Guild Wars 2: 5 leveling innovations

by manylaughs on September 18, 2012

How do you level up in your typical MMO? Easy answer, right? You go around gather up your quests and you run dungeons.

What’s that you say? Sometimes you just like to explore? Sometimes you like crafting? Sometimes you’re just not into killing mobs? You like getting little achievements?

Too bad for you. You might get some nominal XP (experience) for exploring new areas or crafting or whatever, but if you want the big XP, you gotta quest and run the dungeons. Most other activities that don’t involve killing mobs or running dungeons – a variation on killing mobs – are usually something you do for a little variety or you’re a completionist.

Guild Wars 2 changes that. It changes the whole idea of leveling. How?

1. Exploring is fun

Exploring the GW2 world is fun. It’s fun because ArenaNet rewards you for doing it. You get a little XP for finding new areas, like most MMOs, but you also get some sweet XP, coin and very nice rewards for finishing an entire zone. Every area of the map you  fully explore gives you a chest that yields XP, coins and other items. So everyone suddenly loves to explore.

Suddenly, you’re a lot more motivated to hop to the top of that mountain and that makes exploring fun for everyone.

2. You can level up crafting

In other MMOs, crafting is almost pointless – you probably only do it to get a few special pieces of gear or potions – and no one thinks of it as a way to level. Ever.

Until, now.

GW2 doesn’t just give you a little XP for crafting, it gives you a lot. In fact, the only thing that prevents you from leveling up entirely with crafting is the lack of mats.

Crafting also gives you gear you can’t get elsewhere in the game. Wanna look different from others? You better craft.

So, hey, whatya know? Just about everyone in GW2 crafts. Give people some decent XP and some cool looking gear, and they all want to craft. What a surprise.

3. Gathering is no longer chore

In most MMOs, gathering is a chore, because most MMOs only give you a smattering of XP for gathering, if they give you any at all. So the only reason you’ll gather mats is because you need them for crafting, and the only reason you’re crafting is because you need to get gear to use or sell. In other MMOs, gathering is a sad, necessary evil.

Gathering in GW2 doesn’t give you much XP, but what makes it entertaining is that you sometimes score a random upgrade or stash while you’re gathering. In other words, sometimes you find some sweet loot, and sweet loot is a major motivator to do anything in an MMO.

It happens often enough, maybe one time in seven, that you constantly run around gathering mats. It becomes addictive. You think to yourself, Oh, what will this yield? Some cool gem, maybe. Maybe there’s something in that tree. Does that herb patch have a special dye?

4. Achievements aren’t just for bragging rights

Climb the highest mountain in another MMO. Yay! You get a gold star. Kill 100 swamp rats. Duly noted. Another gold star. Uncover every corner of the world. Yes, you guessed it, another achievement to add to your list of achievements.

Usually all you get are some bragging rights. That’s nice. If you get XP, at all, it’s nominal.

GW2 takes note of your achievements. You get a nice chunk of XP for each one and if you go out and do your dailies and monthlies – which are basically achievement tasks – you get some gold and some nice XP, plus a mystic coin for your daily. Monthlies yield 20 mystic coins. Mystic coins are used to craft rare items.

Go kill a hundred drakes or undead or harpies. Another achievement and more XP. Kill a hundred enemies with a sword or a dagger or a staff. More XP.

GW2 loves to take note of your accomplishments and it loves to give you nice rewards for them. That’s sooooo nice, isn’t it?

5. There’s more than one way to complete a quest

In those other MMOs, the ones you’re going to have trouble going back to, now, there’s one way to complete a quest. It’s pure. It’s simple. Go kill mobs. Go travel to this point. Go get the quest-giver X number of these items. Whatever the quest, you only finish it in one way.

That’s done. That’s over with. It would be surprising if MMOs ever restrict you like that, again, because the brilliant people at ArenaNet thought outside the MMO box and gave players several different ways to complete a quest. Go collect things, go help this person, water the plants and you can kill those pesky bandits, too, if you like. Any of those things or combinations of those things will lead to completion of GW2 quests.

ArenaNet gets it. They get that players don’t always want to kill, kill, kill – though that has its appeal. If you want to craft or explore or garner achievements, go for it. They’ll reward you for it. After all, why shouldn’t you be rewarded for what you like to do? It’s a game, isn’t it?

Guild Wars 2 is simply a joy to play. One of the reasons for this is you get rewards for every aspect of the game – exploring, crafting, killing mobs – whatever makes you happy as a player, you get some nice XP and rewards for it. Questing no longer feels like a restrictive task and the whole process of leveling is more enjoyable.

Now, go thank the girls and boys at ArenaNet. They’ve probably changed the way you’ll level in MMOs forever. At the least, they’ve certainly changed the old MMO grind into fun.




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