As an MMO vet, I should be embarrassed at what happened last night and this morning. I played for almost three hours between the two and only gained a couple levels. The entire time I was out and about doing things and having fun. Before I knew it I had moved onto a new zone, Plains of Ashford, and started in on the "hearts" and various points of interest. I was cruising along having participated in a few events when it struck me. This zone was a level 1-15 zone meant for new players. I was level 25 at the time.
Guild Wars 2 doesn't punish players for being in lower level zones and it levels-down your avatar seamlessly to make the zone still a challenge. Experience gains from killing monsters is not a large portion in any leveling and the experience gained from the events is generous. The leveling curve is flat, so whether I level in a lower level zone or a higher one doesn't really matter. In fact, as the newbie zones start to wind down in activity, there is a fat and happy bonus for killing some of the monsters that haven't been knocked off in a while (I was seeing 40 bonus experience in some cases, 2x what an equal level kill would net in a zone my level).
Even with the game design in mind, I am still a bit shocked how long it took me to even register the fact that the creatures I was slaying were in the single digits for levels. The loot as well was working out; scaling to somewhat meet my level (albeit about 5 levels low, but still that was 15 levels higher than what I was killing).
Funnier yet is that I came into the zone through a gate from Diessa Plateau and immediately walked into a dynamic event that had spawned veteran (aka hard mode) units that quickly did me in. A quick re-spawn and I was able to join the fray and see the event to conclusion. In past MMOs entering a lower level zone meant enabling EZ mode. Not so in Guild Wars 2.
Guild Wars 2 is refreshing and with no subscription to pay there is no impetus for me to put metal to the grind stone. I can do what I want, when I want and most of the time feel rewarded for it. There is more to it than the meager little bit I passed along here. Tons of tiny little things is really what makes Guild Wars 2 and without these nuances, the game could easily fall flat. Again, I highly recommend Guild Wars 2 to any MMO veteran.
And picture time: