Pushing Boundaries: Exploration in Guild Wars 2 from #GW2Fanday

If I could pick one thing from Prophecies that I felt was the epitome of what made that first campaign so memorable for me, it was the openness of it all. Even for a game that had no persistence, there’s always been -so much- to explore and discover. In fact, as recently as earlier this year, as I began to make more headway into getting my Hall of Monuments filled, I was discovering outposts and missions in Tyria I had no idea even existed.

This was both problematic and awesome; you could easily skip much of the content right to the end, either accidentally like in my case, or on purpose in… well, many cases. But for those with explorer’s hearts, this was a dream come true. Vast, beautiful landscapes and hidden treasures abound at every turn and every region. The lovely Dorothy at A Tyrian Odyssey has a blog which she’s been running for years dedicated to just that.

Being run through Prophecies, however, for those who’d rather get to the point, was a serious problem that ArenaNet decided to alleviate by forcing progression. In Factions, for instance, you cannot move on to many areas until you have completed the appropriate missions first. They’re literally gated off, and you’re stuck on a small island until you get through them. This was expanded in Nightfall where you required certain title ranks to move on.

This provided a lot of frustration for many who felt that the open world of the original campaign was more than just a great feature; it was definitive of what Guild Wars was about.

Luckily for us, the changing game in Guild Wars 2 has brought back that openness. While we’re sure to be somewhat restricted by level, I was told that in most cases roads between cities, towns, and other major hubs are clear of mobs, and if you’ve got the heart to do it, you can set off on exploring right away. Where you’ll fall short, however, is treading off the path, which is where you’re obviously likely to find the best stuff.

Guild Wars 2 Exploration - #GW2Fanday

 

After our preview of Winds of Change during the Community Open House, the rest of the day was pretty much dedicated to freely play and explore Guild Wars 2 as we pleased. The immediate desire to report skills, numbers, and the like had to be quelled, but once it did, myself and NeoNugget let the curiosity take over. We stopped questing and started exploring.

Admittedly, I was determined to get to Lion’s Arch, although we were told it was cut off. I’m a pretty proud wall-jumper, though, and I was pretty confident I’d get there.

Alas, to no avail. From invisible walls to, literally, a giant circle-slash upon instance portals, it was obvious they were serious about keeping us out.

BUT, what we did find were some other pretty lovely spots out and about the area. It was hard not getting distracted by dynamic events quite literally in your face (if you’re a do-gooder by nature, you’re gonna run into this problem a lot!). But when I managed to pull myself away from NPCs begging for my charity, I was able to stop and enjoy the absolutely stunning landscapes.

I risk sounding cliché but I have to say it; the world just looks so damn Guild Wars. Everything about its artistry seems a nod to its predecessor; from the soft glow, the rich textures, and distinctive palettes of colors, you know where you are. This is Tyria, there is no mistaking it.

The noteworthy location was found by none other than Neo himself. Hidden behind that cave of spiders and sorrow was a beautifully placed series of waterfalls and trees, a striking contrast to the path that leads you there.

What this means for people like Dorothy, myself, Neo, and all the explorers out there is that the freedom of the wild is back. The world is our playground and there no shortage of secrets to uncover, relics of times past to discover, and fascinating scenes to set our sights upon.

Guild Wars 2 Exploration - #GW2Fanday

Pandora??

As originally appeared on GuildMag.com. 

About the author: Izari’s one of those obsessive fan types who’s been playing Guild Wars since the first beta weekend in 2004. She’s been blogging about video games for almost six years and is thrilled to have fellow fans to write for and with about the game. She can be found on twitter and really likes coconuts.

“Our intention creates our reality.” The art of ArenaNet.

One of the things that hasn’t really gotten much attention, in the flurry of excitement about the recent Fan Day, is the building itself that ArenaNet now inhabits, which is both beautiful and superbly functional.

By way of explanation, I should mention: I spend most of my time surrounded by architecture and industrial design folk, which means that my ears are constantly full of mantras about the importance of ‘form following function’ and other specious-sounding slogans about the importance of intentional design. After a while, one begins to notice that type of thing, especially when it’s being done so very right.  As a result, I was very impressed indeed by the (quite nearly literal) nuts and bolts of ArenaNet HQ and how it has been set up.

Izzy C. is not standing in a small room. But he could be! He could be standing in one of several small rooms, if they deemed it necessary!

The company makes much of their open and collaborative design method, which is quite visibly upheld in the layout of the office – a good portion of the content design, tool design, and story teams are in one long room – not crammed or cramped, certainly, and with evident structure and purpose, but very obviously accessible to one another all the same. If at any point rearrangements need to be made, however, their two floors of the building have been excellently thought out to accommodate any resettling or shuffling which the rooms might go through: with superbly mobile desks, mutable wall-sections, independently reprogrammable ceiling lights (which, might I add, seem to dynamically adjust based on the amount of natural light available – which I was just tickled pink to discover, as it would be such a shame to waste those huge windows and that impressive view they have), and sectional-style air-conditioning, they are truly set up to make switching up teams or locations as hassle-free as possible.  This thorough preparedness extends to their internal server room and the newly furbished sound recording space, the design of both of which we got to learn about in great detail.

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Death Rising: The Guild Wars 2 Necromancer & Underwater Combat

Like many of the fans this past weekend, I brazenly walked into the gaming lab on Friday determined to play every single profession at least once. Needless to say, that sure as heck didn’t happen. While I dabbled with the thief and engineer at most 20 minutes each, when it came down to the dungeon run I found myself lured to an age-old favorite; the necromancer.

After taking a small while to check out my skills and come up with a “build” of sorts, it was time to get down and dirty with the undead. A current minion master fan, I selected three to take with me: the blood fiend, bone fiend, and bone minions. Ghost armor and well of suffering rounded out my last five skills. The weapons of choice were scepter/focus, occasional dagger/dagger, and staff.

Getting the hang of the minions was actually a bit tough; the mentality to simply summon and forget is hard to shake. In fact, minions in GW2 are extremely different than GW and require some thinking and strategy. Given that their destruction has great utility, it was a shame I didn’t make more use of them. By the end of my time with the necro (technical difficulties forced me to switch computers / instances), I was finally getting the hang of using the minions as more than just extra damage but actually taking advantage of their toggle skills. Putrid explosion for AoE (normally when a group of mobs are low on health) and rigor mortis to hold off on an enemy if I was getting mauled in the face.
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Welcome to the Dungeons – #GW2FanDay

My experience of going through the Catacombs dungeon at ArenaNet’s recent Fan Day was perhaps the single most enlightening experience of the entire wonderful day . It had everything – the companionship, the fun, and the visible fulfillment of many promises and bold statements on behalf of the developers. It was, effectively, a microcosm of the event as a whole: in it, one could find all the elements which defined the success of the entire venture.

also: everything was gorgeous

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ArenaNet Open House / Guild Wars 2 FanDay Preview!

The floodgates, as they say, have been opened. Be prepared!

I was extremely thrilled (and extremely lucky) to have been invited to the new ArenaNet office for a community FanDay event being held this Friday, June 24th. Myself and the other 16 or  lucky community reps and fans are in for some crazy surprises, and the ANet crew has been more than generous with their relentless teasing and secrecy. Seriously, we have -no idea- what the devious developers have in store for us (perhaps we like it that way?…Maybe…).

While this is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — the kind that only comes once every 75 years like a comet and drops ectos from the sky– myself and the others are still on a mission.

This is what we were all thinking. And anybody who says otherwise is a liar.

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