Gameplay vs Story and replayability

I’ve read this morning Tobold’s post on Gameplay vs Story. Although the blog post contains several interrelated ideas the issue of repetition of scripted story content is an issue I identify with.

Guild Wars 2 suffered greatly from a heavily scripted, and I believe poorly conceived personal story. I wrote poorly conceived deliberately there; the quality of the writing wasn’t all bad, but the concept of an abrupt switch from “all about your character and your choices at character creation” to suddenly following the plant-man about was jarring. I had pretty much zero desire to take any alt characters through the personal story after you leave the arcs relating to race and background.

Making questing bland and generic to answer the issue of very strong stories lacking appeal in repetition isn’t much of a solution either. I found the main storyline in Tera utterly forgettable to the point I rarely had a clue what was actually happening. There was some story there but it was poorly told and felt disjointed.

Perhaps the best available approach to date, though not perfect, is to have so much content players can pick and choose different ‘journeys’ through the content not based on a railroaded main storyline but rather as a consequence of the choices of quests or stories the player chooses to engage with or ignore on that particular play through. World of Warcraft was for years my sole MMO for this very reason, I could create alt characters and replay the leveling content (1-60 at least) multiple times and not feel like I was repeating everything yet again.

WoW sadly failed to maintain this concept with the expansions, generally there was one or max two leveling paths through expansion zones with nowhere near the variety of content to mix-and-match. Other more recent MMOs such as Rift and Neverwinter also missed a trick here having smaller and less numerous zones available, which makes the leveling process feel repetitive pretty quickly. It’s an issue that gives a natural advantage to the ‘elder’ MMOs such as Everquest 2, every time I log into that game I feel lost for choice because there are so many questlines to choose from.

Is there a better way of addressing this? Do you feel this is a problem even?

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One Response to Gameplay vs Story and replayability

  1. Nobody says:

    I have mixed feelings when it comes to WoW. I liked the freedom in questing pre-Cata, but at the same time the new storylines were quite good. at least you can level in dungeons or pvp if you want to skip some quests.
    the other mmo I would like to play more is swtor, but the lack of zone/planet choice is a definite barrier. it seems they are adding to the leveling options with so-called “tactical” flashpoints, but my experience with that leaves something to be desired.

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