Escort the caravan. Rescue the princess. Kill ten rats. Cliches, everyone one. Aren’t you sick of them? Don’t you wish that developers would drop them and do something different?
This actually has nothing to do with Guild Wars 2 or any other particular MMO. It’s a general problem with all rpg games. In order to progress through the game you have to have your character do something, and there’s only so many different types of somethings you can do.
If you weren’t tasked with escorting an npc from one place to another, rescuing a damsel in distress, collecting a number of items, or taking out some targets, what would your character be doing in the game? And, if you did come up with something else to do that didn’t ultimately fall into one of those 4 categories, how long before it became as old and stale to you as those have?
Ultimately there’s only so many types of things that developers can do with a world, especially one that very closely mimics our own. We collect groceries from the supermarket, go to find our lost pets, go paint balling and take our less able family members (read: children and grandparents) out to the shops or zoo because they can’t go by themselves. That in game activities reflect our real life ones may be why there are frequent complaints about a certain quest type in a given rpg; people want to escape that world, rather than jump into another that copies it. But what are the alternatives?
Maybe there aren’t any and maybe we as a gamers should stop rolling our eyes when we see “yet another” escort quest and instead take a look at how those quest types are executed. Our next assignment may be to kill ten rats, but what if those rats are smart and are going after an npc vital to your character? Sure, not every task undertaken can be an epic battle for survival otherwise we’d grow unappreciative of the scale of the task, but execution is key. Make us care, determined to succeed and analyse the failures to rise another day.
Games may not be able to generate the same amount of emotional involvement as some movies because of the way they are played, but that doesn’t mean every session can’t be filled with a tug on the heart strings and be full of entertaining and memorable moments. In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with the notion of saving the damsel in distress – just make us give a damn first.