[GW2] Keeps, Auctions, Boulders, and reasons to WvW

gw2_vista

GW2 vistas are a gift to bloggers looking for pretty screenshots. (This is from Kessex Hills although pretty much everywhere so far seems to have centaurs.)

Bree sums up many of my thoughts about GW2 in a brilliant post which ponders whether the game will prove ‘sticky.’ (Or at least, will it be stickier for her guild than Cataclysm or SWTOR?) I have been playing the game a fair bit and I do enjoy it, I just don’t think I love GW2. It’s not you, GW2, it’s me. I loved WoW and I loved SWTOR and I loved LOTRO but there’s some emotional connection with GW2 that isn’t really there for me. At least not yet. Maybe it’s that although the human lands are expansive, well designed and fun to explore, by the time you enter your third zone of pretty rolling plains with towns under siege by centaurs, they all start to meld into each other. Maybe it’s the wide use of travel portals that make even the connected parts of the world feel a bit disconnected. Maybe I just don’t care enough about my character or the story of their people if there is one beyond fighting off centaurs. I think there is, I just don’t get what it is yet.

The game is undoubtedly fun to play, although I’m not finding combat to be a particular high point, but – ironically in a game where heart quests are literally part of the landscape – for me it lacks heart.

There have definitely been some high points while exploring; the dynamic events do a great job of drawing players together, and some of the heart quests are just unique. I loved the one where you get turned into a pig and hunt for truffles. I’ve spent longer trying to figure out how to get up /that/ mountain or into /that/ underground area in this game than I have for a long time in MMOs. Allowing everyone to harvest every node is another great way to encourage players to explore and putz around with the scenery, and I admire the skill of the designers even while I enjoy clambering around rocks or dodging ghosts to try to find a tomb. It means that moment to moment goals are much more interesting than ‘Next I will complete quest X’.

Me and my Mesmer

I am finding my mesmer (level 38 at the moment) intriguing. I like having lots of clones out, it makes me feel as though I have friends. It is also disconcerting in events with lots of players when I look round and think ‘Hey that guy looks just like my character! Oh wait, it’s my clone.” The basic idea is that you can spawn some clones (which are wimpy) or phantasms (which are better) that may do different things in combat and decide whether to leave them out as mobile DoTs or send them all off to converge on your target and explode. It’s different.

I also like that my dude can dual wield swords and do a bit of damage in melee, it feels stylish and effective. I also feel fairly useful in PvP and am sure the clones are annoying as heck to opponents. They are like very low maintenance temporary pets and if they die you just summon some more.

Other than that, I’m not very excited by GW2 combat so far. It’s fun to be able to get your own combos off or see combos flying around while you are in groups, but even with weapon switching it can feel a bit plodding.

The human storyline was good fun but now I’m a member of the Vigil and … I’m not as interested in the post-30 storyline, maybe because it’s in a different zone and again I’m not entirely sure where it is supposed to be compared with the rest of the world.

gw2_falcons

I am also deeply impressed by the attention to detail in some of the critter/ animal animations in this game and have spent far too much time just watching them wander around, stretch, attack each other, and so on. The models are also gorgeous. This picture shows three falcons attacking a rat, which was part of a heart quest. Look at the detail on the feathers,  and how they are posed to strike out with their talons. (I am a bird watcher so I appreciate this kind of thing Smile ).

gw2_keep

Blink and you’ll miss it – this screenshot shows my server actually taking a keep in WvW !!

There are plenty of reasons to try out WvW:

  • It’s fun (subjective)
  • Just about everything you do (that helps your side) will count as a dynamic event if you’re trying to tick some off for daily or monthly achievements, including defence.
  • There are plenty of objectives, including some that are soloable as well as group or zerg type activities. Obviously this depends on how much resistance you receive from the other teams.
  • Plenty of opportunity for xp. Lots of nodes to mine.
  • Supply lines are important. If you like your PvP a bit more tactical, you will probably enjoy this aspect of the game.
  • You can drive a ballista. Or other siege engines.
  • Free teleport to capital cities. Given that travel is a gold sink in GW2, the free port is handy if you need to get back to a trading post or want to do some crafting. Obviously this won’t be very appealing if your server has long PvP queues but its great if they don’t.

I’ve had fun pitching into PvP when I’m bored with centaurs. The realm v realm/ team style play does encourage players from your side to work together, although they may not always do it effectively. I don’t really get where the mists are supposed to exactly be geographically but given that this is server vs server PvP, it’s probably best not to worry about it.

It’s the economy, stupid

I have seen discussion this week about the GW2 economy: Azuriel thinks it is broken, Ravious thinks it is hugely successful. I see large volumes of trade occurring (the front page of the trading tab shows you some numbers) so trade is happening and we’ll call that a win for the moment. The main trade items are low level raw materials and unidentified dyes – cloth is evidently in low supply compared to other craft materials. There are clear gold sinks in the game via repairs and travel costs as well as pricey cosmetic gear that can be bought with gold at high levels.

While there are reasons to craft in the game — for xp, for fun, to eventually be able to make your own legendary gear, etc. – selling crafted gear to other players isn’t likely to be one of them. There may be crafts where a smart crafter can find a niche in the market, but you will be competing with all the other players across all servers in your region. (The trading post may also be cross-region, I’m not sure.) There is a lot more to be said on crafting and economies in MMOs but GW2 doesn’t look as though it will be a particularly rewarding game for crafting fans. I think I preferred the GW1 approach where you just handed your raw materials to an NPC and got crafted gear back, making crafting into its own /thing/ hasn’t really added a lot. Still, its early days yet.

It will also be interesting to watch the exchange rate of gold to gems (and vice versa) to get a feel for how many people are buying gems to convert into gold. Logically, Anet probably want to have plenty of gold sinks to encourage this but without making the game overtly pay to win or demotivating other players.

I suspect that while Azuriel may be right in principle with his arguments, any view that discounts that the vast majority of players do not read blogs or want to put much thought into playing the economy is unrealistic. It won’t matter to the GW2 economy if a minority of players can make loads of gold from it with some work, there will be many more who can’t be arsed.

Boulders and the single instance runner

gw2-boulder

We ran a story mode instance yesterday for the first time, huzzah!

I like this screenshot as it shows all the boulders we had been hurling at a boss stacked up in a corner after the boss died. Boulders are good! They knock mobs over. Use the boulders.

I am currently ambivalent about the PvE group content based on this experience. Although it was a story mode instance, only one of the players actually got the story cut scenes, the rewards weren’t really worth the effort, the bosses tactics were fine for an introductory instance, and our tactics tended to involve lots of boulders and death zergs (this is when people keep dying and running back into the fight until the boss dies). I don’t think this was particularly down to our poor play, some of the traps the bosses put down seemed to do a load of upfront damage which didn’t allow for much time to get out of the danger zone.

I enjoyed the actual exploring and trash fights more than the boss fights, and it’s always fun to hang out with the guys and kill things in a group. It would have been nicer to have gotten some rewards from our first instance that we didn’t all sell. I kept the yellow hood (quest reward) for the looks.

Also, for all Anet have attempted to remove the tank/heal/dps trinity in this game, I do hear a lot of people in general chat asking for plate classes to join their instance PUGs.

22 thoughts on “[GW2] Keeps, Auctions, Boulders, and reasons to WvW

  1. I find it odd that you thought the combat is plodding – my mesmer is only 14, but already I find combat much more involved than, say, WoW (my only MMO point of reference). There’s a lot more movement involved, and on-the-fly tactical decisions to make, especially when struggling against 3 or 4 mobs.

    Re: the economy: I believe it’s global.

    Looking forward to trying out some instances, although at the current levelling rate it seems like it’ll be a long time before I’m high enough. That is unless I’m missing something and there’s actually low-level instances available? I shall have to look this up.

    • It’s the same at 38 as it is at 14 :) Although mobs are more likely to have special abilities or use buffs/ debuffs. I don’t hate the combat and will probably like it more once I have ground out more skill points to have more talent options, but I kind of wish I could experiment with all the abilities NOW.

      The lowest level instance (which is the one we did) is level 30. It probably won’t take you as long to get there as you think.

      • That’s interesting to know about the buffs/debuffs, and makes me think I should put more points into things that, e.g. swap my debuffs to them and their buffs to me; at the moment I’ve put my whopping four points into improved condition damage, with most of my gear having vitality and toughness. Seems to work when combined with a staff :)

      • I wouldn’t worry too much about that yet, you’ll have plenty of time to play around with abilities plus you can always swap them in when you know you are about to hit a fight that needs them. I’m like the worst person to ask about mesmer builds because I put my points all over the place. I do like the (illusion?) trait line that gives the illusions more health, longer lasting illusions is a good thing. And fwiw I am now pretty settled into using staff and sword-sword as my weapon combos.

      • That’s good. I noticed it’s no great hassle to reset skills/talents/whatever.

        And I like the sceptre/pistol combo in addition to my staff :D (although sword has the handy block ability when used in offhand, but then pistol has the 3-target CC… choices choices!)

  2. Re stickiness, I quoted your recent comment from KIASA at the start of a post I just wrote. It took me a while for GW2 to click but now it has. It’s all about character for me. Once that falls into place, everything else slots in behind.

      • It’s the humans. I’ve done Human, Slyvari, and Norn up to the high teens / low twenties and the racial storyline for the humans just does not stack against the others. To the point that I plan to reroll my Thief to Sylvari or maybe Asura.

  3. I feel the same way, but I’m only level 22. I don’t feel emotionally invested. For some reason, WoW grabs me more than GW2, which is odd, because GW2 is the “better” game on paper. Something about GW2 just feels off.

  4. So far I am loving GW2 as is my guild. We feel they have nailed grouping. Everyone no matter the level or the zone you go to when grouped feels like they are accomplishing something. Right now I am concentrating on a Charr Engineer and a Norn Warrior. Both are cool to play with lots of options.

  5. Well, yesterday I get to level 75 with my asura elementalist.

    The story have phases. Until level 20 players will be dealing with racial problems, for example humans will be fighting centaurs and bandits. After level 20 players join a faction (Vigil or Priory or Whisper) and deal with that order problems until level 50. After level 50, well, the things change again.

    The story starts with small local problems and walk to deal with big elder dragons at the end.

    Race too can be a problem. Asura and Charr lands are more funnier than human lands.Sylvari and Norn lands can be not so much fun, but are better than human lands. At the end, humans are losers… oh well, they lost all lands for charr.

    • So if I am leveling an alt I should choose a different faction than the one I choose on my main otherwise the story will be a repeat? If so good to know.

      • @Spidubic

        Diferent faction (Vigil or Priory or Whisper), diferent story (and they send you to diferent zones too). And inside the faction story there are diferent options for follow the story (for example, the non-player race you will be friendly, but I guess that the 3 options are based at your race and not the faction your choose).

        But all stories start to converge at level 50+ for go to Orr fight the Elder Dragon Zhaitan.

        I can just guess what they will do at the expansions, we will problably fight the other Elder Dragons.

  6. While there are some things that need to be changed, I am loving this game. I am leveling with half PvE and half WVW (which is awesome). I am hoping that they will listen to the community and make the appropriate tweaks (armor repair in PVP…what?).

  7. I feel much the same about the zones. I think I’ve determined that the problem is that while I, the player have a personal story, the ZONE ITSELF doesn’t have a story arc. In post-Cata Wow, each zone has its own story arc, which set them apart, and made progression much more interesting. This is needed in GW2 (which I love, don’t get me wrong!).

    Another thing it could use it a greatly increased emphasis on the personal aspect: Give me a reason to go to my “home instance” in the city. Give me the ability to unlock and upgrade my own vendors, house accessories, armor racks, gardens, groves and mines. I also find I am doing to much in between my personal story “events”, so I lose track of what’s happening.

    I also feel, despite the waypoints, that it needs mounts. For several reasons: collection, upgrading, status, and the occasional travel speed bump. It’s also counter to the lore, to have a medieval society with no transport system of this type.

    All that being said, they were very disciplined with staying on point with their 3 goals: personal story, active combat, and whatever the last one was! :p The attention to detail is what has been winning them the great reviews, so now I feel they can safely focus on bringing on some new features!

    I love this game, and for the first time in 4 WoW expansions, I could care less about one coming out. Great job, ArenaNet!

    • Talking to named NPCs, Scouts and Heart NPCs (before you complete their tasks) gives a zone’s overall storyline. It’s not upfront information though, and I’m sure most people skip it.

  8. Sometimes the lands can seem a bit plain, but I like the consistency in that you can identify krytan architecture, and recognise the lionsguard havens, and that the Ascalon Settlement is similar in appearance to Ebonhawke.

    Played Ascalon Catacombs for the first time at the weekend with a PUG, it was a fun experience and not as painful as I expected. Definitely trash mobs are tougher than some of the bosses, the mob of 3 rangers before the ranger boss hurt. It’s funny seeing groups looking for heavy class wearer when if there is one thing that makes the dungeon go better, it’s condition removal, and most classes have options for that. It felt scrappy, kiting and hiding behind pillars waiting on heal to be off cooldown, rezzing or running back but enjoyed it more for that.

    Liked playing a msemer in a group setting, Feedback, Null Field and Moa Morph were all great skills. Probably not got the best timing for interrupts, but the way daze works i.e. a combination of silence and interrupt means it can be still be worthwhile to use Mantra of Distraction to shut down an elementalist for 4 secs.

    Working on a full set of level 35 rare masquerade gear for my mesmer, it’s expensive but surprisingly I was able to get tailoring from 125 to 150 by buying the mats off the TP and selling the rare chest armours for a profit, so gradually saving up til I can afford the full set, hopefully before others catch on and the market becomes too saturated. The masquerade set is that light armour that has gotten the most derision, so there is a market for skimpy clothes but it looks cool on males.

  9. I have a similar issue with it regarding stickiness in that I’ve played the game up to 60 and I have fun but it doesn’t really feel like I’m actually doing and that I could just as cheerfully walk away from it tomorrow and never play it again. There’s a lack of meatiness to the experience.

  10. Your one statement about things melding together made me chuckle, mostly because I had a very similar conversation with a guildie just last night. He asked if I’d been to that “cool pirate town” where you had to “hold off pirate attacks”. I was like, hmm, maaaaaybe? Because I *think* I know what he was talking about but to be honest it also feels like I’ve been to half a dozen pirate villages and I’ve probably had to fight pirate attacks at every one of them. Anyway, he thought it was pretty awesome, but then again he’s also much lower level than me and hasn’t been through as much as the map as I have.

  11. I’m with you about the story and immersion problem. I can’t place my finger on it, but coming from a very compelling story based MMO like The Secret World and even SWTOR, i’m just not feeling the cohesion and story in GW2. I think it might be the thing where gameplay is very broken up in so many options, creating the illusion that the game is not linear (when it is essentially) .

    I’ve had to roll all the classes because i couldn’t find one that just works for me. I think the combat is ok, but lacks variety during the actual combat in the long run. I mean this in the sense that Arenanet seems to have designed the skill/abilities in such a way that you get locked down to a specific set of skills for the entire game. Unlike GW1, you can’t really customize your range of skills, you will always have 2-3 skills on your bar that is very situational and not necessarily applicable for most fights. So now you constantly switch weapons back and forth to get to the other 2 abilities,

    The dodge mechanism is very similar to what they did in Secret World, but overall i’m feeling a little restricted with my options in GW2. Once you’ve unlocked all the weapons (which is basically within your first 2-3 levels) the allure of gaining and learning new skills wear off (because there is none) . The utility slots help a bit, but alot of them ends up being passive or very long cooldowns.

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