The beguiling promise of Guild Wars 2’s Dynamic Events…

Back when I was still playing LOTRO & I failed a quest my immediate thought was more often than not “Damn! Now I have to do this snaserfrassing thing again!” Now contrast that with my time in Guild Wars 2 where the failure of a dynamic event led me to think “Uh oh… things are about to get very interesting!” and that, I’m sure you’ll agree is a big difference.

Now you readers who don’t play MMOs or aren’t following the development of Guild Wars 2 may be wondering what the buggeration a “Dynamic Event” is. Well, let me fill you in on the basics and then point you to some people on YouTube who are far better placed than I to actually show you how these rather wonderful things work.

To start with you need to understand a little about how other (older) MMOs handle their quests. They offer you a simple mechanic whereby you interact with an NPC or in-game object to receive your orders which you then carry out before returning to the ‘giver’ to receive your reward. If you failed you’d have to start again & if you succeeded you moved on to the next quest or to the next quest giver. All well & good but oh so very functional & flat. The storytelling is linear, boring & unsatisfactory.

So Arenanet has decided to do away with this system and instead employs a dynamic mechanism whereby events just happen in the world & it is up to the player to get involved. This time failure doesn’t mean starting again but rather seeing the quest event dynamically evolve into another narratively linked event. Bandits suddenly attack the city’s water supply and if you stop them then the event changes on the fly from having you protect the pipes to having you hunt down the bandits all the way back to their hideout. But if you fail and the bandits destroy the pipes before you can drive them back then the event morphs into a desperate struggle to protect the repair crews sent out from the city to restore the supply. And this is just two steps of several along two branches of many in one dynamic event of hundreds in the world where the developers can add new ones quickly & easily. It’s an amazingly flexible, powerful & immersive system that’s also a huge heap of fun to experience in action, I’m sure you’ll agree 😀

But the beauty of dynamic events, like that of HDTV or Jen from Milkshake, has to be seen to be believed so I have lined up a few choice clips from fellow beta players.Take a look & let me know what you think of the system. I hope they help some of you who might be wavering about pre-purchasing the game to make up your mind and come adventuring with me in Tyria 😀

CaraEmm explains the branching, escalating nature of dynamic events in Guild Wars 2:

CaraEmm explores the consequences of failure in dynamic events:

MMOHut explains how dynamic events unravel:

Way back in the press-only betas TotalBiscuit explored how one dynamic event snowballed as he played:


  1. Those are a really excellent selection of videos that do a wonderful job of providing a bit of insight into why some of us are so excited about playing this game. I had not seen the MMOHut one before, and enjoyed the commentary and gameplay.

    1. Aye, there are some great videos out there but what I really want to see are some covering larger meta events through to their conclusion so we can see the stakes on the take as well as the cost of failure. I’d also like to see what some are like at much higher levels as I don’t want to be feeding cows forever.

  2. I just love dynamic events. They just make GW2 feel so alive. I really enjoyed watching the videos. They make me want to play GW2 even more! 🙂

    1. Me too. My morning routine is getting up before the missus & the nippers so I can watch Wooden Potatoes’ Guild Wars 2 Daily latest video & *that’s* where I saw the dancing moas!

      1. I can so understand that! Me, it’s kettle, feed the cat, switch on pc, check Twitter for the latest post on GW2 and any YouTube updates. Then it’s WoodenPotatoes and the lore of GW1…….am still playing the game! :-p

        Ok! Am I obsessed?

  3. They must be extremely expensive to develop! I mean, in full generality the size of the story would increase exponentially over time. Do the storylines eventually (or even soon) merge back together again?

    1. Hi Dale,

      There are different types of storylines in the game and the ones I *think* you mean (or, at least, the ones that best fit what you seem to be asking) are the personal storylines. Each race has a number of branching stories that are tailored to you in the character creation section. There are a large number of these (I think about 80+ variations of 15 main branches) and yeah, I imagine these would involve a serious amount of cost & planning.

      But the Dynamic Events are, by all accounts, easy to set up from scratch and can be changed on the fly. The developers plan to add new ones all the time but not tell people – the fact players are levelled down to an area means they can’t stride through areas one-killing everything in their path and therefore they can experience new dynamic content just like a new player. The devs don’t want players to work to an end game – they want the whole world to be constantly engaging and challenging instead and a constant cycle of new dynamic events that can be linked together to form region-wide battles is a key part of it.

      Personal Stories:

      Dynamic Events:

      1. Ah, okay, that’s interesting. So the developers (if I’m reading this right) don’t have to write the content for every possible combination of outcomes, just the ones that the players as a whole cause to actually happen. I’ll have to read more about this stuff, sounds interesting indeed!

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