The past week has been a blur for me. ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 launched earlier last week, and it’s been a major event for MMO gamers. I have done nothing but work and play all week, and now it’s the weekend. So with the first week of the launch, ArenaNet has been taking care of issues, making sure things go as smooth as possible. Even with some features not currently available, players have had no trouble finding something to do. I still have new players coming up to me and asking what they should do next. I just tell them to explore.
I love when games add in some lore, and let you walk around in a world to see some of the great landscapes that you hear or read about. You used to find this in only traditional RPG games, but now games of all genres are using this tactic to draw players in. ArenaNet played with this idea a bit, putting in all these great areas to discover, you just have to find them first instead of waiting for them to find you.
ArenaNet wants you to go out and discover things in the game. Even when I don’t think I’m trying to, I’m exploring. Renown hearts and events are a major part of the gameplay. The player completes these events to further their characters’ progression. While you can have a scout to reveal some parts of the map, you still need to go out and explore in order to find all the dynamic events that can take place. Even after playing in beta events, I still haven’t had an experience that was exactly the same. Sometimes I miss an event, other times I find one that I’ve never taken part in before. I’ve found them all by exploring, and by taking different paths I’ve discovered different things.
Just about every player needs to collect some crafting materials. Whether you are a master chef for your war band, or participants of the great hunt always come to you for the best weapons, you have to go out and gather your materials. Without them, you can’t do your job. In order to gain resources, you need to go out into the world and find them. The game once again requires you to explore. You can try staying in one spot for your resources, but at some point you’ll want to make bigger and better items, which will require more rare and unique materials found in other parts of the world.
So you’re out there in Tyria collecting materials, and completing events, and all the sudden you come across something that just confuses you. It looks like a normal cliff-side from far away, but now up close it looks like you may be able to climb it. Your curiosity gets the better of you, and bit by bit you climb up the side. You reach the top and before you is a hidden grotto with floating rocks that look like they go out to a cave. You went this far, might as well try and jump across these rocks. These jumping puzzles are scattered throughout the entire world of Tyria. There are people on the design team whose entire job is to do this. You don’t need to explore them in order to unlock a whole map, but it’s another way that the game encourages curiosity and wonder.
Nothing is wrong with some PvP action either. The best part is going into the WvW and bringing down the hammer, or whatever other weapon you’re using. You’d think that PvP would usually just require you to attack other players, but you need to be able to come up with a strategy. You need to know the lay of the land to get the upper hand. And what does that mean? Exploration. Exploring is rewarding even in WvW.
Some players fight against each other, others go on epic quests. I feel like there’s plenty to do in Guild Wars 2 for every type of player. Over the past week I’ve found myself doing a little bit of everything. By exploring, I find events, materials, and strange new landmarks. I may have a specific goal in mind, but as soon as I see something I didn’t expect to see, I have to check it out. So I guess ArenaNet fiddling with the design of exploration has paid off.