An open world, also known as a persistent world, is a game world that continues to exist and change even after a user has exited it, and is open to all players. Guild Wars 2 is played on multiple identical worlds, and players are able to freely visit other worlds by guesting. However, they can only fight for their home world in World versus World. Permanently transferring to another home world is possible, but requires a fee of 500 .
Guild Wars 2 employs persistent environments more extensively than the first Guild Wars. Like other MMORPGs, it provides persistent explorable zones, allowing players to meet and interact while exploring. The world is split into different zones or maps. Travel within a zone will not require a loading screen, unless a waypoint is used. When the player travels between zones there is a loading screen. Most of the gameplay takes place in open world. Exceptions to this include personal story missions, home instances, dungeon instances and some minigame activities and other miscellaneous instances.
- According to The Making of Guild Wars 2 book, the developers created the first zone of the game within Guild Wars Prophecies and modified it to play as a persistent world, prototyping active skills and even dynamic events system using that map.