Every MMO has its defining features. For Tera its the Action Combat, For WoW its the amount of polish and while Guild Wars 2 has many things that it does differently one of the major defining features is without a doubt the Dynamic Event system.
The Dynamic event system has been described to us as a way where traditional quests are replaced with a more immersive event system. It is a system where you're not supposed to read a lot of text to understand what is happening. Impression is without a doubt a major issue for MMOs and I was curious to see how well it would work out in Guild Wars 2. This weekend I got the chance to finally experience it first hand rather then through other people's eyes.
It all started while I was doing what Guild Wars 2 calls heart events. This is generally an NPC who needs help. He would have multiple tasks that needs doing and it's up to the players to decide which one to do. You can also diversity and do a little bit of all, you don’t need to do any selection or talk to any NPC, just do whatever needs to be done and you're good. Any progress on any of the tasks the NPC needs will go towards a completion meter. Once complete, You get your rewards and the NPC will turn into a karma vendor.
So the first time I ran into a dynamic event I was helping one such heart NPC, he wanted us to clear the mines of dredge, stopping the dredge from repairing their tower and destroying their machinery. I come out of the mines after finishing the task and I find a new NPC who calls me over, he says he needs some ore from the dredge mines for he wants to forge some weapons. Since the NPC wasn’t there before I figure this might be one of the dynamic events. I go collect ore for this guy together with other players (everyone contributes to the success of dynamic events not just you) once he collects enough ore he tells everyone that he plans to move out soon. At that point a new timer starts ,the NPC will wait a little extra time so whoever collected ore and didn’t hand it in has a chance of doing so there by increasing their contribution to the event and thus the reward received. At this point all players moved off. But I wanted to see how impressive the experience was going to be. If done badly the npc would just spawn off, if done correctly I expected him to walk a bit away and then spawn off. Turns out I underestimated Guild Wars 2 and I really didn’t think that was possible at all. Once he timer ran out, he started to walk down the road, I followed him, he walked and walked... a few minutes later he arrived at his forge where he tells an NPC waiting there that he got a lot of high quality ore, the other NPC urges him to drink before starting to work there. I hang around a little bit and soon afterwords another NPC comes with a large head of some aquatic beast, he gives it to one of the owner who hangs it on the wall. This intrigued me enough to essentially become a stalker. Every dynamic event NPC I a came across I ended up following and I am glad I did for some events are really nice to see unfold.
But I am sure words cannot do justice to the system so Let me share with you a video of one such dynamic event. If you hate spoilers and If you plan to play in the Norn area, beware this will show you 3 events in a single dynamic event chain. You can watch the video here:
As you can see lots of things happen during dynamic events and it is impossible to even watch everything at one go. There is plenty of detail and the story is constantly evolving. I definitely found this to be a lot more engaging then walls of text or even cinematic. This doesn't just make the quests feel alive, it makes the game world feel alive.
Of course it is not perfect, Dynamic events repeat periodically, they do branch off in different directions however so depending on weather you succeed of fail a stage of a dynamic event might result in a completely different story. This makes for excellent re-playability. That being said when things play out exactly the same it can be a bit immersion breaking but that being said its also true that dynamic events do not repeat immediately. Arenanet says that events in popular areas will not repeat sooner then 30 minutes which means for the average player it is very likely for them to have moved on and not come across the event again unless they start a new character of come visiting the area again later on in the future.
All In all I have repeated the event 3 times to make the video above and I still enjoyed the event though I was doing the same thing. Every time there was a new detail to be uncovered and the fighting is interesting enough to always be enjoyable even when fighting the same thing multiple times. My verdict on the dynamic event system is that its definitely a step in the right direction for MMOs and do really hope in the future more game go for such a system rather then the classic quest givers. Seeing the NPC engage in their own quests does make a game a lot more immersive in my opinion.