Guild Wars 2′s Neverending Story So Far

By Alec Meer on January 8th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

I basically didn’t understand a word of this video. I thought it would help bring me up to speed on a game I haven’t played since launch, but now I just feel even more lost. As far as I can tell thingy did wotsit with the whojathunk, but thingy turned up and did thingy instead, and then a thing happened which meant more things and now another thing is going to happen, and apparently that will mean the end of the ‘living world’ storyline in Guild Wars 2. The current one, anyway.

Which might mean there’ll be a big expansion pack a la the original Guild Wars. Or might not. I can’t even understand a trailer, so you’d best not expect me to successfully predict business models. In any case, this video is supposed to summarise the story so far ahead of its climactic quadrilogy of updates.

Here’s what game director Colin Johanson has to say about whatever the heck’s going on:

“As we announced back in December, we’re down to just four releases to go in the current storyline of living world. The first of those four releases is nearly upon us, and we wanted to help take a moment and look back at the key moments that have brought us up to this point as a refresher before we dive head-first into countdown to the big finale”.

The central villain of all this is one Scarlet Briar, who’s been causing merry hell for over a year. That’s her above. She doesn’t look well to me.

Anyway, apparently the last four instalments of said living world over 2014 will “lead to one final moment that will change the face of Tyria forever.” Like, a new zone?

__________________

« | »

, .

41 Comments »

  1. SupahSpankeh says:

    Judging by the game I left a few months ago, the most drastic, face-of-guildwars-changing event possible would be the hiring of a balance team who aren’t braindead ocelots.

    Plus their living world events were tedious in the extreme. Less living world, more “repeat this content x times until y happens, then repeat it z times to get a chance at w!”.

  2. goettel says:

    A good game for casual solo play, not so much for the “MM” in “MMORPG”.

    Lack of trinity is what made it fail, for me.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Yes, GW2 is a fantasic game for solo questing, which suits me just fine, but it really is pretty abysmally bad for massive multiplayer.

      GW2 could learn more than a couple of things from looking at how RIFT organises massive server-based events.

      • satan says:

        I wouldn’t mind if GW2 borrowed Rift’s post level cap progression (planar attunement). No game breaking bonuses, just tiny benefits that lead to convenience/flavour unlocks. Great idea.

        • goettel says:

          RIFT is quite a surprise to me: great grouping tools (especially IA’s), challenging boss fights and a stunning range of customization with the excellent talent/soul trees. No pay-walls for content either, which in itself makes this the top contender in F2P IMO.

          It lacks the polish of GW2 though, and I do miss the dodge mechanics and excellent animations on offer there. Here’s hoping EQ:N can make good on its promise of replacing the trinity with something better, a promise which GW2 didn’t deliver on.

      • aliksy says:

        GW2 is the only MMO I’ve ever played where running across random people in the world was a good thing. The auto level scaling and lack of predefined roles made the game so much more enjoyable for me. Fuck the trinity.

      • Faxanadu says:

        …why do I keep hearing people give the odd compliment or two to Rift in MMO articles? Is it really any good? Do I really have to check it out? ._.

        • poguemahone87 says:

          I really would. I quit GW2 a few months back due to the tedium and lack of any end game whatsoever. I had an itch for some good old MMO a week or so ago, and decided to give RIFT a go, despite the fact that (I thought) the game had a dying population.

          Boy was a wrong. I have been having a great time in it. I like the fact that you feel like you are a use in a group, which was never in GW2. It definitely has more of the “MMO” than GW2 does IMO. I love the skill tree too, makes it really fun to play, the fact you can swap between DPS and healing or tanking depending on what role you are needed to fill.

          I think RIFT has matured a hell of a lot over the past year since it became F2P, and is definitely up there in being one of the MMO’s to give a go!

          • aliksy says:

            Conversely, I hated rift. I can’t stand combat where what’s on the screen isn’t what’s “real” anymore. Also if I never have another “kill x of y” quest I’ll be okay. I gave up in disgust after a few hours. You might say a few hours isn’t enough, but that’s long enough to get a lot of enjoyment out of a better game.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          Rift was the MMO Blizzard promised and never delivered. It was the MMO where your monthly money actually got you constant, free content and ludicrously quick patching and balancing. Where they didn’t expect you to buy countless expansions, and then have the gall to patch in the content of those expansions over the course of the next year.

          It was the ultimate expression of the “old style” MMO, with hotbar combat and macros – it made those sins into virtues, with skills designed to fit perfectly into macros and the kind of class system where every icon on your hotbar is something you WANT, because it’ll make your character even more awesome.

          I don’t know how well it fared in the F2P transition, but I suspect not well – generally the transition is good, because the pre-F2P state was crap. But Rift was brilliant during it’s subscription days – the only game to actually deserve a subscription – so I can’t help but suspect the F2P change was for the worse.

    • rittenhaus says:

      The lack of trinity didn’t bother me, since the trinity was one of the main things that eventually poisoned the WoW experience. It’s a crude and oversimplified RP (and game) mechanic anyway.

      What we were given instead was combos, which are very cool in theory and could have been made powerful, essential, interesting, and so on, but instead became largely irrelevant outside of WvW, and even there, there’s very little you can’t conquer with a face-rolling mob as long you have greater numbers. Combos were one of the things I was most excited about having seen the pre-beta hype, and I expected them to play a much larger role in the game than they actually do. Such a missed opportunity.

      I can only agree with criticism of the balance and writing teams. I understand why they go for camp; it’s so difficult by now to be even remotely straight-faced when you have to tell stories about dragons. It really does come across as fanfic too often though, and I must confess to having read some fanfic that displayed more mastery of the craft than most of what’s in GW2.

      It’s a gorgeous place to while away an hour in, but there’s very little actual game to it, and the fluff isn’t good enough to save the day.

  3. AmazingFly says:

    I was so excited for this game since no MMO ever kept me interested longer than the first subscription month and this looked to change so many things that annoyed me in MMOs. Unfortunately it did as many things wrong as good and now I’m hooked playing FFXIV which surprises me since it’s just an evolution instead of a big change like this tried to be.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    That’s one crazy whatever-it-is in the banner image. Joints everywhere.

  5. Hunchback says:

    GW2 is still the prettiest MMO out there, hands down.
    It also offers some extremely awesome questing and exploration experience, amazing scenery and overall world design created with a lot of imagination. It’s really beautiful, big and simply great to explore and look around. Not to mention the jumping puzzles and hidden stuff you can find while exploring.

    The MM part is a two-sided blade – To me, the exploration, questing and PvP are unmatched in GW2, however the dungeoning aspect is quite… awkward. Dungeons do offer various encounters, quite good design and all, they are inifinately more dynamic than dungeons in WoW were, but the whole mechanic of combat rends every encounter a mess, and it’s usually quite binary: you either faceroll everything or get completely melted by the mobs/boss. It’s probably because of the lack of tank-healer-dps trinity (which we all hated in WoW – being forced to play a certain role simply because the class you picked is designed that way) but also because of the lack of any real item progression (which, also, we all hated in WoW – farming for ages to get item X, DPS/Armour/HPS checks to be allowed on a run, etc)… I guess you can’t have it all, or maybe you can but it hasn’t been invented yet (except in UO, but don’t get me started on that).

    Lately i’ve been more off than on, on GW2, since i’ve done most of the content, and got other PvP stuff to play (and the PvE is meh, as i said), but those living story patches bring me back every time, to check all the new stuff, play around etc.
    Also, WvWvW is an awesome attempt, even games like Planetside can take some lessons on persistent, massive PVP world running. Only problem, but it’s not really caused by the game, is the tendency to run in “zergs”, which makes it very laggy and not very interesting. The obvious solution to this is to make characters actually physically present in the world, so that you can’t simply stack 150 people on the same spot, and run through people… But for some reason, MMOS don’t do that since WoW came out.

    For what it’s worth, ArenaNet ARE deploying a lot of content for free, the quality of some might be questionable, but a couple of years ago 2-3 of these patches, grouped together would have been sold as an expansion, or even DLC. So far the publishers have been very correct with the customers and not farming us for actual content, all payed stuff are decorative or giving you simple ease-of-life stuff like endless harvesting tools. Props for that!

    • Chaz says:

      I didn’t play it myself, but I believe that the now shut down Warhammer MMORPG had a physical presence for the player characters as you describe there.

    • skalpadda says:

      Age of Conan had character collision IIRC. I think a major reason for why they don’t do it in most MMOs is that it opens up a lot of a lot of trolling possibilities (locking players in buildings, closing off bridges etc).

      • Timje says:

        I’m pretty sure it’s actually for lag reasons. If you’ve ever played an MMO on a LAN before, you’ll notice that there’s a large lag (a couple of seconds) between player movements in any shared area. I’m almost certain this is due to the lack of true broadband in the States. MMOs with tighter netcode, and hence with higher broadband requirements, are inevitably the European ones.

        That said, the Japanese / Korean MMOs seemed to have quite tight netcode, though I’ve only played a couple. Can anyone with more experience of them comment?

      • TWChristine says:

        One of the first stories (and I’m sure there was a video along with it) about AoC when it came out was of someone on a horse blocking a bridge. Every time anyone would run up, they would make their horse kick, which then sent the poor soul falling over the side.

  6. Laurentius says:

    I could write a lot how GW2 failed on many fields and still is in some pretty pleasant game btw and i jump in from time to time but writing is particularly terrible. I would rather replay GW-Nightfall campaigin with this new engine that dwell on this new piece. Living story is horrible mess pulled out of thin air with no connections to GW2 theme which were Dragons, theme that was pretty bad in story campagin, where you were ultimately fighting only one dragon and it was suprisingly luck lusture, now Anet completly abandoned their own theme and went in full for this inchorent mess of a living stories updates that are barly connected and serves only as a highlight for in-game store.

  7. Hunchback says:

    BTW, the RPS GW2 guild (so many abbreviations o.O) is totally awesome – full with friendly people, active, people organise a lot of PvP, PvE and whatnot runs, guild missions and all. If anyone’s playing this, make sure you check the GW2 subsection of the forums and join us for lots of fun!

    • TWChristine says:

      I was super excited to join the RPS guild when the game came out (made a char on that server and everything!) but then quickly found out that you could only use one server and as I recall, one guild. At the time I was preparing to make a guild for some old friends that I used to play Mechwarrior with and so decided to change servers and do that instead…only to have none of my friends ever respond to me trying to get in contact with them.

      Since it’s been about 8 months since I last played, are you still stuck to only one server?

  8. Noviere says:

    I lost all interest in GW2 about 2 months ago. The Living Story stuff was never terribly engrossing, but it was “new” and kept me playing. I watched a video(from GDC I believe) in which a developer talked about running a successful F2P social game in Asia, and the psychological tricks they employ to keep users playing… Without going into too much boring detail, it’s exactly what Anet does — time-limited content with time-limited rewards, gambling boxes, etc… I started to feel very cynical about GW2 after that.

    Looking back at how I was playing, I don’t think I am missing all that much. When I logged in, I had a checklist of chores to take care of… Craft 1/day ascended crafting materials(get necessary materials if I didn’t have them already), complete living story stuff, do a few world bosses, and make sure my daily achievement was completed.

    Other than the occasional Living Story activity or jumping puzzle, none of those things were overly fun for me, but I felt compelled to keep playing.

    • jrodman says:

      Interesting. I pretty actively rejected most time-limited content and gambling mechanics in MMOs. A few hooked me, like a good treasure hunt that hooks into my desire to explore and find stuff, but most I just rejected out of hand. Lots of people obsessed over doing the holiday events in WOW, but the only fun I ever got out of them was helping other people achieve whatever they cared about.

      Maybe this is why these elements didn’t really ever cause me to stay playing an MMO. The only reason I stayed at any particular game was to play with friends as a goof-around activity.

    • AlienMind says:

      Congratulations! You have cured yourself. I was in this situation also a while ago and realized I’m sitting in front of a card-change-machine doing chores. You just gotta not play it for 3 weeks and realize you don’t need that in your life.
      Also a good read: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RaminShokrizade/20130626/194933/

    • TWChristine says:

      I think the farthest I got in the Living Story was going around collecting badges or some such from emigrants who had died on their trek to the Nord city or something along those lines. I never felt like I was actually told what I was supposed to be doing/why other than “This would be nice to do for these people!” and so felt very little reason to continue on with it other than a desire to see the next step in the story and if it got better. It ended up taking so long for the next part to come out, added to my already getting tired of the game that I just stopped playing all together.

  9. Felixader says:

    Sorry, but upon hearing the summary of the overall story i just had to giggle. :-P
    This summary is so full of clichees, Mc Guffins and co, it is unbelieveable, nearly Fan Fiction Level. X-P

    • dE says:

      My wife essentially said the same. She’s still playing the game and everytime this excuse for a storyplot comes up, she mentions how this seems like they hired a fanfiction writer to do the plot for them, with an invulnerable super maincharacter that can do just about everything at a whim and whips out random superpowers.

      In comparison to the overall Guildwars Plot, this is a new low. One that seemed impossible to reach again after the attack on brains that was the Guildwars 1 Plot. “Oh woe is us, undead do haunt us. Quick let’s give this super powerful rare artefact to that crazy necromancer with the glowing eyes and the mad evil genius demeanor, that sounds like a good idea”.

      • Noviere says:

        The sad thing is that they actually have a writing team. Like, people whose sole job it is to make the story. A group of people, who have published fiction in many forms, sat down together and came up with this.

  10. skalpadda says:

    Don’t worry Alec, no one who plays the game knows what the hell is going on either.

  11. McGuit says:

    Well, a lot of negative responses I have to say.
    My two coppers is that GW2 although not perfect is the best MMORPG that I have ever played.
    I’ve played a few:
    DAOC
    Everquest (original and 2)
    KOTOR
    NeverWinter
    WoW

    Add to that the fact that there is no monthly cost which is a big bonus.

    Yes there is a real money market, but no one says you have to spend a dime post initial purchase.
    Unlike many games that claimed before, you can successfully solo this game in PvE.
    They have folks that want to PvP (GW2 has that)
    They have folks that want to fight Server vs. Server (GW2 has that too)
    And the crafting system is really good (compared to others)
    Is it perfect?
    No
    Is any MMORPG?
    No
    New content keeps rolling in and I expect that an expansion or two will continue to add a lot to this thriving, healthy, and for the most part, mature online gaming community.

    Before anyone pipes in, I do not work for NCSoft or have any affiliation with them outside of being a customer.
    I think they have done a heck of a job and I will continue to play Guild Wars 2.
    Of course, your mileage may (and probably does) vary.

    • Noviere says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I enjoyed it for about a year myself(as evidenced by my 6 level 80s). :) I don’t wish it, or the people playing it any ill will. I just came to a realization one day that I wasn’t playing to have fun anymore — I was literally logging in to finish a checklist of daily activities, or grinding LS events.

      I still think it is gorgeous, has a huge world, and a great levelling experience(though it’s a lot less fun now that most of the level 20-70 zones are underpopulated). If they released an expansion with significant new content(multiple new zones, new classes, etc…), I’d buy it.

      I just find the main plot of the Living Story has not been enjoyable for me, and most of the actual gameplay it adds is very repetitive and uninteresting. There have been exceptions, of course. I loved the Bazaar of the Four Winds, and World 1 of SAB. I also really liked Halloween the first year, and the Karka event despite all of it’s problems.

  12. aliksy says:

    GW2 is the best MMO I’ve played but the direction they’re taking it is not a direction I want to go. I don’t want gear progression. I don’t want chores. I want something like WvW against the dragons’ army. I want to claim land as a guild and defend it from NPC and PC invaders.

    I want stuff I can describe to someone who doesn’t play the game, and they might think it sounds cool. So no “I bought resources on the market and crafted items once a day for a week so I could make a weapon with 13% better performance,” no “I killed quest mobs until they dropped enough widgets for me to get a special hat.” Maybe they tried that with the teakettle fight, but I really didn’t like that one.

    • Faxanadu says:

      Has _any_ MMO done territorial conquests VS. NPC’s?

      Imagine if World of WarCraft had hordes of Orcs and Night Elf NPC’s fight over territory, and you’d get stuff based on what you hold. I think you could really expand on this idea, and it would make any MMO world feel oh so alive. But I guess not, since nobody’s done it.

      • misterT0AST says:

        Isn’t that somewhat the focus of Dayz?

      • aliksy says:

        Most people making MMOs are too timid to take interesting risks, and a lot of the players are reactionary and loud.

  13. HeroJez says:

    WoW is good because of its player character movement. It’s so responsive, and even modern stuff like Wildstar (Beta) and ESO aren’t as good. There’s an inertia to player movement that just feels wrong and laggy.

    GW2 just felt a bit boring. And Cheesy. Colin Johansson and his ‘Fear Not The Night’ song plug. It was a mini-sick moment for me. And all the filling up heart bars. And VERY limited Action Set. What was it: 5 active skills, a heal and two trinkets? I missed my Spell Reflection way too much. :/

  14. HidingCat says:

    I love many things about Guild Wars 2, and I can overlook tiny niggles like the skills not synergising as much as they did in parties in GW1.

    What I cannot overlook, is the writing. It tries, but there is a certain convenience and lack of sophistication that really makes me stop playing after a while. *sigh*

  15. enyv says:

    I agree with what a lot of people expressed here, that the story (both the original and especially the “living world”) in GW2 is a pile of incoherent crap. Also, I don’t enjoy the particular kind of content they tended to put out bi-weekly throughout last year, which seemed to comprise of 80% grind and 20% actual content. That they still haven’t made a proper expansion baffles me. I have something like 8 characters ready to be played and no content left to play. Unfortunately, they are way too late for developing an expansion now so I don’t expect anything good coming up for this title.

  16. Mungrul says:

    I gave up on GW2 the day before Super Adventure Box Part 2 came out.
    What started as a fresh and promising new take on the genre has devolved over this last year in to nothing more than a grind for achievement points and gear.

    The “Content” they’ve added has virtually all been temporary and has always relied heavily on making players repeat it hundreds of times in order to get the achievements.

    They’ve added more and more items to the gemstore and very few that can be gained through actual gameplay.

    And worst of all, they’ve succeeded in making a game that the longer you stay away from it, the less appealing it becomes as you realise you’re slipping farther behind the curve. You have no way of catching up once you’ve decided to take a break, so why bother ever logging in again?
    There’s loads of items and achievements that you’ll never be able to get a hold of because they were part of some temporary content that was only around for two weeks.

    That’s where the realisation hits that they want you playing every day in order to keep up with the Joneses and maximise your exposure to their monetisation systems. And they’ll do it through the cheapest methods available to them as developers.

    Sorry, but I haven’t got time for that kind of exploitative behaviour.