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Monday, October 15, 2018

Wizard101: Empyrea Part 2 Expectations (Part C)


We've been looking at a lot of what to expect in Empyrea Part 2. KingsIsle has a big job to do on this world, and we're all looking forward to see what they come up with. I've given my thoughts and analyzed teasers and created some unique content ideas in my posts here and here. Now it's time for the final chapter of this theorycrafting stretch. Empyrea Part 2 is on the horizon

A Raven Problem

One of the issues we have with the third arc is a sort of paradoxical problem where Grandmother Raven is actually trapped in Wintertusk and freed by our wizard. This is an issue because Wintertusk is a side world, and so it's possible that one could get to arc 3 and be interacting with Grandmother Raven while she's still technically trapped in Wintertusk. I wrote extensively about this issue here.

How can we fight and potentially defeat Grandmother Raven in the flesh when she's stuck in Wintertusk? Some have given silly excuses of different timelines and worlds existing in their own dimensions, but that's all ridiculous. Think about how often the beings and worlds of the Spiral interact, especially in the shared Spiral universe of Pirate101 where trade between four of the major empires - Valencia, Marleybone, MooShu, and Polaris - is so key. No, this is a serious problem that I hope isn't ignored in Empyrea Part 2. If they intend to stick to the logic and reasoning present in both games so far, Grandmother Raven cannot die in Empyrea Part 2. She's a permanent fixture in Wintertusk.


Stopping Grandmother Raven

At the end of Empyrea Part 1, it's revealed that Grandmother Raven believes it's time for Spider - and therefore the Spiral - to come to an end. This creates a big problem for us that's really interesting from a story perspective. We've now essentially got two villains and a triangle of major opposing forces, each with major players in the game - Raven with Mellori, Spider with The Rat and The Scorpion, and ourselves with the Arcanum and The Bat.

Grandfather Spider and Grandmother Raven are so far beyond Malistaire and Morganthe in power. It'll be a whole other thing to fight them in Empyrea Part 2. The battle with Grandfather Spider in Mirage was just him having some fun and playing with us, and it's still one of the toughest fights in the game.


One of the other things that came to mind in looking at some of the history and some of the art with regard to the Spiral's past is that Raven is oftentimes depicted as being very dark, designed almost like Spider. Perhaps this is just an art choice... or could Grandmother Raven be a being of darkness herself? She certainly doesn't seem to mind destroying the Spiral just to get rid of Chaos. Is this why Spider was in love with her? Did she know that he was?

Mellori Picks a Side

I believe it was confirmed in Empyrea Part 1 that Mellori isn't Baba Yaga's biological child, but is actually Grandmother Raven's. This makes sense - Spider has his children as well. Some people have speculated that there must be a father, though I'd argue that it appears ancient beings end up with children in a non-traditional way. We'll leave it at that. Spider's children were supposedly born of the nightmares and anger he experienced while locked away.

Mellori has often sided with Grandmother Raven, even against our own will. She attempted to attack Grandfather Spider at the end of Mirage, but was captured. After suffering some mind interference from Medulla, she nearly died and met Grandmother Raven in an epic cutscene where Raven reveals her desire to end Spider and the Spiral. Mellori thinks that's a little harsh, and seems to hint that she may have a change of heart before it's all over.

Grandfather Spider Cannot Die

We have a Raven dilemma, but also a Spider one. Spider's Chaos Heart, if unleashed, could lead to the destruction of the Spiral. He is desperately seeking to reclaim his Heart and end the Spiral. But if he dies, so does his Heart, and Grandmother Raven has been using it to keep the Spiral together. Without it, the Spiral may also end. This means that if Grandfather Spider is allowed to roam free, the Spiral ends. But if he dies, the Spiral also ends. Great.

A Workaround

Of course, the Spiral is a place where new sorts of magic and fancy fixes can be invented at a moment's notice. I'd personally prefer that the method of containing Grandfather Spider isn't invented specifically for Empyrea Part 2. There are two existing workarounds I can imagine for solving our current dilemma.

Grandfather Spider is once again locked away. 

Perhaps the most obvious response to the situation is to once again lock Spider away. This wouldn't work quite as well for Raven, who ends up freed at the end of Wintertusk. Perhaps Bartleby could assist in once again locking Spider away given that he must have either witnessed or known about it the first time.

Grandfather Spider changes his mind. 

This would be a tougher solution but it's possible that Spider could be swayed by something that happens in Empyrea Part 2. Maybe Raven and Spider fall into love and properly express it, deciding to preserve their relationship and the Spiral. That doesn't seem terribly unlikely. Spider could also witness the extraordinary efforts of so many different parties to preserve the Spiral - which he views as a broken shadow of what once was - and decide that it should live on. Actually working with Grandfather Spider again could be a great future story.

Delaying the End of the Spiral

If you recall the worlds of the ancient beings, and you remember the details of Mirage, you know that the Spiral will eventually end. That's inevitable. However, if we can stop Raven and Spider, "the Hastening" can be stopped, or slowed anyway; we'll be able to live out whatever the Spiral's lifespan is. This raised questions about how long the Spiral will actually last and whether the Arcanum and other parts of the 101 universe that exist outside the Spiral will endure.

Final Boss Hints from KingsIsle

In an interview with MMORPG, writer Sam Johnson played two lies and a truth. Here's what he had to say:

In Empyrea Part Two ...
  • You fight Old Cob.
  • You fight (Grandmother) Raven.
  • You fight Merle Ambrose.

In the interview, it's noted the Sam isn't aware of how the game works and it's explained to him before he gives his answer.

As the name implies, two lies and one truth suggests that only one of these things is true. While the choice seems fairly obvious, maybe it's not so easy. Let's examine the potential scenarios.

We fight Grandfather Spider.

This one would be the most obvious. We have two entities that want to destroy the Spiral and we know we need to stop them. Fighting both Spider and Raven makes sense, right? It'd also be perhaps the most epic of the scenarios, since Spider has been the big arc 3 villain. This could happen with or without outside help or assistance. In our first battle, he had less health than Medulla and we can be sure that's not the case when he's at full power. Getting to see Spider in all his glory would be a fitting end to Empyrea Part 2. There's also the possibility that we team up with Raven. Think about it - Raven may not love what you're up to but she, more than anything, wants to stop Spider. I could see us working together.

This raises a similar question, however, to the Merle scenario: How do we deal with Grandmother Raven? Could it be that she has a change of heart? Could Mellori turn on her and trap or defeat her? Could Grandfather Spider have a showdown with Raven and end up winning? That'd be a twist. All of these are scenarios where it would be unnecessary to fight Raven. 

We fight Merle Ambrose.

This is perhaps the most outlandish scenario and thus one that deserves particular attention as potentially being the case. Introducing Merle Ambrose was a plot twist on Sam Johnson's part. The Council of Light was more heavily involved in the second arc with Morganthe, and Khrysalis in particular. They haven't delved too far into interfering with Raven and Spider, but the groundwork is there. 

Grandmother Raven or Grandfather Spider make sense. But under what circumstances could we fight Merle Ambrose? Although Merle could have some greater motive like disallowing us to defeat a being of light like Grandmother Raven, that doesn't seem terribly likely to me.

There's also the thought that there could a huge reveal where Merle has actually been part of the Cabal this whole time. This creates obvious problems like the fact that he'd then be absent from his office. He did, however, say that you might fill his shoes one day and stepping into the role of Headmaster would be a really interesting direction for the fourth arc. This could, however, create some of the same problems that we have with Grandmother Raven.

The most likely path that would lead to us fighting Merle Ambrose is that he's either The Rat in disguise, or he's mind-controlled by The Rat. We already saw both of these scenarios in Polaris. Rasputin turned out to be The Rat in disguise, and he used his powers to control Ivan and force our wizard to do battle. Imagine how epic it would be if The Rat mind-controls the Council of Light or various allies from throughout our questing. We could end up fighting The Bat that way, for example.


This leaves one more problem. What about Grandfather Spider? He has to be dealt with somehow. The argument in favor of this scenario is that we've already fought Spider once, and therefore we might not do it again. Is it possible that Grandmother Raven could kill Spider before we get the chance to stop her? Could Spider be imprisoned in a joint effort by the forces of good in the Spiral before Raven turns on us to destroy the Heart?

We fight Grandmother Raven.

This is the compromise theory. It's not the most likely nor is it the wildest. For that reason, I question whether this is the scenario that will play out. We could potentially fight Merle under the same circumstances I discussed above. That makes sense, even if it's pretty unexpected. Grandfather Spider also makes sense. 

Why would we fight Grandmother Raven? It's not too foreign of a concept. She wants to destroy Spider and thus the Spiral. She's willing to sacrifice everything to end her feud. Spider just wants to unleash chaos (which admittedly amounted to destroying the Spiral a time or two - he isn't so fond of it). If Raven can lock up or stop Spider herself, this battle would make sense.

Here's the thing - we've already fought Grandfather Spider. If they're looking to step up their game in Empyrea Part 2, Merle isn't going to cut it. While it'd likely be disappointing not to fight Grandfather Spider in his full form, Raven would be the next best thing.

My Guess

It's been tough to narrow down which of these scenarios we'll see, and who's to say they happen like this? But Sam Johnson confirmed that we are for sure fighting one and not the others. This means one of the above scenarios will play out, just maybe not in the way we're expecting. Merle is a real wild card. He's so unexpected that we should expect him. In the words of Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes... it's so overt, it's covert! Still, I somehow doubt it's him. Or at least I hope it isn't. It just wouldn't live up to the level of ancient beings we've been facing off with so far.

But then for the matter of Raven vs. Spider. The unexpected versus the third arc boss. The one seeking destruction versus the one unleashing chaos. The one we've only encountered versus the one we've already fought. My guess is going to be Grandfather Spider. I think it's the only one of the three - if we're just fighting one - that makes sense. Raven has seen reason before and she can see it again, but Spider's goal has always been destruction. While it has been pointed out that KingsIsle acklowedged our inability to take on the ancient beings at full power, their full form isn't required for a good fight. Furthermore, we could always get a curve ball and see some sort of situation where we lose a fight but still end up progressing. I guess we'll find out before too long.

A Showdown of Epic Proportions

One of the ways we could end up not fighting both Grandmother Raven and Grandfather Spider is if one stops, defeats, or traps the other. This could lead to a big showdown is which their true forms are taken for an epic battle. I decided to attempt a little cutscene of what a confrontation might look like. Turn on your sound.


A Little Outside Help

One of the things we've witnessed, starting with Simon Says and more recently with Medulla (although Morganthe did it to an extent), is outside help in battles. I would guess that in whatever great battles we find ourselves in during Empyrea Part 2, we may well be getting some additional assistance. Not just from assistants with bonus stats. I mean characters actually casting spells from outside the battle. Imagine battling Raven with Spider and his children casting spells from outside the battle like Sparck, Pork, and Beans in the Medulla fight. Imagine battling Spider with the Council of Light or Grandmother Raven at your back!

Beyond the Third Arc

I would imagine that as long as KingsIsle's flagship game is doing well, it'll continue on at a regular pace. We've already seen with Mirage and Empyrea Part 1 that we're getting more complex mouth movements and idle animations along with more advanced cutscenes and camera movements. It's safe to say we'll be seeing more of that in Empyrea Part 2, but what about beyond that?

Same Johnson and Leah Ruben shares their thoughts in the same MMORPG interview. Take a look.

Sam Johnson: Well, there's one thing I want to say straight up - because I read the forums and the speculation and all that. The end of Empyrea Part Two is not remotely the end of the story of Wizard101. There will be a fourth arc ... I have a few ideas in place for where I want it to go and what I want it to be about. I think my main thing that I've been challenging myself with in trying to come up with this stuff is basically ... the first two arcs, even the third arc, have all pretty much been about "a big bad guy is going to do something that's going to destroy the spiral." So, we spend a lot of time running around and learning what his plan is and then we stop him at the end. Can we do an arc that is fundamentally different from that in structure?

Leah Ruben: Can we? (laughs)

Sam Johnson: Well, I'm hoping that we can. That's what I want to do. In terms of stakes and whatnot, I don't want to set a different tone, but I think we may take a break from fighting gods for awhile.

Leah Ruben: In terms of stuff that's not story arc, we're already sitting down to plan 2019. We're at the point where we're like, "oh ok, here are all of our ideas we want to do and they don't all fit." So, some of them are already pushed to 2020. And we definitely want to do beyond there. We're not stopping. There's no stopping here - we're full steam ahead.

That's certainly encouraging for the future of Wizard101. I'm personally hoping for another side world or even a side arc. I'd like to see the integration of more hidden areas and zones, bosses not used for any particular quest, etc. That's another post, though. For now, we have Empyrea Part 2 to look forward to, and if it's coming at all near the same time as last year, we're very close to Test Realm time.

Note: The cutscene and other special images are fan-made ideas.


What are you excited for in Empyrea Part 2?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!




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