The Daily Grind: What narrative MMORPG has a weak story?

    
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You won't believe the things I didn't bother telling you!

So here’s the frustrating thing to me when it comes to Guild Wars 2: There is so much to enjoy and admire about the game itself, but I have never liked the story. From the start through the living world episodes (which, to be honest, I have not completed past season two), I’ve never gone through narrative arcs that I liked. The main characters and the actual story being told wasn’t bad, per se, but just… weak.

I actually feel bad for saying that, but I know I’m not alone in holding this particular opinion. It is a particularly damning statement to level against an MMORPG that places a greater emphasis on narrative storytelling. And I’m a guy who really, really loves me an MMO that tells me stories!

What narrative-focused MMORPGs do you consider weak in the storytelling department — and why? Or maybe you even want to highlight a part of an MMO’s main story arc as faulty while the rest shines. It’s all open for discussion!

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Richard Papaconstantinou

Plot has never been strong across the board in video games. MMOs are no different.

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Sarah Cushaway

Most of them, frankly.

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Castagere Shaikura

I really don’t like MMO’s main stories at all. The lore of the world is enough story for me. The worse would go to GW2. I just want the freedom of being a character in a virtual world helping the people of that world or going my own way.

smuggler-in-a-yt
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smuggler-in-a-yt

I tried to figure out the GW2 story once. It didn’t end well. It was like they wanted it to be serious, but it just had a bit too much emo teen edge to it. Like it needed a rainy afternoon and a Morrisey album.

I always thought Secret World had a pretty interesting story.

I’ve enjoyed some of the STO lines, the challenge as near as I can tell now is how the epic (or maybe better described as epochs).

I’m interested in how the new WOW expansion is going to handle that. I think the epic story-of-stories challenge is really something serious for a lot of games. I don’t know many people who started with the last Prachett or Rowling book, or in the middle, either. All good stories should start just where they mean to, at the beginning.

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Dennis Heffernan

Neverwinter thinks it has a story but doesn’t.

Star Trek Online would be improved if its story content was removed.

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Kross Vilalobos

Weak story for me :

GW2

stories that I enjoyed:

SWTOR (depending on class)
The Secret World (before it lost its soul)
FF14 (I already like alot of FF stuff so its a little bias)
GW1 (when you finally encounter a Charr who speaks English it gave me planet of the apes vibes)

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Johnny Quantum

Yea, never really got into the GW2 story.

On a positive note, games with stories I really enjoyed:
Guild Wars
Elder Scrolls Online
The Secret World (not really liking the SWL reboot though)

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TomTurtle

Guild Wars 2’s story is fairly weak. It’s improved since launch, but it’s still not that great. I wouldn’t mind so much as story can be easy to overlook, but ArenaNet places so much emphasis on the story to the detriment of the rest of the game that it becomes frustrating.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Considering I played a whole account worth of characters up to max on both Rift and GW2 and never actually did their stories…I’d say both of those are pretty awful. I mean, I did do stuff like collect shinies (I had something like 600 collected) in Rift and get the books and read some of the lore, and that gave me more depth to what they were trying to say, but overall, both weren’t very good.

FFXIV had a pretty decent story, but sitting through cutscenes after cutscenes made it drone so you could only really handle small increments of it…(And since it required something like 200 some requirement…it got tiresome fast.). I only managed to get up to a bit into Heavensward…but then was losing interest. (Though I would’ve liked to see where they went with the Hildibrand side story stuff, as most of that was enjoyable.)

As for SWTOR, they just put too many distractions in to keep you on the story so I never managed to do those either. (Tried going back recently, and managed to get chapter 1 done on a few class stories…I think I was basically almost done with chapter 1 on all classes…but running so many characters, you lose your place..)…but the story seemed iffy at best to me there. I much preferred the KOTOR games (I finished both.)

The other side of this being that, nowadays I play sandboxes so as to create my own story/fun…but a small misunderstanding at the very beginning of one, snowballed into game-ending drama/non-fun stuff in one of them…all because I ‘dug some dirt’ in a game about…digging some dirt, and some person tried to claim ownership of said dirt and got uppity about me doing it and then threatened me, and I didn’t respond nicely to said threat. (Which seems to be the actual intention in those games…not to work together with freedom for each player, but to create conflict which turns into PvP, which becomes their content…which I don’t care for…hence why I’d joined a PvE server to avoid all that drama.)

Honestly, I’ve played quite a few with ‘bad’ stories lately, or things that sound like it’s purely intended to waste your time. Reading the bookshelves in ESO during the free trial, most of that stuff seemed like it was just random jibberish written down to get someone to actually sit there reading it while paying money to the company. I swear that’s the purpose nowadays. Not to actually give you a quality story/reason to continue the game…

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Paragon Lost

Wow, get out of my head Justin! My wife and I were just talking about this a bit ago in regards to Guild Wars II. The story is just so… weak. Yup, sums it up.Generic and singular in scope and depth comes to mind as well.

My other big one is World of Warcraft, and I was reminded of that by playing Classic WoW. The stories in Vanilla were good and engaged me and I got the sense of the drama etc. The last few expansions haven’t really engaged me at all and often actually frustrated me.