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You expect to see only fields of grazing deer and idle monsters but when you turn the corner, there’s chaos. Crowds crush together, jumping around and blasting spells and swinging huge weapons. You join in, and though all possibility for any real coordination is lost in the frenzy, a sense of community, of belonging, solidifies as everyone strives to destroy a shared target. In Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet builds these events into every single zone, teasing you to explore by instilling a sense that despite Tyria’s colossal size, another surprise isn’t far away.

There’s no global player versus player combat in main zones where you’ll level up to the 80 cap. Like Turbine’s The Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars 2 establishes a friendly, inviting atmosphere by setting everyone on the same path to vanquish a seemingly invincible evil, and effectively removes many of the genre’s tedious restrictions on cooperation. There are no long lines to wait in, no cliques of high level players lording their seniority over the rest, no wristbands required to see the most interesting stuff, everyone can easily take part in the cyclical, world-spanning party.

Anyone who’s played Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and Rift should be familiar with the idea of public questing, which ArenaNet utilizes to achieve spectacular effects in Guild Wars 2. More than serving as simply another bit of busywork, the events fill out the fiction of each zone, requiring those present to do things like aid Asuran scientists in a fight against colossal fiery destroyers in a volcano’s superheated stomach or defend a drowsy mountainside shack from rampaging steam-powered creatures. Events are often linked, so what begins as a simple kill quest could eventually turn into a full-on centaur invasion of an otherwise peaceful township, making each task more exciting because it could be lead to some sinister and undiscovered threat.

These events serve as Guild Wars 2’s primary form of quests. They activate in every zone regularly, and at low levels involve kill, escort or collection tasks. While the initial event goals may not be especially memorable, they effectively bind your cause to everyone else’s and set the tone for the rest of the experience. There are no hoops to jump through to participate in an event. You don’t have to group up and make sure everyone’s on the same step. There’s no waiting around for a group that’s already engaged the enemy to finish up so you can beat up the mob when it respawns. Instead, when something happens, you just show up and play.

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In higher level zones the events become more complex in nature, until, in the level 70 through 80 areas, you get zone-wide stories culminating in thrilling climactic encounters in ominous coral-lined battlegrounds. Even before reaching those, the outcomes of events beyond the starting zones gain significance as entire in-game structures can be destroyed and rebuilt, and waypoint travel through contested territory temporarily blocked. These events never seem to cease, making Tyria feel chaotic and vaguely plausible, a place where the forces of good and evil don’t simply wait around for your permission to act.

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