So, me and the wife picked back up GW a bit after the PoF release, after having quit a Long while ago, like 4/5 years(ish); before Living World season 1. Back then it was just the main story, core map, No masteries, etc. We're super casual; mostly only doing open world PvE stuff together. I like to mess with PvP/WvW when she doesn't want to play, though (as she desnt like pvp). We've been having a ton of fun with PoF and have unlocked all of our mounts; even spent a smidge on gems to finish our Griffons. We also bought HoT when we bought PoF, and have been doing a bit of that... However......
Our only issue so far, has been the Story. We quickly realized that we are 100% lost, and have NO clue who/why/what is going on... We still powered through the PoF initial story with the intention of revisiting it later on when it 'made more sense'... Originally we thought "well its because we skipped the HoT xpac..." but we both really wanted our mounts, especially since run-speed was a huge QoL feature that was lacking when we first played; and as soon as we realized the mounts all had special abilities etc; we just couldn't stop once we started... Now that we're starting with HoT content; I couldn't help but notice the EXACT same issue... we have ZERO clue who/how/why/what/where. It wasn't until this moment; that I realized the Season 1 and 3 content are locked behind Gem purchases (we never logged in during that 4/5year break, so we don't have them auto-unlocked..)
To say the least, this kinda pissed me that this is even possible... I totally understand the Gem store given that this is a subscription-less game, and we've made Several additional purchases for gems etc outside of paying for HoT and PoF... but IMO, these should have been bundled into our direct purchases of HoT and PoF; given the fact that the main storyline of each seems to be 100% meaningless unless you're up-to-date with the Seasons. It seems we'd have to pay almost another $35 each to unlock all of the 'living world' content.... which isn't going to break the bank or anything; but its money id rather commit to Gems, rather than content that might be ultimately worthless, aside from the few hours it takes us to get through the actual Story portion...
Honestly, we could just google/wiki/youtube the story to make HoT / PoF make sense at least... my real question; is what ELSE would I get from purchasing the living world season(s) that we're missing? I briefed the Wiki and didn't see any crazy rewards... maybe a few cosmetic things... but ehh... I guess my main concern; is i have read their is some sort of map currency for LW season 3 stuff; that buys nice accessories with those fancy new stat combo's that didn't exist way-back-when? Plus, we're just now experimenting with crafting etc to Eventually achieve ascended gear and maybe one day a legendary or two... are any of these features we're missing important to those goals? It seems i can plausibly get my hands on some of those neat +expertise & +concentration gear sets by having HoT unlocked; but would these living world areas that im missing aid towards collecting/crafting those special sets in any way???
TL;DR: Beyond story content; and for a casual player: is purchasing the LW season(s) worthwhile in your opinion? Would you spend an additional $35 for them; if you hypothetically had to? Or, is this content worth skipping?