That’s apparently the period of time it takes to progress from fun discovery and exploration to a grim and bitter execution of efficiency.
Maybe I’ve had a run of bad groups, but everyone still running the facility seems mostly tired, lazy or focused on getting as speedily to the end as possible now. In the wake of this kind of pressure, I’ve also lost the drive to say anything and just wordlessly run along with everyone else.
Most alarmingly, it’s taken a while for someone to even respond to the question “which boss first?” – which always bodes well when the group can’t settle on a target.
And more and more, everyone’s running into the corner at the first weapons test, and stacking inside berserker for the last bit.
(Even more telling is when half the people cowering in the corner fail to even attack the core at the last phase – suggesting that they either don’t understand the point is to destroy the core or are too lazy to move and letting someone else do the work, and no one bothers to arrange stripping stacks off the other boss because it’s faster to just burn one down and screw the ‘fail’ party members who get pwned by the empowered boss, they were just useful as additional distraction targets.)
That -really- leaves me feeling drained.
Fortunately, no one minds if I stay out for the first section – it’s my business if I die (and guardians are hard to burn up or knock about) but I feel obliged to go with the group if the majority is going to stack, as not doing so delays them and you know how speedrunners are about that tiny minute wasted.
More and more, now that I know it’s actually possible to attempt the facility by myself, that option sticks in the back of my mind telling me that it’ll be more peaceful and more challenging and more fun. Just longer.
In fact, I gave it a go again last night and got up to the supercooled rooms with zero deaths and 40 minutes on the clock. (Then the gunner/brawler got me for my first death, and I decided that continuing on at 2am was probably not going to be wise.)
It was Champion Trolls this time around, by the way, and keeping two stun breaks on the bar as one kites them around is my suggestion for if they catch you or you accidentally stumble into one of their falling rocks.
I have a feeling I’m going to drastically cut down the number of facility groups I join to about 1-3 a day, and just silently crank it out with the rest for the last few lottery ticket chances, and either venture in myself or go wandering around the PvE world farming stuff or peek in on WvW to see how Arrow Cart Wars are getting on. (The constant disconnections on the red map are just making it plain unfun at the moment though.)
As usual, RNG has not been kind, and I will probably never own a miniature firestorm unless I buy one from the TP at an exorbitant price. (That seems to defeat much of the point of running around with one though, so I may not bother after all.)
I did however pick up the berserker tonic recipe as it’s dropped to an affordable 1g 70 silver or thereabouts, so I’ll be able to work towards having a souvenir of the event some day, regardless of RNG cruelty.
The biggest reward for me seems to be the satisfaction of improving enough to solo it at least once, having gotten much better at the concept of circle strafing and moving while meleeing, and the optimum range to kite and dps with the scepter.
Back to being mostly a lone wolf again for a while, I think. People overload. Do some quiet materials farming, then move back to the other aspects of the game that I enjoy more.
Speedrunning dungeons with every last glitch and exploit to get to the end ASAP is just not my cup of tea.
I’m a perfectionist. A real solo to me means flawless victory, no deaths, one straight run, utilizing skills and wits and reflexes to defeat one’s enemy.
This is not it.
Nor is this for the faint of heart. There were many deaths. Quite a bit of repairing that ended up totaling about 20 odd silver. One brief popping out of the instance to go find a trading post for more food buffs, praying the stuff wouldn’t reset.
Inclusive, this is not. I suspect that you’d have to tweak your build, use food buffs, and have a good understanding of what your profession can do.
Nor do I know if all professions can achieve this. But I suspect they can, because I’ve seen a video of a warrior that has done it, and I was 75% of the time being ranged on a guardian, so I’m going to guess that other ranged classes probably have a significant damage advantage over me.
The basic idea I got from watching the video is that one just needs to do sufficient damage fast enough to take out at least one mob in the spawn, before dying, if you must. By being sheer pigheadedly stubborn and whittling them down one at a time, repairing up from the friendly repair guy inside the Molten Weapons Facility, you will eventually get through the whole place and “solo” it.
Of course, there’s plenty of room for a lot more clever finesse than the above tactic, but that seemed to be the baseline.
Question is: Could my guardian do enough damage?
I figured I’d just have to test it out. Hammer is kind of a slow control weapon though, if safer from the protection symbol it throws up.
I considered greatsword, as that seems to be a favored weapon for guardians who like to do damage. My personal issue with greatswords is that I just don’t seem very good or familiar with it, and that I tend to take way too much damage from using it – walk into a whole bunch of mobs, pull and spin, and somehow half my hp disappears even as I’m doing a ton of damage to them. Still, it was going to be an option, and I did have one.
I needed a better ranged weapon. Staff is right out. Confession time: I’ve been using yellow scepter/focus rares before this idea struck me – I just keep ’em around for the once in a blue moon times I wander into a dungeon and need to switch out to range. Since I don’t run dungeons on a regular basis, I got no tokens. Fortunately, WvW is now another alternative, so I pulled out some badges of honor from the bank and bought berserker scepter/focus exotics. I chucked on a superior sigil of accuracy for 5% extra crit chance and a superior sigil of blood for a chance to lifesteal on crit (mostly because I’m broke, and I was building up to the idea below.)
I don’t own a berserker set of armor, else I might have tested it to see just how much damage is possible. Working with what I had, that’s Knight’s armor (exotics go without saying) and Berserker trinkets of mixed exotic/ascended quality. That gives decent toughness, power, precision and crit chance/crit damage.
The vague idea I had was to up my damage via crit and crit damage, while using lifesteal on crit food – which seemed like it would do a bit more extra damage to whatever I was hitting, plus give me back some health. (Extra sources of healing always sound nice to guardians.) To give myself the best chance of success, it was going to be the expensive Omnomberry Pies at 66% chance to lifesteal on crit.
I’m running 0/0/30/20/20 – nothing shocking on the guardian. I switched out Glacial Heart for Retributive Armor at first, since I wasn’t using a hammer, but switched back midway when I decided to go hammer again. And jumped between Master of Consecrations (when using a consecration) and Unscathed Contender (for lack of any other ideas on how to up damage). Other traits were Purity, Altruistic Healing (yay, cookie cutter), Superior Aria, Two-Handed Mastery, and Absolute Resolution.
With that, it was dungeon time.
1) Molten Alliance Ambush
Jumped in with greatsword, and shortly after went, Ow ow ow, because I apparently suck at using one properly. And because the Molten Brawler popped up. I think I did take out one guy. Then I ran away.
You’ll find that tactic comes up a lot. Cowardice is the better part of valour and all that – running far away to break aggro and/or maybe pull one guy away from everything else to take down.
Then I went ranged to plink them down one by one, while letting the NPCs get in the way and die over and over.
It sounds nicer than it is. There were one or two deaths in here while experimenting with the best tactic to deal with them.
2) Drill Tunnel
Greatsword took out the mobs just fine here. Though the picture above shows the problem I ran into, if you can’t kill stuff fast enough. I think it’s a mechanism to make sure you can’t skip these mobs and run past.They flood out and rush you themselves.
I really hate embers. Especially embers in the tunnel. While still getting beat on by devourers. I dunno, maybe I just don’t know how to use a greatsword properly.
Anyway, when you lose aggro (or die), this is what happens to all the loose mobs in the tunnel. They all collect at the entrance looking threatening and intimidating. My berserk approach fortunately controlled the population some, and there was a period of pulling with scepter, backing off and trying to get only one mob over, kiting it around while hitting it with scepter, and closing in to melee whenever it looked safe. You can get the NPCs to help somewhat too, revive them if they’re within reach.
3) The Random Hall of Champions
I was terrified that it was going to be the Champion Ember. I honestly don’t know if I can take that one down, even now.
It was the Ooze.
Cue another learning and death period of experimentation, trying to pull them into the tunnel and failing, getting pulled instead and squished by a big blob of ooze. It was pretty ugly for a while.
The thing I really enjoy about a solo challenge though, is that it forces you to improve and think things through and you have the leisure time to do it. (As contrasted with a group when everyone just dives in and flails away.)
I eventually hit on attacking at range in the hall, and suddenly observed what the ooze attacks look like at long range. They have two, one simple boomerang and a triangular shotgun-like boomerang. If these hit you, you get pulled in. It’s pretty easy to avoid at really long range. (Maybe ranged classes are busy laughing at me for not figuring this out earlier. You know melee people, they don’t see shit but the big weapon they’re thwapping the mob’s head in with.)
And they turned out to be also -projectile- attacks. (Ding! Bright happy guardian lightbulb goes off!)
Enter wall of reflection, and spirit shield for the shield of absorption to make my fail dodging life easier. (And lemme tell you, the reflected four-prong triangular attack does -sick- damage onto the oozes.) Alternating between those and concentrating on survival during the downtime = successfully sceptering down the oozes one by one.
4) Weapons Test
Went back to hammer from greatsword here for Banish. I love Protector golf.
Wall of reflection (to block shamans while killing core in peace), Stand Your Ground and Hallowed Ground for stability laziness. Went without a hitch.
5) Supercooled Rooms
Not hitchless. Involved a lot of experimenting, a lot of pulling back away from the debuff, trying to figure out the best timing of wall of reflection, hold the line and stand your ground for best survival chances, alternating between melee and ranged, screaming at brawler/gunner simultaneous tag teams, being forced by self-preservation to really observe the brawler’s animations and learn how the fuck to jump/dodge its shockwave and ditto with the gunner’s attacks.
My only suggestions from very painful learning are to pull slowly, back around corners to LOS if yer gonna melee, and if you see the tag team, go ranged, backpedal like hell and take down the brawler first, gunner’s projectiles are easier to dodge at really long range.
I’m sure some of the deaths were from me being stubborn and wanting to figure out if I could kite/move in melee more efficiently. May have improved a bit, may have not. Ranging them down is, I believe, the much safer option.
6) The Prisoners
You think it’s lengthy when you’re in a group? Trust me, it’s much worse solo.
The NPCs will help you over-aggro everything. Maybe it was a bad decision to be in knight’s armor, because that promptly dragged attention to me. Lots of running away and leaving the bookahs to die. Some dying. Lots of pulling. Lots of experimentation with utility skills – and eventually ended up with wall of reflection and spirit shield again to soak some of the projectile pain. Very lengthy training process forcing me to get better dealing with brawlers and gunners. Lots of using corners and running around scenery and trying to figure out when it was safe to go in with melee to speed things up. Lots of reeling back going ‘ow ow ow fuck ow’ and trying to heal it up.
Then to add insult to injury, the prisoners will bum rush the protectors and swarm it to the point where you can’t launch it properly out of the fire shield. Or you’re staring at them in the distance, knowing you can’t go down there in melee because that’s going to aggro a shitton of other stuff, so you just have to autoattack with scepter and wait endless moments for the shield to fall.
On the bright side, as you accumulate more and more prisoners, they form a very nice meatshield vanguard of minions – who will even rez each other. I figure this will make proper ranged professions with good damage very happy.
7) Berserker and Firestorm
This challenged the shit out of me.
My original plan was to take down berserker first, leaving the much simpler firestorm (so I thought) for later.
So I kited berserker around, and when firestorm enraged, shit became fucking real. Those fire circles hurt if you accidentally stumble into them, and when you’re trying to dodge/jump berserker’s shockwaves at the same time, accidents happen.
I worked on getting the enrage stacks off as I just had no confidence I could keep dodging the super-intense versions of both of them for an extended period of time. Berserker kept getting in the way of my slow ass scepter orbs. Run around some more, dodge all the things, heal like mad and throw on swiftness whenever.
I came real close to berserker going down twice, near 15% of its health left, then I landed in an enraged firestorm’s multiple circles of fire the first time, and got knocked off the platform by berserker the second time.
I leave out the other multiple attempts where I didn’t quite get that close. It wasn’t at all frickin’ easy to kite when you’re the only one and berserker keeps shadowstepping to you.
My last omnomberry pie wore off and I had to step out to go get more.
Eventually, getting tired, fingers cramping, I decided to change plans and targets and see if firestorm was easier to take down. What was really killing me was the enraged firestorm circles, which hurt like hell, and make the whole place a major hazardous minefield to avoid (while still trying to jump/dodge away from berserker’s shockwaves.)
He stays more stationary too, so smite was easier to land on him, though berserker kept getting in the way as usual.
Turns out the enraged berserker gets some manner of interrupts and chain knockdown/backs. Luckily, Save Yourselves is a stun break, so it was easy to save that for the times he caught me, use it, and dodge the hell out of the way. (And at least if I dodged into a fire circle now, it wasn’t OW OW FUCK OW SHIT type of painful.)
Got the firestorm down on the first try.
Enraged berserker turned out to be quite easy and methodical to handle. And no, I didn’t crawl between his legs. What would be the point of soloing MWF if I did that?
By now, I was super familiar with how to read the berserker’s animations. When he jumps up, ground shockwave coming. Dodge forwards, or jump forwards. When he claps his hands, air shockwave, do nothing.
I just kited him around on the outer edge of the platform, handling the lesser shockwaves as appropriate. When his flame circle came up, just double dodge and ran the fuck away in the exact opposite direction to the other edge.
He helpfully walks out of his fire circle toward you, while getting hit by your ranged attacks, then shadowsteps the rest of the distance to you. Bang down smite, and begin kiting again.
I even dodged a flame circle or two because I felt like living dangerously.
Pop went the berserker. And popped open the chest, I did.
No jetpack, of course. But at least it wasn’t a food recipe. I think I would have cried if that happened.
I don’t think I need to cover the epilogue. It was just fetch and carry.
Though I did try out the other path that I would normally never use in a group. (For fear of missing a jump and falling horribly into lava and looking more of a fool than I am.)
The whole thing took 5 hours from start to finish. I -was- taking my time, resting and AFK in places, taking screenshots and being experimental with tactics though. Someone more focused on speed, with more damage and better with their combat reflexes would probably get done faster.
I highly doubt that it would match a group’s pace of an hour and under, so it’s no threat to farming.
In fact, it kind of reminds me fondly of those solo adventures in GW1 trekking slowly around the Underworld and the Fissure of Woe or banging one’s head in the Domains of Anguish, just without any controllable heroes. It’ll never match a group, but it’s a hard challenge for a soloist.
It’s a pity that it’s only sticking around for a limited time. Because it makes me count my hours and want to farm it endlessly in a group instead, whereas if it were here for longer, there’s more leeway to take one’s time on it.
So for the antisocials who refuse to group, if you are hardcore enough, you might indeed sorta kinda get through the Molten Weapons Facility by yourself. Given sufficient time and the ability to not freak out at multiple deaths and a scary repair bill.
The important thing is persistence, observation of mobs, learning from what went wrong, and knowing your skills/builds/profession pretty well.
I leave you with this hilarity from the FIRST time I tried to solo it, two days ago, and decided it was impossible.
This is why you must kill fast in the tunnel. (You can also run past them, but it’ll get ugly if you encounter problems in the champion’s hall. And the dead NPCs may be in inconvenient locations.)
Now that the “on principle” philosophical argument about “forced” grouping is out of the way, let’s get down to some of the nuts and bolts of the dungeon design itself:
Bottom line is, I’m still heavily playing repeated instances of the dungeon, which suggests that a whole bunch of things -did- go right.
The crux of it is that I decided I really like the look of the Molten Firestorm and Molten Berserker bosses, and -choose- to keep striving for a lucky miniature drop and/or a tonic recipe that I can slooowly build up the mats for later.
Philosophically, I much prefer a token system over RNG drops (mostly because my luck sucks – see Venom precursor, and I keep getting turnip soup most of the time) but I respect that RNG has its uses and it’s a sneaky way to keep experienced people continually playing the dungeon for the time period because they are either unlucky, or are very lucky and want more drops to sell.
I am also able to tolerate the dungeon and most groups quite well because of the design which strives to prevent as much rushing past as possible. I like to fight everything. I’m playing an MMO to fight stuff and have a good time, not skip past everything to the end reward. (Which, I am aware, puts me at odds with a good many habitual dungeon speedrun farmers out there.)
I greatly appreciate the enforced pauses, because it gives a better sense of pace, allows new people to appreciate more of the story and NPC interactions, lets one switch out utilities as needed before the group members with ADD have rushed into the next set of mobs, and even, horror of horrors – gives people time to type sentences in party chat and interact socially.
I’ve had some hilarious groups with Tarnished Coast servermates – being TC’ers, I figure they must be used to RP weirdoes and have indulged in very shallow roleplay by speaking like a snarky, snotty Asura (which is never hard to do) and adding color commentary to NPC lines.
The best bit is the no-real-consequence atmospheric epilogue, which is a tremendously good time to just let one’s hair down and have a little fun after successfully beating the bosses and making people laugh or keeping them entertained. (I hope, anyway.)
And then there was the party with the engineer who insisted he did NOT have an elixir B drinking problem:
Alas, enjoyable groups where -someone- else talks and helps to keep the immersion and entertainment going with wisecracks are few and far between (which is why I’ve immortalized the fun I had in the screenies above.)
In groups where I see no one talking, or don’t seem like they’d be open to a bit of fun, I just shut up and be a good little silent robot cranking out one’s path to the shinies. (Or running vainly with short legs trying to catch up with the speed freaks.)
Which sometimes leads to horrendous messes. I gotta give kudos to ArenaNet’s design team for creating stuff which challenges the group to cooperate well together. Too many times, I see a player rush ahead and accidentally aggro a whole load of Molten Alliance mobs – which leads to a great chaotic frenzy of jumping around, dodging, healing, buff-throwing, seeing folks get downed, trying to rez them up, etc. Disagreements on whether to kill the Molten Brawler or the Molten Gunner first are also another cause of extreme chaos. Fortunately, the difficulty is not too insane, so strong group-focused builds will more or less keep the team upright.
I confess to preferring something neater, where no one’s hp bar ever moves into the danger zone. I feel like something’s gone wrong if someone falls over into the downed state, let alone, dead. Maybe it’s just a carry over from tanky days in City of Heroes. I relish the rare groups which, by chance or by cookie cutter build, are well synergized to the point where buffs are flying all over and no one is in real danger of dying.
And then there was this fantastic party: a lvl 80 mesmer, me, a lvl 68 elementalist, a lvl 35 guardian, a lvl 35 thief. The non-80s had 1k-2k achievement points and I was wondering if this was going to be another fiasco. It wasn’t.
You know why? All the players were great playing their classes, and the three lowbies appeared to know each other and were used to fighting together. The group also had the patience to recognize and wait the mere 5 seconds for me to wordlessly corner pull and separate out Gunner and Brawler spawns, so that we tended to only fight one at a time, with the other stuff all stacked up neatly on the corner where the mesmer could unleash all his stuff and everyone just unloaded. The only time one or two of them fell over was during the last boss fight (and were promptly rezzed), though they were all masterful at movement and dodging… I still think non-80s are working with considerably less buffer and I have to give them kudos for being very very good. Neat, super smooth, no deaths, a few downs.
And there are groups like this, where apparently pulling means shooting shit to death while backing away slowly in a straight line.
I’m a hammer/staff guardian, I don’t have any range worth speaking of, if you don’t warn me in advance to switch to scepter.
Of course, the nice thing I really appreciate about ArenaNet’s trinity is that there are many ways to achieve the same goal. You -could- focus fire them down from range if your party was built that way. I’ve seen other guardians charge in and use greatsword’s binding blade to great grouping/clumping effect with less time than scenery pulling. Some classes use a whole bunch of pets/minions to split aggro.
And yes, you can just rush it all pell mell using your own bodies to split aggro, relying on shouts, banners and other buffs to keep you upright, with or without a focus target, with varying degrees of messiness depending on how everyone’s build is set up. Whatever works. The variance at least keeps it lively.
The ambush at the start is a nice touch story-wise. I try not to ruin it when I know someone is new in the party, but more and more, you see the couldn’t-care-less people just stand by where they spawn. A repeat group is, of course, another matter.
I enjoy the enforced delay in the tunnel here. You see all the ADD folks humping the coals and getting burned. There’s built in time to buff up for each encounter, you can’t skip past it, and if you haven’t mined the nodes, you can usually get it mined and catch up with the people who wouldn’t wait at all if not for the big fat drill in the way.
The random spawn of Champion Ooze, Champion Troll or Champion Ember in the hall beyond is an interesting touch. I’ve seen the most chaos tends to occur when the Ember is in play.
The hidden orichalcum ore was a fun mini-puzzle to figure out the very first time. It gets problematic later on with a group with split priorities here though. Impatient people don’t wait. They turn left, rush through the steam vents and are dashing through the corridor to trigger the weapons test, while the new ones who want the ore are still being guided through the path and the cutscene no doubt triggers at a confusing time for them, ruining the narrative effect completely. At least someone who’s seen it before has just enough time to dash through the spiders, mine their ore, and get out.
If the NPCs make it there with the impatient people, you get thrown into a disorienting loadscreen teleport and end up in the weapons test with no pre-warning whatsoever.
That said, I again appreciate the length of path here when done properly, with party in sync, and traveling with NPCs. There’s a sense of drama as you move down the rocks, and crucial valuable time to type information for people who haven’t done it before.
The weapons test encounter is truly excellent though. There was a fun sense of panic when first experiencing and learning what all the stages consisted of, and also fun inherent in figuring out the solution(s) and mastering them. I appreciate that there are multiple solutions, not just one thing that -must- be done.
My screenshot is poor quality, I know, but you can sort of make out the nimble people moving around. I like to hold out near the core, where there is a safe area most of the time, and use a ton of stability to negate the knockdown (barely anyone else recognizes hallowed ground when I use it though – you can stand in it too, folks!) and heal through any accidental damage (it’s a guardian thing, and I’m not very nimble so it works well.) I only move when it comes to the fire circles everywhere stage, and again, it’s nice there are multiple areas of safety to identify on the fly.
There are one or two guys hiding in the absolute corner, which no one is really sure whether it was intended or no, but you know some players, if they find a glitch, they’ll glitch it. And then demand stridently that everyone else glitches it in the exact same way with them.
My evolved preference is to sit where I am, where the molten protector spawns, because Hammer 4 (Banish) has a wind up time. Playing dredge golf and launching it out of the way before it can get its invulnerable fire shield up is SO satisfying. If I hide in the corner, it’s hard to get back in position in time. I believe other classes also have pulls and knockbacks that they can use to play with it. And worse come to the worse, people can also wait for the fire shield to drop. Multiple solutions. I like.
The supercooled section is all right. Again, multiple solutions. You could scream BANZAI and charge in like a number of groups do, with debuff on and everything, and just soldier your way on through, taking your chances on whether you fall over based on the builds of your party. Some rush the coolant boxes. Some will have one or two high damage people take them down. Some pull back to no-debuff areas. I’m a big fan of utilizing corners to pull. It’s so sad it’s such a lost art though. When the stars and toughness attributes of the party align to give me the innate aggro, I love to do it and watch the ranged mobs come rushing up to regain line of sight.
The “Kill Brawler or Kill Gunner” first debate goes on. It seems to be evolving towards get brawler, then gunner. Either way works, in my opinion, but it’s really whether the party uses focus targets and follows them. You can negate the brawler’s shockwaves with jumping, dodging, and I liberally apply stability (others can provide regen.) But the waves do seem quite deadly to squishies who can’t jump or dodge well. He’s melee, so he’s usually ends up closer to the party and everyone using target nearest has a tendency to go for him too, so you may as well burn him down first, that kinda thing.
Other people like to block the ranged mobs’ projectiles with reflects. Which I’ve tried, but when only two people are using the wall, and everyone has rushed out in front of it because the gunner has jumped backward, you end up either joining them to thwap the gunner or hanging with the wall feeling forlorn. The gunner’s projectiles are also easier to avoid at range, though I did hear someone say it does the most damage at maximum range too. And there’s the just-suck-it-up-and-heal-it-up guardian method which I often end up doing because I’m clumsy and lack finesse and it’s really quite hard to see where those projectiles are coming from, when you’re short and are in melee range.
Prisoner section. I like that there’s a little pause here again. Utility skill switching time if needed. Insert wisecrack about not wishing mining on your worst enemy. (But I have a shiny molten pick!)
This is where the speed freak people also tend to get a little caged up stir crazy. I’ve seen one of them jump past the gate above using the spiky rocks to the right. Which promptly ended up with him getting aggro from everything beyond while the rest of us looked on from behind the closed gate. *chuckle* We got over in time to get his downed body up. Then another one who tried the same thing, but ended up falling into the lava below. *snicker*
Probably an unintended glitch, but I’m not looking forward to the day when the majority of the party learns this, and insists everyone do it, and/or laughs at falling people dropping into the lava below. (You know it’ll happen, right?)
Yeah, so the rest of this section is an extended debate between the party on which Molten Alliance mobs to kill first, some parties which work smoothly together, and others that don’t, while the NPCs do their thing freeing prisoners and stuff. (And watching Frostbite fall over, a lot. Noooooo, poor baby devourer…)
Some people feel it’s too long, I personally don’t have an opinion either way. I’ve seen it go super smooth and fast with a good group. I’ve seen it go pear-shaped and be very drawn out and messy.
The protector schtick is interesting. I like that you can kite the protector out of the shield, which gives parties without pulls or launches a perfectly viable option to take them down. (You’ll be amazed at how many people fail to notice the shield and continue flailing away though.) And there’s always waiting for the shield to drop when all else fails.
The orichalcum ore and mechanical crusher ore trap is hilarious. I think everyone gets caught by it once when it’s their first time.
This gate. It is the best gate ever. I am a big big fan of this gate. Besides giving people the time to marvel up and down at the size of the structure, and take screenshots if they want to, it serves the ULTRA IMPORTANT PURPOSE of giving people enough time to type the question of “which boss are we killing first?”
Communication. Oh, thank god there is something in the design that helps it along. It’s interesting, and probably a big compliment to the team who designed the final boss encounter, that three days in, there’s still no real consensus on which boss “must” go down first.
(Or rather, in each team you end up, there’s normally a few guys convinced with high passion that so-and-so is easier, and that one needs to go down because they’ve always done it that way. And so you go along with them and help their self-fulfilling prophecy along. Oh, I am so going to hell for that. :P)
I’ve done it all ways now, and they’re all possible. There’s go all out burn on firestorm. There’s go all out burn on berserker. There’s take the time to swap targets and remove the enrage stacks from either of them. There’s assign one or two people to do the enrage stack stripping, or the people self-assign themselves.
The only way that isn’t so cool is to all stack up inside berserker to avoid the waves. Fortunately, only one group I’ve gotten into has wanted/demanded people do that. I hope it doesn’t evolve to only that before day 10.
It’s a lot more fun to do it the proper ways – because again, there are multiple solutions. I simply cannot jump in time with the shockwaves. I don’t know if it’s instance lag, or ping, or what, but it just doesn’t work. You jump it on your screen, but eat the damage anyway. But dodging works, and I often dodge forwards to close the distance to berserker to hit him. And stability/soak damage covers up most accidents, though there can be a run of bad luck when you just eat a shockwave, get knocked back and down into a big pool of fire that firestorm has thrown, which pwns you. As for the flame circle attack, turning the camera 180 degrees and running like a coward far far away works best for me. Other people jump or dodge or whatever, I just don’t like the risk. Whatever works.
And then the denouement, after the grand chest of mostly turnip soup recipes (and the odd beet soup one), there’s a bit of quiet time to catch one’s breath, load up on explosives, before the big bang and harmless but highly dramatic and cheesy fun (or is that the other way around) escape sequence. Which, as I’ve mentioned at the top, is a nice social space time to actually have time to talk before everyone quits out the instance.
The TL:DR conclusion?
I generally like it. I’m still playing it. Even if I’m running a cookie cutter build to give more leeway for mistakes and the weird chaos that can happen in PUGs. (Huge repair bills and multiple deaths make me very grumpy. So much easier to do my best preventing that from happening to me with an AH guardian.)
And I probably won’t stop until a majority of my groups sour to the point of being elitist and speed freaky. I don’t know how long that will take.
I think the devs did their best to prevent/slow that down from happening and achieved that respectably well, though I’m a cynic and am convinced it’ll happen at some point.
The burning question’s still up on whether it’ll happen before the dungeon disappears.
The raging controversy at the above linked thread is the old debate about having the option to solo vs “forced” group content. One of the major beefs is the ol’ bait-and-switch over time, especially with the lure and promise of a narrative to be completed. Players are suckers for a good story, and want to see it from beginning, middle and end. Throw in a 5-man dungeon to cap off your story, and it’s the Personal Story => Arah Story dungeon WTF all over again.
Two other subsets appear to have issues with this. One, the antisocials and/or ‘friends and family only’ small group less than five folks who are rather dismayed at having this appear to cock block their story or achievement progress (and let’s not forget the tempting vanity shinies too.)
And two, the for-whatever-reason movement-impaired, ie. those who cannot dodge or jump well, possibly physically handicapped or having a disease or have poor ping, etc, who know very well that they will either soon be left out or excluded due to accessibility issues, or don’t want to deal with the emotional drama/stress/tension that is bound to arise from having a not-so-great player in the midst of a group focused on getting to the end as quickly as possible.
(Now before any of the above take major umbrage at my description of them, know too that I also habitually fall off cliffs, through gaps, fail dodges, and jump poorly, nor does it seem to be helped by having a latency all the way from South East Asia. At least it’s not Australia?)
I dunno. I think I have a point I want to make about inclusivity vs exclusivity, but it’s not quite well formed yet.
Instead, let me tell you about my experiences with the Molten Weapons Facility so far:
Round 1 – Random PUG, all level 80s, same server, on cookie cutter guardian
Since the dungeon had bugged out as the patch dropped, and I was simply too sleepy to wait any further, I tried to get on as soon as I woke up in order to catch the wave of people who still hadn’t done it yet. As pure random chance would have it, I did find such a group. Good, it’s my favorite way to experience a new dungeon, and just like the launch crowds only happen once, you cannot take away knowledge once it is learned.
We were all 80s, the group consisted of 2 warriors, a mesmer, an engineer and moi. The warriors were using shouts and banners, there was me on the ye olde AH shout hammer guardian, and I am not conversant enough with the other two classes to know what they were doing, but I am sure there was a good mix of control/dps/support going on. We learned the mechanics via experiencing it, there were barely any deaths, whole thing ran very smoothly. I had a hammer knockback, which was very helpful on the protectors, found my stability shout pretty heavily utilized, and made a mental note to take in hallowed ground next time as well.
Round 2 – Guild group, 4 level 80s and 1 lvl 40, same server, on cookie cutter guardian
For my next run, I joined some guildies, three of which were running it for the first time and one of whom, along with me, had done it once before. Group composition, mesmer, 2 necromancers, a lvl 40 warrior and me. I brought hallowed ground, swapping it back and forth with retreat as needed.
The two of us checked with the three who hadn’t done it to see if they were open to spoilers. They were, and wanted strategy tips but they didn’t want to rush through, which was a-ok with me because I loathe speed runs with a passion. (More on this later though.)
Noted the ore appeared to be on cooldown or a per-character basis. I’m still not sure if the karma items are on an account basis – I failed to receive one of them when my inventory was full and I’m going to be a little sad if I miss the little conversation snippet because of this. Thankfully, no achievement linked to it.
All in all, a relatively smooth run. A few more deaths than the previous round, and one wipe on the boss as folks figured out the mechanics. I believe most of the additional deaths came from trying to rez each other, because getting locked into place rezzing during a high mobility required fight is always tricky. We ended up finishing the ranged boss with two people, or one really, as I collapsed one second before it died (which joyously rallied me, even before the others rezzed up for the super-saiyan boss version.)
Round 3 – Random PUG, 2 level 80s, a lvl 52, a lvl 25, a lvl 4, same server, on experimental spirit weapon build guardian
Now that I had the facility under my belt, so to speak, I was curious to see if a new character would reset the ore or karma items. I was also curious to see if spirit weapons had been improved any. Well aware I was going to be a LOT squishier, I decided to chance it with a random PUG.
Group composition: Me, a lvl 80 engineer, a lvl 52 warrior, a lvl 25 elementalist, a lvl 4 guardian. I checked the achievement points of the lowbies, and they were all only at a few hundred. The engineer had 3000. I’m sure some of you are laughing on the floor right now. Me, I knew very well this wasn’t ever going to make it to completion and sighed inwardly. I briefly considered logging cookie cutter AH alt on to maybe soak more pain and give more group support than the more selfishly built one, but what the hell, it was going to be a test of how the designers had scaled/balanced their MWF!
The good news is that we managed the Molten Alliance veterans just fine. The bad news is that we popped a Champion Ember as the boss in the hall after the dredge tunneling machine, instead of a Champion Ooze. This, if you are not aware, spawns a great variety of Ember minions of normal and veteran quality and KEEPS spawning them. All of which throw a ground based lava font aoe.
This utterly decimated the team. Over and over. We tried pulling the whole mass back into the tunnel, which helped us take down everything not-Champion for a short while and dink 1/5 of the Champion’s health bar off. Concentrated ground aoe in that chokepoint is a killer though, and took squishy ol’ me out in four hits or so, once I’d used up all dodging capacity, blocks, invulnerable, the works. Let’s not even talk about how the lowbies fared, between not having developed dodge reflexes, underdeveloped traits/skills, and naturally very little toughness/vitality.
So we tried the Ember in the hall, which helped me survive it a little longer by virtue of kiting it around internally screaming my head off that this is entirely the wrong build for this sort of thing, except all the lowbies fell over in three seconds when the other Embers looked at them crosswise, and then I fell over when eight lava AoEs appeared under my feet before I could even hit the dodge button.
I swapped to projectile reflects and absorbs, which did nothing for the ground based aoe damage. I wasn’t traited for shouts, and had a grand total of maybe 200 healing power, so I doubted it would work either. Long story short, we called it. They did, however, very gamely give it their all over and over, and it was just very obvious that these were all inexperienced or new Guild Wars 2 players, while I wasn’t on a cheaty optimal group-focused build either and had been hoping to sneak in and get ‘half-carried’ by other stronger builds.
Round 4 – Random PUG, all level 80s, same server, on experimental spirit weapon build guardian
So immediately on disbanding, I jumped right in to another group LFM, and what do you know, the slightly less experienced level 80 engineer in round 3 had popped right in to the new group with me. I was quite gleeful about this, tbh, because this evened out the variance between dungeon experiments.
Group composition: 2 mesmers, a thief, the engineer and me. I took one look at the group and decided to pre-warn them that I wasn’t in your typical AH hammer guardian tanky build. Fortunately, the spokesperson of the group who had done it before was very accepting and said no problem, it was all about skill and knowing when to dodge/jump, etc.
As luck would also have it, we spawned the Champion Ember. This, I noted with some amount of vindication, did knock over one or two level 80s with the ground based aoes – BUT with the dps outputted by five level 80s (and probably some aggro tanking from mesmer clones) , I was able to survive long enough for the Ember to fall over before all my helpful survival skills ended up on cooldown. I did have to bounce between melee and ranged, instead of just face-tanking shit with a hammer though.
Veteran Molten Alliance seemed to go down somewhat faster. Protectors were harder to manage as the shield knockback doesn’t launch them far enough out of the circle, and the spirit hammer knockback is hard to control/precisely position.
The boss fight was on an order of distinctly more challenging. The two mesmers were very skilled and kited well with their clones and had the shockwave timing jumps pat. The engineer, as expected, spent most of his time facefirst on the ground. I wasn’t far behind from that, along with the thief.
Some of it just seemed to be bad luck though. The loudest, most skilled spokesperson still fell over when the berserker landed a chained up knockdown or some such on them. I come out of loadscreens a bit more slowly than most (either lousy computer or ping or both) so when the berserker boss superpowered himself, I had just enough time to see the flame circle sweep towards me but not enough time to react with a jump, dodge, or run away – which somehow one-shot me. Wonder if it critted. I did eat a few more shockwaves during the next go, because I was trying the ‘jump over’ method spokesperson was recommending, but I think ping was a problem. That or being on a charr or my overall timing. I had MUCH better success with dodges or blocks (or stability, which I resolved to slot in the next time, as the spirit weapons were just getting splattered by the boss – so much for hp buffing.)
Despite the multiple deaths, we did actually kill the bosses (two tries each) and complete the dungeon.
Round 5 – Picky PUG, all level 80s, same server, on cookie cutter guardian
I was actually hoping to be a masochist and subject one or two more random PUGs to my ‘horrible’ guardian. However, the only group advertising in map was someone looking for – I quote – “shout/banner warrior, AH hammer guardian or TW mesmer.”
As is my usual custom, I ignored such pickiness (like, I suspect, most people do) and watched the group leader advertise two more times. Then I decided I was bored enough to go do one more experiment for the sake of science (and this blog!) and also, I kinda wanted another try at the jetpack pop chance at the end of the dungeon.
It helped that the group leader had engaged in a civil mapchat conversation with someone who was expressing that their previous group had wiped on the last boss and was feeling the dungeon to be extremely hard, whereas said group leader said, no no, it’s very easy, here, join my group and I’ll show you. (Then promptly renewed his advertising for the new GW2 trinity.)
So I sent them a tell, told ’em I’d log on Mr Cookie Cutter, and joined them.
Need I really say anything more about how it went?
Oh well, if you insist. Group composition: elementalist, ranger, necromancer, warrior and me. The necromancer had minions out, the warrior had banners and shouts going, combo fields were dropping left, right and center, almost no one’s hp bar moved except for maybe mine, which would just bounce up and down between full and half in the manner of AH guardians. One crisis moment of nearly dropping necessitated a brief backing off to staff empower up to 3/4 health, and there was one mind-blanked-out face-tanking hammer-humming moment which caused me to eat a flame circle and drop downed, because I plain forgot to even watch out for it.
So… what is the moral of these stories?
I dunno. It actually just makes me sad. I WANT to be inclusive, dammit.
I don’t want to reject non-level 80s from, what is essentially, an event dungeon group.
You know who those only-in-the-several-hundreds ArenaNet achievement points players are? They are our game’s new blood.
I’m sure people could probably “carry” one or two of them in a very strong dungeon powerhouse builds kind of group. But I wonder if they want to be “carried” or if they’d really rather just contribute.
I’d really love to take in non-standard builds to a dungeon whom ArenaNet -claims- that any group of five players can manage. And I gotta admit, I did complete the dungeon successfully with one. But I do worry about how much of a drag down I will be on the group as a result.
Then as icing on the temptation cake, I find that I actually crave the rewards that pop at the end of this dungeon. The jetpack looks pretty nifty, but I’d really kill for a mini firestorm and to be able to construct an endless potion of his berserker brother.
With THAT kind of goal in mind, and a 14 day time limit on this dungeon, doesn’t that add up to a distinct designer pressure for achievement-oriented players to run this dungeon back to back as many times and as quickly as possible?
I’m probably still going to bring my squishy Charr into MWF one or two more times, for the heck of it and because I’m going to master dodging and jump timing, dammit, and I’ll apologize in advance here for any group wipes and repair bills and extended runs this might or might not cause some unlucky random PUG.
But after I get being stubborn and experimental out of my system, expect to see me on the Asura hammering my way to victory repeatedly for a few vanity shinies.
Taking bets now on when speed runs and the MWF farm become the only “proper” way to run this dungeon, and what the ‘expected’ strategy everyone is ‘required’ to follow ends up becoming.