You could combine them. Like do personal quest explore hearts or skip hearts and do DE.
But if DEs are really the main goal why not add a few better indications or like wow does with pvp (/join worlddefense) alerts a way to get a notification in some way of an event popping up (and yes i know their are multiple at the same time. But saying LEVEL 45 EVENT: some rp text is happening ...)
The idea is that you need to have a level of disbelieve while playing this game, you need to pretend its actually happening, looking at it logically, its the same old same old. However what adds to it, is that there is story to each area, which you can see develop as you go through, you need to play it like an actual RPG, not the normal MMORPG
"Bill Nye: So Todd I got an offer for you. You and me. Any time. Any place. Debating science mano- a-mano. I'll bring the facts, and you bring the Vaseline. Because your ass is gonna fucking need it when I'm done whipping."
Mr Eames: "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling"
It's funny to see how most complaints are due to the fact that most MMO gamers are spoiled by WoW.
The thing that i really love about GW2 is how it won't hold me by the hand to take me to the "next quest hub", usually i'm doing hearts and DEs in no particular order or just exploring. Or doing some WvWvW. It really feels that i'm playing the game the way i want.
Of course there is grind. It's impossible to build a MMO without any kind of grind. But you can grind whatever you want and that's what really got me into this game. I could simply play sPvP all my life and never set a foot in a PvE zone. I remember using a PvP char in GW1 for a LONG time, i had a Roleplay Warrior and played every other class with PvP chars. It's not true freedom but it's a huge step ahead.
Right now i'm lvl 27 on my Mesmer and i never did a single event in a lvl 25+ zone. Currently i'm just getting 100% on the zones i've been and after that i will keep progressing. And i'm doing it because it's fun, because i want to and because the game allows me to do it. When my guild feels like it we go for some WvWvW or some sPvPs or just doing some random events around.
And i can't find the feeling of exploration i have on GW2 in any other themepark MMO out there.
English is not my first language, feel free to point out any mistake so i can keep learning.
It only feels grindy if you're trying to grind towards something. I'm exploring the world and am always 10-20 levels above the area I'm exploring. I'm nearly cap and I haven't even set foot in a 60+ zone.
Grindy, seriously? I have an Engineer at 34 and a Ranger at 23 and not once has it felt like a grind. All I do it explore and fun stuff happens around me. Craft and the occasional WvWvW, it's all good.
The night is dark and full of terrors...
Predictable? Yes sometimes. Dull? Maybe if you are doing it for the 10th time in a row. But which MMO doesn't have these problems? If there was one on the market, I am sure everyone would be playing it.
I also notice a lot of arguments come up about how dynamic event system makes the world feel more alive than static quests. Sure, that would be true IF events were truly dynamic, which they simply aren't.
Lets say in WoW I grab a quest to kill some important bad guy. I go in, kill the guy, grab his head, finish quest. I come back in 10 minutes - the guy is alive, standing in the same place. This is what's called "static world".
Now let's see GW2 situation: I come out of Charr city and get notice for event to protect some guy's BBQ against thieves. I finish the task, get whatever reward. I come back in ten minutes - and I get the same notice for the same event - to protect some guy's BBQ from thieves. In fact, I get the same event almost every time I pass by. How is this in any way more "dynamic" than WoW example above? I clean the lake from some tar elementals, I come back in 10 minutes - the tar elementals are all back, and I am called to protect the lake again. This sounds exactly like any other static world in any other MMO.
I guess what I hoped for is more randomness in DE and more long-lasting consequences. Like, if we clear the area from bad guys - the good guys move in, set up camp, start rebuilding - new events become available - the situation actually develops for several days, until another event happens that completes the cycle and restarts it.
The night is dark and full of terrors...
The reason it feels grindy is because all the events are the same 2 things ....escort such and such here and dont let the bandits/centaurs kill them ....or defend such and such fort/farm/whatever from bandits and centaurs ...that is literally it ...Then you do the heart things and 90% of them are " defend/help such and such from the evil bandits and centaurs ....COME ON REALLY ?????
It's interesting, even in the places you people tend to grind out the same events over and over.. you don't even see that there are events there that never spawn, right under your nose, because of your own actions. In a way, in the cases of specific events, it's a direct result of your success. You succeed, so you don't get to see what happens next. It was interesting one day, late at night, when there were so few people on, and the clock on the event was about to run out.. I just stopped. A few people saw me just plain not kill the centaurs in question. They were quite upset. We got less experience because of you. Etc.
Then something happened they'd never seen.
That of course is just one thing, one potential way of seeing something you're not used to. Some are just plain hidden. Some are just obscure. Some are chains. Some are one shots. Some depend on a hidden number of 'actions' to appear at all that are usually connected to something players are suggested to do, or not do, in a particular area. Others are hidden all around a given zone, but linked together, hidden qualifiers that depends on successes and failures, sometimes one, sometimes the other, sometimes both to activate a new event or open up a usually closed off area in a zone. That closed off area in one case, on one map, determines the activation of a larger event.. depending on what the lucky player does in there.
I'm L69 on an Elementalist and never once did I stop and say, "This feels grindy." All I've been doing is running around participating in every DE I come across, while also getting map completion on every map I go to. I gather mats that I come across, and after two zones I go craft for a bit, then jump back into my personal story. I haven't even touched WvW yet.
One thing I will say, however, is that I stop and see what everyone has to say after I complete a Heart or DE* (and even Personal Story quests, as NPCs usually have something different to say after mission completion). There are numerous random, unmarked NPCs out there that initiate DEs. There are numerous DEs that will take 15-30 seconds before going into the next event. If you run off, you miss the next event. If you complete the entire chain, you get a bonus.
* The exception is anything underwater. I seriously dislike underwater combat on the Ele, esp in the higher levels, so I'll usually only complete what is required for map completion and get back to dry land.
I am surprised nay astonished to see so many "it's grindy" postings when my experience differs from that. I have never informed myself much about what we are getting promised and whatnot, honestly most of the things I saw in BWEs I've not read about before. I completely skived the hype. So I am probably saved by not counting on promises I never knew about and I really don't care about them. Preliminary developer promises have been proven again and again as overstated and as such I dismiss them and wait for the result instead.
I have never felt that quests in a MMORPG need to be completely randomized and unpredictable. That's impossible to do anyway because your set of options are limited by what you can actually do anyway in a technical manner without getting derivative. In addition to that your 2nd and 3rd playthrough will always be based on a more knowledged approach.
In my last MMORPG the designers unfortunately over-represented their quests which usually resulted in kill-and-kill-more in the vast majority of case. My gun went silent at maximum level when all the killing was done. I have found many mini-objectives and story-hints through talking with NPCs to the point that I got whispers how the hell I found that out (lol).
On the matter of grind as a matter of mindless repetition: I don't see it that way because my experience doesn't match that. Sure you do you have overarching tasks which repeat itself in nature but differ a lot in detail. It also really depends on whether you play the game or just part of it. I couldn't play a MMORPG by just gathering herbs so to speak and when I see getting tricked by NPCs and led into a trap I truly have a "didn't see that coming!" effect. How many people have actually done treasure hunts? I've often got to attack obviously useless mobs (with enormous bonus XP so they have been standing there for a while!) and then took a small narrow side entrance to fight some chain of nasty vets and then to find a chest. How many people know actually that some locations offer you a boon if you don't just click on that little X but actually read and do as stated in the quest text?
I personally see hearts as an evolution in quest design not a getaway from it. Quests are a central part of (MMO)RPGs and originally quests were strictly handled on obtain-and-delivery-basis. You had them in your log in order to know about your progress and thus be forced to either abandon because you outlevelled them or because you couldn't find someone to group with OR until you fulfilled that single quest objective. Now you do not only have the option to abandon at your whim and come back while still being rewarded regardless your level, to finish it as you please, or finish it by doing some DE in vicinity.
I personally tend to get sidetracked a lot by exploration and events to often find myself on the other side of the zone.
The storytelling as far as it concerns your own character is fine but it really requires you to listen to NPCs and read what they say in speech or if you approach them and ask them. The scouts tell you the rough outline of it and you are free to explore the interesting bits on your own. What some people are criticizing however and which is valid is that there is little to no classical 'breadcrumbing' between zones. You are lucky if your class story leads you to that zone but in general all maps are losely tied together via tidbits of an overarching story - which is really there - and it's up to you to explore it. Otherwise most storylines are confined to the zone. It's a blessing and a curse: It allows sandbox/freeform-style leaving the story exploration to you but some people like to see story on rails a bit. Having played MMOs which allow both approaches I find that the approach used in GW2 is just fine but I usually dislike it in MMORPGs with classical quest design.
WoW: Crowcloak (Druid) @ Sylvanas EU (casual)
GW2: Siqqa (Engineer) + Basil Charroktonos (Warrior) @ Piken Square EU (casual...honestly)
If your claws can grasp it then it is rightfully yours. - Kzinti proverb
The night is dark and full of terrors...