After a long hiatus from playing GW PvE (before WAR I signed on for some quick PvP action now and then), I decided to jump back in. Specifically, I wanted to try out the much heralded quest chain called Zinn’s Task, which requires players owning all three campaigns to hunt down some rogue golems. The first thing you need to do to start the quest chain is get a new hero named M.O.X. and the Golem Training Guide. The Golem Training Guide works as a book, which you open up and read, and you can enter a training mission by further using the book. This led me to reminisce on all the different mission mechanics Guild Wars used throughout its nearly complete lifetime.
Guild Wars Prophecies gave us the mission mechanic for Guild Wars, where you entered an instanced story event with objectives and a definite endpoint. These were unlike the vanilla MMO quests that occured in a sandbox-style zone (persistent or not). Missions were vignettes of story, objective, and activity where if you failed a restart was required. For Prophecies, the mission had its own outpost to start from and the mission area was completely designed and used only for that mission.
The later products of ArenaNet slowly shifted the mechanics and definition of a “mission.” In Factions, missions were nearly identicaly to Prophecies, but you could return and explore the area later on without having to enter the mission. In Nightfall, the missions started from an NPC in an outpost instead of being outpost-wide, and although some content was gated by mission completion, much of the time you could explore the zone prior to the mission.
The Guild Wars expansion, Eye of the North, had probably the biggest change in mission mechanics, which were nearly the same as Nightfall, except that you couldn’t fail by merely dying and some missions started in explorable areas instead of outposts. If you died you would resurrect at a rez point without the whole mission-story resetting. NPCs were also “unkillable” in that regard (no instant fail from NPC death), but they gained death penalty the same as the players. Then, the Bonus Mission Pack brought us full circle back to Prophecies, where each mission had its own separate zone and if you failed (by dying or an NPC dying) you had to restart completely.
It is interesting how one of their core storytelling mechanics evolved and changed at every step of the way, and leaves the answer wide open as to what Guild War 2’s mission mechanics will be. Personally, I preferred the Eye of the North style missions the best where there was no insta-fail, but for mission outposts I would prefer something more similar to Prophecies/Factions.—Ravious