Ever since I’ve started a relationship with ArenaNet and Guild Wars (and its sequel), I’ve had complicated feelings about these games and how the studio manages them. In many ways, I’m a huge fan. The visuals and sound are stunning, the classes enjoyable and sometimes unique, the world engaging, and the in-and-out ease right up my alley. Guild Wars 2 remains a gaming staple of mine on a near-nightly basis and I’m a long, long way from being bored with it.
Yet there’s that “something else” quality of the games that feels so alien to me. Like, the team puts in patches and content, but so much of it proves to be less-than-compelling. ArenaNet puts in content that die-hard fans seem to love, but the rewards or actual meaty content feels rather skimpy for them. I don’t see the fuss.
While the holidays have been great fun so far, the much-touted “living story” feels absolutely limp and skippable. And I’ve been struggling with putting into words why exactly that is.
On paper, their idea of a living story is something I do support. I like a world that’s changing and allows us to interact with that change. It was great fun when RIFT did it with its world events, and I ate those up. But the Frost and Flame story arc has proven to be little more than a short story that had a lot of fluffy build-up and an abrupt, unsatisfying climax.
I guess ArenaNet really wanted to make sure that players weren’t being left behind by the story, and I applaud the attempt to roll it out gradually and allow us to go back and see earlier instances. But it was definitely too slow, with the early stages offering little to do (unless you really liked talking to NPCs for the lore alone). Then the story suddenly introduced a pair of characters who we’ve never seen before, do not very much, and are over and done with by the next month. Plus, as has been pointed out, that cat lady’s eyes are way, wayyy to big to be considered anything but a mutant genome in action.
I kept struggling with the “why” of it all. Why does this matter to the world? Why should I go out of my way to repair signs and take down sonic periscopes? When the story is skimpy and the rewards practically non-existent (I guess there are some for the final dungeon), my motivation is lacking. I show up for either a great story (TSW) or great goodies. I don’t just do things because they’re there.
I’m really hoping that the next living story steps up its game and delivers. I would love nothing more than to be engrossed in this sort of content. But the game isn’t even going halfway to me in making that happen yet.