GW2: First Nearly Incoherent Thoughts

So…

The only real reason you’re seeing this post from me now is that Guild Wars 2 is undergoing a scheduled 20-60min downtime.

For once in a very long time, it has been a lot more fun just playing the dang MMO instead of thinking and blogging about it.

For once I’m nearly at a loss for words on where to start talking about the game. I’m going to be more incoherent than usual because I don’t have a point, I just to want to gush. There’s so much to do and see and learn and explore and yes, endlessly slaughter.

I truly don’t understand how people are having a problem with gaining experience. I suspect they’re just running from heart to heart and not doing anything else. I’ve gone from heart to heart. I’ve run to vistas and points of interests. I’ve run across lots of dynamic events (a few of them annoyingly bugged) and triggered quite a few more by simply talking to an NPC. Yes, the ones all the rest of the zerg runs past. If there ain’t enough DEs in your zone, either something’s broken or you simply don’t have a curious ‘push everything, chat up everything’ explorer around in your vicinity. Too bad, try to be one. I’ve gone into off the beaten track places with nothing indicated on the map and voila, a jumping puzzle, a hidden cave, an underwater tunnel, and yes, veteran or champion mobs and even the odd treasure chest or two that is a pleasant surprise.

I’ve gone back to old zones and gathered materials like crazy because I need so much copper ore and so much wood to level crafting. (Let’s not talk about jute now. I got so desperate without the trading post working, I had to buy cloth gear off the armorsmith and salvage it. Welp, for once the white no-magic armor vendor has a use! If an expensive one.) I’ve camped out various mob families because I want vials of weak blood, lots and lots. I’ve crafted lots and lots. (*glares at trading post being down* Though I haveta admit, the quaggan picture they must have done up in a hurry is kinda cute, and nicer than the 504 proxy not found error that it was giving some time back.)

Do not make quaggan angry. You would not like it if quaggan gets angry…

I’ve done the Charr Blood Legion personal story up to level 30, and making plans to make nearly similar alts just to explore the choices not chosen. For example, what if I trusted or didn’t trust someone? Then there’s the other Legions’ stories. (I’m not even sure when I’ll be getting to the other four races’ zones, I did up to lvl 5 sneak peeks in all of them and said, wow, too much to think about, leave it for later.)

And after completing the two Charr zones (Plains of Ashford and Diessa Plateau) to completion and three quarters of the way through the Gendarran Fields, I got bored of the zone routine and changed it up by visiting the Ascalon Catacombs dungeons. Then I went WvWvWing and um, lost track of time and levels even more than usual, I think I’m 4 levels higher without realizing it.

Random funny WvWvW story. Crowd mechanics and the zerg mentality are rampant at the moment, and since it’s such a new game and barely launched, folks don’t entirely know what to do. (I generally like it, it’s refreshing to learn a dungeon, a fight, an entire game together.) Our WvWvW zerg crashed through the north outer gate of a keep we were taking, and despite the leader’s exhortations to assault the inner gate of the keeper, a good 3/4 of the force made a beeline (following the first guy, I guess) for the SOUTH outer gate of the keep to assault it from… the inside!

You can no doubt imagine the hilarious “OMGWTFBBQ” CAPS LOCK screaming of the leader over the team channel as the 3-4 of us lined up at the outer gate just a bit shy of the NPC guards and looked at each other and the crowd of green dots at the wrong gate. Five minutes later, that got sorted out and the zerg was positioned accordingly, luckily, not under extreme defender fire at the time.

I’d write more, and maybe about the dungeons, but I seriously cannot get my thoughts in order at this point. I just want to log on and play.

I’ll… try to be back on this blog sooner, rather than later.

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TSW: Short Snippets – Savage Coast to Blue Mountain

General update is that I’m (more or less) done with the Savage Coast and into Blue Mountain.

Though with a count of only 44 quests or so in Kingsmouth Town (where I hear some people are maxing out at upwards of 53+), that’s still leaving me feeling like I’ve missed a bunch of things. The Savage Coast quest count was also around there, 40ish, as I headed into the third zone.

“Normal didn’t work out for you?” You don’t say… Woman, there’s an Ak’ab pacing outside your window.

One of the things that struck me about the Savage Coast was the sense of incompletion, in the sense that there ought to be more to discover about Innsmouth Academy and Sam Krieg and why was it that there was only one investigation mission about the amusement park that I encountered… Amusingly, this feeling turns out to be somewhat justified, as this stuff is still pending in the supposed monthly update that is coming – I am keeping my fingers crossed that Funcom can deliver properly.

I do wonder if they’ve thought this update plan through though. I forsee a flood of people all descending like a swarm of locusts on the ‘new content’ from all corners of whatever zone they are presently in. And as any current TSW player knows, too many people trying to do the same quest can be a not-so-nice thing. Either it all gets completed too quickly with nary a sense of appropriate challenge (as the other guy pwns the quest solution and your own tracker updates while you’re still trying to figure out what’s going on), or it is liable to bug and break.

The Bogeyman instance was… fun. I’d be hearing that some people had problems with it and was anticipating it with some trepidation. It turns out that what the Bogeyman has, minor spoiler warning, is a lot of gimmick dungeon-boss-like mechanics in a solo instance. You have to read very quickly where you’re not supposed to be and don’t stand in the fire (or the glowing green magic patch) on a continuous basis, or you’re liable to get blasted for something ugly. Sometimes, hug him in melee range, which as a blades user, makes me very happy. Sometimes, AoE stuff forms around him and you’d be daft to keep standing in it, so retreat and kite and snipe a bit. Unsoweiter. I like it. Thanks for giving soloers some challenging stuff. (Now if you’d just make the enforced solo instances group-able, so that group-loving sorts can do it in their duos and trios, then we’ll all be very happy. See, as a soloist, I think about the groupies too!)

I was a little too busy moving in the battle to screenshot, but here’s him falling over.

Besides reworking the skills build in the Savage Coast, the other notable improvement that I took the time to do was UI-related, a massive inventory re-sorting. While I’d discovered the ‘new bag’ feature on my own, the resize bag function was not at all obvious, thanks to TSW’s little pixel misalignment problem (everything is a little lower and right of where you’d expect it to be – gives problems with character creation sliders, closing windows with the little X button, and so on.)

Nor had I realized there was a lock feature (shows I don’t read the helpfiles that pop up, eh?), which I immediately took advantage of by arranging my consumable heals and HoTs on the left, and barrier/cc break/buffs on the right of the health and skill bars and locking those.

The rest is just neatness. Stack base, imperfect and normal tier components and runes in order for easy crafting. Weapons in another bag. Arranged my semi-incomplete but steadily building DPS/Tank/Heal talisman collection in a neat 1×7 row on top of each other. They’re still greens because that’s what the quests and monster loot drops. I’m wearing a blue DPS belt I bought off the Council of Venice vendor near Red’s Bait and Tackle, and I’m saving the rest for the Blue Mountain vendor, which I hear has higher quality stuff.

To be honest, I half prefer the greens since I mostly solo, they all come with the necessary hp and don’t give me a headache trying to decide if I should be rummaging around for more tank pieces to offset all the hp I’m losing by equiping a blue DPS thingamajig. It’ll no doubt be easier when I have more blue pieces to play around with, at which point the general 33% improvement would be good, but I’m not losing any sleep over it now.

It’s not a bad state of affairs, that greens seem to be good for casual or loner generalists and blues work for groupy specialists who like to turn themselves into co-dependent glass cannons and heal0rs and meatshields. (I watched one of those glass cannons sitting on 2000 hp try the same Blue Mountain quest I was on. He got overrun and swarmed badly. Three times. He ended up waiting for my rabid soloing 3000hp self to get tired of carving up random mobs in the vicinity and meander over, at which point I ended up tanking for him while he unloaded obliterating death upon the poor swarm.)

Oh, I’m glad to report that my AR/Blade build is still working (more or less) satisfactorily in Blue Mountain. It’s missing a touch more, which is more a weapon/talisman stats sort of deal, needs more hit rating and a bit more SP in the weapon (ramped Blade from 4 to 6, AR still playing catch up at 5) and to up my overall talisman quality (on 4, and QL5ish gear, working my way to 5 and QL6,) rather than a skill build issue.

And so far so good with Blue Mountain in general. It’s an interesting zone, and feels more packed than Savage Coast, to be honest. I’m liking it because it reminds me of City of Heroes’ hazard zone The Hollows. The basic thing people need to realize is that the zone is -dangerous- and to apply care and alertness and aggro radius awareness skills when moving through it, or you’ll soon be finding you’ve misstepped in a gauntlet and now have a train of mobs after your arse.

I think situational awareness is what a number of people are lacking practice with, currently. (Spoilers follow.) The first thing you run into when you zone in is a bridge full of ominous looking corpses. If you follow blindly the side quest you pick up that says ‘track the trail of blood’ leading right through those corpses, it is very easy to over aggro the entire fucking bridge full of zombies who will wake up and… let’s face it. In TSW, we kill 1 or 2 mobs at a time without dying, not 30. This developer trap is put here for a reason, imo, it says, wake up now, the road ahead is not smooth sailing.

And yes, I walked right into it, died once, attempted to pull slowly for about three zombies before I decided, this is not going to get me anywhere, the bridge is obviously a booby trap, maybe I should go look at the other side quest for now. Which is a ‘follow the arrows’ trail quest, into dark surroundings and bear traps. Which I thankfully did not step into because I was jogging along at normal pace, but random sprinter pelting gung ho ahead of me promptly demonstrated the leg chomping functionality of said bits of not-so-harmless scenery. And the resulting Wendigo ambush. Ah ha. Rule number 1, don’t step into traps. Rule number 2, hunt down lurking mobs and kill them before they ambush you. Then proceed on merry way.

(There is also another shortcut route past the bridge, which is really simple, just step right off it into the river below and wander back up again. No aggro whatsoever, assuming you don’t foolishly run pell-mell into the Draug area, and hey, there is a bonus lore shiny nearby too.)

Discovered this in the Savage Coast, but it’s good for Blue Mountain too. Letting the Ak’ab ram itself into a convenient wall as it charges. Was hilarious fun. Positioning, folks, learn how to use it.

Other than that, a lot of Blue Mountain questing seems to be about patiently carving yourself a safe route through areas too crowded to just run past (unless you have nerves of steel and a high sprint speed like a Templar I watched dash straight across the bridge and get to Sarge, trailing 30 rabid zombies after her. One of whom came after me, who had promptly jumped onto a rock and hugged the cliff face in an attempt to get out of the way of the crazy train. Thanks, scummy Templar.)

I did get swarmed just outside the entrance of Blue Mountain mine by way too many yellow mobs, but that was my fault for jumping down a cliff at a convenient location and thinking I could fight a mob in crowded surroundings. Evidently, I couldn’t. Skirting it for now and getting a few more SP before I try again, still lots of side quests yet to be completed.

And knowing when to run away saves lives. Over-aggro? Run. Not kite, they chase you longer if you keep shooting at them. I’ve leapt off cliffs more than once (hooray, no fall damage) to break aggro and managed to save my skin.

And the other skin-saver? Consumables. I don’t know how many players in Blue Mountain are dying because they’re ignoring that they have consumable heals. I suspect at least a few. Some recommend picking up the Turn the Tables heal from the Ability Wheel, which gives a decent self-heal every 30 seconds, I hear. I might pick it up some day for better soloability, but I don’t like the idea of giving up a skill slot for it just yet. Consumables have been sufficient for me so far. And I mostly only use them near other players – because I end up either helping to shoot a mob off them while I’m already finishing fighting one, or some emergency happens because they triggered some quest or other. When I’m on my own, I tend to clear steadily, and pull mobs into an area that is clear enough to use my AoE builder for affliction.

Still working my way through this zone slowly, enjoying the journey. Back with hopefully more screenshots and stuff to talk about a couple days later.