Living Story

I’ve been playing guild wars 2 for a good while now, and I feel like they have done something pretty unique with their choices regarding how they give players new story. They use a mechanic they call the “living story”.

It started back in 2012, when the developers introduced a one time series of events involving Karka attacks on Lion’s Arch, which ended with a single world event involving players travelling to Southsun Cove and killing a giant Karka queen. Since then the there have been 3 full “seasons” of living story.

The first season was only available to players for a limited time, and had included various pieces of story varying from seasonal events, such as the Mad King and Toymaker Tixx, to the Zephyrites returning to Tyria and of course the chaos and destruction caused by Scarlet Briar. It included one of my favorite fights ever in the game, which was a HUGE battle requiring a minimum of about 40 players in which the groups had to fight a giant clockwork marionette.

The second and now the third seasons were presented a bit differently. These pieces of story are unlocked on a given account, and can be played at any time, and even replayed. Season 2 dealt with the rise an elder dragon (Mordremoth) and paved the way for the first expansion. Season 3, which is ongoing, is focused on what has happened in the aftermath of Mordremoth, and the rise of another evil power in Tyria.

While each story piece has been presented in great detail, and at the level of most game expansions, all of the seasons have been available 100% free. Obviously the first season was only available for a limited time, but the second and third seasons have been free to any player who logs into the game (even if only for 1 second) between the launch date of any episode and the launch of the following episode. This has meant the players have been able to access hours worth of story game play without any additional cost. If a player missed the log in window, the story of both season 2 and 3 is available for purchase with gems (the in game currency) which means that players who started in the game late, or with the release of the first full expansion Heart of Thorns, can still get to that story.

Personally I find this approach really refreshing. In a time where most games are giving less story for the money, and requiring the purchase of DLC or Season Passes to access any new content, Guild Wars 2 seems to take the opposite approach. It gives a feeling that the developers respect the players time and cost, and I feel like it has helped to foster a really welcoming and friendly community since players actually feel appreciated.

Obviously I am a bit biased, since I have spent so much time in the world of guild wars, but it has really done a lot to cement itself in my view as one of the best deals in gaming, both based on cost and enjoyment.

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