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Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 

General Discussion  » GW2 Endgame thoughts from a hard core raider's perspective.

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Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/11/12
Posts: 228

OP  8/10/12 11:05:11 AM#1


This post is entirely about PvE endgame.  I know WvWvW is the focus for many people, but I'm only a little bit into PvP (though I think WvWvW looks pretty cool and will try it).

I've posted on these forums quite a few times in different discussions on endgame -- is it good, is it crap, are you fanbois, am I a stubborn old-school raider, etc.   I've mostly been arguing the point that I felt, through my impressions in the beta weekends and through reading about the design of later levels, that the so called "endgame" would lack a motivating game mechanic to keep me and others who like traditional raiding... hooked, long-term.  

I'll say for the record that I still hate it when people chant the marketing line "It's all endgame!", as I think that's only talking about the content, and is mostly what I would categorize as "blind faith", but my thoughts on the endgame have changed recently, and I would like to give you at least one hard-core raider's thoughts on why that is.

Endgame without Raids:

To give a bit of background, I am -- in "real" life -- a game designer for a large company, and a hard-core raider.   I've played all of the beta weekends and stress tests.  I don't know how many hours that is, but I guess it's enough to give me a very good feel for the game overall.  I've played most classes and a few up to the level 20 range.  I come from a background, in other games, of what I guess most people would consider hard-core raiding in organized guilds.  I've played a lot of the major MMOs, and perhaps most notably a lot of raiding in AoC, WoW, and Rift.  Contrary to some people who frequent these forums, I think raiding -- if you get into a good group of people -- can be a fantastic and fun experience.  It's cooperative gameplay at it's finest (in my opinion) and a very social experience most of the time, if you're in a good guild.

However, I love all parts of a game.  I guess in that sense I'm also like a casual player, in that I am big on exploring, seeking out shiny collectibles, crafting, grinding factions, even... gulp... fishing.  

To me, two of the most important aspects of a successful MMO are having a large (mostly) seamless world to explore, that I can be immersed in and believe, and secondly a character which I can identify with and improve over time.  I think GW2 has the world part covered nicely, but the character improvement -- what I will controversially call "progression" -- is more up for debate.

There have been huge debates here about whether or not there is enough character progression post-level-cap in GW2.  To me, it's irrelevant whether or not there is a ton of fun content in the world to play with after hitting 80.  If I can't improve or slowly work on my character over time, I KNOW my motivation in the game will dry up and I will move on.  I say I know this because it's obviously happened before.

So the big questions here have been: is it enough that GW2 gives you mostly cosmetic rewards once you have hit level cap?  Is karma a strong enough incentive system?  Will the dungeons satisfy my need to do strong group content?

When looking at the design of GW2, I have been very afraid that the answer to all of these questsions has been no.   But I have lately had a bit of a change of heart. And it all relates to my experience in Queensdale.  I will try to explain why.

That Damn Queensdale

Here I need to explain the slightly strict way that I've been playing the beta events.  I don't want to spoil the game for myself, so I've been mostly confining myself to the human start area, Queensdale.  I have a few times ventured a little into the Asura start area, peeked at the Sylvari, and the zone south of Queensdale, whatever it's called (which looks awesome, tbh).  When I started BWE3, I thought I would it would start to get boring and I feared maybe I would need to break out of there and try out one of the other areas.

But that is just the thing -- it did NOT get boring.  Seriously, I've played that damn area at least 5 times through, and I am still having fun with it.   I started to think: what is happening?  Curse this damn game, it's messing with my stubborn old man pre-conceived notions of what endgame must be!   This cannot be right.  

In fact, the really annoying thing here, is that I just keep damn well having fun in the game despite my doubts.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that I keep having a tiny bit of that "raid feeling" in the open world.  It's only in very small doses, but it's that working together, cooperative take-down-the-boss feeling that I usually get only from raids.  It's pushing a wedge in the gap of my "the endgame sucks" armor.  

I think part of the reason is that I find myself spontaneously in a group of people, cooperatively working towards a goal so frequently in this zone.  Sometimes it's attacking an overrun outpost, sometimes it's defending some beer kegs from invading thieves.  Whatever.  I'll give Anet some credit here -- they've taken grouping (and you don't need to group, which is the brilliance) to a new level, making it easy and fun.

Queensdale Multiplied

So, as many a fanboy has said, that's what you do at endgame, you run around, you do all the suff in the world, blah blah blah.  I've mostly discounted this, because I KNOW from other games that it gets boring to run around and repeat content.

Or does it?  Yesterday playing the stress test for a few hours, I was having a blast.  As I've said, I've done it 5 bloody times.  Something in my brain is pestering me... something doesnt' compute with the decision that I've already made -- that niggly decision that repeating the content sucks.

Then a long distant memory resurfaces from some other MMO I've played.  I can distantly recall complaining to myself in WoW or Rift or some other game (maybe even SWTOR) that I was annoyed there was no reason to go into the zones I loved the most.  Take WoW for example... I used to love a few of the forest zones on Kalimdor (however you spell it), but aside from leveling up a character, there wasn't much reason to go there.  Because of that also, it was generally a ghost town except for the few people leveling up.   Sometime later, they added archaeology, which kinda made people go quickly buzzing around the zone, but it didn't feel like a meaningful reason to visit.

In Rift, they do "Instant Adventures" which push people into the zones and make them feel more populated.  They also do invasions, which are dynamic events to take over a whole zone.  Each are alright in their own way, but IA's feel like a "mode" seperate from the rest of the world, and invasions -- though awesome at first -- become a bit formulaic over time.    Mostly because all invasions, in all zones, generally follow the same pattern.  This has improved over time, but not by much.

Back to GW2, I'm standing in that damned Queensdale yesterday, then I'm alt-tabbing out to a web browser and scanning over a world map which someone has labelled the zones and their level ranges.  I'm starting to do the math -- that the world is currently comprised of somewhere in the 20-24 times this Queensdale place I've been hanging out.   I start thinking of all of the dynamic events that I've been doing, the ones I like, the ones I pass by, and I guess more than anything else the real scale of the thing hits me.  I've known for a while that it was a fairly big world, and of course I thought of all those zones having dynamic events.  I had just not quite grasped exactly how many of these events there would be.   Despite myself, I just can't shake the thought of the fun I've had so far, multipled by 20 or more times.  And that's excluding WvWvW and the dungeons.

What is here in this game... what I've started to believe... is the backbone for something very good.  I'm not sure that it's all there yet, because I haven't played it yet, and at least some of those 20 odd zones could suck horribly.  But the game designer in me has started to see the potential for what this game really is and perhaps more importantly, what it could become.  

If they take the basic idea of dynamic events and go with them a bit further (and maybe they do in later zones), I think the world could really come alive, and for once, I could feel like I have a REAL reason to hang out in older zones.  

I can give one example of this.  The DEs in Queensdale, where the centaurs take over some of the forts and you have to retake them -- unlocking the quick travel waypoint at that location, etc.  I can see already if these events went further -- if they cascaded into the centaurs using those bases to organize an all out attack on one of the towns (at a larger scale than what they do now) and eventually take the town and hold it hostage, or imprison people in the dungeon below the city, etc. etc.  If stuff like that starts to happen, these zones could just come alive.... rewards or no rewards.

Maybe that's already the case -- as they've described something vaguely like that in Orr at the end, but I think it could be everywhere on a more detailed scale.  But then again, this is just the launch content.  They will likely iterate on this stuff for years.

Is there really no gear grind?

The fanboys -- you know who you are! -- here will tell you there's no gear grind.  Some people... I don't know what happened to some people, if they tried to get into guilds and were scorned, or they just sucked at games and couldn't get in with the cool kids... who knows.  Maybe they just got super burned out by copycat mmo designs, which is something I can at least relate to.  But some people seem pretty passionately against gear grinds. 

I have no such dislike of it.  Gear grinding -- or stat increasing gear tiers -- are just a device.  They are a replacement for the leveling process which slowly trickles out abilities to you on the way up to cap.   Gear grinding is a motivating game mechanic.

So does GW2 really lack this?  This is a big one for many people, and a question that most traditional raiders would be most worried about.

After much worrying and much reading and some experience in game, I don't really buy this line.  The game most certainly DOES have gear grinding, it's just capped out once you have filled all slots with a certain level of quality.  Doing this appears to be a fairly substantial grind, and I don't quite see what people are saying when they say it's easy to do.  The gear is aquired outside of dungeons -- for the most part -- but thanks to interesting crafting and the mystic forge, it is a combination of experimentation, luck, and some grinding elements to max your stats and get the look of the items that you want.  I think it will likely take people a while to fully max themselves out, and this is a GOOD THING.  This is "motivational activity #1" once people like me hit endgame.

So in short -- I believe, at least, that there is a gear grind, but as many have said... it is "wider than it is tall", meaning that you can't endlessly get more and more powerful gear, but there is a bit of a journey to achieve top stats on all items, and that journey is prolonged by a lot of sideways grinding, to get the looks that you want and experimenting with the Mystic Forge.  

There is also the fact that to you really will want multiple sets of gear, if you want to play different roles in different situations -- ie. maxing healing ability gear for times when you want more healing, maxing ranged damage builds when you want to use your pew-pew setup, etc. etc.  The gear allows a lot of specilization for different build setups, and that also is a GOOD THING.

The Skill Point Grind

In addition to doing a little gear grinding, as I said I like to improve my character as much as I can.  Most recently in other games, I like the "Planar Attunement" system in Rift, which is a post level cap experience system giving you small stat increases over time.  It's not perfect, but it's something.

GW2 offers you, at least, the ability to max out all of your abilities through skill point increases.  It may be that this is already complete by the time that you hit 80 -- I'm not sure.  However, once you hit level cap, experience gives skill points over time, which allow you to purchase high level crafting ingredients for the mystic forge, which in turn allows you to craft legendary items (something like 200 skills points for a weapon for example)... which is cool. 

I wish there was some other way to tweak your character post-cap, but I think this is something to note at least.

Conclusion, of sorts.

Will this help anyone?  Maybe not.  It's subjective to my own experience of course, but as one hard-core raider, I can say that I feel much better about the longevity of the game than I used to.  This is partly because I've come to see there IS, in fact, a little bit of a gear grind (which makes me happy) which will keep us busy for a while, and the real scale of the number of DEs is also giving me some hope.  The social systems in the game -- that feeling of being in a cooperative group against the PvE challenges is also so strong and pervasive, that I think at least it will satisfy some of what I used to get from raids.

Most of all though, I think the potential of taking the dynamic event system and going with it -- expanding on it over time, weaving it into the world even further, is what I -- as a raider -- find the most exciting.   

Will the existing reward systems be satisfying enough for most hard-core raiders?  I'm not sure.  I think they will to some extent, and then it will be a matter how exactly how long it takes people to hit that plateau of not being able to further 'improve" their character.   For myself at least, I think that peak is higher than I first thought it might be.... and potentially much more fun along the way.


Edit---->   For those commenting about the differences between gear at level 80, I point you to a very nice post on the subject via GW2Guru, where someone explained how the stats differ between the different qualities:



Novice Member

Joined: 2/20/12
Posts: 7969

8/10/12 11:20:22 AM#2
very nice post I hope other raider only endgame types read this post and see how much this game can really offer. I as well have played the same 1-15 zones multiple times over the course of the beta weekends and not a single one was exactly the same and I had a blast every time. As i have said many times before I think many are going to bu very suprised on the longevity this game offers its players.

I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was and I said actual, because I am not to scale. I like vending machines 'cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes, I will drop it... so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential. --Mitch Hedberg


Novice Member

Joined: 5/26/12
Posts: 1212

8/10/12 11:21:50 AM#3
Very nice post, I hope the "end game" fanatics read it

Block the trolls, don't answer them, so we can remove the garbage from these forums

  User Deleted
8/10/12 11:22:32 AM#4

That's a pretty damned nice post, man, even if there are some details I don't fully agree with (I'm also a WoW veteran and have been "hardcore" raiding there).

You are right about the fact that it will take time to fully optimize your character once you hit 80 gear wise. But the difference is you won't be "canon fodder" until you hit that gear optimization cap. That's already annoying in WoW PvE, but that's utterly bad in WoW PvP. Don't hope being more that a mere bump on the road before you hit like 3000 resilience, and even then, you will still be facerolled by any player with higher resilience who knows how to play his class.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/21/04
Posts: 8060

Logic be damned!

8/10/12 11:23:40 AM#5

Great post.

For me, this game simply has "it."

What is "it" you may ask?

"It" is whatever makes you, personally, feel like the game has it.

It's like trying to explain love, when you know you just know. You can't explain it rationally. You just feel it.

I've probably been lurking for way, way too long.


Staff Writer

Joined: 7/21/04
Posts: 370

Fire is never a gentle master

8/10/12 11:25:35 AM#6

A long but interesting view on the game. Thanks :)

There definitely is some sort of gear grind - you find better weapons and armor all the time. There are rings, ear rings, necklaces and whatnot that also improve your character and I think it will be quite hard to find the perfect gear for whatever class you are playing. Add to that the various racial armor sets, which can be purchased for (a lot of) karma, you may find that the game has some sort of "endgame" to work for. While other games make you work for that stuff by taking part in raids with organized guilds, in GW2 you may only earn enough karma by defeating world bosses (i.e. the various demons or dragons that we see in videos of the game). And for that you need a guild - or at least a lot of other people fighting with you. So maybe you could consider that the raiding of GW2. 

Your experience in Queensdale is quite similar to mine. I felt disappointed, that the huge earth elemental hands are gone forever, when that event was over. But there are so many other rewarding DEs around in that zone, that there's not much time to be sad. I look forward to the zones coming after that. Hopefully all of them are that much fun and hopefully all of them have some sort of boss event. I really love those, as long as there are enough people around to win the fight :p

"Fire is never a gentle master..."


Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/11/12
Posts: 186

8/10/12 11:25:53 AM#7

very objective, I've skimmed each paragraph and read a few in depth but will re-read later out of work. 

one comment on the light grind of the skill points for legendary equipment, the thing which I like about this progression at end game is that with the exception of sPvP every aspect and therefore every other playstyle GW2 offers is a viable way of working towards those legendary components for the mystic forge. It makes aspects such as helping out friends on lower level instances or just leveling with a partner for fun that much more rewarding. Whilst no one who is hyped for guild wars 2 really wants a grind for anything these little touched go a long way to help keep you invested in your character.



Joined: 7/26/03
Posts: 11863

8/10/12 11:27:51 AM#8
i thought it was a good read - if its too long for some people, their loss

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/04/10
Posts: 2401

8/10/12 11:29:15 AM#9
Nice write up.

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/20/10
Posts: 1904

8/10/12 11:30:00 AM#10

Very long wall of text idd ^^

To kick it off i to was a hardcore raider in 1 particular game named WoW.
I raided so much i almost lost my wife and 3 kids due to the investment of hours needed to get server 1sts.
At 1 point we had a world #14th kill on Thadius in vanali Naxramas and there it ended for me.

Nowdays i wanne enjoy what i play, this can come in many forms and platforms.
Afer WoW i never got into another mmo (only Eve online) and no other mmo offered me that thrill of the kill, the nerd screams on ventrilo etc etc.

I played GW2 beta and i finaly found a mmo where i can be it all and do it all, minus the massive raids we had in the past in WoW, some events look awesome and the mechanics look complicated enough to provide a challange.

And that is what iam looking for a challenge in a guild or solo in PvE or PvP, but the challange needs to be fun and not a door to the next door who opens up the next door.

I think many people who raided hardcore are quite overcooked on the world of mmo's by the carrot on a stick.
GW2 provide a diffrent way but still maintain that mmo feeling.

For me this might finaly be the perfect game.

Great read there OP !


Novice Member

Joined: 6/25/06
Posts: 249

8/10/12 11:30:43 AM#11

Yes, the gear at level 80 will be all the same "power level" but you might have stats you don't want for your build.  Trying to find those items that would best fit your character will take time to find.  But yes you won't be silly overpowered because you grinded out those optimal stats because someone else who just found the few random epic level 80 items and mashed them together will still be just as good.  Honestly this is my favorite part that there is a cap on overall stats.

This should go the same for endless skill points, there should not be a way to increase a small amount of stats through skill points.  The whole thing they are going for is that casual level 80s are on the same level as hardcore 80's.  A hardcore would end up being so much better over years if they could keep increasing their stats.  New players need not apply because guilds would start requesting someone to have so many skill points to join.  I like the fact that they will introduce things with skill points - perhaps cool looking gear can be bought with them at some point just to say thanks for playing so long.  Perhaps transmutation stones etc.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/24/04
Posts: 27

8/10/12 11:31:01 AM#12

I'm not a hard core raider, but I agree with your assessment of progressing your character post cap.  You need to have that, I just did battlegrounds and arean's in wow.  I also crafted as well. 

As long as there are different paths to get great gear, I don't mind a gear grind.  I just don't want the only way to grind gear, to be raiding.

Dungeons, Solo epic quests, crafting, pvp etc...


Great post btw thanks for taking the time to write it.


Novice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 407

8/10/12 11:31:59 AM#13

The actual, factual data from Nick Yee indicates that the presence of an end-game power-grind is not the reason most players play MMOGs, nor is it something that players want to see in an MMOG. The data shows that only 2% of  MMOG players want to see an end-game power grind. Much higher on the list of what players want to see more of in an MMOG is casual/soloable content, more interesting quests and quest outcomes, and more avatar customization. The data also shows that end-game raiding/power grinding is one of the main reasons for player burnout and them leaving the game  - or, if they do not leave the game, they become a more casual player to avoid the burnout.


More at my recent blog post here at MMORPG, including links. It's time we put this issue to rest: the only source of statistical facts about player preferences, habits and motivations clearly indicates that the "lack of an end-game power-grind" argument against GW2 is entirely without substance, and the lack of that end-game grind might even aid in its appeal and long-term sustainability.

  User Deleted
8/10/12 11:32:17 AM#14
Originally posted by -Inferno-

 I felt disappointed, that the huge earth elemental hands are gone forever, when that event was over.

And then, you met the Shadow Behemoth... :)


Advanced Member

Joined: 6/28/12
Posts: 190

8/10/12 11:33:11 AM#15

"The DEs in Queensdale, where the centaurs take over some of the forts and you have to retake them -- unlocking the quick travel waypoint at that location, etc.  I can see already if these events went further -- if they cascaded into the centaurs using those bases to organize an all out attack on one of the towns (at a larger scale than what they do now) and eventually take the town and hold it hostage, or imprison people in the dungeon below the city, etc. etc.  If stuff like that starts to happen, these zones could just come alive.... rewards or no rewards."


Just an fyi, the developers have stated that in the lower leveled zones the DEs reflect the conflict in the zone, such as stopping centuars, flame legion, and helping out local NPCs. Once you get into higher level zones, the DEs reflect the fight against the elder dragons, not just small events that you find in Queensdale. In Orr ( the level 80 zone) there are no renown hearts, instead it's all DEs for capturing and controlling temple of the gods? (name check) and for your encounter against the elder dragons.

You mentioned the replayablity of the Queensdale, well let me add to that. The way DEs are built the devs can "sneak" in new events or change some of the current ones. And with the scaling down system even if you are level 80, you can still come back to  Queensdale and save those villagers from centuars and it'll still be fun!


Advanced Member

Joined: 2/01/06
Posts: 230

8/10/12 11:34:07 AM#16
 wow,aoc,rift isnt really old school but i guess if thats all you know you could call them old school-  it was a nice little read of how one person is excited about the upcoming release- should have been titled " Im excited about GW2 and heres why"--

Novice Member

Joined: 4/02/12
Posts: 1006

8/10/12 11:36:36 AM#17
Originally posted by gelraen

Endgame without Raids:

Contrary to some people who frequent these forums, I think raiding -- if you get into a good group of people -- can be a fantastic and fun experience.  It's cooperative gameplay at it's finest (in my opinion) and a very social experience most of the time, if you're in a good guild.

I really like raiding, especially if it's with a close group of friends who have played together for a while.

But I've been thinking about this whole idea of raiding as traditional endgame.

I looked at some of the statistics on raiders and raid completion from WoW, prior to the introduction of LFR. Only 1.5% of the playerbase completed Firelands on Normal. The averages for percentages of players who did any raid content was between 5% and 10%, but hit a high of close to 20% in ICC during WOTLK. We're not talking about clearing content, we're just talking about stepping into a raid environment and killing at least one boss.

When you look at heroic raids the numbers become almost insignificant.

LFR opened things up a lot. I have not seen recent statistics on the percentage of the playerbase who have used it. I have seen critiques of LFR saying that it is one of the contributing factors that has led to player loss.

At any rate, to sum up my point, raiders often point at raiding as being the "nirvana" of end-game. And raiders are very protective of their favorite thing. There is a thread in the WoW forums which is almost 300 pages about content consumption, with raiders seeming to vocally complain that only they should have access to the shinies, because opening it up to the plebians somehow minimizes their "work".

But what about the non-raiders? Why do they keep subscribing?

I think endgame has to be redefined as "Having enjoyable things to do once you have reached level cap" or something similiar. That is why MoP is adding pet battles and farming and multiple ways to grind rep in addition to raids. They know that people need things to do, just not the raiders, even with LFR opening this up. I think this is what you allude to in your well-written post.

"Loading screens" are not "instances".
Your personal efforts to troll any game will not, in fact, impact the success or failure of said game.


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Joined: 9/14/10
Posts: 3816

Facts do not require fiction for balance.

8/10/12 11:37:00 AM#18

Long post, glad I read it, would have been far too easy to read the title, skim and say something stupid.


Wanted to touch real quick on a few things you mentioned, tied together... imagine you're at level 80 in your favorite gear acquired from dungeons, crafting, transmutaitons, etc. You're in Orr, a land where dynamic events don't chain, they web. A group from your guild wants to access the Zhaitan dungeon, but the local denizens have different ideas on that. As you get ready to help them take the area so they can get in you notice a sudden wave of undead approaching the keep you fought hard to take not too long ago. You reach over your shoulder and unsheath your greatsword, which glows like the blackest of midnights against the daytime sky...


 oh my... I'll be in my bunk.

Oderint, dum metuant.

  User Deleted
8/10/12 11:40:08 AM#19

Good read, slowly buy surely people will get some sort of understanding on how the design is of GW2.


One thing when you mention dynamic events going even deaper where the centaurs go futher into the town to take it over, well I won't say that it might be in, however they have mentioned that they have a system in place where they can remove any event and simply put something new in place. So that was somethign interesting to hear about, now how well it works we will see.


But I do hope your understanding of some of the things will help others get a general idea of things.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/18/10
Posts: 174

Guild Wars 2 is absolutely Revolutionary!

8/10/12 11:47:17 AM#20


I found myself physically clapping when reading your post.  Why?

Well reading this "I'm starting to do the math -- that the world is currently comprised of somewhere in the 20-24 times this Queensdale place I've been hanging out.   I start thinking of all of the dynamic events that I've been doing, the ones I like, the ones I pass by, and I guess more than anything else the real scale of the thing hits me.  I've known for a while that it was a fairly big world, and of course I thought of all those zones having dynamic events.  I had just not quite grasped exactly how many of these events there would be.   Despite myself, I just can't shake the thought of the fun I've had so far, multipled by 20 or more times.  And that's excluding WvWvW and the dungeons."

That reminded me of when I was trying to "disprove" the manifesto. The game couldn't be what they claimed it was supposed to be, is what I believed.  I have been burnt out on Raiding, though I have for a long time loved hardcore raiding.

I personally have completed 8 zones %100 explored.  and then put the math to work and realized HOLY CRAP i have 100's and 100's of explorable content which doesn't cover all the Renown heart quests, DE's and more.

The thing that pushed me from admiring to straight up fan boy was one little hidden quest.  its in the 25-30 zone north of lions arch.   When I first went into this little village like place it was on fire and being burned to the ground by pirates I believe.   I helped save the town and after it had regained its buildings and NPC's I was getting ready to leave.   Nearly exiting the town I heard some kids talking to each other, more like arguing.     There was no indication of a quest or anything but upon talking to the little charr child it started a Treasure hunt which led me on an adventure I would have never seen if I didn't stop and notice them talking between each other.


These types of "quests" or should I say events just blew my mind.   I have found many of these now sprinkled all over different zones and it made me think how much detail and effort has been put into this game.

I enjoyed your post entirely but the above hit home with me directly.  Thank you for sharing and I hope to see you in Tyria!


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