Hubs, Hearts, Story

Guild Wars 2 has some improvements on standard MMO mechanics that are so obviously better that I have found it unpalatable to go back to older MMOs or to play new games that clone them. One of these is the use of hearts and events to level, rather than quest hubs. For the kind of content quest hubs most often deliver (kill things, click things, collect things), hearts just seem obviously better than clicking an NPC; hearing a story about too many wolves, needing wolf pelts, or wanting you to click on six specific wolf den rocks to investigate; kill/click/collect, then going back to click on the NPC. The flow of play is better, and if you don’t feel like collecting things, you can just kill and/or click. Using events to make impromptu groups and to replace “take this message to Bob in the next town” quests is just better.

Also, in GW2, you can almost always rez the NPC in an escort quest. See Rurik or Sara Oakheart.

GW2 also demonstrated that hearts and events are horrible ways of telling stories, so bad that they spent part of the first year trying to retrofit a classic quest system into mail system or the personal story model. They seem to have settled on the personal story model, an interesting choice given how few players would cite the personal story as one of the better parts of the game.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “Hubs, Hearts, Story”

  1. If you go talk to the hearts npcs before completing the hearts, in a way they act like a quest-hub npc, regarding a bit of a story and telling you what they need you to do.

  2. I feel they are regressing with the new story instances, is it really that much different than other MMOs with their ‘epic’ quests, even though they can be fun and challenging it feels sometimes like I’ve don’t this countless times before. The open world is what they do uniquely, still waiting on a big world boss event for Dry Top, putting what they learned from Marionette and Breachmaker to practice.

  3. Actually the two part talking feature of the personal story has been something the devs at Anet have apologized for doing, and have spoken at length about never doing again because even they have realized that it was foolish to do the dialogues that way. The npc at the hearts are a quick way to level and they do offer multiple choices which is nice when it comes to quest grinding however, make no mistake it’s quest grinding, it’s not any different really it just makes it easier for when there’s 150 players all doing the same thing to get something done instead of waiting in line like on Archeage to kill a particular NPC like we’ve seen in so many other games in the past, like WoW’s WotlK expansion for example. There’s also a problem with the personal quest system being multiplayer in some parts, some of it requires you actually form a 5 man so even in that format they were trying to force people to play in groups which was completely contrary to their early design statements.

  4. Hearts make ‘grind this out’ even more blatant, which IMO is a negative. Especially because it allows players to ruin the fun of an area for themselves and just sit at the one apple that respawns every few seconds rather than doing most of the other content you have spent time designing (which basically happened at every hub in GW2 at launch). Designing your game so that it so easily allows a player to ruin the fun for themselves isn’t smart IMO; the sheep need more guidance, especially the PvE sheep.

    Hearts also naturally lead to “this activity is the fastest” optimization; something a little more fun but that takes 2x time to do compared to something else isn’t going to be used by most, which not only lowers the amount of fun being had, but is wasted dev time.

    If I’m playing a pure themepark, I’ll take FFXIV PvE over GW2 all day. I’m playing for the story-driven PvE; make it solid, rather than ‘convenient’. If the devs can design well-guided PvE content, I want to correctly experience what they have designed.

    If I’m playing more of a virtual world, simple MMO questing becomes a nice break from the more involved sandbox activities. Something like the hearts system, which is very sandbox-lite, doesn’t accomplish this as well as a one-off “kill 10” quest IMO.

    Hearts are much like the rest of GW2; sitting in the awkward middle of MMO design. They aren’t really a sandbox solution, but they also don’t have the benefits of traditional themepark design. Events are the same; they don’t really change the world in any meaningful way (silly manifesto of lies), but they still bring the flaws of something being on the ‘wrong’ step for your experience, or seeing something repeat its loop for the 10th time while you are just trying to grind out another heart hub.

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