Could more solo content like the recently added Canach's Lair be added to Guild Wars 2?
In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, be that lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.
Guild Wars 2 is an MMO, a Massively Multiplayer Online game. Even though this is a multiplayer game set in a persistent world, there are many players who enjoy playing by themselves, or solo. According to Carbine Studios, developers of the upcoming MMO WildStar, about 60% of MMO players are in fact solo players.
Even players that do not consider themselves solo players will occasionally find themselves going it alone. Maybe the friends that you normally run dungeons with are not online at the time, which leaves you either playing solo or finding a random PUG (something requiring either lots of patience or a third party group finding tool such as GW2lfg.net).
With so many solo players and the occasional player finding himself running solo, would it not be a good idea to create more content focused toward this demographic?
Some would argue that the entire open world content in the game is solo content. Most of the world completion objectives (waypoints, points of interest, hearts) are things geared toward a single character going and unlocking them, though roaming in a group can make the experience more fun and enjoyable.
The bread and butter of the open world, and a defining characteristic of the game, is the dynamic event system. Many of these events can be completed by a single character, but they were all designed to be completed by multiple people in a very fluid drop-in/drop-out sort of way. Some events are even designed and marked as group events, a far cry from solo designed content.
The closest thing that players have to true solo content is the personal story. The personal story is a string of instances that tell a story, personalized by the choices the player makes. It is a pretty good naming scheme for the storyline, but it also implies that it is an entirely solo affair. While most of the personal storyline can be completed solo, it is possible to take a full party of players into a story mission. Some of the story missions might even have you wondering if it is necessary to bring in some backup on some of the more difficult steps in the storyline.
The personal story is capped with players taking down Zhaitan in the story mode version of the Arah dungeon. In order to finish the personal story players must go into a 5-man dungeon with a full party. Since launch this has caused a stir of players angry that they must group up to finish their personal content. But as I said, the personal storyline isn’t personal because it is solo, it is personal because players are making choices in the story to make it personal.
I think that the personal story should have been even more group oriented. Over the course of the personal story you meet with the members of Destiny’s Edge, but as soon as a dungeon becomes available those NPC stories become a completely separate storyline. This is made even odder when your mentor within Destiny’s Edge updates you with mail that is sent to you at predetermined intervals during your personal story. I think the game’s story could have benefitted from having all the story dungeons be included within the personal storyline, not just the final dungeon, Arah.
In the original Guild Wars the storyline was made up of two components: missions and quests. Missions are the major plot points in the story that players remember completing, whereas quests came in sets of two or three, leading players from one mission to the next. While players remember the missions (maybe not all but most players who played Factions probably remember the hatchery) the quests were something easily forgotten. This was partly due to quests being one time completions whereas missions were repeatable and had large map icons showing their completion status.
In GW2 there are the personal story missions and the dungeons. Everyone remembers the dungeon whereas the personal story missions are fairly forgettable. Like the mission of GW1, dungeons in GW2 are both repeatable and shown on the world map. What made the storylines good in GW1 were these milestone missions. If someone asked where you were in the storyline you wouldn’t say which quest you were on, you might reply by saying you were on some quest after the hatchery mission. People knew where you were at then because they knew where the missions were.
Guild Wars 2 isn’t completely lacking in this respect. Every 10 levels within the personal storyline is a different arc. While players might not know what the mission To The Core is about, they get a sense of it when they know it is part of the Pact story arc. Even so, I think that having the story dungeons be part of the story would not only help the personal story’s recognition, but it would also help the overall story since the Destiny’s Edge story is such a large part of the overall story in the game.
Including all of the dungeon stories into the personal story, however, would truly make it a non-solo affair overall. What then could solo players have to enjoy?