GW2: What Would You Do, Before the Last Day?

“The last day dawns on the Kingdom of Ascalon. It arrives with no fanfare, no tolling of alarms. Those who will remember, will speak fondly of the warm morning breeze. People carry on with their daily lives, unaware that in a short while… everything they have ever known will come to an end.”

All of Tyria is threatened.

There is no turning back.

You will face a decisive moment.

The point of no return.

gw2-noturningback

All this messaging has set off an interesting Reddit speculation thread, choice snippets of which I include below:

reddit1reddit2reddit3

Nah… there’s no way… they couldn’t…. could they?

Our desire for static unchanging persistence, for “permanent” content, for lack of change, screams “NO.”

Apparently, the promise of an MMO for the bulk of its players is not that it is “living” or simulates the real world with changes that ensure you can never step in the same river twice, the attraction is more the promise of permanent persistence, that it is always there and constant and piling on more and more stuff, a hefty elephant getting bigger and bigger and clunkier as it gets older.

But this is a company though that has proven willing to kill its babies, its already-built content. Stuff gets removed, replaced, new art assets come in to take the place of the old. Changes and iterations, in search of the next optimal or best.

The sylvari didn’t start out looking like how they do now.

Kessex Hills and Lion’s Arch are forever changed.

And you know what, as much as we might hope for rebuilding to occur, for some of that old beauty to return, truth is, we really can’t step in the same river twice.

I don’t think Anet will ever be so lazy as to just patch back in the original art assets and go, hooray, rebuilt!

If Lion’s Arch does get rebuilt again, one day… it might harken back to the old, but I bet it’s going to look different… hopefully better.

But you know, just like that Reddit user said, “I still have this pre-searing feeling…”

Let’s think about it.

Anet wouldn’t want to split the playerbase. Chucking in an expansion’s worth of zone content into a normal expansion box pretty much means that everyone who wants the new stuff will have bought a box and gallivanted off to the new lands. What about the slower players who haven’t played through Tyria, do we make them go through it before they join us in… say, Elona or Cantha?

Well, if open world Tyria isn’t habitable anymore, that kinda solves that problem, doesn’t it?

New players might just start as new Canthans, or new Elonans, or new visitors to the new land. If the content is still spread out on a 1-80 scale, they can pretty much level up in Elona or Cantha without ever knowing Tyria, with completely new personal stories that our Tyrian-origin characters won’t have.

Lore-wise, the waking up and movement of an Elder Dragon means a swathe of destruction on a scale that we as players have never witnessed in person before.

It may not happen abruptly in real time. Anet appears to have learned that a two week/four week pacing seems to keep most players on track as far as story beats are concerned. For something of this scale, they may let it stretch out to months (which also gives them time to polish up the next dribble of content.)

How better to create demand than to also artificially create scarcity?

What if we knew that Tyria as we knew it was going to be no more… come… oh, I don’t know, Q3 2015 or something.

Six more months to do whatever you want to do in Tyria, before we say goodbye.

Wouldn’t it be enough time? A new player could buy GW2 and pretty much play up all the Tyrian content in that time, if they wanted.

If they wanted to come in, like, one month to world’s end, there is also always the possibility of saying, “hang on, wait a month and then you can buy GW2: the Elonian edition, the standalone expansion and come play with the rest of us in the Crystal Desert” or something along those lines.

Well, all this is still hypothetical, until we hear what news they choose to share with us at PAX.

But even if it never happens and they’ve got some completely different ideas on the table, perhaps, just perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt to play the game as if we were never going to see Tyria again.

If each zone as you knew it was going to blow up the next day and be wrecked, or even just change and be lost in some other way, what would you have wanted to see or save or preserve in your memories?

gw2-spiral

This weekend, I’m entertaining thoughts of and trying to formulate a plan to carry out The Great Screenshot Pilgrimage.

The scope of it, I’m still trying to nail down, given the supremely limited time I have available and all the other more achiever-oriented things I also want to do.

Ideally, I would want to preserve each zone in my memories doing a walking tour like what I did for Orr, just ambling around and taking screenshot photos of pretty much anything that catches my eye. There’s a lot of unpredictable beauty in GW2’s zones and it’s simply the best way I know to stumble across a scene composition that just sends chills of awe down your spine. But jeez, it takes time and can use up 2-3 hours in one zone. There’s like 28 zones in Tyria. I can do that over a period of months, not this weekend before next Tuesday’s update.

So I started brainstorming a whole list of options for a screenshot project, that might be completed in differing spans of time:

gw2-thaumanova

  • Take the -one- defining picture of the area or zone. Or take a picture of the first thing you think of when you hear the zone’s name. (Those may not be the same thing.)
  • Take 3-5 representative pictures of the zone, covering the major landmarks and scenery.
  • Do it encyclopedia or wiki-style, a picture for each point of interest or vista or named landmark.
  • Do a walking tour of the zone to capture pretty much whatever catches your eye.

gw2-oakheart

Basically, I think my primary desire is to take sufficient “photographs” to recreate my memory of the place, with the secondary desire of wanting to capture unexpected moments of perfect beauty to share with others.

I -was- hoping to kill a few birds with one stone and use a character that needed to a) map explore and b) travel to all the dungeons, but I found out to my dismay that the camera height for an asura is set so low to the point that /sleeping doesn’t really hide one’s body from the image.

Grrr. It’s still possible, but very annoying to try and find workable angles on the asura, whereas I can pretty much just hide interface and /sleep on a charr anywhere and not have to worry about it, beyond the odd shoulder or arm spike getting in the way *hides everything.*

So it looks like I will have to do my screenshots with my tallbies, one of whom has completed map exploration – which would at least make waypointing convenient, but not get me anywhere in terms of map completion, or with the rest at some 40-50% completion, the partial fog of war making it a bit hard to figure out just where I’ve been or not that particular session… bleh, still deciding.

One thing’s for sure.

I tried experimentally doing Metrica Province and Caledon Forest today to get an idea of the time it might take for each zone, and I noticed that I was absolutely playing the game in a different manner, with my goal to look for beauty, rather than the next thing on the to-be-completed list.

gw2-caledon

The act of photography really prompts a lot more in-the-moment mindfulness and a new way of seeing, making you more aware of things you would previously not have seen, being so focused on doing your other mundane things.

Perhaps we should all try playing (or even living) as if we might never see the zone we’re standing in again, rather than assuming it’ll be around for forever.

GW2: Looking Back, Looking Forward & Plans

Yes, I still do take random screenshots for fun... I like the Charr run animation a lot.

It’s fun to read about what different bloggers are focusing on in Guild Wars 2 – what they have and haven’t done speaks volumes about the amount of content for different playstyles that ArenaNet has crammed into this game.

Over at Kill Ten Rats, Ravious (and Bhagpuss in the comments) exchange notes about their game experience so far.

I’ve decided to chime in with my own and add one more data point, so to speak.

/age reports I’ve played a total of 537 hours and 39 minutes over the last 2 months, and 454 of those hours were clocked in on my present main, the level 80 charr guardian.

He’s got a total of 754 deaths… I hope those just reflect how much WvW I do, rather than how much I suck. Falling off cliffs shouldn’t count, I don’t think. (Maybe they do.)

The up and coming alt is a thief who is lvl 57 and climbing. That’s my present interest at the moment, I’d really like to get him to 80 before the rumored backstab nerfs or whatever hit and at least try it out. (Or perhaps I will just pop into the Heart of the Mists one day soon and experiment on some dummies. Something to consider, yes.)

The other alts are babies: lvl 22 necromancer, lvl 12 elementalist, level 4 ranger and to be honest, the necro gained 10 levels via maxing Jeweler and he’s effectively parked at the Grove’s crafting tables for now, inching up his Weaponsmithing whenever I feel like it. The elementalist is my Cook/Tailor but is only about 100-150 in either for now.

The guardian has maxed armorsmith and sub-150 artificer, and thief barely past the 50s in huntsman and nearing 200 or so leatherworker. Yeah, I realize that this means I might have to spend extra karma down the road buying those rare and exotic insignia recipes per character for both weapons and armor, but I don’t really have an issue with karma gain as yet.

I’m sitting on 200k karma on the guardian, after spending 42k x 4 for Orr armor, and I fed the thief the new liquid jugs of karma which gave him 80k, plenty of spending money on the hearts vendors he encounters on his way through Tyria.

I’m in no hurry to get a legendary, so 500k karma is a goal that can be achieved over a year if need be, if I finally tick off all the smaller sized goals I want to get done first.

In an interesting contrast from Ravious, 100% world completion is not one of those must-do now goals for me. I fancy myself an Explorer too with a healthy subset of Achiever, so, eh, what gives? Mostly there is an underlying terror that I might get bored if I do ‘finish’ the entire world on one character. I have alts that want to see new things, dammit.

I took it real easy on the guardian and just wandered where I felt like after giving up zone completion midway through Gendarran Fields. I didn’t even bother doing all hearts and stuff. I just went through the zones that seemed thematic aka Charr war-like and did lots of DEs and lots of fighting because he’s Blood Legion, and Charr love to fight, rarrr! (And I enjoy solo farming so I’d just sit and kill minotaurs or bats or whatever for a while.) Plus some WvW, all story dungeons except CoE (never found a group for it while leveling up) and completed his personal story because I wanted to get to Orr and kill Zhaitan (we will not talk about the minor letdown that was the cannon ‘fight’ any further here.)

On the norn thief, I find the character has more reason to be a open-minded traveler. On a meta level, I’ve explored nearly entirely new zones with him, going through the snowy Norn ones, before following the zones the personal story led to. Now that I’m not in a hurry to get to Orr, and more minded to check out every heart vendor to see what they sell (and buy cooking ingredients,) I’m doing zone completions of the major maps he’s spending time in. I’ve also stumbled into a few jumping puzzles and smaller secret things that way, which is nice.

Again, it’s an interesting contrast to another guildie I know, who has methodically cleared out all his jumping puzzles (presumably for the 10 ArenaNet points and the completed achievement feeling or he just likes jumping challenges, who knows?) No doubt he’s consulted some guide to show him where the entrances are, if not watched a video of them in their entirety.

For me, that would be spoiling the fun, so I refrain. I only check the video if I’m at my wits’ end clinging on to some beam or ledge or falling in circles lost with no idea where the next ‘proper’ jump should be. And I usually stop playing it once I see that one jump, so that I can figure out the rest of it on my own. (Clock tower excepted, I played that in three parts to learn each section, time limit pressure being what it is.)

Both characters are still hovering around ~50% world completion and until I get more alts to 80 and finally want a legendary, that is fine with me. The guardian was a Vigil man (or Charr.) The thief just recently completed the whole story from initiation into the Order of Whispers, all the way to Claw Island, so I finally get to understand what all the Tybalt discussion was about.

(Begin spoiler warning)

For the record, yeah, he’s pretty lovable. It’s also obvious he was intentionally made that way, with his face expressions and all. One of the things I most appreciate about Tybalt is that he has a history and little flaws that we learn about as the story progresses. It makes him feel a lot more believable as a character, some depth to his surface quirks. Forgal of the Vigil, on the other hand, mostly had a bit of oldbie-youngbie friendly banter going on. If there was any more depth to him, it couldn’t have been very memorable because I don’t remember any more of his story.

Putting aside the questionable necessity of the story enforced sacrifice at Claw Island, Tybalt’s courage was a lot more significant because of his backstory – crippled, desk job, but heart wanting more.  And boy, did he have a lot of heart.

My reaction to Forgal was mostly a soldier to soldier reaction, it’s more expected that such a thing might happen, the old veteran dies to give way for the new young ones, remembered with respect but he’s had his full life and this is just a grand cap to his legend – going out soloing the legion of Risen and that badass dragon and all that.  He’s Norn, he’s Vigil, why would he want to live forever, eh?

(End spoiler warning)

It’ll be fun to see the Priory storyline with another alt later, and compare that mentor later on.

As for my daily log-in routine, I’ll play either guardian or thief depending on my mood, and get the daily achievement done. The phrase is a bit of a misnomer, because it’s not as if I check off 20 gatherings and stop, then go on selective wildlife genocide, then find fast chained together events and rush through it. It’s more of a meander.

If I’m leveling the thief, then as he goes on his way to hearts and stuff, the gathering happens, I’ll make it a point to hit one or two of different types of mob, the kills are a no-brainer, and I’ll stumble into DEs as they show up.

The guardian may wander through Frostgorge Sound and do it, and I might luck into a Claw of Jormag fight happening. (I don’t watch dragon timers.) Or I may get most of it done in WvW without realizing it. Or I spend time in Plains of Ashford because I feel most comfortable/familiar with that zone – it being the charr starter zone and all – working on it while waiting for LFM calls for AC explorable.

I do a lot of AC ex runs. To the point where I, a little embarassingly, haven’t done or learned any other explorable dungeon yet besides a chance guild run through one of Twilight Arbor’s paths.

It’s decent money for me, since I don’t find the customary Orr farming terribly appealing or have the wherewithal to flip stuff on the trading post. It’s scored me most of my secondary exotic weapon collection cheaply and relatively painlessly over the last two weeks or so, aka scepter/shield combo and a staff. I like the look of the skins, so it works out well.

I’ve even bought a Gift of Ascalon, because I entertain this vague medium-term hope of crafting Foefire’s Essence as my secondary greatsword. (Sword/focus is still my primary weapon combination of choice and those were cheapo mystic forged and a crafted bought off the TP respectively for the stats I wanted.)

Today, I bought the Gift of Light recipe for 10 gold, exactly half of my stored savings. Ouch. (Oh well, more dungeon runs should have it recover in time. Any extra tears will likely go to the underwater weapons fund.)

It’s going to take me a lot longer to work on the insane quantities of orichalcum and charged lodestones and all that. Some targeted Orr farming will no doubt be in future plans.

Idly reading a reddit thread, I may have found a legendary that I actually like the look of. The torch Rodgort is pretty spiffy, and would match the fiery dragon sword very well. Even better, it won’t overlap with any other weapon I’ve been obtaining so far. This however will be an ultra long term goal. The only step I’d take towards it now is “learn CoF” so that I can start collecting the tokens for that dungeon and have it as part of my repertoire like AC.

To my surprise, I’ve accumulated 483 badges of honour from WvW, so it’s not that far away from the 500 needed. But I don’t even want to begin to look at the Gift of Fortune breakdown until I have a lot more earning power, so forget it for now.

Fortunately, I don’t collect minis or seriously collect dyes so that’s less completist collections to obsess over. The only thing I do hoard at this point is crafting materials. Haven’t sold a single one on the TP yet, which may be why I’m so broke. But I want to get all my crafting professions across the alts to 400 sooner than later, so I’m sure I’ll find uses for them.

Gem-wise, the only thing I really want at this point are character slots. I have this urge to make the Charr warrior I had in beta. But I’m still a little stingy at the current price of gold to gems, I may wait a little and see if they fall a bit once the Halloween stuff comes off the shop.

It all boils down to “I need gold” in the end. Which for me, looks to be best gotten by both working on the thief alt’s zone completions and learning more dungeons in my spare time. So that’s probably what I’ll be doing next.

Along with some WvW if I feel like it.

And it may also be time to do some experimenting and theorycrafting and reading up build guides to get new ideas and playstyles for both.

Lots and lots to do in GW2.

TSW: Early AR/Blades Build Rework for Savage Coast

And you thought clowns were scary...

Speaking of specs, and back to a more normal tone of voice, I’m mildly thankful that I started detecting some problems with my first build while in The Savage Coast.

I hear Blue Mountain is the place most people get a cynical wake up call. I prefer to begin practising revising builds when things are not so critical and I can still gain AP and SP while questing around in the second zone.

I was putting it off because I was expecting to have to do a full and extensive speciality dps, heal, tank gear finding and new skills triple build rework. The situation got a bit critical when I kept wiping on a particular amusement park quest that had to do with surviving waves of things.

(In retrospect, I suspect proper positioning and lots of movement and running would have helped me survive it better, but it was a good excuse to look askance at my current build.)

The good news is that I discovered I could keep putting off the massive gear hunt and build rework to a later date. A bit of skill tweaking of active and passives was sufficient to improve performance in my current mix of 1-2 tank talismans and the rest DPS stuff.

(I haven’t experimented with healing gear yet, not decided on just how much self-healing I’d like to do. So far the large hp reservoir provides enough to get by on mob spawns while constantly doing damage, regen is quick when out of combat and there’s always a spare energy drink heal for emergencies.)

My current two weapons are Assault Rifles and Blades, and though I started from a ranged AR focus, more and more, I’ve been increasingly keen to just keep running in and chopping things up because the blade is such a meat grinder and I get a big kick out of seeing penetrating hits. I guess our preferences show in the end. I’m a melee person at heart.

Nothing like reworking your build while being entertained. The demon and the draug decided to have it out with each other because I didn’t want to play with either of them.

My first build was a sloppy mix of starting abilities from both the AR and Blade inner wheels. It sorta reflected a desire to do both single target (ST) and area of effect (AoE) damage, with the knowing tradeoff that I wouldn’t be healing, I would be glass cannoning. I previously had Anima Shot in at one point, but it felt so slow to run around kiting and Anima Shotting, and I gave it up to try and stack afflicted=>penetration synergy.

Actives

1) Safety Off – AR builder – ST burst damage
2) Fire at Will – AR finisher – AoE damage
3) Delicate Strike -Blades builder- ST damage
4) Blade Torrent – Blades builder with hate – AoE damage
5) Balanced Blade – Blades finisher – AoE damage
6) Dancing Blade – Blades finisher – ST channeled damage
7) Slow the Advance – AR elite – AoE ground-targeted damage with Hindered state

Passives

1) Extra Bullet – bonus bullet to Safety Off
2) Delicate Precision – bonus 10% penetration chance to Delicate Strike
3) Perfect Storm – Blade Torrent adds Afflicted DoT
4) Eagle Eye – 10% bonus AR damage
5) Sharp Blades – 10% bonus Blades damage
6) Dark Potency – Blood passive, improved penetration rating on appying Afflicted
7) Fluid Defense – When you receive a glancing blow, you gain 1 stack of the “Minor Ward” buff.  Whenever you make a Penetrating Hit you gain a buff that increases all damage by 5% for 10 seconds.

 

Okay, it’s a little sloppy on examination now, but it did fine in Kingsmouth. I basically had the capacity to attack from range with AR and apply AoE damage, kite as long as necessary, and then let mobs close in and finish them off with Blades, either AoE a group down, or the single target stuff.

I threw in the option to improve penetration for increased blade damage by spamming blade torrent (hate doesn’t matter if you’re alone) until the five buff stacks had accumulated and then change to single target as needed.

What this build was missing was any semblance of survivability.

Like the poor Draug.

So I went and found a suggested AR/Blades starting build to try out for comparison purposes – Aela’s My First 60 AoE and Survival Healing with AR/Blades. Bear in mind I’m barely 1/3 into the Savage Coast and just started in on the 9 AP outer wheel skills and leery of taking more without any focused plan. I’m leaning towards branching into one or two more inner wheel weapons to give myself more potential flexibility as I later hit Blue Mountain before going too deep into the outer wheel, honestly. So a “My First 60″ build sounded more doable, rather than some uber endgame build.

Active Abilities
Blade Torrent (Blade)
Forking Paths (Blade)
Balanced Blade (Blade)
Stunning Swirl (Blade)
Fire at Will (AR)
Fire in the Hole (AR)
Anima Shot

Passive Abilities
Lick Your Wounds (Fist)
Perfect Storm (Blade)
Sharp Blade (Blade)
Expose Weakness  (Blade)
Anima Boost (AR)
Fluid Defenses (Blade)
Immortal Spirit (Blade)

Well, one problem was immediately apparent. I didn’t have enough AP for Forking Paths, but I went and put in all the other abilities and just left Delicate Strike in as a placeholder.

Testing it out on some convenient demons by the Overlook Motel, I liked the smidgen of extra survivability from the self-healing and Anima Shot, even without Forking Paths and without any healing focused gear. I also realized that Fire in the Hole was a very nice ST finisher I was missing from AR, though I found it disorientating to have to keep switching targets to alternate Fire at Will and Fire in the Hole. And that I liked Stunning Swirl a whole lot more than Slow the Advance.

Let’s face it, I’m a melee person. A slow is more useful for a primarily ranged kiter. The grenade AoE in Slow the Advance looked cool, but I wasn’t exploiting the Hindered state much. The Impaired state yields valuable survival time, and it was a convenient interrupt for any mob’s big attacks they were charging up.

I really missed doing sexy single-target damage though.

So I saved the above as an AoE build, pending Forking Paths for completion, and started tweaking.

They were really going at it.

I settled on the following for now, mostly because it’s what I have unlocked, and it lets me go crazy single-target meleeing, with the added bonus of a good single target finisher for AR, while still having basic AoE and ranged kiting options as a fall back plan. And it has some basic affliction=>penetration and impaired synergies.

Actives

1) Grass Cutter – Blades builder – ST damage, bonus damage to afflicted targets
2) Dancing Blade – Blades finisher – ST channeled damage
3) Anima Shot – AR only builder – ST damage, small heal leech
4) Blade Torrent – Blades builder with hate – AoE damage
5) Stunning Swirl – Blades elite – AoE damage, adds Impaired state for 3 seconds, useful interrupt
6) Fire in the Hole – AR finisher – ST damage, simulates delayed grenade, explodes after 2 seconds
7) Fire at Will – AR finisher – AoE damage

Passives

1) Immortal Spirit – HoT on penetrating hit
2) Expose Weakness – Improved penetration chance on applying Impaired
3) Perfect Storm – Blade Torrent adds Afflicted DoT
4) Anima Boost – AR leech boost
5) Sharp Blades – 10% bonus Blades damage
6) Fatal Flourish – Blades passive, improved penetration rating on appying Afflicted (Dark Potency is identical to this)
7) Fluid Defense – When you receive a glancing blow, you gain 1 stack of the “Minor Ward” buff.  Whenever you make a Penetrating Hit you gain a buff that increases all damage by 5% for 10 seconds.

 

The basic idea is to snipe with Anima Shot to build the AR combo (Blade already starts out a full 5/5) and dump Fire in the Hole to finish. The mob usually closes into melee range by this point. (For a ranged mob, you can continue sniping with these two skills and laugh maniacally and slowly wear it down while not being hurt much, thanks to the leech, or just close the gap when you’re bored.)

Dancing Blade to dump the 5/5 Blades combo. Then Blade Torrent to build up improved penetration rating stacks, and affliction and Stunning Swirl to mess with the mob’s big attack or just impair for the heck of it. Fire in the Hole to use up the AR combo, Dancing Blade to use up Blade combo, both of which will roughly finish at the same time amusingly.

Grass Cutter now for more damage, mixed with a Blade Torrent or two to keep up affliction and penetration stacks and the two finishers whenever necessary. Mob is usually dead before the grenade can hit.

For mob clumps, fall back on Stunning Swirl, spamming Blade Torrent and Fire at Will. Clean up remnants with single target damage.

Retreat and kite with Anima Shot and Fire in the Hole if really running out of hp, which can add a couple precious seconds of hanging on time, but not an endless amount. Supplement with a healing energy drink if thinking correctly and not in a panic.  Should have been running from such an awful mob in the first place if the health bar wasn’t denting initially on first contact.

So far so good in the Savage Coast. Should be able to tide me over picking up a couple more inner wheel stuff for another two or three weapons, and then I’ll maybe look back at the outer wheel stuff and think about what else can be upgraded and improved on as Blue Mountain approaches.

 

P.S. Rift Martyr 1. Draug 0.