How to Love Guild Wars 2 (Even If You Don't)

If you're not among the many who experienced love at first sight with Guild Wars 2, maybe it's because GW2 is a game like no other...and you're doin' it wrong.

You heard that Guild Wars 2 was going to be amazing. On the advice of other gamers, or based solely on the hype, you picked it up. You played through a Beta Weekend Event and a stress test or two and found, to your dismay, that you just didn’t get it. What’s with all the hype, you wondered. Is this some sort of mass hysteria?

Don’t worry, bunky...there’s still hope. I know a few people who weren’t sure they understood what everyone loves about Guild Wars 2, but they’ve turned it around, and I believe it’s possible you can, too. If you’ve loved other fantasy MMORPGs, and you really thought that some of the mechanics of Guild Wars 2 would do wonders for your gaming soul, but you found yourself wandering Tyria disillusioned as soon as you left character creation, here’s one path I know toward actually learning to love Guild Wars 2 and, in doing so, getting your $60 worth.

Guild Wars 2 Dragon

But seriously, how could you not love a game in which your first encounter is with an epic dragon?

Looking for Quests? UR Doin’ It Wrong

I know it’s hard to overcome the urge. After all, you stepped into the land of Tyria and wondered, “What should I do first?” After your initial instanced event, you found yourself facing an NPC who told you, “Hey, here are a few folks who need your help.”

Aha, you though, that sounds familiar! You headed to that first renown heart marked on your map and did whatever simple task the NPC asked you to do. And then you probably sighed and decided that renown hearts are really no different from static questing.

But here’s the rub--if you’re wandering from renown heart to renown heart trying to make Guild Wars 2 just like hundreds of other MMOs, you’re doing it wrong.

I cut my teeth on EverQuest. Back in my day, sonny, we didn’t have no NPCs with big yellow exclamation thingies over their heads. We had to wander around muttering to ourselves and saying, “What do I do now?” NPCs didn’t flag us down, we had to walk up to them and engage in a conversation, and if we didn’t type the right key phrases they wouldn’t talk to us at all. And we liked it! But if you’re one of those spoiled babies raised on WoW and its ilk, let me tell ya somethin’, junior...Guild Wars 2 don’t have no stupid “quest hubs.”

Guild Wars 2 Renown Hearts

Renown hearts are just a place to get started. There's much more to Guild Wars 2.

You see, renown hearts have a couple of purposes: they add a familiarity factor and help new players get started, and they also provide a cool system for getting stuff (Karma Points), but they’re not meant to act like quest hubs; they’re meant to nudge you toward exploring.

That’s a key word right there: exploring!

If you want to find Tyria fun, embrace your inner explorer. Get yourself out of that quest-driven mindset. Tell yourself that there are tons of other really cool things to do in Guild Wars 2, all of which reward you experience, without any static questing. This game has a distinct (and, in my opinion, refreshing) lack of big yellow exclamation points. Welcome it, and you’re on your way to getting your money’s worth out of your Guild Wars 2 purchase and then some.

And despite what some say, I think Guild Wars 2 actually does a decent job of pointing you in the exploration direction. That same NPC who shows you the renown hearts (those NPCs who need your assistance) will also point out other things on your map including:

  • Points of interest
  • Vistas
  • Waypoints
  • Skill challenges
  • On that map, you’ll also find harvesting nodes and crafting hubs. Letting your map be your guide, go out and find these things, young adventurer! And, lest you wander into dangerous territory before you’re ready, kill stuff along the way. It’s all part of the fun.

    Shhh! Just Let It Happen...

    I know, I know--it’s scary. You’re used to a much more structured system, right? Well, if you look you’ll find that there’s actually a fair bit of structure beneath the seemingly unstructured world that is Guild Wars 2’s Tyria. As I pointed out, the paths for you to explore are already on your map, and all you need do to get started is follow them.

    But while you’re following them, stop and look around, because this is an amazing world ArenaNet has created for you, and all of it is rewarding in one way or another. None of it is pointless. Harvest a node? Get experience and materials. Kill a random creature? Get experience and credit toward your daily kill variety (which can net you a daily reward). Explore a new area? Get xp. Unlock a waypoint? More xp, and the ability to fast-travel back to that location. It’s all there for you. (If you’re still a little lost, Guild Wars 2 hub has a great guide to earning experience.)

    Guild Wars 2 Divinity's Reach upper city

    Oh, the gorgeous sights you'll see when you're exploring. Like the garden in the upper city of Divinity's Reach.

    And while you’re poking around, an amazing thing will happen--dynamic events. You’ll be prancing through the poppies in the newbie area and an NPC will run up to you and say (I’m paraphrasing here), “Holy crap! Would you believe that there’s a bunch of bandit asshats trying to destroy our precious water supply? We must stop these lowlife thugs before they bomb the crap out of those ginormous water pipes!” Next thing you know, you’ll be participating in a dynamic event with a bunch of other explorers...and you’ll be getting plentiful experience and loot for doing it. And it’ll be fun. I promise. If it isn’t, just use the safe words, “Exit to desktop,” and you’re outta there for good. Give your account away to your little sister and let her have some fun for a change.


    Free Your Mind; The Rest Will Follow

    The challenge to making the most of the initial Guild Wars 2 PvE experience is getting yourself out of that gotta-grind, on-rails mindset. You don’t have to do that here. Yes, it might feel unfamiliar. Yes, you might feel a little lost at first. For example, the idea of spending your time doing something like killing random creatures to unlock your weapon skills might feel foreign, but each new skill that opens up to you will give you a sense of progression if you just let yourself go with it. In fact, everything in Guild Wars 2 will do that for you if only you can resist the urge to power-grind through it and, instead, embrace all the things that make this game so different from rest.

    Guild Wars 2 Godslost Swamp

    Godslost Swamp is just begging to be explored.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars 2 Game Page.

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About The Author

Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.

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