Guild Wars 2‘s open world is meant to be explored! Nearly everything you can do in explorable zones—from killing enemies to harvesting resources—will give you experience points to progress your character and other rewards. That means there’s no wrong way to start your journey, and you can check out anything that catches your eye when you start playing.
In many other open-world games, you’ll encounter a non-player character who offers a quest after entering the world. Those quests are often signposts directing you to the leveling path the game expects you to take. Entering an explorable zone without quest givers can sometimes be overwhelming. Where should you go, and what should you do?
Getting in the Zone
After creating your Guild Wars 2 character, you’ll be in your chosen race’s starting explorable zone as soon as you exit the tutorial instance. One of the easiest ways to get your bearings, learn your profession, and gain experience points and rewards is to fully explore the zone.
If Guild Wars 2 is your first MMO, or if you’re new to action combat games, completing the starting zone will give you plenty of time to get used to controlling your character.
Zone completion is also a great way to get to know the world of Tyria and its inhabitants. You don’t need to find all the secrets hidden throughout the world to be rewarded for explorable zone completion…but they are out there waiting to be discovered.
Follow Your Map
While you explore, you’ll encounter events—and probably other players joining in! Characters may run up to you and ask for your help, or a peaceful area could come under sudden attack. Events will reward you based on how much you participated, so definitely pitch in if you find one in progress. You may get full participation credit even if you weren’t there from the start, but you’ll still be rewarded if not.
If you aren’t sure where you want to go yet, look for a scout NPC. These characters are marked with a spyglass icon on your map (which you can access by pressing M) and your compass in the lower right corner of your screen. Scouts will tell you where nearby renown-heart task regions and events are located.
To explore 100% of a zone, you’ll need to find and either uncover or complete everything marked by these map icons:
Points of Interest are important locations like landmarks, buildings, settlements, or places with historical significance. They’re great places to find events.
Renown hearts need to be filled to complete them. Most activities you do around a renown heart will contribute to filling a bar on the side of your screen, which will appear if you’re in the task area. Task areas are also hot spots for events. Completing them unlocks NPC vendors who sell you gear and other goods for the karma currency earned in events.
Waypoints are an option for fast travel once you’ve discovered them. Run up to a waypoint until it reacts to unlock it, and in the future, you can instantly teleport there for a small fee. Once you’ve unlocked them in multiple zones, you’ll be able to speed across Tyria in seconds!
Hero challenges reward hero points, which you’ll need to spend to unlock specializations for your character. The challenges vary by location, and some involve combat, so it’s a good idea to clear out surrounding enemies in case a fight breaks out.
Vistas mark spectacular views—and sometimes a challenging climb. While the paths to some vistas are straightforward, others are a roundabout trek or take a bit of jumping to reach. Once you interact with a vista, you’ll get a sweeping view of the scenery.
Explorable Zone Completion Rewards
Earn 100% completion in an explorable zone, and a chest will pop up on your screen containing coins, experience, materials, equipment, and either a Transmutation Charge or a Black Lion Chest Key.
To ensure that exploring any zone is always worthwhile, your character’s level will adjust to the zone you’re playing in. A character with lots of traits unlocked and more powerful gear will still have an easier time in zones they’ve over-leveled. You’ll always earn EXP and other rewards for killing enemies, participating in events, and completing map objectives. Even if your character’s level is far above what an explorable zone suggests, they’re still well worth completing for the rewards.
The most powerful and customizable weapons in Guild Wars 2 are legendary-tier weapons. Each weapon in the first set of legendaries requires a Gift of Exploration to craft and hundreds of materials from low-level to high-level tiers. Gifts of Exploration are a reward for 100% world completion, which can be achieved once per character.
Exploring zones is also a fantastic way to meet other players. You don’t need to party up to help others in Guild Wars 2‘s open world, so if you see someone on an adventure, make a friend and join them!