How to Love Guild Wars 2 (Even If You Don't)
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 didnÂt get it. WhatÂs with all the hype, you wondered. Is this some sort of mass hysteria?
DonÂt worry, bunky...thereÂs still hope. I know a few people who werenÂt sure they understood what everyone loves about Guild Wars 2, but theyÂve turned it around, and I believe itÂs possible you can, too. If youÂve 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, hereÂs one path I know toward actually learning to love Guild Wars 2 and, in doing so, getting your $60 worth.
Looking for Quests? UR DoinÂ It Wrong
I know itÂs hard to overcome the urge. After all, you stepped into the land of Tyria and wondered, ÂWhat should I do first?Â After your initial instanced event, you found yourself facing an NPC who told you, ÂHey, here are a few folks who need your help.Â
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 hereÂs the rub--if youÂre wandering from renown heart to renown heart trying to make Guild Wars 2 just like hundreds of other MMOs, youÂre doing it wrong.
I cut my teeth on EverQuest. Back in my day, sonny, we didnÂt have no NPCs with big yellow exclamation thingies over their heads. We had to wander around muttering to ourselves and saying, ÂWhat do I do now?Â NPCs didnÂt flag us down, we had to walk up to them and engage in a conversation, and if we didnÂt type the right key phrases they wouldnÂt talk to us at all. And we liked it! But if youÂre one of those spoiled babies raised on WoW and its ilk, let me tell ya somethinÂ, junior...Guild Wars 2 donÂt have no stupid Âquest hubs.Â
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 theyÂre not meant to act like quest hubs; theyÂre meant to nudge you toward exploring.
ThatÂs 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 youÂre on your way to getting your moneyÂs 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
- Skill challenges
On that map, youÂll 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 youÂre ready, kill stuff along the way. ItÂs all part of the fun.
Shhh! Just Let It Happen...
I know, I know--itÂs scary. YouÂre used to a much more structured system, right? Well, if you look youÂll find that thereÂs actually a fair bit of structure beneath the seemingly unstructured world that is Guild Wars 2Âs 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 youÂre 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. ItÂs all there for you. (If youÂre still a little lost, Guild Wars 2 hub has a great guide to earning experience.)
And while youÂre poking around, an amazing thing will happen--dynamic events. YouÂll be prancing through the poppies in the newbie area and an NPC will run up to you and say (IÂm paraphrasing here), ÂHoly crap! Would you believe that thereÂs 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!Â Next thing you know, youÂll be participating in a dynamic event with a bunch of other explorers...and youÂll be getting plentiful experience and loot for doing it. And itÂll be fun. I promise. If it isnÂt, just use the safe words, ÂExit to desktop,Â and youÂre 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 donÂt 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.