*hypes self up for heroic, legendary, awesome solo battle*
Between all the bugs where a horde of players descend on a dynamic event that was never meant to cope with 40 players charging it at once and promptly breaking it for the next batch of players to come along…
…and the possibility of a landscape that’s forever going to look trashed like this so that players can continue their ‘permanent’ Living Story episodes…
… I think I’m leaning a lot more towards story staying in instances.
I’m sure there are ways to have a satisfactory batch of open world dynamic events – the scarlet twisted clockwork invasion, marionette and lion’s arch stuff comes to mind (possibly because there was tons of loot involved with the increased scaling of the event) but I’m not really feeling it in this third episode.
All it feels like is a bunch of unwanted interrupted breaks in between a story I’m trying to experience – somewhat like how the Personal Story keeps breaking off so that you need to go visit a bunch of hearts or get more levels.
Ok, so I did contribute about four blue skulls’ worth of zerker guardian trying to do the “I don’t need to run faster than those two Elites, I just need to run faster than YOU” thing, following the zergling impulse of go fast, rush past “trash” and trying to group up with those further ahead.
All of it on the death trap known as the third floor, where everybody but me seemed to -not- see the air canister “safe zones” and continued dashing ahead while I slowed down and was torn between trying to catch a breath and fight off a zerg-spawned worth of mobs by myself (not happening) or catching up with the panicked mob of players milling around lost and hallucinating while twisted clockwork spawned in, eager to take vengeance for all those prior failed invasions and trying to survive with blown cooldowns and not many more heals or blocks or invulnerable left (s’ not happening either.)
It took about that length of time to realize that every event was locking the doors and preventing forward progress via running, and that all those screaming over mapchat that this was too awfully hard were doing so because we players as a group were applying the absolutely wrong strategy to navigating the Tower of Nightmares.
Selfishness leads to a healthy chance at dying off by yourself. Teamwork gets you up. (Both up from downed and literally up to the top.)
At one point, I tried a group recruitment message and got a total of two people joining a party, which worked right up to the midway point where they decided to fall behind and jump into a nightmare chamber (cancel popup) while the immediate collective of individuals I was following was still pushing on.
I gave up with formal grouping after that, since it wasn’t any guarantee that the group would stick together. The public informal groups of whoever was in the vicinity did just fine. (For the record, that collective made it right to the top.)
Besides, killing everything gives you more chances to pop neat stuff. Like key parts, a recipe for an infinite krait tonic, and so on.
One day later, when I decided to have a change of pace and bring my zerker necro in, it felt like more people had figured this out and had started to spontaneously group up and kill stuff. (Or maybe they mistook all my minions for a zerg. Whatever works.)
Really? I felt those instances were a lot harder and more time-consuming, possibly because I was trying to solo them with a not-at-all min-maxed loadout of heroes and had to take my slow and steady time with them. (One death means you’re out, when you’re the only player on the team.)
To me, this update feels like another do-over.
Lost Shores – Assault on the Karka Queen, as having listened to their players and not made it a one-time one-off affair, open-world and encouraging groups of 10-30 to work together instead of having 100-200 players corralled into the same dynamic event fighting lag as the enemy.
Sure, this means that occasionally groups of players who are a little less well-informed or well-versed with the ways of the tower will encounter a chaotic experience of mass deaths, but as Wyldkat, a Tarnished Coast resident, often likes to say, “Live and learn. Die, and learn faster.”
Have I mentioned how utterly awesome the instance scaling is?
Let me correct that, then.
Solo to five players!
I get to feel like a hero in my own story if I want to!
I get to group up and join other people if I want to!
I am deliriously happy that they took the trouble to make this work. Mostly the number of mobs in each chamber you encounter will spawn to a size that matches your party.
I like the small bits of storytelling that go on in each Nightmare instance too. And the randomized aspect of them keeps them -somewhat- novel.
I’ve caught character exchanges between Rox and Braham, Marjory and Kasmeer, Marjory and Braham, Rox and Kasmeer, Rox and Majory so far.
If you pay attention, you learn a little more about some of the characters (and have a good laugh at some others. Braham keeps hallucinating up his mom.)
I like the little nods that they managed to slip in regarding the personal story and hope they manage more of it in future updates. (Depending on your race, you seem to get an encounter with your respective racial representative, and depending on your order… well, let’s say we’ve had a reunion of sorts with somebody. I need to bring in a character who is Order of Whispers soon.)
It’s made for a few interesting encounters.
And later in this encounter, we fought a hallucination of Rytlock Brimstone and some Blood Legion summons to Scarlet’s accompanying leer: “Rytlock has a special file where he records all your mistakes. They’re adding up.”
Which was immensely immersive since both Rox and my charr are Blood Legion, and we know Rox has an inferiority complex where Rytlock is concerned. (Directed at my charr? Nah, can’t be. His self-esteem and relationship with Rytlock’s far too healthy for that.)
This little dig got through though. Rarrrrrgh. Must kill insolent leafy things.
Final cinematic cutscene sequence? Verrah nice. Aesthetically-speaking.
I like that they at least attempted to sum up all the threads and factions that Scarlet has been accumulating per update, even if thematically, it feels like she’s cobbling them together out of a junkheap of spare parts.
I did, in fact, kind of miss the Molten Alliance, and was glad to see them back in a small form, including ol’ molten berserker.
The difficulty level of the instances felt fine. I’ve soloed them (and the final instance) on a zerker guardian and a zerker necro. Got downed once or twice but managed to rally up from a weakened mob or an NPC came by to help rez.
I did a group version of the final instance to see how the dynamic scaling worked, and it also seemed to match perfectly.
We did make it extra hard on ourselves during the Molten Alliance portal phase because three people were like OMG, killz0rs all teh portals, we vill skip past zis trash, wat, u mean we don’t?! and one person had no clue how to kite the molten protector out of his fiery shield (it’s always the one with the aggro, right?) so we delivered unto ourselves the world’s biggest spawn of Molten Alliance, conveniently made invulnerable 75% of the time. That took ages to whittle down. We had lots of time on our hands trying to convince the one guy to move out of the fiery ring.
Despite that minor fiasco, we only had one person being downed near the start to rushing headlong into some toxic alliance, and while I was thinking that might have screwed up our final no-dying achievement chance, we managed to take down the champion hybrid with no downs, no deaths that I can recall and the achievement popped. So that was good.
Speaking of achievements, let’s have another round of applause for the continuing saga of more sane numerical levels.
1 time, 3 times, 5 times, up to 10 and 15 only. No 25, 50, 100, 225! (DAMN that 225!)
All in all, good stuff.
I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in here, I think, just for the fun of it.
My only moderate worry is that if the crowds move off in time, like the Mad King’s Labyrinth, it might be impossible to get to the top at some point.
Still, I have noticed that the dynamic events probably do scale. We had a Veteran Spider Queen at one point, instead of a champion.
And during the free 5 captives from cocoons event, when it was just a ranger and me, we were only facing a veteran and two normal mobs per spawn. When the zerg came over, we started popping champions. (Hey, look, new champion farm, people!)
So I suspect that as long as two or three people work together and take it slow and steady, it is possible to eventually get all the way up even if the rest of the place is deserted. (Unlike certain halloween bosses I can think of.)
I suppose if we ever to get to such a stage of abandonment, that would be the time for coordinated groups to move in and treat the place like an extended dungeon.
On a crowded server, I suspect one can always find another one or two interested people.
(Though convincing them to stick together and not run off to follow their own agenda might be a mite more tricky. Oh well, that’s the open world aspect for you. Win some, lose some.)
We may disagree on some of the specifics, and the initial frustrated tone of his first few posts, but the original poster Fiontar makes a lot of important points throughout the thread that are well-worth reading through. A few choice quotes:
What should you have done? Well, you should have stuck to the original plan you talked about last fall and created boatloads of new Dynamic Event content. Content that would have advanced the story with in each game zone told by the Dynamic Events that were there at launch. Adapting some, replacing some, rotating some in and out of circulation. That would have created a Living World. that would have preserved the sense of a dynamic game environment. That would have shed the negative stereotypes about Theme Park MMOs.
If people appreciate the ways the game is departing from the Manifesto and prefer adventure by checklist over the great potential the game and the manifesto offered us, I’d be happy to hear about it. Maybe Anet just has a better finger on the pulse of the players and has decided that the Manifesto and the core game design were a mistake to be rectified.
It’s even produced a developer response and spawned a Reddit thread with some hyperbole in the title – “Dev says there is little player interest in adding more events, JPs, and mini-dungeons across the world.” Among other things, Anthony Ordon welcomed the continued feedback but pointed out the following:
The very first living world team actually did the thing some of you have called for. Some 40 or so permanent events were added around the game in our very first content update. They were met with little interest or fanfare. Granted, Halloween may have stolen the show. But those events are still in the game today. I’ve seen very little reaction to them, however, positive or negative.
Readers who follow my posts regularly will know that I have just finished leveling a necromancer to 80 during the tail end of the Cutthroat Politics update. I went back to basics with this one, systematically map exploring zone by zone, as well as genociding mobs in my way and even revisiting parts of the Personal Story (up to the Straits of Devastation where I hit 80, anyhow.)
In Fireheart Rise, I was just meandering along mining all the things when I suddenly got jumped by a Charr engineer with turrets on steroids. It was a crazy fight, involving lots of stray mobs and hiding behind boulders to avoid splash damage and desperately cursing a necromancer’s lack of dodges while trying to prolong one’s life with death shroud, downed, life drain something back to the world of the living, rinse and repeat. (My leveling gear was all power/precision for swift killing, y’know.)
In another corner of the map, some crazy Norn who seemed like a wererat and was like a mini version of Yanonka the Rat Wrangler with all the summoned rats ambushed me too.
I did notice that both of their Dynamic Events were labeled with Modus Sceleris and vaguely recalled a prior instance of encountering a guild group with this title and an elaborate three event chain fight while leveling the warrior alt. (Well, he had no problems with them and had a great time parading proudly in front of their guild as a prime specimen of Charr ferocity.)
It was the first time I actually encountered these two specific events though.
Did I enjoy them?
Was it cool to have a novel experience while leveling that I’d never seen before?
Did I specifically know whether they were new or old DEs and exactly -when- they were added?
It took Bhagpuss telling me in the comments that it was added in the Halloween update. I found it in February.
Since then, I’ve run into it a few times more, twice with a guild doing guild missions, which was great fun chasing it down together.
40 permanent events were added, you say? Great! But many players are simply going to run right past them without noticing them, and still less would be able to tell you if they were new.
If your metric of success is the number of players playing a particular aspect of the game, taking notice and commenting and providing feedback about it, then I suddenly understand why all the last updates have been full of festival fanfare and literally signposted and checklist content.
It’s problematic, yes. If a lot of developer effort goes into barely noticed dynamic event content, players may complain that there’s nothing happening, even when it’s going on right under their noses and things are changing around them.
But players notice when stuff is static too, and promptly abandon zones that are not rewarding and boring in the limited number of repeat DEs they’ve seen ad nauseam.
It’s hard to say who’s right. I love the idea of new stuff taking place, and things being different on a subsequent playthrough. Just the same, I hate the idea that we might lose some of the old stuff to make room for the new stuff.
You know me, I want my cake and to eat it too. I’d love for more possibilities to be layered on top of each other – grawl chain here, stampeding herd there, merchants having trouble with an avalanche squishing their dolyak and just generally the chance for more DEs to take place utilizing the same area.
A quick nod back to the Queen’s Jubilee. Having met my initial goal of defeating basic Liadri, I finally got the chance to venture out to the open world to work on the hot air balloon achievement.
At least, that’s what I originally thought I was going to do. Hit every map, run to balloon icon, click chest, collect loot, increment by 1 until done. Easy, methodical, that’s why I left it as one of the last things on my list.
To my immense surprise, amazement and delight (and okay, a little frustration from being roadblocked, by escort quests especially, yeeugh,) it wasn’t as simple as that.
Those balloon pilots sure are picky. The gates stubbornly remained closed as they pointed out they were under fire from that sinister airship over yonder, couldn’t leave until a way overdue emissary arrived, or invited all to test their mettle against a Queen’s Champion.
(Yes, even the Overdue Emissary event which causes a metagame groan from me when I see how far that marker is from the balloon tower and how much longer it’s going to take to increment the number by 1 as a result.)
One especially nice touch is how the event NPCs interact with the other NPCs in the vicinity. They fight each other. Yes, you are not the center of their world. Imagine that.
Even the emissaries are fairly rabid, and while it again produces a fourth wall-breaking sigh from one part of me that wishes they would just get with the program already, I’ve also exclaimed in-character at mangy Ash Legion charr representatives not to be distracted and to double time it, quick march to the balloon, stat.
Because when the event feels like a part of the world, you want to be a part of the world too.
I’ll leave you with one final thought, another quote from the thread which saves you from wading past naysayer eyesores who produce pithy Twitter pronouncements of “you suck” “learn to play” “you must have failed at something” “I liked it, can’t imagine why you couldn’t” without actually specifying any reasons for their different opinion: