Taking a small stand against story #WoW #ESO #SWTOR

I’ve read some rumblings about the story direction in Battle for Azeroth, specifically the return (again) to Alliance vs Horde or the “Horde as aggressors” way it’s being portrayed. There’s an article on Massively OP that I found interesting discussing beyond the obvious, looking at just how bad, strategically, the start to this war has been. This reminded me of an experience back in early Legion that made me wish most MMORPGs had a Star Wars The Old Republic approach to story.

SWTOR is pretty unique among MMORPGs in the extent to which a character can make choices while questing, most have very limited impact on the overall story or even that character’s experience of it, but some are important choices nevertheless.

Other MMORPGs have this to some degree, Elder Scrolls Online presents you with choices on occasion, although I can’t remember any choices that made a big impact to my character’s experience of the world thereafter – the decision may have been impactful within that narrative, but I usually don’t notice a big effect on the world that is permanent for that character.

In World of Warcraft this kind of choice over change doesn’t really exist at all, which is a shame. The aforementioned incidence refers to a mini-quest chain in Stormheim, it starts with a Ravenbear NPC. Without going into details, I never played this on my Balance druid main, it was way too personal and ‘close to home’. It so happened we played different character pairs through zones in different orders at the start of Legion, and it was my Paladin who did these quests that first time – I’ve not repeated the, thankfully optional, quest chain again on any character. This has a noticeable impact on the world – the NPCs are still there in their original state, nothing bad has happened. So my choosing to not do quests I can, in a minor and insignificant way (from a zone or expansion story arc perspective), influence the world.

Never … again …

It’s hardly as impactful or interactive as making real dialogue choices in SWTOR, but it’s something. I only wish this were possible on a larger scale in WoW, my Troll priest is a healer, I can’t see she’d want anything to do with the mindless destruction set in motion by the current Warchief. But opting out on the whole story on my only level-capped Horde character would mean missing all the animations and smaller moments that actually I might want to see. Some options would be nice as the current WoW storytelling, a la Disney, is very pathos-soaked in a deliberate way, I’ve complained about this before. We haven’t gotten to the whole Teldrassil thing yet, but I am very much hoping I can just play through that on one character. Perhaps I can skip it on my main and keep his homeland phased to pre-BfA?

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One Response to Taking a small stand against story #WoW #ESO #SWTOR

  1. Sylow says:

    Hmm. It’s intresting, i consider SWtoR one of the worst examples for “consequence” there.

    In my book, even TSW had more and more logical consequences for the choices you made, and all you were able to decide was if you took the gift from the filth or you did not. Which meant not much more than which color your ultimate ability would have.

    In SWtoR you get a lot of “looks like you made a choice”, but no actual choice. My prime example for that was one mission, which you pick up from two explorers. They want you to find a lost expedition. You can complete that by “go there, see corpses, go back”. But if you investigate things there a bit, you find evidence that one of the two guys where you picked up the mission actually sold out the expedition, so he’d directly responsible for their death.

    So what does this allow you to do? You get new dialogue option when turning in the mission. You can report the crime to the other guy of the two. Then the non-treacherous guy will tell you that he will bring the criminal one to jail later… so for two sentences he’s angry at that guy. Then the dialogue goes out of the “optional: crime uncovered” line, the two scientists are best friends again, all flowers and sunshine, thank you for telling us that our expedition people were killed…

    If there are things with lasting consequence outside of your character screen, I wouldn’t have noticed them.

    Then last not least: ESO. This one at launch put much emphasis on the player influencing the world. The way it originally was implemented was one of the big core reasons why i considered it to be designed anti-social. The reason behind that was the many options multiplying with each other. (I think I wrote something like that here when ESO launched, too. )

    For example, there’s a mission in Glenumbra. The village is cursed, so if the mission there is not completed yet, cursed villagers attack players there. When doing the mission there, the player can choose if he wants to save the souls of the villagers or if he wants to make the area save for the living. Saving the souls of the villagers changes the mobs into zombies, which still attack. Making the area save for the living turns the mobs into non-aggressive ghosts, as far as i remember.

    In old time ESO this means that solely for that decision, there were three different instances of the area. Players were placed in the area which fit to their state of this mission and were unable (even when in group) to meet people in that area which were at a different state. Now consider that just next to this village there is a boss, and the game again split the players, depending if they already killed that boss or not. Now consider how many permanent bosses are in a zone and how many missions there are which allow you to split, and you can see how many different instances of a zone existed.

    This resulted in the player really shaping the world, but I guess it’s also clear why that thing was a multiplayer nightmare.

    With the One Tamriel patch ESO was very much reworked. The multiplayer catastrophy is gone, but they managed to keep some remains of the old systems in the game. Players can’t shape while zones any more, but details still change based on what they opt for. Depending on some decissions you made, you might find one or another NPC later in the world. I still remember a place in Rivenspire, which is plagued by a kind of spectres. Once you break the curse there, they of course are gone. Instead, the place suddenly is crowded with wolves.

    Sure, it’s just a visual switch, it’s still aggressive monsters which go to melee range, but i consider it to be a nice small attention to detail. 🙂

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