Guild Wars 2 and Me Falling out of the Sky, Screaming

I’m pretty sure I got lost up there in that background at least once. Courtesy of Guildwars2.com

By Alexander Leach

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted a blog here. No excuses, no explanations, just a blog post and the hope that hiatuses won’t happen again in the future.

Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2 (as the review I wrote on the game for C&G Magazine would imply). I’m still finding new things about the game, even now, and announcements of new kinds of end-game content further cements my need to write about the variety of things to do in this, and other online RPGs.

Specifically, the Goenn’s Laboratory jumping puzzle.

A friend of mine first alerted me to this puzzle while adventuring in Metrica province, the asuran starting area. A lone arrow pointing to the sky and a passage shrouded by trees leading to a staircase of floating rocks (Asurans have the single worst examples of bridge and staircase design I have ever seen in any medium; just because you have magical technology doesn’t mean you have to use it to make unconnected floating platforms used to connect two places, guys).

What followed is over an hour of leaping, falling, and screaming to traverse floating islands in the sky far above Metrica Province, being killed by Veteran Elementals as I leaped to the end and searching for attunement devices so I can continue on. There were few fights, save for the boss battle at the end, and my reward was a chest of items.

But was it worth the effort, for the reward? There’s plenty of other content in the games that leads more to more long-term rewards – personal story instances that advance your plot, renown hearts that reward you with optional rewards and dungeons with more important treasure. There’s even vistas that reward exploration, which are often jumping puzzles.

Goenn’s Laboratory is probably one of the most involved easter eggs I’ve ever participated in. It fits the definition: It’s hidden from the main path, requires very specific criteria be fulfilled, and isn’t part of the main game progression at all. It’s alluded to in a vague fashion by a mysterious sign pointing at the sky; otherwise, you just have to stumble across it.

What awaits you, though, is a rather interesting little side-event that reminds me of the old platformers of the early NES days. GW2 put a lot of effort into creating detailed, open areas, and then encouraging players to explore them for cool sights, vistas for XP and completion, rich resource nodes, and extra story. Having something like this – a largely self-contained, involved puzzle – is a welcome reward.

Further, I think it breaks from the genre conventions of most MMOs, something that games need to do if they want to innovate. MMORPGs can take the qualities of any form of game played online, from first-person shooters to turn-based strategy games. There’s nothing wrong with this; there’s actually little about the current ‘standard’ MMO that is required in terms of gameplay. Games like TERA and especially Guild Wars 2 have shown this.

Now, all we need is to get some civil engineers over to Metrica, and everything will be better.

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