GW2: Clockwork Conspiracies

Can’t stop to talk for long. Having way too much fun.

Spoilers do follow in the screenshots, but if you haven’t sampled the story by now, you’ve been missing out. Go log in, rather than read vicariously.

Closing Ceremony

unite

Storytelling just as well done as the opening. Moar of the same for future updates please.

Here’s some love for the cutscenes, including the stylized painterly interlude in the manner of the noir one.

Faren's hero moment, soon to be overtaken by the ubiquitous thought "those damn mesmers!"

Faren’s hero moment, soon to be overtaken by the ubiquitous curse of “those damn mesmers!”

Twisted Clockwork Faction

Words cannot describe how awesome these guys are.

dolyakvshorror

The aesthetics are like Necrons mixed with Cryx with a unique GW2 take on things, and the animations on these metallic monstrosities are the coolest ever.

I only wish I had the computing firepower to put graphics settings on medium or high in full on zerg situations, rather than stay at the lowest of the low in order not to crash. Even so, they’re still pretty good-looking.

twistednightmares

Mechanics-wise, I find them rather interesting, with a “downed” state of their own that mimics the need to finish opponents in pvp. Some specifically repair another type, so in theory, target prioritization is needed.

And I’m not sure, but it seems like if some of them reach a certain critical mass, they glom together to form a big twisted nightmare – I just haven’t observed specifically which enemies yet.

This should be interesting and meaningful later on if they ever make dungeons with the twisted clockwork faction in them. So far, the solo scaling allows one to take them out one at a time or all together, regardless of if you prioritize or not – one just endures a bit more delay if they do self-repair. And in zergs, it is also just as effective as to wipe them out in one fell sweep or let a few people do the finishing, similar to WvW.

Scarlet’s Playhouse Instance

Speaking of which, I’m really happy that they made a story instance that is both soloable and groupable according to preference.

Certain people will tell you that oh, it’s sooo much easier to solo because it scales, but I think they haven’t the patience to wait for a group to get the hang of the twisted clockwork faction mechanics together.

I did both.

I went through my first time solo, because I enjoy being a hero by myself, seeing the story and learning the mechanics unspoiled by others. I found the difficulty very reasonable, and appreciated that Scarlet so helpfully cued in her gimmicks at each stage. It was quite doable to survive long enough (hooray, no brutal one-shot instant deaths) to observe her animations and the surroundings and figure out the means to progress or do damage to her.

Then I grouped to see how reasonable the scaling was, and truth be told, I found it reasonable as well, though we did total party wipe a few times. Those deaths were more due to group coordination and some members being unfamiliar with the instance though.

Our first wipe took place when 1 member asked about the 3 min achievement and got no response yea or nay from the group. Seeing him rush for it, I followed suit. The other three hung back. As you can imagine, our cheerful efforts to extinguish fires rapidly produced monsters spawns the team was not prepared for in the least. Whoops. πŸ™‚

notcommunicating

Ironically, our second go, when we started talking a lot more and decided to do things “slow and steady and no deaths,” we scored the 3 min rescue Faren achievement. Go figure.

Of course, that no death hope was rather dashed when we ran into the centaur section of the map and another party member rushed headlong into the first spawn they saw. *wry grin*

Any Guild Wars 1 player would have recognized that sort of movement of the spawns. PATROLS. It’s a TRAP! Dashing into the center where a bunch of patrols meet up? You know it. Splat went the first, then splat went the second who tried to revive. The others who hung back valiantly tried to hold off the multiple spawns rushing them, but yeah… scaling and twisted clockwork mechanics and all that.

When solo, I pulled the first two spawns methodically to kill ’em, just cos I like killing stuff, then evaded past the rest. I am sure you could run past them all, or stealth past as well, solo or group. Just…your group has to be all on the same page. πŸ™‚

We had one more wipe in here, which I would label as unfamiliarity with how to handle twisted clockwork as a group. Some of us got breathed on by a horror, with those oh so fun stacks of confuse, which of course, produces downing in most not alert people. Then the whole repairing thing got away from us and we were suddenly facing TWO giant Twisted Nightmares of silver status. The survivors were doing a passable job sorta kinda ranging them, and I was getting a lot of practice in both quickly detargeting my scepter when the reflect shield came on (and evading the 2-3 stray blue balls that hit the shield before I detargeted) and side strafing the green projectiles it was shooting at me…

…just as I was thinking, oh hey, I’m getting the hang of this, even in pure berserker armor, the thing crept up with sufficient range to fire its flamethrower.

OW.

Fuck. I was not expecting that. Why does it have a flamethrower… Ow. How the hell do I dodge these? Healhealheal. This is not working…

Whoosh whoosh whoosh.

One flamebroiled charr to go.

And then there were two.

And one.

Then none.

The silver thingummies had collapsed into a pile by the time we got back from restarting at checkpoint, but yeah, I’m sure a group that actually had a cohesive plan to deal with them would have carved through ’em in no time flat. Or evaded them.

Difficulty-wise, I’d classify Molten Facility as harder, while not even mentioning how taxing Aetherblade Retreat can be. This is a short and sweet instance that won’t take a long time to run, solo or grouped, and I like it. It’s just right for temporary, seasonal content. And there are still one or two mechanic-based fights in there, rather than tank and spank.

Invasions

Doubly in love. It’s like Rift’s invasion/public quest system mixed with a side helping of GW2.

One of the most fun things for me is simply just running from one place to another together as a collective. Seriously, as long as your zerg is not too big, just toggle off your interface, leave yourself on autorun, turn the camera and look at yourself and the people running alongside you.

GW2’s run animations are awesome (or maybe that’s just me on a charr.) It’s like the Manifesto video all over again, but with yourself in the picture.

The multistage events building up to a climax are neat. Anet rapidly fixed the one minor nitpick of Scarlet having too little hp and dying too fast. I like that the whole zone has a shared goal and pretty much all actions do work towards that goal, map-chat complainants not withstanding.

Really, that’s the one eyesore of the event. I’ve had more fun switching tabs and ignoring map chat. A whole bunch of backseat commanders have sprung up and simply won’t shut up about how other people are not playing how they like.

Jeez, have a little trust in the wisdom of crowds, will you?

Yes, we get it, if everyone spreads out and takes down more dynamic events successfully, the counter will go down faster, we will get to scarlet faster, and defeat her for the best invasion complete loot and two rares if you haven’t defeated her already that day.

HOWEVER:

If we spread out too thin, and struggle at taking down dynamic events in tiny groups and being endlessly downed, then the counter is not going to go down any faster either.

Some people may also not feel the need to get to Scarlet any faster because we have 45 minutes to do the event, and if we complete it in 30min, what are you going to do, stand around and wait for the other half-hour before the next invasion?

Some people are also enjoying the roleplaying and world immersion aspect here – what, leave a bunch of Twisted Clockwork menaces to roam around Tyria just because you’re busy metagaming?

Some people just like killing anything red in front of them.

Some people have an AoE weapon that can’t HELP but damage anything red in front of them. (*hides guardian staff behind back*)

And yes, there is loot. Oh so glorious massive group scaling veteran and champions loot. Preferably from Aetherblades.

And why not? Why get in a tizzy about it? If you don’t like the zerg where it is, go form a group and stay away from the commander tags. Or go solo some events. They scale. Or get a commander tag of your own and see how many people want to follow you.

If you like zerging, then don’t feel guilty, just join the damn zerg and have fun. If you need to sell, go and sell. It’s okay, there are other people in the zone too.

It’s like WvW, really. All parties are needed. A strong zerg is an unignorable force. In invasions, a good zerg takes down each event in record time, mowing through a whole bunch of champions that both move the progress bar and yield loot. A fast way of moving the zerg to the next event is not to scream one’s head off and waste time typing when one could be attacking or tagging, but to just lawnmower down anything standing so that there’s nothing left and the rampaging horde has to look for new targets regardless. πŸ™‚

Roamers, loners and soloists also can play their parts. There are some very easy scaling events (molten alliance tunneling machines come to mind) that can be handled and will also tick down the progress bar anyway. Zergs move and turn like oil tankers, they can only be in so many places at one time, you can pwn those events faster than you can break up the zerg or get the zerg to move somewhere.

And the zerg naturally breaks up and reforms after each event ends when some people waypoint to the next event they pick on a map, or decide to run instead to the next place, and so on.

Really. Every single invasion I’ve joined, save for the very first, has succeeded. Big zerg or no big zerg. To me, it actually seems harder to spread out too thinly.

Just trust in the wisdom of crowds and that the aggregate will get you there.

If you do fail the last stage, what’s the harm? You still get a partial reward at the end, and I think even the achievements increment.

And the invasions repeat every hour, on the hour. For 14 days. And they will continue at a less frequent pace after. One or two battles lost is not the end of the fucking world.

Invasion of steam creatures notwithstanding.

Invasion of steam creatures notwithstanding.

Oh, and I like the predictable timed nature of the invasions. It reminds me of the festival times in GW1 where you could log on and know that every hour, such-and-such would be happening. It helps one plan for it, in a way. Having some people left out is a sad but necessary consequence of such a schedule though.

Yeah, it’s a little disappointing if you miss the window and accidentally zone too late and get in an overflow where the invasion isn’t occurring. But I’m sure there’s other things you could be doing with the hour too.

And I agree it’s uber annoying if you should crash out and be unable to get back in again (I had that happen once when I ramped up my graphics too far) and it would be nice if they had a mechanism to hold one’s place for a while… but for the predictability of the hourly invasions, I’ll take it, warts and all.

It’s better than having a whole bunch of invasions fall out of sync with each other. *Thinks back to karka event where different overflows managed to start 45 minutes later than another*

Speaking of which, I really like the performance improvements between then and now. The karka event was one gigantic lagfest of doom, where skill lag made it took literally 5 minutes to see the result of one button press. I’ve not had any noticeable skill lag in these clockwork invasions, and the only hitch I’ve seen is a long noticeable delay on some Aetherblade waves spawning in a Gendarran Fields invasion.

The culling changes has also improved my framerates in zerg situations slightly, at the cost of me never seeing anybody else’s armor ever again, in WvW or PvE. Oh well. Your vanity is not that important to me, not until I can afford a better computer anyhow. πŸ˜›

With that sort of stuff fading into the background and not being noticeably annoying, it’s a lot easier to enjoy the flow of the invasions for what they were intended to be.

Pure unadulterated fun.

Just ignore the naysayers.

Conspiracy Theories

In the one invasion I sacrificed by being on medium graphic settings and awaiting the inevitable crash, I did luck into taking a screenshot of a steam portal at very close range. This was up in Dredgehaunt Cliffs and the event happened to be in a place with two different elevations, including one cliff high enough to look -down- into the portal.

steamportal

One can see steam pipes that look reminiscent of those in the Aetherblade jumping puzzle, and a railing of some sort that looks like the fairly standard sort you’d see in dredge facilities?

There’s some cube-like structures beyond that I won’t even begin to guess what they are.

threesylvari

And an unfortunately low-res Scarlet in comparison to the pictures of Faolain and Caithe stolen off the GW2 wiki. Three different sylvari?

The facial markings of all three -are- different if you google up a better resolution pic of Scarlet.

Then again, the nose is a little like Caithe’s in shape, but has Faolain’s scarring on the side. The eyes do have a resemblance to Faolain’s on the far edges, though they have this crazy yellow glow in the Playhouse instance that is different from the yellow-green in the cutscene. The skin tone is kinda like a mix of green and grey.

Faolain + Caithe = Alternate Reality Batshit Crazy?

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5 thoughts on “GW2: Clockwork Conspiracies

  1. bronkitus says:

    Regarding the self appointed commanders;

    Still think a little (gentle) nudging in local chat is appropriate. There are still meta-events from launch where it’s clear the open world PvE crowd doesn’t quite understand the mechanic for event success/failure beyond “go hit thing with stick” (eg, protect these NPC’s while also hitting things with stick). This is a brand new event, now only two days old. Being pure PvE zergs of mostly non-raiders and non-PvPers, the majority are not traited or skill slotted for spamming group boons, or even thinking of laying down combo fields or useful for groups conditions like vulnerability.

    Still, it’s impressive when the mass completes the event. The events being spread out limits the more severe culling. The meta-event still feels BIG despite often converging on one of the many hotspots with only 5 or 10 other players.

    Well done ANet.

  2. Scarlet is Harley Quinn to the Mad King’s Joker? πŸ˜›

  3. […] Scarlet’s Playhouse. I won’t go in to much detail on the dungeon as Jeromai already does a great job breaking the dungeon experience down. Anyway, ArenaNet is making guides for the content patches, but I feel that they left something […]

  4. 7rlsy says:

    Loots, Loots, Lootses!

    Was crazy fun zerging and such, good mechanics (yr right, the naysayers were… merely that), but, yeah… glad it’s not on the hour every hour now.

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