cantha could bring so much revenue to the game from returning fans that have been waiting forever to revisit one of their favorite expansions.

It is really important, though, to analyze where we are and what we should and shouldn’t expect. There are some things that we probably just won’t see in the game. Guild Wars 2 was established 200 years later, with a new cast, brand new stories, and essentially a whole new world. A lot has changed in that time, and while we want it to basically be a better Guild Wars 1-it’s not. Guild Wars 2 is its own entity, with its own stories to tell in a world we no longer recognize, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It gives the creators a bit more freedom to play around and bring us something even greater, and I can’t wait to see what they develop in the future.

Written by
Avid lover of all things fantasy and stylesheets, Emily spends her spare time trying to balance her affection for both technical and creative writing. One day she'll get there, but until then, she'd rather lose herself in the wonderful stories to be found within tabletop games and rpgs.

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