Karma Heart

April 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 27 Comments
Tags: , ,

One thing I quickly figured about Guild Wars 2. All the action is in the events, not the hearts. Not that the hearts are bad, not that I didn’t have fun doing them, but by all means concentrate on events.

Hearts in Guild Wars 2 are essentially quests, as I’m sure every blogger worth his salt is chomping at the bit to inform you. Don’t let me undersell just how different they are from quests, they are certainly an evolution, but you can tell dogs and wolves are related. They can be every bit as cliche as quests in other games, but they do have many things going for them.

In fact I’d go so far as to say hearts are superior to quests.

A heart is essentially a person. Like Foreman Flannum at the dam. He needs his employees to be able to work in safety, but elementals are in the way. Kill the elementals, gaining karma with each kill, each one filling the heart to completion.

This could easily be a kill ten elementals quest. Except there are other ways to complete it.

You can plug leaks in the damn. Each leak fills the karma heart. You can scatter rock-piles, then kill the elemental that arises giving you two ticks to the heart. Most interestingly, when a harpy event kicks off, you can kill the harpies before they succeed (at what I forget) and finish both the event and the heart at the same time.

Getting two rewards from the same activity is excellent in my opinion.

Not to mention the rewards. Each heart becomes an NPC vendor from which you can buy things with karma. And I can spend the karma I earn at any of these vendors. Jewelry, armour, weapons, consumables, other items. The selection is pretty good considering it’s essentially just a quest.

But it’s not just a quest, it’s superior to quests. I like being able to choose how I finish a heart and what I get from it.

I did a heart near the Shaemoor Garrison by collecting ‘Lost Trinkets’ from the ruins on the battlefield. I didn’t have to kill more than one or two centaur and probably could have finished without killing any. The same was true of the next heart, and the heart after that.

I’m sure not every heart will have a bloodless/pacifist option but many do.

I think hearts are also superior because they’re much less tied to the golden path of quests in other MMOs. Guild Wars 2 is much more an exploration game than other MMOs. You wander from heart to heart, perhaps with the help of a scout NPC, but perhaps not. You’re not following some path a dev wants you to follow, or at least one that is totally obvious.

The most fun I’ve had is when I’ve been doing an event that also helps complete the heart. It’s like finishing a quest without knowing you’re finishing a quest.

All in all my advice is to pay attention to hearts, use them to navigate the world and by no means skip them entirely, but seek out the events. The events are more fun, more interesting. If I see a heart, and an event, I go to the event. If they’re in the same spot, even better.



  1. I especially like it when the completion of one event triggers another. Not only is it more fun than having to trek back to town to fetch a quest from an NPC every time, but it gives you the sense that your actions have an impact on the world. Like in one event I had to help a warband of charr clear out a crypt of ghosts, and in doing so we summoned their captain who blocked our exit. Great fun.

    • I have definitely been waiting around and following the npcs after events. Sometimes nothing, sometimes some pretty cool stuff.

      • We had few chances to see how the events evolve if the mobs win at this beta, because any event get a lot of players. But I saw a chain of events at Norn low teens area.

        The chain start with a Norm champion attacking the west and east dragon towers. After the towers are conquered, the champion attacks the main fortress. After the fortress is conquered, there is a counter attack and a dragon champion comes for fight.

        I can say that dragon champion is hard to kill, mostly if there is few people helping. With few people I had to learn to run around the central ice pillar for escape champion’s attacks. I advice to revive the NPC norn soldiers ever when possible, they will fight the dragon champion, they will not live too much time, but they will mantain that boss occupied for that time.

        Anyway, with relation to hearts, you can play snowball war with the village children or kill the mobs close to village that can hurt the children. I found the snowball war more fun…

        • It’s going to be interesting to see these events with far fewer players, the beta weekend was absolutely packed so every event was always going on and every event was always being won, so what happens when there are no people and nobody winning?

          • the enemy wins and opens an alternate event. I just saw it one time, the centaurs capture the villagers, so open an event for free teh slaves at centaur base.

            Form what I saw, I guess you can loose villages and fortress to the enemy if there are not enough people defending the places and helping to conquer enemy bases.

  2. Yay for no wall of text quest dialog that I never read! Really loving the way they handled this, yes many of the quests may be the same old menial tasks they have us doing in any other mmo but they have really made it so much more seamless, I haven’t once felt as though the quests were tedious chores.

    • Yeah that is one thing I’m just not missing. you don’t have to talk to npcs, and if you do, it’s very brief explanations, some lore, and short conversation.

  3. I agree with you Hunter. I like how hearts can guide you, if you like, but they do not lead you by the nose. I can have some direction, which is good, yet still chose to help farmer Joe, ignore him completely or go look for hidden treasure. The areas are not on rails and I am enjoying the freedom to choose…and for me that has been the biggest thing for me during this beta; I can choose how I want to tackle this game. People say this may not be revolutionary (maybe evolutionary) but it sure is a risk and risks that succeed usually change the business.

    • Oh I forgot. I am really digging the personal stories. I mean they add an invested element into what is happening. I had to stop myself because I did not want to spoil it when the game comes out.

    • It feels very open compared to most MMOs, no its not the openness of minecraft or even eve, but it is open and I really like that feeling.

      • The personal stories are diferent, you can have a lot of diferent stories. If you choose noble or peasant you have diferents quests. And you too can choose what you want do at diferent quests. For example, I can invade the noble’s mansion for look for a proof that he commands the bandits or go to a partie where I can talk to other nobles and servants there for see if someone can give me any proof.

        So, house burglar or high society party, what you will choose?

        • Yeah stories split more than I was expecting. Very interesting.

  4. I’ve got a question: when playing I noticed a definite lack of events. I would complete a heart and do all the apparent content in an area, but the next area will still be a good 2-3 levels higher than I am. In GW2, that’s a lot, too – 2-3 enemies of a higher level and you’re down and out. I’ve jumped on every event that I’ve seen, but I’ve still been leveling both my main characters consistently 2 levels below the suggested levels of a heart/event, and stacking defensive weapons and gear to compensate. Has anyone else seen this? I’ve played in the Charr and Human zones, but stayed away from personal stories to avoid spoilers that I would have to repeat when the game comes out.

    • I noticed this too to an extent. When an area was particularly full of people there were no events, I felt this was because there were so many people saturating the areas that they completed the events before I ever came across those events. Something I did notice long term was that there were at least one event (usually more) tied to each heart, but again, the sheer number of people meant those events, especially if they were in a long chain, were pushed back to one side of the map, with little activity going on otherwise. Hopefully only an issue that would crop up in the short term influx of large numbers of players.

      • I noticed this also and agree I think it is due to the sheer amount of players in these areas at the moment. just running the hearts and events I was pretty much 2-3 levels lower than the activities also but I didn’t find it to be detrimental. Thing to note though is there are a lot of different ways to gain xp other than just the events and story; gathering, crafting, exploring and killing random mobs which give bonus xp (I heard it has to do with the amount of time they have been spawned) all give a fair amount of xp and all kind of work together in that they encourage players to go off the beaten path and really take in the entire game. Also doing a variety of activities you get the daily achievement bonuses which go a long way towards leveling your character. All in all I haven’t felt like the game is going to be a grind at all there are just so many ways to go about it, there really is no need to just do the same thing over and over to level. By grind of course I mean repetitive tedium not time spent, I don’t care too much about how long it takes I just don’t want to stare at the same thing for days.

        • I agree with this strongly, and as I was approaching level 8 started to find it difficult to advance with my arse attached. I had not done any of my story however, and once I had done that I was back on track and with improved gear. One wonders if that’s what they had planned. I was going to point out that it would be solved if I had bought something from the shop but perhaps thats a bit negative.
          Id like to see more complex events, did anyone run into anything other than tag games, boss/mob killing or defend the dude?

          • Something similar happened to me at a higher level, but I also had forgotten to do story, after doing that, getting some daily achievements, I was fine.

        • I have to agree about the grind. It just doesn’t seem like there is much. There are just too many different ways to keep up with level and xp and I was very surprised by the generous amounts of xp rewarded by crafting and gathering.

  5. I liked the events, but they did feel very similar to ‘Rifts’ if a little more varied (they practically used the same icons on the map). The hearts were a mixed bag, some good, some just bad/boring, in the Norn area at least. As whole its certainly one of the best MMOs I’ve played but I cant help but be a little disappointed with some aspects of the game and feel that if it had come out a year ago it would have seemed more innovative and original than it does now.

    • Yeah there was some similarity, but I would say they were a lot more varied, as rifts in Rift tended to be exactly the same from one to the next, with few exceptions aside from style and aesthetics.

      • Well it has left me wanting to play rift again anyway, so I may have to buy month and see if I get back into it.

  6. […] however, in that each area of the playground has multiple ways in which you can play the game, as Hunter highlighted in a recent post. So, to take the analogy and stretch it somewhat into the realms of sexist […]

  7. I noticed this too when I was playing–it was great to fill in the hearts while also doing an event. The other nice thing about hearts is they tell you what approximate level a given part of the map is–very handy when you’re level 16 and you find yourself surrounded by level 20+ events and enemies you can’t hope to defeat.

    • In a game where you certainly need that sort of navigation the hearts are necessary for telling you where you should be fighting.

  8. My best experience with hearts:
    The moment, on my second character (human ranger) I realized I had nothing pressuring me to go anywhere in specific. Sure, I had a scout show me some hearts, but nowhere did it directly recommend “go do this exact heart now, or you are wasting time”.
    So, what did I do?
    Why, I simply did the next step of my personal story (ironic, yes), but during that I found myself at the entrance to what looked like a cool cave. So, after clearing up in the personal story instance, I decided to explore the cave. Came out on the other side, my level must have been around 4 at the time, and found myself in a level 6-7 area. Managed to, through skillful play, explore/kill my way through the area to look for interesting stuff before decided to continue my story.
    Rarely, if ever, in previous action-bar MMOs have I found such a route that not only led my lower level character into a higher level area, but in which I felt the end result was a nice rewarding challenge, instead of WoW where it is most often a time wasting struggle (don’t get XP proportional to difficulty, no quest to progress, etc etc).

    • I found, even if others didn’t, that even when I wandered into high level areas the mobs were definitely more of a challenge, but in a good way. Other games you wander into these areas and you are crushed. I found that unless i made a mistake like aggroing more than one high level mob, it was a good challenge that I could usually overcome. It was fun.

  9. […] Hunter’s Insight — Karma Heart. “Hearts in Guild Wars 2 are essentially quests, as I’m sure every blogger worth his salt […]

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