Hi all, it's my first post on these forums. I played through personal story/HoT/PoF very recently, and although the massive gaps that the missing living world content threw me for a loop, I had a pretty decent time. Coming off the amazingly bad stories of other MMOs like Black Desert Online and Blade and Soul, I find the story content in this game pretty alright.
Trahearne is a character I was surprised to see hated on these forums. Although he's kind of annoying with his speeches and extreme doormat persona, I kind of understand now why he had to exist. His journey parallels the player in a way, being distinguished by his birth and early accomplishments. Known to be of high stock, but somewhat unproven like yourself. I wasn't too fond of another character getting equal focus, but I knew that the story had to link up the divergent paths somehow because making two or more entirely different stories isn't feasible for an MMO. Playing second fiddle in retrospect made me feel more immersed, like I didn't stand out but rather that I stood among the heroes in the game.
The choice to represent the commander is a strange one to me. Since having multiple possible MCs isn't great from a development or writing perspective, choosing to create a headstrong and confident leader was likely the best choice. I wish my human anime waifu elementalist could be shy and helpless the whole story, but I know that's not an option. I kind of just imagine the Commander as a separate "canon" character and any content outside the story is me being just another adventurer. I'm pretty sure there's people who also do this.
All in all, the base-game story is pretty bad because your choices during creation don't really matter by necessity. (Can't really blame it.) Heart of Thorns was alright and had the best story in my opinion so far, reading like a developer response to just kick Sylvari teeth in. (They were pretty preachy and perfect during base game. Trahearne especially. ) Path of Fire had the best gameplay, but I felt very removed from the story since I never played Living World 3. (Although I hear Emo-Bra is insufferable.) The plot points about the Elder Dragons holding too much power to just kill without consequence are interesting to me, since the story characters must find a solution beyond ganking them now.
But despite the complaints listed above, this story is miles better than the schlock of eastern mmos like BDO, BnS. I feel the MMOs that might have better stories can be counted with only one hand. (FF14, WoW [maybe], Mabinogi) At the end of the day, I came back to GW2 for the gameplay and because every other MMO lacked something that my "take one bite of everything" MMO palette wanted. I'm glad to be here.
P.S. I have new friends that joined up with me, and the missing LW content is going to confuse them too without fail when they get to 80/HoT/PoF. I wish Living World episodes can become free content alongside any full-version purchase/along with a gem refund to everyone who already owns them. Hell, maybe a free cut-scene that recaps the events of the Living World gaps so player who skip them won't be confused. (Blatant Pipe Dream)