GW2: Return To …

I stopped habitually playing Guild Wars 2 some time late last year in November.

I’d reached a point where I was no longer just feeling disappointed and dead inside (with the company, with the community, with the gameplay) and had crossed over into a burnout state of “Why am I still clinging on and attempting to accrue or maintain stuff – resources, social networks, etc. in a game potentially nearing the end of its effective lifespan? And feeling terrible about it, to boot.”

(Effective lifespan in this case meaning that the game might still very well technically live on for another decade or more, but a) the amount of effort the company puts in is not the same, aka more maintenance mode, and b) personal interest in continuing with the game for another decade has taken an interest nosedive to near zero.)

Walking away and resetting was a necessary thing.

In the intervening time, a number of things happened. Colin Johanson found his way back to ArenaNet. They actually picked up the communication somewhat. The End of Dragons expansion was announced. The Legendary Armory actually became reality. The Twisted Marionette showed up. Living Story episodes were being given away free to any who logged in during a particular week for the “Return to _____” mini-event weeks. There was a short beta test for a few of the elite specializations of the next expansion.

It’s not at the level of hype. It’s probably not even at the level of hope. But it certainly registers on the positive side of the scale, rather than the negative.

I poked my head back in during the Twisted Marionette, to discover that I did still enjoy the character animations (especially harvesting – an activity that has been driven into non-profitability by rampant teleporting bots underneath the map, fml) and felt neutral to positively nostalgic about pop-in, pop-out public map metas.

I’d intended to leave things as is and maybe check things out again with the launch of the new expansion – something I wasn’t 100% sure I would buy immediately yet – but somehow, some time mid-August, I’d temporarily dried up on other game goals and my brain began chanting “Chuka and Champawat, Chuka and Champawat” as a potential medium to long term project.

This, for people not in the know, is a legendary Longbow themed around tigers.

It’s been sitting in the back of my mind as one of those legendaries I’d like to have, if I ever got in the mood to make another.

It was tempting to use that medium to long term project as an excuse to look back into Guild Wars 2 and putter around with its various activities, earning stuff towards a legendary, while evaluating how I felt about the old game in 2021. Just revisit “things I’d vaguely wanted to do” but never had the free time for, and before the game shut down on me one day, with the positive motivator of itty bitty progress steps.

Chuka and Champawat is a generation 2 legendary, meaning that it dates to the Heart of Thorns era and is, shall we say, a little more -involved– to craft than a gen 1 legendary.

Coincidentally, someone posted the full Chuka and Champawat crafting list on Reddit today:

Well, yeah, it’s fully expanded and thus a -little- exaggerated.

If I used that list, I would cry and not even get started.

As mentioned in the comments of Naithin’s Extracting Value Fr- SQUIRREL! post, when I get into one of these extended project moods, I break out the spreadsheets. Usually Excel, but I was curious about Notion and decided to give it a try.

The act of creating a list for oneself helps to clarify in one’s own mind what is still needed, and how one is going to get it. There’s plenty of wiki referencing and self-brainstorming as to potential alternatives and what costs the least or is the least painful.

The trick is, as I mentioned in one Reddit advice post or another, is to revise one’s mindset.

Legendaries are not built in days, and probably not weeks (unless you’re rich, or willing to swipe some credit cards.) One has to treat each step of a legendary as potentially a whole quest chain in itself, which may take days to complete.

What one can do, however, instead of doing each one sequentially, is to overlap related items or time gated items, so that progress is made daily on multiple fronts. The only way to know which these are, is to really look at the whole list and know what’s there to be done.

One simple example is mystic clovers and trophies. The act of gaining mystic clovers (if you’re going to mystic forge them) is likely to net you some T6 trophies. So mystic clovers first, before thinking about how many trophies you need.

Trophies themselves (claws, fangs, bloods, totems, scales, etc.) are all related items. They expand out into a scary sizeable list, but they’re all obtained in similar ways. You can patiently grind particular mobs for them (something that may take multiple hours across days). You can buy them outright with gold from the TP, or you potentially pick up cheaper lower tier trophies and mystic forge them up to higher tiers. You can grind certain living world currencies to buy chests and bundles that -may- pop the trophies needed. You can just play the game and wait for them to drop in the normal course of play. Some methods are faster, some are slower. Some are cheaper and some will segue into the secondary goal of “I need so much gold. How do I get gold?”

See, mini-secondary goals were basically what I was looking for, as a potentially returning player.

Guild Wars 2, as a horizontal progression game, is FILLED with way too many things one could be doing at any turn. A little bit of help focusing and a direction to follow is appreciated when one is lost and overwhelmed.

The same applies to those “Return To ______” area events. Easy short term goals. Harvest 30 wood from some nodes in a zone is a great micro-goal. In so doing, it gets you into said zone. Once you’re there, you’re bound to get distracted by some dynamic event that pops up around you. (And it’s another micro-goal too, so yay.)

Slowly, steadily, that’s how I ended up back into a semi-regular routine of tapas GW2.

Oh, I need Heart of Thorns currencies for this part of the legendary. Cue the next couple of days revisiting the Heart of Thorns maps doing pre-meta events that I hadn’t touched in forever.

I’d overlaid another “might want to do” goal on top of that, which was wander around and learn how to play a new elite spec (reaper) in a low stress environment.

Yes, solo play in HoT zones is low stress for me. Group play trying to remember ideal rotations and reach peak dps, on the other hand, spikes my blood pressure.

Said character had never been in the Heart of Thorns maps, so map completion was also another potential chase goal.

Then, of course, since you’re already doing the pre-meta events, surely you’re not wandering off when the ACTUAL map meta starts, right?

Chuka and Champawat is one of those rare legendaries that is well known for its nifty nod to storytelling in its collection steps that build up to gaining the precursor Tigris, shown in the image above. A darker, not so shiny version of its red-and-gold legendary.

There are some man-slaying tigers you hunt down (the aforementioned Chuka and Champawat) and a developing story where you discover the subsequent consequences of that action. It’s involved, and it takes you around plenty of locations in Tyria visiting less known areas and dynamic events.

(Though if I never again have to rescue a bunch of fern hounds for a pair of lovebird sylvari, it won’t be too soon. No one ever does the event, and it needs to be done before the NPC deigns to talk to you, and you visit her THREE times to progress the collection steps.)

Some jumping puzzles also get visited as part of those collection steps. Ditto some world bosses. Some map metas.

Heck, I even found myself visiting fractals. *shudders* Group play, as I mentioned, is something I’ve been presently loathe to deal with. Conveniently though, scourge has been buffed with new torment, and I was always curious whether I could solo certain easy Tier 1 fractals. Turns out, yes, all the fractals the Chuka and Champawat collection requires were indeed, eventually, soloable, with a little patience and some experimental death. (Cliffside, ugh.)

After all, repeated experimental death when you’re alone is easy and low stress. It’s dying in a group that’s embarrassing and unpleasant and anxiety-laden.

Slowly, steadily, I started to remember the positive things I liked about GW2.

The freedom to wander across various landscapes, leaping and bouncing and swooping and helicoptering with different mounts. The meditative harvesting of node after node and killing various fauna along the way. Being able to turn and jump freely into a nearby dynamic event that just popped up and seeing a collective of other players (from a few newbies to a zerg for the popular maps) show up as well.

Checking the time and deciding to attend some map meta or world boss or another, sliding into the map with nary a stopping point by jumping into some LFG squad and joining said map instance. Jumping right out again, or just stopping in a corner for a while when one needs to go AFK or attend to something else for a bit.

For a day, I even started wistfully missing the camaraderie of regular raids, the cadence of cycling skills on a mob with somewhat more hitpoints that can withstand the onslaught, the nostalgic sense of friends and compatriots and good times long past and “I wonder where they all are now.”

It wasn’t all rainbows and roses, of course.

There was the time I joined some Path of Fire bounty or another and the LAG that hit was so intense I had flashbacks of every stress-laden incident where my network would go on the fritz and disconnect – right in the middle of scheduled raids. A reprise of group obligations, helpless guilt and frustration at these worthless servers and this hopelessly inept company that one has zero expectations that they will ever get their act together, all compressed into a hot minute of bitterness and anger.

That certainly killed part of the nostalgia towards considering scheduled group content. It’s not fun if things aren’t reliable and don’t work well.

Strike missions were a bit of a mixed bag. I tried three easy ones, just to see if I still had it, after all this time, or if I was hopelessly behind. I knew my dragonhunter build was, for sure, not updated since forever. Performance wasn’t horrible – 2nd-4th in dps, aka not the worst of the lot. Things can only get better if I decided to spruce things up; yet at least one can still sneak into these things and not look 100% awful. I didn’t feel terrible after the strike, which is good, but I didn’t feel anything good either. Just felt… mostly nothing. I suppose developing any positive feelings about it is a longer term project for another day, if ever.

Then we had this week’s Return to Daybreak, where we’re revisiting the Domain of Istan.

And lo and behold, there are old Daybreak bounties that are simply not registering at all, even though one has killed them a dozen times now. Apparently, this bug has been there since the Domain of Istan was first introduced.

*sighs* Color me unsurprised. I mean, this is the company that duplicated their “Committed” title for two instances – the recent 9th birthday and an existing raid achievement – and only figured it out when players actually hit the 9th birthday on their characters this month. Leave an old bug forever unfixed? Very much par for the course for ArenaNet. Then call attention to it by having a Return to ____ event and -then- find out that it’s broken? Peak ArenaNet, no?

What’s the point of enjoying a mini-game of fill in the achievement checklists… when the checklists itself won’t check? And no one realizes until the players report issues?

Times like this, one starts to reconsider the wisdom of investing -too- much time and effort into a particular game.

Lowered to no expectations mean you can never be disappointed.

For the moment, while it still pleases you, go ahead and strive to make Chuka and Champawat, because it’s something you’ve decided you’d like to do. For now.

When it stops being fun, then I hope you figure it out soon and know how to stop as well.