Guild Wars 2 on how Path of Fire is the most ‘complex’ story ANet’s done

Even if you’re a Guild Wars lore fan whose favorite word is “Cantha,” it’s likely that you’ve lost a bit of the story along the road between Guild Wars 1 and 2. Enter today’s Guild Wars 2 dev diary, which serves as a handy refresher course: In addition to a more top-down narrative explanation in the video, there’s an actual timeline of events leading up to the present day, explaining why this time we’ll be fighting an actual god instead of a dragon.

Indeed, the studio says that returning to the Crystal Desert and its southern cousin, Nightfall’s Elona, has been planned for since the launch of Guild Wars 2 way back in 2012. “It’s a pivot,” the story team says. “Players have been contesting against elder dragons since the game launched. We have beaten two of the elder dragons of a possible six, and as a result of beating these two cosmic scale entities, we’re starting to see the repercussions. It seems very much like we shouldn’t kill any more elder dragons, but lo and behold, here comes Balthazar.”

That guy, right? Watch along below, and don’t forget to get caught up on mounts with our deep-dive in Flameseeker Chronicles from earlier today.

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15 Comments on "Guild Wars 2 on how Path of Fire is the most ‘complex’ story ANet’s done"

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Complexity might not be the best choice for the game.
They rather need consistency.

The story has always been a mixed bag, from the early human stories that are absolute trash compared to the great Sylvari and Asura story lines (hell, even the drunk Norn one); to the horrible Zhaitan ending followed by even worse Scarlet shenanigans… they finally got their shit together in season 2, and they did put up a respectable story in HoT and season 3.

But holy hell did they cut off many elements from it. The Mordremoth fight is such a pitiful admittance that it was rushed, killing it with all your allies together… and no idea on who they are! The Nightmare Court is on your side? What? Who is this Duchess?
Don’t spread out on a million fronts, keep it simple.

And while PoF sounds a lot more interesting than another dragon to kill, and apparently very rich in lore (the little bit of Oasis available definitely reveals a lot about the franchise), I’m more worried about season 4.
The player character really got bumped around to resolve forgotten plot points and bring back old GW1 elements in season 3, which definitely felt a bit disconcerting (but at least the story and characters very much stayed in line… outside of surprise Livia I guess)… but all of that was largely due to gameplay decisions.

Season 3 was very good in large part because it has so much variety.
A good story is pretty hard to keep up when you want your game to go for the very core of the themepark, different rides.
We’ll see how it goes, as being laser focused on a single plot/zone can be a problem, as it makes content feel quite samey. I think WoW suffers a bit from that in Argus.

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Leviathonlx

I just wish they didn’t go with the whole B-Team group and kept Destiny’s Edge. Braham is annoying, insubordinate and should have been put in his place during LS3 (but then we wouldn’t have the inevitable story of him trying to kill a sleeping Jormag), Marjory is suddenly an insubordinate dick that should have been told that ‘yea I’m the commander and I can tell you what to do’ but I guess she at least got a fireball to the face for that stunt, Kasmeer has been mostly absent though I do get tired of how her and Marjory’s characterization seems to revolve around reminding you they are lesbians every time they are together, Rox is basically a human and acts nothing like a charr, and Taimi is too much of a deus ex machina to justify us suddenly brushing the Pact to the side so our miracle team can do everything without any help. Thank god Rytlock is with us in PoF and hopefully Canach shows back up as well.

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Tiresias

Sometimes I feel like the only one that believes that ArenaNet has done a good job conveying their story over the years. It started out a bit weak in GW Prophecies, got better (but too convoluted) in Factions, but really took off with (especially) Nightfall and Eye of the North.

GW2 has done a great job of embedding the story into the game. You learn about a zone by actually adventuring in it, not just by running dungeons or talking to NPCs. The active events allow you to participate in the ongoing story of the zone, and that’s fantastic.

And that is where the Heart of Thorns expansion had a major stumble: it presented the story in a linear, looping manner (day/night cycles, in general) instead of having “hearts” out in the zones where you could spend time in an area and complete tasks that fed into the overall cohesive story of the inhabitants’ struggles. You moved through the zone in a series of linear scenarios that rapidly (within the span of a few hours) carried you into the next zone, leaving a ton of unanswered questions behind.

You get to Living Season 3 and the hearts are back. Each area of the map has (repeatable!) tasks that give you a sense of what is going on and why you are there. You don’t have to do them, as always, but the option is available.

Yes, the story overall is a linear path with little choice, but the game is an MMO and this is a common, almost mandatory aspect of the medium. Even SWTOR, with its focus on “choices”, really only has an illusion of it. Light side or Dark side, high favor with your companions or reviled by them, the plot arc you take ends in the same general manner and has no effect on the larger game world. It may make some very minor alterations to specific scenarios as you progress, but that’s it.

GW2 doesn’t attempt to present this illusion of choice, and that’s fine. The vast majority of MMO players understand and accept the storylines of the medium for what they are: largely linear affairs where most problems are solved by violently ending the entities at the source of the problems.

So while I can’t say that I enjoyed Heart of Thorns (I was pretty glad to be done with the story and on to other things), I’m looking forward to Path of Fire. I don’t expect a game development company to hit the target every time, so long as the game remains FUN, and what I’ve seen of PoF so far is very entertaining.

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SeedEve

As much as I like GW2 Tyria,story telling is not Anet forte.What bothers me most is the naivety of the writing.With POF I will simply enjoy the flavor of the cities and the world as an adventurer.

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Arktouros

I don’t know. I’ve never really cared for much of the story in GW2 because it’s not a story I can really control or be part of. I can certainly watch someone else’s story and someone else’s choices on how to react but it’s not mine. The original story had some interesting choice points but those are long in the past likely in favor of simply cutting costs by creating one story everyone else goes through. The biggest reminder of this was with with “One Path Ends” the most recent Living Story update where here I am forced to do things I would have never chose to do if given even the slightest amount of freedom of choice.

So they can doll up POF all they want but I’m still only going to pay enough attention so I know what’s going on but never going to be invested enough to really care one way or another.

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James Mock

I want to love this game so freaking much, but it just feels so off to me. Hopefully Path of Fire keeps my interest because I was checked out of Path of Thorns within a couple days. It just felt so tedious and underwhelming.

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

Generally speaking the quality of the writing has been improving. That doesn’t excuse the shoddy, stitched-together plot arcs of a lot of the personal story and the living world, but they have been doing a much better job of keeping the tone consistent and focused in more recent years/months.

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Toy Clown

They’ve even gone so far as trying to “re-tone” Treharne’s parts in past stories, by having the voice actor come back in and redo the parts for him.

The GW2 team seems to be taking greater care their stories and characters now. Five years ago, they probably never expected to see the success of where they are at today.

gelfred
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gelfred

The quality of their story arcs has varied quite a lot through the season 3 content. Same with the characterisation.

I’m fairly happy with the direction it seems to be headed, but I still cannot bring myself to not dislike, or feel annoyed by any of their characters other than Canach.

I was happy that the ‘Commander’ got to go off and do stuff alone, because it fits more with what a norn would happily do. I wish their would be separate lines and some changes dependant on race, maybe class, but this is an obvious pipe dream! Im OK with not getting it if the contents good!

miol
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miol

I wish their would be separate lines and some changes dependant on race, maybe class, but this is an obvious pipe dream!

Nope, no pipedream! ;P

There are already different responses between races or depending on which personal story chapter you’ve chosen to play with your particular character!

Latest examples in this season 3’s lastest episode:

https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Shining_Blade_Secrets#Dialogue
https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/%22Where%27s_Balthazar%22#Dialogue
https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/On_Orrian_Shores#At_Siren.27s_Landing
https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/The_Flow_of_Magic#Dialogue
https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/The_Last_Chance#Dialogue

Mukit
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Kickstarter Donor
Mukit

Cool background video. I like seeing the people behind the game.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Complexity…yeah, that’s not something that I’d say Anet’s story team is great at given my experiences so far.

Though not having yet another elder dragon to fight is going to be nice. Was getting pretty tired of that, it will be nice to explore some other stories.

Just give me more Taimi and I’m happy.

7BitBrian
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7BitBrian

Not disagreeing with you, because I don’t. GW2’s story isn’t exactly known for being overly deep and complicated. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say the irony in your comment didn’t make me literally laugh out loud. Criticising the lack of complications while simultaneously calling for more of what is quite possibly their least complicated and most one dimensional character.

Taimi’s cute but she’said not a very deep or engaging character. She’s used as more of an exposition device than anything else these days.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

I don’t want complexity out of them though, that’s what I was getting at. I don’t think they’re particularly good with more complex storylines and do better at pretty simple ones.

Taimi is a good example of that. As you said, she’s not a particularly deep character. But hot damn if she isn’t highly entertaining when used, and written/voiced well for what she is in the story. She often does serve as more of an exposition dump to help move the plot along, but she performs that role well without being obnoxious (IMO, though I know plenty find her annoying) about it or making me roll my eyes constantly.

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Vice Vandal

I like Guild Wars 2 but the writing is usually pretty bland or borderline awful, I’m not sure I’d trust them to do better this time or if I even care.

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