One of the aspects of Guild Wars 2 that doesn’t get talked about or explored much during demos much is the personal story. ArenaNet makes sure to mention the Personal Story in their demo presentations, and the 10-step character creation touches on aspects that will affect the settings of the personal story, but for most people coming in with interest in GW2, it doesn’t seem immediately apparent that the Personal Story is indeed intended to be a drawing point for fans of putting the RPG back in MMORPG.
In this demo version from 2010, the character driver demonstrates some features of the personal story, then leaves off (3:25 through 4:50):
Is this because ArenaNet doesn’t want to get into story spoilers (one of the reasons they have given for not going in-depth into their story mode dungeons), or is it that this work is incomplete? Or perhaps some combination of the two? Wartower.de managed to get farther into the personal story during the 2010 demo, as illustrated in the oft-linked Ranger demo footage (25:51 through 29:10):
This year, Wartower has again managed to snag HD footage of a personal story, this time the charr (…all 28 minutes of it):
TalkTyria has a few items from the Norn personal story as well:
A few things we can see from this latest demo footage:
- Personal story action items (my new corporate-speak term for “quests”) take place in the persistent world as well as within instances. You may well receive a task in an instance that requires you to travel through the persistent world to complete.
- It’s possible to receive personal story action items via mail. It’s nice to know that a fantasy game like GW2 isn’t afraid to use what has worked so well in games like City of Heroes/Villains and Star Trek Online. I’ll note that LOTRO has also delivered quests via mail, IIRC, though I’m not sure how often this happens outside of seasonal festivals.
- You’ll pass by numerous dynamic events and map hearts on your way between personal story action items, which might be why more people haven’t filmed more cutscenes – those dynamic events and overworld tasks are addictive. I will withhold judgement as to whether this will make me feel as though I need to “level up” between personal story instances or if hanging around in the persistent world will feel more organic than in other MMOs where I am told to return when I have “grown stronger” in order to proceed with a story arc.
- There are plenty of characters we’ll be interacting with, NPCs we’ll love to hate, and our stalwart companion, chosen from character creation, will apparently be by our side for much of the goings-on.
- Interesting that when the charr character is defeated within an instance, he is not thrown out (which is what happens if your party is defeated in a Guild Wars 1 mission): he can choose to leave, or try again from a waypoint within the instance.
- Voicework and animations are obviously not yet complete, unless there is a charr voice option called Microsoft Text to Speech (if there were, I would absolutely pick it for one character).
One thing we haven’t seen yet in the personal story is where we will be able to make secondary choices, such as the oft-quoted hospital versus orphanage decision. What will that sort of choice look like? A dialog box such as the one that pops up when you are about to enter an instance? Will it be in the form of choosing which character to talk to given two NPCs who run up to you demanding attention? I would love to be able to get far enough into a demo personal story, any personal story, to see some sort of decision-making required.
Now that I’ve seen more of the personal story in action, it has come farther to the forefront in my mind, nearer to dynamic events, as to what has me excited about Guild Wars 2. We’re only getting glimpses of immediate conflicts for the races in these opening cutscenes and events, hints of underlying mysteries, and I am really looking forward to seeing where the story goes from there. Oh, the broodmothers and ghosts of Ascalon will be exciting to battle as well, but as ArenaNet says, this is my story, and I hope that I have enough time in the demos this weekend to begin to explore it.