Weekly Map Recap Survey Results
Hi, folks! I want to thank everyone who participated in the Weekly Map Recap Survey - it’s been fascinating to see the results! Today’s post is going to be about just looking at the raw data, with just a little commentary and quotes from respondents to spice things up.
A couple things to keep in mind about the results here is that this survey is really only capturing a small slice of the population. Respondents had to A) be invested enough in the community that they’re on the Guild Wars 2 subreddit and B) invested enough that they would actually take the time to answer my survey. That means that we’re really capturing what we might think of as ‘hyper-invested’ players - those that are most passionate about the game, in contrast to what we might think of as a general (more casual) audience.
Settle in, grab some coffee or tea, and let’s dive into it!
Starter Map Preference
This one is fairly straightforward: these results line up with popularity of player races fairly well. Caledon Forest and Plains of Ashford might be higher than expected as a result of the popularity of the sylvari race in highly involved Guild Wars 2 fans generally. If the results lined up better with race popularity, Wayfarer Foothills would be higher and Ashford would be at the bottom.
28.4% - Queensdale
25.9% - Caledon Forest
16.2% - Plains of Ashford
13.7% - Wayfarer Foothills
11.7% - Metrica Province
3.8% - No preference
0.2% - I do not like any of these
Choice Quote for Queensdale: “Just the best all around example of what a starter map could and should be. Feels the most fleshed out. Some hearts suck and I miss the old champions, but it's good.”
Vanilla Map Preference
This one is fascinating to me. The popularity of Timberline Falls holds true fairly consistently throughout this survey, and I had no idea this was an opinion that I shared with so many in the community. Mount Maelstrom and Lornar’s Pass also caught me unawares - I would have expected human maps to be higher generally.
The relative popularity of Cursed Shore is fascinating, given that Orr maps are so unpopular generally. One thing to note is that Timberline and Mount Maelstrom are significantly more popular than other maps statistically, with Timberline more than double
the popularity of many of the other top 10 maps.
Only grabbing the Top 10 here:
13.4% - Timberline Falls
8.2% - Mount Maelstrom
7.5% - Lornar’s Pass
5.9% - Frostgorge Sound
5.7% - Caledon Forest
5.7% - Cursed Shore
5.2% - Fields of Ruin
5.0% - Gendarran Fields
4.6% - No Preference
3.9% - Sparkfly Fen
Choice Quote for Timberline: “[I like] the relaxing pace of the map, excellent to wake up in with a cup of tea in hand, gathering resource nodes.”
Kryta Map Preference
Given that none of these maps will rank highly in our ‘game-wide’ questions, Kryta as a whole is less popular than I would have thought. Bloodtide Coast, with the uninspired Pirate Queen meta and a high level of underwater content, is more popular than I would have expected. There’s a relatively large gap between the top three maps and the bottom three.
26.7% - Gendarran Fields
23.7% - Queensdale
20.8% - Bloodtide Coast
11.4% - Harathi Hinterlands
10.7% - Kessex Hills
3.7% - No preference
3.0% - I do like any of these
Choice quote for Gendarran: “This map flows so well and is quite a joy to explore. From the pirates, to the beetle races, vigil keep, to the farms, it is a breath of fresh air compared to some other Kryta maps.”
Kryta - Preference w/Post Launch Maps?
21.4% isn’t a bad showing for Lake Doric, though poor Southsun has one of the lowest favorability rates that we’ll see for these ‘Post Launch’ questions. In general, these two maps compare less well than other Post Launch maps.
70.0% - Previous answer
21.4% - Lake Doric
8.6% - Southsun Cove
Quote for Lake Doric: “Lake Doric is packed with events and little secrets. Finding the peach tree the first time was amazing, and I only recently discovered the boss at the watchtower.”
Shiverpeaks Map Preference
Interestingly, Frostgorge Sound performs much better here than in the Vanilla Map question. Here, it does better than Lornar’s Pass - in the Vanilla Map question it did worse. We see the same gap here that we saw with the Vanilla Map question - with a cluster of top three that are double - or triple! - any of the bottom maps.
30.3% - Timberline Falls
24.1% - Frostgorge Sound
19.0% - Lornar’s Pass
9.9% - Wayfarer Foothills
5.3% - Dredgehaunt Cliffs
4.8% - Snowden Drifts
3.4% - I do not like any of these
3.2% - No preference
Quote for Timberline 2: “It feels so real, the mountain side going down, the caves, the treasures.”
Shiverpeaks - Preference w/Post Launch Maps?
A word of caution about Drizzlewood Coast popularity here is that this survey was opened just before the second release of Drizzlewood. Given that the second release was more controversial, I wonder if these results would be the same if I had waited until after that patch.
That said, we can see that post-launch Shiverpeaks maps are popular generally speaking. 27.1% sticking with their vanilla choice is quite low, especially in context of the popularity of Timberline, Frostgorge, and Lornar’s.
27.1% - Same Answer
24.9% - Drizzlewood Coast
19.7% - Bjora Marches
14.5% - Bitterfrost Frontier
13.8% - Thunderhead Peaks
Quote for Drizzlewood: “Drizzlewood Coast has great events, which are very engaging. Love the NPC dialogue, too, though that's something that applies all over in GW2”
Maguuma Jungle Map Preference
This one is a bit strange just because the Heart of Maguuma maps that launched with Heart of Thorns are so different
from the vanilla Maguuma maps. Given the popularity of HoT, it seemed like it would give us unhelpful results to compare the two categories directly, so I’ve separated them.
Again, Mount Maelstrom’s popularity surprises me - I had no idea it was this well regarded. Metrica does better in this survey than Sparkfly, which is different from their relative rankings in the Vanilla Map question. Caledon does better here as well.
32.5% - Mount Maelstrom
31.6% - Caledon Forest
13.6% - Metrica Province
13.2% - Sparkfly Fen
4.8% - Brisban Wildlands
3.0% - No preference
1.4% - I do not like any of these
Quote for Mount Maelstrom: “Again, nice diversity. A big volcano and a sizable inquest base make for a nice change of pace. I wish the krait-flotilla had a related meta, as it is a pretty damn cool structure.”
Ascalon Map Preference
Ascalon maps are much less popular than I would have thought. I have such fondness for them on a personal level that I may have been blindsided a bit. Whenever these maps go into comparison with the others, they do less well. Fireheart is more popular than I expected, as well. Plains of Ashford comes in at the bottom of its regional category - unique for a starter map.
23.1% - Fields of Ruin
16.2% - Fireheart Rise
14.0% - Blazeridge Steppes
12.1% - Diessa Plateau
11.2% - Iron Marches
10.8% - Plains of Ashford
6.9% - No preference
5.7% - I do not like any of these
Quote for Fields of Ruin: “Fields of Ruin always seemed like an odd one out to me, being so far at the edge of the map. It also continues the beautiful aesthetic of the Ascalon Region and has Ebonhawke.”
Ascalon - Preference w/Post Launch Maps?
People really like Grothmar. Again, I wonder at the extent to which this is related to the popularity of charr among the more invested player population. Especially for the small but vocal and visible contingent of charr roleplayers, Grothmar is highly popular.
51.4% - Grothmar Valley
48.6% - Same as before
Quote for Grothmar: “Grothmar has a lot of neat insight into the Charr and the map is extremely beautiful. I also like the events-driven nature of it versus the more static hearts system. “
Ruins of Orr Map Preference
Poor Ruins of Orr has the highest percentage of ‘I don’t like any of these’ of any regional category. Interestingly, Malchor’s Leap does better here than Cursed Shore - while the latter does better when in larger categories. My personal favorite of the three, Straits, will remain forever alone.
30.8% - Malchor’s Leap
26.3% - Cursed Shore
22.6% - Straits of Devastation
13.0% - I don’t like any of these
7.3% - No preference
Quote for Malchor’s: “Vanilla nostalgia, ghost peppers and elder wood. Also contains the two temples with the best balance of "interesting gameplay" and "doesn't make me want to throttle everyone in my squad for not following instructions".”
Ruins of Orr Preference w/Post Launch Maps?
Siren’s Landing is such an odd duck, with little relationship to any other map in either a mechanical or narrative sense. I was surprised that its popularity was this high.
67.2% - Same answer
32.8% - Siren’s Landing
Quote for Siren’s Landing: “The story made me sick of fighting risen so I never really did anything on those maps. Siren's Landing was great though, the jumping puzzle is very nice, the meta is nothing special but not a pain in the ass either. The repeatable hearts are only worth it here : you can do them quickly and there is actually a point to do it.”
Maguuma Wastes Map Preference
The more time I spend in the community, the more that I think the Silverwastes vs. Dry Top debate is a conversation about what we expect and want from open world content generally. I love both of them equally, but I find that many either love or hate these maps.
57.8% - The Silverwastes
30.1% - Dry Top
7.1% - I don’t like any of these
5.0% - No preference
Quote for Silverwastes: “Good memories of when it was released and everyone was doing the super long jumping puzzle together. The map mechanic was new and interesting at the time. Beautiful music. Lots of time spent on chest trains. They also kept it quite alive for a while when they made players return for the new Vinewrath event.”
Heart of Maguuma Map Preference
Interestingly, Tangled Depths was leading this category for a month or two and then slowly fell to third place. That tells me that among my more consistent readers, Tangled Depths popularity is overrepresented. Given that my articles are more likely to appeal to players interested in behind-the-scenes map design generally, we can assume a small correlation between fans of Guild Wars 2 map design and favorable impressions of Tangled Depths.
Auric Basin dominates this category, with just an incredible percentage amidst five other options. We will see it carry the ‘favorite map overall’ category as well. People like their PAANNIIIICC
46.8% - Auric Basin
20.5% - Verdant Brink
18.6% - Tangled Depths
10.2% - Dragon’s Stand
2.5% - No preference
1.4% - I don’t like any of these
Quote for Auric Basin: “This map is a masterpiece?? The map design itself, the meta, the soundtrack, EVERYTHING I just love it so much”
Heart of Maguuma Preference w/Post Launch Maps?
Bloodstone Fen seems to have a very small but very tightly-knit group of players. It reminds me of a smaller-scale Bitterfrost community. Such an odd little map.
89.3% - Same as before
10.8% - Bloodstone Fen
Quote for Bloodstone Fen: “It's very unique, we got flying abilities, an awesome intro animation, great lore, and all these seemingly unpredictable magical stuff going on everywhere. Too bad it's a really small map, I love spending time there. “
Ring of Fire Map Preference
Given the complaints about Tangled Depths, Draconis Mons does better there than I would have expected. Potentially that’s purely in comparison to Ember Bay, which does poorly in the next category.
51.5% - Draconis Mons
29.7% - Ember Bay
11.8% - No preference
7.0% - I don’t like any of these
Quote for Draconis Mons: “Another fun map to get lost in. Fantastic jumping puzzle, and I'm a sucker for Druidic lore. Extremely fun, and some great item collection achievements.”
Living World Season 3 Map Preference
Here again we see that Ember Bay is at the very bottom. Draconis Mons surprises by doing better than Bitterfrost Frontier. In general, the more a map is a ‘meta farm’ the better it seems to do in this survey. Both Bitterfrost and Draconis seem to be in their own league, with a good ten points above the next most popular map.
25.9% - Draconis Mons
23.4% - Bitterfrost Frontier
14.2% - Bloodstone Fen
12.2% - Lake Doric
9.2% - Siren’s Landing
6.9% - Ember Bay
6.2% - No preference
2.1% - I don’t like any of these
Quote for Bitterfrost: “This is a tough one. I looove the forest part for the aesthetics, and while the elixir is kind of a pain, I like the mystery behind the locked off bitter cold part of the map. The Kodan lore is great, and the flame mechanic is fun too.”
Crystal Desert Launch Map Preference
Desolation is highly unpopular, being one of the only maps in a category that scores below the ‘No preference’ option. While it’s sometimes compared to Tangled Depths, it doesn’t seem to have the intricate design work that gives that map a cult following.
Desert Highlands does better than Crystal Oasis here - as I would have expected - but will disappear from the rankings in the overall comparison. The top three maps again do much better than the other options.
33.5% - Desert Highlands
28.0% - Crystal Oasis
17.2% - Elon Riverlands
8.0% - Domain of Vabbi
6.4% - No preference
5.3% - The Desolation
1.6% - I don’t like any of these
Quote for Desert Highlands: “I love how it goes from hot scorched desert to alpine region, and I think the way these environments blend is really well done. So much to find here too, from ancient dwarvish ruins, Djinn, and branded. The friendly Choya encampent is one of my favourite things in the desert, adds a lot of life and interest to the Choya overall.”
Crystal Desert Preference w/Post Launch Maps?
Again, farming maps do quite well in popularity. Dragonfall ranks with Auric Basin in terms of running away with a category - we’ll see it’s even higher in the LWS4 exclusive comparison. It’s impressive how high Dragonfall’s percentage is in comparison to PoF release maps.
37.5% - Same as before
30.4% - Dragonfall
12.1% - Sandswept Isles
10.4% - Domain of Istan
7.2% - Jahai Bluffs
2.5% - Domain of Kourna
Quote for Dragonfall: “All the maps in the crystal desert are great. They may not be as complex as HoT maps but they're beautiful with really fun events. Mounts are extremely satisfying to use in them.
Dragonfall is one of my favorites. I love how it's split into four distinct quadrants. The events to setup the camps really feel like you're doing something. It has nice verticality too. The end meta is very reminiscent of HoT metas and is very well designed. “
Living World Season 4 Map Preference
Again, Dragonfall running away with things here. Domain of Kourna is our other map that does worse than the ‘No preference’ option. That seems appropriate, given how much that map is a buggy poor mess of design (no pun intended)
I would have expected Domain of Istan to do much better here, but it seems that the farming vote got sucked up by Dragonfall. I would be willing to bet that the percentage of Dragonfall voters whose second choice would be Istan is quite high.
38.6% - Dragonfall
16.6% - Sandswept Isles
11.3% - Thunderhead Peaks
10.8% - Jahai Bluffs
10.8% - Domain of Istan
6.7% - No preference
4.4% - Domain of Kourna
0.9% - I don’t like any of these
Quote for Sandswept: “Sandswept is a chill map, good for spacing out and harvesting, has ok metas, and is pretty af. Also not a terrible lagmonster.”
Living World Season 5 Map Preference (at time of writing)
Farming takes it here as well - but interestingly Grothmar does better than Bjora. Opinions on Bjora generally seem to be mixed, with a lot of ire going to it’s ‘divided in half’ nature. Again, I would be interested in the results for Drizzlewood if I had released the survey after its second half was added. A high level of ‘No preference’ is worth noting.
35.9% - Drizzlewood Coast
30.1% - Grothmar Valley
21.5% - Bjora Marches
11.3% - No preference
1.2% - I don’t like any of these
Quote for Drizzlewood 2: “The meta is so much fun, and once again the art is beautiful. I love the crafting material awards here too, as well as the repeatable reward tracks that make it easy to obtain the collection materials, as well as a new way to get mystic clovers. The material sinks for commendations is also helpful.”
Guild Wars 2 Overall Map Preference (Top 11)
Auric Basin gets its well deserved win here. Interestingly, Grothmar and Tangled Depths round out the top three - despite Verdant Brink beating out TD in its own category. Silverwastes is nowhere to be found - I wonder about the extent to which ‘newness’ impacts this result, with the LWS5 maps doing better than they might have done otherwise. Interestingly, Timberline Falls holds its own beating out Dragonfall. Bloodstone Fen seems to be an outlier - I would not have expected it to do so well when Bitterfrost and Draconis are both not present.
6.6% - Auric Basin
5.0% - Grothmar Valley
4.1% - Tangled Depths
3.8% - Verdant Brink
3.6% - Timberline Falls
3.2% - Dragonfall
3.2% - Caledon Forest
2.8% - Drizzlewood Coast
2.8% - Crystal Oasis
2.8% - Bjora Marches
2.5% - Bloodstone Fen
Quote for Auric Basin 2: “Best meta event in the game, beautiful design, interesting story, definitely the best ambient music, somehow feels like a home in the middle of a murderous jungle”
There you have it, folks. We’ll be taking this data into account as we move forward in the Weekly Map Recap.
Looking back at the results, one of the things that surprised me was that ‘farming maps’ seem to be more popular, not less. I would have expected that the longer players spend farming a map the more they dislike it. “Familiarity breeds contempt” and all that. But it looks like the opposite is true, at least in our sample. I wonder if this would hold true for a more general “casual” audience.
We can see, based on that, that there’s definitely a strong bias in this survey towards maps that have long term, robust, and profitable reward structures. We’re going to see Arenanet battle with this as we move forward into Heart of Thorns maps and beyond.
What do you think? Do any of these results surprise you? Next week, we’ll be diving into Heart of Thorns structures in our HoT Design Primer. See you then!
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