GW2: Blood and Madness Improves Quality of Life

Happiness is a warm dip in a boiling cauldron...

Strangely enough, that’s the vibe I get from this update.

Achievements

After all the intense Monty Haul rewards-dropping-everywhere Queen’s Champion Pavilion, champion zerg trains, scarlet invasions with even-more-champions, plus ramped up Twilight Assault and ramped up Tequatl creating what seemed like two months of breakneck must-farm-everything pace. the insanity seems to have wound itself down a tad.

It feels like the new Achievement experiment this time around is to ratchet back on the number of “must-do-within-two-weeks-or-else” Living Story ones, with more seasonal stuff getting turned into two more optional dailies instead, that can contribute to the meta-achievement over time.

Personally, I’m deeply appreciative of this.

Having a huge laundry list given to me up front triggered off all kinds of OCD, mostly driven by the fear that the historical achievements tab would look ugly as hell with Swiss cheese holes in it.

With the seasonal content dailies, I get my prompts for “what kinds of activity shall I try to do today?” but if I can’t do, don’t like to do, don’t have time to do some of them, they merely vanish into the ether when the next day cycles around.

I would still be a number of AP shorter than the daily completionists, but that is as it should be. I choose to play more relaxed and treat them as optional and forgo the AP as a result.

Treating the Living Story tabs as optional is still a hang-up I cannot overcome, alas. I want to say that I was there, been there, did those, and have the completed pane as a nice souvenir when the release goes away.

A lot easier and less time-consuming than some fairly recent ones...

A lot easier and less time-consuming than some fairly recent ones…

There have been some complaints that the Bloody Prince story is gated behind the Living Story meta-achievement.

I sort of sympathize with the immersion-breaking one. It’s just a little bit weird that we’re supposed to do these achievements to complete a meta that gifts a candy corn golem miniature and voila, somehow this applies to our character in Tyria. Contrast this with the clockwork chaos one where we actually pick up three components from various portions of an invasion and assemble something in-game. It’s not a big deal breaker for me, I can just close my eyes and hand wave over it, but I can certainly understand how this takes a person out of the ‘world’ mindset and back into a ‘metagame’ mindset very quickly.

I’m a little less sympathetic to the variant of complaint that this gating makes it somehow ‘impossible’ to do. The number of achievements needed for the metaachievement is not high at all, especially when you factor in that there’s going to be two daily options that can contribute to it, and that this runs on for over a month until…what, Nov 11?

I think that pace is very very sane and reasonable indeed. (The players who have time to spare are already done with it, and I suspect most regular GW2 players will be done before one or two weeks are out. Two more weeks of backup are very nice for those who may have to skip a week or two of play for whatever reason.)

If anything, I like that most of these latest updates are stretching out to make the content available for a month or so if temporary, overlapping one update over another, and that more permanent stuff is being added in. I think it’s a sign that ArenaNet has been listening to feedback, even if the big boat takes quite a while to steer to get anywhere.

Overall, it diminishes the “must-finish-now-or-lose-out-forever” stress. (Though, for content that is reliant on groups or big numbers coming together, that need to catch the right timing will never go away.)

Fast-Cast

Another big quality of life change has been the new fast-casting option.

In the words of some guy over voice chat, it’s like the two previous options had a baby. It’s the best of both worlds.

Hold the button down and you get the normal range indicator, which is useful for precision placement and actually knowing how big your AoEs are going to be. And you can still almost instantaneously fast-cast by tapping one key just like before.

As a guardian player whose only decent range option is scepter, fast-cast was pretty much mandatory if you didn’t want to lose your marbles (or ruin your expensive gaming mouse) trying to keep smite up for additional dps. *2click2click2click2click* But I did miss being able to see range and radius of AoEs when playing alts I was less familiar with.

That’s now no longer a problem. Beautiful change.

Carving Pumpkins

No more ludicrous demand to carve 100 pumpkins now. Isn’t it awesome?

I can do 5 a day when the daily option comes up and feel like it’s easily accomplished.

Versus running around Lion’s Arch and waypointing to every lowbie zone to run a farming circuit because I cannot control myself and want to finish it all in a day or two, rather than know how to stagger it out properly. (I’m surely not alone in this malady.)

Mad King’s Clock Tower

More quality of life improvements. Five players make for a more reasonable crowd. Every other player turning into a tiny glowing dot is a lot less aggravating on everyone’s nerves. I can jump with the charr I’m used to and not have to ignore verbal abuse from players who are -still- failing their jumps without having any more excuse about fur and spikes and horns and bulk blocking their view.

It’s been nice to observe how a year has changed one’s skill level.

Last year, I was banging my head on the stupid clock tower for a good three to five hours before any visible progress or success.

This year, it only took 15 minutes to warm up, 15 minutes to re-learn the course without referring to any guides, and 15 minutes of trying to get the execution just right.

The biggest revelation for me this time around was a marked improvement and commitment to finding the most efficient path.

From second step, jump straight to next platform as demonstrated by blue ghost.

From second step, jump straight to next platform as demonstrated by blue ghost. No excess step climbing and outside platform time wastage.

It’s a timed puzzle. I might or might not have latency issues. This year, after so much Super Adventure Box practice, it just naturally clicked that the way I was going to maximize my chances of making it was to run the shortest route, just like a racing game.

No more waffling about on the outskirts, trying to avoid other people blocking me. Did my best to hug the inside path to the clocktower wherever possible. Where there were multiple jumps available, identify the minimal jumps required to cross the obstacle and be off to the next bit. Less hesitancy and more smooth jumping without pause from greater confidence about being able to eye jump distance from shortest corner to shortest corner.

Yeah, there were still the missed jumps, the head banging against a beam that one was trying to jump to (stupid quirky GW2), a bit of weird lag issues where one’s character would jitter around while trying to move or jump (maybe too many PvP minigames trying to run at the same time) and the infamous last jump where the latency-ridden would do well to make a leap of faith even before they see the lightning crack the tower window (the pattern and approximate timing of jump for one’s latency is learnable though…)

Wait for mist to swallow gear, then prepare to jump as clock face swings around....

Wait for mist to swallow gear on right, then prepare to jump as clock face swings around….

….but overall, much improved experience all around, both due to better design and better personal player skill.

Mad King’s Labyrinth

Oh noes, it’s not a Monty Haul 24/7 farming paradise.

labyrinth

Some players are complaining about this as they come off their champions loot high.

For me, I kinda view it as a sort of necessary evil. The faucet had to turn off sooner or later.

There’s some rather blatant design where only veterans are spawning from the dynamic event doors, rather than champions galore, despite the zerg scaling things up. And when the door event ends, even the veterans go poof without being so courteous to die and drop loot.

The big bads are pretty high on the health bar reservoir, though that can be because of not-yet-understood mechanics. For instance, the news that standing in the pink candy goop protects from the candy corn projectiles and increases the amount of damage you can do to the Viscount is only beginning to circulate now.

The things I do to get screenshots from unusual angles...

The things I do to get screenshots from unusual angles… (No, I did not just slip… Or maybe I did. Or maybe I just tried to walk on something that wasn’t solid at all…)

And the lich does a life drain that can feed him back a phenomenal amount of health, though no one’s yet figured out how precisely to work around it beyond stacking in melee and overwhelming it with massive DPS.

Their chests are daily only, I believe, which immediately diminishes some of the compulsion to run around the labyrinth for hours on end accumulating loot.

The drop table for these Halloween critters doesn’t seem that good either, producing many porous bones as a sorry consolation prize, and T5 bones mostly, with a rare T6 bone if you’re lucky. I’ve been running 150% magic find, so I’m not sure if it’s just due to the diminished magic find (as compared with the >300% one was running with buffs prior to this.)

Still, it doesn’t prevent many players from running around in a naturally forming choo-choo train.

I look on this herd mentality with some moderate amusement. The one thing that the labyrinth zerg is good for is farming xp, and to a lesser extent, karma, as the focus seems to be on completing as many door events as possible. (Oh, and finishing up some of the achievements, of course.)

Loot-wise, I’m convinced they’re ignoring a big source of possible loot by running past all the level 80 ‘trash’ in the maze and wasting further time by milling back up to the center hill to just stand there and sell until the next door pops up. (To say nothing of the wasted time autoattacking into large hp reservoirs.)

I seem to be having better luck and drops just peacefully farming the level 80 mobs dotted around the maze, working my way up and down to candy corn nodes, with slightly better killing rates if one or two more players decide to join me. Less competing to hit not that many mobs coming out of the doors.

I can’t help but think that if players spread out into groups of 5 and farmed and only came together for the big bads, better loot would be had all around. Still, given the rapaciousness of how a traveling zerg can clean out the corner of the labyrinth they’re in, I’m glad they’re ignoring the other three corners so that I can have some peaceful hermit time there.

Rewards and Skins and Recipes, Oh My

Uh, yeah.

I’m not that motivated by them, which mostly takes me out of the ‘affected’ pool.

The reported prices for the Gift of Souls, Gift of Spiders and what-not recipes have been bouncing around from patently absurd to merely ludicrous. Be it 100k or 10k, I really can’t see myself accumulating that many even in the span of a month, unless ArenaNet is hiding a lot more rare candy windfalls behind to-be-released-later content.

While the Crossing does look nice, even the cost of making it sans recipe costs is already show stopping for me, so why would I need a more expensive recipe regardless?

It strikes me that this is an experiment in seeing whether players are truly content “earning” or “working” for their reward as they say they want. I have a feeling that the difficulty of obtaining one of those suckers is pegged mathematically around the same as a really rare RNG drop (monocles, fer example.) RNG hides the fact that many players will keep trying and never get what they want, whereas this extreme token-buy system doesn’t shy away from showing you just how much “grind” is going to be involved.

Minis are my souvenirs, and I’m glad the latest updates are tying them to meta-achievement rewards. I think it’s a better match for the part-casual part-hardcore lot that is happy to have a collectible to remember the occasion. Happy to leave the prestige cosmetic weapons for people with lots of spare gold.

The exotic Bloody Prince mini might be a tide problematic at 20 candy corn cobs, but I tell myself that this is a thirty day affair, surely candy corn prices are bound to take a plunge as the days wear on, just like most other seasonal currencies do. It is, after all, an exotic – and exotic mini prices generally range from 60-200g, so there is some equivalency there. I will mostly be playing as normal and counting how much candy corn and gold I accumulate by the end of the month. If reachable, I’ll get one. Worse case scenario, I forgo it.

With some irony, my Black Lion Chest key farming experiment, which lasted all of three keys before I got distracted by Tequatl yielded a ticket (and a mini Caithe.) This will no doubt get me cussed out by people who spent lots of real money for the lockboxes and didn’t get anything regardless, but lockbox lotteries are what they are. Spend only what you can afford to lose.

I really don’t know if I want to pick any of the available Black Lion stuff. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they look decently nice. The Dead Stop shield is quite nifty, in a fiery demonic ghost sort of way. The Bloody Prince staff is very elegant and realistic, in that it blends well with the world and doesn’t break immersion. The Silly Scimitar, on the other hand, is anything but, but also hilariously funny and cute.

I… just don’t -need- any of it.

Fortunately, a lot of other people don’t think like me, or ArenaNet would go broke.

But I guess, for me, not being able to swap skins easily or with a wardrobe on demand really kills the urge to collect yet one more damn weapon that’s going to take up inventory room.

I am content to be busy accumulating sufficient gold for 1000 gems to buy two sets of the Halloween minis. If/when they release the costume outfits later, I might consider getting one of those for fun. I might not.

I basically need to play and pay more conservatively this month as I already spent $20 on GW2 last month, and will be spending a bomb on Reaper Kickstarter miniatures at the end of this month.

I’m glad GW2 gives the option to adjust what one wants to spend per month as fits each individual. Thank you to those funding my playtime this time around. Maybe I’ll return the favor next Wintersday.

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4 thoughts on “GW2: Blood and Madness Improves Quality of Life

  1. Ursan says:

    Whole-heartedly agreed. Anet’s overall reward structures have drastically improved over the past half year.

    Now skin-locker, pretty pleeease?

    -Ursan

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I’m quite enjoying this update. It seems fairly laid-back. As I was playing last night, though, I was musing over the various Living Story episodes during the year and the two that really stand out for me are the Bazaar of the Four Winds and the final part of the Scarlet storyline, when the hourly invasions were running.

    Thinking that through in more detail, I believe the Bazaar stands out because it was the one and only new, non-dungeon/instance, world map that’s been added this year, and only the second since launch. I’d happily go without every other aspect of the entire Living Story if we just got one new, permanent world map every three months.

    The Scarlet invasions were just rollicking good fun. They seem to me to mark the high point (so far) of GW2’s open-world zerg culture, which I personally feel is it’s strongest USP and the one it should focus on most heavily in both development and marketing.

    I’m no fan of Halloween as a holiday so the theme of this event does little for me. I never use ground targeting so that change didn’t affect my quality of life in any way. I can’t actually remember much about how the events worked last year, so any improvements there have gone unnoticed. Still, it’s moderately amusing and I do appreciate the extended timeframe and slower pace.

  3. tulaah says:

    The change in pace to something more relaxed is definitely appreciated, hopefully Wintersday day will follow a similar pattern. And the added quality of life things are a nice surprise, seemingly quite small but actually very useful.

    Another vote for the skin locker here!

  4. […] Why I Game: Blood and Madness improves quality of life […]

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