Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire™ was released a little over week ago, and since then…
2. The World of Tyria is Your Oyster (Guild Wars 2) – Part 2
PLEASE NOTE: SOME OF THE LINKS BELOW MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS.
In the last article (Read Part 1 Here) we talked about Tyria itself, and how the game creates an immersive environment. This time we’re going to focus in on the story inside the setting.
There is more to a game than just the setting. A player wants to feel like they are living their own story and that they are really becoming a hero. MMOs have always struggled with this goal. As millions of players wander around the land doing great deeds, what use is there for yet another hero? How many adventurers does it take to change a light-bulb?
To this end, GW2 winds their player’s stories into instances. This instanced storyline exists alongside the world, and is completed when the player wants to complete it. It will change how some of the world reacts to you, and works to provide a sense of accomplishment for the player. This is one area that is still not ideal, even though great strides have been taken in customizing the storyline.
The reason I am not blown away by the storylines is that they still feel like the game is railroading the player. There are a few key choices, but for the most part you just follow along and pick the least objectionable option. Don’t get me wrong, the stories are beautifully crafted and interesting, but they don’t fit my character. I much prefer wandering the world outside of the storyline.
And outside the storyline is where the game really shines. There are hundreds of tiny little stories hidden throughout the world that a player can interact with however they’d like. The world goes on around them, whether they decide to be a hero or not. Which leads us straight into the HOW of the world’s storylines. GW2 doesn’t have quests, it has events. What’s the difference? Choice.
A player walks up to a small village and people are screaming and fleeing because bandits are attacking. The player can either go into the village along with whoever else is around to help defeat the bandits… or they can move on. Think of an event as the door of opportunity opening for you, and you can choose to go through it or just keep moving on your way.
Participating in events is rewarded, both in coin and karma. So it’s beneficial for a player to travel the world and act the hero. The best part is that there are no long texts to read or directions to follow for most of these events. You merely do what players do best… play. No mess, no clutter, just game-play.
There are also meta-events, a combination of storyline and event that is a natural cause and effect in the world. If you don’t defeat the bandits in that village, they’ll occupy it, and then they’ll start taking over the surrounding areas. Every zone in the game has its own meta-event sequences, reflecting its own unique problems.
There is yet another aspect of GW2 that drives that feeling of being in a living world… the ambient story. This is the random strings of conversation you’ll find with many of the NPCs throughout the world. In the Sylvari home city there are a pair of locals that always amuse me because when I walk up to them with my Charr it’s like they’re talking about ME. They whisper about the traveling Charr in the Grove, and wonder about their habits.
There are also little sequences in the game that the NPCs play out amongst themselves, going on with their “normal” lives despite the presence of heroes. One that I really enjoy is an Asuran father-daughter exchange about her “date” for the night. These small touches give the world a feeling of permanence and normality, and bring the characters to life.
In the next article (tomorrow) I’ll talk a little about the mechanics of the game, and how the combat works. We’ll also look at skills and traits, which are the customization of your character.
Continue onto Part 3 of our Guild Wars 2 extended review.