GW2: Dragon Ball – Hits and Misses

Finally got around to playing Dragon Ball.

I stopped by the Heart of the Mists first to tweak my default PvP costume a little (mostly removing the helm because I’m vain and it’s the dorkiest looking thing on an asura.) It’s not like I could do much more than that and change a few dye colors as I rarely sPvP at best.

Since I was there though, I popped in for a round or two of hotjoin for the fun of it, and shortly realized I was pretty outclassed and out of touch with where sPvP has gotten to since the beginning of the game when I tried it while only what, 3 maps were in rotation.

First of all, I wasn’t familiar with the new maps or what the objectives were – which is always a recipe for noob nonproductivity. I tried just focusing on killing some people to improve mah lack o’ PvP skillz (in the hope that it would help me get better at small scale skirmishes in WvW on the right kind of mobility build) and also shortly noticed that the opposing team moved very fast and were usually there to interrupt a 1 on 1 very quickly, while my team never seemed to be anywhere together at all.

I tried following another teammate around in the hopes of at least -looking- like a group, but then we eventually got wiped by a larger group of 3 or 4 people. And finally, on an old map that I was familiar with, I gave up any semblance of conflict with the other team and ran around backcapping points, doing my best to neutralize and capture stuff while everyone was elsewhere.

Alarmingly, that game, I ended up with the top scorer stats and a notch on my PvP daily done. I say alarmingly, because I fancied myself the biggest noob on that battlefield, being all non-sPvP focused and all that.

It also occurred to me that I kept seeing the -same- names on the opposing side, very pro players who kept beating up on what seemed like an outmatched team.

The penny finally dropped when the scoreboard came up on the match and I saw that on my team, none of the players were any higher than rank 7. (Hi, that’s me! And one or two others.)

Meanwhile, on the other side, everyone else was rank 20-30.

Wtf. I thought there was some kind of autobalancing of teams going on. What the hell is happening here? After a few minutes of pausing trying to figure out how to bring up the PvP scoreboard before and mid match (I think I removed my keybind for that, out of disinterest and all. Clicking on the top score works,) I noticed the UI had been improved slightly and that there was this sneaky little “swap teams” button in the top right hand corner.

Now I normally zone in slowly. However, there was one match when I think someone left (out of boredom or just being finished for the day or whatever) when I was looking at the scoreboard, and the swap team button lit up. I hit that and lo and behold, turned up in the stacked team, concentrated on staying out of the way and not dying, and voila, match won.

I suspect most of these shenanigans happen pre-match as the quickest loaders take advantage of the slow loaders and flip themselves out of the team most likely to lose (from observations of noobiness) and stack onto the team most likely to win. I load slow, which leaves me in a really bad position most of the time, nor am I some sPvP god that can win 1 v 3 fights (yet. Prob no interest to learn though.)

Once I sussed that out, I sighed and hit the “quit instance” button, promptly now guilty of being a “leaver” and weakening a crappy team even further.

Why the long PvP hotjoin story in a post about Dragon Ball?

Well, the game is plagued by the same inherent problems. It is further aggravated by achievement seekers looking for the path of least resistance.

It’s kind of sad, because it really is a nice little minigame.

arenaoverview

As Ravious mentions, it is an FPS-style team deathmatch game recreated in GW2. One starts out with a very basic weapon, and has to run around the map picking up better weapons (or skills, in this case.) There are health pickups of various sizes, and even a super damage power-up.

Personally, one of the things I really appreciate about the game is that it is, in theory, a level playing field. Everyone starts out with the same health and same weapons. Everyone has access to any weapons present in the arena. Any disparity is theoretically down to player skill.

This can involve map knowledge. I peeked at dulfy’s Dragon Ball guide and sorta vaguely read where stuff was, but didn’t have an idea of wtf she was talking about with three levels, top, middle, bottom, while a 2D map of where items are doesn’t really help navigationally and jumping challenged me in a 3D environment.

I was resigned to being absolutely clueless my first few games and ran around just trying to get familiar with the map, figure out where good weapons were and trying not to die (wasn’t so great on the last bit, presenting one’s back to skilled opponents tends to lead to horrific death screams and asura nap time.)

Soon, I noticed the disturbing problems plaguing hot join PvP were also present in Dragon Ball. My team was always outmatched, all the good players were on the other team, it was usually 5 vs 4 and never in our favor, and even more amusing, people were just giving up and staying motionless and letting the other guys kill them so they could get on to the next game more quickly.

Sorry, I have more pride than that. I’m a fighter. If I stay in a match, I’ll weave in and out, zig zag, dodge, jump, spin around and even gnaw on your ankles even as you throw three buffed fireballs at me and be the most annoying prat to kill. (I’m not sure if that’s playing an asura influencing my thoughts or the other way around, but yeah.)

hoggingbottom

Of course, this didn’t work out so well in Dragon Ball. As I grew a little more familiar with how the game worked over time, it was easy to discern that the game is unbalanced in favor of the better team in the later stages. Sorta like in DOTA games where a couple feeders will pump up the opposing team to the point where they become too strong to beat, and the rest of it is just a painful waste of time as one watches the cleanup phase, or a Natural Selection game where if one side upgrades to tier 3 things, the other side is generally doomed and struggling becomes hopeless.

That is not to say that this is a bad mechanic. What this does is help to -finish- games, rather than have things end up in a hours-long stalemate going back and forth. It is how it is. Take the game rules for what they are. But it does mean that enduring the cleanup phase on the losing side is quite a demoralizing drag.

When I finally noticed that there was always that ONE AFK GUY on my perpetually losing team (I’d swap out of that team, given a chance, wouldn’t you? Except I load slow, so other faster, better people get to do it first,) my patience snapped at last. (Achievement score to date, 12 matches played, 4 won. Even? Hell no.)

Take the game rules for what they are. No point whining about how things could be different. So I became a leaver and a quitter.

Of unbalanced matches anyway. Enter a game, notice my side had 4 people and the other side have 5? No one else joining? Outnumbered team getting pounded on as a result? Quit.

Rejoin. Enter new game, notice my side has an AFK member and the other team does not? Can’t swap into the team with a massive advantage? Quit.

Rejoin. I only stayed in games where I noticed all ten players actively participating. Trust me, you can tell. The end score is usually 500 / 280+. At least the losing team is trying and fighting.

Sad thing is, Dragon Ball is actually a fun game when participants are all roughly on the same level. I finally lucked into a good game of all present players…

Here’s the scoreboard of the most nailbiting and evenly matched fight that made my previously rather low opinion of Dragon Ball take a 180 degree U-turn.

evenmatch

That game was intense. The scores climbed evenly for the most part. By that point, I was getting familiar with the game format enough to start experimenting with more sophisticated skills beyond power up skill 1 and chase people. Preferably together in a gang with someone targeted. There was a crowning moment of awesome for me when I managed to get off a shield and cause two players on the other side to kill themselves with reflected projectiles and leave the last player in the group of 3 chasing us suddenly outnumbered by two people, who promptly died.

Suddenly I had the revelation that there was indeed a skill component to Dragon Ball after all – beyond just temporarily outnumber your opponents and dodge really fucking well (and grab health when you see it.)

I started experimenting and learning. Take a left at the start, and pick up the AoE skill and keep going left for the power up to skill 1. The shield is down thattaway between the sewage tunnels. Between those two skills, I was able to put up quite a fight and hopefully kill someone 1 on 1.

I dumped skill 1 on autoattack fairly early on. I get the feeling my latency is not great enough to match spamming skill 1 for a player with better ping, and I’d tradeoff getting timing right for slightly higher DPS. The only thing to be careful of was to detarget or spin around really quick if a player put up the shield, and one could tell from the buffs whether a player had it or no.

Run and evade like hell around corners, change elevation and run for where the health stuff is, when facing a team running in a pack and you’re alone. This got me better at movement and evading, even though I tended to lag off the jump pads now and then (I suppose the erratic lag-caused movements helps in evasion, so well, not complaining, take the game for what it is.)

This generally only tended to prolong the seconds before one’s death, if a group of guys was out to get you. Surely, I said to myself, there must be a way to counter this. What hurts groups of players? Light bulb goes on in my head – AOE! And lookie, the AoE weapon causes 30 damage!

Granted, it takes some practice to use, and to lead players so that the projectile lands on them, rather than missing. I generally can only pull it off like 30% of the time, and die otherwise, but hey, any chance is better than no chance at all, sometimes. It really fucking hurts too if someone shields up and you get the AoE back in your face.

But I’ve also had some LOL moments when I see my team and the other team duking it out at the bottom in a big pack of them outnumbering my side, and I sneak up behind them from up high, and shoot an AoE right down into the clump. Then jump right in, shield up my team, and well, suffice to say it can sometimes change the battle. Not all the time, but enough times to make it rewarding enough to keep an eye out for the opportunity.

I’ve learned it’s pretty rewarding to keep trying to master the AoE, because if you’re 1 vs 1 against another player, and you can pull off a 30hp hit on them plus your regular 15 damage attack, that’s the battle skewed in your favor really fast.

After having the kick used on me to fairly effective effect, I’ve been trying it out too. The idea is to close in on a player, preferably 1 on 1, and land the daze. It interrupts them, dazes them long enough to get some good 15 hp hits in and normally leads to them dying or at very low health running the hell away.

The only thing I haven’t really managed to use to great effect yet is the chill trap. I suppose it would serve to slow down people chasing you, but honestly, who has time to lay down a trap when one is focused on getting the hell away and juking as fast as possible… Maybe I’ll figure that skill out some day, probably when others use it on me.

The damage power up is quite interesting. I usually see it only used by a dominating group, which makes life exceedingly miserable for the losing team. But I did get the opportunity once to snatch it away while on the losing side and fire it right into the most kitted out, best scoring player on the opposition. I died doing that because he had three other flunkies helping to kill me. BUT HE DIED TOO. And lost all his weapons! Temporarily, anyway. We weren’t going to recover from that regardless as the balance was already too skewed, BUT IT WAS SATISFYING. Rarrrrrr. Defiant to the end and all that.

I have to thank that very active game and all the players who stuck it out for match after even match for helping me learn Dragon Ball in a satisfying manner. (I guess everyone else was also relieved to have a game where no one was AFK.)

bottomfun

Alas, after some time of well matched games, as people left due to either finishing their ‘win’ achievements or just moving on, we had people come in that well, weren’t at the same level of skill, shall we say.

With increasing irony, as I continued just playing, I noticed my team becoming the stacked team as the more “pro” players decided they wanted to all be together and maul the other team – who were beginning to express frustration on map chat, “Wow, my team always loses.” “Oh sure, all the pro pvp players on one side, and beginning pvp’ers on another.”

I said nothing.

I did not swap teams.

I was on 12/20 wins for the achievement and there was still a ways to go.

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