Myth Busting Queensdale

One of the more contentious issues that have arisen in the early weeks of Guild Wars 2 – other than the highly debated butterscotch or buttercream dye choice – is the level curve.

Having explored Queensdale on my guardian with the wide eyed abandon of Homer Simpson in The Land of Chocolate, I had absolutely no problem with the level curve. I finished the first area at level 15 and a half, putting me bang on target to move onto Kessex Hills or Brisban Wildlands.

With this in mind, I was genuinely confused by the frustration expressed by players who said they were consistently falling behind the leveling curve before leaving Queensdale and other starter zones. Those same players were finding disparities very early in their progression.

So with my trusty gaming science hat on – it has a feather and a drop down monocle – in a piece I first did at ZAM.com, I decided to figure out what was going on.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Myth Busting Queensdale

My only rational hypothesis was that those renown hearts were proving to be problematic for players used to the quest hub style of leveling. As you know, in many games, you have an area rife with quests, you pick them up and then the expanses that lie before the next quest hub are packed with mobs to a) pick up the pieces you need for the quest and b) grind on.

The renown hearts differ greatly from that philosophy for a number of reasons:
• They provide only one hit of xp compared to the many quests you would get in a typical MMO hub.
• They are not repeatable
• Their main function is to guide you toward areas of more vital content – dynamic events – rather than provide the bulk of xp needed.

However, their prominence on the map – an issue we’ve spoken about repeatedly on GuildCast – does bear resemblance to quest hubs in other games. So was this “heart to heart” approach causing the problem?

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Myth Busting Queensdale

From some responses I’d seen on message boards and from folks on twitter, it certainly looked a valid assumption. So I decided to test it out.

I made another human character and leveled it through Queensdale, this time not taking my merry, disorganized way but using the renown hearts as true points of reference to move between and plot my route across the map. I decided I would do no tradeskills – other than mining nodes that I would be bumping into – no personal story and absolutely no WvW.

You might think I was off my rocker – out of my mind, for you American types – but I had seen people respond to my questions of why they didn’t spread out into other content to make up the difference with answers of “I shouldn’t be forced to do content that I don’t want to do.” More on that argument later.

By taking this approach it would allow me to see what was on offer purely within the experience of taking a “questing” approach to the area.

I’ve embedded the video I made of this excursion above, but to sum up my findings:

Renown Hearts Alone Don’t Cut it

Very quickly it became obvious that renown hearts provide nowhere near the amount of experience need to level. This might seem wildly obvious to many, but there are definitely players who I have seen unhappy with the difference between the increase of level expectation for hearts and the amount of levels they provide to help you meet that curve.

It takes 6,489 xp to hit level three. Completing the renown hearts that have a “comfort level” up to three will yield 1,050 xp. In fact completing “Help Farmer Diah” up to “Help Cassie around the moa ranch” which is a level five heart, will see you complete five hearts for a total of 1,821 xp.

A Red Number Isn’t the End of the World

If you are just one level down on the expected level for each heart, its number turns red. This has the connotation of danger for the player but it actually isn’t a big deal. I found that as long as I was within three levels of the renown heart’s suggested level I had no real problems.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Myth Busting Queensdale

Your Dynamic Events Will Vary

Although the renown hearts did lead to dynamic events, the straight line approach of point A to point B that following them causes means you miss a lot of DEs. The very nature of going to the RHs to complete them before moving to the next one puts you in straight line traveling which cuts through the roving nature of some DEs causing you to only trip over them if you are there at precisely the right time.

Even the very first heart in Queensdale has a number of closely associated DEs. Help Farmer Diah has five that I did very early on, including the rabbit vs. watermelon event that you run across on the way after getting your vaunted Hero of Shaemoor title.

That cluster of dynamic events is obviously meant to introduce you to their concept and how important they are to your leveling, without them the xp from mobs simply is too tertiary to make a meaningful bridge between the gap from RH xp to level attainment.

Even so, I didn’t see all of them on my guardian on the first run through so you can’t expect to see all of them first time round. Particularly if you are not spending much time beyond completing the RH and moving on and especially if you don’t pay attention to what the friendly NPCs are doing as hints into further content.

When Focused on RHs, Walls Appear

I certainly hit points where I was getting into more trouble than I could handle when attempting to move on. I managed to complete the Hunter Block RH – level 9 – while at level 5 but the local drakes came at me in numbers when I tried to move in the direction of Fisherman Will or Brother Vince’s RHs.

The hearts themselves are arrange within certain level ranges with appropriately strengthened mobs around them, which is common sense of course, so if you fall four or so levels down you will be having problems if you come across packs when solo. In a group you’ll mainly be fine, but doing so means you will run out of hearts well before you hit level 15.

The “walls” appear when you miss the level curve by about four levels. Solo, the mobs become too difficult to do without danger of frequent repairs.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Myth Busting Queensdale

It’s in the Math

From the 17 RHs in Queensdale there is a total of 8,134 xp when to hit level 15 you will need 58,687 xp. There is a difference in the first 15 levels in that there is a modified experience curve which means you will actually need less than advertised to hit 15. But it is still a much higher number than you will receive from RHs.

Therefore, if you want to level mainly by doing RHs it is blindingly obvious that such an approach is simply not what the game is designed to provide.

Resorting to Grinding

As I think I’ve demonstrated, following RHs around like you’re being led around by the nose is not only an inefficient way to level, it absolutely will lead to problems.

You have a choice, either adapt to what is being asked of you or try using the approaches you might resort to in other MMOs: grinding mobs.

Most mobs give a paltry amount of xp, though you can get decent bonuses for killing mobs that have been alive in the game world for a long time – which is why you will sometimes get a big xp bonus for a mob that looks just like any other.

Even taking that into account, only the masochistic would undertake leveling in Guild Wars 2 via grinding mobs, it’s simply not viable due to the extreme amount of time it would take.

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Myth Busting Queensdale

Adapt or Die — or maybe get annoyed

It is clear that quest hubs and mob grinding are simply not a part of this game.

Complaints that “I’m being punished for playing the way I want to” – something I’ve had said to me directly in a discussion on the matter – seem to completely ignore the game you are actually playing.

If you play chess and only ever move pawns then I would say a) you will lose and b) you are not taking advantage of the tools the game is providing you. It is not the game’s fault that you prefer just to play with the second row on the board.

“But this is an MMO! I know MMOs!” I hear you cry, well yes it is, but not all MMOs are the same and I’m highly grateful that after a decade of incredible similarity — with some exceptions — we might have a move towards some differentiation.

The RHs are provided as guidance to areas of content, you can also use the Points of Interest, Vistas and Waypoints as similar pointers. By just stopping when I was hitting a leveling wall and seeking out the other PoIs and so on in that specific level range area, I soon gained parity to the level range by the XP given and from the many DEs I found due to those routes.

I still didn’t allow myself to wander around with the complete ignorance of the map that I did on my guardian. Yet I finished the map at 100% completion at level 13 on my engineer.

As I stated earlier, two levels is easily doable when tackling more difficult content. That means I was able to move onto Kessex Hills even though I had forced myself not to take up any one of the other options I could have used to gain experience.

Personal Story delivers a very good amount of XP, each tradeskill provides up to 10 levels each, WvW gives a lot of XP too.

Is it really too much to ask to dip into the content of a game which rewards XP in many more ways than the large majority of MMOs on the market?

mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     Myth Busting Queensdale

If you are experiencing issues with leveling because you only want to travel from heart to heart, you don’t want to do Vistas, you don’t want to do tradeskills or WvW or Personal Story then there is a very easy explanation.

You are experiencing much less than 20% of the content available to you.

As soon as I started dipping into tradeskills, pursuing my personal story and some WvW I was well beyond the leveling curve, at times exceeding five levels. I actually think the leveling experience is the single best one available on the MMO market today.

There is a huge amount of content and all of it gives you XP. There are choices to make in what you enjoy and pursuing any of them fully, in conjunction with doing a little of other content streams, will ensure you are easily on track with the leveling curve.

Just look at the game design as the levels advance to see that RHs are meant to be an initial hand holder, not the prime delivery of XP or content. RHs decrease in number to the point they do not exist in Orr.

Those early levels are an education for the game, but they are done in a way where players are not being battered over the head with neon flashing signs constantly.

Here’s an RH, it obviously isn’t enough to level but look here’s an NPC who runs up to you and tells you of a DE which will give you a nice bit of XP – oh and it’s quite fun too! Perhaps it might be a good idea to watch out for those NPCs who move around and speak to you, they will be important later.

This is how ArenaNet created the PvE experience for Guild Wars 2, those 1-15 areas are meant to teach you that this isn’t the MMO you are used to. That adaptation to the game’s content ideology is needed to fully enjoy GW2 as you move through its world.

Initial friction between expectations from other MMOs and playing through Tyria is understandable, but a steadfast complaint that the game doesn’t provide enough leveling content is frankly, in my opinion, nonsensical.

There are small sections where some tuning might be needed, moving a DE here or there, making certain sections less dependant on them – the brewery in Queensdale springs to mind – will help fine tune the experience somewhat. But it is very much fine tuning, there are always alternatives to progress.

If a game that asks you to explore into find its content is something that you find completely off-putting then I just think Guild Wars 2 is not the game for you. That’s perfectly fine and a matter of taste.

What is obvious is how easy it is to become reliant on patterns of play set in systems from other games and how used to them we are. The MMO industry is still comparatively young and there is a huge amount of untapped territory in regards to its potential that remains unexplored.

I think Guild Wars 2’s PvE content is a very good example of that fact.

Thanks for reading.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1339406775 Matthew Riddle

    Level 23 ranger. Completed Asura and Sylvari 1-15 areas. On Charr 1-15 area now. Will likely be ~ 27 when I’m done with Charr and Human 1-15 zones. Little crafting, no WvW, no PvP, no dungeons, no personal story whatsoever.

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      I do find the 2-30 levels to be sweet spot in GW2. Really enjoyed all the first couple of areas for each race.

  • http://twitter.com/x_illusion Xristos Illusion

    80 lvl Charr Warrior in 5 days. 60 lvl Sylvari Ele. It’s easy to level up. Just change area when you complete one. Dungeons give a lot of exp and gold. Fun to play

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1339406775 Matthew Riddle

    Great article by the way. Absolutely loving me some Guild Wars 2.

  • http://gplus.to/divinoag DivinoAG

    Having leveled 3 characters up to 30-40 range, and one other to 21 (and to think I was never a alt-aholic before), I think I can say based on personal experience that the problem lies with the events. They are a major source of experience, and if you spend enough time tracking them down you’ll have no problems staying on or ahead of the curve.
    However, they are inconsistent. I leveled both an Asura Engineer and a Sylvari Elementalist, and while my Sylvari got to the second area (Brisban Wildlands) a couple of levels ahead of the hearts I would be doing there, my Asura felt constantly underleveled until I decided to take him for a day to another race’s area for some skill-point hunting.

    I simply did not found myself in enough events to get the necessary experience with the Asura. Maybe it was bad luck, maybe I rushed a little on that area, but just being one or two levels behind the curve was enough to make the class feel constantly underpowered.

    So… yeah, do events, every event, always. They give you plenty of experience, and with everything else you’ll be doing, you should get to the next area on the right level to enjoy it, and if you don’t… do what I did, just go to another area and look for skill points, you’ll do a lot of that area’s content just by focusing on that since you’ll find yourself in the middle of many events, complete hearts “by accident”, and so on. I really do recommend staying a little ahead of the curve to better enjoy the game.

  • riezel casinto

    I leveled to 80 by crafting, starting at lv60.

    Provided you have done some dungeon to gain gold.

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      Keep hearing that, seeing alot of players jumping from level 60 to level 80.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andyghoffman Andy Hoffman

    I haven’t heard of anyone skipping personal story. I’ve leveled 5 characters so far, currently with one at 51, 44, 43, 13, and 11. I’ve basically been doing what you have been doing + personal stories and I still find myself at ~2 levels below the lowest level for the next zone every time I finish a zone. 

    • snoopyowns

      I skipped the personal story. I was still on the Level 24 Asura story quest when I hit 80. I’m now going back and doing it. I did a lot of WvW. 

  • http://twitter.com/Flipmattic1 Flipmattic

    how do i join gamebreaker guild on blackgate?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1339406775 Matthew Riddle

      there is no “official” gamebreaker guild, but there are two fan-made gamebreaker guilds on Blackgate, Gamebreakers (may be with a z), and Triple B. 
      http://tripleb-online.com/ They are full right now, but may be pruning inactive members at the end of the month.

    • Keigh

       The guild is currently capped but you can go to http://tripleb-online.com/ to check when invites have opened back up.

  • http://www.kaiketsu.enjin.com/ Corey “Crimzen”

    Dude, I think you nailed it at the end Mike be comparing it to how oldschool rpg’s played. I’ve been getting that feeling from a nostalgia aspect when playing guild wars 2 but, also from a design and mechanics aspect as well. I’ve had no issue leveling what so ever, I’m actually level 76 atm and I haven’t even been to a lot of the level 50 or 60 zones yet. I think it’s because I’ve messed with basically every aspect of the game, I’m used to exploring, I’m used to doing those extra side events including WvW, that you typically see in oldschool rpgs like final fantasy etc like you stated. To me it’s a really awesome way to design a game, having your main story yes, but also having these extra events which can kind of tie those points together and also  add extra flavor to the game as a whole.

    I think it’s definitely easier for oldschool rpg players to relate to and figure out how this game works, more so then players who maybe started out with games like WoW or Swtor that had more of a linear questing experience(Before I get flamed, not saying they were bad, just different). I think over time though most players will adapt and hopefully appreciate it for what it is. I’m sure though there will be a few who don’t like it and decide it’s not for them. In any case great article and video hit guys!

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      Thanks for the post.  I’m just finding it so interesting how players are leveling from 60 to 80.

  • St_Draco

    The problem I’ve noticed is that most people don’t seem to be spreading out for the hearts.  What I mean is that people rush to the heart and then do the activity closest to the heart over and over to fill it then move on.  But most of the hearts have multiple things to do and cover a wide area on the map. By restricting yourself to just a small area you close yourself off to finding events.

    Personally I try not to notice the hearts so much.  Rather I focus on going to events, points of interest, vistas and skill points.  When I wander into a heart area, I just do things as I go.  I don’t stop to fill the heart right away, because I know that if I keep moving I’ll eventually come across an event that will fill the heart for me.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ITHF7XKYGVXFAPCDMDJTKHLBBU Lian Wan

      Additionally many of the hearts have a ‘do stuff’ or ‘kill stuff’ option. The ‘do stuff’ options can sometimes fill up a heart extremely quick but those activities provide 0 xp on their own. If they went with the ‘kill stuff’ option that providing xp on their own and they could be contributing to the daily at the same time.

  • http://twitter.com/moldysheriff Sando

    now if the dynamic events wern’t broke 20% of the time then it might work better.

    • snoopyowns

      That’s rough if you have that bad of luck. I just got the 500 Event achievement last night and I’ve only seen 2 bugged events. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1367875086 Nick Ries

        Its mainly the orr endgame zone thats broke

  • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

    Scott, during the first BWE, I attempted to play GW2 by following the personal story. Doing the hearts and DE along the way.  Just following the personal story put be so far behind the leveling curve.

    Did the video end up blaming the players?

    I would be interested in how players are level from 60 to 80.  Keep hearing about players just leveling through crafting.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Hatcher/100000111448255 David Hatcher

       My highest is 76 from exploring, doing DEs/hearts and personal story.  I have also spent a few hours joining lower level guild-mates in their zones and personal story.  There are some Asura gates on Orr that are unlocked by personal story so if you are not going to transition to WvW or PvP its probably worthwhile to get your personal story done.  Personal story also has HUGE XP awards (as much as 1/4 of a level for a single personal story quest.

    • Perivayne

      I’ve leveled to max by completing 60% of the map content and getting 100% in several maps. During exploring, I’ve done every event, renown and vista. I’ve crafted my own armor up to level cap during this and I never had an ounce of trouble having enough level to do any content.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/ITHF7XKYGVXFAPCDMDJTKHLBBU Lian Wan

        That is about the same for me, except I don’t feel like I’ve done all events. According to the achievements I’ve done 470 events but that is between all characters and I have both an lv80 and a lv40. The crafting has been the same with the occasional ‘craft an item for a friend’.

        I wonder how many people are staying away from crafting due to crappy experience in other games. I’ve had one where I would just set the crafting thing going and went to sleep because it was going to be 4 hours of my character standing around playing the crafting animation.

  • http://twitter.com/JadeTalon Travis

    Good job Scott! Great article.

  • Bclemonsii

    The problem is this game promised freedom and instead we have to kinda rome around or travel to a new zone…….which sucks if u dont care for exploration, map, personal story or dont like it makes the grind to 80 brutal till u get to the mid 30s

    • Perivayne

      Instead of being forced to remain in one map only until you can level out of it? Being able to move from city to city, zone to zone is freedom.

      • Bclemonsii

         i see ur point……but i meant the freedom to lvl how u want 2

    • http://www.facebook.com/lsagol Santiago Alejandro Aguilar Mej

      Well if i quote ”
      which sucks if u dont care for exploration, map, personal story or dont like it makes the grind to 80″ then u have WvWvW where u can gain a lot of Xp and loot for your PvE current lvl, and if you don’t like that either, and if you don’t enjoy what GW2 offers you.
       i might say GW2 isn’t for you.

      • Bclemonsii

         “GW2 isn’t for you.” is like the only defense fans have its like instead of saying there are problems yall seem to just say “its not for you” that is just weird it like no1 can have ne arguments about GW2 w/o get’n hit with that statement as the end all statement……I have no problems with GW2 except the xp gain sub lvl 30 and as for WvWvW which is great fun its like a 20 min Q alot of times on my sever so i cant just go straight into it so as i said before u only have 4 options which is explore the map, switch zones, find a Dynamic Event rotation(which I did)….or like u said just turn it off cause its not for me(which is bull)

        I mean “F” the fact ppl spent thier money on it and want a change just stop and let the fanboys play it…….not say’n u are a fanboy or anything but small adjustments at early lvls like as for right now while game is still fresh make the DE reset alil quicker would help a bunch in the starter zones… Quessdale is ok but the asura 1 is so grindy to me

        • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.hornsby.7 Jonathan Hornsby

          >”GW2 isn’t for you.” is like the only defense fans have its like instead
          of saying there are problems yall seem to just say “its not for you”
          that is just weird it like no1 can have ne arguments about GW2 w/o get’n hit with that statement as the end all statement. <

          That is because most people don't see those as problems. Believe it or not a lot of people LIKE to explore in the game, and to them they are just being rewarded for something they were going to do anyway. People say GW2 is not for you because it obviously isn't; the problems you keep going on about are purely subjective, they are opinions. And more than a few people, arguably the GW2 target audience, like these things.

          That said if you can't see the difference between simply not liking something and an actual problem with that thing I pity you. You are going to have a very rough life.

          • Bclemonsii

            u pity me?? really i mean there is a problem if enuff ppl said that to where they felt they had to go in and make a vid to show or break the the starter lvl curve thing……which is cool i guess no problems there. and say’n its not for me…not like’n 1 thing?? GW2 is a pretty good game if u can get pass the very slow start. i have no issues past the 1st 30 lvls or so through my grind to 80….after which u can hit a dungeon and the DE are alil faster. and as for the ppl who LIKE explore’n good for them they should be rewarded but if u dont then “F” u bull has to die

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrstuartlee Stuart Lee

    My top tip for playing Guild Wars 2 is to stop using the waypoints.
    Nothing happens to you if you’re teleporting around instantly, and this game is all about being in the world and getting involved with what’s happening around you. It’s more fun, you will level quicker and you’ll see a whole lot more content that you would be missing if you’re always using the waypoints.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=629731285 Adam Steley

    You also don’t need to stick to one zone, multiple zones, go where you want, even if you only want to do hearts, do hearts on the other race’s maps. I have done hardly any hearts – since I gather resources and find untouched mobs, have done fun things like levelling 7 times on my way to a personal story in the 20/30s. 

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      While I agree with the mechanics of your post.  I can understand why some “purest” players may want to stick with one race starting area and organically move from zone to zone.  This way leveling each race is a totally different experience. 

  • somebodyorother

    People definitely need to look at all possible sources of exp if they’re falling behind in zones.  It’s actually weird to me that this has been a complaint because my problem was the opposite–I was outleveling zones before I had completed all of the stuff to do in the zones.  I was mostly keeping up with crafting and my personal story, as well as hitting all the DEs I came across (and then hanging out for a minute or two after a DE to see if there was a follow-up event as is often the case), although I didn’t PvP at all until I hit max level.  I hit 80 without really even getting into the 70+ zones except to do the first couple of steps of personal story.  I actually felt a little unprepared at 80 because in MMOs I usually have had to grind so much that I’ve accumulated a bunch of stuff to use at max level by the time I get there.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P4HMCB2HFGNQRRKG5SO33L5LCQ Age Of Majority

    It really does speak to the mindset of a gamer if they encounter trouble while leveling. GW2 gives you more ways to gain experience than any mmo i have ever played. Completing your dailies will also give you a nice xp bonus and i like the fact that they are tiered objectives. You can go for the top tier if you have the time or just for the bottom ones and still get good xp. 

    I’m lvl 78 but every once in a while i run Caudecus’s Manor with lower lvl guildies and i’ll get 150k xp because it scales with your lvl, just like everything else in the game. It makes helping out lower levels a challenge and a reward. In my opinion that kicks ass. I’ve played plenty of mmo’s where helping your friends out seemed like a chore because you didn’t get xp and your friends would just stand around while you curb stomped the mobs. Great improvement.

    One thing i didn’t quite grasp when i began was that dynamic events often chain together. You’ll finish an event and afterwards the npc’s will stand around and have a conversation. When i first started i would just run off to find something else to do. Only later did i learn that most of the time another DE would occur where i was standing only minutes after i ran off. 

    I’ve only touched three dungeons in the game. I’ve pvped once and tried WVW twice. Pvp and WVW are definitely something i’ll be getting into, really fun stuff. Hardly even looked at crafting. I did, however 100% each home city and three zones. Also gives you an xp bonus and some good items when you finish one.

    It really is a shame GW2 hasn’t sold many more copies even though what they have sold is good. I don’t know why someone wouldn’t pick it up. No sub, fun gameplay and a new take on the genre. WOW, is the facebook of mmo’s. Everyone continues to pay the sub because everyone they know plays it. It stagnates the market and it’s the reason you see people that just don’t know how to play GW2. Wow was a good game for it’s time but that time should have passed long ago. If not for your wallet, do it for mmo players like me who want something different. Pwease? GW2′s time will come and pass as well, that’s the way it should be, so something new, different and inventive can come along.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryan.allgood.37 Ryan Allgood

    In my opinion, Queensdale is the problem.  I’m not sure what it is about that zone, but each of my humans (both on Live and on BWEs) has struggled to keep up with the leveling curve without a lot of time spent actively searching for events and doing crafting or WvW.  On the other hand, my Norn and Sylvari both had no issues doing events on the way to new Renown hearts, with no crafting or WvW.  I feel like something is missing in Queensdale.  Maybe not enough events, maybe things aren’t giving the right exp, but something is off with that zone in particular.

  • http://twitter.com/CheapEngr CheapEngr

    My only major complaint is that this nice, freeform method of play doesn’t steer you toward the right areas and the right levels. I have followed the terrain thru a portal and found myself in an area 20 levels higher than my char. The advantage of quest chains is that they point you in the right direction. GW2 *does* have certain level mobs in certain places – at least a better indicator on the map besides “1-15″ would help players know which way to turn. I’m sure each section of the map is laid out in some sort of progression of levels – but without quests steering you there I don’t know where to go. Adding level range blobs to the map would be helpful to those who wish to use it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P4HMCB2HFGNQRRKG5SO33L5LCQ Age Of Majority

      Almost all of the zones have a scout at the entrances. Indicated by a spyglass on your map or over their head. If you talk to them they will reveal hearts in your area and you can hover over them to find out the level recommended for that quest, which is the level you will need to be for everything around it. Even when you walk into a new zone you can simply target a mob and it will reveal the level of it beside its name. If it’s much higher than yours, backtrack. Once you’ve explored some parts of a zone it’s easy to identify where one ends and another begins. I’d rather have the freedom to go where i want than to be on rails or have to be led by the hand at every step.

    • http://twitter.com/AruasTear Dieter

       The RHs show you a level range around them.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ITHF7XKYGVXFAPCDMDJTKHLBBU Lian Wan

      The hearts serve that purpose as well. Each heart also has a level associated with it and you can reveal hearts without visiting the locations by talking to a scout. Scouts are also useful for hunting down that last missing heart on a map you can’t see to find.

  • http://twitter.com/SilverTaurusPL SilverTaurus

    Im already lv80. I had problems with Exp in two first zonenes but never again after it. 
    I was doing personal story, crafting, Dynamic events on my way and exploring every bit of the map (checking every cave/house/rivers for hidden caves, talking with NPCs – ofc completing map on 100%).. but was doing it at once.. in single pass through zone. Is that wrong?. (My comp cant handle WvW zergs and I didnt want to spoil myself with zones of other races for now).
    Again .. I had problems only i first 2 zones. After lvl25 i didnt change my game style, and was doing fine.
    Scott said he first done bigger part of the zone, THEN explored vistas and PoI doing AGAIN all DEs on the way.. thats significant, unmentioned bonus. This would be equal to “Go and hunt DEs again allover the zone for next hour!”

    I dont think many people go just “Heart to Heart”.. and when people lucky enough to get much DE (5 at single heart?!) or spent lots of time in WvW are later calling everyone else “rushing” or “skipping content” I find it offensive x.x

  • http://twitter.com/Adelas Della Dreher

    I have to underscore the point about grabbing those POIs and vistas… and even the skill opints and waypoints. I mean, who wouldn’t run around and get every waypoint available so that when they want to go somewhere, they can go there by the most direct teleport point? My husband, that’s who! (rolleyes). And skill points are important to get, not only because of the XP they grant towards your next level, but getting skill points gives you the ability to have more than 6 skills on  your bar!

    The vistas are a little bit of work, and I’m horrible at jumping, but the satisfaction at completing them is just that much greater for me. The camera moves too fast on most of the vistas for me to truly enjoy the awesome views they’re showcasing, but still, it’s a little mini challenge, done in <5 minutes and gives you some xp and works toward your area completion.

    Also, I've seen others post it here, but another thing to work on that I felt was underrepresented in this article is the dailies (gathering, kill variety, number of kills, and dynamic events). That gives you a little bit of grinding (just enough to hit your daily number) plus half a dozen dynamic events, which gives a nice amount of karma as well as the needed xp.

    So… my method for leveling has been: run around an area trying to get area completion (every single heart, waypoint, vista, and poi). Gather every crafting material available to me. Every time I see a new type of mob (ie, I was near bandits and now I see a drake and a moa), I kill a single one of the new type. Stop and participate every single time I see a dynamic event. I don't necessarily stay for the whole event – if it's an escort event, I stay for the first 2-3 groups of mobs, and then head back toward whatever poi or heart I was headed towards. And then if there is anything left of my dailies, I do that before I log off.

    I have outleveled the starting area on all four of the characters I've worked on.

  • http://twitter.com/Adelas Della Dreher

    I agree that clearer level range markers would help, and with my characters in beta, I had trouble because I expected the levels to go up in a straight line, and in Queensdale it’s a weird spiral line – I went from a level 2 area to what I thought was the next heart, and it was the level 5 area instead of level 3.(which was in a different direction).
    However, I did learn that I could tooltip over a heart and it would show me the level of that heart quest.

  • TheHolgar

    I love GW2, i am lvl52 now  and i am still just running around in all the areas even if i have “completed” them 100%. And dont care what lvl the area is that i am in, if i feel for a snowmap i go there, if i feel for much water i go there – just love it. I am just roaming around and living the game :) – This is the best that have happened the mmogenre for a long time, for me atleast.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001534352717 Tim Ogul

     I love GW2′s DEs, but they are unreliable as a primary means of gaining XP. I can wander a zone and bounce form DE to DE non-stop, or I can wander a zone for an hour and maybe only come across one or two. They are far too random. I really do wish that there was a wider indicator of available DEs, so that instead of only seeing the ones that are barely beyond your line of sight, you could see on the map DEs that were taking place all the way across it, and then travel to those if you wished.

    • http://twitter.com/Kichwas Kichwas

       Talk to NPCs everywhere. I’ve triggered a lot of DEs just by talking to the right NPC.

  • Jado Cast

    I know people who say they are always behind the curve, but me personally, have always been way ahead because I explored all the cities, and did all the starting zones first.  By the time I made it to level 25 area I was 10 levels ahead.  I’m not at level 66 still playing level 45 areas.  But I’m a completionist and have done some crafting and WvW as well.  I just don’t see the leveling problem, but I can only based that on my own experience.  During BWE’s I played Necro instead of thief and never had an issue either.  

  • http://twitter.com/Kichwas Kichwas

    Personal Story would likely get you about 2-3 levels on its own. Daily
    Achiev can stack a half to a full level – more if you’re slow.

    Exploring more, talking to NPCs more… etc.

    I’ve
    been having an opposite problem from the complaints: I’ll hit level 15
    on an alt while the zone is only at 60-70%. My main will end up at
    around 80-90% by hitting the end level.
    - This is a “problem” in that
    I have to spend a little time at the end just running to some points –
    but it is quite easy to level out a zone before completing it – you just
    need to be active with the world, not the map.

     

  • Valerie Lusk

    I was doing that with my husband. We’d level our characters together, just trying to fill in the map, doing events along the way and we’d end up being 3-4 levels below what was needed to move on. Which made it tough since we were playing a thief and an elementalist. We just went to another “starter” area, finished that map and now we’re more than ready for the next one. Now and then we’ll stop and do our stories, but for the most part its just running around. Its kinda fun to see how tough of enemies we can take. :)

  • http://twitter.com/kubes3 kubes

     By the time I got to lvl 80 my story was at only 65 because I got into dungeon & I did not do much of the DEs from the lvl 60-80 zone (just tried every dungeon & discovered 80% of the wavepoints in he game). To say leveling is too difficult is pretty insane…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1376002417 Moneey Munni

    I have a lvl 80 Guardian and the only issue I’ve ever had is deciding which zone to quest in (because there are so many to pick from).  I was fast leveler too and found myself completing the entire zone before I was of level to tackle the others.  Regardless, I still tackled the higher level content and found the challenge quite enjoyable.  When all else failed, I just filled out my levels in another level appropriate zone and continued on.  I rather liked not having my hand held – that’s why I play MMO’s.  Personally, I think the game provides a great balance of guidance to newer players while offering a very high level of freedom to more seasoned gamers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pandonodrim Ryan Rittenhouse

    One of the things that wasn’t mentioned is that there are 5 starting areas. So if all you want to do is the “hearts” in order to level you can use the Asura gates (present in every starting stronghold) to travel to all the other 1-15 levels and finish all those hearts. This would give you far more experience than you need to level-up through the beginning levels.

    • bsqminus4ac

      I thought of that also. In addition, who in their right mind would avoid doing the personal story? I LOVE the personal stories!!!

    • ScottHawkes

      Absolutely true Ryan, but I didn’t want to get into that due to the focus on the one area and the amount of content available in it. Thanks for the comment.

  • Morturion

    I think that indeed people have to get used to leveling in GW2. If you only go from hearth to hearth and don’t wander around, explore a bit, craft some better items to equip and so on, you fall behind. Perhaps most MMO-players are to used to having to rush lvling to max level to enjoy playing the real content with other players. But in GW2 you can just do what you feel like, with other people, not having to bother to much about what lvl you are. Hell, it took me some getting used to not being forced to do stuff by the game …

  • bsqminus4ac

    Well done Scott! I thought your test was very well thought out and quite impartially performed. I’m level 42 with my own beloved Engineer and I’ve always found myself at par or over leveled for a specific area. 

    I am a bit of a manic completionist but thus far have avoided the temptation to go out of my way to find each and every point on a map to get completion of a map (yes it irks the heck out of me and I will go back and fill in the bits). The reason I haven’t given in to my completionist side as of yet is that there are always so many delightful things going an around me that I’m constantly sidelined into doing something else. If an NPC runs up to me wanting help I’m loath not to answer their call and thus I simply haven’t had time to actively search out missing bits of the map. 

    Played as the game is meant to be played there are more than enough sources of XP to go around. Played in terms of going from quest to quest in the typical power level mode, the result will be having an under level character.

    • ScottHawkes

      Cheers, Bsq, much appreciated.

  • Perry Ahern

    The trick is to look beyond the renown hearts to the other symbols on the map. Sure, nobody should be forced to do exploration, but those points of interest, vistas, vendors, etc. serve secondary purposes as well since they mark additional content. There are so many times that obtaining a POI has turned into a wealth of xp as it led me to a cave full of mobs perfect for farming crafting items (scales, fangs, etc. that you can sell for good money if you don’t want to craft with them), to hidden chests, to random encounters, and so much more.

    Think of the hearts as the major xp destinations and the POIs, etc., as your secondary sources and you’ll be outleveling every zone before you finish exploring it.

  • RockerDC3

    I really wish people ould grow up and learn to be independent instead of relying on others to spoon feed them. Sadly, the Prussian educational systems are creating helpless dependent conformists instead of helpful independent individuals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.j.hayes Paul J Hayes

    Finally, something intelligent on GBTV, and not rambling about week old news. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000267750957 Andre Graf

    i found that Queensdale runs very smooth with its leveling curve, the kessex hills are the one that have to be prooved, tehre aren´t enough events to not do some event 4 to 5 times.
    On every Heart Quest i decide to wait a few secs., sometimes something happens nd than there is a new event.
    In the kessex hills there aren´t much events, just the hearts and a few events that prog. The Kessex Hills gave me the feeling of grinding, a little bit, after kessex Hills everything was fine again. Only the Kessex Hills need to be proved.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R35J5EUERGS3E6JRIQMBCDTRRY Nathan I

      there are a lot of events in kessex hills as well, waiting does help sometimes, but the main thing is to explore. One of my characters went from around 21 to 35 in kessex hills. The only event I repeated (around 3 times or so) is the guard patrol thing.

  • http://twitter.com/Coldsnap187 James Vermilling

    Really good article, as always Scott, I completely agree with you. Just the other day I literally had to sit my brother down and explain to him how to level since he was using hearts as quest hubs, he just couldn’t grasp the concept, so i made him sit down and watch me level the proper way, all the while he was looking completely baffled as to why i was running off to look at random things that caught my eye. He now understands that it is ok to go off and explore, that you will be rewarded for just getting lost in Tyria. MMOs have been to similar for too long, like a stagnant pool, but GW2 might just be that spring of water that brings fresh life to the MMO market.

    • ScottHawkes

      Thanks James, it does take an adjustment of expectations to grasp the central idea to Guild Wars 2′s leveling. Which is one of the things I like about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ben.C.2G Benjamin Cheng

    Bit slow idk I’ve played a whole day then quite infrequently due to upcoming exams I would have to drop it for a while I’ve been exploring and with like 30+ hours 13? good enough I think I still need to explore as some of the vistas and stuff haven’t been completed and story as well as divinity’s reach omg one last point of interest!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cray wulf

    I think the problem here is Renown Hearts (RHs) don’t really do a good job of teaching players to seek out Dynamic Events (DEs). The RHs do not have characteristics of a typical NPCs that trigger DEs. Most if not all RHs are static, they never move around on the map. So in many ways they behave like traditional quest hubs.

    • Nick Cattane

      They don’t move around the map?  Clearly you haven’t done many DE’s.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brett.leary.7 Brett Leary

        He was talking about how RHs are static and don’t move around the map.

  • rognik

    I don’t know if the people complaining about the leveling curve did the personal story or not, but I think that’s just as important to progressing as the hearts and other experience gaining points. I have not taken a crafting skill myself, nor have I done any PvP or WvW content, maybe harvested a few nodes as I come across them and definitely detoured for any dynamic event that pops up on my screen, and those, combined with my personal story, got me pretty close to the leveling curve that is expected. My asura hasn’t even gotten half of the vistas in Metrica Province, but he still got to around level 15 by the time his personal story had him go to the next zone.

  • http://twitter.com/Alysianah Alysianah Mystic

    I’m worried about leveling too quickly.  I don’t see how anyone who’s actually playing the PVE, exploring, doing at least harvesting and their Personal Story is having an issue leveling.  Since when can you do just one part of the content and expect to be 100% the level to leave the zone and then complain about it to boot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beki.jane1 Beki Jane

    as an experiment I ignored hearts as irrelevant, only completing them if they happened to get filled with a DE or killing stuff to get to a vista or POI. I simply went looking for vistas, PoIs and DEs. I was level 17 with two hearts left to complete in Queensdale before I thought about moving on. I did no crafting or WvW. More confirmation that the hearts really aren’t the major levelling mechanic.

  • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

    Scott, next article should be how players are getting from level 60 to level 80. Ran my level 63 Elementalist through AC story again, I was shocked I got a level from a single run. 

    Also, did anyone else hear the dungeon xp got a nerf?

    • Nick Cattane

      Starting around level 25, the most efficient way to get to 80 is to stick to groups of 5-10 persons as it is the most effective way to tackle dynamic events, doesn’t bog down hearts, makes exploring easy, and you can tag mobs easily (not competing with a big zerg).  Personal story + starting to craft at level 70 also helps a bit.  If you do cooking at 70, you can easily get 80 – remember all crafts give you 10 levels, but if you use them early (like going level 20 to 30), its not as much of a benefit as going level 70 to 80.

      This is coming from soneone that has 200+ hours of play under their belt since launch as well (/age).

      • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

        That’s inline with my experiences so far.  About level 30 I found hearts to bog down my gameplay and turn into a bit of a grind, so I now pick and choose which hearts I tackle.   From 30 to 60 I tackled the POI, Vistas and Skill points(so far got one of elite skills unlocked and 32 unused skill points.)  For me grouping up in Dynamic Events is fun gameplay and lots of xp.  I am debating my next moves now that I’m level 64.  I really need to catch up on Artifice if I’m going to attempt the legendary staff or scepter(is there a legendary scepter?)  

        I haven’t tackled cooking yet, so I’ll continue to save that for level 70. 

        • Jay

          My warrior is only level 66, so were about the same level, and I’ve barely touched my story quests. I’ve gotten a lot of XP through helping friends level and completing dungeons. So far I almost have 1000 dynamic events completed ^^ BTW I can confirm there was a buff to dungeon XP ( dungeon specific to level specific) then back to down again. I’m not sure how the system works this time, but my bud and I are testing it… I went from getting 26k XP in CM to 67k XP at around level 60, back down to 40k XP just recently.

          They also made CM a lot tougher since people were farming it. We found it amusing because we’re so accustomed to Blizzard nerfing dungeons, but instead ANet makes them harder LOL.

  • Fomorian82

    Most effective way to level I’ve found is to:

    1- Gather
    2- Get 100% completion on points of interest, vistas ect…
    3- Do all dynamic events you come across
    4- Then do Hearts
    5- Craft
    6- Personal story is just gravy

    So far I am always above level for the zone I’m in.

    PS: I’m keeping PvP for end game

  • DoctorOverlord

    Excellent article Scott!   I also haven’t had any issue with the leveling curve at all, in fact I’ve
    been over-leveled for the content/zones I’m in almost all of the time.      Of course, I’ve been dabbling in a mixture of activities.   I do dynamic events whenever I see them and a lot of exploring.  I usually don’t like crafting but GW2 crafting it pretty painless so I’ve included some in my game time and I’ve been amazed at how much XP that gives.

    I very much agree with your sentiment “ I’m highly grateful that after a decade of incredible similarity — with some exceptions — we might have a move towards some differentiation.”

    The MMO community has whined to see something different for years and now that they’ve been given something that evolves the genre a bit they complain that it’s not what they’re used to seeing.   TBH none of GW2 ‘s actual game mechanics are that paradigm-shaking, one can argue ArenaNet’s design philosophy might be but not the mechanics and MMO players are showing how they can’t handle it.

    Times like this I actually feel sorry for developers when one sees some of the nonsense the community gives them for feedback.  The MMO genre and community has built up expectations of stagnation and that’s not something to be proud of.   Like the con-stink that annoys Gary so much, maybe it’s time something should be done about it but that can only happen when the MMO players themselves make the effort.   And if they’re not willing to make the effort to adapt to something new then they shouldn’t be complaining and just keep playing the same garbage they’ve seen in MMOs for the last 10 years.