Guild Wars 2: My story, finished (sort of)

Trahearne3_wantedYesterday I finished up my personal story in Guild Wars 2… sort of.  Kind of.  I guess I wasn’t aware until just now that this 100% soloable personal story ends with a dungeon run that needs five people, which is just the hallmark of great design right there.  Seriously?  How does that make sense?  Yeah, you want it to end on an epic note and all, but you don’t change the basic setup at the last minute.  Instead of looking forward to a final confrontation and all that, I’m just annoyed that I’ve got to find/make a group to do this.

And I’ve got to say that I’ve joined the Trahearne-hating bandwagon.  I wasn’t trying to.  I gave the personal storyline as much leeway as possible, as much benefit of the doubt.  But the final third of it is just inexcusable dreck.  For starters, it’s not interesting.  It’s trying to portray this major threat and set up a huge struggle, but against a dragon or something we mostly don’t see nor care about.  As we’ve established, Orr isn’t the most visually pleasing place to be, so spending a lot of time there wasn’t exciting to the eyes.  After a while, I felt like it was a slog, my personal slog, instead of a fun and interesting adventure.  I was doing the missions to finish the whole story, not because I wanted to see what happened next.

But yeah, the worst offender is the misstep that is Trahearne.  It’s been said many times before and in many other places, so I’ll just summarize.  From a storytelling perspective, here’s a character that is just thrust into your story in the middle of events and takes over.  It’s all about him and his great actions, even though — get this — you’re the one accomplishing all of the tasks that he gets the credit for.  He’s the Awesome Savior of the World, and you’re his Number Two (whether you want to be or not).  He’s rather boring with dull voice work, and it certainly doesn’t help that he’s a plant-elf.

So at the climax of this epic struggle, the concept of making your personal story about you is mostly abandoned.  Unsurprisingly, it’s where it’s really easy to lose interest in what happens.

I was also really wondering why there was so much of an emphasis on Destiny’s Edge in the storyline if it’s just abandoned for the Trahearne Show.  I know that DE has a big presence in dungeons, but it really felt like a hanging plot thread.

I guess that in the end, I kind of wish that there hadn’t been such an “epic” end to the personal story.  Tyria is a fascinating place, especially when you focus on smaller, more local stories and events.  The whole threat of the five dragons may sound great on paper, but it’s hard to convey that threat properly and make players care.  Stories don’t have to be massive and involve saving the world to be interesting in fantasy settings.  I think more authors and writers would be better served by going small because it’s more relatable.

That’s why I’m glad that GW2 has this new living story approach to things.  It’s not exactly a personal story do-over, but it involves more of the actual world and gradually develops over time instead of being disconnected from the world.  I think that any future characters I create will be ignoring the personal story in favor of just exploring, doing events, and checking out these limited-time stories.

17 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2: My story, finished (sort of)

  1. Lethality April 2, 2013 / 8:40 am

    Good summary!

    I enjoyed the way the personal story was implemented in Guild Wars 2, as far as something that you progressed every now and then… as a side dish, not the main course. I think this is the right way to do it in an MMO.

    But the actual story (writing) and the presentation (voice, combat) of it I felt were not good at all. The disconnect from the world story was a major mis-step. I’d be just fine with an X-Files type approach where there’s always this over-arching storyline present, but you also had these stand-alone episodes. In GW2, it was just one big stand-alone episode for the most part, and a sub-par one at that.

  2. Jonathan Humphreys April 2, 2013 / 8:43 am

    I facepalmed at “plant-elf” >.<

    Totally agree though, the later end of the PS was such a sodding drag, and by the time I got to the end I was all "WOO! Wait. THERE'S A STOOPID DUNGEON AT THE END OF THIS?" 😦

    Kinda dented my will to play somewhat. 😐

  3. Paeroka April 2, 2013 / 9:00 am

    I really loved the beginning of my personal story. When the Inquest stole something and there was no way of proving they had done so, I felt as sad as my asura looked with her hanging ears.

    Now she’s… I don’t know… following Trahearne and killing Risen, I guess. That’s as bland as it can get and it’s the same thing she’s been doing in the open world (sans Trahearne which is a good thing).

    The beginning may not have been epic, but it was personal. So very personal that I felt like going after every single Inquest in the starting area! How dare they be so mean to my asura!

  4. rimecat April 2, 2013 / 9:56 am

    I actually like the work they did with the Sylvari, it was an interesting approach and different enough from “generic D&D-based, Tolkien-influenced, Elf” that it didn’t feel like yet another retread. That said, however, I fully agree with you on Trahearne. In a game with bad scripts and bad voice acting he won the worst-of-the-worst title without challenge.

    I’ve managed to follow the personal story through the retaking of Claw Island, after that I get faintly ill at the idea of subjecting myself to more super-sidekick fun. It was a disappointment on my Sylvari, I liked that story through the orders, but no great stress on my Human – the lines they put in your mouth have nothing to do with the back-story I had in mind for that character so it grated from the start.

  5. Machination April 2, 2013 / 10:34 am

    It seems that it’s not a “Personal Story”, but simply a questline. I’m curious, is everyone’s personal story the same?

  6. Jonathan Humphreys April 2, 2013 / 10:54 am

    @Machination: For the most part it is personal to a degree. The missions and story arcs you get depend (mostly at the first two thirds of it) on race, the choices you’re given at character creation, and which one of the three organisations you choose to have your character join about a third of the way in.

    Finally, your character may be given a choice to make at the end of certain missions across the whole story (even in that latter part where you have to suffer Trahearne), which can momentarily fork the story as well.

    So, not -everyone’s- personal story will be the same, but even disregarding the amount of units that the game shifted before launch alone, someone’s, somewhere, will.

  7. kiantremayne April 2, 2013 / 11:12 am

    The Destiny’s Edge storyline runs through the dungeon story modes, in parallel to your personal storyline, and the two meet up in the Arah story mode, which is that last step you have to do…so in that way, it makes sense to conclude with that dungeon. Yes, that’s going to piss off the “inalienable right to play solo” crowd, and results in a certain amount of “lolWUT?” from people who’ve skipped doing the dungeons as they’ve levelled up. However, if there’s one thing you should have learned about MMO players by now, it’s that any design decision is going to piss off some players whatever you do. In a multiplayer game, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that the ultimate big bad isn’t soloable (although, to be fair and without wanting o give spoilers, Zhaitan himself isn’t exactly your traditional group content fight)

  8. Tyler F.M. Edwards April 2, 2013 / 11:54 am

    You already know my thoughts on the personal storyline, so I won’t repeat my rant. I do agree that concluding a solo storyline with a group dungeon makes little to no sense, and it was probably the final straw in my moving on to other games.

    (To be clear, it wasn’t an angry “I quit!” sort of thing. More, “I’ve finished the game; I want to go play The Secret World for a while.”)

    I will say that I think Trahearne gets more hate than he deserves. Not that I think he’s a good character — he isn’t — but the story was a train wreck long before he showed up. He’s not any worse than any other aspect of the half-assed mess that is the personal storyline.

    It’s a shame GW2 doesn’t have a better story. The overall game design is quite solid, if a tad repetitive, and if it had TSW’s quality of writing, I’d probably never stop playing.

  9. baue8673 April 2, 2013 / 12:17 pm

    The other part is that dungeon is a brutal run. I won’t necessarily say it was the hardest, but man it was one of the most unenjoyable dungeon experiences I have ever been on. I think I spent more time not controlling my character than times I did control my character in some sequences.

  10. lothirieth April 2, 2013 / 12:57 pm

    Imagine my displeasure when I discovered Trahearne shows up early in the Sylvari storyline. I was like- “Noooooooooooooo!”

    I agree that it was stupid to require a group dungeon for the end of the storyline. It’s a fairly easy dungeon at least.. a bit time consuming.

    Orr not being visually pleasing? Well there’s one point I have to completely disagree with you on. No it’s not beautiful like other areas, but it is certainly stunning in its own right (which has been helped by the Risen being thinned out a bit). The textures are great (whoever did the oil spill look got it so right), some areas have SO many colours and I can’t help but wonder how majestic the city looked before it was destroyed. It’s grand and impressive now.. it must have been spectacular in it’s prime.

    I tend to be the sort to find beauty even in the darkest places though:
    I’m not alone either!:

  11. Warsyde April 2, 2013 / 2:25 pm

    Pretty much agree 100%. The whole Trahearne thing was annoying, because it takes your character from being the hero of the story for the first 2/3rds of the game to being some other guy’s enforcer, who gets all the credit for the things you’re doing, and mostly doesn’t accomplish anything all that useful on his own.

    My level 80 Guardian still has the stupid dungeon run to go, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get there. So far I haven’t even been able to GET to the dungeon, as the path is blocked by mass quantities of mobs and defenses that respawn faster than I cut through them. It looks like it takes a group just to get to the dungeon, but of course 99% of people running the dungeon at this point already have instant access to the entrance waypoint and don’t cut through the crap out front. I pretty much gave up after a few tries and started an alt.

    My Mesmer is much more interesting anyway, though I’m fast approaching the point where Trahearne takes over the “personal” story. The final stretch of the game could have been made a lot better if they simply allowed each character to be the start of the show. Trahearne taking over reeks too much of a writer wanting their character to be hero, sort of like a DM in PnP D&D having an NPC be the hero of the story while the player characters are just support.

  12. Carson April 2, 2013 / 3:59 pm

    Everything about Trahearne is true.

    I’ve been up to the final step of the personal story on my main for many months now. I might finish it if Arenanet ever add some sort of group finding functionality into the game. As it is I’m in the entirely predictable situation of “didn’t unlock all the explorable dungeons during release month, and as such can never ever join a dungeon group”.

  13. j3w3l April 2, 2013 / 4:54 pm

    @Paeroka it was very personal, and it was great. Y wasn’t epic but it didn’t need to be because it was your story. It depended on your initial choices and there were some actually interesting, and at times moral choices that made you deviate from others. They were at times an interesting conversation point.Then it all devotes into mindless kill quest with only the basics of a cosmetic difference.

    I’ve ranted about this as well so that’s enough from me

  14. kiantremayne April 2, 2013 / 6:09 pm

    Carson – you can enter a dungeon in explorable mode as long as at least one person in the group has done the story mode (and enters first) – you don’t have to have done the story mode yourself. Feel free to join any of the groups shouting out for members in the dungeon zone, or Lion’s Arch, or use one of the websites set up as substitute LFGs for the “I want a group without actually having to talk to anyone” generation.

  15. tithian April 3, 2013 / 2:46 am

    The final dungeon was probably the worst group content I’ve ver done, in any MMO, over the past 10 years. Horrible, just horrible…..

  16. Jomu April 3, 2013 / 5:25 pm

    my big beef is the design of those areas; Orr, Straits of Devastation and Malchor’s Leap. Absolutely hate them.. the navigation.. spawn rate.. clumping.. ugh. Its gonna be painful 100% map completion

  17. SynCaine April 4, 2013 / 4:00 pm

    The final boss encounter in its original form (I believe it’s been ‘fixed’ now) was, I’m not joking, manning a cannon and hitting the 2 key for a few minutes (which felt like an entirety). That’s it. Just 2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2 while the screen puts you into a coma from the flashing lights. How anyone thought that was enjoyable is beyond me. You’re not missing much of anything stopping the PS.

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