[GW2] Typical SmakenDahed Fashion…

In typical ‘me’ fashion, I pick at a game trying to find out why I keep stalling then end up spending the next day playing it lots.

I settled on the Charr for a race. I liked the personal story and militant nature of them. This time I went Ash Legion instead of Blood Legion so there was a different start.

I went Ranger for class. I figure I liked having a pet in WoW, might enjoy it in GW2. So far I do like it, it is quite different from WoW.

You don’t have as much control over your pet – call back, attack my target, toggle aggressive/passive and trigger a single special ability. In WoW you could set up macros to handle casting a varied number of abilities (not sure how much that was impacted by Mists of Pandaria, but I suspect it was) so you had a little more control over them. I also haven’t sorted out exactly how it works for taming a pet. It seems a simple choice to “Charm” when you stumble across something that can be tamed. I see a panel of pets I could have charmed and what seems to be two actively available which I can toggle between with F4 – which is nice. Some pets are not available under water (makes sense) so you automatically dismiss the non-water pet and pull out the water capable one. It’s possible (and likely) the pet management window has two spots for land and two for water – I didn’t really look closely at this and it wasn’t shoved in my face since I have the tutorial tips off.

I have three pets at the moment: Devourer, Hyena and Bear. The Devourer (scorpion looking thing) is amphibious so that is what pops out when I go into the water. Its special ability is to drop a poison cloud effect on the ground (looks like it can be used in combos too). The Hyena’s special ability is to spawn a duplicate/ally that I have no control over and it seems to roam about agroing stuff when what I’m fighting was dead. The Bear has a roar special ability which (I think) is a debuff.

I think I found an issue with the pet naming system. I named the Devourer something, loaded up the Hyena in the second slot and renamed that. Then swapped the Bear into the first slot (in place of the Devourer) and the Devourer’s name stuck to it. I could rename it, just weird that it didn’t refresh back to the other name (or Juvenile Black Bear).

The are Abilities you can pick up that impact the pet; buff it, make it go faster, attack harder, or even eat conditions that are affecting nearby allies. I avoided those for now since I have a limited number of slots available.

Your Heal Abilities all affect you and your pet, with the exception being the Healing Spring which is a ground targeted AE and your pet will likely run out of range of it to fight with enemies (you can call them back and the mob should follow or you can wait and drop it where the mob is fighting).

The other Abilities appear to be traps (mainly) which are actually not bad. Some you plant where you are and other you can toss a short range out. I haven’t gotten too far into these to really see what they’re like. One non-trap, non-pet ability I picked up was a passive benefit to move speed of 25%… so says the Ability tip. The actual buff tip says 10% which seems pretty insignificant but I guess 25% increase was too much. The ‘active’ effect makes your pet attack a little harder.

I’ve got him up to level 14 or so.

As can be expected, pet classes seem a little more durable in PVE than others. With my Bear out, I can easily take on the Veterans, sometimes swapping the Hyena out, spawning an ally, then swapping back to the Bear (there is a cooldown on the swapping). If one happens to die, one key stroke and I have the other one out. It’s kinda nice. I hope I can expand the number of pets in that cycle but I think it’s going to stick to two.

After a few guild invites, I decided to see what was involved in creating a guild.

One lone silver piece. That’s all it took. So I created Clawed Defense Caste or CDC. Yes, that was intentional… it is me we’re talking about.

Seems the guild mechanism is interesting. It’s fueled by Influence which is gained by a number of ways (dungeons, PVP, quests – I think) including selling out some coin for amounts. I shelled out enough to buy the first level of Politics. That took 16 hours to complete – it just sits in a queue baking (mmm… bacon). So I hopped on last night for a couple of minutes to queue up the Emblem item which required the Politics first rank. That will enable me to create a guild emblem – which I just did. Go me. I queued up the only other thing I could, which was a banner to get me some Karma bonus.

Thing about banners (and why I mentioned ‘fueled by influence’ above) is that they are one shot – I think – some sort of limitation applies. I’m not sure if it’s consumed on use or if it is ‘carried’ by someone. I’ll find that out tomorrow at some point.

It doesn’t seem like guilds level at all, short of advancing in one of the four trees; Politics, Economy, War and Architecture. Scaling up in these open up other benefits and banners or effects. Architecture seems to open up Vault options for the guild. Politics seems to revolve around Influence, Karma and displaying Guild colors. Economy looks to be focused on increasing crafting related things. War focuses on rewards or impacts in PVP – duh.

Not a bad system really.

That’s all I have for now…

[GW2] Breaking Through my Wall

I’ve got an odd wall blocking me in GW2 and I can’t determine what exactly is causing it so I’m going to do what I normal do and just blather about it… and make all my readers suffer through it.

Where do I stall?

Mid-20s though my highest is mid-30s.

I admit, I floundered a lot trying to find a class I would like. I managed to get three to The Wall (my creation, not something specific to the game).

The first was a Norn Guardian, my highest, who I managed to get to level 35. I completed her personal story which was amusing and I appear to be getting into the next portion of the actual game story. By this point, I’ve unlocked all the weapon abilities (most people will have done this long ago), I’ve grabbed a bunch of talent abilities (including a 10 point one), I’ve explored (100%) several of the lower zones for Norns and I’m into the Human/Scar areas. I’ve done numerous events and heart quest areas, done vistas, skill changes, gathering and crafting to a comparable level of my toon and now I have little interest in continuing.

Problems that I can see?

I look a lot like I did when I first started playing. My armor has a scale look instead of a chain look. It’s rather boring and it hasn’t changed much in 30 odd levels. The evolution from chain to scale is minor, slow and sorta blah. Dyes only do so much. My weapons haven’t changed in appearance much either, though they are growing in power and strength, they’re nothing to get attached to.

Skills are also not changing. Once you unlock the weapon skills (which can be done really early) you’re pretty much continuing to use them through all the 80 levels. Yes, you can swap weapon sets giving you different abilities in the fight, they really aren’t all that different. They don’t change over the levels. I think I find this somewhat boring and doesn’t encourage me to continue.

With regard to the talent points you spend on abilities (Skills); certain ones seem to be of more value than others and I find myself using them over others. Obviously, some favor PVP and others PVE but once you’ve unlocked them, they are available for choice. I do like that there is a limitation, you can only have a certain number available at a time, it encourages choice… I like that. I don’t like that there really isn’t a lot to choose from. These abilities typically have lengthy cooldowns depending on what they do and how powerful they are. Again, I find a limited number interesting enough to pick and the others are just filler to gain access to the next tier of abilities. I think this is the core of my issue with continuing – I feel I have all the progression I need and won’t gain any more short of unsexy numeric gains (more health).

The other points you get are for traits which give you unsexy gains (numeric gains) with waypoints at (5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30) that grant you extra effectiveness in line with the stat you are increasing. At the 10, 20, and 30 point you get to pick from a set which typically augments one of the Skills you pick up. It’s a nice system with a lot of choice available, a reasonable amount of complexity (lacking in other games) and synergies built in to encourage certain builds. The sort of thing I miss from other games (like WoW)… still, it doesn’t have any draw to me.

Dungeons – at level 30 I have yet to do a dungeon. I think I’ve stumbled on to only one so far. I hear it is probably a good thing I haven’t done a dungeon yet. Apparently they are a little lacking in reward and challenge – but that is hearsay. The fact that I don’t have an easy means of trying one out and that I’ve only seen one in 30 levels of play, leads me to believe that dungeons aren’t an important aspect of Guild Wars 2… which could be reasonable given it’s PVP focus. I think this is another pain point for me, I generally enjoy dungeons.

Lack of quests is an intentional design. They wanted things to be more dynamic, but what that really means is if you miss the event, you miss the quest. If you know where the event goes, you could try to find it and help out but if you don’t, then you can either move on or wait for it to start up again. That is assuming you even know one occurs there, if you don’t, you may wander by without even encountering it. They do have NPCs that will randomly run up to do you and tell you there are events happening near by and you might see an indicator on the map. I’m not really sure this is a better system than having quest hubs… it does feel more natural if you encounter it, but if you don’t, you miss out.

I come from a background of EverQuest where you had to run around and hail people, use keywords to get quest information and you didn’t have a quest log to track progress, you had to do that yourself. I say this so people reading this know I’m not a WoWbie where everything is handed to you.

I don’t like this dynamic event system. I can’t put my finger on why – the chance of missing something? The animatronic nature of it? If ever there was a ‘theme park’ mechanic, having rides that you hop onto and they run every few minutes seems to describe it better.

Lack of resources is another thing I don’t like. Character classes don’t exactly have resources limiting them – this is untrue for all cases, I realize this – instead they have cooldowns limiting the use of abilities. I don’t think I like this system as much as managing my resources. It comes down to managing cooldowns instead. Now I mention that it is untrue for all classes, examples of this are the Warrior who can build up Adrenalin then burn it in a powerful attack or Thieves who do have a limited resource they build up and consume, but ultimately, there is no limiting resource on something like an Elementalist short of cooldowns. Ultimately, this feels more like whack-a-mole than any real set pattern (again, some classes may be exceptions, like the Thief). There is a way around some of this, such as swapping weapon sets (which is encouraged by many classes gaining temporary boosts by swapping weapons) or changing elements (in the case of an Elementalist). Some pattern play can arise from this, but I find it less different.

I’ll take my Elementalist as an example. Regardless of what weapons I’m using (Elementalists don’t have the ability to swap weapon sets like other classes, instead they swap elements; Fire, Air, Water and Earth), each of the elements perform similar actions or results with the exception of Water which typically has a healing ability tied to it. So if I’m wielding a staff, my 1-5 abilities typically follow the same pattern between the elements. Button 1 is an AOE on the target, 2 is a cast timed DD (sometimes AOE), 3 is usually some sort of AOE sometimes with a slowing effect, 4 is almost always a movement ability while 5 is a targeted, channeled AOE. It doesn’t matter which element I’m in, the pattern remains (exception being Water, which typically has a heal effect added). The elements differ in the special effects (bleed, burn, heal, etc.) added, combinations opened (a lot of the placed AOE abilities can be used by other classes for additional effect) and appearance. The Elementalist can get around some of the cooldowns by switching elements, so if you’re not switching, you’re doing it wrong.

There are a lot of really neat ideas and systems in Guild Wars 2 which should appeal to me greatly (I love systems) but for some reason it doesn’t. I have no motivation to advance to the cap or continue playing once I’ve gotten far enough to see how a class plays and gain most of the abilities that interest me.

I have played the Guardian to 34, Elementalist and Warrior to mid-20s. I’ve played the Thief, Hunter and Necromancer into the teens. Nothing really sticks.

What motivates you to keep playing?

Anything I say stand out?

Is it the sum of all the little things that makes the game not last for me?

 

[GW2] Slow Down

I’ve slowed down a bit over the last week for GW2 play time. I mostly get on some point for the weekend, explore an area, collect the ‘points’ then pop off to do something else. Not because GW2 has lost my interest, but because I’m feeling like there is a lot to do in a “Skyrim – your journal is full of stuff” only there is no real journal so it leaves me sorta freaked out that I’ll forget something.

Yes. I am too lazy to write down areas to revisit or even alt-tab and type it into Notepad.

PVP goes well enough though it seems I’m suffering from the success of the evening groups (which I’m never a part of). They do very well at their time frame, dominating the map then disappear come morning and afternoon when I play. That means we’re always facing top of the line servers and I find myself stuck in with the less organized casuals.

Yeah, I’m casual too, but I’m willing to collect the supply, build siege weapons and follow orders.

I think another source of my lack of enjoyment is that I have no one to share my successes with – that is more my fault than anyone else though. I don’t participate in guild activities or even chat much. See? My fault. I think if I knew people better or was more involved I’d have more of a stake in doing is available.

Guardian is at level 34, Warrior and Engineer are up to 11, Elementalist is sitting at 9 and I have a low level Rogue.

I have yet to do that level 30 dungeon but I figure I’ll get to it.

Combat

Evolving Squid commented in my last GW2 post that he found the combat somewhat boring. I somewhat agree.

Ultimately I use sword and shield so the first three abilities are my attack abilities: autoattack chain, teleport to target and strike, series of strikes that can also be ranged for less damage+sets up a close shield. The offhand abilities consist of one shield attack that raises protection for me and nearby allies and impacts nearby foes negatively while the last item (5) is a shield that knocks people back. The heal ability I use is an auto-cleanse of one condition every 10 seconds but is otherwise unexciting. For my talent base abilities I typically run with an increase to Power passive with knockdown active, the ring of fire (sort of like a WoW Paladin’s Consecrate ability) and teleport to target+strike and AOE ring of fire ability. For my Epic ability I took the Bearform (since the toon picked Bear totem – yeah, I’m a Norn Guardian – I regret going with a female though… I think the male would have been more impressive).

The Epic ability is actually somewhat amusing. When I change form I end up losing my typical action bar and it’s replaced with 5 abilities; attack chain, powerful sweeping attack, series of progressively more damaging attacks, a shout (PBAE ally buff/enemy debuff) and a charge attack that is wicked fun – bowls everyone over on my way to the target then slams the target and knocks them back.

I’m sure most readers (I do still have readers, right?) who are familiar with WoW are probably thinking, “I really don’t press more than a few buttons in WoW either…” which is true but I find WoW tends to have more of a build up or require a little more attention to elevate the damage output. You have to use things in an order and fire off some sort of finisher while with GW2 it’s a lot of button mashing.

Example? My DK in WoW typically uses Horn of Winter to buff up, pops the ability to dump all the diseases on a target, then Pestilence to spread it, then Death and Decay, then Death Strike or Heart Strike. If that disease dump ability isn’t available, I have to add Plague Strike, Icy Grip (or whatever it is called) and Death Strike (or Heart Strike) to get the diseases up to a target.Usually popping a Boil Blood in there because DPS is too impatient to wait until they see I have Death and Decay down… then I spread the diseases and drop Death and Decay, etc.

There is more of a purpose to what I’m doing than just  “the ability is ready”. Maybe it’s just my lack of understanding of the abilities, but there doesn’t seem to be as much of a build up to them as there is in WoW.

For the Thief (in GW2) you have your main attack which is mostly a builder of resources then you have your other abilities which consume that resource and that’s about it.

For a WoW Rogue (Rouge, sorry!) you build up your combo points with various abilities then apply a finisher that consumes them all granting more of a result based on whether you hit the 5 point cap or not. These results can be a number of things and it matters. You’re not just hitting the button because it’s available. i.e. for Combat Rogue you want to Sinister Strike, Revealing Strike and pop Slice and Dice for haste increase, then build up again and pop Eviscerate for big damage… unless you have a bleed buffer then you might want to pop Rupture. There just seems to be more to it.

I guess you can say most GW2 classes feel like an Arcane Mage… sorta. Mash the 1 button and pop a few other buttons when they’re available but even the Arcane Mage has to keep track of the build up for Barrage.

Again, maybe I’m missing something or just playing the wrong classes… but it doesn’t feel that way.

I recognize the Warrior builds up Adrenaline and then dumps it for some effect depending on his weapon equipped and sometimes you want to swap your weapons out to gain access to different abilities, but even then you’re still limited to that one set.

My Guardian’s second weapon set is a Scepter and Torch which I typically use during sieges in WvWvW because they give me a ranged attack, a ground AOE, a root (good for catching runners) and for my Torch I get another ranged (fire damage shield that you can toss at someone) and another cone AOE (it does crazy damage).

Admittedly in WvWvW the combat is more entertaining because people do different things.

One upside is that you do get a lot of Talent abilities that you can swap in and out for different effects and swapping weapons often gives you different types of abilities – you just do tend to button mash with those too.

Another upside to PVE combat is that mobs don’t typically die in one or two abilities and with the downscaling of levels as you enter areas, this (mostly) remains true. This means DoTs aren’t somewhat a waste like in other PVE in MMOs (Oh hai WoW!).

Still, I can’t break the feel of mashing buttons until another ability is available in PVE.

Is GW2 dead to me already?

No. I’m not paying a monthly fee for it so I can pop back to it whenever I feel like it.

Auction House

There has been a lot of talk about the cross server Auction House… I like it. It becomes a Buyer’s market which I like but then I’ve never been one to play the Auction House or get too into Crafting that others were. I don’t care that materials cost more than finished product (even though I recognize that is ass backwards), but it really does come down to (I believe Tobold said this) supply and demand. GW2 does not take items out of the game which means there is less of a demand on the finished products. Everyone is looking to do some crafting (because it’s not overly painful to do) so there is a demand for crafting materials.

 

 

[GW2] Some Issues

I crashed early yesterday instead of staying up late for all the servers to come up – before 9pm.

I ended up waking up around 4:30am because the LBO had crept into my bed and was doing his best to take up as much space as possible. I carried him off to his room, placing him up on the top bunk then staggered back to bed.

A few minutes later I could hear shuffling little feet as the LLO came into our room and said he couldn’t find his pajama top (he fell asleep on the couch so we put him to bed in his clothes). Several minutes later he crawled in between me and TheWife and gave us hugs then promptly fell asleep.

And started sleep talking.

Eying the clock I saw it was now 5am and figured that was good enough.

Down I went, set up the laptop, fired up GW2 which wanted me to change my email address. So I did, then needed to confirm the change and finally logged in. I picked Yak’s Bend as my server and proceeded to roll up a (female) Norn Guardian.

I’ve decided on Norn Guardian, Human Thief and Asura Necromancer though I am tempted to do a Sylvai Necromancer because it seems contrary to the race, then maybe an Asura Warrior or something.

Spent some time running around the first area, exploring it, doing all the heart missions around, doing some other events that occurred, grabbing the two skill points that were immediate displayed on the map (does talking with other Scouts show more?) and grabbing the Vista points I saw open. I ended up at level 6 before I decided I really should continue the storyline and go to Hoelbrok (?). I popped in there and immediate did the Vista nearby and started collecting some of the Points of Interest. I found a weaponsmith on the bridge and figured I’d buy up the other weapon types I don’t have yet so I can work on them (I had Mace, Shield, Focus, Staff and Sceptre so I picked up Sword, Greatsword, Hammer and Torch). I then popped over to the Armorsmith to fill in some of the armor slots I was missing – turns out I wasn’t missing any but the ones there were slightly better so I started to replace the starting gear when I got disconnected.

I’ve been disconnected twice now and both times after the Log In Server was unreachable. Minor delay after the first disconnect a bit longer after the second so I decided to do human stuff (shower, get dressed, eat and get some more coffee). I also started compressing the GW2 files so I can send them off to my main PC. Seems GW2 wants exclusive access to the data file (go figure) so I couldn’t launch while compressing it (15gb+) which is why I’m writing this.

Thoughts so far?

Dynamic Events

These are pretty neat though some seem out of place. One near the Snow Leopard place looks to start but when you go to it, you can’t seem to do anything. In that place (it’s under the Snow Leopard shrine) I was killing Moles which was advancing a Heart Quest I didn’t have yet – which is nice – though the quest giver was much farther away I only visited him much later.

You get rewarded with points that can be used to buy things from special merchants. I picked up a few accessory pieces and a decent mace (Molemasher) with these points. Decent enough system for events like WAR had – not some random reward from a chest or bag, you get to pick what you want. It does seem similar to Rift though it doesn’t seem like there are oodles of currencies that eventually become redundant.

Training

Training is a little odd – you go to a trainer at certain level tiers and buy a book which I think opens up more skills or traits? I’ll figure it out, it isn’t complicated it just isn’t available at the starting level.

Skills

I completed two Skill Challenges and appeared to get some skills from another source (levels?). The first one is so easy it’s silly not to do. The second one was actually a ‘challenge’ where you have to fight a Bear Shaman that was pretty sturdy (not a problem for my Guardian).

With these skill points I was able to buy some other abilities. One replaces my heal and lets me cleanse conditions and another one that I picked up was an Utility skill (7 key) that puts up a force wall blocking ranged weapons. I like.

Vistas

Mini little videos that play a swooping view of the area. Nothing big but you get XP for them and it’s ideal for an Achiever or Explorer type player.

They even track the number you’ve found so you can tell there are more (i.e. 2/4) which should really motivate the Explorer types.

Points of Interest

Much like Vistas these are just markers that you can collect. Great for Explorers. They also reward XP and are usually placed near quest givers or locations events could appear.

These are also tracked.

Heart Quests

Minor quests that involved a range of things to do to please a given NPC, once the bar is full the NPC is happy with you. You get a reward and the NPC is usually a merchant of some type.

Rewards are given to you immediately or through mail (accessible anywhere) so it wasn’t a pain to get.

PVP

I haven’t started PVP yet, I’m still roaming around doing quests, exploring and getting used to the abilities I have but I did have one concern for PVP. It seems people are already actively WvWvWing which worries me because I’m suspect some of the points are easier to take now and they can be reinforced for later making it harder for your World to compete if your World is slow to get involved.

Minor concern.

Leveling Pace

I like it. It doesn’t seem ridiculously fast. I’m only level 6 several hours in where is in other games I’d be closing on 20 (yeah yeah, heirlooms and guild XP perks help… but still).

 

Back into it now before I have to take the LBO to his soccer tournament.

[GW2] Tim Says One Month

He’s probably right.

I’ll reserve judgement until I get a feel of the game. The small 5-30 minute bouts I had with the various stress tests was not enough to see anything but positives. To be fair, there have been several MMOs where you knew you were in trouble 5-10 minutes into it.

On the upside, there is no additional cost to my playing it at an extended, leisurely pace. It’s not like I’ll get left behind in levels because you can jump up to cap for PVP. I can take my time and muddle along with the various characters I’ll play.

I still haven’t settled on anything, I doubt I will until I play them and figure out what I’m interested in.

  • Thief is up there.
  • Guardian is sort of at the top.
  • Ranger is on the list.
  • Engineer has dropped a little since hearing Ed Park (in BuildCast) suggest they don’t have a lot of survival/escape type abilities so he (and his team) tend to target them first. I’m guessing Engineers still have value in WvWvW where their turrets behind defenses will work nicely. Maybe.
  • Necromancer might be another option, they almost get a whole other health bar with their shadow form… probably still won’t help me any.
  • I tried a Warrior out for a very short bit and it was amusing but I don’t know that it’ll be a keeper.
  • Mesmer just doesn’t interest me. I’m not sure why.
  • Elementalist might be a different change for me, maybe I’ll take a look.

My focus on that game will be PVE and PVP, hopefully WvWvW more than smaller fights (Battlegrounds or what ever they’re called).

I’m looking forward to the head start this Saturday, though I’ll probably be out most of the day.

What server?

At the moment, I’m looking at Yak’s Bend.

Why?

It has “Yak” in the name… jeez… why else?

[GW2] Classes and Races

I’ve been eyeballing the various videos and pictures from various sources trying to figure out which I’ll play first.

Norn definitely has appeal. Charr as well. Even the Asura seems interesting. I admit, I’m not too keen on the Sylvari and Humans are human.

Classes that immediately appeal to how I like to play are Thief, Engineer, Ranger, Guardian and Warrior.

Asura Engineer seems like a given.
Charr Warrior.
Norn Ranger or Thief. Yeah I realize Norn are much like Nords from Skyrim or Norse folk… or Canadians. I have a certain affinity for that.
I may go with a Sylvari Ranger, though I think I prefer the Norn to be a Ranger.
Human Guardian. Or maybe I’ll have a human Thief.

Ah well, I can’t decide.

As usual.

 

[PC] Game Game Game…

I’m WoWing casually – which means no raiding, no crazy late nights and just logging in to do whatever I feel like doing. I figured I’ll be picking up Diablo 3 so I went ahead and did the annual pass dealie Blizzard has set up.

Yeah, it’s a commitment, but I can see myself continuing to play casually over the next year… and Diablo 3 for free? Win. I just saved myself some money.

That said, I will likely take a look at Guild Wars 2.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Smaken, you haven’t learned your lesson by now? Another MMO?”

One shot purchase and no subscription fee? Sign me up. It’s not like I wouldn’t be dropping 60$ on some other single player game… like Diablo 3. I guess I didn’t really save money on Diablo 3 if I’m just going to turn around and spend that money on Guild Wars 2, right?

Either way, I will have stuff to play.

Now, I just need to find the time to play it.