GW2: Endgame Ideas and Adventures in Goal-Setting

Maybe if you squint... there's 225 of 'em... somewhere...

“225 dolyaks in the snow, 225 dolyaks,
Take one down, slap it around, 224 dolyaks to go”

- anonymous Norn drinking song

It has not escaped my notice that during the last few days of blog silence (and game playing), my most popular post getting hits has been the one about Guild Wars 2′s end game.

That one was a rambling little response mostly making the point about what GW2′s endgame is – a smorgasbord or tapas MMO of many lateral progression options once you pass a certain baseline on the vertical progression ladder.

If you’re not fundamentally comfortable with that, you need to go play another game that is more familiar to you and gives you only one linear ladder to climb so that you can feel special about your “accomplishments” which mostly seem to involve the expenditure of time and perhaps how well you can execute a certain move.

Or conversely, if you’re entirely bored of the genre, it’s time to take a break and move on to a game with a completely different feel and challenges you in different ways. At least for a little while. (Here’s my shameless recommendation of a deep, tactical experience where knowing the right move and strategy is given a lot more stress than how long you take to execute it. I’m sure you can find more games out there too.)

However, if you’re still happy with the game and you’re just here to look for ideas on ‘what to do in GW2′, here are a couple of suggestions:

Reddit is a great source of ideas, as it’s got a huge cross section of variously motivated players reading and contributing to it.

  • When in doubt, a reddit search for “goals” should bring you nearly every thread and idea that may possibly interest a person – from the bog standard ‘get Legendary and look pretty’ ones, to be a PvP or WvW master or ‘collect all the things.’
Clothes? I don't need no stinking clothes to look pretty!

Clothes? I don’t need no stinking clothes to look pretty!

If you’re just interested in hearing about the way I play, then read on.

My voluntarily chosen over-arcing goal is achievements, but not in any kind of maniacal, obliged to win a leaderboard kind of manner. I tend to just use them as ideas or suggestions for things I could be doing.

What does end up happening anyway is a decent amount of progress

What does end up happening anyway is a decent amount of progress

I’m perfectly happy to let, say, the last two jumping puzzles sit undone because I haven’t been in the mood to do them yet. Or a bunch of posters and books in Ebonhawke and mariner plaques that I’ll get to, someday, when I want to have an easy immersive experience.

But maybe the next goal that pops up on the summary is 971/1000 trolls and I go, hmm, I can kill 29 trolls today. Hmm, where are there nice and easy trolls to kill? I don’t wiki because I like to remember these things as esoteric MMO trivia. I remember seeing trolls in Bloodtide Coast, but I think, nah, too high a level, it’s gonna be a pain to kill 29 of those. I think lower, and remember seeing a champion troll in Caledon Forest. Aha, surely there must be smaller minion trolls nearby. Sure enough, there are a bunch. Ding, achievement get.

I do tend to attack the time-limited achievements first, because you know, they are time-limited. This has led to some occasional QQ when striving to reach the quantity required by an achievement ends up taking up 100% of my current available playing time, but ArenaNet has been getting a LOT better on this front and giving more moderate sized ones.

Every day when I log on, I check the daily achievements tab and pick and choose. If I tried to complete all of them, I’d go crazy in short order, but hey, some people do. I highlight on the tracker all the ones I wouldn’t mind doing, then try to knock out a bunch with one stone. Maguuma killer, veteran killer, gatherer? Ok, off to Mount Maelstrom to slaughter a bunch of things, grab some easy veterans and harvest stuff then.

Once it hits 5/5, I tend to stop there and leave the rest of the highlighted ones as extras that I might do if I have more time that day. If not, whatever.

The Living Story tab gets checked next to see if there’s anything that I want to work on or knock out. I admit to being voluntarily completist on this one. Many are content just reaching the meta-achievement. My minigame challenge is to do all the non-infinite ones if at all possible.

I’m keeping an eye on the time in the meanwhile. Once it hits one of the scheduled Teq times for TTS, I tend to meander over and attend a run. I find attending Tequatl more exciting than chasing world bosses, and you do get rares and karma out of it too. The eternal hope is, of course, that I’ll pop a mini. One day. Some day. (Yeah, right.)

Minis are my other voluntarily chosen vice. Again, I’m not completist about this. The prices of exotics are crippling. I spit on any ugly gem store ones. (Ones I find cute, I might consider $10 for if I haven’t spend my month’s budget of $10-20 already, or convert gold to gems.) But I did start by picking up all the blues and greens since they were cheap, and as time wore on, I found I could earn enough spending money to buy rare minis sporadically.

And ever since I managed the initially-viewed-as-insane goal of 225 dolyaks slapped in 7 weeks by working on it slowly 5-10 dolyaks a day, I’ve become a little more open to the idea about long to medium-term goals by chewing away at them in chunks per day.

Being able to afford an exotic mini falls under an idea like that. The thing costs 50 gold? Well, if I earned 10 gold a day, I might be able to afford it in five days. Yeah, right. The amount of dungeons I’d have to run in a day to do that would make me slit my wrists in a hurry. Not sustainable for me. But I could probably earn 5 gold a day. Aim for two CoF and two AC runs (maybe only get half of that done in reality), sell some gathered materials and rares, that would work.

Also, temporarily setting aside one goal for another. I had 100 gold sitting in the bank for icy runestones for that someday Legendary.

Also, temporarily setting aside one goal for another. I had an extra 100 gold backup sitting in the bank for icy runestones for that someday Legendary. I couldn’t resist when the price dipped on 12 Dec as people began selling off their stuff to rush Ascended armor crafting. Title get. Screw the jackalope. (At least until I have more spare money for luxuries again. New goal: restore savings.)

The other thing that has caught my current fancy is the possibility of getting the dolyak finisher before they do their drastic revamp of PvP and remove ‘em.

Being that I was only rank 11 yesterday (2785/4000), I sat down to calculate the exact number of points this would take and how achievable it might possibly be. Turns out, one is aiming for 36, 715 more points. Oh god, was pretty much my reaction.

However, at an average of 160 points per match, assuming the PvP ideal of one match won and one match lost (minus some fudging for the preponderence of stacking, and plus some for the ability to nab more points by hitting top whatevers in a certain category or volunteering to autobalance), it turns out that I “only” have to attend around 230 hotjoins.

That’s like 225 dolyaks, ain’t it?!

At 5-6 matches a day, one should be done in about 46 days, or 6.5 weeks. Sort of like the timeframe of a WvW league, eh?

That should keep me occupied until the next Scarlet patch.

Who knows, if I actually improve enough, I might get brave enough to join a solo queue some day.

Or there's always Wintersday in WvW.

Or there’s always Wintersday in WvW.

If you’ve actually read this far, thanks.

I’d suggest that to get the most enjoyment out of GW2, one has to take the time to decide and narrow down a couple of goals for your playtime.

This may be something as relaxed as “have fun and go where the wind and my guildies take me” or something structured like having some short, medium and long-term goals that you’d be happy accomplishing.

Faces only mothers could love

Or something as personal and meaningful as taking your own collection of memorable screenshots or roleplaying.

Point is, you do actually have to decide on something, and let other things be. For a while, at least.

If you get bored, then switch goals to something that does interest you, nevermind whether the first was completed or not. It will still be there and you can come back to it again. (Mostly. Time-limited ones excepted.)

And if you have to, switch games. It’s okay. You’re not paying a dime while you’re not playing GW2. There’s tons of other games out there. You can come back if and when it ever interests you again.

GW2: Why the Current Scarlet Fails As a Compelling Villain

Nope, she's not here either. Color me unsurprised.

Much has been said about the absurdity of her genius and the amount of suspension of disbelief required to take her seriously. We won’t rehash that argument today.

Her Harley Quin personality is a matter of personal taste. Again, not the key issue, despite it being a fond target for folks who simply dislike her.

In literature, the literary element conflict is an inherent incompatibility between the objectives of two or more characters or forces… The literary purpose of conflict is to create tension in the story, making readers more interested by leaving them uncertain which of the characters or forces will prevail.

Wikipedia on Conflict (narrative)

Herein lies the true problem.

What exactly is Scarlet’s objective?

We. Still. Don’t. Know.

Without this clarity, we do not have any CONFLICT.

Without conflict, there is no tension. No suspense. And no damn interest in the story.

Players cannot oppose Scarlet’s objectives if we don’t know what she’s up to. We can’t be the villain to her hero (or vice versa) if we have no clue as to her motivations.

 

scarletsmysteryobjective

We have to stop her! Apparently.

From doing what though? Dunno. Graffiting the landscape? Wait and see, I guess.

And she’s certainly not opposing us, is she?

Despite being supposedly set up as the villain of the Living Story.

After all, who exactly is the protagonist of the Living Story?

Is it us, the players?

We began with pretty much no objective. Our destiny was to be fighting dragons and we defeated Zhaitan (but stupidly forgot to burn or even check on the body.) On to the next dragon, right?

Mysterious things happen and our objective becomes find out what is going on. Obstacles set up in our path mostly involve wading through a sea of red names with no real setbacks and collecting a drip feed of information as the writers felt like giving them to us. Certainly, Scarlet wasn’t actively preventing us from finding out what was going on. She just stands around giggling, being mysterious and telling us it’s all going to plan, toodle-loo.

Somewhere along the line, most players’ objectives have converted to catch and beat the hell out of Scarlet and her minions because they’re bloody annoying.

While admittedly she remains elusive, thanks to deus ex Arenanet, players have been galloping along a wave of success with very little ups-and-downs (innumerable Molten facilities trashed, clone armies of Aetherblades farmed, Queen assassination attempt foiled, more rustbuckets left lying in pieces, giant krait tower strewn about the landscape in even more massive pieces, etc.)

Scarlet’s visible successes appears to be several new factions-of-the-month, a dead Lion’s Arch councilor whom we’d never heard of (promptly replaced by another), the removal of Faren’s clothing, and some homeless quaggans.

Oh, the villainy...

Oh, the villainy…

We cannot suffer a story setback if we have no clue what she’s gotten away with. She could be building a giant molten toxic twisted steam dragon golem airship in her super-secret base in the Mists for all we know.

After all, she’s gotten away with murder and graduating from three Asuran colleges. In her backstory. Behind-the-scenes. Read the website, thanks.

But without visible setbacks, there is no perceived threat or tension to the storyline.

Nor are we really uncertain which of the characters or forces will prevail here, right?

Game-wise, the player is bound to prevail eventually.

Story-wise, she -could- prevail, except we don’t even know what she’s prevailing over. We’re reaching the end of the story and we still have no bloody clue.

The best villains are those we can empathize with, almost get into their skin and understand. Their motivations are clear.

They may go about achieving their objective using very questionable means, which morally, the heroes are bound to oppose, but most don’t go about what they do for shits and giggles. They have a compelling need to do what they do.

Magneto believes the war of humans vs mutants is inevitable, and that homo superior will eventually win. He’s just hastening the process and defending his kind.

Hannibal Lecter is a super-intelligent and urbane sociopath who likes the taste of human flesh and doesn’t have moral compunctions against ridding the world of stupid and rude people.

To bring it back to Guild Wars examples, Vizier Khilbron sank an entire nation. Why? To stop the charr invasion. For his god and for power and eternal lichdom.

As for his god, Abaddon, well, nevermind that he’s a murdering psychopath, he’s been -betrayed- and -backstabbed- by those dirty Five Human Gods and chucked into a plane of eternal Torment, so -of course- he wants revenge.

Minister Caudecus is wise and beloved by his supporters, especially among the nobility. He’s just politically opposed to Queen Jennah’s decisions and enough of a human supremacist to prefer dealing with cutthroat bandits than with charr.

Ajax Anvilburn, on the other hand, is a charr supremacist who can’t let go of the war either.

Kudu is researching Elder Dragons. Important research that can’t be disrupted or delayed for such minor things like moral qualms regarding the use of lesser species to accumulate further knowledge.

Mad King Thorn wants OUT. (And a joke that kills you.)

Bloody Prince Thorn wants OUT and to show daddy who’s boss.

Scarlet has no such motivation made clear, beyond apparently keeping one step ahead of the players and laughing at them. Her primary purpose appears to be trolling people. We call that a childish griefer, not a compelling villain.

Oh, and fusing seemingly random things together, I suppose. For research purposes. Because this somehow holds the key to… what? Leylines of magical energy? Did she get cheated by Zommoros once upon a time? Did she fuse her brain with an asura?

Maybe she found some really good weed when she looked into the Eternal Alchemy.

GW2: Endgame is Everything

Finally got story mode done on the warrior, after an uncountable number of exploration mode runs...

Scree from the Cynic Dialogues has a post-mortem up on why he lost interest in Guild Wars 2 after six months and couldn’t get back into the game despite repeated tries.

His main issues appear to be a foundational disagreement on how traits were designed in the game, and unhappiness with the speed of developer fixes and response.

Which I happen to agree are very good reasons for why one shouldn’t play a game that one dislikes.

I personally have foundational disagreements on how World of Warcraft raids are the be-all and end-all of anyone wanting to play their game in a hardcore manner (with item level and ever-increasing stats being so emphasized), and would probably go berserk trying to deal with pithy Ghostcrawler posts in between the drastic game changes that seem to happen with every WoW patch.

Nor can I really deal with the fundamentally Eve Online concept of paying a good $15-30 a month for the privilege of getting beat up while learning valuable lessons “to get better, for the future” for at least 2-3 months while you skill up, plan, plot, join organizations and eventually get good enough at the game to do well, earn sufficient isk to possibly pay for your account(s) and then proceed to beat on each other and any newbies who stray into your path in an endless political war of power and greed-mongering.

(Though from afar, I do like the episodic pace of change the Eve devs put out with every update.)

So I don’t play World of Warcraft.

Or Eve Online.

And Scree doesn’t play Guild Wars 2.

But I find his outlook on endgame most interesting. He’s not happy with games that don’t have a stated, defined plan for “the end game,” especially if the speed of tweaks to it are glacial to boot.

To him, GW2′s endgame is possibly WvW – which tends to spawn a myriad of similar complaints from primarily WvW players about the game type being ignored or new fixes that make things even worse.

Or it is dungeons and possibly the fractal dungeon which ramps all the way up to fractal level 50 with increasing stat difficulty and the need to grind for a particular Agony stat in order to qualify for higher leveled fractals. Except the rewards are mostly all cosmetic, which makes them optional, and this somehow grates on him.

To him, the endgame is everything.

If it’s not clearly stated and defined, and given substantially tempting rewards and focused developer attention, he loses interest. Fast.

On the other hand, here’s me, five level 80s and 408 days in (2,561 hours – the average is really kinda scary, all those weekends and waiting for Tequatl must have skewed it…) and still not bored.

I haven’t seriously played WvW in easily three months, nor have I visited a fractal dungeon for a long long time.

So what in the world have I been doing?

This week, I’ve been evolving a comfortable routine of trying to catch at least one Tequatl kill a day via the TTS guild, maybe two or three with other characters if I have the time.

Then I work on finishing up the daily with some easy extras for ~7-9AP, the daily reward laurel and that nice sense of checklist done easy satisfaction.

If there’s more time to spare after that, I pull up the LFG tool and see if I can get in on a few easy CoF p1 or P2 runs, or a definitely less easy TA new Aetherpath attempt (two more dungeon-related achievements to go).

scarletisastalker

Or if I’m feeling brave, some of the dungeons I’m less familiar with to become more habituated to them, and maybe even get one of my last few completely unfamiliar and undone paths finished on the way to the Dungeon Master achievement.

1-3 dungeons later, I am decidedly dungeoned out for the day.

(But several gold richer.)

I may pop into Southsun for twenty minutes peaceful farming with a magic find cupcake for incredibly incremental progress on T6 mats for a Legendary.

I definitely visit the Under New Management puzzle for empyreal fragments, and one weekend I visited Skipping Stones on a whim to discover that the Super Adventure Box had decidedly improved my jumping ability yet again.

Or I jump over to one of the Orr zones to run around in the most haphazard manner gathering resources and maybe stumbling across an orichalcum ore or ancient sapling as a bonus – it’s really just peaceful solo time.

Depending on my mood, over the last few weeks, I have also:

  • used a GW2 node website for more focused and targeted node gathering
  • gone to farm Champions in the Frostgorge loop
  • stopped by a world boss or two
  • visited and revisited some jumping puzzles new and old
  • made an attempt at map exploration on alts
  • tried to level up my mesmer further via lowbie zones and personal story
  • bought a new character slot
  • made a temporary necro to regain the skull mask I must have accidentally salvaged off my level 80 necro
  • experimented with various races of warriors while working towards accumulating Black Lion Keys

(By level 7, you can generally get the level 10 Personal Story done, then clean up character, getting a few lucks via salvaging along the way and delete.)

Plus, you get to see all the branching level 10 stories. Hot golemic love action!

Plus, you get to see all the branching level 10 stories. Hot golemic love action!

I also recently discovered that the Daily Activity Participation is rather fun and easy to do. Just talk to the NPC in Lion’s Arch, putz around for one game (and maybe even win it) and then exit one reward chest richer.

I’ve been deriving a certain satisfaction in accumulating and salvaging a ton of blues and greens from my Teq and dungeoneering and oh, Scarlet invasion efforts. Each day, my magic find slowly increments by 1-2% back towards the 180% I was used to previously, except now it’ll apply for the entire account.

I have yet to properly inventory and tidy up my bank and guild banks once more or figure out what kinds of stats I want on each character for Ascended armor and weapons and work towards those. My Artificer is only 465 on crafting, and nothing else has been incremented past 400.

In the past update before Tequatl Rising, my daily routine involved at least one visit of the Super Adventure Box for a round of bauble farming or an achievement or Tribulation Mode attempt.

And so on, following whatever was new per Living Story update.

In a way, this very comfortably harkens back to Guild Wars 1 for me.

There was so much lateral progression you pretty much had to pick and choose what you wanted to get done for the day, according to your own personal goals.

You could PvP with various formats. You could work on your story missions across four chapters till you were done. You could do it all over again in hard mode. Or do it yet again with books to keep track of your repeat progress and reward you. You could vanquish every zone. Or work on map exploring and scraping every last corner of the world. You could run the harder ‘dungeon’-like zones Fissure of Woe, the Underworld, Domain of Anguish with a group or solo with your own heroes. Or follow the Zaishen ‘daily’ and do the highlighted goals. And lots more besides.

The Hall of Monuments worked as a sort of focused vertical progression ‘endgame’ where you could do a whole bunch of lateral activities but gradually increment that final number.

In GW2, ArenaNet points and achievements appear to be a method of coming close to that idea.

I’m a dabbler. I putz around casually a lot, hoard a ton of stuff that may never ever get used, pick a goal at random from a big list and work towards that for a while, then find something else to do.

The cool thing is that everything I choose to do, benefits me and my account in the end, somehow, someway.

Other players, I am sure, do this very differently.

Some spend all their days in WvW, zerging or roaming as their interest takes them. Some fixate on a Legendary they want and single-mindedly work towards that. Some chase dragons, or world bosses, or champions all day long. Some are happy just perfecting the cosmetic look they desire for their characters. Or creating the world’s largest collection of alts, or miniatures, or what-have-you.

For instance, one of my guild leaders seems to be quite a PvP fan, and half the time, I see him on one sPvP map or another. The other half he seems to spend running guild events (which include WvW) and missions and maybe taking some time out to PvE and follow the Living Story.

Another of my guild leaders has 15k ArenaNet Points and still counting. so guess where his focus must be.

The leader of the TTS guild I joined appears to be enjoying himself spending nearly all his time online in Sparkfly Fen organizing one kill after another, and wrangling six (yes, it’s now six) guilds with all the attendant leadership and administration challenges that must follow.

And of course, some content themselves hanging out in Lion’s Arch, or just finishing their dailies, or wandering the open world or roleplaying with a guild.

In Guild Wars 1 -and- 2, the endgame is literally -everything-.