To call it merely a jumping puzzle does it a serious injustice.
What it is, is an entire cavern system that only happens to contain a jumping puzzle.
I spent far more time squeeing over the vast variety of cave environments depicted so adeptly than worrying about jumping.
I also spent an equally long time on the outdoor aboveground portions, taking grand panoramic screenshots of the Silverwastes from angles to die for.
(Yes, there were also plenty of impact craters.)
I’m glad that feedback from Not So Secret appears to have been taken to heart. Near the later stages, a skritt will helpfully rez you so that frustrated raging and having to restart right from the beginning due to one unlucky slip is not necessary.
The gigantic thing is broken up into milestones, that essentially can save your progress over gameplay sessions, if you remain in the map. My first exploration took me through 3 milestones before I ran out of time and had to quit. I’d assumed I’d have to rerun the thing from the beginning, but no, when I logged back on, I still had the 3 milestone stacks, along with my coin buff.
The coin buff is an interesting exercise in self-chosen player difficulty mixed with a goldsink.
If you pay the NPC 1 gold, you get a buff that lasts for an hour that lets you use any handy skritt tunnels (conveniently placed near post-plummeting locations) to go back to the last milestone.
If you’re a more miserly individual, you can pay 1 silver to get a teleport to the second last milestone and 1 copper to the third last.
I started out paying a silver because I’m cheap, but near the end, because I was so captivated with exploring and iterating my way through the new stuff of each checkpoint, I coughed up the gold so as not to waste my own time.
And yes, I did the entire thing sans Dulfy guide, because content like this is chicken soup for my mapping and exploration soul, with the reward of wonderous vistas and the satisfaction of forging your own path through.
(Though the last part was indeed slightly hair-pullingly frustrating from the many false trails/choices that landed you at the beginning of that checkpoint.)
What I didn’t really like was the randomness of the choice, with little indication of what the “right” tunnel to hop into was.
I got past that frustrating portion by calling on my infinite patience when it comes to being more bullheadedly stubborn a mapper than the designer. There’s only a finite number of paths they can create, right? Well, we are brute-forcing EVERY path to figure out where each leads!
So I hunkered down, resigned myself to restarting from the bottom many times, and systematically went down every damn skritt tunnel to see where it would go.
Maybe I was being stupid and missed an obvious clue, but I don’t believe there was any real indication of the ‘right’ path.
The good news was that I didn’t have to pull out the pencil and graph paper.
After being essentially forced to iterate from the start a dozen times over, simple visual memory was taking over and locking in landmarks to differentiate one section of the puzzle from another.
“Oh yeah, with these two ramps here, the correct tunnel is X. And the one over here with the bright yellow sand area and the two planks, do NOT go to Y or there will be a great gnashing of the teeth. Instead run over to Z, which is way over there, yes.”
All in all, this seems to be the biggest slice of content that arrived in the Seeds of Truth patch, assuming one doesn’t cheapen it by just blindly following a guide. (Of course, if you hate stuff like this and just want the shiny at the end, then guide away to waste your time less.)
I forsee figuring out how to get all the Gold Lost Badges (a few of which I passed while doing the jumping puzzle, tauntingly placed out of reach) will take another hefty chunk of time, along with a hefty chunk of gold from waypoint fees from failed assumptions on where to climb, and simple failures to balance appropriately on the tip of a pin.
All good though. Finishing the jumping puzzle netted me 16 already. I expect another trip through the puzzle keeping the ctrl key down and eyes open might net a few more.
If one is really stuck, there is always googling for the solutions of other people. But until then, I’m enjoying the satisfaction of figuring it out on my own.
(After all, this isn’t vanishing in two weeks, right?
Or maybe it might significantly change visually after a month… the whole structure should still be there, though.
Right? That whole byline about “Points of No Return” is just marketing speak… I hope.
Or maybe Mordremoth will wake, and we all know what happens when Elder Dragons move.)
Part of it was no doubt my fault for thinking I would be able to make it through without reading or watching a guide.
I ended up painstakingly working through (and falling and dying and being rezzed) bits and pieces of the path (with an odd portal here and there) all the way towards the goggles (though I consistently fell off at the last sequence of platforms.)
Absolutely stumped by the lack of visible chest, and wondering why there were so many portals up to the top of the blimp which seemed to go nowhere, I chilled out with the rest and alt-tabbed to discover that I had been missing the chest several times while up there.
That was followed by multiple attempts at the diving goggles, made palatable only by kind mesmers who had set up a sequence of portals up to the goggles. It got so bad I was freeze framing Dulfy’s video guide second by second, trying to figure out the exact spot to jump to.
Eventually, 3 hours and 20 minutes later, I lucked into somehow missing all the pipes and landing in the water alive.
I never want to do it ever again. I’ve died less times in the Aetherblade Retreat.
It started out fun, step by step trying to work out the next part of where to go. The holographic walls were a neat trick. The jump pads were fine when they worked right.
Between the cramped camera angles in some places and the jump-forward pads shooting you downward slightly when the camera wasn’t angled right, it began to get annoying.
As the jumps got less forgiving, and ended up with repeated splatters on the ground instead of being able to respawn, and tracing back long obnoxious to execute jumps in sequence, I proceeded to move on to frustration, anger and being very cheesed off.
I didn’t dare leave it for later, because of how difficult it looked, and the fear that once people had done it and moved on, there wouldn’t be others around to rez or port.
Eventually, after I sorta kinda did each stage and sequence long enough to understand the theory of what to do, even as I repeatedly failed at the execution, I gave up and made use of all the portals. Thank goodness for the community building, inclusive aspect of those things.
I pity those who will be doing this puzzle out of season, without the crowds in place. It’s doable, but it’s going to be a frustrating experience, to say the least.
Many many thanks to the generous mesmer souls who had set up portal chains from the ground to the chest, from the ground to the blimp and from the blimp to the goggles.
Many thanks to all those freely rezzing in that place – it was sometimes trickier to figure out how to get to a dead body than the next jump.
This latest batch of content is very strange. It’s hard to the point of only being able to please the small subset of people who really really like a specific sort of thing, with a small leeway for the better souls of the GW2 community to help some others who are struggling with the content, and sorry, too bad, for all those who happened to miss that sweet spot conjunction of friendly people.
(Aetherblade Retreat is like that. Obsidian Sanctum jumping puzzle is another one – I got that one because my server’s pretty populous and strong in WvW and hit a sweet season of an entire zerg in that locale, which I am sure frustrated our opponent servers at the time. Now Not So Secret too.)
I think the biggest compliment that I can give the Super Adventure Box is that I’m late in blogging about it.
Every available hour of mine was spent IN the box, playing like a madman, rather than have any leisure time to sit back and think/reflect/write about it.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
1) Group AND Solo Friendly
I don’t actually run many dungeons in GW2. Having to hook up with 4 other players and perform up to a certain standard makes me a nervous wreck, because I take quite a long time to learn and master stuff. I am thus very overjoyed to find any sort of adventure instance that can be soloed as well as grouped, and am pleased to say all the new event instances are turning out this way.
The time I’m most open to grouping is when the place is new to all. My first taste of the Super Adventure Box was taken this way, with four other friendly guildies hooked up by voice chat, and I must say, this was one of the better ways to experience the SAB when one is new.
Five excited people running in all directions at once, hopping on anything that looked jumpable. A friend at your side to help distract mobs or circle around them for additional hits. Rabid bunny killing stirred up a bunado, with resultant chaos. The better jumpers able to lead the less sure ones along the path, and help them by dropping mushrooms. Additional eyes to discover secrets, and five person coordination to get sufficient keys and hit a chest at the same time.
However, the problems of a group soon become evident as well. Different playstyles threaten to clash. We had one member who was a very good jumper and looked very interested in finding out every last secret of an area – this made him very late to any checkpoint. I consider myself a not-terribly good jumper, but also highly interested in finding out every last secret, so I alternated between falling behind and getting a little lost, joining two or three other guys at the checkpoint and milling around restlessly, and then cheerfully running out of there at the first call of the other explorer saying that he found something. Two other members seemed to be good or average jumpers, but also basic Achievement-focused, so the moment they saw a bright shiny checkpoint, they wanted to be there, rather than killing every last mob in the area. And the last was a not-terribly-great jumper either, so he too shared some of the embarrassment of being the last one to a location – for which I was fairly thankful, else it would have been me all the time.
The difference in priority could be seen at the area with two checkpoints. Three members were happy to chill out at the lower checkpoint, while the two secret hunters were eager to see what the upper checkpoint was like. This resulted in us taking some 40-60 minutes a zone, and eventually stretched the schedule limit of a number of party members, who ended up tiring of the endless jumps (and the increasing difficulty making more folks fall) near the third zone, where one or two of us were attempting the series of bouncing mushrooms that eventually would lead to the elite skill Moto’s Breath, though we didn’t know it at the time. The party broke up one checkpoint shy of King Toad.
After that, I was content to solo my way through the Super Adventure Box. It gave me a better sense of control. I could obsessively dig up every last inch of ground without feeling like I was holding up someone. It’s more of a personal challenge that way too, as you and solely you are responsible for timing your attacks and movement just right and reading and avoiding the attack patterns of the mobs. I think I spent some 7 hours in there exploring before looking up any guides – so it’s good that I didn’t force anyone else to do this with me.
I did a basic run through all the zones with infantile mode turned on, just so I could see the whole thing, kill King Toad and get the lay of the land.
It netted a heart increase, which was nice.
Then I spent some 2-3+ hours covering each zone with a fine tooth comb, also on infantile mode, working my way through the secret room and every last bauble achievements. Zone 1 was completed with no guide reference, and I gave up after some three attempts at zone 2 – first I missed a whole lot of baubles that I didn’t know existed, then the last bauble at the shortcut worm’s end stumped and taunted me, then I missed -one- secret room on my most comprehensive hours-long zone sweep (cue immense immense rage.)
I’m happy to say that I’m now very comfortable with zone 1 and 2, getting comfortable with zone 3, and am working on learning the rapids. Yesterday I switched to normal mode to get the daily chests and it went like a breeze after all the time invested getting familiar with the areas.
2) Supports Different Playstyles
I find it very amusing sometimes just how different players can be. Me, I’m playing the zones mostly because they are there (and they are NEW) and I was driven primarily by desiring the Distinction in Applied Jumping title for my asura and secondarily, by learning the area and finding cool secrets. Skins? Yeah, some are nice, and I’m sure I’ll get 50 of the special baubles before the month is out, but I’m not in a rush.
Others are driven by the desire for the skins – so you see them speedrunning the zone, going straight for the end chests, deleting and making new characters to run through SAB, or figuring out the most efficient way to farm up baubles. Not that any of this is wrong. I think it’s great that the same content is keeping a whole bunch of different playstyles amused. (Just don’t make me group with you, please.)
Different others are happy to find that skins are available on the TP and have just bought what they wanted and discarded the SAB like a rotten tomato. Or some are just farming the Super Mysterious boxes out in the open world.
3) Completely Optional / Has Alternate Means to Same Goal
See above. For those who utterly cannot jump, for whatever reason, there are still ways to get the rewards if desired.
Also, the presence of several jumping paths that will get you there in the end. There are one or two high risk dodge-jump or die places. Or take a longer route to the same place.
Zone 2 posits an interesting dilemma for me – take shortcut worm to the end, or do the longer route and dig up secret baubles (of which I can get 40 + 50 so far, and I’m sure more will be discovered as time goes by.)
4) Adjustable Difficulty Levels
Let me just say this here. THANK YOU FOR INFANTILE MODE.
It may be a slap in the face to the developer who spent all his time devising the fiendish jumps, but this is how you make your content accessible for people. Give them a stepping stone to learn and get comfortable with just absorbing a few things at one time.
To be frank, I probably would have stuck with it on normal mode as the jumps seem pitched just about right-to-challenging for my current level of skill, but I would have raged a lot more while trying for the achievements. And probably written a rant here and there about it too.
However, I have a friend whom has just gotten into the game, and I -know- his keyboard dexterity and sense of platforming timing and avatar coordination is not at my level. (This may change as he gets more familiar with the game or does a lot of jumping, but as of now, yeah..) If he and I ever get around to playing the SAB together, I’m sure there will be a lot less stress and frustration if we attempted it on the easy mode. That’s the point of one, though. So that more people can still have a similar experience with the content and have fun – if lesser rewards. And I appreciate that one can earn upgrades on easy mode so that one is better equipped for normal mode.
As for myself, after three solid days of plugging away at it with the rainbow slide to catch me if I fell, I think I’m ready to graduate to normal mode, and by next week, I probably will be happy to take on the grumpy cloud and the hinted-at may-come-in-the-near-future hard mode.
Let’s not forget our praise of the aesthetics. The bright cheerful colors brought to mind Minecraft and Super Mario immediately, I was in hysterics watching the Princess getting kidnapped intro cutscene, the 8-bit music a perfect accompaniment to all the jumping. I especially -cannot- do the Rapids area without listening to the music, it fits so well.
Even the fungus zone 3 gave me creepy Eversion vibes, which was cool.
6) Helps Me to Up My Game
I tweaked a keybind for the Super Adventure Box, can you believe it?
I was determined to learn how to dodge jump.
I’d taken dodge off V long ago, because that key is much more useful firing off a utility skill (along with X and C.)
I always double tap to evade. I’m used to it from other games, I find it fast and I can choose a direction to go in. I do jumping puzzles with it on, because I want to learn how to deal with it and not make those nervous shifting motions that always result in a dodge roll off a teeny branch into screaming falling oblivion.
But I can’t dodge jump with double tap.
After scrutinizing my keys, I decided to remove my least used “Target Ally” key on R (sorry folks, good thing you don’t often need targeted heals from me anyway) and replaced it with dodge.
After further trial and error and much cursing and swearing, I eventually got dodge jump to work about 50% of the time by striving to bang on R and space simultaneously, while going forward. It could be latency at work here, because I doubt I’ll ever get it to a point where it will work 90-100% of the time, it just doesn’t feel responsive or reliable enough. Either that or my Charr animations just don’t flip into the somersault that often because their running-on-all-fours animation conflicts with it or whatever – gonna try it on an Asura later and see if that’s better.
However, 50% of the time is functional enough to get to places I previously couldn’t.
Which is 100% better than before.
It’s interesting to note that I’ve gotten most of the obsession out of my system after nabbing the Distinction in Applied Jumping title. I actually visited WvW yesterday, something I abandoned for two days running to go SAB-crazy. I’ll probably be content to do this at a more casual pace now.
As for all those calling for it to stay for good, I’ll beg to differ. I think the sporadic event nature of it helps to draw people into it. Keeping it always available will eventually lead to it being a ghost town as players get bored and accustomed to it. I think a month is a very fair time for it to stick around. GW1 festivals were only one or two weeks or so and harder to accomplish anything with if you weren’t a daily hardcore player.
I do like the Super Adventure Box though. I like it a lot. I’ll be awaiting the next expansions to it whenever they arrive. (Just please leave baby-steps mode in.)
I liked it so much that I spent $10 on 800 gems this month and bought the no-lockbox lottery no-Mystic Toilet Super Minis to show my support for it. (I like the glow, thanks. The spider’s idle animation is awesome, I think my Asura will keep it as a pet. The monkey running animation is a great match with my on-fours Charr. The less said about the very odd Bee Dog, the better. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.)
I’m sure it pales in comparison to how much money players have been throwing at the black lion keys for fused weapon skins, but well, wallet votes are wallet votes.
Obviously, this is subjective. If the game doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t. Move on and go play with your pandas or your spaceships or your tanks or what have you.
That said, I’ve been spending the whole week involved with essentially endgame activities in Guild Wars 2. And I’m still not bored.
Hell, I’ve been saving a ton on waypoint fees because I’ve barely moved my level 80 character from one PvE zone to another like he was doing when he was gathering and crafting and working on zone completions and doing dungeons and popping in on the Claw of Jormag.
So what have I been doing instead?
Plenty of it. The best fights were nearer the start of the week, when everyone was jockeying for points and position. No one had given up yet so there were still plenty of opposing zergs forcing ‘must-react-to’ situations, and guilds on your side trying out various strategies, lots of siege being used and siege blown up, etc.
2) WvW Completion and Jumping Puzzles
As the week progressed, and our server started to dominate, the furious fights started to die off a little. Now they’ve slowed to the point where it’s become clear most are saving and preparing for the next titanic clash of servers on the weekend. In fact, they’ve slowed to the point where Isle of Janthir has become able to cover the entire map zones with pretty much a sea of green.
Thank goodness for a reset. I’m a big fan of resets. The victor of this round is obvious. Now let’s bring in a new round and wipe clean the slate.
BEFORE that though, it is a perfect time to indulge in the victor’s rewards. I’ve been running around all the zones, fairly unmolested, collecting POIs, Vistas and Skill Points and trying to get all the zones complete. 2/4 done, 2 more to go. Sooner or later when my next alt is ready, they’ll want to do it too, but I can wait for the next opportunity to open up.
This vista was evil. Jumping from wooden beam to beam around a tight spiral is one of the worse things for a Charr to attempt… Feet…too… big… and widely spaced…
Also, jumping puzzles. The Borderlands jumping puzzle is still relatively doable even if opposing teams are running around the map, but it’s so much less stressful when they aren’t, and when you know your server is likely to have a majority in there. Our guild has been running in there the last few days, showing those new to the puzzle around, and it’s so much easier for them to manage/learn without needing to fight off people trying to knock you down or worse, facing entrenched siege positions.
Fear of that last has been why I haven’t once stepped into the Eternal Battlegrounds jumping puzzle since beta, having calculated that it would be likely suicidal to venture in solo while three way battles were raging aboveground.
However, just yesterday, I noticed that Eternal Battlegrounds had been turned completely green, which struck me as a perfect time to zone complete the place. Also, when your server owns all three keeps, well duh. No one else can get in!
So I jumped in there, along with pretty much half the servers’ folks in the zone, all thinking the same way, no doubt.
Fortunately, I remembered much of the solution that I slowly explored/learned in beta, but for new folks, this would have been the best undisturbed time to explore and learn it. All I can say is, the dark room is still evil, still sucks, and that I can’t imagine myself successfully managing it while under fire from two or more enemies or a siege weapon. One guy might be ok, I’d prolly have a 75% chance of killing him or chasing him off. But all these folks come in packs of two or more anyway, so… moot point.
Far more enjoyable and doable to manage without interference. And judging by the number of people falling off jumps I was managing by the skin of my teeth (not to mention, much gnashing of teeth and twisting of the camera – Charr jumps can get pretty tricky, though I’m used to it by now), I’m not the only one.
There was also a helpful mesmer or two offering portals for those too frustrated to continue. Good social time for the server. And siege stocking up for the next fight.
3) More WvW
It’s not like they gave up completely. Fort Aspenwood in particular seems to have a pretty stubborn cohort. And it’s easy for them to do sneak attacks and rush a tower here and there when most of the dominating server has very little interest in defending the less important outposts and are playing around with jumping puzzles rather than concentrating fully on the ebb and flow of the map. Besides, a little tower and camp trading here and there is profitable in terms of karma/silver earned.
We’ll look up 30 minutes later after the jump puzzle, go oh, such and such is taken, let’s zerg it all back for a while, in a lazy disorganized fashion (the casual zerg is hanging out now, y’know, the pros are resting and prepping for next week). Meanwhile, on the opposing side, only the hardcore stalwarts would still be going into WvW and are trying out all kinds of siege attack/defence tactics against not-very-clever zerg targets. It’s a funny sort of balance.
I’ve also discovered that upgraded keeps are a very comfortable place to hang out and take 5-10 minutes to sort inventory. It’s less crowded than Lion’s Arch (which my computer tends to regard loading with dread), a merchant or armor repairer is available to sell junk and blues/greens to, a bank is there, a guild bank is there, there’s even a Mystic Forge and attendant in the garrison if you need one, and there’s crafting stations/bank in one’s home borderlands spawn and so on. And you’re around to keep an eye on the orb, on the keep, help in defence or just enter the siege weapons once in a while to prevent them despawning (which apparently, some do after a while if not entered. I dunno how far true that is, but it doesn’t hurt for me to just visit them now and then.
And lemme tell you, practising your mortar aiming judgement by trying to one-shot deer and rabbits on the first shot is fairly entertaining. Hey, it’ll help when I need to quickly destroy an enemy siege encampment under extreme pressure! I’m so easily happy…)
4) Structured PvP
I’ve joined pretty much a casual zerg guild on my server. Unreal Aussies is one of those inclusive monster guilds with a leadership core that are nice and welcoming to all and sundry. Currently it works for me. It’s big enough to have activity at most hours, some people doing dungeons now and then, and 20-40 odd people interested in WvW – which is a good sized zerg into the field. Organization of them is still like herding cats, alas, and I gotta give mad props and respect to the leaders for not losing patience (I would, but that’s why I don’t even try to lead.) We can successfully be pointed in one direction and led away from a place with orders, but siege and supply management, welp… All in good time, I figure. Folks will eventually get the hang of it, even if they have to learn by getting rained on with arrow carts…
The other fun thing that the guild does is jump into structured PvP for fun from time to time. I finally got the chance to join them the other day and I haveta say, it’s lot more fun killing friends. *ahem* A twisted way to be social, mebbe, but more fun than just jumping into a PUG and facing strangers all the time. And it’s a good way for guild members to see and recognize and become familiar to each other, since in most modern MMOs these days, apart from raids, everyone is off doing their own thing solo or in small groups.
And hey, win or lose, you’re still working on that glory bar.
Kinda. Sorta. I’m starting to look forward to the next time our server gets utterly thrashed in WvW, because it’s looking like I’m not going to get a chance until then to do PvE properly.
I got on the Asura ranger for about 15 minutes or so. The camera height is exceedingly jarring when I’m used to being a Charr. All my jump timing and estimation of fall survival is off. And his running, bouncing head animation makes me more than a little motion sick. I haven’t got a bow to drop for him yet, and I’m too lazy to go shuffling stuff in the bank for him either. Dual axes feels a bit odd. No doubt it’s workable, but it’s a playstyle I’m not really interested in learning/mastering at the time. So I gave up for the time being, the combined strangeness is too much and I have no goal to learn to play or build up a ranger yet.
I’ve been playing the human elementalist for about 30mins at a time. I’m quite commited to learning proper attunement swapping and pwning with one. But Queensdale is so godawfully huge that I don’t even know where to begin, sometimes. Y’see, when I PvE, I like to immerse into the zone and really explore every nook and cranny. I don’t just rush from heart to heart, DE to DE, grabbing level after level.
I made it to level 10 playing about with all the weapon skill unlocking, got to the town with the crafting stations, played with cooking and realized what a colossal undertaking that was going to be, tailored up some level 10 armor for myself and got stuck on the level 15 ones, finished the 1-10 personal story and still haven’t even made one iota of progress on Queensdale exploration because I can’t get in the right frame of mind, I keep sneaking peeks at the WvW scoreboard. I keep wanting to be social and run about with people and linked into the guild and representing. I can’t find an uninterrupted two hours of shutting away the rest of the world and pretending to be a human in the GW2 world to talk and interact with NPCs.
I don’t think that’s going to happen until I find no reason to be in the WvW zones for a while.
Until the reset, there’s still jumping puzzles and casual fun to be had in there. Once the reset happens, it will be queuing like crazy, me running around on the 80 waiting for the queue to pop, some desultory mob killing and crafting and zone completion while waiting, and everyone on tenterhooks for a while. The next fight will be tougher, but the chance of winning is still fairly good.
So in essence, for the next week or so, there’s very little hope for me PvEing on an alt.
There’s always the week after that, or the month after that, I suppose.
(My Norn thief is crying for neglect in the background. The Sylvari necromancer is just sulking in silence.
A day ago, I had this sudden image of a fearsome Norn female Amazon-type warrior in heavy armor that would probably look fantastic, while my beta weekend Charr warrior in potentia is scowling at me, threatening wordlessly if I dare to give a character slot to that race first, so I may have to have two warriors or two guardians down the road at some point…)