When ArenaNet’s New Player Experience was added to Guild Wars 2 in the September 2014 feature pack, no one was prepared for the resulting changes. For veteran players, it was a catastrophic event on par with the Searing, the Foefire, and the Cataclysm. Not only did it lock almost every aspect of gameplay for new characters, but it also went as far as to remove content from the Personal Story!
The NPE removed a substantial quest-line known as the “My Greatest Fear” arc from the game, plunging the Personal Story into chaos by leaving characters and plot points from the arc still present in the subsequent quests. Furthermore, events during the final chapter of the Personal Story were placed in a different order, which only served to further muddle the already botched storyline and resulted in the Personal Story becoming something of a game-wide joke. Well, as of today, it can officially be said that ArenaNet has seen the error of their ways, as Lead Writer Bobby Stein has made astating that these changes will not only be recalled, but that the reintegrated quests will feature new dialogue and voice acting.
The “My Greatest Fear” Story Arc
The quest chain in question consists of 15 total quests that were broken down into three storylines consisting of five quests each. The player character would play through one of these storylines based on prior choices they made in their Personal Story. The stories that took place in these quests tied into subsequent quests, and when they were removed from the game, the plots of subsequent quests were not changed to account for their removal, resulting in a disjointed and poorly constructed narrative experience for players.
Thankfully, this madness has proven to be short-lived, and the changes to the Personal Story announced today on the forums will include the reinsertion of all of these quests back into the game, exactly where they belong. This will not only clarify the plot in this section of the game, but will also enhance the overall player experience with new dialogue, voice acting, and art assets. However, it should be noted that player eligibility for these reapplied quests revolves around where they are currently in the Personal Story.
To gain access to the “new” quests, players must have not yet completed “Forging the Pact.” Players who have completed this quest will not be able to experience the “My Greatest Fear” storyline, as it occurs between this quest and “The Battle of Fort Trinity,” which, in the Personal Story’s current format, occurs right after “Forging the Pact.”
Fixing Chapter 8
Ah yes, the final chapter of the Personal Story. What a mess it currently is. While the narrative here made perfect sense in its original incarnation, ArenaNet felt that it did not, and opted to swap the order of some key events around in the September 2014 feature pack. Due to this, chapter 8 is, as of right now, laughable at best. However, this is soon to be remedied. It has been announced that along with reinserting the “My Greatest Fear” storyline into the Personal Story, ArenaNet also plans to restore the events in the final chapter of the game to their original order. This will be hugely beneficial to the Personal Story and, when combined with the aforementioned changes, will make the Personal Story whole once more.
At least, hopefully. They never said anything about that ridiculous “airlifting” mechanic. You know, the one that basically just teleported you past unexplored content right to the quest location, effectively rendering the game content between player and quest pointless? Yea, that. Hopefully they take that out.
(Bobby Stein later clarified on twitter that the airlifting mechanic would be removed and the original quest entry points would be reinstated.)
Arah Story Mode
Along with fixing the mess that was the Personal Story, it would appear that ArenaNet is also altering the functionality of the Arah dungeon’s story mode. The dungeon path in question is effectively the Personal Story’s final quest. However, it is still a dungeon first and foremost, and therefore contains content that scales to five players regardless of how many enter. This has always rubbed some players the wrong way, as many enjoyed playing through their Personal Story solo up to that point, and wished to continue doing so, only to find that they needed a full five person team to complete their final quest. On the other side of the coin, many think it to be a valid way of introducing players to new mechanics and ways of playing the game. In any event, the way this quest/dungeon path works is about to change.
As part of the Personal Story updates announced today, ArenaNet is making Arah story mode scale for one to five players, rather than the hard five it (and all other story mode dungeons) has always been. This will allow people who enjoy a solo Personal Story experience to continue to do so during the game’s conclusion. However, one could argue that this change undermines the challenge that the final quest presented. Should the finale of the game not be a challenge, should it not require more effort and players to complete than the rest of the game? ArenaNet seems to think not.
In any event, it will definitely serve to make completing the Personal Story less daunting for those who are averse to grouping up, and will also make the game’s finale less of a hassle for those who have played through it countless times already.
When Will We See These Changes?
In his forum post, Bobby Stein states that as of today, these changes will not go live for at least eight weeks. This is due to the fact that the changes aren’t entirely done yet, and there is still work to be done with assets and voicework. Also, ArenaNet’s resources are being focused on Heart of Thorns right now, thus limiting the manpower ArenaNet can devote to these Personal Story changes. It also allows players to make whatever preparations they feel might be necessary for such a patch.