With the most recent patch to Guild Wars 2, they’ve launched the start of their Living Story, which has previously been described as an in-game progressing narrative.
But what does that actually mean for the players?
The Living Story is a constantly-evolving series of plot events within the world of Tyria. These interactive events will work the same way that the current dynamic events do, but will be intricately tied into the plot of the full world and can have visible effects on the environment.
None of the Living Story content is required to level a given character, but it offers players who do find the concept of an ongoing interactive story an outlet that is effectively unique to Guild Wars 2.
Each new part of the narrative will be made available over time, but will only be available to experience for a limited time, under the assumption that events have progressed beyond that point. The effects of these events are permanent, meaning once they’ve passed, the changes will remain.
Part of having a continuing narrative is having characters to help tie previous entries into new ones, and Arenanet plans to do exactly that with these narrative events. Characters will help move the story along and give the players individuals to connect to, discover the plot with, and even travel and fight alongside for more than a single mission.
Ideally these characters and their involvement in the continuing narrative will actually give players something further to look forward to as they wait for the next piece of their in-game friends’ stories to unfold.
Arenanet has also made it very clear that this living story is not a time-specific event like their holiday events. It is designed to be an organic experience and so will generally have less fanfare and immediately dramatic effect on the world of Tyria, but will also have a significantly more permanent effect than any of the holiday events.
When a holiday ends, so does its event, in short order. The Living Story continues on past each individual chapter.
Guild Wars 2 is on to something, here. This is a concept that MMOs have touched on before, but have always had difficulty accomplishing in anything but a blatantly heavy-handed way using major events or expansion packs. If Arenanet can manage to make the continuing story of Tyria into an organic, natural experience, they will have given the entire genre something new to define itself by.