Remember those exclaimations of frustration you used to utter in other games? They probably sounded a lot like:
"How did I get flagged!?"
"Ugh I wish this guy would go away..."
"That was MY node! I was fighting on it!"
"Oh great, someone else here is killing the same quest mobs."
Funny story, in Guild Wars 2, about 30 some hours in now, and I have yet to utter a single one of those phrases.
In every other MMO I have played until now, sighting another player was at best just a random encounter in which you parted ways, at worst it means competition for resources or an impending gank. This is not the case in Guild Wars 2. This is the first MMO (or MMO-ish) game I have played where I was actually happy to see other players...and I see a lot of them. While other bloggers have claimed that this lack of resource competition leads to a feeling of the world being "empty" I find it is exactly the opposite.
Lets put this in context. Often in SWTOR when someone else was killing the same quest mobs as I and they got into a sticky situation, a little voice in the back of my head whispered "Let 'em die..." because it meant less competition for me. In GW2 I find I am going out of my way to assist other players; I can say with certainty that a well-timed knife throw has rescued another player. I've tread off the beaten path to resurrect someone else because there was a nice xp cookie in it for me.
A few weeks ago Stubborn was asking about collectivism in MMORPG's and I think I have found one that's done it brilliantly. At least while out and about in the world I find that I am benefited most by helping other players. Having them around almost ensures improved odds for my own success.
Individual loot, individual resource nodes, bonus xp for contribution to objectives, xp for resurrecting other players....so many "individual" terms and yet they make the game feel so friendly. Personally I don't miss having people swipe veins out from under me while I'm clearing the mob right next to it. I don't miss mashing pull abilities to grab needed quest mobs before someone else takes them. I don't miss a quiet disdain from other players as I adventure in the same area as them. I'm fine with those things in other games, but I am glad for once that there is a game that encourages and rewards cooperative activity in a meaningful way (and not just by forcing us to form a random party or get a guild). Heck, some Hearts actually are faster to complete with other people, since both players can activate the items that give credit. Playing as I write, I encountered crab traps which gave credit for a heart and spawned a crab, which also gave heart credit upon defeat. If two players use the trap, two crabs spawn, so each can get extra credit and xp.
Some might say that this removes the opportunity to form impromptu groups out in the world to overcome challenges, but I've found the opposite...a handful of times now I have ended up randomly forming parties with people I am playing near....we form, do our quests, talk, and eventually part ways just like any other group, but without the drama that came from a sudden drop or internal strife over who's iron vein that was.
These are things I don't miss, for me they don't take aware from my enjoyment in the slightest. I can leisurely fight my way to a node without fear of it being swiped. I can show up at an event without fear that there won't be anything to, I can go to a heart and know mobs will be plentiful.
So end, me like, I hope more games do this!