Blaugust Day 14: Hitman Agent 47 – Movie, Game and the Problem with Sequels

I’m really not current with these kinds of things, so it’s purely bizarre random chance that I followed a sequence of web links that led me to the realization that:

a) They’re making Hitman the video game series into a movie.

(Again. It’s a reboot, I must have missed the first, which appeared to have been roundly panned by most critics, save Roger Ebert, who might have decided to add a little more subtlety to his review after running afoul of the 4375+ comment responses to his statement that “video games aren’t art” the year before, but received a “ehhh, not too bad” from popular audiences.)

b) It’s coming out next week.

c) Hitman: Agent 47 was filmed on location in Berlin and in Singapore.

Whoooaaa. Come again? Singapore? Really? As in modern-day city-state Singapore, rather than fictitious not-at-all-anywhere-resembling-historical-fact-but-fantasy-cool Pirates of the Carribean Singapore?

Well, ok, they’re throwing in a hefty portion of superhero-like genetic super-soldiers and Hollywood-style explosions, so it’s not going to 100% reflect reality either, but still… “COOL.”

(P.S. Any Singaporean will tell you that there are not that many taxi cabs on our streets. Ever. Especially when you need to hail one down. They’re practically an endangered species.)

I think this is going to be essentially the first time that modern-day Singapore is going to be projected up on the big screen for a global (and specifically Western) audience in Hollywood fashion, not withstanding various TV documentaries (mostly about food, I’m sure), an odd Bollywood superhero movie or two, or a whole bunch of local/regional films.

Especially with the very recent additions to the Marina Bay skyline.

And I’m kind of strangely excited about the whole state of affairs.

Lazy pragmatic cynic I might be, but there’s still enough nationalistic pride left over from all that propaganda from our country’s 50th birthday and suspiciously-impending general elections to be thrilled that the world is going to see this crazy place we call home as a backdrop to a HOLLYWOOD action thriller movie, no doubt seeming as exotic as Hong Kong tends to be associated with, in that sort of action/spy movie genre.

Plus, I’m anticipating that the reaction in our local cinemas is going to be an absolutely hilarious mix of “oohs and ahhs” at the more explosively neat special effects and stunts, plus “ROFLs and LOLs” when we see some of our mundane landmarks dressed up in completely-nothing-resembling-reality fashion… like a plane hangar with black-clad rifle-bearing soldiers… that actually resides in one of our technical educational institutes for aerospace classes.

(It’s really going to crack me up if they use it as the set for the super-sekrit evil genetic lab base where superpowered Agents are made…)

Well, the trailers don’t look too bad… when judged from a brainless action movie flick perspective, mind you, I wouldn’t watch this for plot or storytelling. If it sort of manages to make coherent (if cliched) sense, it’ll already be great.

I think I’m just going to be thrilled to see home gussied up, Hollywood style.

Oh, and that they’re also cashing in on video game tie-ins these days, besides superhero and fantasy book-tie ins? Double bonus. So much mainstreaming (which leads to cultural acceptance) of my favorite hobby interests. Everybody wins.

… except I just downloaded Hitman: Codename 47 (the first game) off Steam – somehow I’ve collected the whole series in a sale and never quite got around to them – and am getting my butt kicked. Repeatedly.

I vaguely recall trying a Hitman game once upon a time, though I can’t remember which, and encountering a similar state of affairs.

Fans make a big deal out of the series giving you the freedom to complete levels via multiple solutions – some sneaky, some of the “gun them all down” variety – it’s done more often now, but back then, I think Deus Ex and Hitman were pretty much it.

What I keep personally encountering is a game series that is perfectly okay with you coming into the level completely blind, scouting it out a few times via unsuccessful attempts to get a ‘feel’ for the scripting of the NPCs and where the possible solutions are located, attempting the perfect execution of the puzzle solution several times more via death-and-repeat trial-and-error gameplay.

I think there’s a group of game players that really enjoy this sort of frustration in their gameplay. They clamor for ‘hard mode’ content like Dark Souls or Super Meat Boy where they have to bang their heads against a particular section repeatedly, dying and restarting, dying and restarting, until they either pass, or better, ace it with flying colors.

I’m a little less sure about how I feel about that kind of gameplay. It does usually tilt more to the frustration=no fun side for me, rather than the other way around.

Of course, it may just be non-polished issues with the first game. The default controls are anything but. They started out in a numpad layout. There was a “WASD” option, so I hit that, and the usual S key for backward?  It was walk forward… because W was taken up with run forward. And they shifted walk backward to X. ‘R’ didn’t even stand for Reload, a convention that I thought has been in place for years of first and third party shooters that offer guns. I had to rebind practically everything before starting to play.

There were no save mid-game functions… so every time you screwed up – and you can’t help but screw up when you’re coming into it blind and don’t even know what to expect – you began all over again, mission briefing clicking and unavoidable cutscenes included.

*twitch*

Then there’s the funny thing about me and game series, which I daresay is also a problem for other people too.

I feel distinctly odd if I attempt a game sequel (or game 4 or game 5), without having played through the early games in order.

It’s like… aren’t I going to miss a significant part of the story this way, or some of that ‘historical’ experience other gamers would have had, by playing this game series in sequence?

And yet… something about game 1 or game 2 ends up being off-putting, because they’re more primitive and more raw, without the benefit of experience and iteration smoothing out those rough corners, and I find I can’t actually complete or continue the game… yet am reluctant to move on to later sequels.

I have similar problems with Assassin’s Creed, Torchlight II, Orcs Must Die 2 and so on…

(Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 would have been a similar case, except that I did get through 75% of the first game – and finally gave up with the endless side map explorations and charged through to the story’s end via walkthrough – and decided that qualified me to graduate on to 2 when it came out, which was excellent because 2 was a much better game than 1 in so many ways.

And I can see someone getting stuck on the Batman: Arkham games in a similar fashion too, though I thankfully liked that series so much I played through really fast.. just some completionist stuff on Origins left, and waiting for Arkham Knight to not suck.)

Dunno.

Maybe I just need to get over it, especially since I have plenty of hard disk space now, and install the later games and just start and -try- them.

Maybe one will click, and I can use that as a jumping off ground to play the later sequels, and treat the earlier games then as “prequels” that may or may not be played later.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the numbers 14 and 47.

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GW2: Recent PvP Resources

It seems like the updates to GW2 PvP to put in reward tracks and ranked/unranked matches has been overall quite healthy for the state of sPvP. Especially with the new dailies that tempt me to get a game in nearly every day, just playing on a super casual and carefree level.

I’m probably not the only one.

And with this influx of new blood, there seems to be a larger appreciative audience of people interested in learning more about GW2 PvP and how it all works, which encourages skilled players to share advice and teach others.

I haven’t watched all the videos yet on the QQmore.net website but they all look very helpful.

I was especially fond of the Mindset and Avoiding Frustration text guide because it touches on something I’m still trying to work out and get right, how to react better when one is frustrated.

I used to get frustrated very easily and become very avoidant of things that frustrate me as a result.

I’d have very high expectations (of myself or of the result that I desired) and when I didn’t get it, man, anger, frustration, bottled up tantrums, all the bad feelings I’d try not to spew out onto other people (cos I did that in my early years a couple of times and that’s not nice or mature to take it out on others), and hey, I didn’t want to be the sole target of those bad feelings either, so… easy solution: don’t do the things that cause the frustration, right?

Well… avoiding works if you don’t care enough about the activity or result either way to get worked up about it, which works for unimportant stuff but not for stuff you actually wanna do.

Turns out that reframing one’s perspective and looking for constructive solutions/goals and small improvements to cheer about can be another way to deal with frustration – that’s still a work in progress for me, but I seem to be getting better at it via the Marionette, Tequatl, Boss Blitz, Lion’s Arch sequence.

Dabbling around in sPvP has been another way for me to work on this. I generally care very little about sPvP, or my reputation, what other people think of me, or how I look or perform (self-image-wise), which makes it easier to distance myself from whether I win or lose a particular match.

All I really care about is whether I’m performing to the best of my ability on a particular chosen character, and if I can keep learning or improving and getting a smidgen better or more familiar or more comfortable with that class.

Which ironically does frustrate me from time to time when I’m not doing well, but the guide’s right, if something’s frustrating you, that’s probably because it’s a learning opportunity, because someone is playing much much better than you and can be learned from, if one can just take away one’s ego from the equation. (Frickin’ super-ping sword/dagger thieves that just zip around and pwn. *coughs*)

Another fun resource that I enjoyed watching was Phantaram teaching Sodapoppin GW2 sPvP:

I gather that these two are streamers of some importance or other. The S guy being some WoW hotshot and Phantaram being a really good GW2 sPvP tournament player of some kind, who also turns out to have the patience of a saint when coaching. Mad respect.

This is very much worth watching for anyone interested in GW2 PvP – it’s very introductory, goes through some of the most common builds of all the classes and what they’re liable to do, and really shows off to an inexperienced player the potential -depth- of GW2’s PvP – which at first feels like a whole bunch of explosive lights and colors and someone’s dead, wut, but that there’s really some sophisticated stuff going on under the hood to pull that kind of thing off.

Buttons to chain in sequence to set up some spike damage or a kill (often assisted with some crowd control) and how to counter or escape someone that’s setting up to do that to you, and so on.

How one class can counter another and vice versa, and more besides.

It’s very much a taster, but it’s a very tempting taste, and even I’m tempted to start watching more of Phantaram’s and other streamers’ videos now… except for the whole need-time-to-do-so thing. Gah.

GW2: The Fine Line of Frustration

Look, ma, a pickup zerg killed Pyroxis!

It must be hard being a game developer.

Make things smooth and easy and players will steamroll through content, proclaiming themselves gaming gods and demanding more challenges NOW. Fail to sate them, and they sulk around, declaring the game boring and stagnant and having “nothing to do” and quit before you know it.

Make things difficult and challenging, and when players run into problems, the resulting frustration recoils and whiplashes around seeking any available targets. Forums explode into a frenzy of complaints and stridently worded requests for things to get easier.

I guess I’m watching the fallout from the Crown Pavilion changes and Queensdale champion train destruction with a sort of embittered fascination, rather than frustration, because I’m not very affected by either.

Some bloggers and regular readers may have noticed that I’ve been going around being a tide controversial and combative in their comments bar, for which I do apologize if I come across as an elitist arrogrant prick or argumentative troll.

I stopped to ask myself why exactly I felt prompted to act this way.

And the answer that came back was: I’m waiting to see if anyone gets frustrated enough to challenge me in reply, to stand up for their own argument and get a better handle on why they were feeling frustrated beyond “I tried it once. It was so much harder than I expected.  I felt bad. There was nothing I could do. I don’t want to do it anymore. I quit.”

Because frustration is normal when one encounters a setback and resistance to the fulfillment of individual desires.

Because it’s what different people do in response to frustration that proves interesting.

Four months ago, I was as frustrated as frustrated can be with regards to the Marionette.

There was a great deal of rampant zerg stupidity and much failure in the early days too.

Worse, there were achievements that I wanted to complete that were reliant on the bulk of the playerbase not being SO BAD at the marionette that I would never get the chance to enter the later circles to attempt the various dodging achievements with my piss poor latency.

I wrote a guide, and I tried to force it down everyone’s throats as blatantly as I could, advertising it on Reddit even.

I -could- have just given up, thrown up my hands in despair, wallowed in misery and written reams of whining complaints on various forums instead.

I’m sure my tiny guide was not the sole cause for the playerbase improving at the Marionette.

Many other people stepped up. Commanders tagged up and did their best to count and distribute people into five different lanes, regardless of the willful selective deafness of certain players. Others took it on themselves to broadcast and disseminate info into mapchat. Players who repeatedly attempted the Marionette took their individual steps towards getting good enough to reach a collective success indicator, wherever they were on that journey.

Did we lose some people? Very possibly there were those that just tried it once or twice, died repeatedly and decided, “never again.”

It stands to reason that they would not have gone back to the Marionette, and the ability curve may have adjusted itself upward a tide due to that too.

They were going to be lost anyway. One cannot help those that do not wish to be helped.

I see some interesting parallels between this update’s Champion Pavilion Boss Blitz, and the Marionette and Escape From Lion’s Arch events.

They all have a considerable chance for failure.

Failure induces frustration.

Frustration produces… ???

Complaints, certainly.

And counter-trolling in response.

Neither of which are terribly productive, but very much human nature.

Then again, in the Escape From Lion’s Arch, one super frustrated individual created an entire new megaguild called MEDX, devoted to rescuing Lion’s Arch citizens. An enormous number of people appeared to buy into that premise, perhaps wanting to be heroes to the NPCs or perhaps wanting chances at the great loot, and we saw that guild have some good times in parallel with our TTS community, as we hopped various overflows.

We saw various servers take on the Marionette, and start succeeding over time.

The two biggest differences that I see between then and now:

Megaserver  – We’ve lost our server communities. I’ve not been shy to criticize this as not the most ideal state of affairs ever. Everything is now overflow, filled with more aggressive strangers, given very little incentive to cooperate or communicate because they’ll probably never see each other again. Also, language barriers.

Where Have All the Leaders and Followers Gone? – With each patch that pushes more coordination and communication, anyone who has had the slightest bit of self-interest and sufficient motivation to do something constructive about it has self-organized. They’ve found their communities, that come complete with people motivated enough to lead, and people with enough self-interest to follow.

Those left behind do not appear motivated enough to do anything beyond complain and feel helpless and sorry for themselves.

No, really, it’s not hard. Help is but one Google and some typing away.

I read a random post on the GW2 forums, and I see someone from an EU server talking about GW2Community. Google it.

NA server-wise, TTS is the name on everybody’s lips, but there are undoubtedly others. Just off the top of my head, Attuned does Wurm and so on.

Network. Reach out to people. Send a whisper and ask for an invite to an organized instance if you wish it. Numerous guests and friends of friends have jumped into these events and had a great time.

Nooooo….. but I don’t wanna join a guild or a community! I don’t wanna change instances! I wanna log in and immediately have the world revolve around me and do what I wish and give me loot!

It reeks of being unable to adapt or change. It also suggests you don’t necessarily want it badly enough, and would prefer not to have to interact with a community (some of whom may be people you dislike personally) – in which case, it’s a personal choice and your tradeoff is that you don’t get the reward that you also wanted.

Everything is about tradeoffs.

Still, I see the beginnings of a little bit of hope this time around…

Tarnished Coast WvW used to have what was known as a case of “celebrity commander” syndrome. Jadon, Nightlight, Odinzu, Deyja. The militia would flock to them. Anyone else who tagged up had a much harder time.

But times change, and these commanders moved on, and mostly dropped into various personal guilds, away from the public eye, or transferred away. For a time, the militia ran around lost, helpless, frustrated, losing structures like unthinking headless chickens who couldn’t even find a feather on their bodies, let alone an arrow cart.

Some militia individuals, away from the zerg mind, did their best or what they could, improving their game, be it siege or roaming. New individuals stepped up to command and rally the unthinking zerg.

Out of frustration, very possibly, but they did, because they were motivated enough.

Tonight in the Crown Pavilion, while just cranking through a bunch of my Queen’s Gauntlet tickets for my sick and twisted lottery attempt at the Choice of Lyssa recipe (will never happen, I’m sure, but well, Gauntlet Chances are easier to feed a gambling urge with than lockboxes that require paid keys), I overheard an individual being very chatty on mapchat.

Said person was rallying others, updating on boss percentages, being very friendly and unassuming but being very -present- and indicating signs of activity, and said person had a commander tag.

I looked down through the railing at my feet as someone in the cage I was spectating fell over and died to Liadri, with a grumbled “lag” as I rezzed him, and lo and behold, there was a group of 7-10 people at the centaur boss under us, and over to the left, another group that seemed to be working on ogre with another commander tag in play.

My FPS was 12-14, and I decided the other 40 odd tickets could wait.

I got down the ramps in time to see that two bosses were left, and that this plucky group of pickups was busy taking turns to fall over to Pyroxis’ bouncing projectiles and get rezzed.

Oh, what the heck, I thought. And went to join them.

45 seconds later, I was backpedaling out of combat to put on wall of reflection and shield of the avenger because there didn’t seem to be anyone in the group putting those up.

I was the sole source of reflects for a minute or two, but a few more people started trickling in, attracted by the fight.

Someone else stepped up and spelled it out. “Use reflects on him.”

My one pathetic wall of very sporadic reflection was suddenly joined by a second, and a third, staggering themselves out appropriately. Later, there was a mesmer feedback around the big scorpion destroyer.

We still took turns getting mauled by the bouncing unreflectable lava projectiles, and getting rezzed.

I worked on improving my personal game by getting better at dodging them when I saw them coming (the ones that come in from the sides or behind though… grrr…)

Surprise, surprise, I was having fun.

The other boss must have died at some point, because our group of 10ish suddenly ballooned to 20-25 as a second group appeared behind Pyroxis.

Steadily, his health bar dropped and the meanie scorpion poo-head died.

And we all got a reward chest.

Bronze, yes, because this was cleanup after some other group prior had left the instance at 4 bosses.

But my point was that this one person rallied a map that were willing to sit in an instance left at 4 bosses, doing their own thing, and performed a successful clean up. Said person had to leave to go to work, so there was no further attempt. Still, it’s proof of concept. Proof it can be done.

There have been heartening posts on Reddit that some commanders got together and tried rallying a map – some with positive results, silvers, with eyes towards gold, feeling it almost within reach.

There has been the case of AARM, and another guild on Northern Shiverpeaks whose name I unfortunately forget, who decided to “host” a map. They bring in 30-40 odd guildies, and like magic, when those around them see that a serious attempt is being made, also start to cooperate and coordinate out of peer pressure and self-interest.

Since we now lack server communities, perhaps this is where some guilds may find a niche to step up and step in.

The magic of MMOs is in community, after all.

And sometimes players need a little push before they care to talk to others.

The key, really, is that no one is forcing anybody into this. The rewards are available elsewhere and not exclusive.

Abandon the map if you truly hate it. Abandon the game, even, if you’re that bitter.

But if you’re frustrated enough by the thought of not being able to achieve gold or silver on one tiny piece of temporary content, then maybe start thinking of ways to be part of a community that can manage to do so.

That community might be a guild, a cross-server community, that very map instance you happen to be on, or the GW2 community at large.

GW2: Queen’s Gauntlet – Liadri the Concealing Darkness

allthatforapatchofblack

If you ask me, all that shows is not how l33t someone is, but how goddamn pigheadedly stubborn and willing to throw money and time at the problem they are.

I think I wore holes in the floor with all that respawning and running back. Little tip: It's pretty fun to wait for a random person to have their turn, rez them, then have yours. Hopefully they reciprocate and you can avoid the run back.
I think I wore holes in the floor with all that respawning and running back. Little tip: It’s pretty fun to wait for a random person to have their turn, rez them, then talk to the ringmaster. Hopefully they reciprocate and you can avoid the run back. Three people also work and you can queue up beforehand for that.

I basically bought two stacks of watchwork off the TP and dedicated a holiday afternoon to banging my head against the boss until something stuck. I’m a little slow on the uptake and learning, so it took possibly 100+ tries. On the bright side, I now have basic Liadri phase 1 to a science and will be happy to share what I’ve been doing with you.

I’d like to thank my P/D condition thief for being the guinea pig, having 25% speed, swiftness on dodge, extra endurance recovery and stealth to pause the action some aided quite a bit in the learning process, but I kept running into the issue of not doing enough damage on phase 2 before dying. I’m just not as instinctively familiar with the class and skills and I think it shows.

Anyway, you’re not hear to listen to me blather on…

Phase 1 – How to Move On to the Next Phase As Efficiently As Possible

liadri-1

1) Move to the left of the first white patch

Your point of view will look something like this.
Your point of view will look something like this.

If you are lucky, the shadowy orb will spawn near here (it’s random and it pulling is the only thing that can screw up this strat, try again) and you can smash it with a hit. A targeted ranged attack can be obstructed, so use an AoE or a melee weapon. I used dagger 1 for the thief, and staff 1 for the guardian.

The idea is you want to start the Vision of Mortality clone approaching the light patch.

2) Do not get comfortable, Liadri’s AoE is about to fall down on your head. Dodge forwards towards the clone approaching you.

liadri-2

It’ll feel a bit scary but you should still have some distance from the clone. Let the AoE shower down behind you.

3) Then dodge backward into the same place you just left. Because AoE is now about to hit where you were standing.

All this time, the clone should be advancing toward you in a fairly straight line and should be about to run into the light patch.

The idea of the dodging is to evade past all the damage-over-time walking on the light patch does to you (as well as get out of the AoE shower.)

4) Pick up the first crystal. Swing towards the white patch, keeping Liadri on your left. Throw crystal at her.

liadri-4

This gives you a little distance from the clone behind you, enough time to grab the crystal and throw it at her without getting pwned by its touch.

5) You then want to head leftwards of the white patch. Give it a fairly wide berth for now.

Why? Because this is about to fall on your head if you stand too close to it.

liadri-5

6) Now you can move to the edge of the dome, behind the white patch, to lure the clone over. (There will be one on your left and right as well.)

liadri-6

This will be the time that tall characters and charr will rage about the camera angles. It really sucks in this position.

I’ve also encountered a cage or two where the white patch is damn close to the wall and you have to stand in it for a while. (Ouchies.) At least, I think it is the cage. I thought it was being on a charr at first, but I now suspect the cage. I’d switch cages, personally.

Just hold your ground and wait for the first clone to get into the patch, if your health isn’t too horrible.

You could also sorta kinda juke to the left and right of the patch and hope for a clone to get in, but the more deviations, the more chances something is going to go horribly wrong.

7) Grab crystal. Run towards Liadri, aiming to get past her a little. Be prepared to dodge forwards if/when AoE appears under you.

liadri-7

Because stuff will shower down as you are doing this, first here:

liadri-7b

Then here:

liadri-7c

8) Being in the safe spot gives you time to swing your camera back to look at Liadri and fling the second crystal at her.

You also want to look out for the orb at this point because it respawns around this time – when you’re about to throw the crystal and may screw you up with a pull. If you’re lucky, it will appear right with you, and you can throw the crystal, then whack it as you go past.

9) From safe spot, arc and approach the third patch but STOP just before you get there.

Because AoE is just about to cover the white patch area.

liadri-9

(Ignore the player and the position of the clones in this picture, his movement deviated from how I like to do it and they’re all a little out of position as result.)

10) Once the AoE clears, you should have free range to stand in the appropriate place to kite the next clone into the third patch.

liadri-10

(Same issue with the screenshot, the clones can be a lot closer to the patch by this point. The basic idea is the AoE is not falling where you will be messing around with the patch.

11) Grab third crystal. Move/dodge away from clones. Fling at Liadri and begin phase 2.

Ok, so I’m glossing over the tricky bit. The other clones will be very close at this point too and may cause death to the unwary. A thief can shadow refuge (or a shorter stealth if you like living on the edge) and halt all clones long enough to grab safely then be off. Other non-stealthy people may just have to eyeball it and see if you can grab and dodge before a clone gets too close.

If you miss, like I sometimes do, stumbling out of F pickup range, there is NO time to go back and try again. The crystal may also despawn by the time you putz around avoiding clones then re-approaching it. Abandon crystal and move to the next patch and try again. You’re on your own at that point. 🙂

Phase 2 – Where I Can Provide You The Theory But The Actual Doing May Cause Hair Loss from Frustration and Rage

So, yeah, once she eats three crystals, her invulnerable shield falls off, she’ll pause for a slight moment then begin a spin of some kind. After that, she’s after your ass and will be leaping toward you to attack with her whip, she applies cripple and weakness, and all the while the clones will still be after your hiney, and the shadow orbs will also be spawning to pull you and fuck up any nice pattern you try to fall into.

If there’s a pattern of orb spawning, I need to watch a lot more people attempt it to figure it out. So far it’s just been utter chaos for me.

I can, however, show you the pattern of the two AoE showers.

liadri-phase2a

My best suggestion, which isn’t much at this point, is to use the white patch as a cue that it’s probably a safe spot to start with. Probably. I mean, there’s a 50% chance of being right regardless, eh? And dodge if it isn’t. (Have dodge food on.)

liadri-phase2n

They alternate like so. So the THEORY seems to be that you want to move in either an anti-clockwise or clockwise pattern, step by step as the AoE shower alternates too.

Which will generally help you to sorta kinda kite all of them in a circle, but doesn’t really help you on a bad orb pull. Stability only goes so far, y’know. And the clones may/will get in the way of you ranging down Liadri too. And she’s busy getting in your face at the same time. Yeah, good luck.

I can make one further suggestion, which is to try to use the hexagonal grid as a system of landmarking where the heck you’re running. (It just occurred to me watching people and thinking.)

cage-zoning

There’s the center hexagon in red. There’s the inner hexagon ring in blue. The ranger I was watching was doing a fairly good job kiting in the outer hexagon ring in green.

The furthest unmarked ring near the cage edge is probably too far to run around in time, but hey, if you can make it work, by all means.

I personally found it easier in the blue ring, or at the boundary of the blue/green area, because slow guardian is slow. Even with retreat and save yourselves and dodge food. But the caveat is that they all get in your face because they have less distance to run too and it is very scary, very chaotic and very very hard! *rages*

If you’re better at balancing aiming one’s camera at Liadri, and aiming forward in time to get to the next safe spot, you may find phase 2 easier than me. I will cheerfully bow to a better player. (Plz lemme know ur tips for 8 orb Liadri. Thx.)

I honestly still don’t really know how I lucked into a success. Just persistence, really. Set her on fire with F1. Hit her with scepter in berserk gear. Try to immob, which gives vulnerability. Space out shouts for swiftness and condition clear (cripples, youch.) Save smite for the orb if I actually saw it spawn amidst the chaos.

Traits were generally the same as the one I used for the candidate trials, except I moved 10 from Zeal into Honor for Pure of Voice and switched out Powerful Blades since no sword. Staff and scepter/focus. I just popped in Signet Mastery to make Signet of Resolve recharge at 32 seconds, because I like emergency burst heals. Others may find the Shelter block more handy.

Radiance 30: VI – Blind Exposure, II – Signet Mastery, XI – Right Hand Strength

Honor 30: II – Superior Aria, VIII – Empowering Might, XI – Pure of Voice

Virtues 10: I – Unscathed Contender

All shouts – Retreat, Stand Your Ground, Save Yourselves.

Renewed focus is a good emergency invulnerable panic button if you’re caught in an AoE shower, but frankly, I can never get to it in time because I was too busy and confused trying to dodge already. Working on getting better.

Apologies for no first-person perspective screenshots, but I realized it was screwing up my rhythm and my toaster (and me) would probably die if I tried to FRAPS it.

Credit goes to Myrkridian, whose thief video of handling Liadri gave me the initial inspiration for continuing to plod away at her for umpteen times and eventually develop a method for handling phase 1 without needing to time dodges with pinpoint precision.

Of course, this is not the only way to attempt Liadri, but just sharing the results of literally nigh unto 100 tickets spent in repeated attempts. Because I am a slow kitten and too n00b to do it in like the first try or even a mere seventeen attempts. But hey, if I can do it with lots of persistence, you can too!

Best of luck to everyone attempting her!

GW2: Aetherblade Retreat Strategies

I take it you’ve read Dulfy’s guide for a basic overview.

We’re going to be talking team roles here for smoother, less agonizing runs.

Just to clarify here, this is not the ultimate strategy guide, follow or else kind of thing. I believe in multiple strategies working well and GW2 supports that. If you play with various guilds and preset dungeon groups, one will tend to find that these closed groups evolve their own set of strategies that work perfectly well. This is just to help those who are close to beating their head in after failing multiple PUGs and wondering if there is -any- rhyme or reason to this dungeon.

There is.

I mean, you could just run in all willy nilly and hope that everyone magically synergizes and all will be well. But judging by the amount of failure cases and party members bailing mid fight and GW2LFG posts that read “at such-and-such boss, need 1 or 2 or 3 more,” here’s what I’ve observed so far:

There’s basically “It” and “Not-It.”

That is, the person whom the mobs are focusing on is “it.” This person usually has the highest toughness of the group. You are the de facto tank. No matter what your class is. Stop screaming and learn how to play it well.

The other people who are “not-it,” that does not mean you can relax and leave “it” to scream and die. If “it” dies, another one will become “it.” And so on until all of you are dead. Your role is a damage-support hybrid.

I speak of support in a very broad sense. Broader than even the typical GW2 use. I don’t care if your version of support is killing the mobs very very fast in all berserker gear, but if you choose to do that, you better do it very well. Better yet is if you can slot some group condition removal or blinds/dazes/interrupts/controls or reflects at certain points in the dungeon, and/or ways to buff up the party and debuff the mobs with conditions, along with doing damage.

All of you will need to move well. Or at least, competently enough.

Aetherblade Trash Mobs

Generally not too big an issue. Taskmasters confuse, so if your group loves to put stuff on auto-attack, it’s a good mob to prioritize killing first, if you’re not just going to AoE ’em all down in tons of cleaves and blasts. Projectile reflection and absorption appear to help mitigate some of the damage from the ranged Aetherblade mobs too.

The pain happens in the spawns with Aetherblade Strikers in them. Their lightning channel is not a projectile. It WILL kill your tank unaided. Especially if two are on him/her, with everything else. Support support support. Offtank it or get a pet to, daze/stun them, blind the eff out of them, pull them, interrupt them, focus fire, whatever. It’s especially fun with a taskmaster in the mix as well, call targets if possible. Prioritize both of these, one after the other.

The Practice Room With Thumpers and Cannon Fire

If your team is awesome, you could really just charge into it all and sidestep the cannon aoe. It may be good practice for some people.

My random team here kindly demonstrates two possible ways to chokepoint the mobs and avoid the majority of cannon fire. I’m sure there’s more.

Just hanging in the corner and/or running under the bridge/staircase also works to LOS stuff, but cannon fire may hit.

cornersandchokepoints

Please learn the art of the corner pull if you do not know how. This means everyone gets out of sight, preferably in the same spot behind a corner, so that ranged mobs will walk towards you.

The tank, or just a ranged guy, range attacks the mobs and then trots back around the corner with everyone. The mobs will cheerfully follow and you can then pile on with melee and AoE. Just keep an eye open for cannon fire in case some person gets out of position accidentally. Corners and GW2 camera angles can lead to blind spots.

Mid Boss – Champion Frizz and Golems and Lasers, Oh My

Some groups may prefer to clean up all the adds before working on Frizz. Others may simply start off the lasers by lowering Frizz’s health to the requisite amount. Apparently the adds die from the lasers after a while. I’m not 100% sure on that last, but certainly after a while, they seem to die in all my groups – whether it’s from teammates killing them or not, dunno. Doesn’t really matter, imo.

Phase 1 – Low Lasers

Yes, you can jump on the crates and stay there and range.

All except IT, that is.

If the aggro-holding person remains rooted on a crate, what will happen is every time the laser spins around, the golem will get a shield buff and block attacks.

Yes, you can just autoattack your way through it and wait for the buff to fall and damage it intermittently between laser spins. It’ll work, but it’ll be annoying.

Ideally, de facto tank should be running in an anti-clockwise fashion, following the laser spin and kiting the golems away from the laser. Your role is not so much as to do damage, but to a) not die, b) try and dodge or stability, or just stay far away enough through potential pulls which may screw up your nice pattern.

This leaves the golems free of the shield buff, leading to faster dead golem. All the rest should be a) not dying, b) attacking unshielded golem.

Having been caught umpteen times in a laser just as it starts up, I decided to begin screenshotting start locations. I believe this is roughly where the low laser starts. Keep an eye out for the black beam/fence thing in the center, that's where the laser shoots from.
Having been caught umpteen times in a laser just as it starts up, I decided to begin screenshotting start locations. I believe this is roughly where the low laser starts. It could be random, not sure as yet. Anyhow, keep an eye out for the black beam/fence thing in the center, that’s where the laser shoots from. The entrance of the lab is roughly on the right side of this image.

Phase 2 – Laser Wall

Same idea here, except all the not-its cannot just camp out on a crate.

Run around the room. Don’t die to the laser wall. Shoot or melee golems. Don’t get in the way of their spin attack or their pull. Help “it” stay alive. Watch confusion and dat autoattacking.

I believe this is roughly the location of the laser wall start. Note how the appearance of the center column changes, it may be a good cue to look out for in the future. I normally never see that because I'm too fixated staring at the laz0r making sure I'm not running into it. Also note how the laser extends across the whole room in a straight line and rotates.
I believe this is roughly the location of the laser wall start. Note how the appearance of the center column changes, it may be a good cue to look out for in the future. I normally never see that because I’m too fixated staring at the laz0r making sure I’m not running into it.
Also note how the laser extends across the whole room in a straight line and rotates as one line, not clock hands.

Phase 3 – ALL OF TEH LAZ0RS

I want to point out something rather obvious that I personally never saw while I was running/screaming/dying as the tank. The lasers go in a straight line across the room.

That means you only have to keep an eye out for essentially two lasers and that sneaky low beam laser, well, if you see one side, you can roughly extrapolate where the other side is and how soon it is creeping up behind you. It is not two evil low laser beams acting like clock hands that sweep at random speeds out to get you and have to be madly jump-crated (which was my first impression of it.)

That also means that you can then evaluate whether you want to stay on the crate and let the low laser sweep by you, or hop off immediately on the safer side (the side where the low laser will move past), or if you have to jump to the risky side (the side a low laser will be approaching) and make a mad dash to a further away crate – the latter option in cases where say, the laser wall is about to squeeze you in if you jump to the safe side.

Ok? Same deal. Tank guy should be kiting the golems away from the lasers as best as possible. Should, anyhow. Focusing on not-dying is, frankly, I think the best thing to do in this phase. Try and get the laser pattern down, jump on crates and off them appropriately, keep as near the front as the laser beams will allow.

Everybody else. Also focus on not fucking dying (easier said than done, I know) and watching out for the shield buff to drop to unleash your attacks on the golem. When you are confused, do not attack yourself to death. Just look away from the damn golems and look at the lasers and stay alive.

The pull is a nuisance that gets in the way and will screw things up here and there. Stability helps, but you know, it will never be 100% uptime. Bad luck happens.

If “it” dies, role swap time! New “it” gets to be the tank and kiter! On and on until there were none. (Either way, no golems or no more players.)

Of course, if you are full of awesome, you might even be able to solo the golems.  But then, you wouldn’t be needing to read guides like this.

Final Boss – Horrik and Mai Trin

This is really a fight about aggro control and positioning.

Mai Trin bleeds if you stay in her melee range. That means, if your teammates plan on getting close, and even in the case where you don’t but want to prevent accidents, bring lots of group condition removal. My suggested help out time is when bleed stacks hit 10-12.

Tank person who is it. Your job is to be kiting Mai Trin. Possibly at range. At preferably just a little further away than her melee range. You want to be kiting her over the electrical blue AoEs that will pop up when Horrik shoots his stuff.

Not-its. You generally want to get as close to Mai Trin as possible as well, be it range or melee, so that if and when Horrik shoots his AoE and it happens to be a blue one, it’s easier for tank person to kite it over. As her shield stacks fall off to 6 or lower, she starts taking damage and it is possible if very very slow to lower her hp down, regardless of whether more shields pop off or no. If you want it faster, then you have to take more risks to getting the blue aoe to overlap on her.

Once conditions start landing on her, one can cripple or chill to slow down her movement over the blue aoe as well, or if you’re really sophisticated, you can play with taking off her 5 stacks of defiant and then dazing her over the aoe and so on.

One interesting spin-off role that a good “not-it” can play, that I’ve been evolving, is a way to control the damage done by Mai Trin’s shadowstepping. You are THE FURTHEST PERSON. Please make sure you can dodge and observe her animations. If you can block consistently (or leave mesmer clones to absorb the attack or whatever), even better.

See, what usually happens is that the “worst” or most nervous and/or squishiest or lowbie character in the group gets all twitchy and starts edging further and further away from the mess. Before you know it, BOOM, she shadowsteps into that person and eats him or her for lunch. Then now everyone has to drop everything and waste time rezzing, and when you rez, you risk becoming the furthest person and ZAP, another teleport happens and… well, it gets MESSY.

My theory is, what if we prearrange a good or at least, sturdy player to be that furthest person? Note, this cannot be it, or the tank. A not-it gets to step up.

Your job is to arrange yourself so that you are the furthest person at all times. You primarily watch out for her animations (which can be hard with all the particle effects flying) and do your best to dodge (forwards, seems best) when you see her do the characteristic finger point which means she’s going to come to you. If you manage to time it right, and the projectile hits during your dodge invincibility frame, you seem to actually block it and she doesn’t teleport at all. If it’s not timed right, well, at least you’re out of the way and won’t get too bled up when she comes over. Have condition removals for her bleed and cripple in event of accidents. She will then promptly go right back to IT. (Secondarily, you can do damage as well, of course.) If you have blocks on demand, this makes your life even easier.

Me experimenting with the idea in a PUG after our level 45 elementalist consistedly died to the point of being naked. I started out in axe/horn, not the greatest for actually doing any damage, but I was testing out the idea first. I later went closer and into rifle range as I got the hang of it. Also, the GWAMM tanking this was an engineer. There was another warrior and a guardian in the party.
Me experimenting with the idea in a PUG after our level 45 elementalist consistedly died to the point of being naked. I started out in axe/horn, not the greatest for actually doing any damage, but I was testing it out first and wanted condition removals. I later went closer and into rifle range as I got the hang of it.
Also, the GWAMM tanking this was an engineer. There was another warrior and a guardian in the party. Players, not classes.

As for the Cannon AoE phase, there’s two methods. If you are really sure that your entire group has nearly equal ping to yours and will be applying group swiftness and group healing, and can stay all nicely neatly balled up together, you can run around the perimeter together staying ahead of the AoE. It looks really really awesome if done correctly. What usually ends up happening, just as in WvW zergs, is that you don’t get a nice neat little ball, you get a train or a snake. Someone falls behind. This someone is promptly PWNED by all the aoes that have carpetbombed the place. Depending on your group, this may end up as multiple someones.

I have actually found it much safer in PUGs, where people could be from all over the world using computers of differing quality and framerates and certainly not on voicechat and used to stacking and moving as a ball together, to do the spread out and move as little as possible method.

What usually happens is a person in each corner and one in the center, more or less. Just move the distance necessary to a clear spot away from the aoes, and stay still until the next aoe is about to hit your position. Save your dodges for when there is no way out that you can just move to. Survival rate is usually 3 or higher, which is sufficient to rez safely during the next Mai Trin and Horrik phase.

It goes without saying that one should NOT BE REZZING while the place is being napalmed. Survive first, only save people if you think you see an opportunity and are awesome. If you die doing it, then well, leave them for later next time.

Rezzing strategy: Tank/It, you do your kiting thang. Other people rez. Other people must also be KEENLY aware of Mai Trin’s finger-pointing so that one can dodge or block if you become the furthest person while rezzing.

Really, all this does is waste shitloads of time. Don’t fucking die. And if you are not awesome, don’t fucking bring your squishy lowbie into this dungeon.

Please note that in all of this, I have not expressed ANY CLASS-ISM whatsoever. Stop fucking begging for guardians and warriors or heavies. Some of them may not be IT-specced. I have seen some awesome necromancers and engineers also kite and control Mai Trin perfectly well. I’m sure other professions can do it too, I bet a mesmer could as well, just haven’t seen it in play yet – except you know all the rest tend to love sitting in berserker gear.

All it requires are players to recognize the de facto role that their party needs and be flexible.