This whole discussion comes with the caveat that we probably disagree about what endgame is. We'll talk about things that can be done in Guild Wars 2, which means they might be part of your endgame, if they are things you haven't done and things that you enjoy. Some of them will help you progress along some arbitrary track; others most likely will not. They can be done post-80, for sure, but by and large the open world is full of things that can be done just about any time, depending on your sense of style.
100% map completion
This one is kind of a given -- and it's also technically not just for the open PvE world. You'll have to dabble in WvW to get the 100% achievement, but you can do just PvE stuff if you're not worried about getting the title or your Gifts of Exploration.
Hitting 100% completion (or the WvW-less equivalent) doesn't really mean you've seen everything there is to see, not by a long shot. It's a good way, however, to get cool stuff, to make sure you know your way around, and to chart your growth. It's also an excellent marker for people leveling alts -- my Elementalist was at about 60% world completion when she finally dinged; my Necromancer and Warrior were both at about 30% when they dinged their final ding.
I'll go ahead and admit that I haven't completed all the jumping puzzles and mini dungeons in the game. I don't want to spoil it by drawing up a schedule or sitting down for a weekend that's nothing but ploughing through out-of-the-way places. That doesn't sound fun to me at all. I do want to see them all, though. I recently went through Forsaken Fortune, which was a blast, and have loved all the jumping puzzles I've seen so far (which is a little over half of them).
These will take you to some of the best-designed areas in the game. (If you hate jumping puzzles, you may disagree with that assessment.) I've also found that the mini dungeons can be excellent examples of a compressed narrative.
Round up all the boss achievements
Certain world bosses have their own special achievement category. You can save people from the Shatterer's crystal prisons, stand in exactly the wrong spot during the fight with the Claw of Jormag, find and defeat a steam ogre, and a bunch of other things in order to track these down.
Like the jumping puzzles and open dungeons show off area and story design, some of these boss fights are among the best in the open world. While fights like the Claw of Jormag and the Shatterer will bring you into contact with scads of other players, some of the encounters are a little more on the small side.
It's worth noting that the big bosses spawn chests when they fall or are driven back, which is, perhaps, a bit of extra incentive. Lord knows, I've been going claw-to-claw with Jormag's lieutenant more than I would be otherwise.
This one might be related to some of the other categories, but it's worth calling out on its own. Most maps have a meta event or two that kind of defines the flow of action in that particular area. Those meta events often lead, eventually, to big boss fights or the unlocking of certain areas. It's totally possible to go through at just the wrong time and totally miss the action of a particular meta event (for example, I've yet to see the Shadow Behemoth once in the live game, because the swamp just happens to always be lying dormant whenever I'm stumbling through) -- but they're often worth going back to check out. I mean, unless you hate events. And knowing what's going on. And following storylines. Then they suck.
This isn't really about meta events, per se, but it's worth throwing in here. I don't think I'll ever see all the events in the game, but I'm surprised by how very many charm me. There's an event just on the very doorstep of Orr, right outside Fort Trinity, that I never pass up. I've got to see it to completion so that I can hear Explorer Ank talk about the new recruits who "were dead, then reanimated," and are "now dead again." Similarly, I'll never skirt an opportunity to see how few people I can work with to take down the giant at Nageling town. (My personal record right now is three other sub-80s.)
By the time this column goes up, Flame and Frost's prelude will have been out for approximately a while. You, dear readers, are living in the future! You've seen things I've never seen! Snuggled Quaggan backpacks I have yet to snuggle! Earned rewards I can as yet only think about! Guested on worlds I've never guested on! How does it feel, future-dweller?
I'm really excited to get back into Fractals with the most recent update. After one disconnect too many, I temporarily placed Fractals in the off-limits section because it was just leaving me too frustrated. Happily, Monday's patch not only gave us a workaround for that, it also changed the way tiers are working -- which is excellent.
In personal news that isn't all that personal, my Warrior just barely hit level 80. She's all dolled up in Seraph armor and toting ghastly weapons about now. I'm having a lot of fun going into dungeons with her so far; it's really nice to have an alternative to my two casters. Getting up in the mobs' collective wheelhouse is very gratifying.
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.