Guild Wars 2’s Mike Z on storytelling, philosophy, and season five

Guild Wars 2 turned six years old late last month, and to mark the occasion, Red Bull (yes, that one) sat down with Game Director Mike Zadorojny to take a look back at how the game’s cornerstone, the Living World, has unfolded over the years. In the interview, Zadorojny talks about how the designers and developers at ArenaNet approached the always-challenging subject of how to make the story in an MMO, where everyone’s a hero, feel truly personal.

He also discusses the overall philosophy that has governed Guild Wars 2 from the very start: “From the very beginning, we knew Guild Wars 2 was going to be about the friendships that players make,” he says, adding that “MMOs are a social environment. It’s about playing together . . . and sharing a love of fantasy, of video games, of the lore, it’s all about coming together and doing these things.” To close out the interview, Zadorojny delves into the ways in which the game’s focus has shifted and grown over the course of its development and teases what fans can expect from Guild Wars 2 in its upcoming fifth season. To hear everything Zadorojny had to say in his own words, you can check out the full video past the cut, or stay tuned for our own interview from PAX later this week.

Source: Red Bull
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Brown Jenkin

For like the first minute of this video I was like… so basically it is a *good thing* that GW2 like most MMOs crams a single player RPG story into an MMO, totally ignoring the fact that there are other players in the world. Maybe we’re just hopeless as a genre. GW2 is awesome in tons of ways, the living world concept is great, but the story itself feels like just about any MMO story.

On the other hand as far as world development, exploration and horizontal progression GW2 is one of the best MMOs ever made. Mounts and the glider really are great examples of taking MMO norms and dumping them on their heads to try and make them *better* rather than just redoing the old.

Finally on the subject of social play, I think GW2 did a great job of changing the cultural norms in the genre. It is to date by far the most social MMO I’ve ever played, and so much of that imo boils down to allowing and supporting players to play together without barriers rather than forcing it group play to happen through sloppy mechanics.

Patreon Donor

I felt compelled to say that although I don’t think the GW2 storytelling can touch the SWTOR original class stories, Paths of Fire and the Living World seasons have definitely kept me entertained. It seems like the Dragon’s Watch entourage have been more fully fleshed out than Destiny’s Edge ever was, and Taimi is a hoot! She is sometimes poignant, often hilarious (gotta love that voice), and always entertaining.

That said, for me personally the highlight of GW2 storytelling thus far has been the Caithe/Faolain arc that takes up most of the second half of season two. I was blown away the first time I went through it, and as icing on the cake playing Caithe with her super thief powers was a blast!

Kickstarter Donor

Was disappointed to hear there wouldn’t be an expansion after Season 4, but I hope these new things that would traditionally be in an expansion are new features that spice up the end game some more.

If Sun’s Refuge is one of those features, and if it’s basically GW2’s spin on WoW’s garrisons I think that would be great!

Garrisons were a great concept and it was disappointing to see WoW abandon them. Building up a base and collecting rare NPC followers to send out on missions is something that I think GW2 could do incredibly well. I know I’d personally spend time collecting followers if they provided boons or could be sent out on missions (unlike the cats in player instances! haha).

Roger Melly

Just returned to this for the first time in 4 years after getting both the expansions on sale recently and I am finding it a lot more fun the second time around ( luckily I had the foresight to log in when there was a living world episode available in case I ever returned ) .