During PAX Prime 2015 ArenaNet CEO, Mr. O’Brien, announced that the (core) game turns free-to-play, effective immediately! The influx of new players has been nothing sort of legendary. All of them have one thing in common: a dire need for hands-on information about this massive new world they’re thrown in.
Tilion’s ‘New to Guild Wars 2’ initiation post & Lady Verene’s ‘How to be an achiever’ made me go back to my roots, so to speak. I read back through older DS articles and notes of mine and have added some suggested articles and sites in my comments section to Tilion’s article. All these tips and advice have one common goal: to help players who (will) start fresh have a rich and fun experience and get the most out of the game.
Regardless of the pace they go about it -be them ‘sprinters’ or ‘scholars-, being a thorough Explorer will earn you the most rewards. Those who wish to hurry to level 80 in order to get to the high level areas of the game and be prepared for the expansion, will lack the money, rewards and achievements when that time comes. On the other hand, those who prefer to take their sweet time and explore each nook and corner of the world, will be further rewarded with the beauties and awesomeness Tyria has to offer. Being thorough and being efficient can and do walk hand in hand here. Exploration and participation are two key factors in one’s bountiful and rich journey in GW2. So, how does one become a proficient Explorer?
Explorer & Collector, combined: The purposeful Journeyman’s path
My advice to new players: do not rush through the ‘content’! Regardless of whether you enjoy looking at the scenery and all the incredible places ArenaNet artists have created, you should take your time. If you don’t like to roam around, use my tips below to make your roaming less… aimless. Discover the purpose! What will you gain? I like to think you will get the most out of the game. You will get to experience a wider variety of content, gain XP faster, possibly get better loot (certainly more!), definitely accumulate the most achievement points possible. Let’s have a look at some, if not all, of the advantages of being a thorough and methodical roamer then.
- The region Explorer achievements (5 of them) are about discovering all of the locations (areas) in each of the five core regions of Tyria. There are some infamous easy-to-miss areas and there’s also a page with all the areas required to get these achievements. Two things are worth mentioning here:
- Getting map completion 100% in an area does not mean you also explored all the places needed for the region Explorer achievement! Cross-check with the pages above before you leave a map behind: look for the white-colored place names on your map!
- If you find you’re missing some Points of Interest (PoI), Waypoints (WP), or Hero Challenges (SC) in an area in order to get 100% map completion, don’t fret: open up your map (‘M’) and hover your mouse over the icon of the missing location(s) at the top left. You will see all the respective locations blink on your map!
- Map completion rewards include transmutation stones (the vanity bug will bite you at some point, trust me!) plus 10% XP towards the next level -regardless of your current level- among other things. The only downside is that it requires you to do all the ‘hearts’ events, which is in general a pace-breaker.
- Collection achievements: in almost every map of the game there are items -precious trinkets or simple junk- to be collected. Don’t let the opportunity to gain some extra APs pass you by! Read my article to find out how you can get your hands on these are collectibles and precious achievement points in the most efficient way!
- Under the generic ‘Explorer’ category we find the Dive Master achievement. Its completion requires the discovery of 38 diving locations and a successful (i.e. non-lethal) jump in the water mass below, while in your bathing suit. Note that 6 out of the 44 in total locations do not count towards this achievement. In order to not miss a valid one then check out the right locations here.
- Jumping Puzzles are not everyone’s cup of tea. I know a lot of people who hold them in contempt or are even brought to tears when reminded of certain ones. I do cry sometimes too, even though I’m a JP aficionado… Anyway, besides the APs associated with them, one should consider practicing in preparation for the upcoming precursor crafting! A list of the JPs per area is found here.
- Some maps feature mini-dungeons. They are little hidden corners of the world, riddled wth perils and lethal traps or puzzles. Overcoming them and reaching the end of the route rewards the adventurous explorer with a special chest. More importantly, the very first time you complete one will earn you an ‘Explorer’ achievement! They are mostly fun to do, but I wouldn’t suggest going alone. A list of the game’s mini-dungeons can be found here.
- Many maps feature chains of dynamic events, marked in orange text at the top right of your screen. At the end of the chain the players will have to fight off a ‘world boss’. Each of these monsters drop a ‘boss chest’; what’s more important though is that each boss fight is associated with one or more Boss-related achievements. Enter the fight prepared: do your homework!
- Besides the ‘boss chests’, ‘dungeon chests’ and ‘jumping puzzle chests’ there are many open world chests scattered around Tyria, waiting to surprise you. If you’re lucky, you will be jumped on by a skritt burglar! Chase it, try to be as close as possible and hope to be transformed by its magic! There’s a total of five ‘transformation achievements’, one for each region of Tyria. But even if you fail to meet the skritt you will still get ascended quality materials (i.e. Empyreal Fragments) as part of the generic chest reward materials. On top of that, open world chests in Ascalon, Kryta, Maguuma Jungle and Shiverpeaks Mountains may drop the map pieces you will need to assemble the Enchanted Treasure Map collectible.
- Many ‘heart’ NPCs sell armor pieces with unique skins. Should you read “Skin locked” in the description of such a piece, don’t hesitate to spend some karma to purchase it and have the skin added to your wardrobe. Tip: you don’t need to buy the ‘expensive’ (i.e. Masterwork) version! The Fine version will do just as well. Additionally, some of these NPCs sell crafting recipes. Buy them too, as they are not available elsewhere!
- Finally, Rangers have the opportunity to charm juvenile pets they come across their journey. There is no achievement associated with this -wrongly so, in my opinion- but it’s still something that Rangers will need to do at some point. A list of “the most accessible pet locations” can be found here. Tip: short this table by ‘Zone’.
This article was meant to end here. By all means, if you feel these 10 points above serve your needs just fine you can stop reading now. However, my instinct bugged me and told me an example is required to make things clearer: “new players will read this list and be overwhelmed by the wiki pages linked throughout. I think they would find a pragmatic paradigm more useful than this rather generic wall-o-text”.
A (purposeful) Journey through Caledon Forest
This is a level (1-15) area, so every new player can reach it as soon as they finish with their tutorial, regardless of their race. Our journey starts from The Grove‘s exit into Caledon Forest, next to the Astorea Waypoint. Working our way from here all the way to the -higher, level 15, areas- to the north, we can occupy ourselves with the following:
- 19 , 18 , 20, 7 , 8 : to get 100% map completion
- 21 areas contribute towards Maguuma Explorer
- Collections: Brewmaster (1 item), Trash Collector (2 items), Uncanny Canner (1 item), Hylek Historian (1 item), Treasure Hunter (3 items) – see: my article, filter Area column to show “Caledon Forest”
- Dive Master: 1 location (middle of the bridge towards the Titan’s Staircase hero challenge)
- Jumping Puzzles: THE richest area for this type of content, featuring no less than four JPs! Look for them in Morgan’s Spiral, Dreamdark Enclave, The Verdence and Sandycove Beach
- Mini-Dungeons: two of them here! One is found inside a skritt cave at the Ruins of the Unseen, while the other lies behind a… gong-locked door inside a Hylek village.
- World Boss: the Great Jungle Wurm is fought at the end of the ‘Battle for Wychmire Swamp’ chain. Your primary goal here is getting the ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ achievement, which requires some tactical group effort
- Open world chests: a fun one at Quetzal Bay, plus five more for the Skritt Burglar achievement candidatency
- Ranger Pets: 3 pets can be charmed here, the Marsh Drake, the Jungle Stalker and the Jungle Spider
I realize I’ve probably picked THE richest area in the whole of Tyria. This was a very conscious decision. My intention is to demonstrate as much of the content available to players as possible. Besides its variety, one will eventually earn at least 90 achievement points, from this map alone! In closing then, I implore you to explore and, hopefully, this article has provided you with the motivation to do so! One final word of advice from me: bring a friend, or two, for the journey. Make it a mesmer friend, too!