Guild Wars 2 needs to really nail the RPG part of the equation. Let me paint you a picture in words: As I walked through the busy market, I heard a whispering directed towards me. I began to turn around looking in all directions, trying to see the source through the sea of citizens and merchants. Upon hearing it again, I could see its source, an old man wearing a ragged old cloak hiding behind a merchant’s buggy. As I approached him, he looked up at me and I could see the fear in his eyes. His pale face, now covered in sweat looked around quickly, and soon he thrust an object with his skeleton like hands to my chest. “Take it!” Said the worried man, “Take this wretched thing away from me! I don’t want the images in my head, take them out! Take them out!”
The old man ran off, pushing himself through the crowd causing several people to drop their newly purchased goods. I look down into my hands at the object that was given to me. It was a stone pyramid with runes etched on all sides. A curious glow pulsated from it, and as it did so my vision became blurred as images rushed into my mind. I closed my eyes after realizing what was happening and looked up and around me. The old man wasn’t anywhere to be seen to question further. Without peering at the object anymore, I carefully placed it in my pack. I had to find someone who knew about arcane artifacts; my quest had begun.
If you’re like me, you actually read a quest description, or listen to a quest giver in a game. Your character needs to know what is happening around him/her and that should determine what you will have them do. There are people out there that just skip all of that and go to where they need to go next just to complete the quest and get their reward. This takes away the magic from the game. Rather than just caring about when you’ll get to fight, you should care about what you’re fighting for and how it will affect you and the world around you. So how does one make players care about the storylines again?
The first step in bringing the RPG element into Guild wars 2 starts with your character’s creation. Before you get to play the game, you must first decide on your character’s profession, their appearance, and then the most important part, their past. Was your character the only survivor of a centaur attack? Or has your character comically done everything their entire lives to get one step closer into the circus ring? The choices we will have available to us will be varied, and each race will have its own set to choose from. Choosing a certain path will open up a separate story line that is more about your characters personal goals rather than saving the world. This breathes life into your character and strengthens the connection you will have to them. Now that you actually have that bond to the character, you are more likely to pay attention to what your quest is really about.
Now that your character has a story behind them, it is time to venture into the world. Players will see that there is a lot going on in the massive world around them, and the actions they take will help shape into something good, or bad. We all know about dynamic events, and how even failure will result in the storyline for that event to continue, but in a new path. Depending on who your character is, you may feel like a failure is not an option. That you must continue down the path until things are set right. Your character may see the failure as loot waving good bye, and your character will just leave to look for riches elsewhere. This will all depend on what the event is, if it’s saving a village or bringing down a dragon.
The same will go with normal quests. There will be people from all over that need heroes to help them. If they have the right amount of coin, you may be interested. If the quest doesn’t have a large enough impact on the war, your character may skip it and just give the citizen words of hope. The choice is yours, just be ready to see the consequences.
I would like to admit that reading some dialogue on the screen, though effective, isn’t the most exciting way to learn about a quest. It works, but ArenaNet isn’t ok with things just working. They begin to try and spice things up by adding informative cinematics. They have been doing this with main quest lines back in Guild Wars, so it is nice to see this return, but with a different approach.
By giving your character an interesting back-story, a world that constantly evolves around you based on what quests you do and how you do them, ArenaNet is making it worth your time to learn about a quest and the world around you. By bringing back the RPG element; even the smallest quest will have an impact on how the world will see you. Sure, you can whiz right through it if you want, but you would be missing out on great story telling, and the chance to interact with it.