For the next installment of our Guild Wars 2 beta event coverage, we’ll be continuing our overview of some of the core gameplay constants that players will be introduced to in the earlier levels of the game. Specifically, we’ll be diving into the dynamic events system, including a closer look at meta event chains that features a full video run through the Secrets in the Swamp encounter with the massive Shadow Behemoth.
Dynamic events are kind of like Tootsie Rolls...
You see them everywhere you look!
As soon as you complete the racial tutorial for your character, you’ll be alerted to embark on your personal story. Before you get there, however, your first step will be to speak to a nearby scout who will alert you to the main dynamic event areas on that portion of the map.
On my human necromancer my personal story directed me to speak to Watchman Rebec who stands just down the road from the inn you’ll find yourself in following the tutorial. He alerted me to five events located just west of Shaemoor, and also provided a bit of additional info on the area in the wake of the centaur attack that takes place during the tutorial:
“The fields beyond Shaemoor are Kryta’s breadbasket. Since the centaur attack, citizens are trying to rebuild their lives, but it’s tough with bandits and dangerous wildlife roaming the area. Don’t wait for an invitation, jump in and help them!”
Excellent advice if there ever was any, as the majority of your character advancement from here on out will be based on your participation in these events. The early events tend to be fairly straight forward and easy to complete, but having taken multiple characters through the area it was much easier to see just how differently your experience might be based on when you arrive, how many other players are in the area of the event, and other factors.
Your personal story will also direct you to help one of the locals by completing an event at this point, after which you’ll be alerted via the in-game mail system to advance to the next, instanced phase of your story. More on that part of things our next installment of this article series though.
The first event that most human players will likely encounter is to help Farmer Diah who is located directly west across the bridge from the village. Even at level two, events such as this one can still have multiple stages or objectives.
On one character I mainly went around stomping on wurm mounds and collected a reward of XP, karma, and some copper for my efforts. On another run through a lot more players were around, and the fields were under attack by bandits who were attempting to burn everything in sight. On yet another run through, a massive wurm had erupted out of the ground and it took the few dozen players in the area to defeat it, with quite a few of us taking a nasty dirt nap in the process.
Events tend to branch off like this in interesting new directions on a regular basis, and for each character I leveled through Queensdale (the human level 1-15 area) I rarely had the exact same experience twice. It’s also important to note that the hearts shown on the map only represent major points of interest. You could almost consider the hearts kind of like tourist destinations, giving you a direction to head in if you’re visiting an area for the first time. But just like travel here in the real world, you’ll often find even more interesting events simply by roaming around the map in whichever direction strikes your fancy.
Early events do tend to be fairly easy to complete, but are absolutely worth taking the time to check out. Filling the heart for an event marked on the map will also turn the key NPC for that event into a karma vendor, and each one tends to sell a handful of unique items. These can run the gambit from new crafting recipes, to mastercrafted armor upgrades, and plenty of other oddities in between.
By the time you start getting towards your early- to mid-teens, you’ll also encounter some of Guild Wars 2’s many meta event chains. As soon as you enter an area where one of these meta events are located, you’ll see a new on-screen indicator that alerts you to the current status of the area. For example, in perhaps my favorite part of Queensdale, there is an awesome meta event in Godslost Swamp.
This area also contains a great lore hit for original Guild Wars players, as this is where the sunken Temple of Ages is located. Swimming down into the temple ruins you can also complete a skill challenge to earn an extra skill point, but I’d advise you to bring at least a couple of friends since the challenge marker is surrounded by some much tougher enemies than those located in the rest of the swamp.
Most of the times I entered the swamp the on-screen status for the area stated, “The swamp lies dormant.” When you see that kind of thing you’ll know that a much larger event is likely to happen in the area, so it’s a good idea to start poking around and completing any smaller nearby events.
For Godslost swamp, the meta event is called Secrets in the Swamp. In the image to the right you can see how the area status changed to indicate that a major event was about to occur, followed by another status change once the massive Shadow Behemoth erupted out of the swamp.
I could try to describe just how awesome these massive events can be, but as luck would have it I managed to put together some video footage of a complete run though the Shadow Behemoth event, added below for your viewing enjoyment:
Throughout the beta event I managed to complete the Secrets in the Swamp event chain three times, and each time through it was a total blast. These larger events are also more rewarding than your typical dynamic event, spawning a chest at the end that gives you an assortment of loot based on your level of participation. For me, the chests typically contained a mix of consumables, mastercrafted gear, or accessory upgrades.
Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I could give to MMO gamers when it comes to Guild Wars 2 is that the traditional static quest NPC model doesn’t apply here, and you’ll want to embrace the concept of completing events in whatever order you choose as soon as you begin playing. While there are some more standard NPC escort quests scattered around the world, most events are more about reacting to conditional elements based on what’s happening in your immediate surroundings.
For the tabletop gamers out there, you could almost think of dynamic events like playing through a custom campaign that’s been lovingly crafted by one of the most imaginative dungeon masters in the world. Maybe your party just helped drive back invading centaurs, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. At any moment they might launch a counter attack, or maybe by driving the centaur out of one area you put a nearby village in danger.
I honestly think that the ArenaNet developers responsible for designing dynamic events have one of the best jobs in all of gaming. Not only do they get to create all sorts of bizarre things for players to encounter as they roam across Tyria, but you get a real sense that they enjoy creating these events as much as I have playing through them.
Stay tuned for the next installment of this series where I’ll be providing a spoiler-free look at the personal story system in Guild Wars 2, followed by three unique case studies in what GW2 has to offer the solo gamer, the MMO socialite, and the hardcore PvP enthusiast. For the necro fans out there, be on the lookout for the first part of my series focused on necromancers in structured PvP, coming soon to a NecroBator near you!