As much as I’ve been wanting to say something about the story since the Escape turned into a Battle that led us to an Aftermath in the wreckage of Lion’s Arch, the truth is that I feel that there isn’t much to discuss, nor much to talk about.
That is not to say that I don’t like the story.
Since the Queen’s Jubilee, as the story writers have started to find their stride, and as the boring talking heads have metamorphed into cinematic cutscenes, discounting the odd miss here and there, on the whole…
I have been… content.
It’s an MMO. It’s never going to be fine literature.
The plot pacing improved, ever so slightly. We started to learn more crucial clues and actually understand whatever point the writers were trying to tell us, rather than get strung along with cryptic words and empty promises.
The focus on likable characters and conversational dialogue and humor has been the highlight, as far as I’m concerned, as it seems to be where our crop of GW2 writers shine the most. So it makes more sense to concentrate on that as a strong point.
I find the consequence and impact of the Living Story has been made more meaningful and lasting since the Kessex Hill and Lion’s Arch changes, though I especially appreciate the forewarning so that we can actually spend time recording and documenting how it was before and appreciate the changes better without having to rely on exceedingly faulty memories. A flashback system would be good here, and I think we’re seeing some of the beginnings of that through items or NPCs that play certain cutscenes for us.
If you read the forums and Reddit, it can oftentimes be a cesspool of negativity and criticism where the Living Story has been concerned, full of conviction that such-and-such is lore inappropriate, or that they could write the story better, or that such and such plot point or clue should have best been included so that everything makes more sense. (Sometimes, they’re even right.)
I guess, I’m finding it hard to make topics like that into a point of discussion anymore. Ultimately, it seems to boil down to opinion and preference. I like this. I don’t like that. You like something else. You hate this thing over here. The writers in charge of the story like this other thing.
We’re still going to end up with the story the writers decide they want to tell us.
At the moment, I enjoyed the quiet little interlude at the Dead End Bar, for the most part. Though some of the laughter seemed forced, we got a little conversation time with all our Living Story NPCs, developing their character slightly further, and even had a new character introduced.
I still didn’t understand the whole plot point that included Scarlet in it, especially this crazy little doozy here:
Leylines are currents? Wha? That doesn’t explain anything, just sounds like a hocus-pocus hand wave.
I kinda preferred the Reddit explanation, the drill disrupted the leylines somehow, and that alerts a jungle dragon that happens to sleeping close to one of them, nomming away at his midnight snack.
Some other people hated all the lovey-dovey talk.
Well, that’s life. You get bits you like and bits you hate. Some parts you understand, and some you don’t.
The overall theme of the hints seems to be pushing us towards Maguuma and the jungle for the next season, anyhow, what with talk of the bandits in the Brisban Wildlands (encamped so cozily in a fortress guarding an exit deeper into the wilderness), and more stuff with the sylvari (the racial prejudice after the disaster being a nice echo to the real world, I thought.)
And well, we’ll see where and how things develop from there.
I trust that ArenaNet has learned some lessons about pacing out the story from the first season, and I am generally content to see where the story takes us.
Other people whine bitterly that they want a new expansion. I sit around thinking that what they want is really a new class, a new race, a new (permanent) zone or maybe a new (persistent) story. All of those can be requested without having to have an expansion.
I dunno, maybe it’s my City of Heroes non-World of Warcraft background showing again. We got regular Issues and updates that gave us new and interesting things, whereas the expansions CoH had never seemed to do much except split the playerbase further across many zones (albeit the new archetypes and new stories were fun) and WoW expansions to me just mean an ever-increasing max level and gear tiers that everyone races to, invalidating all old content in the process.
And here we come to the crux of why I feel it’s pointless trying to turn these things into a conversation point:
All these MMOs are different games.
Different people prefer different things.
We choose MMOs that give us these different things. If people like how WoW does things, they probably have already gone back to WoW. (Or ought to, instead of trying to make all other games resemble WoW.)
It’s been 1.5 years. To me, Guild Wars 2 has already matured. I find very little need for hype or insecurity concerning how the game plays.
I don’t think we have “a large shard of sandbox in a themepark.”
For better or worse, what we have is a mutable themepark (with a veneer of sandbox in the leveling game and in the lateral progression options – which I like, mind you) that is determined to change with the passage of time.
And I’m okay with that.
I like that, actually.
I’m happy with enough freedom of choice that I don’t feel obliged to spend every logged-in hour working towards the next tier of gear, or having giant signposts telling me “HERE IS WHERE YOU GO NEXT, everything else is NOT YOUR LEVEL and NOT WORTH YOUR TIME.”
I don’t want to be playing a holy trinity game where my role boils down to TANK THIS NOW TAUNT TAUNT TAUNT -or- HEAL YOUR LIL TITTIES OUT -or- MOAR DPS. If you failed, it very well could be your stats and gear not being up to the challenge, GO GRIND MOAR to get exponentially better at the game.
I’m okay with MOAR DPS, MOAR BUFFS, DODGE YOU FOOL, MOVE CORRECTLY and even occasionally, OH MY GOD I HAVE TO ACTUALLY THINK AND READ / SWITCH MY SKILLS and USE THE CORRECT ONES TO COUNTER THE ENCOUNTER. (Though more of the latter, in a solo setting, would be preferred. GW1 background showing…)
Where GW2 is concerned, I’m happy to not be in a complete sandbox where you have to make your own story, make your own bloody house from materials piece by piece, level your skills percentage point by decimal percentage point, and then lose it all when some bugger comes over the horizon and ganks you in FFA PvP.
There are other games for that.
(Some of ’em I like – A Tale in the Desert, Don’t Starve and Minecraft all come to mind, and others that I’m not so keen on – Wurm Online, Darkfall Online, Eve Online, fer instance.)
I am perfectly okay to log in and think, “Hmm, what do I feel like doing today?”
Ok, today I’ll do some dungeons – cue the LFG tool because I lack friends who get the urge for dungeoneering at the same time I get these odd whims.
Or today I’ll do a raid – log into TTS Teamspeak and see what they’re up to.
Or today I’ll WvW – see if my guilds are running anything / log into Tarnished Coast Mumble.
Or today I’ll be a hermit and wander some of my favorite mid or high-level zones solo, hunting every mob in sight and collecting every node because I find it incredibly appealing and fun to hit these little waypoints of achievement/collection/loot get/mini-dings.
Or today I’ll experience the next part of the Living Story, or work on the accompanying achievements. Or today I’ll craft. Or play the TP in a misguided attempt to get rich.
Or today I really have to clean up my inventory and bank because stuff is a colossal mess from all the above activities.
Or all of the above.
I don’t want to -have- to be climbing an endless ladder to feel better than everyone else around me, or feel stuck on a treadmill running in place going nowhere.
Attending a carnival or an amusement park – visiting all the booths and rides at least once and then repeating my favorite mini-games (real world sidetrek: did anyone else like Skee Ball as much as I did in my youth? I’d do a pirate ship ride once, and then use up my entire stack of arcade coins hurling a tiny ball at some targets with points inscribed on ’em) until I’m done for the day or the carnival’s gone – is okay by me.
There’ll be a new carnival or another trip to the amusement park in two weeks.
If you don’t like carnivals, the WoW gym where you can compare your pectorals and how much weight you can bench is over that way.