At least, it sure seems like one.
Almost as if ArenaNet was listening to feedback and said, “Oh, you sure you want what you’re asking for? Let’s give you what you want then, and see if you really like it!”
Imagine if you will, an instance with no trash mobs, doesn’t waste your time, and isn’t an ordinary tank-and-spank boss.
Or as some others might more bitterly say, a one-room “dungeon” which is so short it produces a “that’s it?” feeling at the end comprising of a very gimmick fight.
Depending on who you ask, the rewards of completion may be “crap” or “not worth it” or indeed, so worth it that it risks being farmed via character deletion and remaking exploit-line-skirting.
And of course, the very strange decision to enforce a -solo- instance went down as well as enforcing a -group- dungeon might, just with a completely different subset of people.
Poor Anet just can’t win, can they?
For the record, on the whole, I like it just fine. With some quantifiable nitpicks.
Let’s just get the venting about OPTIONS out of the way, shall we? Forcing anything is bad. Some people like to group. Let them fucking group.
I’m a solo-preferring player, I spend a lot of time arguing for the option to solo, but it sure doesn’t mean I want the option for people to group taken away. That just makes a different set of people unhappy.
The only thing I can possibly think of that this achieves is the idea of a “solo” tutorial, where it is guaranteed that everyone has been exposed to the mechanic in simpler form before unleashing them to wreck their unique brand of (un)communicative havoc in a group.
I’d live without the guarantee personally, if it means all the “forcing” goes away.
I like the concept of the step up tutorial though, as I made good use of it, going through the solo version to learn the mechanics in peace by myself, then poked my head alone into the explorable group version to see what else I could figure out there, and then finally joined a group or two.
The Solo Instance
I took my most masochistic character in first. Yes, my spirit weapon guardian who has been wandering around Southsun in magic find gear. This was on purpose, as I wanted to experience a glass
cannon pop gun baseline. Just to see how a badly built casual player might find it.
Story-wise, I felt the linkage was a bit abrupt. We never really got to track Canach down. We’re just suddenly told, oh, look, we found him, he’s here, go get him.
The explanation of the mine detector gimmick was okay, as long as you’re the sort of player that bothers to talk to NPCs and read what they say. (Which apparently, some people don’t.)
I liked that there was an uninterrupted short stretch in front to play with the mine detector gun and get familiar with the scanning and conversion mechanic. The icon indicators for the traps were also decently clear, though the fog and steam doesn’t really help visibility-wise.
I’ve mentioned I like solo instances because it gives me time to take screenshots uninterrupted and admire the scenery – which was nifty.
Figuring out the Canach fight itself was pretty tough on first contact. This has a lot to do with the build, if you ask me.
I got the idea fairly quickly to get Canach into the converted land mines, as the caltrops or poison ones didn’t appear to do much to his health bar. I was able to read the buff he had on to figure out that he was immune to any standard weapon attacks.
I did miss until much later the helpful yellow text in my chat bar as to when he was doing what with the mines, as I was staring in the center of my screen, at him, trying to figure out his animations while dancing around the numerous traps and trying to scan and convert them and play the memory game of where is the land mine I’m looking for…
This led to a few accidents of getting knocked about by Canach and into traps, which then exploded and knocked off considerable amounts of hp, which led to me scrambling around trying to recover on a build not really made for healing up quickly and rapidly, which led to more opportunities for him to rush me and knock me down, or blow up all his mines, and generally set up a cascade chain of eventual failure.
I swapped utility skills to put on the more standard stun-breaker shouts, Stand Your Ground and Save Yourselves, and Retreat! for swiftness.
Which went a little better, though I was still having trouble using skill 5 to knock him back into traps a sufficient distance, and I was finding it tough as a squishy to stay in his melee range for long enough to kite him over a mine, and the charr still felt cumbersome and slowass. After about 3-4 deaths, I finally managed to lead him through enough land mines and down all his health.
I enjoyed the little story conversation epilogue between him and Ellen Kiel after. I appreciate that they put that into the solo instance so soloists didn’t miss that part of the story.
Then I logged on my asura guardian, having been now convinced through firsthand experience that this is a “dungeon” where squishy dps glass cannon builds do not help and a bunker build might very well excel. I even left on my WvW gear – soldier/clerics because I suspected the more tanky I was, the more it was going to be lol-worthy ez-mode.
It was. I pretty much stood next to Canach and watched as he hit me for 340 hp, then healed up 168 hp x 2 in the next few seconds before he could wind up for his next attack. This made kiting him onto the land mines extremely painless. This was the character I used to get the Lair-Light Foot achievement as it is much easier to look carefully where you’re stepping when you’re not worried about the possibility of dying.
So if you’re ever wondering why some players think Canach’s Lair is so damn easy, while others are struggling, I’d take a long hard look at what builds they’re running.
Not to mention, what classes.
Because I am slightly greedy and wanted to grab at least one more of the possibly unintended character reward of 26 silver plus 1 bag of 1 gold (found a CoF-like dungeon reward rate, woo!), but also too wussy to log ALL my lowbies and possibly risk a ban for exploiting, I decided to bring my last level 80 in and stop at three.
That last level 80 is a thief. He has swiftness on dodge, and signet of shadows. Canach couldn’t fucking touch him. And remember, I am a POOR thief. Game, set, mined and caught.
The Group Instance
As mentioned above, I poked my head in solo to check out how the explorable differed from the story version, and see if the cave had grown any extra rooms. (It hadn’t.)
I poked in on Mr Squishy Magic Find Charr so you can call me either brave or stupid too.
I did last long enough to note that the golem didn’t have the buff that made him immune to weapon attacks, attempted to attack it and noted with pleasure that I was actually denting him to the tune of 3-5% of his total hp bar (not bad for one person in magic find gear against a mob meant for five, it suggested that the devs had indeed erred on the side of easy with this instance and that it might conceivably be possible if difficult to accomplish solo.)
I lasted long enough to see his purple shield come up and work out the mechanic that he needed to be led onto land mines for his shield to fall off.
But the rate at which I was damaging it wasn’t really very quick and it was a struggle to keep alive alone on squishy charr and guildchat was starting the call for folks to do the explorable with, so I gracefully did a Brave Sir Robin and ran away.
Swapped to Mr Surprisingly Sturdy For His Stature, joined the guild group and went in.
The first go was messy. We were tackling Subdirector NULL with four members, as one was still making his way over and having problems with the zoning / party instancing / directions, while some others had triggered the fight. One of our party members was still trying to lead / talk the lost member to where we were, mid-battle, which couldn’t have been terribly good for his mobility. The automatic reaction was to spread out, and no one else had figured out what the purple shield did, so it made kiting the golem onto a land mine quite tricky. The orbiting energy things were an interesting pickle that made us dodge and move around quite a bit, and when the repair turret message came up, it took some time to scan the room and find where it was to take it down.
Despite all that, the health of the golem dropped quite rapidly. What eventually did us in was the electrolyze mini-enrage timer at the end, as I don’t think anyone realized what was happening in between all the party conversation going on trying to get the last member over, and scramble to revive people who were downed by getting too close to the golem.
The other three’s hp were close to one sliver from being downed and mine was at half full, while I was still trying to pick people up, before I finally noticed the little debuff on my bar that had 3-4 stacks of electrolyze going. Ohhh…
We wiped, and left the dungeon to get the last member properly zoned in. Second go was much better, we sorta kinda clumped together a little more, though it was still tricky to kite the golem to a mine when everyone seemed to have a different idea of which mine to lead the golem to. Plenty of damage burned the golem down once the shield eventually fell off though. Cue achievement. Cue reward chest (oooh, 50 silver, a rare, suhweet!) Cue chest in cave (two greens.) Pretty yummy for not very high difficulty, even if the fight was gimmicky.
Coordination is pretty important in this instance though.
There was one more guild group call out, two members had been attempting it in a duo and were defeated by the enrage timer at the end. I decided to test if the rewards for the group dungeon were character or account bound and logged on the squishy charr. (I did swap out of magic find and into pure berserker though.)
They were on voice and they had a plan.
We went to a corner of the cave that was apparently out of the way of the orbiting energy things, and was near to two traps – one a land mine, one a poison trap, both of which could break the shield. Mechanics were explained to those doing it for the first time. Then Null was attracted over and pounded on.
Went flawlessly. Went so quickly and easily it prompted a “Wow, that’s it?” from one or two people, and started a search for the third instance hinted at in the patch notes. (Which apparently will only exist next week, and is probably just a storytelling epilogue/finale.)
One nitpick is that there isn’t much of a story to the group instance. Perhaps that’s intended, so as to not leave the soloists in the lurch. The issue is probably with a sense of pacing, in that there’s no beginning, middle or end. With no trash mobs, it’s just “boss” then that’s it. And not a terribly difficult boss at that.
Stuff I Liked
- The inclusion of soloists with a solo instance (with the caveat that group-ists shouldn’t be excluded either)
- The story being told in an instance with time to enjoy it at one’s own pace and read the text
- The rewards of silver and stuff are pretty insanely good (to me, anyway, I don’t run CoF farms) for something so short and quickly achieved (If this is a daily feature, I’d be in here every day for sure. If it’s meant to be one-time ever only, then ok, not as great as I thought, but still nice for a one-time bonus.)
- The fairly painless difficulty level (this is subjective, of course, but I’d rather not waste hours of my time beating my head against a dungeon with a possibly ‘fail’ group for something that is merely part of a short-lived event. I have WvW XP to farm at doubled rates.)
Stuff I Didn’t Mind
- The whole mine detector gimmick (I’m sure some people felt they didn’t like it, especially when it made their class or skills fairly irrelevant. I kind of think that’s part of the point, to have everyone on the same playing field using the same skills – though builds and classes still do matter somewhat. GW1 had similar minigames. Canach may have been slightly cheesy in that he was immune to everything but mines though. Something more similar to Null where mines break a shield may have gone down better.)
- How short it was. (I suppose it could have been a room or two longer, with better pacing, but I’m not keen on all day dungeon marathon runs either. It’s probably friendlier for the largest amount of people to make it short and sweet.)
All in all, I don’t have anything that I strongly HATE in this. I don’t anticipate frustration factor building up very high. At most, people might get bored of it much quicker. So what? It’s a limited time one-off. The meta event is the one that we should be looking at with a fine tooth comb to see if it feels great, because -that’s- the one that’s going to go on repeat loop permanently.
Guess we’ll see next week.