One of the under-marketed aspects of Guild Wars 2 is how natural it is for you to customize your leveling experience to what you prefer. You can do as much or as little exploration as you like, you can engage in PvP or dungeon runs, you can hunt down points of interest or stick to dynamic events, and you can craft. All of this awards XP, and it never stops rolling in.
My preference is going for 100% map completion, which may seem at odds to the typical flow but whatever. It’s what I want to do. While I’m just level 29 and plenty of folks I know are 40, 60 or above, it’s totally fine. I don’t feel rushed and I love having plenty on my plate for this first run-through.
Here are eight advantages I’ve discovered for being a map completionist (every skill challenge, point of interest, vista, and heart):
1. You keep making XP, even if you’re overleveled. Because GW2 auto-levels you down to match the current area, it not only remains somewhat of a challenge to go through these beginner zones, but I’m also still earning XP. Hey, I’d rather get some than none, and I’ve been surprised just how much I get from the dynamic events and from filling out the map. As a point of comparison, when I finished the Asura beginner area, I was level 17. I’ve gotten 12 additional levels from fully exploring four cities and two other starter zones.
2. It familiarizes you with the world. I want to get to know this brand-new game world, and by setting map completion as my goal, it’s a good way to make sure I do just that. I’m not rushing through areas, but am exploring them, getting to know them, and finding all sorts of fun little surprises.
3. It expands your wealth. I’m sure if I was at level-appropriate content right now, I’d be getting a lot more money, but I’m not complaining at what I do bring in. Building up a bank account with money and karma will help in the future. That’s a good feeling; I hate being broke.
4. It unlocks your skills. Since part of map completion is doing all the skill challenges and thus getting those points, it’s helping to quickly unlock all of my skill options.
5. It unlocks all the waypoints. That means that in the future, I can pretty much jump around the world all willy-nilly without worrying that I might have to do long runs to get somewhere to hook up with a friend or what have you.
6. It sets you up for life with crafting mats. Crafting is a blast in GW2, but sometimes you find yourself needing more mats than what you find during casual adventuring. This is not the case when you’re completing all the maps in the same level brackets, because it’s almost impossible to avoid stocking up on barrels full of useful mats. Plus, you get tons of rare mats, which are highly useful for some recipes. Pro tip: Since you’re unlocking all the karma (heart) vendors, definitely check out what they have to sell. Several offer special recipes or crafting mats in bulk for just a little bit of all that karma you’ve been raking in.
7. Map achievement treasure chests are incredible. When you fill out a whole map, you’ll unlock an achievement and get a special treasure chest for it. The city maps are so-so, but the zones cough up all sorts of goodies. I’ve gotten a heapload of mats, Black Lion chest keys, green gear, money, and more.
8. It’s just fun. Of course, this is subjective, but I really don’t feel rushed to get to 80 (for… what, really?). Events in lowbie zones are fun whether you’re 4 or 30, and it’s a rush to explore this virtual playground.
I could probably go way past just eight items on this list, such as never worrying about having enough XP so you’ll be able to access higher levels. I’m not saying this approach is idea or perfect for everyone, but I’m greatly enjoying it so far.