January 4, 2013 by Devin
I feel like everyone has in their mind an image of what a video game is. I do not mean that they know what a video game is technically or can differentiate between a game and a movie. I mean that I think that most people, when they hear the words “video” and “game” put together, conjure up an image of a particular type of play. For me, that image is usually a cross between an adventure-oriented game like Zelda and a 3D platformer like Spyro the Dragon (both of these games are games from my childhood, which explains the connection). Not only is there an emphasis on self-improvement, on finding trinkets and stuff that make my character stronger, but there is also a deep sense of place. Different areas connect to each other in a meaningful way, and there is also a deep emphasis on exploration. I did not expect Guild Wars 2 to fall into this category. I knew that I was going to like Guild Wars 2 from when I first heard that it was an Massively Multiplayer Online game without a subscription fee, but my excitement only grew from there. Learning about the combat mechanics, the different classes, and the player vs. player modes made me more excited, but I never thought that exploration would be a key theme in the game. I think that is because, traditionally, MMOs do not encourage exploration. Sure, they move players from one location to another, but the movement is guided and does not really feel like the player is in charge. If the player does go out on their own, then they find areas that are too hard for them, meaning they cannot progress, or too simple, meaning that there are no challenges and thus no rewards. However, Guild Wars 2 is different. If a high level player enters a low level area, the game will lower his or her level to the zone they are in while at the same time giving them rewards as if they were in a higher level zone. This balancing means that at no point in time is a zone effectively pointless for a player. They can always find something to do, and they will be rewarded similarly as if they were in a higher level zone. What I love about this is that the game lets me progress at my own pace. I often like to play through games leisurely, taking my time and never rushing. With most MMOs, setting my own pace is difficult to do because I will have out-leveled content if I do not move along quickly enough. In addition, Guild Wars 2 is fantastic for completionists. Much like a game like Spyro the Dragon, there are tons of different little things to collect, and the game lets you know how much you have to do and where you can find what. This small gesture is huge for me because I love having an excuse to go exploring in a world, and Guild Wars 2 gives me plenty of them. I do not really have a critical angle on this particular issue (probably because my thoughts on the game are just “I want to go back to playing it right now”). I just found it interesting how this one little section of my video game psyche got brought up here. Do you have a quintessential video game? If so, what would that be?