Some single player roleplaying games have a level cap that your character(s) can achieve. Reaching this limit of progression does not, however, signify the end of the game. There’s still the main storyline to complete, the world to explore, and the achievements to earn. It’s interesting that in MMOs attaining maximum level has a different connotation and set of expectations. There’s been ample chattering regarding the lack of a true endgame in Guild Wars 2 and equal amounts of response to the contrary. Most of this controversy stems from the lack of raiding and gear progression at level 80. No matter how much ArenaNet points to their design manifesto or haters rail against it, the truth is that the enjoyment of the Guild Wars 2 endgame experience is determined by an individual’s preference and what they make of it.
Different things motivate different players. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, some gamers may not enjoy horizontal progression. Others may miss scheduling raid nights with teams of 10 or more people in order to take on the biggest bosses in the game. But if you’re not bothered by the absence of these MMO conventions and are looking for things to do, then allow me to present the top not-so-obvious max-level experiences in Guild Wars 2.
Many players aren’t familiar with meta events despite there being one or more in almost every single zone in Guild Wars 2. Have you ever wondered what that orange text is underneath the personal story and event box in the top right corner of the screen? That text gives you the meta event status for the area that you’re in. Even when there is nothing going on, that text will say something like “The Maw is quiet” so you don’t have to wonder if you’re missing something elsewhere in the zone. Meta events tell the major storylines present in the area and many unlock special boss encounters—like the Shatterer—to battle. Completing meta events can also open up temporary access to special areas, such as the Flame Temple Tombs mini-dungeon. Completing meta events take a bit of research, coordination with other players, and timing, but many of these encounters are epic and not to be missed!
Go Beyond 100% Map Completion
One of my pet peeves is when someone says, “I gave it 110%” because that’s impossible and, frankly, sounds idiotic. But in Guild Wars 2, there is still more to experience even after achieving 100% map completion. Many of the maps include clandestine areas that aren’t included in the exploration achievements and not highlighted by points of interest or vistas. In the Wayfarer Foothills, for example, the Shamans Rookery jumping puzzle is hidden in a cave along the western side of the zone. Another example is found in the Harathi Hinterlands where the giant, Kol Skullsmasher, guards the Hidden Ourobon. Don’t be afraid to explore and go off the beaten path, as you’ll never know what kind of adventure (and trouble) you will find.
Structured PvP may seem like an obvious endgame activity to do regardless of level, but thanks to a recent ArenaNet blog post, players should find even more motivation to start practicing. In addition to the already available free automated tournaments, players will soon be able to participate in paid automated tournaments. These new tournaments require a premade team and entry tickets in order to compete. The higher stakes come with higher rewards, however, and the top two teams will actually earn gems for efforts! ArenaNet is also going to allow PvPers to rent custom arenas where they can practice strategies with guildmates or set up scrimmages against other teams. If you’re the competitive type who enjoys perfecting your build and executing team-based strategy, then look forward to these additions coming “when it’s ready”.
Stand Out By Grinding
Yes, I said grinding. Guild Wars 2 is full of optional grinds and the fact that they aren’t required to participate in any aspect of the game is freeing. But, let’s face it. When we log into these virtual MMO worlds we want to stand out from the crowds. We want to be different. We want to inspire envy from our fellow players by obtaining loot, titles, or some other in-game prestige that makes us feel unique. Players with abundant amounts of free time (or steadfast determination) can achieve special snowflake status by engaging in some of the game’s most lengthy endeavors. Snazzy titles are one way to get some recognition and can be earned in various ways. The Miniature Collector title is obtained by rounding up 54 of the little rascals while those that explore the entire world can show off their “Been There, Done That” accolade with a fancy star next to their name. There are also a plethora of PvP and WvW titles, such as “Slayer”, which is granted to those who slay 2000 foes.
Legendary weapons are the pinnacle of these activities, awarding persistent players with some of the most spectacular particle effects in any MMO. Who doesn’t want to walk around leaving liquid metal footprints in your wake or slay throngs of grawl with rainbow-trailed arrows shot from your unicorn bow? And for the truly resourceful (and slightly unstable) there’s the Eternity greatsword, which requires you to combine two legendaries together to acquire it. The blade on this double legendary sword glistens with alternating day and night cycles and is sure to turn the heads of all who walk past it.
We’re not even two months into the life of Guild Wars 2 and I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface of the potential fun of World vs. World yet. Most of us have experienced the thrill of defending a keep and raining down death with a line of arrow carts. We know the monotony that comes with hammering at a surprisingly robust gate without the help of siege weapons. We’ve followed an over-sized zerg as they’ve mowed unsuspecting enemies to the ground in nanoseconds. But World vs. World can be so much more and all it takes is a little creativity and a few friends.
For example, drink a random tonic and assume the form of a defenseless critter. Then strut your moa stuff to bait and peel an observant invader or two from a pack of enemies. As they give chase, drop down off a small cliff or around a hidden bend to lead them to your awaiting friends. Just when they think they’re going to make quick work of a solo prankster, the hunters become the prey! The same trick works if you lure a few enemies underwater where your hidden allies can send them to their watery graves. Make sure your aquatic weapons and breathing mask are fully upgraded and you’ll have an advantage over the many players that ignore those equipment slots.
When competing in WvW try to channel your inner child who used to make snow forts and assault the neighbor’s tree houses. Back then our imaginations were unbridled and our creativity was endless. Go into WvW with your friends and think back to those simpler days. Claim a tower and defend it like it’s your own backyard! Get into the heads of your opponents and realize that many groups in WvW are disorganized and all it takes is some simple planning to overcome foes with greater numbers.
The level 80 activities in Guild Wars 2 may not match all of the expectations that gamers place on MMOs these days. But there is no denying that there is plenty to do for those that seek it out. And while the lack of raiding and gear progression may turn some players off, the beauty of the no subscription model means they can take a break and come back when ArenaNets’ live teams inject new content into the world of Tyria. What are the activities you’re enjoying at level 80? Share your stories with us in the comments below.