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I'm coming to realize that the oft mentioned feeling of a lack of direction and the lack of progression is affecting me as well.
I find myself just running into things that are going on, killing a bunch of pirates/centaur/centaur pirates/whatever, with no idea whatsoever why am I doing that, getting a generic thank you letter with cash and moving on.
Dynamic events as well, if you don't manage to catch them at their start and follow them through it's just a hackfest with some dudes. The legendarily hyped world-affecting changes are lacking and even if they are there, they reset so fast as not to have any real impact whatsoever.
Yes, I can go to the heart location and talk to the guy and get some flimsy excuse or something but it's still kind of out of context, out of touch with everything else.
I've been doing a fair bit of exploring, without any rush, simply enjoying the scenery, when I finally realized that is all that it is - pretty scenery. I can't do anything with it. I rarely have any concrete reason to even be there except to see another hill or a melodramatic Vista cutscene.
The "standard" quests that everyone seems to hate now at least give you a sense of direction and purpose for being someplace. They are used to guide you through the zone within at least some sort of context. Even the standard "Go and report to Commander Enpeecee at Generic Hold, they need help with pirates." gives some purpose to what you are doing.
I realize that many people will jump at the oppurtinity to call this restricting or hand-holding or something along those lines - but for me personally even that generic context adds to the flavor.
While the GW2 approach is undoubtedly freer, for me it is increasingly lacking any purpose.
I find myself fighting on some godforsaken hill slaughtering centaurs and realize I have no idea why I'm doing that. No one's paying me to do that, it's not even a heart and judging by the time I've spent up there there is no dynamic event about to bust out.
That part of the zone seems to be there just to...well, be there. Yeah, it's pretty, but I can admire digital hills and rivers for only so long.
And that feeling is something that pops up more and more often with more and more locations.
I dunno, really trying to get into it but it doesn't seem to be working.