Guild Wars 2 supervillain Scarlet Briar’s year-branching storyline begins finale January 21

The biological tower erected for Briar in the October Tower of Nightmares update.

This time last year, Guild Wars 2 game director Colin Johanson was riding a wave that hadn’t even started to crest. His game’s concurrent playerbase had grown since launch – unheard of in the MMO sphere – and he was launching the living world concept that’s come to drive Guild Wars’ frantic release schedule in the year since.

While the playerbase hasn’t faltered, that living narrative is coming to an end – the end of supervillain Scarlet Briar, to be precise. ArenaNet suggest that the “worst is yet to come”.

Just four more living world updates are scheduled in the current storyline. The first lands on January 21, and will finally see Briar’s master plan – the result of some strange alliances and no small technological advancement – bubble to the surface to “change Tyria forever”.

“Looking into 2014 and back on the plot of the main story of 2013, many questions remain,” writes Johanson. “Why did Scarlet brings these groups together? What did she see when she looked into the eternal alchemy, and how did it change her? What is she trying to accomplish? Is she just nuts, or is there something far more sinister going on?”

The storyline’s climax will tie together events that began with Briar’s manipulation of the Flame Legion in last Winter’s Flame and Frost releases, spanned Summer with the disruption of Queen Jennah’s jubilee celebrations, and closed Autumn with the alliance of the reptilian krait with the evil sylvari.

What awaits players in the final episode? You can bet there’s an ultimate fight to rival the defeat of Garrosh in WoW’s Siege of Orgrimmar. But without traditional raid structure to rely on, can ArenaNet deliver a fitting climax to a year’s worth of storytelling?