Ten or so years ago, players weren’t necessarily considering whether or not to play the latest and greatest MMO based on the answer to the now ubiquitous question: “So, what is there to do at level cap?” Maybe some of you were, but the notion of reaching level cap in most MMOs was often far enough way to be achievement enough. Frankly, it often took a while to get there, and the significant trek to level cap in most MMOs kept people hooked for a good while.
In a post-World of Warcraft world, where MMOs often quickly usher their players to the level cap in order to kick off the ‘real game’, the aforementioned endgame question has become paramount. This, combined with the fever pitch level of excitement many gamers are expressing for Guild Wars 2, has left many MMO veterans a bit perplexed. “Wait a minute. There are no raids in Guild Wars 2? No real power to chase? So what do you do at level cap?” they often ask. It’s an understandable question. ArenaNet is shouting (proudly) from the mountaintops their intention to cast off many archaic MMO tropes with Guild Wars 2 and it turns out a traditional endgame is on the chopping block as well.
So, what is ArenaNet’s stance on endgame in Guild Wars 2? Well, you’ll often hear the team mention that the game is “all carrot, no stick” in that you’re basically experiencing the ‘endgame’ the whole way through. There isn’t some random shift at level cap in terms of what activities are available to players or how they continue to progress their characters. There also isn’t a focus on power-through-shinies, also known as the gear grind, and this has left MMO vets a bit baffled. That’s right, at some point in Guild Wars 2 your gear won’t necessarily increase in power level. Instead, you’ll be chasing items for their snazzy appearance value. And from the sounds of it, we can look forward to some particularly awesome stuff!
Guild Wars 2’s endgame won’t be for everyone. In fact, it’s pretty similar to the original Guild Wars with regards to role of gear in the statistical value of your character. However, if the basic tenets of Guild Wars 2’s approach to endgame do appeal to you, you’ll want to read on, as we recently learned of some juicy new details.
Last week, ArenaNet’s Eric Flannum and Colin Johanson took part in a live stream event over at TwitchTV where they discussed the evolution of both singleplayer and multiplayer RPGs and what the team is doing with Guild Wars 2 to that end. More importantly, the duo unveiled some key features of Guild Wars 2’s endgame, namely the existence of legendary weapons and their interaction with the Mystic Forge.
Before we get into that, it’s important to note one of the key details that ties into all this: you don’t stop earning XP at level cap. Once you hit level 80, you’ll continue to earn experience as if you were going to hit level 81, only once you fill out the bar it will reset back to the beginning, awarding you a new skill point along with it. This ensures that, along with the level scaling feature of Guild Wars 2, no matter what you do in the game, you’ll earn experience that’s valuable to you.
With the amount of events there are in Guild Wars 2, along with the various ways they can branch out, you’re unlikely to see it all on your first trek to 80, especially given how smooth the leveling curve is. This means you can go back and do earlier dungeons or events or any other content and it should be worth your while. Speaking of dungeons, Guild Wars 2 will launch with eight in total, with a total of 25 branching paths when taking into account each dungeon’s explorable mode. At this point you might be asking, “Well, what if I earn enough skill points to unlock all of the skills for my profession? What then?” Glad you asked! That brings us to…
Legendary Weapons and the Mystic Forge
Currently, the Mystic Forge (located in Lion’s Arch) allows players to toss in random items, such as junk you no longer need or want, for a chance at creating something awesome. It’s a pretty straightforward feature: press button, receive bacon; that sort of thing. What we learned during the TwitchTV chat is that the Mystic Forge will also be integral to the process of acquiring some of the game’s most awesome legendary weapons.
Legendary weapons aren’t more powerful than the most powerful weapons in the game, but they look cool enough to earn their moniker, which should let you set yourself apart from the other riff-raff with their boring steel blades and wooden bows. In order to create these legendary weapons, players will have to spend skill points at the Mystic Forge, ensuring that the extra points earned at level cap are actually worth something. Of course, there are said to be other requirements for earning the game’s coveted legendary weapons, but the skill point interaction is all we know of so far.
Some examples of legendary weapons in Guild Wars 2 include the day and night greatswords. Instead of a typical blade, the day greatsword’s blade is made up of what looks like the day sky, while the night greatsword’s blade appears to be made up of the night sky. Want both? Me too! Earn both and can’t decide on which to wield? Well, those of you who manage to acquire both will be able to combine them to create a sword that visually shifts with the time of day. Awesome!
While not exactly ‘endgame’ per se, Orr, the oldest human kingdom in Tyria, plays a significant role in the later content of Guild Wars 2. Orr is comprised entirely of complex dynamic events that web out as you push through the zone. According to Flannum and Johanson, Orr will contain around twice as many events as other areas of the game. Heck, you won’t even find heart NPCs in Orr. In fact, Orr is probably the most dangerous (PvE) zone in Guild Wars 2.
In order to progress through Orr, players will have to make it to and control the various temples and statues strewn throughout the zone. Controlling these areas will grant passage to the zone’s dungeon. Colin described advancing through Orr as a sort of storming the beaches of Normandy experience. As someone who loves WvW, I couldn’t help but think of the WvW potential of a zone like Orr. Darkness Falls, anyone? Yes, I know this won’t be happening, but I can dream, right?
Speaking of WvW, this is old hat, but it’s worth noting that there is a good deal for players to do on the PvP front in Guild Wars 2. Sure, you can jump in right away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not endgame content, too. Guild Wars 2 will ship with a bevy of Structured PvP maps (including an underwater one!) and, of course, the massive World vs. World map for three servers to contest. If you’re into PvP, I feel Guild Wars 2 has got you covered. If you’re into PvE, well, that depends on whether you absolutely have to have traditional style raids and gear progression. If you’re flexible here, these latest nuggets of information on Guild Wars 2’s endgame should hopefully perk your ears.
I’m looking forward to working towards that Day/Night Greatsword. How about you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!