Dungeon Crawl

June 26, 2011 at 5:21 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 13 Comments
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One of the first things we heard about the dungeons in Guild Wars 2 was that there would be more than one mode. There would be a story mode, telling the story of Destiny’s Edge, iconic game characters. And there would also be an explorable mode, a means by which you could play through the dungeon a second time in a different way, with different objectives and a different story.

This is something Arenanet has been interested in for a long time. Starting with areas in Factions, you could explore some mission areas after you were done with them. This continued in Nightfall, and I vaguely recall Arenanet talking about how wasteful it all seemed to be, to have that one mission or dungeon that you play through once and never really return to.

Of course if they’re not giving you explorable versions of missions, they’re giving you reasons to go back to missions. They have bonus objectives attached to titles, they have books that record your victories and are turned in for rewards, in Eye of the North story areas become dungeon areas. Sound familiar?

I have to admit it is clever. You’re getting more bang for your buck out of the work you put into something. There will certainly be opportunities to see new things that you missed on the second and even third time through these dungeons.

How many times do we go through a dungeon and only notice what is right in front of us because we’re too busy playing.

We've got to come up with a friendly insult for people who never played Guild Wars or saw things like the catacombs until Guild Wars 2.

But are there negatives to repurposing a dungeon for several different objectives?

I think we’ve all crawled through the same dungeon time after time in other MMOs. Looking at the same aesthetics, the same strategies, the same schemes can get quite mind-numbing. Monotonous. Dreadful.

I guess this is where Arenanet turns things on its head by changing up what a dungeon is.

Each of our dungeons is divided into story and explorable versions. The story version of each dungeon comes first, and completing it unlocks the ability to run the explorable version. In turn, the explorable versions of the dungeons have several options (usually three), each of which creates a different set of challenges and goals in the game. So, when we say that there are currently eight dungeons, we really mean there are thirty-two dungeons, as each dungeon has a story version and three explorable versions.

Not only are you given a reason to go back beyond “I need that loot drop”, you’re given multiple reasons to go back.

If that weren’t enough, there is this.

We’ve also brought the dynamic event system into the dungeons. Even in story or explorable modes, the dungeon has bonus events that can be triggered by player actions, by location, or even by random chance. Even when you’re adventuring again in the same dungeon and making the same choices, you can get a different gaming experience as a result of these bonus events.

And essentially that is all you need to know about Guild Wars 2 dungeons.

No they didn’t solve the problem of having to look at the same dreary visuals a million times but they did the only practical thing they could. They changed everything else.

They changed the goals, the objectives, the story, the strategy, who and what you encounter.

Which just leaves a couple of unanswered questions.

Will the differing content trump the fact that you are essentially in the same place doing the same things? Will it be enough diversity to keep people busy, keep people happy, keep people playing and most importantly, keep people buying the game?

I guess we’ll see.



  1. If people played Dragon age 2 and were happy with it, then GW2 shouldn’t be a problem. Because DA2 pretty much showed that they can use same cave, same warehouse and same dungeon for a whole game. with just another type of mobs in there every time you came around.

    This is actualy promising, same dungeon but with more diversity. You actualy know that your loot is granted and if you are doing the dungeon you are doing it for fun. Otherwise, armor collectors will do it for that, some will do it for story and some will do it just for fun. So some replayability is granted, but what will keep people reentering those dungeons that is the real question. I think Anet relies on replayability of game with alts, I think that is their trump card.

    • Agreed, if DA2 can do it, GW2 can. And I loved DA2. Also, think of it this way: FPS players have to deal with this. 8 maps, but things are always different. Hell, I played Battlefield 2 for 2 years and mostly played on 2 maps. Oftentimes with a lot of the same people on either side. But strategies change, classes change, objectives change…I think it’ll work out just fine.

      • It appears that there are quite a few “FPS sensibilities” in the design of GW2. Highly mobile combat, attacking on the move, LOS targeting and use of terrain / cover to break LOS as a defensive tactic… all of these facets of game mechanics point towards a design team that has their own FPS experiences that they enjoyed, and some design level decisions in favor of a much more dynamic style of play that previous MMO games did NOT allow their players to experience.
        I cannot wait to personally see and experience The Mists, as well as the various DEs.

        • There are definitely a lot of influences working on gw2 and its great to see instead of the usual steal from WoW mindset.

      • Ah a good comparison. Yeah its not the map that matters in a fps, its that the game changes with new people every time you enter. I suppose gw2 doesn’t have new sentient beings moving against you but changing up objectives and whatnot does add another element to keep it fresh.

    • thats a good point about alts, having those 5 large tutorial areas will make for a lot of replayability. I’ve often thought there is tremendous potential for this in guild wars 2.

      as for da2, i was happy with it but at the same time reusing the same art throughout the game was one of the negative points i blogged about a couple times.

      • Some of the replayability of alts in GW and WOW is from being the tank, the healer, or the dps. I wonder just how many alts one well need to feel this in GW2 if none fill any of those roles? I guess it comes back to that old question if there are no fixed slots then does everyone feel much the same, just different animations when it comes to your tatical role? I feel itll come more down to the role you choose to play rather than having many alts.

        • Its an interesting question and one worth talking about. I guess what it comes down to in my opinion is more how distinct the professions feel from one another. Perhaps the various roles can be played by any profession but I doubt that the feel is the same for them all.

  2. I especially liked the increased level of difficulty associated with the explorable mode of the dungeons. Having a different challenge level for the story mode to allow accessibility but, also including a higher degree of challenge in the explore mode for those players who are a bit more of the ‘hard core raider type’ is just a brilliant design choice.

    Honestly, all MMO content is ‘replayable content’ … it’s simply a matter of degree. We won’t KNOW until we get our hands on the final product but, it certainly appears at this point that ArenaNet are doing some subtle and intelligent design level moves to help increase the ‘usability’ of all of the hard effort they are putting into various parts of the game. We had info on the scalability and sidekicking systems, and of course the changing and flexible Dynamic Events system, and now the multiple modes of the dungeons is another example… all point towards a truly “living, breathing world” that is growing and moving, and yet, remains available to all characters.

    One helluva balancing act… I can’t wait to see how well they pull it off, but even if it’s a mere half of what they’re talking about it will surpass any current MMO games out there.

    • You’re right about it being a balancing act and one of the things i worry about is balancing all this so that you really get a different experience in the different modes.

      I mean just how different is it going to be? That’s what I can’t wait to see.

      It’s certainly an efficient use of time and effort but i can’t help but wonder what would have happened if they put in more dungeons instead.

  3. The only thing that concerned me is the notion of dungeon dynamic events occurring on random chance.

    I could see that leading to having to run the same dungeon 50x for that one piece of loot that is a 10% drop off of the boss of an event that only occurs 1 time in 10… for example. Now I’m a hardcore player, so I actually like that kind of thing… but most people don’t seem to appreciate it.

    • Well you must remember that loot is different in dungeons for guild wars 2. Instead of getting a random drop you’ll get tokens you can trade in for the gear you want.

      If you mean that you want to see a particular dynamic event chain and it only occurs by random chance I can sympathize but I’m not too worried about it personally.

      • That’s right, I forgot about that.

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