Player versus Environment
Player versus Environment (usually abbreviated as PvE) refers to the combat and activities in the game which are not focused on competing against other players to succeed. PvE content is designed to be completed cooperatively with other players or as a solo player, so if combat is involved it is against computer controlled enemies. PvE is the opposite of Player versus Player (PvP) which focuses on combat against other players. In Guild Wars 2, PvP and PvE content are completely separate; a character playing PvE cannot be killed by another player. PvE is one of the core pillars of Guild Wars 2's endgame.
PvE is designed to encourage fluid, natural cooperation between players. Any player contributing to a fight is rewarded and has a chance at loot and gets the same amount of experience regardless of how many other players were involved. Dynamic level adjustment scales higher level players down to the level of the area. Events and other encounters scale in difficulty as more players join in. Every player is able to revive others who have been defeated. Traditional MMORPG player roles such as healing classes have been eschewed in favor of each character being able to perform a hybrid role in combat and provide all of the three facets of the Guild Wars 2 combat system; damage, control and support.
The following sections provide additional details about some of the significant aspects of Guild Wars 2 Player versus Environment game play.
PvE takes place in Tyria, a persistent environment with its own history built specifically for the game mode. The world map is divided into zones separated by portals. In Guild Wars 2 the player is guided through the zones by following their personal story and story journal, though they are free to ignore that guidance and simply explore the game. More zones are periodically added to the game through expansion packs and Living World patches.
Each zone is filled with creatures, NPCs and events for the player to interact with. Many of the later zones offer unique rewards in high quality equipment, exclusive cosmetic skins and account upgrades.
Personal story and Story Journal
In Guild Wars 2 PvE game play follows a story which leads the character through the world, replacing the campaign and mission system from the original Guild Wars. The storyline is personalized based on the character's race, profession and biography questions answered during character creation and branches based on decisions made by the player during game play.
Much of the personal story takes place in solo instances for the character, but other players can be invited to take part in their story. The story instances scale in difficulty with the number of players participating.
The Story Journal extends this concept to level 80 characters, containing Expansion and Living World story content. These storyline chapters can be activated or replayed at will, with many of them offering achievements and rewards for doing so.
Each character also has a home instance which updates as the player advances through the personal story and the world. The player can invite other players to see their home instance.
Renown Hearts are fixed areas within an explorable zone that give a set of tasks for a player to assist with and provide a reward upon completion. Rather than being given as a checklist of tasks a player needs to do in sequence, players simply follow a list of possible actions or activities that contribute to the progress of an area's renown heart. Renown hearts act as a way of guiding players towards dynamic events.
Dynamic events ensure something is always happening in the world. These events replace the traditional MMO quest system, and any player coming across the event can contribute and be rewarded. Events can influence or overlap with each other, chaining from one event to another. A large portion of PvE experience consists of players participating in events together, ranging in from helping a farmer grow his crops, to epic battles against champions of the Elder Dragons.
Meta events are chains of dynamic events that showcase more epic occurances within a zone. Meta events can be a huge part in drawing players to a zone, and successfully completing them is always a high point in Guild Wars 2, bringing the community closer - and offering substantial loot!
Dungeons have two modes: a story mode involving Destiny's Edge, and a repeatable explorable mode. Before the addition of expansions, the explorable mode of dungeons provided some of the most challenging combat available in Guild Wars 2 PvE, requiring good coordination and game play from groups of up to five players. Each of the 8 dungeons has one story mode version and three explorable mode versions (with Arah offering four), bringing the amount of different versions of dungeons to 33. Events also occur in dungeons.
Fractals of the Mists
The Fractals of the Mists are 'mini-dungeons' that are meant to be tackled by a group of five level 80 characters. Successful completion of each fractal will improve an account's fractal level, allowing them to attempt more difficult variations for greater rewards. Players will also need to harness agony infusions to survive higher fractal levels, and top off their character's progression by obtaining ascended quality equipment.
Raids are instances that provide some of the most challenging gameplay in Guild Wars 2. As part of a ten-person squad, players undergo various encounters that require coordination and each participant to know their classes well.
Strike Missions are instances for up to ten players that serve as a bridge to raids by introducing more mechanic-heavy encounters than normally encountered in story.
Dragon Response Missions
Dragon Response Missions are a type of instanced missions available for either solo play or group up to five players.
Crafting and gathering
A player can gather materials to craft items for themselves and their friends, either via gathering plants, wood or ore, and by purchasing or obtaining them from defeated foes around the world. A player character can possess two crafting disciplines at a time, but gathering of different resource types is not restricted. Crafting recipes can be discovered by purchasing them from a master craftsman, by leveling up or as loot, but mostly by experimenting with different combinations of materials at a crafting station.