I 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.