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Technically there is a story, just no Earthbound calibre.
The first and second game have the strongest connection together, with the rest being pretty stand-alone while taking place in the same universe.
The story is mainly to explain why your guild is even exploring the dungeons. That's the story. Your guild has a motivation to explore the dungeon, they find something that encourages them to persevere on, and finally they finish whatever the final boss is. The side quests themselves are more story heavy than the main story itself.
Ironically enough, EO1 is a MUST PLAY if only because of the story. People who know the "plot twist" in EO1 experience all future installments of the game completely differently than those who skipped the first game or didn't bother to look up the story. The tone of all the games changes quite a bit once you are aware of the game's actual setting.
Now here's the good news. The 5th installment of the series is a semi-remake of the first game. Except this time around they're adding in a story mode where you control premade characters with their own stories and voice acting instead of custom made ones. Also, it's not a complete replica of the old game as they confirmed all of the dungeons will be completely remade. For those who dislike having characters and more fleshed out story, there's also a classic mode where you create your own guild members. They're adding Easy, Normal, and Expert mode so those pissed at how stupid easy EO4 was can be happy that their complaints were heard. This in my opinion, is Atlus' attempt at drawing in new fans who only just learned about EO but do not want to play the first game...because the controls are really clunky in the first game once you get used to the newer ones.