I shudder to consider the variety of MMO quests I’ve accomplished in my lifetime. It is in all probability a kind of stupidly massive numbers that do not sound actual, like a googolplex. With all these individuals, cities and full worlds helped, you’d suppose a couple of would stand out. However I am wracking my mind, and solely a measly handful spring to thoughts, with one exception.
Guild Wars 2’s quests proceed to carry me a lot pleasure—together with those designed a decade in the past. Even coming from WoW, which does have a couple of crackers, and Star Wars: The Previous Republic, which has these engrossing class quests, Guild Wars 2 seems like an entire completely different stage. Even with its superior years, it is a revelation. Like, oh shit, I’m really allowed to have fun whereas I watch my XP bar replenish.
A great chunk of that pleasure comes from the absurd variety. First you’ve got acquired your essential quest, beginning with Guild Wars 2’s vanilla private story. These story chapters are sometimes on the lengthy aspect, with a story focus which means there’s lots of blethering between the preventing and puzzles. Within the base recreation these are nice, however they play second fiddle to the rather more partaking renown hearts and public occasions.
Renown hearts are basically Guild Wars 2’s model of the generic, workmanlike quests that litter each MMO—however good. As a substitute of gathering up quests at hubs after which working your approach via the listing, you encounter hearts organically whereas out exploring. Each coronary heart has an NPC hooked up to it who supplies some context tying the search to no matter is happening within the area, however you do not have to talk to them first. The second you enter an space with a renown coronary heart, you may obtain your goals and might get began with no fuss.
It is an environment friendly, hassle-free type of questing, and if that is all it was I would be completely happy, however renown hearts are elevated by the vary of playful actions they process you with taking part in. You would possibly must get right into a bar brawl, cheer up a cow, or simply kill a couple of monsters. One among WoW’s greatest quests, which quickly turns you right into a quest-giver, is only a regular day of adventuring in Guild Wars 2, not less than by way of creativity. Every quest additionally provides you a number of methods to replenish the center meter, and when you discover you want another than the others, you are able to do that solely.
Most MMO quests are merely autos for XP and equipment, and whereas Guild Wars 2’s renown hearts fill this operate, they do not cease there. Extremely, MMOs are lots much less of a slog when the actions you are doing are literally entertaining and fascinating. They are not all winners, however there are few that I would by no means need to do once more. Even the weakest are brisk, respecting your time and letting you shortly get again to extra enjoyable diversions.
And if it is simply the rewards you are considering, they’re more than pleased to dole out the goodies. There’s the XP and money you get for completion, after all, and the NPC quest-giver additionally turns into a store, letting you offload your undesirable junk and purchase a brand new talisman. Renown hearts are additionally related to map completion, so you may need to do all of them to get the world’s chest.
Between the renown hearts and story quests, Guild Wars 2 looks like it has all of the bases lined, but it surely would not go away issues there. Public occasions are the place the MMO actually flexes its muscle tissue. Oh boy—they’re good.
I am a sucker for a giant cooperative quest, and so they’re sometimes the spotlight of any MMO they’re in (RIP Warhammer On-line). I nonetheless get a buzz each time I saunter into an space and uncover an event-in-progress, with gamers scurrying round ferrying items, defending NPCs or charging in direction of a gargantuan fps-demolishing world boss.
The size ranges from wee issues you possibly can feasibly do by yourself or with a tiny group, like defending a caravan because it will get to the subsequent city, to map-wide, multi-stage meta-events that require loads of coordination. The large ones are an funding, with a pre-event, a number of phases, screen-filling bosses, and there is at all times the chance that you will fail. These occasions can rework the map in delicate and main methods, too, spawning new occasions, making areas change palms from enemy-controlled to NPC-controlled and all types of different issues. Whether or not you succeed or not, the world modifications.
Phil, our editor-in-chief and my Guild Wars 2 guildmate, just lately detailed his adventures within the newest growth, End of Dragons—specifically a ridiculous boss brawl.
The boss struggle incorporates a number of phases, sometimes using Guild Wars 2’s favorite meta occasion trope of getting gamers cut up between completely different sub-bosses that they should take down at roughly the identical time. All through, gamers need to prioritise targets—hitting a unique a part of the physique at key moments (I am being imprecise right here to keep away from being too express with spoilers)—utilizing crowd management to free gamers trapped in whirlpools and lengthen boss injury phases, and, at a few factors, having an out of physique expertise within the type of a unfastened leaping puzzle.
It is so uncommon to see an MMO actually reside as much as the epic vibe it is placing out. Positive, raids could be massive and intense, however there are a major variety of gamers who’ll by no means get into that aspect of the sport, and even the largest raids cannot compete with the audacious scale of the meta occasions peppering Guild Wars 2. I used to be going to say that when you favor the extra structured nature of raids then Guild Wars 2 nonetheless options them, however these massive occasions, even when they’re happening in an open world fairly than a dungeon, nonetheless have a transparent framework that ensures you might have a good suggestion of the place to go and what to do. You’ve got even acquired commanders, who basically do the job of a raid chief however for meta occasions, organising and guiding the horde of gamers.
There’s one thing egalitarian about the best way you possibly can simply occur throughout them and get caught in. You do not want something to affix in—although naturally you should have a a lot more durable time when you’re under the world’s stage vary—so that you get to get pleasure from a few of the recreation’s most memorable and flashiest moments without having to leap via 1,000,000 hoops. MMOs have this tendency to make me really feel like I must earn the chance to see some cool shit, however whereas I am OK with a little bit of delayed gratification, it will be good if the enjoyable might begin at stage 1.
I do not need to make it appear to be it is all about these massive, climactic, map-wide occasions, both. It is really the numerous smaller occasions continually popping off throughout Tyria that make the world really feel as vigorous and dynamic because it does. It is extremely reassuring to stroll into a extremely primary occasion at 2 am and discover a few gamers already mucking in. You are not simply passing ships within the night time, briefly recognizing one another earlier than dashing off to your respective adventures—you are momentary allies, watching one another’s backs and selecting one another up once you get knocked down.
When cooperation is gently inspired like this, it conjures up individuals to assist even after they need not work collectively. There’s an occasion in Auric Basin that rewards you with a hero level when you can munch on some poisoned bacon and survive for 60 seconds. Different gamers will generally repeatedly mount and dismount their jackal to benefit from its therapeutic barrier, aiding gourmands on their gastric adventures.
That is what MMOs are supposed to be like. A bunch of strangers bumping into one another and having an journey collectively. However more and more the multiplayer a part of the MMO equation will get sequestered away. You crew up with gamers in discrete PvP modes or get flung collectively in a dungeon queue. Whilst you’re out simply exploring the world, although? You are in all probability going to try this alone. One of many essential causes is accessibility: builders now not need to cease individuals from having fun with a quest simply because they cannot discover somebody to affix them. However that is why public occasions are such a boon: you do not have to be in a celebration to contribute. It takes out the heavy lifting of spamming LFG by simply making everybody within the space a participant. Now, you are not at all times going to search out individuals doing the occasions you come throughout, however there are such a lot of that you will often have loads of correct multiplayer encounters everytime you play.
On high of this, you’ve got acquired dungeons that every include their very own storyline quests and a number of paths, after which the much less overt, quest-adjacent actions, like finishing achievements for meaty rewards. I am not going to inform you Guild Wars 2 is that this magical MMO that is eradicated grind, but it surely does provide so many various kinds of quests and associated actions that you just simply do not have time to get bored.
Regardless of damning the story quests with faint reward earlier, I do need to add that issues decide up significantly when you get into the Residing World and growth territory. Right here, the story stuff advantages from stronger writing and a extra likeable forged of characters, who importantly really feel like an precise celebration fairly than a bunch of randos drifting out and in of dialogue scenes. It is nonetheless a bit standard when in comparison with the search design in the remainder of the sport, but it surely’s a lot increased high quality than the important path you may comply with in most MMOs.
I took a particularly lengthy break from Guild Wars 2 and solely began taking part in once more final yr, and I’ve discovered myself astonished not by simply how nicely it is held up, however by how a lot different MMOs might nonetheless study from it. And this goes past the quests. All the things from the way it handles mounts, giving every kind some very completely different however equally game-changing skills, to its beauty recreation, which is extremely robust, reinforces that sense of playfulness and empowerment—the stuff that ought to be on the core of all good MMOs.
Simply over a yr in the past, I wrote about how I used to be tired of waiting for the next big MMO. Since then, I’ve tried and didn’t get right into a pair of latest ones: New World and Misplaced Ark. The latter is a enjoyable MMOARPG however not what I am in search of, and the previous is simply not excellent. However Guild Wars 2 suits the invoice. It is not new, and I would performed it earlier than, however the transformative affect of the Residing World seasons and the trio of expansions make it fairly dang shut. However greater than that, it is the alternatives that ArenaNet made proper firstly, the foundational stuff, which compared to just about each different MMO feels extremely novel. What I used to be in search of, it seems, was one thing that launched in 2012.