GW2 – A Star To Guide Us

787 wc

I saw that Sypster posted about returning to Guild Wars 2, so in the absence of anything else to write about, I’ll relay my own experience with that very subject.

Back in July, I went ahead and uninstalled Guild Wars 2. Partly because I’d grown to strongly dislike the gameplay (as opposed to the nominal experience of mildly disliking it), and partly because I didn’t think much of ArenaNet anymore. (And still don’t.)

But then, on a recent MassivelyOP podcast, I heard Tina talking about how she thought the latest episode was one of their best, story-wise. I was intrigued, because such a concept was impossible for me to imagine.

Warning: You might be able to infer or guess some spoilers down below if you haven’t played the episode yet, but I don’t come right out and say exactly what happens.

You may recall I wasn’t too fond of the last episode, leaving right in the middle of the Forearmed is Forewarned instance. Within minutes of returning, I remembered exactly why I hated it. But I got through it. (My client even disconnected in the middle of it the second time, so I had to replay it a third time. Fortunately it remembered roughly where I left off each time.)

I don’t remember much of the rest of Episode 3 (though I finished it mere days ago). The Domain of Kourna map didn’t interest me. I only explored it as far as the story required me to do so, then I was outta there. I didn’t do any events, didn’t talk to any NPCs, didn’t check off any vistas or POIs, nothing, zip, nadda. I just moved on to Episode 4.

Episode 4, A Star To Guide Us, actually did have some great story beats. I’ll try to focus on that. You can assume the parts that I’m not talking about remained par for the Guild Wars 2 course: Teetering right on that rage-quit line.

I very rarely feel much emotional connection to the characters in the GW2 story, but I actually got really caught up in the events that popped up at the end of Legacy (inside the Sun’s Legacy cave aka. the one with the spiders). It was a rapid-fire blast of one thing after another, with no warning. It shocked me, and it was a lot to process all at once. But it was cool. My only criticism is that it was too many disparate things in a row with no break between.

It was followed by the monstrous sniper instance, From The Ashes, which I won’t even dignify with words.

Then the real emotional kick in the teeth arrived in the final part, Storm Tracking. They telegraphed both the Blish thing and the Taimi thing almost from the beginning of Season 4, so I can’t say I was surprised by it, but they still played it fairly well. (Better than the Belinda arc oh-so-long ago.) I was suitably touched and saddened. I can confirm this was one of the best story episodes in Living World history.

I especially liked it because it was character drama, which is something that’s almost entirely absent from Guild Wars 2 storytelling. Usually the characters are marching to some robotic plot-driven drumbeat toward one contrived event or another.

I just wish they could get the storytelling department and the gameplay department on the same page. I get the distinct impression that those two groups at ArenaNet never speak to each other. For example: The storytelling department wanted me to feel sympathy and remorse and mercy toward the sniper lady. The gameplay department, on the other hand, wanted me to feel nothing but a blind rage toward the sniper lady causing me such unrelenting misery for so long. Some of the Blish drama at the end was also severely undercut by an annoying jumping puzzle.

After the story ended, I logged out without looking any further at Jahai Bluffs. For roughly the dozenth new map in a row, I won’t be doing any events, talking to any NPCs, collecting vistas or POIs, or farming whatever the new resource is. There’s a killer purple tornado that flies around on this map, for whatever reason. Does it even matter? Probably not. But it ruins whatever fun there might be looking at the sights.

So that was my triumphant return to Guild Wars 2. It took me 7 1/2 hours to catch up. I doubt I’ll log in again until Episode 5 arrives in a couple of months.

P. S. Is it just me, or does it take a lot longer to load the game now? There seems to be a lengthy period of time where nothing happens after I click “Play.”

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