There are interesting views about stories stemming from open world PvE in Guild Wars 2. Tobold disavows using “themepark” to prefer the slightly broader rendition of the term “guided gameplay”. Guild Wars 2 is guided gameplay, but I’ve always felt it edge much closer to a “sandbox” form because it always wasn’t clear what I would get in each play session. I liken Guild Wars 2 with events and very cooperative multiplayer PvE to more of a zoo. Never know what the animals are going to do.
Jeromai has a Spink-stamped Quote of the Day regarding the stories that stem from Guild Wars 2. Spinks notes that Jeromai’s anecdotes might be more interesting than a lot of sandbox stories. That’s the thing. The best sandbox stories, sometimes spanning month’s of work and play, are among the best MMO stories, but they gloss over those hours and hours of scanning, waiting, or running “guided” content to pass the time.
Jeromai’s post got me to thinking. I had tons of stories and moments. I just wasn’t giving them the credit they were due, even in my mind. I wasn’t just completing some quest. Things were moving around the periphery. Sure, sometimes I did an event solo, sometimes the event went as planned, but sometimes there was no event but my momentary play switched based on the actions of another player. Those are not to be discounted.
I stood at the Vizier’s Tower having advanced from the east side amidst the relative safety of Pact-controlled lands. There was something upwards towards the shattered sky. A member of my guild, an asura I had not noticed before, was slamming himself against a cliffside wall trying with stunted arms to futilely grasp upwards. I decided he might have a point and jumped against the vertical barrier seeking any nook or cranny to stand upon. We met again having both realized that a broken expanse of rock, carved stone, and corrupted coral gave causeway to the Tower from the western side. He and I reunited with each jump, although I admit my nimble sylvari legs won the day over his tottering. I was glad to have his momentary companionship at the top where a wicked wizard lay in wait for any delver of hidden lore.
I was overwhelmed. Cautiously I had revived a few Pact members with risen standing away from wreckage. The risen had been stayed by the belief that none had survived the dragon’s attack and fall from the sky. Now the hearty band were attempting to repair the craft, and the risen came as if called to life and evil action. One by one the companions I had just revived fell under waves of risen. I ran because I felt all hope was lost. As I ran a charr warrior and a human thief ran against me. They smashed into my pursuers, and I turned to watch as I searched myself for the will to rejoin the battle. We would send the Pact skyward again.
A giant was roaming the southern expanse. I was trying to push forward so that we could remove the Elder Dragon’s conduit of power through the Statue of Balthazar, but the giant was putting pressure on the supply and reinforcement lines. We scurried like mice through the razor spires trying to avoid his gaze. I stopped with a ranger to look down at the champion. We nodded at each other in sorrow because we would not be enough to take the risen monster. I hoped, moving ever westward, that some heroes behind me would be able to win where I could not.
There are so many more coming from random events in dungeons (a troll explodes out of nowhere mid-battle) or even group makeup. Of course WvW is chock-full of stories, but that’s more “sandbox”-y content anyway. It’s easy to miss that stories are happening all the time.