Posted in Guild Wars

Guild Wars 2: Living story, dead interest

kielI am having such a hard time convincing myself to log into Guild Wars 2 lately and I’m frustrated at trying answer “why?” to myself.  I like the game’s looks and combat.  I like the classes and general world-roaming, event-gobbling nature of it.  I really like the new achievement system, although I am a little peeved that unlike some games, GW2 doesn’t feel that it needs to list sub-achievements under each header (such as the names of the two missing areas I need to find in a 175-area region).  I like the minis, the holidays, the flamethrower.  So what is it?  Why now?

I think it’s coming down to the living story — or just story period.  As in, I’m starting to wonder if ArenaNet can really tell a tale that will keep me captivated, or maybe it’s just this new storytelling style of scrambling through an achievement list of new minigames that isn’t doing a good job of getting it done.

I’m feeling both overwhelmed and underwhelmed with the living story lately.  I’m overwhelmed that it’s rolling in every couple of weeks now, making me feel as though I’m perpetually behind the curve and trying to catch up with whatever needs to be done.  I’m underwhelmed because I still don’t get how this scattershot activity setup is supposed to be spinning a great yarn.

Right now there’s some sort of election between the human that’s obviously going to win because she’s (a) a cute girl, (b) the race that 70% of GW2 players roll, and (c) she’s virtuous or somesuch.  We’re supposed to cast our vote for one of them based on what they’re promising, which isn’t much: a discount to either waypoints or lootbox keys, one new dungeon or another new dungeon, and the exact same promise to rotate the exact same minigames.  I don’t care about either of them.  I don’t know why I should care.  I’ve seen their short cutscenes and found myself running around the room while they chatted because that’s how interesting it was.

And to support our candidate, we’re not just supposed to vote but run races!  And play Hunger Games-style survival brawls (which does sound interesting).  This makes sense how?

They’re running for office because some guy I don’t remember got assassinated a couple of living stories back that I wasn’t there for.  Before that I think the bad Charr were annoying the crap out of me with sonic periscopes and there was a son of the Norn lady who hasn’t been seen since.  This is the level of comprehension that I have regarding the living story up to this point.  It’s rather sketchy, but I don’t think it’s just my lack of interest.

I just don’t get how any of this tells a story better than the tried-and-true quest text box or interactive cutscene (a la SWTOR).  An achievement list is not a substitute for a fleshed-out quest.  It can be fun, yes, but it’s a poor storytelling engine.  I’m doing stuff… because.  And without a quest to guide me, I’m stressed because I have to piece together my own quest out of these achievements and try to figure out what is where and why.  It’s taking a step back while pretending to progress forward.

I can’t find it in me to care about the latest new NPCs that ArenaNet is shoving in my face because I know they’re going to go away soon to make room for the next big-eyed Charr.  And as with the personal storyline, I still feel very much like a semi-involved spectator fiddling around with events that are happening to others.  It’s not about me in the least.  And in-game ego or not, that contributes to this disconnect.

I’m tired of feeling behind the curve on content that is a shade too grindy and somewhat uninteresting.  I miss concentrating on what Guild Wars 2 does best, which is provide cool zones to explore and plunder while getting swept up in dynamic events.  But the pressure, the pressure to do the living story content with its ticking-down timer keeps me from ignoring it altogether.  If I don’t do it now, I’ll never get the chance again.

I’m sure this sounds like a huge gripe post.  It’s not.  It’s me, as a fan of Guild Wars 2 in general, flailing my arms in frustration and fear that this game is losing me.

27 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2: Living story, dead interest

  1. Hehe! Join the club. It’s a mess, although arguably not quite as complete a mess as it was couple of months back. My problem with it is the opposite of yours in a way, though. I’m not having any difficulty convincing myself to log in, I’m having trouble persuading myself not to.

    Most of the Living Story is stuff I already knew I didn’t like all that much. I’m not very interested in narrative in MMOs to begin with. I have only a passing interest in Achievements at best. I strongly dislike being told what to do and when to do it during what’s supposed to be my leisure time. I can get all I want of that at work, thanks.

    And yet every day GW2 is the first MMO I want to log into and when I get there I find I’m enjoying myself a lot. I’m not happy that I’m enjoying myself, I think less of myself for it, but I can’t deny that’s what’s happening. I’m concerned about what this says about my mental health. It can’t be anything good.

  2. Bhagpuss I am so old school but I get the feeling that all MMO’s are actually getting less rather than more interesting…getting so user friendly you forget your playing an MMO… tricky times…
    Mind I am still logging into LOTRO to grind!

  3. This is more or less what turned me off GW2. I still love the mechanics of the game, the visuals, and the general gameplay philosophy, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the story or the world. As it turns out, I need to care about an MMO’s world if I’m going to keep logging in.

    This is why I’m still playing WoW. Despite all my gripes with its gameplay, I care about Azeroth, and I want to see what happens next.

    Granted, I left GW2 before all this Living Story stuff started, but it is one contributing factor to why I haven’t gone back. I think of all the updates I’ve missed, and it makes me feel so far behind, and I just think, “Screw it; I’ll just play TSW instead.”

  4. I haven’t picked up GW2 for ages, and I think you hit the nail on the head as to why… a cohesive story. From what I saw of my “characters story”, it was pretty watered down. A simple heroic story with obvious conflict points. The new “living story” content feels like a soap opera. Sure, it’s content, but it’s not content that will last, so for those of us who enjoy a good story from beginning to end, starting half-way through is not a good prospect.

    Coming into an event or story half-way (especially when there’s grind associated with it) automatically makes me feel like I’m missing out. It’s why I start a book series at Book 1, a TV series at Season 1, movie series at the first movie, and even game series at the first game. If I want to experience the whole thing, I can’t start in the middle.

  5. I’m not sure I’m actually understanding you on this…

    Most MMOs present an entirely static world that changes not at all (or at the very least maybe once a year when the expansion hits and you get new areas to play in), and you’re fine with that. GW2 has a lot of the unchanging, but then also presents a constantly-evolving story which is usually focused around Lion’s Arch and, apart from some other random events scattered around the world, won’t affect you at all.

    And because you’re disappointed with the overall quality of the Living Story (which I can’t disagree with), you can’t bring yourself to do the 98% of world content that has nothing to do with it?

    Humans are strange beings sometimes.

  6. I actually like the concept of new story events every two weeks, the problem is not the concept, it’s the actual CONTENT. Who the heck’s idea was it to do an election anyway? I play video games to escape politics and other crap going on in the world that makes me want to cry. It’s boring enough to listen to real politicians lie to get votes, but to listen to fake, video game politicians blab on about giving us 2 weeks of trading post discounts?! BOOORRRRINNNG.

    Secondly, why must all these story events take place on some far off instance-zone, separated from the game? Talk about immersion-breaking. I don’t want to leave my zone and go elsewhere to experience a zone that will disappear in a month. I want the event to come to ME, and I want it to be permanent. ArenaNet has stated that instead of paying for expansions, they’ll just give us the content inWhen all of your so”expansion” content is temporary people start to see it as a gimmick

    I would like to see epic world-spanning invasions that affect every player directly. For example, the centaurs joining up with some other monsters and taking over Divinity’s Reach would be awesome. Or some Cthuhlu mythos sea monsters coming up out of the ocean to invade the coasts, creating an entire permanent region of underwater content. Now, THAT would be awesome.

    But we’re stuck with boring elections, lame mini-games and temporary sky merchants instead? WTF?! You have an incredible fantasy world to create all kinds of amazing events, so you go with stupid minigames and races? WHY???

  7. I totally agree, actually, on a lot of points. GW2 hasn’t held my interest for months, and this quick-fire story-telling cycle has done nothing to attract me back. In fact, it does the opposite. There are few things I dislike more in MMORPGs than temporary content with a small timer.

    The idea of being able to log in a handful of times during an event, pretty much ensuring I won’t have the time to get it done and instead be left with half-completed achievements that I’ll never get to finish really irks me.

    And yeah, if I suddenly do find the time to play regularly, I’ll have missed a ton of stuff and be completely lost.

    I really miss GW1 and the way that game played out. You could always go back and finish old content – it’s always there for you, and yet there was still a story that moved forward and showed the passage of time.

  8. Hey Syp, a year later I still can’t thank you enough for the Newbie Blogger Initiative! It was really fun and inspiring. It led me to post more and I made new friends.

    Today I’ve launched a new project that I hope will have a little big of the joy and value that NBI did:

    it’s a site where Avatar Bloggers from any MMORPG can ask, answer, and chat about their blogging. I hope you’ll drop and say HI when you have a chance.

    10**3 Thanks!!

  9. I think this is more or less my problem with GW2 right now. I do not like that they spend so much effort on essentially disposable content. I don’t like the feeling of being perpetually behind… and I don’t care enough about the game to actively play through every nugget of storyline as it comes out for the few weeks it is available. It feels like a grand waste to me. That instead of fleshing out the world and permanently adding more content than you could ever manage to complete… they roll it in like a server event only available for short periods of time.

    Expiring content just feels like a really lousy idea, be it in GW2 or in Defiance or any of the other games that have introduced limited time only events. Holidays are fine because you know that another holiday will roll around next year. You always have another chance to do whatever it is that was introduced the first time. Limited time events just frustrate me to a point of simply not wanting to play any more.

  10. This is EXACTLY why I stopped playing. I felt disconnected with the world…which seems funny. We should be more involved, due to there being constant happenings. But, being a casual player…I kept missing things or did not have time to rush through the achievements.

    I had already played every class to max, and had a majority of world completion on one character (do I really need to do it for EVERY class?) and I am just not that into the PvP…

    So, I have moved on. BUT, I realized one thing GW2 has taught me. I can NEVER play the slow mo combat of old MMO’s anymore (tried to go back to Rift and failed horribly)…so, my current game of choice is Tera…old school questing, with new style, action combat.

    But, there is no doubt that GW2 was a beautifully made game, and it has been one of the best experiences in an MMO that I have had in a long time.

  11. Welcome to a growing group feeling discontent with the direction of this “living” world content. If all we have to look forward to is a constant barrage of festival fetch quests than its time to hop off this ride.

    I’m happy to pay for DLC even though it’s only a handful of quests yet I can’t be bothered doing these free updates.

    I don’t think it is the grind nature of it, well not entirely, it is the break neck pace of it all. There is a continuous pressure to grind rather than just following you’re own pace.. Player agency is missing.

    The achievements should also be an addition to a real quest, they’re the desert o my main that makes it all more satisfying. Without the main you’re left feeling unsatisfied and query.

    Kichwas has a great rant regarding the quality of the actual story elements and lore it is such a beautiful setting with some amazing lore yet they spam us with this mostly incoherent babbling.

    It is extremely frustrating and disheartening to see GW2 progress this way, we had such hope and on release I was mostly overjoyed with the world we got. I felt immersed and now I can’t even be bothered logging in.

  12. I think the problem is that ANet didn’t realize the fun thing about one-time events is that they’re, well, one-time. They’re supposed to be rare and special. If you make your entire game one-time events, they cease to be special and become just another grind, with the added frustration of feeling like you missed out if you don’t have the time to jump on every single one as soon as it’s out.

  13. I completely agree. I was sold on GW2 for it’s dynamic open world, for exploration of amazing places, the events popping up everywhere, and that “do what you want” feeling.

    Now, as you say, all the new content is set up so you literally work your way through achievement tickboxes of “kill 250 whatevers” and stuff like that. I did NOT buy this game to farm the grindiest of achievements. It really seems to be the complete opposite of everything I like about GW2. On top of that the story is just a mess.

  14. I agree with you ! As a casual player, I am not able to follow all those events ! Or I had to just stop playing the game for it. So I start to stop trying to do Live Story, unless something fun is coming or I want those or those gifts.
    But how to satisfy the guys that complained that fire and frost was too slow, and the guy saying that it was just the good speed ?

    My proposition : let each event take three months. Most of the activities are instanced : let them be accessible – by memory if needed – for three months ! Thus allowing player choose their fights !

    My second deception is : where is the Live Content evolution ? Not living stories, but events added everywhere. I want to go back to a region Three months after, and see new events !

  15. You know I totally understand this viewpoint and yet having time to check out the Bazarr content, it is amazing! Yet also grindy. At the end of the day, if your effort, whether current content or just grinding mobs, there should be a feel of accomplishment after. With the current terribad crafting system that brings nothing to the players in general , there is very little reward unless you are grinding the newest event.

  16. Truth be told, I’ve always considered the Story in GW2 being one of its weakest points. It almost made me stop the game around level 10, when my Grenth-affiliated thief started to behave like a paladin in the cutscenes (it hurts very badly when you’ve played extensively The Secret World the three preceding months…).
    Therefore, I’ve never paid much attention to the background of the game and focused my gameplay experience on the WvW and Guild activities (missions, challenges, runs and jumping puzzles).

    What puzzles me in all that “living story” stuff is that this is basically “one-shot” content, that will never come again and thus will let the people that missed it (for any reason, even the “not-playing-the-game-yet” one) without any option to complete the tasks.
    I’d rather have them create more “dead story” content, that anyone would be able to run through at his ownpace, instead of trying to whip the players so that they follow the game’s pace (the fact that I’ll be off for 4 weeks may also count in my opinion…)


  17. I agree in some respects. I do think that new content every 2 weeks is a bit much. If you aren’t on daily it can make for a lot of catch up work to do which isn’t fun. I don’t like feeling pressured to complete a bunch of stuff in a short period of time. But at the same time I applaud ArenaNet for being able to create new content so quickly. I just believe it’d be more effective if it were a bigger, longer content patch every 1-2 months rather than every 2 weeks.

  18. I agree with whatever “it” is. And I do not know what it is. I was first to be level 60 shaman on my server in EQ. One of the first 60 hunters in vanilla WoW who quit around the crazy insect lair Anquwhatever happened. I played Rift to the max with a terribly fun guild that I loved and admired. Most of them left for GW2 and something happened. Something isn’t right. I have a mage up to lvl 44 and I have no desire to log on. I typically love fantasy and wonderful graphics so Lions Arch and other things should be grabbing my attention. WHat happened? I logged in today after a 4 month absence and was in the pvp training area…felt far behind, alone, and stale…..

    I’m excited for Wildstar and have no idea what the disconnect is.. I am a MMOPRG whore (EQ, Rift, Wow) why isn’t this connecting with me?

  19. Problem with guild wars 2 is that it has no holy trinity, no endgame like WoW or an endgame like DAOC. Other than that its a fun game.

  20. I’ve stopped playing GWs 2 as it was making me increasingly sad – and I bought 4 copies. The Living Story drove me away from a game that had already dumped the best dynamics of its earliest version. Guild Wars 2 is like the ‘Nanny State’ of game play.

  21. GW1 is such a beatiful game, they should continue that, maybe same maps with new stories / new elite skills / new skills. I’d like to hear that “Back to Factions”, “Back to Prophecies”, “Back to Nichtfall” are coming:)

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