One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

I thought I was getting better.

Two days ago, I took this screenshot feeling relatively good about everything in general, wanting to share a burgeoning optimism that maybe quarterly class balance updates would be decent for overall game functioning.


After all, I had around three months to giggle about getting into Viper’s gear before the crowd demand sent Black Diamond prices soaring sky-high, and then play a Burnzerker – a build that I would probably not have ever gotten around to on my own, but really tickled the pyromaniac-loving part of me that loves any class that throws around fire, fire and MORE FIRE.

The Burnzerker nerf was expected, and I was pleasantly mollified to see that it wasn’t knee-jerk cut down into absolute uselessness, but more or less on par with most other normal condition classes/builds. (Minus the present bug where two burnzerker fields are ineffective, thus don’t bring more than one, until it gets fixed, eventually.)

Of course, we still have two annoying player subsets to contend with – those who won’t accept anything but the current most OP builds – that crown has gone to a certain specific necromancer/reaper build using minions and epidemic apparently (not sure, I haven’t looked into it yet); and those who are blatantly ignorant and jump to conclusions based on hearsay without any actual attempts at measurement or objectivity.

The latter are a pet peeve, as arguing with an idiot tends to wind up with descending to their level and them beating you with experience at being a stubborn ignoramus.

So I usually don’t try, beyond a calm factual statement or two, and then let the facts speak for themselves. (Brought a burnzerker to VG, red either still died before blue and green, or exactly on time – so either blue/green group is incompetent and/or the condi output is acceptable. Not OP anymore, but acceptable.)

Another funny side story about those who think they know everything: I was on my way to my last Lunar New Year firecracker for the daily.

As my charr bullrushed past one or two people standing around, random bystander guy spoke up and said, “You have to glide to this firecracker. FYI.”

I have no idea if he was addressing me (since I did bump the pillar/pedestal on my way to said firecracker) or if he was talking to the other player standing nearby, but eh, what if that player didn’t own Heart of Thorns? Was he SOL?

Without missing a beat (since I was really truly on my usual route to the firecracker anyway), I ran right past, jumped up the side of the glass dome, ran along the roof and then promptly fell down through a gap in the roof onto the pedestal where the firecracker was.

Sans glider.

Random bystander quickly shut up and decided that now would be a good time to walk/run away.

I might be revealing my deeply flawed human nature here, but I couldn’t stop chortling to myself for some time after that.

But I digress.

The screenshot above is my new *cough*dervish*cough*

Okay, it’s really just the thief Elite spec Daredevil with a staff skin.

But it captures the scythe wielding part of the GW1 dervish decently well, even if the avatar changing utility skills have more or less wound up with the revenant.

Again, without the meta in dramatic upheaval every three months, I find that it would be quite unlikely that I would have gotten around to this build.

Mostly, I was looking for a secondary replacement class for the burnzerker, so that if a particular raid already had way too many might stacking PS warriors or revenants, I could at least offer a current ‘common knowledge’ ‘OP’ class/build. (When in Rome and all that, you know, why fight it?)

It also took out what was probably a month’s worth of materials hoarding and savings by the time I finished decking him out with the appropriate runes/sigils, Ascended weapons, trinkets, and about three pieces of Ascended armor.

As personally painful as it was to dip into the treasure hoard, I have to admit that a certain amount of forced spending and need for materials is good for stimulating the economy. Also, it acts like another kind of hardcore tax beyond expensive food/wrench consumables.

I was excited enough by the feel of playing and learning a new build/playstyle to go out and kill a bunch of core Tyria stuff, adding up toward core Tyria mastery, as well as start formulating specific HoT plans for improvement/progress.

One goal was the Ascended Bo, which I found cheapest to just go ahead with the collection. That made me partake in one round of Auric Basin and one round of Dragon Stand in order to get the last bits of stuff I needed.

I idly also laid in plans to score some HoT mastery points, since way too many repeated raid failures had already capped me in xp for the HoT mastery tracks. I just need about 12 more mastery points I haven’t gotten around to earning.

Unfortunately, the last two days have put me into a bit of a foul mood yet again.

I idly made a reply comment in a Reddit thread rant that described how many problems the player was facing while trying to enjoy/play through a HoT meta event.

At the time, it was just a bit of a speculative thought I had, an idle remark on the many levels of abstraction that the guy’s story had become about, that his narrative had become more “struggling with the game, as game” rather than an immersed narrative about the world as obstacle.

I was sort of thinking of the same issue that Warhammer had, with their all encompassing Tome of Knowledge, and PvE leveling that wound up staring at the quest UI going “OK, I need X more organs from Y mobs” and mostly out-of-world game-meta related thinking that made the obvious focus manipulating game mechanics and rules, rather than actually enjoying the world as presented.

It blew up on me rather surprisingly, garnering some 200+ upvotes.

It made me think about how many people are out there, feeling a bit like me, feeling a bit like some of the old guard like that_shaman and other familiar Reddit names expressing a certain malaise or discontent.

And then I read new guard comments in the GW2 reddit, who LOVE raids and think they’re awesome, except that they’re also constantly whining that dungeons have been gutted, fractals have devolved into Swamp of the Mists (apparently, I haven’t bothered to set foot in there for some time) and that they’ve already cleared the raid wing on reset day and have nothing else to do and are now bored and going off to play another game, while waiting for more stuff to do.

And here I am, -struggling- to find enough groups every goddamn week to even get a guaranteed vale guardian kill, having to push aside my dinner time so that I might even get into a raid group that might or might not kill VG…

… and I just get angry. And bitter.

(To add salt to the wound, apparently TTS training raids are now off the calendar, diminishing yet another avenue for raid groups, and it’s back to waiting for an invite into the next experiment, a specific TTS raid guild, to see if that works any better. Strung along, yet again.)

And then I read a post like Azuriel’s, wherein he Gets/Doesn’t Get GW2.

All I want to do is bang my forehead against a flat surface really really hard.

No offense taken from Azuriel’s honest reactions, by the way, I think he’s a great representative of the subset who give GW2 a shot, just can’t find any impetus to level up further and then start posting on Reddit asking, “is that all there is? how do I level fast? map completion is boring, how do I like this game? unosweiter.”

But I can’t help but scream, in a rather enraged fashion, that Heart of Thorns threw in all the fucking endgame for people like this – who need a reason to keep leveling (masteries), who want a PvE endgame to look forward to (raids / collection grind)…

… and apparently they’re not even making it to level 80!

They can’t get past the open exploration aspect of leveling, so they quit before hitting 80.

Meanwhile, those that liked the open exploration aspect, now face the bait-and-switch achievement endgame, just like -every other fucking MMO- out there.


They try to reach the hardcore raiders, and the hardcore raiders are throwing it back in their faces by locusting the content and diminishing it to triviality.

In the process, they’re infuriating the casuals and those in the middle.

The PvPers are twitching ever since the PvP league ended and they’re forced to mix with the hoi polloi in unranked.

Meanwhile, they’re scrambling to apply CPR to the most neglected portion, WvW, because that’s a post-expansion priority now.

Everyone else is just going to have to wait their turn.


Furthermore, I hear news from Trion’s end that they’re revamping payment models and my second-favorite “MMO-like” Trove is going to start charging real money for classes, no two ways around this.

This makes me grumpier.

Mind you, since I started early, I’ve already reaped most of the benefits and unlocked every class but the Gunslinger (which still reputedly needs help to be brought back up to par) so it’s not exactly going to impact me considerably except moving forward, if I ever desire a new class introduced.

But I just don’t know if I can bring myself to play games that don’t feel fair, payment model or level playing field-wise.

So Trove may be a write off too.

Maybe it’s time to relook at Path of Exile or Minecraft again…

17 thoughts on “One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

  1. I found it comical that I clicked the link through to that other blog, read the post and left a comment, and then came back to finish your post and found largely the same talking points I made there written here.


  2. Oh, and I guess I want to say that I think having an off season like this is good for the game. As much as 2/3rds of the year will be spent *in* seasons, and having the space to check for major balance problems and bugs before the next season is smart. But something must be up with matchmaking if stuff like Helseth’s video is consistently happening. I haven’t played enough this off season to really know, but I suspect it may have something to do with how high his MMR is, and in matchmaking systems there is *always* a problem with the people on the far ends of the bull curve, left and right.


  3. On my tablet so not going to type a lot. Might come back later with a real keyboard. Just wanted to say that I feel the same gameplay we liked at launch is, by and large, still exists. HoT can mostly be played just like core Tyria. Raids and builds they may or may not need are a sideshow. The real game goes on.


  4. All in all, when reading your posting, i think people like me, who just play the game without paying attention to the metagame, without having an ear to the ground for ever minor change and without bothering for the endgame, so these people which you basically insult somewhere in the middle of your posting, are actually doing the correct thing.

    My playstyle in GW2 is strictly casual, both since i neither want to nor can invest unlimited time into several MMOs. My limited dungeon/raid time i spend in another MMO, which (according to my personal taste) does it much better than GW2. While i sometimes go for some unranked PvP in GW2, i also don’t invest deeply into it.

    So of course, none of my characters has ascended weapons or armours, only ascended jewelry from the vendors. And of course, only one has a maxed elite specification. Also even my biggest character did not complete the HoT story yet, as my girl still needs to grind XP for the next step there, and i don’t want to progress without her. But neither of all that matters for the way I play.

    Due to this “playing for leisure, instead of treating it like a job”, i actually find GW2 enjoyable and seem to have much more fun than all the serious player, who rile themselves up with the metagame, which in no game ever was actually a positive part of the game, but always was detremential for a significant part of the playerbase.

    Thus my advise would be to try exactly that: take a step back. Go slower. Perhaps you are too deep in GW2 to do that, then try another MMO, where you right from the start go at a slower pace. Doing so might feel unfamiliar, but while other players might seem “faster” and “more efficient”, you’ll also be able to watch them burn out and fade away.

    So, learn to be a torch, not a firecracker. 😀


  5. I agree with your rant, and have for several years. I sensed the lack of direction in GW2 since the end of Season 1, gave them a chance for Season 2, and watched as they just pushed players like me and my guild/friends further away. HoT is the first Guild Wars expansion I didn’t purchase since the original GW released, and I have no temptation to even try it out.

    For a while I denied the changes – I trusted Anet to do what was best. Then I was sad about it. Then I was angry about it. Then I was forgiving. Then I was angry. Now I am just resigned that GW2 is no longer the game I loved at launch. I really thought Tyria was going to be my permanent MMO home, but they’ve lost so much track of what makes a Living World and a home that I’ve just moved on.

    Hope those raids are worth it.


  6. My fondest memories of Guild Wars 2 come from when I first started playing. Scarlet Briar nuked Lion’s Arch from orbit and I couldn’t get enough of running around with groups of people in the charred remains of the city and its increasingly miasma-laden air rescuing citizens and fighting off bad guys.

    I never got to fight Scarlet’s marionette and I would like to have in some form. It’s open world “raiding” that is GW2’s signature style. The current monstrosities do not belong in the game. They mark a significant shift in tone. I am reading about “best in slot”, “damage rotations,” and “DPS meters” in map chat and on reddit. These things are slowly suffusing the non-raiding aspects of the game with their garishness and are not as easily ignored as Bhagpuss might imply if you have not already conditioned yourself to not care about such things.

    Vanguard-style open world raids wherein optimal builds and damage output are secondary or perhaps even tertiary considerations, if they were noticed at all, would have been much more in character for Guild Wars 2. Obsessive statistical optimization has always belonged squarely in the rather niche domain of those such as dungeon speedrunners – their efforts defined meta-builds and the associated potential for elitism on occasion spilled over into non-dungeon activities. Raiding has supercharged this potential.

    “Apparently you don’t raid,” I was told in map chat after observing that the worth of a Necromancer was not defined by their numerical performance in a raid setting. No, and I never will.


  7. I play really casually, and I still don’t get why people are complaining how HoT is so “unaccessible.”

    Just the other day, I joined a random instance of Tangled Depths. It was an overflow, no one was pushing the meta, so I meandered for 20 minutes opening chests, gathering wood/mithril, and doing random events with the 4-5 people that were there.

    Aaaand that was it for my night, but I made progress. Got some map currency, made some money, etc…In just 20 minutes of hopping in and hopping out, with the same gameplay that GW2 always has been.

    Collections? Ascended equipment? Bah, that can wait, maybe…a year or two down the line. Not stopping me from doing what I enjoy.



  8. Which leads to the question, doesn’t it? “Is GW2 a casual game?”

    It still is, objectively. I can still do a significant portion of the game in my exotic gear. But GW2, being an MMO, needs a carrot-on-a-stick to get the population to repeat content. And when you do that, of course people are going to covet the carrot, whether they are casual or not. Then of course you’re going to get the resentment when people realize that a grind remains between them and their psychological satisfaction.

    But isn’t that essentially the problems all MMOs face?



  9. Okay, back at home with a real keyboard. I am much closer in thinking to Sylow and Ursan than to you or Aywren. I really can’t see *such* a huge change from the base game as it was at launch. With the single exception of Triple Trouble, I can’t think of a single thing in the open world, either in Core Tyria or HoT, that can’t easily be zerged down by a full PUG map, provided the people on the map are actively interested in doing so.

    There was a short period when some of the HoT events were too hard for that but it was mostly due to bugs, which have largely been fixed. I can’t see how a player interested in seeing and experiencing all the open-world content now, including the HoT maps, is any less able to do so than a character at launch. There’s nothing there that requires more than exotics, I’m sure of that. I bet you could do it in Rares on most classes, and enjoyably too.

    All of the “grind” is attached to either achievements or gear that aren’t needed to progress. Apparently people like to have these long-term targets but if not they are 100% avoidable. About the only thing you might argue to be unavoidable are the Hero and Mastery points, although the former can, of course, be obtained in WvW (maybe in PvP too?). I personally enjoy gaining HP and finding Mastery points so much that I’ve actually added characters to my account specifically so I can keep doing it.

    The real bugbear is raids. There, gear that you can’t just rock up to a Temple in Orr or a vendor in WvW and buy IS needed, or so I hear. That, however, is what raids are like in all MMOs. Raids are a niche activity, neatly tucked away out of sight, ignored by 90% of the players until time and nerfs make the older ones easy enough to treat with contempt. That’s just how raids are and GW2’s don’t appear to breaking any moulds.

    All in all I feel GW2, while radically different from the game ANet told us they were making back in the days of The Manifesto, is fundamentally the same game it has been for all but the first three months of its Live existence. All the Bad Things happened after, and as a direct result of, the Karka Debacle. That was the watershed moment.

    The one thing I would say in encouragement, though, is if anyone doesn’t like this particular iteration of GW2, just give it six months. That’s the longest they’ve stuck to any of their many “New Directions” thus far. They’ll be off somewhere else by the summer, with everyone whooping or howling as they chase the new meta, but the base game will just rumble on in the background largely unchanged. That’s the game I play and which I plan on going on playing, regardless.


  10. Really appreciate all your comments, so keep ’em coming!

    Looking at it, I think the major difference in perception is whether one pays attention to, or bothers about the overall social culture or shift in values of the game population. Folks like Aywren, Karin and me can’t help but feel that shift in overall tone to something more elite, more dismissive of the inefficient, and dislike that. Those of you still feeling the same about the game have long tuned out that voice, or have chosen purposefully to ignore it, which is great if it works for you.


    1. Indeed i have. But while the community in GW2 is not the best I’ve ever experienced, it’s also not exceptionally bad.

      So while I generally play together with my girl, some RL friends and my guild, my abstinence from the raid and my casual handling of PvP up to now didn’t get me into any “best in slot” and “DPS meter” hostility. (If anybody demanded that I’d get some “best in slot” equipment, all I would do is to laugh at him and tell him that yes, I also at some time was in puberty, where I had the time and interest to care for such things. )

      The way I currently experience the game, I don’t feel any pressure like that. Several members of the guild are much better geared than I am, but my gear suffices for the activities I join and nobody bothers that my character is not in the meta at the moment and that my current weapon choice is (according to what I was told) a massive almost 3% weaker than the alternative.

      Since my friends by now also all play casually, I don’t expect any pressure from that direction. In the unlikely case that guildmates would start demanding better gear, it would be time to move on there, and if the game would somehow miraculously change and demand to enter the rat race of gearing up it might be time to switch the game.

      The deciding question for the game is, which kind of content they want to focus on in the future, as that will also shape the community. An emphasis on number-locked (be it 5 or 10 players) content drives elitism and hostility. After all, there are enough people who are ready to discriminate against others for their class according to the meta is not the “best” ever or something in their setup results in their damage output being lower than optimal by a low single-digit percentage.

      In contrast, open world content is much more welcoming. I mean, would you rather have 5 players at 100% efficiency, or 15 of them at 80%? [Or thinking back of old Warhammer Online, where we had a player in guild were we all knew that while he played DPS he did like 40% of what a good DPS did. But it did not matter in open world PvP, that 40% of a good DPS still improved our power. ]

      Anyway, that’s the only decision ANet can actually make here: More open world content or more raid content. The first encourages a welcome community, the second puts stress on the community.

      Mind you, there is TSW which despite having it’s endgame center around dungeons and raids, has a friendly community, but that’s a huge exception on the rule and I credit this to the very niche nature of the game and the community. So unless you have an exceptionally tight-knit community, which GW2 never worked for and never acquired, further focus on raids likely will taint the community, but at the moment I don’t feel it yet. (The only exception being when I took a look in the games forums for some hints on a characters mechanic… it’s far from being as bad as it can get, but the forums have some sour stench and are best avoided. )


  11. I’m personally enjoying myself mapping core and meeting newbs. F2P and the influx of new players as a result has to be the biggest positive to come out of HoT for me and my enjoyment re-rolling in core. I’m meeting new players daily and I find it totally rewarding to pass on the knowledge I have gathered and offer advice while finding the wonder and excitement of these players totally infectious and re-invigorating in regards to my enjoyment of the game.

    My first 2 years in this game was pretty much spent in PvP but it’s just to toxic for me now days and I’ve burnt out on the rather one dimensional game play.

    The HoT content really does’nt interest me in the slightest outside general exploration. The meta events are just a headache and the whole expansion has very little in common with core which is what infuriates me the most.

    With the huge success of the first release I still don’t understand why they went in such a completely different direction. I get that the more “hardcore” player wanted “harder” content but I had no idea this would be at the expense of the game play I enjoyed so much first time out.

    In short it just “feels” like I’m playing a completely different game when I’m in HoT, a game nowhere near as appealing or enjoyable to explore as core, the latter only just keeping me interested enough to log in for a few hours a week.

    In saying on advice from an old CoH friend I recently downloaded DCUO and I’m having a blast with the CoH nostalgia coming thick and fast.

    Looks like poppa got a brand new bag.


    1. I just have to pop in and plop down my two cents but…

      People keep on saying that “HoT goes in a different direction than the core,” must have completely missed that Anet was going that way from the beginning.

      Look at some of the later-level zones and how they build up towards map-wide metas. How they refined it and ended up with all the open-world LS episodes (Southsun, Marionette, defense of LA. Heck, even Queen’s Pavilion). And finally with Dry Top and Silverwastes.

      This was their intent all along, you’ll have to be blind to their game design philosophies if you think HoT was a “completely different direction”



  12. “Looking at it, I think the major difference in perception is whether one pays attention to, or bothers about the overall social culture or shift in values of the game population.”

    So why don’t you stop bothering with it? With respect, it feels to me like you’re playing this game in spite of yourself at the moment. People in the comments above have said that they are still playing casually and exploring and having fun, and you’ve sort of written them off here by saying that they just don’t tuned out that voice, but I think you’re missing the point.

    Like, in your post about possible damage meters you talked about begrudgingly having to install one, but.. why? Serious question! If you don’t like them… don’t do it. If you don’t like raiding, stop doing that too.

    I guess I feel as though you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face, and it’s understandably sucking the joy out of something you love. Your posts read to me like, “I hate this new meta, so I have to force myself to participate in it”, rather than “I hate this new meta so I’m just going to ignore it and do my thing”. The casuals you mention — the real, true casuals — are doing the latter and as many say above they’re still having a great time.


    1. It’s basically a kind of cognitive dissonance that I touched on a few months ago. I like the efficiency of fast and effective group runs, hate the elitism mindset that comes along with it. I’m a very strong introvert, but the only way I’m getting Legendary Insights and raid-specific loot, is to go do stuff in a group of ten. Why do I care about Legendary Insights? Because I play games to experience all of the content presented, a certain amount of my ego is invested in feeling competent and efficient.

      I suspect, given a solo alternative Liadri-like path to Legendary Insights to run weekly, you’d hear nary a bitter peep from me again – I’d be too busy farming that, plus doing the odd group raid just to see the content.

      Right now, a lot of the grudge is coming from feeling forced to match schedules with nine other people, even while my timezone sucks, because that’s the most efficient and effective way to get what I want. That loss of control over my playstyle frustrates me greatly, same as timers in the HoT zone frustrate others.

      Meta-wise, I don’t have an issue with changing builds and spending currency ever three months or so. As I mentioned, I kinda liked it and was feeling better from it, until I went and read/heard about other people’s perceptions of GW2 and felt my mood turn to s–t again, as all the frustrations flooded back.


      1. “Meta-wise, I don’t have an issue with changing builds and spending currency ever three months or so.”

        Intrestingly enough, this is the one thing i would have a problem with. Every of those changes would require me to change my gear and glyphs.

        With a total of 15 gold in my account and not having the materials spare to craft different sets of epic equipment (which the meta by now claims that it is is the absoluuuuute minimum), i don’t see myself in the position to follow the meta. Getting myself in shape to do that would be work, not fun. For work i want to get paid, so unless Anet or somebody else sends me money for working on getting my characters to be meta-compatible, i rathr have fun and don’t bother about that nonsense.


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