Guild Wars 2: Personal Epic

In the latest info-bomb run, ArenaNet and some game sites released a swath of info on the personal story in Guild Wars 2.  The best place to start is, of course, the official page, where Ree Soesbee lays down a pretty extensive overview on what the personal story is in Guild Wars 2.  IGN mostly regurgitates in their form the beautiful picture Ree portrays, but they got some amazing exclusive screens.

The best way I can analogize the personal story to what currently exists in MMOs is take Lord of the Rings Online’s epic quest line and replace all of that with a bunch of instances that branch wildly based on decisions you actually make.  So, you can play in the common world like everybody else where most things are the same, play dungeons that everybody else plays (with a twist), or enter your personal story which will be unique to you.  Guests are more than welcome in your Guild Wars 2 personal story, but it is your story.

A big alarm, and a small alarm spring in my cynical mind.  Ree preemptively attacks the big alarm by noting that “story choices will not affect how powerful your character becomes, what weapons they use, or what skills they can access. It will not give your character unique benefits, and it will not alter your character’s capabilities.”  So, the need for an Achiever to map out the personal story well ahead of time is quelled.  The small alarm is aimed at what ArenaNet plans to do when I am on my 8th alt.  Will I have to run to every fast travel node, again.  I hope not, but then I wonder whether that will really matter?

I really have to touch on Guild Wars 2 versus The Old Republic in the marketing arena at this point.  With Guild Wars 2 it feels like they started out with “here’s our massive game with massive world and massive amounts of people” and then once people digested that they flipped the next card over with “here’s how it’s a personal story.”  The Old Republic started with “here’s how it’s a personal story like our other Bioware games” and… and I still don’t know how it’s massive.  This does not make one game better than the other; I just want to point out that ArenaNet is managing their marketing with great finesse, in my opinion because things are relatively clear for an unreleased game.

Still, it sounds like the replayability went through the roof.  The end of your story might not even have a final villain.  Or, the faction you join might believe that the Elder Dragons can not even be killed, while another faction says let’s pigstick it until it dies dead.  Except for the “end game” it seems like the biggest puzzle pieces on how Guild Wars 2 will play have been put in place.  It’s definitely going to be interesting watching how everything else falls around the Guild Wars 2 core.

you know, small lies, small mistakes

14 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2: Personal Epic”

  1. The one thing I’m worried about as far as instanced personal stories goes is that people will probably want to work on their own storylines until they’re completed. It seems as though different players’ personal stories won’t overlap since they’re instanced, and it’ll be hard to find others to play with for this portion of the game.

    1. That is, until they’ve completed their stories and want to see other parts of the game they couldn’t see within their own storyline.

    2. From what I gather, there is no doing the story together. There is your story and they are guests so overlap is irrelevant. Plus since they are scalable it seems that your story can be a soloable one all the way to the end… adding more people just scales it up a notch. From what I gather.

  2. I’ll believe it when I see it, both with KOTOR and GW2. There’s so much hype in the video game world that fails to reach those lofty marketing messages when the game is actually released. If GW2 can pull it off that’d be great! But I just don’t believe the hype from spokesfolks very often.

  3. I’m scared of all these story based MMOs coming out in the future. How much linear story can they fit in the game before you are standing at the end-game with nothing to do. I just hope content is as important as stories.

    1. I think a great example is the end of Vol. 2 in LOTRO where three things are happening “simultaneously.”

      (1) You are completing your epic story and killing Mazog;

      (2) A band of 6 heroes are storming the keep to kill Golodir, the sorcerer; and

      (3) A band of 12 heroes are battling to the top of Dol Goldur to “kill” a Nazgul.

      So the epic story ended with a “final” assault on Dol Goldur, but that wasn’t the end of gameplay. I envision a similar ending for Guild Wars 2.

      1. Juat so long as I can completely ignore the story and still have fun, that’ll be fine. The “story” part of LotRO, a game I otherwise rather like, drove me to distraction.

        If there’s any story, and for my money there needn’t be, then at least just put it in text or at worst cut-scenes. Please don’t ask me to play through it.

  4. This is a very good feature, alarms and all.


    And I wouldn’t be worried about content. This is from the house that brought you “Earn 10×10^23 tickets for a cosmetic title” after all.

    *end firebomb*

  5. I wonder how satisfying it will be to put a dragon to sleep… hmm…
    Methinks the Vigil will be the most popular choice by far :D

  6. As an altoholic it will be interesting to see how much different the stories will be in practice.

    Personally I would be happy to jump in and help with the personal story of a friend, but I would perhaps be a bit worried that his/her story would have elements that I might encounter later in my story – which I would prefer to experience first in my own story.

    In Champions Online you can get different missions related to fighting your unique Nemesis and you do get different missions for different characters. But it is more like a pool of missions that are randomly selected in that case and there is not much of a story keeping the separate missions together.

    I agree with your point regarding the approach to marketing the game vs SWTOR. They do a quite good job there.

  7. On playing together: ArenaNet has said there will be a sidekick system ala CoH so that players of very different levels could easily play together. Combine that with the guest system and it’s obvious you could help a RL or guild friend play through the entire game from start to finish with your maximum level character if you wanted, essentially replaying the entire storyline and having fun.

    I think that’s awesome and should mean that GW2 is easier to play together than most MMOs overall, not harder. The one concern I have is that ArenaNet has said open world/event difficulty would only be adjusted based on the number of players, not level. As there are things you need to do in the open world to move between parts of your personal story, playing through the entire game together would require maxed characters going into newbie zones and both being bored by the low difficulty and making things too easy for everyone.

    I don’t think there’s a perfect solution here, but surely there must be an alternative? (e.g. more monsters up to a certain extent, but they are more likely to attack the higher level character so that others aren’t overwhelmed – of course that might actually be compensated by that player using more area-of-effect skills but by definition it’d still be harder than fewer monsters unless there was a fundamental imbalance).

    1. Here is something on the subject of your concerns. Martin Kerstein is an arenanet community manager.

      Quoted: “We have anticipated that higher level players ruining events for lower level players could be a huge problem. Instead of scaling the events themselves (which causes a host of problems) we are using a sidekick system (about which we will talk at some later point) to scale the high level player down.

      What this means is that they’ll probably still be able to contribute a lot more than a “normal” player but won’t be able to one shot everything in sight with ease. For example a level 20 player trying to take part in a level 5 event will scale down to about level 8. They’d still get to feel very powerful but wouldn’t break the event. This has the added bonus of allowing a player to go experience whatever content they want to regardless of whether or not they’ve “out leveled” it.”

      Why they wouldn’t post this information in a more public place is beyond me.

  8. I’m worried that the instanced personal stories will be the main solo content of the game. It sounds like its single player mode for when you play alone then you can go to the ‘online world’ to do group content.

    I am sure they have it integrated better than that though.

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