GW2: The Story of Thaumanova Reactor as Told Via a PUG Dungeon Group

The story is fractured, all right....

*verbose narration by two garbled voices talking asura-speak over each other*

*insufficient time to read wall of text in between extreme amounts of fire and hacking away with swords and axes*

Something about cores and colliders.

Bouncy eventual death in between trying to figure out a maze, a safety shield’s skills and repulsor bolts while typing and communicating one’s discoveries to the group. Failure to break through the barrier with anything because the group had evidently taken a wrong turn and missed a console somewhere.

In between logging in and logging out (thank you, no waypoint) and being rezzed not by one’s group but by the kind souls outside the Fractal of the Mists portal in LA, some guy says he found the console and clicked it, and some other guy says he did something else and the barrier vanished, and anyway the UI in the top right hand corner has ticked off complete. I walk back in completely none the wiser as to what just happened.

The group is busy recreating some tableau of Inquest asura in some manner of distress via Panic and Vomit buttons, though I’m not sure if fire or radiation was supposed to be the cause, and what in the world caused it anyway?

In between trying to experiment with the same thing and read tiny tooltips on tiny icons while one’s hp steadily drops to nonexistence and dash out to safety before dying (wherein the tooltip disappears), most of the party wipes on the ground. I manage to warbanner one, ponder the wisdom of stopping to rez a second, (the warbannered one falls over and dies before he gets out to safety), roll out to safety, and then think “fuck it” because everyone else has logged out already to “waypoint.”

I indulge in a solo experiment to test my understanding of the tooltip I read in 5 seconds, spam 1 and do my best to race solo across a ton of fire fields, pause long enough to try and get my bearings and see that there is a barriered console and two orange gear somethings on either side of the room, and then fall over with the realization that having healing signet slotted instead of a big burst heal might not have been the best strategy here.

While pondering if the coordinated group strategy might be best to have people spam heals and run together, and if all members spamming 1 would buff the group together, I hit vengeance and almost get to one orange gear marked -something- (console? door? who knows, it was unlabeled..) Then I drop dead.

This strategy goes untested because the party decides to investigate the other room with the orange boss monster label on the minimap, and something about Subject Six pops up. Various narrators mention something about slime, but no one hears it because everyone is busy dodging the huge shower of projectiles the giant green slime in the center of the room has decided to throw.

Oh, and something about little oozes healing the big one. Right, kill small oozes, we can handle that…

In between my experimentation with being completely unable to knock back little oozes while killing them, I look up to notice that a good half of the party is falling over and going “wtf.” Enter lots of rezzing while trying to figure out exactly what other mechanics the ooze has.

It takes the rest of the fight to figure out that keeping at extreme range avoids most of the projectile shower (plus a wistful internal reflection on not having any classes in the group with reflection skills), and that we should not let the slime get to a stack of 20 whatever-it-has, and that those 20 stacks of something build up when it is being attacked while blocking, and that those stacks build up really quick due to whichever someones are slow to react and keep autoattacking (I don’t suppose the ranger’s pet being hard to control would have helped, I’m glad I didn’t bring my MM necro).

Anyway, the ooze dies.

We get back to the center. Scarlet.

*sigh*

Halfway through her monologue, which I was listening to, mind you, some other guy in the party decides he’s bored and clicks the console panel.

We are now treated to a jarring display of multiple voices talking over each other, pursuing two separate subjects, neither of which is coherent anymore.

Three people get to wait for the two of us who actually lingered behind to try and make head or tail out of what was being said, and an impatient “dudes, press the switch” pushes us into pressing the switch.

Enter another gimmick fight with disappearing platforms, wherein a missed step = instant death and where the rest of the party has no way to revive you, which isn’t exactly the kindest way to learn a new fight for the first time.

I’m the second casualty because I dared to experiment with meleeing the boss while I saw that the aggro was on some other guy running in large circles on the outer platform. Except something happened, whatever it was, one has no clue, and in between a whole bunch of bombs and projectiles being shot out by the boss, the platforms near me started to disappear and I was one centimeter away from being out of the danger zone when I suddenly turned up dead at the boss’ feet. Latency, I suppose.

That and I saw the guy with the aggro dart out near the two of us that died, so he may have gotten too near while we weren’t paying attention.

I get to watch the other three kite the boss around for about half his hp before an accident takes out one, and then another, and then the last wipes.

We “respawn” via logging in and logging out, which makes the wait time quite annoying as each person has to zone in and find their way back.

This time, the agreed on strategy is everyone kites and range attacks and stays far far away from each other. I get to watch two other guys die and turn up at the boss’s feet, while I stay at long range like a giant furry chicken and run in constant circular motion plinking away until the boss dies.

One short cutscene later, we are greeted with this sight.

riiiight
Riiight…

If not for someone in the party having the foresight to bring along a revive orb that they happened to have, we would have all gotten screwed out of the rewards in the chest.

We walk into the light to end up back in the fractals lobby and pause for a couple minutes to bitch about what just happened and debate on whether it was intentional or a bug.

Out of the blue, literally -minutes- later into our discussion, Dessa starts up talking and then Ellen Kiel starts to talk and as -some- of us are still listening and screenshotting this conversation, we are booted back into the loadscreen and kicked into Lion’s Arch with two members of the party gone.

The three remaining members are left still trying to decide if the entire story mode was over and whether the conversation ended at the intended stopping point, or if one of the impatient quitters was the instance holder and booted us out before the story was over.

I’m really left none the wiser except Scarlet did something and I guess the reactor blew up? I have no clue where we come in as Inquest.

We have?
We have?

I would have been even more lost if I wasn’t at least smart enough to attempt the story mode initially by myself – which at least let me talk to Ellen Kiel before entering the fractal, and examining the initial layout of the reactor.

Unfortunately the aggravation of having to clear four veterans a spawn and dying meaning logging in and logging out ended that attempt at soloing after a while.

This is why story is much better told via a scaling instance that can be entered solo to progress at one’s own pace.

I get the feeling that the new fractals were created by a group that were more impressed by the new mechanics for a boss fight that they thought up and for new puzzles to challenge a group than being concerned with any sort of storytelling or proper pacing.

Except group challenge is not inevitable death if you don’t magically know the right gimmick solution to taking out the boss either.

Not everyone runs in a regular group connected by voice chat either, which is the distinct subtype I keep getting the impression they’re trying to make fractals for.

All in all, first impressions: Not impressed. Clumsy. Shoddy. Buggy and insufficiently quality tested.

I’ll have to save lore discussions for later after having gone through it a few more times via random fractal rolls, I suppose. Assuming I can put up with it for that long.

GW2: PSA – Where and How to Vote in Cutthroat Politics

I do not do purely informative posts often. But I’ve been seeing a spike in search engine stats from people just googling “gw2 voting” and I think they’re totally lost on where to go and what to do.

In a way, it serves as subtle criticism that ArenaNet’s made it not 100% obvious this time (because I too got a little lost looking for where the eff the support baskets were, having not read Dulfy this time around) and that players themselves often don’t pay enough attention to say, quest text in general or the stuff on the minimap in this specific case.

I assume you’ve managed to follow your mail and talk to Ellen Kiel and Evon Gnashblade to hear their stances. And clicked on the little “Show Me” button to see where they are.

The “Audience with the Master” small story cutscene is indicated on the minimap and is located on top of the Zephyr Sanctum airship.

airshipminimap

(If you do not have a Sky Docks waypoint already up from the last two weeks, you need to go to Lion’s Arch, catch the ship there to the Labyrinthine Cliffs, and work your way up using the aspect crystal jumping – or beg a kindly mesmer to help you skip the jumps.)

And so is “Candidate Support” – the location of the voting baskets where you throw your support tokens into.

supportbasketshere

You get two support tokens from your mail for free. You will get plenty plenty more doing nearly any content in GW2 – they randomly drop from mob kills and I’ve seen them turn up at the end of jumping puzzle and other hidden chests in the world, but activities related to Cutthroat Politics – like the new Southsun Survival and Aspect Arena minigames and the Candidate Trial challenges will tend to yield more guaranteed amounts.

You will then receive a representative token that you can double-click and show off a pretty icon floating either to your left or right shoulder to show your support for either candidate.

Doing things like dungeons, fractals and events in Ascalon and Kryta for the charr and human candidate respectively, with the support showing, will net you some achievements. Check your Living World – Support Ellen Kiel and Support Evon Gnashblade tab in your achievement panel for more details.

Yes, you can do both sets of achievements. As an achievement hound myself, despite my rhetoric, you can bet some votes snuck in there for Evon. His reminders are getting a tide annoying though, so once all the repping things are done, everything’s going into the other basket.

I’ll be back later with more analysis on the other stuff. Here’s a ❤ for the candidate trial design to tide you over. I’ll tell you specifically why later.

GW2: Shaping History With Your Vote

So, all the latest excitement both in-game in Lion’s Arch and in the Guild Wars 2 Reddit is the discussion about whether one is in #TeamGnashblade or #TeamKiel for the upcoming update of Cutthroat Politics.

Before we get partisan here, I’d just want to point out that this is an exciting development in player involvement with the Living Story. It harkens back to when one was given the choice to vote for Dwayna or Grenth in Guild Wars 1 in order to get a shiny hat, but a lot deeper.

Players get to both control the story and the direction of the game with their vote.

Players are making lasting history.

Whatever way we choose, we are giving up something in order to get something else. Choices and consequences. Meaningful decisions in gameplay.

Now for the analysis:

The hardcore in the Guild Wars 2 Reddit and the GW1 old guard appear to be all over Evon Gnashblade. The Fall of Abaddon as a fractal is a very tempting lure because it’s a link to both old GW1 lore (one of the major strengths of GW2 is being able to tie back into a long established history) and all bets are likely that it’s going to be gorgeous to have a look at Old Orr and the City of Arah before the Fall. There’s Gods and shit. How epic would that be?

As for Black Lion Keys, well, they’re a side benefit, but no one really gives a toss.

The fear of #TeamGnashblade is that Ellen Kiel may promise the ‘casuals’ and the not-interested-in-lore (the unspoken feeling is that it may in fact be a majority over those who prowl Reddit) decreased waypoint costs for a month.

How freaking tempting is that? Gold is always hard to come by and waypoint costs are a sneaky goldsink that affects everyone playing the game.

Finding out more about the Thaumanova Reactor explosion seems less appealing a fractals choice than the former as familiarity breeds contempt and a lot of people see the fire elemental in the reactor remains every day. Though again, some of the fear is that the new GW2 crowd who doesn’t appreciate the past may vote for it out of familiarity with the name. Others argue that we know a lot less about the reactor explosion, and that it may be an important crux point of recent GW2 lore, what with all the dealing with the fallout and chaotic portals and magic going awry that has been established in various zones in the game.

I just want to point out something that may be overlooked in all this fractals-focused excitement.

Let us not forget that this is part of the active and ongoing Living Story storyline.

We’re familiar with Ellen Kiel. She’s been established as a key ‘good guy’ type of character – a Lionguard who has worked with us since Southsun. She seems to have fairly good relations with Magnus and she now owns a frigging’ Aetherblade airship.

On the other hand, she is just a grunt out of nowhere and may not have the political acumen to last a day on the Captain’s Council. Then again, she managed to balance the pressing demands of the Consortium and still cater to refugee needs and be a good person on Southsun. She appears to be keen to work for fairness and balance, a reasonable deal between Lion’s Arch and the Zephyr Sanctum.

Evon Gnashblade seemingly comes out of nowhere, cast in the light of the greedy profiteering merchant owner of the Black Lion Trading Company and looks a little typecast as the ‘bad guy.’ Then again, most Charr look like bad guys, and you can’t really hold genetics against them, eh?

He’s an established citizen of Lion’s Arch and claims to be looking after the interests of Lion’s Arch first and foremost. He may end up doing a cutthroat deal with the Zephyr Sanctum to put LA (and/or himself and BLTC) first. He has no doubt plenty of backstabbing political experience to survive well on the Captain’s Council. And if he’s in charge of the Black Lion Trading Company and the Consortium are its competitors, that’s probably okay, right?

What are the things being left unsaid?

The most pressing question is why the hell Evon Gnashblade? Why him, just popping out of nowhere? Is he just a new unheralded NPC?

Except…

In the Molten Alliance denouement, the only thing known of the figure behind the alliance of dredge and Flame Legion charr, is that he or she came from a city and was a persuasive talker.  The dredge prisoner curses out a ““Lying, silver-tongued, snake-nosed trickster.”

At the end of the Aetherblade Retreat dungeon, Mai Trin says that someone else was also behind this, and that “Scarlet is going to have my noggin for screwing up.”

LOOK AT THE COLOR OF THE CLOTHING EVON WEARS.

You don't fool me. (Then again, maybe I'm Scarlet and trying to throw you all off the scent!)
You don’t fool me.

Thank you, I rest my case.

I’ll be voting for Ellen Kiel.

And if the worst happens, well, there’s a cool fractal as a consolation prize.