The new “living” story update for Guild Wars 2 has elicited quite a bit of talk recently as it seems to finally enact some long-lasting and rather dramatic change to the world. It looks like a wonderful change to the surrounding areas of Kessex hills that involve new npc’s, changes to familiar terrain, new and wide-ranging events as well as new mob types with that awesome stomping effect. I would even go so far as to this is the one and only living story update that I would call living as the changes to the area make it feel like time is passing, that the world is changing like it should.
But of course there is still one large glaring issue with the update once again rearing its ugly head which Syp explores in a new post entitled Guild Wars 2 should get out of the storytelling business. Yes, yes they probably should. The strength in the world of Tyria I’ve seen all along is not this forced story of people pretending to be heroes, it is the far more natural one lying beside it often unacknowledged and mostly taken for granted… that is, the story of Tyria itself.
Now I’m not going to talk more about this specific issue with guild wars as I have already ranted on the quality of the storytelling and direction of the living story before so there really is no point any more. What I am going to do is offer a friendly suggestion on how better to work towards a real living story that expands upon the lore people love…. because I’m nice like that.
I will be a bit blunt with this and say that scarlet is a boring, stereotyped, pantomime of a character. She is the crazy villain type but without any soul or nuances; no purpose that sheds light on her actions; no meaningful background that ties the past into the present, just aimless plans for world domination. In this way she actually reminds me of Pinkie and the brain, her and her alliances form the cast and every time it’s the same thing we do every update Tyria, try to take over the WORLD!!
Then there is the disconnect between getting any sort of new enemy or nemesis feeling forced when you realise there is still so much more out there that’s just been left in limbo. Just in the peripheral vision are the elder dragons, a force that has/ and is devastating the world and seems like a much greater threat. but no, lets forget that and chase the crazy Sylvari clown.
However at the moment the major roadblock that seems to be holding back any sort of progression on the world and away from these forced and forgettable is the personal story. Within is a structured tale of you, as a player defeating the elder dragon Zhaitan, saving the world and every one living happily ever after. But that can never happen as the story needs to be available for each and every new player or character and as such the dragons need to be alive to vanquish; Orr needs to stay a corrupted pile of filth; and the land of Tyria remains constantly under attack from this not so new apocalyptic threat.
Yet I think there is a way out of the inability to change a core part of the world and experience and actually progress with the lore of Tyria. I have said this before in a comment some place I don’t remember but the personal story needs to be transitioned to something experienced through the mists. It’s a wonderful tool the mists as it creates an easily explained way of exploring past events, it’s used for dungeons, fractals, and a few other experiences where you get to live historical moments you were never apart of. What better way to break the tie the personal story has on the world.
That original personal story section is still perfect as it relates to your character, the choices you made in the character creation and in no way interferes with the world around. It is even a times a rather heartfelt tale. The rest though would be better experienced as if you were reliving the events of another unnamed hero who once upon a time ventures forward to save the world. It would be more of an initiation and rite of passage to the player and all players and makes far more sense than everyone being some mighty hero.
You would get to be involved with the history of Tyria and the elder dragons and the turning point of this war against the elder dragons. You would be able to see the before and after effects of all the actions you undertake, they could expand on this with other related historical events of the time, and it could still involve you trekking around the world to find the particle parts of these story puzzle. As a format it would even remain malleable to any more changes that should happen to affect the world and more importantly it leaves it open for further adventures with these also being brought into the mists at a later time as needed.
Now without the player themselves having to personally defeat the Zhaitan, of championing this war in a blighted land they could truly change Orr in a way that slowly shows the lessening of the corruptive influence. In the absence of their master this undead army would slowly vanish and then we could see a re-purposed Orr that reflects the changing nature of the world. The players could even be involved in changing the map for the better by clearing out corruption, building new town, settlements and farmlands and creating a thriving community.
Best of all it would create an end game zone that isn’t so god damn depressing.