Critical Role Debuts Campaign 2 Finale In Marathon 7-Hour Broadcast
After four years (give or take a pandemic) Campaign 2 of Critical Role aired their finale after 141 episodes, ending (for now) the journey of the Mighty Nein. It was inevitable, of course. When you start telling a story, even one that’s part of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, you know it will eventually come to a close. However, one has to wonder why they decided to end the campaign when they did, and why it was a 7-hour episode. Fans of this series, known as Critters, are exceedingly passionate and very protective of the cast. Yet, the decision to end things the way they did doesn’t make a lot of sense. At least, it doesn’t until you realize that along with being a group of friends playing a game, it’s also a multi-million-dollar media company where “everything is content.”
The finale of Campaign 2 does bring much of the Critical Role story to a close, yet there are a few loose threads dangling. Rather than simply continuing the campaign (the player characters have four levels to go until they “max out”), the Mighty Nein characters will likely be back in a series of one-shots or mini-campaigns. This allows the cast to return to these characters more than they did their first group, although The Legends of Vox Machina animated series will re-tell some of those stories. So, rather than having to re-tread already covered things, the final adventures of the Mighty Nein are sure to be told in some future offering from the group.
Still, despite these complaints, the finale of Critical Role Campaign 2 is exemplary of what makes this series so popular. It’s also a testament to how playing D&D with your friends can be a rewarding experience.
The Campaign 2 Finale of Critical Role Did Not Need to Be 7 Hours
Since the pandemic began, the Critical Role cast have started pre-taping their games rather than livestreaming as they play. Given this and the fact that there were natural stopping points in the episode, it baffles me that they chose to play for 7 hours. Especially since the last three hours or so was less the type of roleplaying and combat encounters D&D is known for, but rather wrapping up their characters’ stories. They also put out multiple warnings for their fans to “take care of themselves” during the stream, as if the show itself was not forcing the issue for making their pre-taped finale that long in the first place. Without getting into spoilers, the episode could have stopped at the end of the combat (when they took their break). Also, they could have paused before they moved on from one of the player characters’ homes.
The decision to end the campaign itself is strange, especially since a number of the player characters still had quests to fulfill. Again, this makes sense when you consider that they will almost certainly return to these characters later on. Yet, all things considered, it really felt like they were rushing to get this campaign over with rather than truly completing the story. There will likely be a third campaign starting soon (my guess is the fall), and company Creative Director Marisha Ray said that there will be announcements next week about what’s to come in the future.
Ultimately, what this shows is that even after six years, the Critical Role cast still struggles to balance their personal D&D game with being an international streaming sensation.
Critical Role Is Still the Best Thing Dungeons & Dragons Has Going Right Now
Image via Critical Role
It may seem strange that hundreds of thousands of people enjoy watching others play a game. (At least, it does if you don’t consider the fact that, you know, professional sports exists.) However, people truly love this series, and its characters. Each episode features fan art of the highest quality, and the cast seems genuine, both in their love of the game and their fans. They’ve helped open up the marketplace to other D&D streaming shows and podcasts, like Join The Party or Dimension 20. And it’s not just entertainment, because it can inspire folks to play the game with their friends in real life.
During the COVID lockdown, people turned to technology to facilitate virtual tabletop games. Watching others play the game is also an easy way to learn to play Dungeons & Dragons yourself. The strange phenomenon that is Critical Role has opened up the world of roleplaying games to people who otherwise might never have found it. In fact, Hasbro, who owns Dungeons & Dragons, is hoping to capitalize on this newfound hype for the game. They are working on both a movie and TV series based on the setting. There are also multiple video games based on D&D just released or in development.
So, Critical Role isn’t going anywhere, and soon the cast will be gathered around the table for a whole new campaign. In the words of actor Travis Willingham (at the end of both of their campaigns so far), “Let’s do it again.”
The Critical Role Campaign 2 Finale is currently available on Twitch to subscribers and will soon be available on YouTube on Monday, June 7, 2020.
What do you think? Did you enjoy the Critical Role Campaign 2 finale? Do you think they could have broken it up into shorter episodes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The post was updated to correct a mistake where Marisha Ray was identified as CEO and not Creative Director. As a faithful Critter on Twitter reminded us, Travis Willingham is the CEO.
Featured image via screengrab.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.