GW2: An ‘explorers’ dream

Short musing for today: The ‘explorers’ who love GW2 for rewarding ‘exploring’ when they ‘find’ all of the points of interest and such in a zone and getting the “you got it all” chest.

That’s not being an explorer. That’s being an achiever chasing the shiny at the end of the grind checklist.

Mass market MMO fans: say one thing, do the opposite.

Edit: The ‘discovery’ system in GW2 crafting fits here as well.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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37 Responses to GW2: An ‘explorers’ dream

  1. Heh, there was a good Bartle post on that as well, when some game (Wildstar?) said they were making classes based on the “Bartle” types. His response was that an explorer would play all four classes, because that is what an explorer does, so technically an explorer class was absurd.

    An achiever wants to uncover all the all the points on the map, there being a final state to arrive at, while an explorer just wants to know what is over the next hill.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I mostly ignore all those map markers when exploring. I explore where I want to go because something looks interesting. I’m much more interested in finding a good spot for a screenshot than I am in ticking one of those Dev-provided boxes. I haven’t completed a single map and if and when I do it will be because I have poked into all the corners while doing other things.

    That’s not to say that I don’t occasionally use the map markers for useful stuff like getting a waypoint or visiting a vista, but I find the vast majority of both of those by sheer chance or by spotting the in-game flag or sparkler.

    You could, of course, say that those are unnecessary too, and I’d agree with you. I’d prefer they weren’t there, but they don’t actively prevent me form doing my own exploring. I don’t presume to speak for how other people behave, so I can only give you myself as an example, but I’d be quite surprised if there aren’t plenty of people who, like me, are just blundering about willy-nilly going “ooh pretty” and running in that direction.

  3. Max says:

    GW2 is a good explorers game. And no -rewards has very little to do with it. – GW2 has a large varied world, with many interesting things in it , there are jumping puzzles ,vistas and lairs to conquer , most of which are worth seeing at least once.

    Rewards themselves are negligible but I think its good that they exist – that give some incentive to some who care for nothing but achievement to see the world.

  4. Explorers always explore for a reason. Just for the satisfaction of “seeing it all” is still a reason and reward. When I first started playing WoW I would try to fill out my map just for the satisfaction of a complete map, that was before achievement points. I would still fill out my map in Guild Wars 2, even if I didn’t get a box of shiny things at the end for it. I want to see it all.

  5. Ahtchu says:

    Precisely my thoughts. Achievements by another name. Exploration is intrinsic- a game designer cannot plan for it. Easter Eggs and map completion are for checklists, of which an explorer does not own.

    • kalex716 says:

      Well, exploration is more about building a challenging environment, and building for the “unknown”.

      Without those 2 things, exploration tends to be negligible in the broader sense. Add in an easy to use map, fast travel, and access to wiki’s and it becomes down right trivial.

  6. Stratagerm says:

    GW2 would be better for explorers if the game engine allowed a seamless world without zone boundaries. As it is, the need to have every zone walled in by mountain ranges breaks suspension of disbelief by necessitating lots of real and invisible walls to prevent exploration outside the current zone’s boundaries.

    WoW, Rift, and even Free Realms are all better exploration experiences, allowing one to walk from one end of the world to the other without ever going through zone portals and seeing loading screens.

    That said, I’ve enjoyed being a tourist and gawking at the sights.

  7. silvertemplar says:

    Yea, i find it funny that people are seeing GW2 as an “explorer” game. It’s 100% themepark.

    Even in WoW you had to open up the map to find all the quest hubs, it was actually more difficult in WoW since you did not have the luxury of “scouts” opening up half the map for you , nor having these teleports at every hub or having everything marked on the map (whether you found it or not).

    For me true exploring is going into a cave and finding something truly “off the map” . It should not be linked to some achievement, Whatever i find must be satisfying enough that i’d continue to look for similar places regardless of the game reward.

    In GW2, everyone is “herded” towards all the POIs and Viewpoints and Chests and Jumping Puzzles like sheep…you know they are there, you know what the reward is, you only do it for the reward, no other reason.

    It’s like a “checklist” of places to visit…….like a tour….like a…THEME PARK!

  8. Max says:

    “For me true exploring is going into a cave and finding something truly “off the map” .”

    There is things like that in GW2

    • rulez says:

      That’s how I rescued a little child in Kessex Hills during beta. Best dynamic event ever so far. Of course, only for the first time.

  9. Shiolle says:

    Although I would rather only have way points on the map, I can’t help but compare exploration in GW2 and EVE.

    I agree with you that the world of GW2 isn’t truly dynamic, and as such, EVE’s signatures fit better with my idea of exploration as in ‘going where none had gone before’ than exploring a static map. But that said, the comparison with GW2 really outlines the fault of procedural content: it is infinite, but feels generic after you encounter the same sites a few times. It doesn’t really have a story, or mystery or secrets to decipher other than reading the description on a few boxes.

    In Guild wars 2 the exploration is finite, but you rarely going through the same events (unless you are leveling a different character through the same zones). There are advantages to focus on static content (that you call themepark I believe).

    • SynCaine says:

      EVE exploration would be navigating through WH systems, seeing how the residence of each one live and how to take advantage of that. The sites themselves, in WH space or Kspace, are really only exploration in the sense of probing them down.

      • kalex716 says:

        I’ve found a shattered planet in a wormhole once… i took screenshots. Not sure i’ve ever seen one sense but if theirs any in K-space it would certainly be easy.

  10. João Carlos says:

    There are some points, both about Syncaine post as some coments here:
    1- Yes, GW2 is a themepark and not a sandbox, move on: your sandbox pvp dream game will be a niche, forever (by the way, Syncaine moved on, why you cannot move on? why this “GW2 is a themepark game” ever return? what is the problem with a themepark game? GW2 is a very good themepark game, what is the problem with that, everyone know it is selling very well? it is wrong to make money? You have Darkfall, it is your niche pvp sandbox… live with it);
    2- the Bartle types are achiever, explorer, socializer and killer: it is good to remember that most common type is achiever (and the less common type is killer);
    3- GW2 is an achiever game: Syncaine is tottally correct about it;
    3a- GW2 too have parts that are made for killers and explorers: WvW, sPvP and jump puzzles (well, maybe these too are an achiever part);
    3b- from what I saw, socializers find space at the chat and guild chat: however, while GW2 is not a game pro-socializers (for example, ATitD is a crafter sandbox that is made for socializers), the environment at GW2 is not anti-socialziers (no node competition, no kill stealing, you gain xp rezzing other players, everyone try to cohoperate against mobs and world bosses);
    3c- take note tha, as achievers are the higher population of players, maybe the numbers we are seeing about GW2 population ( is not only a result of hype: GW2 is an achiever game and achievers are the higher population, so GW2 will have a good deal of that achiever high population;
    4- GW2 endgame is mostly achiever: complete the map (it is not possible complete the map before get to level 80), complete the dungeons in explorable mode (for gain a full set of armor), craft the legendary weapons;
    5- Tobold calculated that for complete the map a player need around 300 hours ( it is 3 months of solo PvE content;
    6- I have no idea how much time need for craft a legendary weapon, but I guess that 300 hours too is a good guess: I know there are a lot of level 80 players starting to try craft them now, and I think we will see the first legendary weapons before the end of this month;
    7- before someone remember that legendary weapons are cosmetic, I am sure players will look at any other player using one: that is an achiever thing, “I have a Ferrari”.

    So, all that points bring me to this conclusions (that you can agree or not):

    GW2 will have a retention rate higher than you like to think: achievers are the higher population of players and the achiever game don’t stop at level 80 (sometimes it starts at level 80) and that achiever game have more than 300 hours for play.

    But as I am evil, I will make this question, that until now I don’t saw anyone posting it:

    How players that get adaptated to the non-competitive GW2 environment (no node competition, no kill stelaing, everyone gain full xp and loot from attack mobs) will fit when they try to return to “normal” themepark MMO? My guess is that they will have problems for re-adapt…

    So, IMHO, that players will not have an easy time when they try return to WoW for play the pandas…

    • SynCaine says:

      I agree with most of the above. On point one, pointing out GW2 is a themepark is sometimes necessary to explain the design, or why things ‘fail’. GW2 won’t have a sandbox economy like EVE because GW2 is a themepark, and with how current-day themeparks handle items and progression, that makes things impossible. It’s not a failing of GW2 exactly, but more because its a themepark. Hope that makes sense.

      • João Carlos says:


        it is not your problem, but some commenters here are exhagerating that “GW2 is a themepark game” meme. Themepark is not the worse thing of world and the sad truth is that themepark will have MORE players than sandbox and make more money.

    • Liore says:

      “GW2 is an achiever game”

      I have to totally disagree. I think there are some things that achievers enjoy like the jumping puzzles, and I’m not putting down the game because obviously a ton of people really enjoy just mucking around in a lively virtual world, but the whole point of the thing was to reduce the amount of “elite” activity. There’s no public PvP ranking like WoW’s arenas or PvP titles, and you can’t even see your opponent’s name in WvW so it’s hard to develop a reputation. There are no raid bosses and uber drop loot (useful or costume).

      People are already hitting 100% map completion (not that anyone else can tell) and as a serious achiever type I’m pretty sceptical that running past a POI to activate it is going to satisfy anyone. In my admittedly anecdotal experience, GW2 is appealing to killer and explorer types (although I agree with the premise of Syncaine’s article), and has much less appeal to the achiever and socializer types. Once people hit 80, I would be extremely surprised if the achievers stick around.

      • SynCaine says:

        Degree of achievers I guess, and another themepark problem: the level of achieving is capped, and if you play enough, you hit that cap. There is no ‘achievement’ cap in something like EVE. Even someone like The Mittani, who many would consider the most powerful player in the game, can still achieve more.

        • Zyref says:

          I’m an explorer player, and i’m loving GW2. Often, I just wander around to see what is over that next hill. I haven’t looked up the location of jumping puzzles or how to solve them (I didn’t even know they existed until I came across one on accident)… As such I’ve accidentally come across two. One I saw as a series of huge boulders that I tried to get on top of… took about a half hour of looking.

          Vistas? Fantastic.

          As for the rest…
          The little dots of “go here”? who cares.
          Waypoints? I don’t use them usually, except to skip a zone I’ve ‘finished’.
          “Discovery”? meh.

          I’m also level 28, and I’ve got a level 8 secondary character. I’m pretty far from an achiever type, and i’m definitely not a killer type.

      • tithian says:

        @ Liore

        I couldn’t disagree more. I’m very much an achiever type and I find that GW2 constantly ‘drip-feeds’ me with stimuli to support my playstyle. So let’s see:

        a) Map completion. It’s an OCD thing for me, I just have to unlock it all.
        b) Getting the banners for all three orders on the login screen, requiring 3 level 40 characters. Again, an OCD thing for me (although low priority).
        c) Skill Challenges offer a constant ‘mini-ding’ making you feel like you continually progress.
        d) Same with the events and the ‘medals’ you get at the end. Much like Public quests in WAR, this is pure genious.
        e) Daily/Monthly achievements for pretty much everything you do
        f) Bonus xp for kills
        g) Crafting rewards you for anything and everything you do. i.e. discovery of new recipies

        All of this is before the endgame. When you get to 80 these goodies unlock

        a) the INSANE gear grind for exotic gear. Seriously, people think GW1 was such a casual game, but it had the most brutal grinds in any western mmo, ever. The trend continues here, just go check how many tokens you need to get the exotic sungeon armor sets
        b) Again, the karma costs for cultural gear means that getting a nice looking set will take time
        c) Legendary weapons: the ultimate ‘carrot’ for the achievers
        d) The Mystic Forge lottery: this is pure genious, people will spend tons of money and time figuring out. And crafting anything substantial requires that you spend skill points, making xp aquisition necessary, even if you are at the level cap.

        All of the endgame features, due to the sheer effort and planning you need to go into in order to get those things, simply cater to the achievers. You can’t get a high end armor set simply by mucking around.

        And this is just for PvE.

        • João Carlos says:

          Let me add that the requirements for legendary weapons are insane:
          The base exotic weapon
          525,000 karma
          200 skill points
          100% World Completion
          500 tokens from a particular dungeon
          500 Medals of Honor from WvW
          lv 400 in two particular crafting professions.

          all that will need more than 2 months, for sure. And some players will want the two greatswords legendary for craft the third one….

        • spinks says:

          If the requirements are that high, then the playerbase may get quite mean in ‘endgame’ with people very focussed on speedruns and efficiency. At least, the people who care about legendary weapons.

          It sounds very grindy.

        • João Carlos says:


          there a lot of achievers that care about legendary weapons. It is an achiever thing, it is like “I have a Ferrari”.

          Take note too that some items for get a legendary problably are same itmes an achiever will try on, for example Map Completion.

          As a personal example, I am level 79, almost level 80. When I get to level 80 I will complete the personal story. Then I will try to complete the world map. Then make all dungeons story mode. I hope to have all exotic gear when that two items are completed. But when I get all exotic gear done I will start WvW seriouslly (gear helps a few at WvW and I am really very bad at PvP).

          Karma will come completing DE… the only real problem is get 120 gold coins, GW2 economy is not helping it…

        • Liore says:


          I think we’re working off of different definitions of “achievers”. Achievers, in the Bartlett sense, like to accomplish goals that can arguably increase their in-game social standing — for example, a rare mount, an epic item off a raid boss, or a special title. They like to be “awesome” at a game in noticeable ways.

          Of all those things you listed, only the exotic and legendary gear seems to fit. Unless I’m mistaken, no one can see my map completion. Getting stuff from crafting or “bonus xp for kills” is just playing the game, not Achiever bait.

        • João Carlos says:


          There are some medals at the character page at GW2. One is for World Completion. Not sure if other people can see it, but the player can see it. My guess is that sooner or later Anet will have a tool (maybe at official forum) where people can see how many medals a player have.

          IMHO, World Completion is an achiever feat.

        • João Carlos says:


          complementing my post above, you gain a medal at the charecter screen and the character that completes all world gain a start at the character name.

          So, other players can see if you completed the world.

  11. coppertopper says:

    The map POIs are just too mechanical to make exploring fun – they make it compulsive instead. Removing them and keeping un-explored map areas blurry would have been way more interesting from an explorers standpoint. So yes map completion is an achiever goal for sure (that chest icon is equal to any Vegas slot machine), but small tweaks could make it feel more exploring then ‘gotta touch that POI’ bs.

    • bhagpuss says:

      I use them to indicate where I DON’T want to go. The huge majority of every map has no POIs or other markers. Those are the places you want to go poking around – that’s where the interesting stuff is.

      • coppertopper says:

        I actually really enjoy playing the way you do. You tend to still have a great time, run into events, get exp and loot, all without opening the map. But I can’t just run by if i see a POI on the map! That map completion achievement – from the little jingle sound to the chest opening graphic, to the amazing rewards are just too much of a draw to skip map completion.

  12. silvertemplar says:


    The problem with themepark MMOs are, they don’t last long. They are finite and usually don’t mature enough to form a long lasting community. WoW is an exception because it had the time to grow and mature (community especially). Now with MMOs popping up every 2 months, it’s not surprise MMOs are forgotten every 2 months too.

    Alot of GW2’s extra stuff is going to fall flat if the community moves on to the “next big thing” . Especially if GW2 “ends” at lvl 80 (like all themeparks things ends). Fortunately i do see a few things that might extend all the ADD players’ stay , like the level reduction thing and not having a subscription , but will it really be -growing- in 6 months ?

    • João Carlos says:


      Let’s stop with this meme “WoW is an exception”. GW2 is beating WoW in time played since pre-launch (see Xfire data on I don’t remember ANY other MMO (themepark or sandbox) that made it. Rift, SWTOR, TERA, TSW, no one shiny new game had more time played at XFire than WoW, but GW2 is geting at sundays 5 times more than WoW.

      So, the same rules that not apply to WoW too not apply to GW2. and possibly “themepark MMOs don’t last long” too will not apply to it.

      The point I made above is that GW2 end game content (that happens AFTER you hit level 80…) is mostly for achiever and there are more than 300 hours of that content.

      A thing I noted is that everyone is thinking that there is a “next big thing”, that GW2 hype will pass out. However, there are some data I am seeing that show me GW2 is a themepark MMO that can dethrone WoW. Things as GW2 have more subscribers at Reddit than WoW (71 k versus 57 k).

      If GW2 suceeds at mantain that players they have now (and GW2 endgame is for achievers, that is the higher population of players), we will have a new king.

      • Imrar says:

        I’m sorry, I dont buy it. Xfire and Reddit… I dare say that the majority of WoW players dont use Xfire, and Reddit is even more “new” phenomenon.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’d like the WoW is “king and an xxx pound gorrilla” to stop as well. Looking from the pre-order retail numbers from our local shop I’d say it will settle to be just a MMO with other MMOs in couple years.
        The pre-orders are a third from Cataclysm, and of course digital sales take even bigger bite from Mist than Cataclysm. But not that much, I’m sure.

        But there won’t be a “wow-killer” game. People will slowly get bored of it year by year and leave to other games and hobbies when they find that all of their old friends have left already. It’s the community that’s holding people in WoW the most.

        Meanwhile we get all kinds of new shiny games hitting the Xfires and whatnot. The next King wont even come out of the MMO field is my prediction.

        • João Carlos says:

          XFire and Reddit … and Raptr ( Raptr numbers show that GW2 beat LoL for the first place and have 100 k hours above WoW. Raptr weekly’s totals are:
          Guild Wars 2 – 250,281
          League of Legends – 237.146
          Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – 206376
          Battlefield 3 – 167.155
          The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 165.073
          World of Warcraft – 152.336
          Minecraft – 122.364
          Madden NFL 13 – 102.821
          Team Fortress 2 – 95.359
          Halo: Reach – 78.169

          But how you wrote about pre-orders, maybe be better you look at best sellers pc compatible games page (that is updated hourly). GW2 was launched 28th august, more than 15 days ago, but GW2 continue to be at the top. the second place is MoP pre-order, and the third place is GW2 Digital Deluxe.

          Seeing that GW2 continue to be the best seller after 3 weeks from launch (and above MoP pre-order, that will be launch at 12 days, right?), I dare to say that GW2 have more players now thant WoW and that GW2 continues to grow.

          No pandas will save WoW from the second place…

        • spinks says:

          Lets revisit this after MoP is released :)

        • João Carlos says:


          Looking at best sallers at pc games page, that is calculated at a 24 hours period, and if we consider that GW 2 is 3 weeks old and MoP is 12 days from launch, make me think you will have a surprise after MoP is launched…

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