Says It All, Really

In case anyone is wondering why I dislike on principle games that heavily stress vertical progressing stats-on-gear-make-performance-better gameplay: A Rant Over At The Grumpy Elf’s – You’d Be A Good Player, If You Had Some Gear.

Of course, it is conceivable that part of the dislike stems from the excessive and almost hostile competitive-focus of that particular game too.

A game that promotes the mentality of “if this player has more stats, it helps everyone and has no detrimental effect on your personal rewards gained” can nullify the instinctive dislike a little, though it’ll still grate when one realizes another player is only doing better because they have more numbers on their gear.

Path of Exile: Level 60, Forsaken Masters Ahoy!

When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled. Oh, brave Sir Robin!

News of the impending Forsaken Masters expansion has encouraged me to revisit Path of Exile.

Down time in GW2 helps (or rather ‘slow, not really doing much, no immediate goals’ time, since GW2 doesn’t go down for maintenance ever, and only becomes inaccessible when unforeseen technical problems crop up.)

I’m thrilled to share that my Shadow has made it to level 60.

You may or may not recall that he was previously bogged down at lvl 52, with a tendency to explode and lose a bar’s worth of experience every time a spellcaster looked at him funny. Or if he stood in melee range of something with a very big sword or hammer.

I don’t think they changed anything that affected me specifically during the few weeks that I was away from the game, but for some inexplicable reason, I felt like things seemed a little easier.

I suspect it was partly due to a subconscious change of strategy.

Playing XCOM made me realize that using corners and scenery to block attacks can still be valid in games that are not MMOs.

cornersummoning

So now, any time I feel like meleeing up-close-and-personal is not going to work, I find a handy corner.

Then I summon a stream of skeletons, which act as a passably decent wall of somewhat tanky mobs, and pop in a few raging spirits in between. (The raging spirits seem to attack for decent amounts, but are very squishy, so the skeleton distractions help.)

If all goes well, the enemy gets distracted and nickel-and-dimed to death by my mobs.

If it comes around the corner, I run screaming for another corner, quaffing heals like no tomorrow.

Ah, yes, retreat is now in my vocabulary.

I’m content to kite the things through multiple corridors of already-cleared rooms if I have to, throwing disposable skeletons in their wake to slow them down, while I work on raising slightly sturdier ghouls (which unfortunately require corpses and take a bit more prep time to summon.)

Watching DOTA 2 guide videos alerted me to the revelatory fact that getting behind your opponent allows for more time to get hits in.

Path of Exile, unfortunately, has major sync issues with skills that teleport you around the place. They’re just best not used. I used to have Whirling Blades on the bar as a get away quick mechanism, but the amount of jittery framerates and lag it can produce is just not really worth it to me any more.

What I do have, however, is Summon Skeletons, which places skeletons anywhere under your cursor.

I’ve taken to casting at least 2-4 skeletons BEHIND an enemy. This often has the welcome effect of distracting it and encouraging it to turn around to face them, offering up its vulnerable back for my stabbing. Worse case scenario, it doesn’t turn around and the skeletons get free hits in while I run around avoiding blasts and trying to stay alive.

Just watching pros juking others at DOTA 2 seems to have subconsciously affected my ability to dodge through mouse clicking, as if I’m either trying to emulate them, or I’ve suddenly realized that it’s actually possible to try and avoid attacks with a similar click-to-move control scheme.

The other part of it, I suspect,  is that old bugaboo of gear and levels.

As I started outleveling the maps, it got easier and easier. Less attacks hit through my evasive defence, I could use flasks that recovered more hp and mana, that sort of thing.

That mostly took a hefty helping of patience and plodding away.

I got more open to using the commonly-understood ‘standard’ farming maps to get some easier xp in. In Act 1, that’s places like the Ledge.

Ahh, happy ledge farming days. Thank you, Endless Ledge for teaching me this spot.
Ahh, happy ledge farming days. Thank you, Endless Ledge event races for teaching me this spot.

In Act 3, the early part before the City of Sarn, and then the Catacombs, and finally the Docks.

Before I went risky places to progress the story, I’d finish up the level I was halfway on, so that if I died, I wouldn’t be losing excessive amounts of xp.

Also, knowing that I could farm up that bar or two of lost xp quite quickly in these maps made deaths elsewhere feel a little less punishing and frustrating.

At the same time, all that farming gives decent amounts of loot to sift through.

Being voluntarily self-found (buying uniques off other players for a pittance feels like cheating to me and doesn’t really teach an understanding of the game, imo), that meant patiently sorting through junk, pulling out things that looked like they had potential, spending some currency to randomly roll up nice stats and get good linked slots.

It ends up being a fair amount of compromising, because it gets ridiculously expensive to get things optimally right.

This time, I followed the ‘understood wisdom’ again and prioritized resistances. Lots of them. Plus some +Life if at all possible.

Having 70% resistances to fire, lightning and ice went a long way towards mitigating the initial alpha strikes of the later maps’ mobs.

I could actually take 3-5 hits before exploding, which at least gives time to estimate the amount of damage coming in, and to quickly quaff a heal while hastily scrambling away out of range.

Some of my support gems had to be rearranged, or gone without, which was a little sad, but welp, can’t win them all.

In a way, it was interesting to be forced to experiment with new combinations of gems.

I tried putting Increases Minion Life on my skeletons, instead of my ghouls, and that didn’t seem to work very well at all with the way I normally play (with an entourage of 5 ghouls following me.) I swapped that back after a few close encounters.

I’d previously put Faster Attacks on my dagger attacks – having it on Venom Strike was nice, iirc. It wasn’t bad on Reave either. But then my slots changed and I couldn’t  fit it with either of those skills, and I went hunting for any other valid places to combine it.

Turns out, minion melee attacks can be buffed by Faster Attacks too. I only had a free slot for my Raging Spirits, but now they attack 33% more quickly, which seems to be working out fairly well for me too. (Like a permanent GW2 mesmer time warp on them, mwahaha.)

I got a few levels under my belt, then went through the rest of the Cruel Difficulty maps, marveling at the change of feel. Heck, I even managed to down Piety without dying, which is doubtless utterly standard for normal PoE players, but quite a feat for a noob like me.

Even the Dominus fight went well, all his preliminary attendant bosses were patiently kited one by one and dealt with patiently, with plenty of dodging around and kiting… right up to the final phase, anyway. When he went into his final form, and that damnable blood rain started, I looked at my xp bar, which was 3/4 of the way to the next level and sighed.

I knew I could just walk out and go farm up the rest of it before dealing with him again, but I was already -there- and committed. I also knew I didn’t have any chaos resistance worth speaking of, and that it would be even more farming and grinding to put together a semblance of stuff that worked.

But what the hell, right? If I got through to Merciless Difficulty, I suspected that I’d be able to get to the Ledge eventually, where a bountiful harvest of xp would await me.

So I repeated the same ignoble ‘feat’ of dying, reviving, teleporting, stabbing him a few times while letting all my summons get a few hits in, total party wiping, reviving, resummoning, re-entering, getting re-teleported to him and attacking and rinsing and repeating.

Whatever works.

I hear there’s builds that utilizes a skill gem called Cast on Death. Yep, literally you kamikaze bomb something. And some folks have managed to get it all optimally linked to the point of it being able to deal 1.6 million damage, one-shotting bosses.

Your standard easy-mode PvE MMO player fears death and set-backs a ton. Player death feels terrible, even before you throw in old time hardcore stuff like losing equipment and needing corpse retrievals, or losing tons of xp (or worse, levels) that have to be ground back up. That’s one of the reasons why FFA PvP full loot games are so scary to us.

My little experimental forays into games with the threat of loss attached are teaching me one thing that probably all Eve Online players know, or are forced to learn in a hurry.

Never bet or risk anything more than you’re willing and can afford to lose.

It takes a bit of learning on each game to feel out the limits on this.

A permadeath quickie game like Realm of the Mad God can risk a lot, but you can build a farming character up quite quickly in an hour or so, and figure out that it’s best to farm potions on a throwaway for your desired ‘main.’

A game like Path of Exile means figuring out how to quickly get back the xp you’re bound to lose at some point, and to try and keep risky attempts near the start of a level, while doing non-risky farming activities when you’re trying to get to the next level.

I’m still not really willing to risk my stuff on a game where other players can take things away from me, since that always sounds like a grind to build up lots of throwaway items to trundle around with and risk losing through no fault of my own, but for games where my deaths are either my fault or at worse, lag’s fault, I can deal with that.

Anyhow, I essentially ‘paid’ 3/4 of a level to defeat Dominus on Cruel Difficulty because I was too lazy and disinclined to pause and take a break.

And I was totally all right with that. I knew the cost going in, up front.

I got into Merciless Difficulty, celebrated a little, did some killing of random stuff,  died once or twice accidentally, then got into a groove and got back that 3/4 of a level. Ta da! Problem solved!

Now I’m back to being bogged down again in the early beginnings of Act 2, Merciless.

Whee.

At least I know what to do this time.

pisspoorresist

Behold, my glorious resistances on Merciless.

On Cruel, which imposes a global -20% to resistances, I was pulling 70%+ resist with my current gear.

My current gear on Merciless, with a global -60% to resistances, well…  UGH.

I admit to being a bit at my wit’s end on how I’m going to stack more, as I’m already relying on lucky rolls like my boots with 30%+ fire and cold resist mods.

I suspect that I may have to change things around to focusing on -one- resist, as and when each map needs it.

I more or less did that for cold resist when facing Merveil, and that -seemed- to work somewhat well.

I think the other possibility is bringing along a specific resist flask for the specific map, so that I can quaff that just before doing an important fight and dealing with a bad alpha strike. Resist flasks don’t really last for a long time though. UGH.

My gear is, of course, also woefully underleveled by this point, since I’ve hit level 60.

I suspect a patient farming pause is in order.

I’m hoping the Forsaken Masters update might help. Apparently, they will be introducing new NPCs that you can work towards building a sort of faction rep for, and that will unlock new crafting options like being able to add specifically chosen mods to items.

This sounds a hell of a lot more attractive than just randomly relying on RNG, though it will no doubt be quite expensive. We’ll see.

My hope is that they recognize that low-level players kind of need an in-between alternative to keep them occupied, and help them gear up at various level ranges,  if they don’t just buy uniques off various shop bots sitting around. Hopefully upgrading and crafting low level equipment will be possible and affordable, with these new systems, while still keeping the super-awesome high-level stuff as a golden carrot very hard to get to for those crazy enough to desire chasing them.

Naturally, the Forsaken Masters update is also going to come with a complete rework of the part of the skill tree that directly affects my most high-leveled character. Go figure.

Shadow and Witch areas are apparently going to be reworked. I do hope this doesn’t mean that my weird-ass summoner dual-wield dagger-stabby build is going to be invalidated or impossible to achieve, because I’m kind of fond of it.

On the bright side, I don’t think it’s possible for a reworked skill tree to get myself any worse off, being all noob and newb when I chose my options, so a free complete respec is going to be quite the gift horse.

The bad news is that it’s entirely possible for me to screw it up a second time, since I wouldn’t have the advantage of slowly leveling through the skill tree and figuring out how to work with what I chose.

Welp. I guess we’ll see. Worse case scenario is I adapt my strategies to whatever my new build becomes.

There’s also the last resort of throwing out the character, but I believe I’m a little more stubborn than that.

GW2: The Other Spectrum of Handholding

Lest it be said that I am not an equal opportunity fun-poker…

…here’s what might happen in a game which gives you plenty of choice, rather than forcing you and leading you by the nose down a 12-step program.

First Lvl 80 in GW2 – How Do I Get Good Gear?

gw2gearinghumor

I did have it in mind to make a beautiful-looking 12-step attunement-like chart that shows off the range of choice and alternatives for doing so.

But that would actually take -work- and time.

While that is on the backburner, if you did somehow stumble onto this looking for real help:

  • Get a set of Soldier’s exotics from the Orr Temples for karma, or from WvW using badges of honor.
  • Get a set of Berserker’s exotics and weapons from WvW, dungeons, crafting or the TP.
  • Get exotic Berserker trinkets from crafting, the TP, or look into your Ascended options with laurels, WvW badges and guild commendations.

Those should -generally- stand you in decent stead for most power builds for dungeoneering and basic WvW until you have more time and experience to get all finesse and experimental with condition builds or more toughness/vitality/healing WvW builds.

And guess what, those won’t obsolete in a hurry with every new raid boss released! They’ll be good for a long time until you -choose- to upgrade them with fancy schmancy Ascended options.

GW2: How’s the Flavor of the Month?

It’s only been ten days.

That didn’t really sink in until I started re-checking the dates of the Lost Shore launch (Nov 16-18) and looking at the calendar now, it’s Nov 27.

Less than a fortnight since the FOTM (*ahem* Fractal of the Mists…) dungeon opened, with its unique take on trying to keep a dungeon instance fresh.

Some of it involves randomizing the dungeon instances faced, randomizing the paths within the instance, ramping up some of the mechanics in a later tier so that what worked before might not work as well as it gets harder, throwing in special Agony damage that has a specific resistance counter to be ground for and incremented slowly, and so on.

Mix in GW2’s non-holy trinity approach to combat and the downed/rez mechanic. Take out individual waypoint death rezzing and streaming back in. Toss in a little more coordination, teamwork and communication requirements, including some multiple player synchronizing stuff simultaneously mechanics.

How am I finding it?

Not too bad, actually.

I suspect I’m fairly middle of the road on my FOTM progress. Compared to the hardcore dungeon runners, I’m no doubt below average, since they’ve raced up to the 20s and 30s by now. Compared to the distinctly more casual crowd, I’m perhaps just slightly ahead.

Objectively, I’m currently at fractal level 13, having 64 fractals under my belt (so says the achievements bar.)

I assume it only counts completed ones, there were a couple abandoned ones. It does say something for the Guild Wars 2 PUG crowd that I can count the abandoned ones on one hand at the moment – there were only 4 or 5 teams that dissolved without success.

2 or 3 of those were no hard feelings ones. Either we tried and couldn’t manage the coordination (eg. Failing to coordinate Swampland in the early days knocked one or two members out, which led to a party dissolving) or someone crashed/disconnected and the group lost steam from there.

The last two were nightmare PUGs, which have made me a little leery of looking for fractals at a certain timeslot on my home server and when faced with members from a guild best left unnamed.

One of them started out quite promising, save for one party member who was distinctly squishy, but we were still getting by with multiple rezzing him until the Cliffside colossus’ final boss. Teams have lately been using the ‘kill seal at 75%’ glitch to get by, and pretty much when you’re in a PUG, there’s no choice but to go along.

On that particular occasion, the seal failed to take damage, leading us to attempt the slow way, but by then an incredible amount of chanters and fanatics and veterans had spawned while members were running around like headless chickens trying a strat that failed to work. No one had any agony resistance then, there was that always squishy member to keep picking up, and midway through, the cages decided to add insult to injury and bug out with unbreakable doors, leading to some very trapped and eventually pancaked team members.

To give us due credit, we did keep trying through umpteen deaths/rezzes/restart from checkpoints until we started becoming naked – I lost three pieces of armor, another member mentioned they’d lost two. That was the point I decided to call it, because it was becoming absurd. Fortunately, repairs were ‘only’ 11 silver or so. Not something I’d want to repeat often, or indeed, ever again, but I managed to afford it without flinching too much.

The other left an extremely bad taste in my mouth, and the less details the better, imo. Suffice to say, there was little to no communication or attempt at understanding each other, there was an underlying holy trinity expectation that my Guardian would ‘tank’ (with little to no support, mind you, and I’m not in the standard altruistic healing build, which I’d love to try some day but am hoping dual builds and equipment changes make it in to make switching back and forth more convenient first,) there were insults and blame thrown, overt insinuations of incompetency and threats to kick from party as a first line of communication (little hint: stuff like that causes anger and conflict more than cooperation and coordination, try mild questions and explanations next time) and the party essentially fragmented into two fairly frustrated sides that refused to rez each other promptly (or indeed, at all, later.)

Now that was one PUG that essentially proved the necessity of teamwork in Fractal of the Mists by providing a negative example. Each side attempted to demonstrate their strategy shorthanded, without the entire team on the same page, and failed quite naturally. I hightailed it out of there very quickly after the implosion, with two people on my block list, because there’s no way they and I are ever going to work together again without attempting to kill each other.

The only thing I’d say in my defence is that I didn’t start the quarrel first and did not immediately quit/abandon the team when the first accusation and threat to kick started flying, though it was -very- tempting.

Fortunately, that was the only truly bad PUG experience I’ve had, which is probably pretty amazing when compared against other MMOs – some of whom I hear are like a revolving door when it comes to PUG members hurling abuse and leaving teams.

Some days, I wonder what keeps me going on the Fractals…

At first, it was the newness and the novelty and the learning experience. During the first few days, I had an incredibly fun time hovering around levels fractal 1-3, learning and figuring out how to handle each new and different fractal with their little randomized twists and quirks in a group that was also generally new to it all. Some groups were information trades, where the one guy who’d done the fractal before would explain to the rest of us how to handle it, and then we’d swap roles when he hadn’t done it and we had. I also hopped back down a couple levels lower to run with and guide those newer to the whole affair.

Past level 5 or so, the speed at which one raced through the levels was quite stunning, as one starts meeting people who have already learned the general understood strategy (though interestingly, there are some differences across servers and various groups) and can execute efficiently.

Post 10+, there seems to be another learning curve as certain ramped up mechanics make things less forgiving and agony starts pressuring people with less perfect timing. I’m starting to feel the beginnings of differentiation between good builds and teamwork and the opposite.

Since this dungeon is in effect infinite, there are, no doubt, levels where they become not just helpful, but important, critical or essential.

I’m honestly not sure if I want to go -that- far into those levels if/when a cookie cutter build becomes required. I’ll probably still try to hit 20+, but with less urgency, and let it plateau from there. Then as I feel like it, go for the dailies and try my luck on the pink ring stuff while seeing if I ever get to the point of managing a pink back item.

FOTM has received some flack for its incredible segregation of players with its ridiculous number of levels. I have to agree that this is of some concern. Beyond the obvious absurdity of Lion’s Arch spam for fractal #, people have pointed out the problem of latecomers facing an uphill challenge to persuade enough people to help them progress (similar to how the mid-level zones are now considerably emptier and late levelers are probably never going to see an underwater group event boss fight successfully complete) as well as the possibility that players may eventually spread across fractal levels according to their competency level.

On that last point, I have to say, it’s a bit of a Catch-22, sort of like how the Glicko ratings for WvW are causing servers to face the same opponents week after week, potentially becoming ‘stagnant and boring.’

I think… that is the overall intent of the design. So it is kinda… working as intended. But with potentially undesirable consequences.

On one hand, it does rather make sense that the most hardcore of the hardcore and/or the regular guild mates who always play together at set times and happily supercharge their builds for peak synergy would enjoy playing together at rarefied levels of the same dungeon on crazy hard mode, rather than hobnobbing with the merely average or be driven crazy by those playing at a less serious level than they.

The average players will get by at whatever the middle of the road turns out to be. But it does leave the time-starved at the bottom of the level ladder to be plagued by a higher proportion of the inadvertently incompetent, with potentially a lot more horrible a PUG experience for all involved. Not that I’m blaming the less skilled here, as the bulk of people can eventually learn, given time, practice, patience, good guidance and so on. How many will stick it out though, I’m not sure.

Still, I can’t think of a great solution to this either. If you include enticements for the veterans to go play with the newbies once more, you also run the risk of having the ‘gogogogo’ impatient vet scream at the less experienced and making stuff equally unpleasant. It may just have to boil down to finding guilds, finding friends, and/or lucking into the benevolent individual who doesn’t mind running stuff at a lower level for fun and teaching others. After all, there -is- a daily chest for each tier.

And it may be that as folks start finding the level of difficulty that they’re comfortable with, they will pause there and keep running an even level for the daily (2, 8, 10, 20, 30?), which may help keep the demand and groups flowing… though those who need to increment through the levels are still SOL.

One thing that has me somewhat gratified. ArenaNet has obliquely acknowledged that having Ascended gear only released and obtainable through one activity is not the most desirable of scenarios. This hearkens back to City of Heroes where Incarnate stuff was -only- available through grouping with a horde of people for an extended period of time – screw you if you hate that activity. I complained rather bitterly about that, and I believe the same principle applies here, even if I don’t mind five-person PUGs the same way I do mind putting up with and being herded through 24-man chaos just for the reward. Please let the WvWers, the farmers, the soloists, the traders, the explorers or whatever playstyles all have ways to get Ascended items, thanks. (I leave out sPvP only because they are thankfully still unaffected by the hooha, thanks to their stat segregation.)

As for my take on the Ascended tier being the new max stat level? As of now, I’m still kinda neutral. I did like the old Guild Wars 1 max level max stat ease, but it is very much a different kind of game. Progression there was through missions, zones and hard mode content, as well as unlocking a huge amount of skills and unlocking/dressing up one’s heroes. Guild Wars 2 can’t provide that. (Not yet, anyway.)

And while I myself would have been fine working on leveling all eight professions, getting them kitted out in exotics and maaaybe getting to a legendary a year or two later, I have to admit that there’s a -large- proportion of players who like to stick with only one main, refuse to ever touch PvP, want to feel incremental numerical progress and have reachable goals to strive for. If they dismissed Legendary as impossible to get, and achieved Exotic too quickly, there’s naught for them to do but promptly quit. So Ascended is created as the tier for them, and we all have to live with that.

GW2: The Controversy of “Grind”

208 hours later on a single GW2 character, up creeps a growing pressing need to switch things up a little. I’ll be doing a short post on what else I’ve been playing soon.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still intend to play a lot more hours on GW2 – I’m barely at 47% world completion, there are about 75% jumping puzzles still unseen and unsolved, taunting me, and I basically still enjoy wandering around the world, soaking up the lore and the scenery and grabbing screenshots of everything, plus WvW and sPvP. I like ’em all.

I can’t help but notice that there seem to be a ton of people who have retreated back to the GW2 Guru and official forums to start bitching and whining about everything under the sun, though, and most of those complaints seem to have to do with “boredom” and feeling “forced” to “grind” for endless hours to get to the uber max of uber maxness.

*sighs*

I don’t want to swing that ugly word of “entitlement” around because it’s too easy a cop out.

Also, I can’t help but notice a certain similarity of protest and reaction with my rabid loathing of what City of Heroes did with their Incarnate raids, even though this time I’m on the side of the “fanboys” and apt to just shrug and ignore it.

However, I do want to point out that my issue was more of a lack of alternative choice/option for a different playstyle (not liking mass group content) who would also like to be an Incarnate.

Conversely, the big PvE issue of max stat exotic armor has a ton of alternative choice. Enjoy the DEs? Karma will get you there in the end. You can also craft exotic armor. You can buy exotic armor off the trading post, which is the fastest and easiest shortcut method. Like dungeons? Enough tokens will also get you there. I haven’t looked, but I suspect WvW may also have an option handy.

The next issue that this argument always segues into is a disagreement on the amount of TIME it should be taking. Way too long, is what the unhappy are complaining about. On this, I have some sympathy. Back in CoH, a bunch of us were fairly rabid for a while regarding the pathetic exchange rate of solo Incarnate earning power versus someone who just jumped into a group and closed their eyes and pressed random buttons for 15-20 minutes. Though I think the most galling thing was the perceived lack of respect for our preferred playstyle and a distinct disparity of faced challenge/difficulty level versus reward.

Honestly, I don’t really feel that disparity in GW2. Crafted exotic armor is basic, looks okay and works. That’s the baseline. Karma exotic armor is going to take a longer time to accrue, but not at that high a difficulty challenge, so that seems more or less fair. The sobbing mostly comes due to the dungeon exotic armors – which appear to be meant to take a pretty damn long time, and involve a high level of challenge in group coordination. The additional cosmetic aesthetic reflects that.

I think it’s intended that you feel pretty special when you get one piece of exotic armor (and over the moon if you ever get a legendary) but the baseline of these unhappy players seem to be set at a much higher level. Being decked out in exotic armor from tip to toe seems to be the expected thing, so correspondingly, they get upset when they learn it’s going to take at least a month or more.

(Me, on the other hand, I’m carrying a set of decent stat yellows around for dungeons and WvW and slowly upgrading it with crafted or karma exotics, I got the shoulders swapped out and nuthing more. I also wander around in PvE zones in an el cheapo blue and green magic find gear left over from crafting, studded with slightly less cheapo major runes giving magic find, with omnomberry bars to hand (whoever thought of that berry name is awesome) and manage just fine, with a yellow weapon or two.  I -just- swapped two of the pieces to yellow rare Explorer’s yesterday after checking my bank and going, oh hey, there’s 30 sharp claws in here! Yes!)

I’m not sure there’s that much to worry about. In dungeons, how well you play and your build and how cooperatively your entire team works together will help you survive a whole lot longer than slightly better armor. I’ve successfully gone through explorable modes in yellows (and before that, in blues and greens) and no one can “inspect” you to be all huffy about it either. (If anyone ever demands for linkage, I’ll group them with the groups who keep on chatting LFG guardian/warrior on my avoid-list, thanks.)

In WvW, while you may very well have an advantage 1 vs 1 or 2 decked out in very shiny armor at level 80 versus some random lowbie in blues, all that orange glamor is not going to help that much when a zerg of 10-20 or 60 rushes into you. It’s a lot more about group organization and coordination. Some siege equipment would do a hell of a lot more damage to that wall or door, fer instance.

Perhaps it’s just the style of game that promotes a mindset of acceptance in me. Guild Wars 1 has a long history of long-term goals, some of which should be attempted only by the most insane or the most completist. GWAMM, fer instance. Legendary Defender of Ascalon wasn’t that easily achievable either. To this date, I have neither of those, nor does many of those who played GW1, I’m sure. But some have achieved them. That scarcity makes it all the more special to them, no doubt. And I don’t have a problem with that, I can still enjoy the game without those titles.

I guess the problem for some comes when you layer a cosmetic skin on as a reward, rather than a title. For some reason, words are easily dismissed, but something so visually shiny is harder to bear for them. (I do fine looking el cheapo in Glitch, but judging by the number of players who have paid money for credits to dress up their toons, there’s a huge pool of folks who love customization and self expression and possibly keeping up with the Joneses.)

I can’t really help there because I have the ultimate cosmetic cheese-out solution in the form of the HoM. Whatever the hell I’m wearing, if I hate the look, I can make it look shiny enough with those bonus skins. (And I still get tells about that flaming dragon sword.)

But I think some examination of the cheaper crafted armor skins and mix-and-matching with cheap stuff bought off the trading post and free transmutation stones would probably work as a stop gap measure.

Perhaps things will get better when they finally start selling costume and transmutation skins in the gem shop.

Oh, don’t gasp, GW1 has a history of that too. And lemme tell you, those skins can look absolutely gorgeous. I wear ’em in preference over armor any day. I look forward to all the bitching and whining about unfairness that will start up when that happens – little tip, save up those gems if you can’t convert spare irl cash readily!

Finally, there’s the issue of just not liking the style of game. Seriously guys (and gals), if the lore or the environment or the aesthetic just leaves you cold, don’t bother following the hype and being disappointed later, you just won’t want to play it. Period.

I got nothing invested in WoW lore. I disapprove of the holy trinity and the endless raid/gear grind and achievement mechanic. I only fiddled with it up to level 60 during Cataclysm because I was bored and wanted to experience the fluidity of WoW combat, but I knew it wasn’t going to last. Two months, mild entertainment, no hard feelings. Done. Got my money’s worth.

If you got nothing invested in GW2 lore, disapprove of the control/support/damage trinity and the explore/wander time-based grind mechanic and don’t like DEs, jumping puzzles, dungeons, WvW, PvP – then… why keep playing?

On that note, I’m going to repost my thoughts on “grinding” from an earlier post, which I’m sure barely anyone read, because it was a wall of text regarding A Tale in the Desert:

On “Grinding”

I believe there is no such thing as “grind” as long as you are aware of your own feelings and reactions and honest with yourself.

1) Are you taking any pleasure in the -present- activity you are doing? (Not looking forward to what you’ll feel when you reach the end, but actively, what you’re doing, do you like it?)

If you’re neutral, or just tolerating it, that’s a warning sign. Do ask yourself if the long-term gain will be worth it or if you might regret it later. And be on the lookout for emotional progress to…

Actively loathing is bad. Stop, stop now, before it’s too late and you ruin the activity for yourself for good. Take a break, go do something else. Come back only when you can honestly answer yes to the question, being neutral isn’t good enough once you’ve ever started hating the activity before.

2) Whenever you start feeling bored with the repetition, even though you do think the activity still has its positive sides, stop and do something else. Don’t ever try to ‘work’ through it or push yourself through a bad spot. It doesn’t work. Burnout lurks behind that self-rationalizing corner. It’s a game, it’s not meant to be a chore or an obligation.