One of the ideas that I see frequently this week in Guild Wars 2 guides is that the game is about exploration. And to be perfectly honest, that sounds quite lovely even if the game itself isn’t for me. But why is that attitude gaining promenence now? Relaxing and exploring a new world is great advice for most other MMOs too, so where were the throngs of people declaring that we were all doin’ it wrong?
I was specifically reading this 10 Ton Hammer article on “How to Love Guild Wars 2” when I was struck by the relative newness of this emphasis on exploration. To quote the article, “If you want to find Tyria fun, embrace your inner explorer. Get yourself out of that quest-driven mindset,” and I am seeing similar advice being given all over the internet.
Certainly, there are MMOs where exploration is almost entirely out of the question — I’d say the revamped old world questing in WoW’s Cataclysm was a good example of actively dampening exploration. Often if you didn’t finish all the quests from the first hub, you’d subsequently miss out on quests through the entire zone. Someone even vaguely invested in seeing the content really had no choice but to go from A to B to C.
That wasn’t always the case in WoW, though, and while other MMOs have arguably not put the same emphasis on exploration, they certainly would benefit from such an approach by players. What’s going on in SWTOR? Go exploring! Find odd things to click on that would kill you, and datacrons. Stumble across a small town and help the citizens, then roll back on out into the space night. What’s up in RIFT? Climb a mountain and find some weird group of dwarves up there just hanging out, and maybe get an achievement for it. And classic WoW… well, anyone who says they didn’t enjoy the exploration back in the day was, indeed, doing it wrong.
I am a little put off that some of the same people who were the “go go go” types have changed their tune to “it’s exploration, stupid”, but at the end of the day they’re right — it IS about relaxing and having fun and exploring. I’m not entirely sure how that became the current hot gameplay ethos, though. Maybe I just haven’t seen the right conversations, but it strikes me as odd that many players will fight to make WoW ever more of a lobby-based game while exhorting the joy of exploration in Tyria.
Perhaps it’s the newness and novelty of the content?
I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of the advice that I see applied to playing Guild Wars 2 right now also works very well with other MMOs, should you find yourself playing another MMO. In fact, some of us have been treating our games that way to some degree this entire time. I heartily recommend it.