The ArenaNet designers are very good at conveying certain types of experiences. I will talk at great length, to anyone who'll hang around and pretend to listen, about how excellent I found the Arah dungeon's story mode to be (right up until the fight with Big Z, but that's another matter). I've seen a fair few complaints about its drudgery and endlessness, but I found that it did an astounding job of bringing me into the feeling of war, of an invasion into hostile land, with no rest and no respite. To be sure, I don't always want that feeling; in fact, most times I don't really want that feeling at all. But for creating that experiences, telling that story, and instilling that memory -- it was perfect. I was entirely caught up in that fight, entirely drawn in by the story that the encounter itself told.
There's obviously also the experiences that come from the writing itself. When my Elementalist was helping the Priory aid the Quaggans, I grew quite attached to brave, friendly little Shashoo
. Despite knowing that she couldn't come to harm (and that I could rez her if she did), I was distressed when she ran into danger or started taking damage. When she showed up to help me much later in the story, I was deeply touched. I felt better for having her around.
There's another type of experience entirely that comes from player-driven situations. These are perhaps the best and most important moments. Getting caught up in the mood of the Arah dungeon is great, but it's something I've done now; going back in is going to grant me a different experience. Whether it's hitting a personal goal, running into a group that's just riding the serendipitous tide of a really great event chain, or facing off against the enemy hordes, these are the sorts of moments that aren't going to go away for as long as players are still around. WvW
, as anyone who's read Ravious' stuff over at Kill Ten Rats
will know, is excellent for these. There's something about the immediacy of the opponents, the camaraderie of traveling with your fellow serverfolk, and the ever-present desire to not die needlessly that just makes for lovely stories. I've noticed that I can't really play WvW without something cool happening, whether it's a bit of a scuffle for a small supply depot turning into a protracted battle, a surprise ambush throwing a routine supply run into complete disarray, or a really well-oiled team running around and mopping up a whole part of the map.
I've personally hit a sort of sweet spot in Guild Wars 2
: I've got high-level characters for doing "endgame" content like dungeon runs and Orr events, I've got characters to work on progressing through the leveling curve, and I'm starting to see returns on my investments. I briefly mentioned, last week, that I'd hit 100% map exploration on my Elementalist; this past weekend, my Necromancer hit 80, and I started equipping the first dungeon armor pieces that I've been working toward. I'm doing things with more purpose than I was originally, and so my experience of the game is somewhat shifted.
I hit 80 on my Elementalist while crafting, which was good at the time because hitting 80 was A Thing that I felt obligated to do by then. When it was my Necromancer's turn, however, I wanted something a little more interesting. I've been running around doing things with her (things like hearts and opening up waypoints, which is something that I've neglected on other characters since focusing on getting my Elementalist to 100%), and when she finally got to the last quarter of a bar or so left 'til 80, I took her to Lake Feritas in the Plains of Ascalon. Feritas is home to a three-event chain that repeats fairly quickly: You mop up some tar elementals in the lake, move to a nearby Flame Legion
cave to take out some of their braziers, and finally go toe-to-toe with the Flame Legion shaman. Because it's a really reliable chain, I normally end up seeing it once or twice a week as I finish up my dailies, which means the Shaman fight has been something of a growth chart for my Necro. She's gone from being terrified to go in without at least six or seven folks to back her up to laughing like a maniac as she runs in, Life Transferring all and sundry, to challenge the Shaman on her own.
What are some of your favorite war stories?
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime
Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at email@example.com.