GW2: Overthinking Lag (and How to Continue)

I was going to write a deep, brooding post about how it’s easy to begin things, and more difficult to continue them, and even harder to end them.

I was going to tie that into how I was over-reading Reddit and getting occasionally mildly peeved by comments that lack nuance and context – “Want to do group content? Oh, join a guild!” – conveniently glossing over potential issues like timezone matching, finding said guild in the first place, how much time and effort commitment might be involved and whether the group culture matches or might devolve into conflict and drama.

I was going to lament that in general, the world does a lot of talking about and encouraging the first, and pays less attention to the latter two things. That I was struggling with thinking about the latter two things, even while beginning with the GW2 End of Dragons expansion, trying to discern the depth and level to which I might want to be playing for now.

What level of gameplay can I maintain? How easy or hard might it be to end, when I need it to?

Be it for a gameplay session – I had an elderly relative suddenly need emergency chaffeuring to the A&E for kidney stones the other day, I just dropped quickly and easily from Dragon’s End and that was it, no long explanations or justifications to another social group required, or sense of guilt from not fulfilling one set of obligations – or for a months long break if burnout or boredom hits.

I was going to muse about how shorter, accessible drop-in, drop-out content like map metas and even strikes, where you pop into a group to contribute for 10-20 mins when you have the time, might be a better fit for me at this stage, while brooding about the allure of trying out strike challenge modes, which would be best done seeking out an organized group – with all the baggage and preparation required to commit for an indefinite amount of time.

I was going to waffle about my greed for profit-making from strikes and just checking out new content while it’s hot and learning while the playerbase is less set in their ways versus whether it’s worth just not participating in the content, since it’s only played by a smaller fraction of players than those who do map metas, and shifting Arenanet’s metrics accordingly.

Or maybe just going for the easier strikes and avoiding like the plague the harder ones, just to prove that a majority of players do prefer the path of least resistance. But… that mastery point. But new content. Achievement get. Surely it’s worth seeing once? *cue Explorer twitching*

Later, I was going to posit that I was possibly overthinking it, and that in the past week, I just went for it. Beginnings being supremely easy, after all. You jump in. Fall flat on your face a few times. You learn what not to do the hard way. You don’t do it again after that.

That I even lucked into someone LFG posting a Harvest Temple learning-progression run and that we basically banged our heads on it for 2-3 hours, going phase by phase until it all got figured out.

And that I started feeling real antsy by the end of that time, but stuck it out anyway because it was my best shot at the achievement, and learned something valuable about the second-to-last phase (projectile absorbs and reflects are really good against the bullet hell orb) that may have saved another PUG run a few days later.

Continuings and endings though. Ah, those are harder. Much harder.

This is not that post. (Or maybe it is.)

This is a post about it being all moot anyway, because in the last two days, I have somehow suffered through Dragon’s End with 3-4 second ping. Not milliseconds. Seconds.

It is hilarious. It has to be hilarious, because otherwise I will be throwing breakable things through other breakable things.

It is certainly, on a 1-10 scale of enjoyment, much less enjoyable than actually being able to fire off skills and react to cues on time. (Let’s say 5-6, whereas the latter case would be a 8-9.)

What’s amazing is that it’s even possible. I get side-swiped by every last tidal wave in existence, of course, since I’m not seeing any half of the arena light up in time to react. Pretty resigned to just dropping dead and looking like the world’s biggest noob in existence. There’s a Pact airship for port backs… assuming the waypoint clicking registers eventually.

Mostly I just stand at 900 range away from Soo-Won’s smashes and go harbinger auto-attack gatling gun with the sporadic laggy as f–k skill 2s interspersed. No fancy skill-weaving of 4 or 3s; those are for less laggy times.

The first run was pretty funny. It was a Discord run, and the calls were coming in on-time and clear. It was, as usual, just the server routing from where I am to where Arenanet’s Amazon servers are, busy dropping packets in the middle of our timezone’s prime time. So it felt like playing blind and just logically predicting everything.

Guy calls “tail” and I don’t see nuthing, but hey, I’ll just run to where the tail should be, and wait for it to appear on my screen 3 seconds later. This is the phase where Soo-Won throws an arena-wide tidal wave, and she normally appears south-west-ish, so let me try to hug this crystal on the north-east side about 5-10 seconds beforehand and try to micro-adjust when she appears and let’s roll the lottery on whether I survive or no. Hey, I lived!

Unfortunately, he had a tendency to just call “move” for half-arena tidal waves, which wasn’t -quite- descriptive enough for me at the time. Ah well, we learn things the hard way. In the future, maybe we try to hug the half line more. Heh.

The second run wasn’t a Discord run alas. Just a typed chat one. So it was basically a self-guessing game and mostly side-swiped by every last badly predicted orange that appeared 3-4 seconds later.

It’s the old albatross of GW2 come home to roost yet again.

If I play at NA or EU times, this doesn’t happen, but my sleep schedule is already twisted from too much obsessive play of End of Dragons and it’s not sustainable in the long run. Especially once work starts pushing all of us back into the office more than they already are.

Somehow, from around 8-10pm of our SEA timezone, with my ISP’s default routing, there are a couple of servers just off where GW2 sits that clutter up really badly and start dropping packets all over the place. Maybe it’s 8am-10am est over in NA territory and everyone’s having their online meetings and such.

The solution for this is to go get a VPN, and basically force the routes to switch away from that cluttered point.

I’ve been idly poking around at a few VPN websites… but it always makes me wonder why I should be paying $5-10 USD monthly just to offset a couple hours when the trouble periods take place. I did it for a few months when my raid static was still ongoing, but I can’t say it wasn’t a factor into why extreme frustration and resentment built up over time.

Then there’s the risk of getting swept up in a massive ban wave if I should happen to pick the same VPN and get similar IP ranges that botters and hackers might be using.

No resolution on this yet. It basically boils down to several options:

  1. Get a full fledged VPN and pay the $5-10USD monthly for the period this lag issue lasts. Live with the inconvenience of disconnecting from the game/map when I want to turn the VPN on, and the risk of getting side-swiped in a ban wave.

2. Survive with a partial bandwidth-limited VPN option. I’ve been idly testing out BitDefender and one of its cheaper pricing options comes with a VPN with a daily limit of 200 MB. It’s… just enough to last one round of Dragon’s End, preparation events included.

3. Don’t get a VPN and just log off during the bad lag periods, or sit around in town doing crafting and all the necessary inventory management fiddling that GW2 tends to spawn after some gameplay time.

Option 1 is more necessary if I want to go through the effort of participating in hardcore group content. Just one more hurdle in an already occasionally depressing list of things to prepare to get all of one’s ducks in a row before potential fun can take place.

Option 2 is a more middle-of-the-line casual option with the limited ability to level out my ping for a more crucial map meta or strike that happens to be taking place at a bad hour. Except there is the chance that the spaces may fill up before I can even get the VPN on. I might also start feeling like I want an unlimited option to stop having to worry about suddenly running out of bandwidth.

Option 3 is the non-participation option. Just lazily do nothing and wait it out. It is possible. It also may just wind up with me having nothing feasible to do and losing interest in the game and meandering over to more attractive, less laggy games. It’s not an unappealing option, I’ll tell you that.

As usual, I might be overthinking this. It’s not like any challenge modes have shown up in any strikes yet.

Maybe the internet kerfluffle will cease by the time the first CM appears. Maybe I’ll just pop in on a weekend during NA time and luck into an LFG that’s looking for a few fillers. Maybe the guild advertisements will start when there is an actual need for teams to form. Maybe I’ll have lost interest in GW2 by then, or something might crop up IRL that stops me from playing, and it’ll be all moot regardless.

Some serious reflection is needed.

My default stance would veer to somewhere between option 2 and 3. I could always upgrade for a month or two if and when necessary.

I think I’m only thinking about this so hard now because the trial for BitDefender is coming to a close. So if I decide to pick it up, that would have an impact on which tier pricing I opt for. The cheaper option would be the more casual stances, but there’s that little niggling thought in the back of the mind whether I might like greater convenience and flexibility if I just go for the “no worries” unlimited VPN option.

(Of course, if I get swatted by a blindly-wielded banhammer while on a “no worries” unlimited VPN option, it’s going to make me very cross indeed.)

Or I could use a different, possibly better VPN than BitDefender’s premium option, because the options honestly don’t look that premium compared to other VPNs.

And here I go, overthinking it all over again.

It’s enough to make me think I should just pick up the Nintendo Switch and play that instead.

GW2: Some Numbers, Apropos of Nothing

Yesterday, I became randomly curious as to the popularity of the Dragon’s End meta.

It struck me, while scanning the LFG periodically to see if there were any organized groups feeding my transient midcore addiction to 50 odd players gathering to attempt a dragon takedown, that there were still enough players to fill one map squad of 50 and maybe another.

(Failed thrice though – once through Captain Fa’s event bugging out early, and twice with barely 2-5% left on the health bar, which I’m convinced is due to unresolved, unsolved chaos at the 20% hp mark.

The current strat is to ignore whirlpools, which usually takes out 20% of the players over time, some of whom may have been really essential participants. All manner of targets abound, players are still undecided on whether focusing on the head or tail should be prioritized at this point, bubbles are incapcitating more players in the meantime… and effective dps on the dragon devolves to a fraction of whatever the squad was previously generating.

I randomly wonder if a small cc party focused on just breaking people out of whirlpools, a small ranged party focused on just breaking people out of bubbles, and half of the squad focused on “HIT TAIL when it pops up” instructions would work better than the current “yo ignore whirlpools, leave ’em to die easily and quickly, ignore tail and big deeps on the main target” strat.

Admittedly, the latter strat works VERY well in a super-organized group with enough big d–k dps to ignore mechanics, but y’know, not every squad, yadda yadda.

Seeing as I’m too lazy and lack enough motivation to organize anything, I’m content to just chill, even in failed runs, and observe and wait for the meta to shift and for some kind of new strategy to evolve. It usually does, over time.

But I digress.)

Thing is, squad building for Dragon’s End seems to coincide roughly at the same time as the Kaineng Overlook meta event.

So it was easy for me to observe that usually two map squads were filling quite readily for that at the same time. It’s ostensibly a much easier meta-event, though when I tried it for one round, it was infuriatingly annoying in how lost I was.

The events are scattered about all over a difficult-to-navigate waypoint-scarce city, the solution for which is usually ziplines and teleporters.

I have both masteries quite well unlocked at this stage (not everyone may be in the same boat) but I was still finding it difficult to a) figure out I should be using a teleporter, b) locate a teleporter, c) page through the teleporter options, d) realize I had no idea which province I should be going to, e) bring up the map screen and squint to try and guess at which dynamic event might be part of the meta-event, and whether that commander was at the meta-event or was the commander equally lost as to where they should be going, f) decide on a spot, locate the area name on the map, locate the corresponding area name on the teleporter option, and g) finally teleport there.

Obviously, there is a learning curve here that will also get better with time. Quite a different learning curve than Dragon’s End, but a learning curve all the same.

Seitung Province’s meta, on the other hand, is pretty straightforward and very well marked all around. Three groups in various areas in the map, do some events, all converge into a central location at the end. Echovald meta is somewhat similar in structure, though the early events are more scattered and the convergence results in a boss with slightly higher difficulty than Seitung (in that you have take personal responsibility to hide yourself behind a wall, or be instantly killed at certain points in the fight.)

My uneducated but considered guess would be that the easier meta-events might be more popular.

Was there any way to verify this, or at least justify it with some semblance of evidence?

Since dev numbers are very much not accessible to us lowly player peons, the closest thing we have that approaches some manner of objective data is to look at GW2efficiency numbers.

There are, of course, the usual caveats with this approach. The players who sign up for GW2efficiency are probably at least somewhat more committed than the stereotypical average casual, so it’s probably safe to assume that stats will lean in a slightly more dedicated player direction. Mentally adjusting numbers a little downward would likely give a better picture of the overall player population. Or we could just take the comparison at face value and say that we are only looking at GW2efficiency signed-up accounts and not extrapolating to the rest of the playerbase.

Hence, the apropos of nothing caveat in my post title.

It’s mostly just to sate my curiosity a tide.

On March 23, these were the numbers that had completed the corresponding achievement:

Mind you, completion of an achievement does not indicate “popularity” either. It says nothing about the subjective enjoyment of players, or lack thereof. It says nothing about how likely they are to repeat it, and how frequently they play it again. That’s for the devs and their magical metrics tools to figure out.

But it does give us an idea of the number of -unique- player accounts that have at least attempted the content once, and succeeded at it to unlock the achievement. And it’s all we have, so yeah.

There is surprisingly a very large amount of GW2efficiency accounts that have not touched anything Canthan related (more on that later) so the percent column is not exceedingly useful here. We’re better off just observing the absolute numbers for now.

With very little surprise, we can safely observe that roughly 10k less players (with GW2effciency accounts, I’ll stop caveating this now, insert your own from here) have successfully completed Dragon’s End as opposed to the Seitung Province meta.

Kaineng blackout meta isn’t that high either, though we can only speculate on the reasons why. Not as importantly prioritized by most people to attempt, perhaps?

It’s not possible to track Echovald meta completion through achievements, unfortunately. Killing the final boss is only part of an extremely elaborate event chain that makes up one achievement – I’m missing one event on this too, and have killed the final boss twice – safe to say, there is going to be very little correlation of boss kill with finishing the achievement for most players.

(Forest Warfare, for those who want to look it up, is only unlocked by 4,883 players as of this time. So you can safely assume those are part of the achievement chasers cohort.)

On Mar 24, the time of writing of this post:

One day later, we do see some movement and activity. 500 more unique accounts managed to pick up Dragon Pacifier, 400ish for the other two metas.

The overall trend is still the same, but it’s nice to observe some visible changes in the course of one day.

One thing led to another; I was mildly disturbed by the low percent of GW2efficiency accounts that had finished the metas. How many of these total GW2efficiency accounts are basically inactive players that have stopped playing the game, or are active players that haven’t made it to Cantha yet?

Put another way, how many GW2efficiency accounts have access to and have accessed the End of Dragons expansion?

So I started hunting for as many obvious “gimme” achievements as markers, similar to how we might use those tutorial achievements in Steam when comparing player activity.

I tried to find something on the first Seitung Province map. And the achievement I hit upon with the most number of unique accounts was a mastery insight. It’s presumably the most obvious insight, along the way to where you’re directed by the story. And if you’re not unlocking masteries, then why are you even playing the expansion to begin with? (People do attempt to unlock masteries, don’t they? From hardcore to casual? Right? right? Beuller?)

Hmm, said I, maybe I can use this as a sort of stand-in for how many players might have reached the respective map.

Dragon’s End has notably less players picking up the most popular insight there, which I suppose makes sense. Some people are still very casually playing their way through the story and may not have hit the final map yet.

Is there something better though? How about story completion?

So I went hunting for story-related stuff. Chapter 1. The first story of the expansion. If you didn’t play through chapter 1, you can’t go to Cantha. I think. (On your first character anyway, subsequent characters can port to Arborstone.)

I think the Old Friends achievement is as good as we’re going to get as an indicator of the overall number of players with access to Cantha. So I’m fairly happy to compare all numbers against a rough total of 100k accounts.

8 out of 10 players did poke around in Gorrik’s journal, which is a fairly obvious item when you wake up in a particular room with the NPC. 2 out of 10 players didn’t – not sure what it says about them. Not interested in the story? Or more concerned with the immediate problem the story presented? Or the type that skips cutscenes and extra fluff content? Or just completely oblivious.

As to the general combat ability of your average storygoing cohort… about half managed to kill the chapter boss without being downed, and a little over half defeated it in the allotted time. So let’s be realistic here, yeah? Average means AVERAGE. Like, really, for reals, average. (Do I have to say this any louder for ArenaNet?)

And oh, did we mention we’re only comparing the people who bothered to make a GW2efficiency account?

And presumably there may be some who replayed it, or redid the chapter with another character and got the achievements then, on the second try. Probably a small number only.

As a side comparison, the current numbers, on the same day Mar 23, for the chapter 1s of the previous two expansions:

Interesting, huh? That’s a fairly hefty long tail.

Unfortunately, I don’t have day 1, or day 23 rather, post launch direct comparisons, seeing as this spate of aimless curiosity only hit me now.

But it’s interesting all the same. A hefty majority of GW2efficiency accounts have finished the chapter 1s of Path of Fire (for mounts, maybe?) and Heart of Thorns (gliders?). Are these latecomers to the game that haven’t made it to Cantha, or just expansion holdouts? Have some of them quit the game post Path of Fire and aren’t coming back? Who knows?

As an additional aside, there’s a pretty big drop in accounts that haven’t done the second chapter. There’s about 23k-30k of them. Are they alts? People who just wanted to unlock the mounts and glider and aren’t interested in the story, full stop, or just newcomers putting it off until they catch up with the whole story? Full on ragequits after chapter 1 felt too hard?

Next chapter:

Not as many drop offs comparatively.

Anyhow, this is another big digression. We could go on for the other story chapters, but I’m losing interest in ancient expansions. Back to Cantha.

It’s a new expansion. I think it’s reasonable to say that not every casual player will have had time to finish the entire story yet. (Heck, some hardcore players may not have done so because they’re prioritizing other things like strikes or playing with their elite specs, while story doesn’t interest them.)

But I was curious on how many players might have gotten to the point of accessing the Dragon’s End map, as based on their story chapter progression. (We already have one indicator of the number via mastery insight unlock, around 56k.)

I track so many story chapters here because it’s a little bit tricky. There’s a “True Ending” achievement which recommends players to complete the Dragon’s End meta, before playing through The Only One chapter. (It doesn’t actually appear to have any impact on the story per se, just sort of fills in the blanks on what happened in between one story point and another.)

Extraction Point takes place in the Dragon’s End map, and can be done beforehand. But some players might be afraid of progressing any part of the story in that map itself, and so hold off doing Extraction Point also.

I wondered how many might be holding back from completing the story, in an effort to finish the Dragon’s End meta first… and/or how many just couldn’t be bothered and decided to go ahead and finish the story anyway, because they felt there was no way in hell they were succeeding on a Dragon’s End meta in a reasonable amount of time.

Well, there are 35k accounts that did succeed at one Dragon’s End meta. So we can do some math. Approximate though it may be. (I suppose there are conceivably people who finish the Dragon’s End meta and don’t bother to finish the story.)

If we search for the True Ending achievement, by the way, it’s about 38k. You don’t need to succeed at the final dragon takedown. I think it will probably pop as long as someone attempted the meta and got to the end dragon fight?

So I guess 57k-38k = 19k players said “screw it” and didn’t try the meta. One in three players. (19/57 = 0.33)

And 38k-35k = 3k really cursed players who couldn’t find a win.

I’ll refrain from commenting whether it’s good or bad. I don’t know. I don’t really have an opinion. It could simply be they don’t have the necessary block of time to set aside for a meta, or interest in anything other than the straight story.

66% of GW2efficiency account players who have access to Cantha and have gotten to that point in the story did engage with the meta though. Is that good enough? Or not good enough? Who knows. You decide.

Or Anet decides.

Really, it’s Anet decides. But you can attempt to sway their decision one way or another, I guess, with feedback or with just participation or non-participation numbers.

The other bit of sleuthing I was perversely interested in was Canthan strike missions.

The Kaineng Overlook strike locks siege turtle mount gain behind its completion. Logically, we should see a higher rate of participation in that because people who may not have wanted to do any strike at all, get ever-so-not-subtly “encouraged” to do one. Was that the case?

Yep. I think it’s safe to say there is a noticeable turtle effect.

I’ve heard (but not yet tried) that there are at least two easy strikes in Cantha, Kaineng Overlook possibly being one of them?

Harvest Temple is supposedly the hardest, and I think the completion numbers reflect that. I skimmed a video of that strike, and well, I don’t feel like setting foot in that one in a PUG setting, I’ll tell you that.

Of the 100k odd accounts with access to Cantha, 25% of them did engage with Xunlai Jade and Aetherblade though. (I am not one of them yet. I am -thinking- very hard about it. It’s grounds for a whole ‘nother post.)

So, is this popular enough that Anet feels it’s justifiable spending development time on them? It’s less than meta-events, but not that very much less. I suppose that’s why they’re hard committing to strikes now, huh.

The strike rewards aren’t exclusive, as far as I know, so that immediately cuts out a large amount of protests on general principle. You can get similar skins via Dragon’s End meta or the TP (and ironically, the TP price has plunged below the 2 gold + map currency cost, presumably due to strikes providing said influx – something I only found out after I bought a weapon for 2 gold after DE success, of course.)

The rare chase rewards are the Aurene weapon precursor, which can be crafted and you get one for free after finishing the story, and some endless tonic or another, which are toys and also sellable and buyable on the TP.

Objectively, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the strike mission structure as it is currently, beyond the turtle issue. Engage with it as one chooses.

I do wonder, however, about the amount of uproar there might be when the now announced revisit of Season 1 story winds up filtering into yet another strike. Final boss and all that. Story progress locked behind a strike? That should be a fun popcorn-eating, sidelines-watching time.


I don’t know how I feel about that either. I generally hate “forced” anything. I like seeing new content. I don’t mind strike mission mechanics. I don’t exactly find them joyous. They are fairly profitable though. Learning a class and role is time consuming. PUGing is extremely luck of the draw – how much unfriendly behavior I can stand depends very much on my current state of mind. The very common suggestion of finding a guild or static to do them with is grounds for that whole ‘nother post that is brewing and simmering in my mind right now. SoonTM.

Before that deep thinking post though, something a little more lighthearted:

So there’s a point in the Canthan story where the player character runs up against the bureaucracy. You’re told to fill in your name, your race and purpose of visit.

If you answer truthfully and relatively sensibly, you get one achievement “All to Code,” and if you answer along the lines of “Hi I am the Joker and Harley Quinn all rolled into one,” you can tell the bureaucrats to stick that red tape where it belongs, with another achievement “Take That Bureaucrats.”

Guess a fair amount of people are pretty orderly, law-abiding people, even in a game.

There’s about 13.8k extra counts, presumably due to people running alts through the story and choosing the other option for achievement unlocks.

Thought that was fun to peek at.

GW2: Apropos of Nothing

Finally made it to Cantha.

I took a deliberate two week pause from launch date. Busy playing… Dark Souls on Switch.

Elden Ring being too newfangled for the computing equipment I have. Ah well, it will still be there five years later. And blissfully, by that time, maybe it won’t contain other people out to impose their view of the game experience on mine, cos they’ll be off to the next newest shiny.

Dark Souls on Switch was great – because I have no Nintendo Switch Online subscription, it helpfully blocked me from all the network gameplay stuff. Whereas I had no clue the PC version of Dark Souls was even doing this shady network stuff until I got rudely invaded by a hammer wielding fire breathing red player having oh so much fun beating on a first timer in Undead Parish.

Took so much Googling trying to see if there was an elegant way to disable the “Hi, come crash my game uninvited” option, beyond just unplugging from the internet. (No, there was not, apparently.) The Switch, on the other hand, defaults in the peaceful uninterruptions direction.

I ran into the Guild Wars problem with it though. I was super focused on my path through the game, even ramming my head obsessively against Orstein and Smough considerable times because I really wanted Orstein’s spear (which I later never used because it didn’t feel as cool as I thought after all, what else is new?).

Then the game opened up and I could suddenly go in four directions at once. Four Kings? Tried, and determined I lacked the damage for it. Demon Ruins and Lost Izalith? Wow, feels so far. Catacombs? So dark and scary. Archives? It’s accessible now, right? Pulled in multiple directions, nothing feeling super compelling, focus drifting… away…

(We are now currently somewhere in Lost Izalith, where I ought to be farming for demon titanite to upgrade a greatsword to up my dps. We did make it to almost to the boss of the zone, before getting fried by a giant firestorm by a crazy priestess lady and an NPC invader at the same time. But apparently if I kill the boss, then I can’t access the zone again or something? But I need me my demon titanite first.

I did get a sunlight maggot for light in the Catacombs, so that’s another place to go. But Archives, I haven’t even seen it. And Four Kings is still there and not dead. Confused = bored = I don’t wanna play this no more.

Until next time.)

I really want to know how many lost City of Heroes devs wound up in ArenaNet. Why does all of Kaineng city feel like a jade and Chinese temple-roofed Paragon City? When you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. So I recreated my robots mastermind with an asura and a single jade mech. Ah well, gotta start somewhere.

Am I glad I took the two weeks away from joining in full tilt on a new GW2 expansion. Literally, so much tilt and drama in the Reddits and forums that I am so glad I missed.

Y’know, it’s almost ten years. The MMO player population is not getting any younger. There are cycles in our lives that everybody goes through. And I feel like that’s all I want to be saying now on the hardcore vs casual, challenge vs relaxing, difficulty whatsneggits, us vs them, perceived vs actual, divide vs “divide” debate. Other people can do the talking and the position taking and the good or bad arguments.

Me, I’m tired. And I honestly don’t really care about one game that much any longer.

While I’m entertained, I will play what I can, with the hope that sufficient content is accessible and inclusive to what I feel like playing. If I’m gatekept or blocked out of certain content, hopefully the content and rewards aren’t interesting to me (e.g. 1200 gem mythic weapons? It doesn’t look that cool to me, but -someone- else really likes them. Good, cos I’m not buying ’em.)

If not, if I get frustrated enough and am not getting what I want out of this game, then I’ll move on and play something else. No skin off my back these days. Learning longsword in Monster Hunter is probably more fun than a 30 key concerto anyway.

That said, I really like Dragon’s End.

I feel like there was a middle ground between the uber casuals and the uber hardcore that got forgotten when all these same-as-other-MMOs closed instances waltzed in.

It was the middle ground of first time Tequatl nearly ten years ago, of Lion’s Arch invasions, of Dry Top, of Triple Trouble, of Silverwastes, of Chak Gerent, yadda yadda, where the whole damn map learns to cooperate, or else. Yes, there was plenty of “or else” back in the day with Tequatl too. So much salt.

But in that middle ground comes the semi-inclusive guilds that organize, teach, socialize, have a little fun in the moment. We lost a lot of those leads into their private closed raid squads when raids came online. I don’t know if we’re ever getting them back per se. No one steps in the same river twice and all that.

But it would be nice to have the content there, to try and see if some of the old magic can return.

For the middle ground people.

I joined a raid static for years. Eventually, you get tired of -always- making sure that X day per week is uninterrupted play time, god forbid bad internet or real life coming by. Some weeks, you can’t or don’t want to play. That’s not an acceptable thing to do when locked in with a group of people you’ve committed to doing stuff with.

But if, let’s say, there was a guild where one could pop in when one has time to play, and join in on a group with X scheduled time whenever you feel like it – because there are others who can fill in if you’re not there, and you’re not going to lose “your spot” because they won’t be there all the time either – and to fight content that was a little chunkier in hp than typical open world stuff, so that you could test drive various character builds in a middle ground stress situation…

… maybe. Just maybe.

I dunno. Maybe there will be no such guilds these days. Maybe the leaders are off doing more interesting things, like closed instance raids and strikes and fractals and oh, Monster Hunter and Elden Ring and Lost Ark and whatever new shiny there is. Maybe everyone’s too jaded (haha, Canthan pun, I’ll see myself out) and prefers to close themselves off in their personal gaming spaces with only people of the same playstyle next to them.

I really dunno. If it’s the latter case, then I’ll just gracefully shrug and accept it and stay in my own personal gaming spaces, aka mostly or fully solo games. I’ve stopped expecting one MMO to be everything for everyone.

But I do like that End of Dragons is giving it one last try.

“He’s following me… isn’t he?”

As for locking stuff behind only one type of content, I feel like we have been SO around this bush already with legendary armor and raids. Long story short, it is a bad idea. They fucked up and eventually they put in WvW and PvP legendary armor. There is now another way to get a turtle egg beyond wild success. Only took them less than a month to figure it out this time.

Now the strike mission requirement is left, and we’ll see how long that takes them to recant. I suppose it might be more of a pain to fix because it’s attached to an achievement collection.

Me, I’m not holding my breath. I tried to finish the Salt on the Wound achievement a few days ago – that’s the ancient Living Story 4 chapter where you try to break 10 of Kralkatorrik’s weak points – only to discover that the whole thing has been bugged since 2020. All of Aurene’s attacks miss or are obstructed.

Ahahaha. Aren’t we super used to this by now?

So I did it about 15 times, trying out various workarounds as suggested by random people also hammering in their foreheads on the broken achievement since 2019. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Eventually, I hit upon resizing my screen resolution (which was previously at a weird windowed resolution that allowed me to browse and watch Youtube on the side) back to a bog standard 1920×1080, and the weird workaround of just spamming attacks and praying they hit enough points finally worked. Or I lucked out. Or something.

Bugs. Spit. Glue. That’s pretty much all GW2 is made up of, these days. And pretty art.

Is it just me, or do the loadscreens look a lot less rushed this time? And a lot nicer than the actual game. (Or maybe it’s because I need to have my graphics set to absolute minimum to deal with all that hardcore visual chaos known as “don’t stand in the orange, and nearly the entire floor is orange.”)

Me, I just bit the bullet and attempted the Kaineng Overlook strike. Twice. Looking like an idiot because I couldn’t figure out how the hell to get up to the strike mission point, without painfully skyscaling my way up. (I’m sure there’s a zip line somewhere, just no clue where. Not like I had the mastery for it at the time either.) Until someone – probably rolling their eyes – generously told me that “hey, we’re entering in from Arborstone.”

Ah jeez. How was I supposed to know that Arborstone is the new Canthan Eye of the North? And me with no masteries revitalizing it at the time. *sighs*

First try was hilarious. All PUGs. Barely anyone but one knew what they were doing. And the one just mentioned basic stuff like which targets to prioritize first. Eventually failed from lack of dps and coordination, but it did its job teaching me what to look out for.

Second try, the one with the guy shepherding the noob who couldn’t figure out Arborstone was strike mission central eventually succeeded. Pretty sure the guy was doing something fancy with the sniper solo (like breaking it?) while focusing the rest of the squad on the main targets, which were the same as the first try.

That’s the problem with PUG teaching, I think. They convey the obvious stuff, but miss the nonobvious things. Fortunately, there’s no enrage timer on the strike, so as long as people don’t fall over, it can be -painfully- whittled down. It ended up being a 6 person alive thing, with about 4 deeps (me being dead fourth at 10k, and the highest at 17k), but eh, it died. Strike complete. Collection unlocked.

And I’m absolutely NOT going back into any more strikes unless it’s by myself to attempt solo for fun and practice (45 minutes though, probably better use of my time elsewhere) or I eventually get re-acquainted with a more raid-ish ready new build… which, um, may take equally forever. So, possibly never.

I do have one long term hope in the apparently supremely simple, very minimal keypress Mechanist, where the golem (ahem, jade mech) does most of the driving, so THAT may be a stepping stone to accessible instanced content. As long as Anet doesn’t suddenly decide it’s too simple and nerfs it, because scaffolding is not allowed to exist. In which case, screw learning 30 keypress concertos. And then RE-learning a different set of keypresses when the next patch arrives.

I suppose we all vote with our feet on the type of content we like, and we’ll see how Anet takes it in the end.

If the number of fish fillets on the TP is anything to go by, I think we have a clear winner there.