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I absolutely love the way ncsoft designed the cities and towns of GW2, with all their side characters and background conversations - it's really great. However, an issue that I find with the game is that none of them give me quests. maybe I could help them find their frieds, family or deal with their problems (not just hoping to stumble upon some related event in a different zone). The best part about games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age was just stumbling upon stories and quests.
I just find myself not wanting to explore anymore because I know I probably wont find any cool characters, stories or quests. Much like if the game had a huge, well designed city that had no vendors, minigames, events or quests in it, there's nothing to look forward to (apart from the view itself, which while nice isn't everything in a game).
Overall I think that by excising quests completely NC may have jumped the gun and gone overboard, because while in the open world, DEs make sense, in cities, there could be so many more stories to tell.