GW2 – HoT Progress and Thoughts

Progress!

I mentioned going through Heart of Thorns and the Living Story Season 3 in my last post, so I started working on that again. At least until I got to Heart of Thorns, Chapter 12, “The Way In.” This requires a Nuhoch Hunting Mastery before you can access it. Boo.

And people complain about FFXIV locking content behind a Main Scenario Quest!

I had previously completed up through Chapter 8, “City of Hope.” In that post, I predicted it would take six months to get to Chapter 9, but in fact it took about eleven months.

I would like to nominate Chapter 9, “The Predator’s Path,” as one of the most annoying chapters in the Heart of Thorns story. In this chapter, basically all you have to do is run from one map point to the next to look at Taimi’s hologram or whatever. Except that there are hordes of mobs at every turn and you can never just stand there and listen to the hologram. You either have to clear out the hordes of mobs (a dicey prospect by yourself), or you have to trigger the holograms on the run and flee for your life. And of course, every time Taimi speaks she says something cute and funny, which after all the annoyance of getting to her, makes you just want to punch her smug little face all the more. There’s a time for comedy, people, and right after annoying your players to death is not it.

Anyway.

Chapter 10 and 11 were fairly benign and unmemorable, thankfully.

Now we can start making predictions about how long it will take me to get that one Mastery point and continue into Chapter 12.

Here’s something else that consistently irritates me about the GW2 story: The characters talk in modern vernacular and American accents. Where are all the Fantasy British accents! :) I am half-joking there, but also half-serious.

Blog Discussions

There have been some great conversations about GW2 in the blogosphere. Here are some great blog posts about GW2 to read:

Inventory Full: Taking It Easy, From A Distance

Why I Game: Path of Fire Weekend Demo, Help Me, I’m New or Returning

Aywren: Trying to Give it Another Chance, Further Progress. Aywren and I have similar experiences. :)

Jeromai’s posts on Why I Game and his comment here are extremely informative. Most of the things he describes as basic GW2 knowledge are completely unknown to me. (Sometimes I can’t even understand the words he uses.) I no know (duh!) almost nothing about what kind of attacks individual mobs have out in the world at level 80… he speaks of them as if each individual mob is a boss with specific mechanics that must be learned. I have never in my life felt the need to learn and absorb the mechanics of mobs out in the world of an MMORPG. I suppose if I were to play a lot I would learn them over time by osmosis, but I just don’t play that much.

I’m sure there are other GW2 posts but I feel like I’m losing touch with the blogosphere. Long-time bloggers aren’t blogging much anymore, and I don’t know where to find new bloggers. :/ That’s a whole different topic, though.

There’s far more in those posts than I can respond to, but here are some thoughts.

The Two GW2 Games

I personally consider GW2 to be two entirely different games: 1) The “casual” game you play leveling from 1 through 79, and 2) the “hardcore” game you play at level 80.

I love the leveling game from 1 to 79. That game is casual, easy, fun, carefree, filled with exploration and adventure. (I like leveling in most MMORPGs, to be honest.)

I don’t much care for the level 80 endgame, starting in Orr. That game is more work than fun. It’s as if they want to force us to live the life of a hardcore endgame raider, even when we simply want to run from one part of the map to another part of the map to look at something. (Jeromai’s description of world mobs as having boss-style mechanics sort of reinforces this.)

In other MMORPGs, you have to organize a group of players and enter an instance to do hardcore endgame raiding. That’s great. I don’t have a problem with people doing that. I even like doing that sometimes myself. But I have to be in the right mindset to do that. I have to mentally and physically prepare for it. I have to make sure the cat isn’t walking all over the keyboard, and the dog is fed, and I’ve eaten some food, and have a drink nearby. I have to set aside a block of time. I have to make sure I understand my role and know the fights.

Most of the time, when I play an MMORPG, I don’t want to do any of that. I usually don’t even want to give the game my full attention. I want to take my hand off the mouse occasionally and take a drink. I want to take my hand off the keyboard and fiddle with the remote control for the television. I want to stand up and go to the door and let the dog in or out. Sometimes I’m eating food while I’m playing, clicking hotbars with the mouse and holding down left-button+right-button to move.

In GW2 from level 1 to 79, I can play that way if I want to. But at level 80, I can’t (usually). In these Heart of Thorns zones, I can’t even stand up and stretch because I have a hard time finding places to park my character for two minutes where he won’t get killed by a wandering mob or dynamic event.

GW2 Combat

Bhagpuss said this:

“Exactly, in other words, just what I love most about combat in GW2. It’s explosive, colorful, exuberant and above all utterly chaotic.”

This is clearly a personal preference… because that statement utterly baffles me. I want to feel like I’m controlling the battlefield. With GW2 fights, I always feel like I’m reacting–like I’m always on the defensive. Most other MMORPGs I can watch the enemies and predict what is going to happen and take the right steps to mitigate or avoid the attacks. In GW2, I never know what is coming and I always have to dive out of the way of red circles that magically appear under my feet and pray that my heal skill comes off cooldown before I die. It feels totally random and that’s outside my comfort zone.

Bhagpuss described moving with the keyboard and clicking hotbar abilities with the mouse:

“GW2 has all the flexibility, all the dynamism of that kind of set-up and yet I can play it exactly the way I prefer – using the keyboard for nothing but movement and conversation and the mouse for the purpose God intended – clicking hotbars.”

I think that probably helps a lot in GW2. I have to contort my fingers to hit T, R, G, V, B, H, 5, and 4 while I’m constantly holding down E, S, D, and/or F. I have the same problem with WildStar actually, but it’s far worse there. It’s physically awkward to play games where you have to move and dive constantly while simultaneously pressing hotkeys to fire off abilities. We never learned how to do that in touch-typing class back in high school.

Bhagpuss mentioned that he always fights at range. Jeromai mentioned issues with melee. Over the last several days that I’ve returned to GW2, I’ve noticed that I’ve been gravitating away from the Necro Reaper… I’ll start a fight running into the middle of the fray with the Greatsword, then realize, “Egad! This is not going well,” and run away and switch to the Staff. The Staff feels a lot weaker but at least I don’t feel like I’m going to die any second. Yesterday I started using an Axe again on my Necro and I feel like it’s working a lot better. I think I’m going to ditch the Reaper spec entirely, even though I loved it when HoT first came out.

Bhagpuss also mentioned a “Bearbow” Ranger spec. I leveled a Ranger to 80 after launch but I never really felt like any of the pets held aggro very well. It never felt like a WoW Hunter, in other words. Maybe I should try it again. :)

4 thoughts on “GW2 – HoT Progress and Thoughts”

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Are you me? You have exactly described how I feel about GW2. From the divided game issue at level 80, to the feeling of reactionary battle, to the frustration of needing to know mechanics for each and every trash mob (really?).

    Jeromai’s post was also an eye-opener for me. I knew that tendrils had annoying circles and knockbacks and that hounds knocked you down and stuff, but some of the info on the individual mobs was new to me, too. I’m like you. I just want to romp around, discover stuff, fall into events and have a pleasant time. I don’t want to face a raid every time I’m in an overworld map, and sometimes that’s what it feels like.

    It’s like GW2 didn’t know how to balance that at level 80, and suddenly went from pleasant-but-sometimes-challenging walk in the park to constant ambush and sniper mode. Back in the day, it felt like a slap in the face and bait n switch. That, along with story and design choices led me to quitting.

    Anyhow, good post. Thank you for being a voice for people with a similar preference as you.

  2. The game does change at Orr. Even back in 2012, a lot of players did see it as bait&switch when they got into the 70s and found out what was waiting for them there. It was the original, core game design, though. ANet always envisaged the first 70 levels as an extended tutorial for the real game, which would be chained events filling whole maps and requiring co-operation between a hundred or more players to complete.

    Every single map they’ve added in five years has been a Level 80 map and every single one has followed that blueprint. Like it or not, that is the game. When they added the first new map, all the way back in late 2012, it was received so badly and used so little they didn’t put in another new map for a couple of years, but even then most of the limited-time content they did add involved very tough mobs and required large numbers of players working together.

    When they began adding maps again we got Dry Top and Silverwastes, which are a scaled-down, streamlined version of the same mechanics used in Orr. The DT and SW chains were more successful because they are much more directive and run on a fixed timetable, unlike the Orr Temple chains which are gnomic, take forever and rely on players to initiate and sustain them. Plus the new maps came with rewards people wanted that required currency earned in those maps.

    That model was then iterated on and refined in HoT and yet again in the LS3 maps. It’s a formula ANet now have down pat and I’m certain we’ll see it continue throughout PoF. Many people, myself very much included, would have preferred GW2 to simply expand along the exact lines of the pre-Orr game. We’d have loved them to just keep opening areas of that original map, all with the original style of Dynamic Events – small, flavor events, medium-size chains, World Bosses – and Hearts.

    Sadly, that’s not the game they made and I don’t believe there was ever any intent on ANet’s behalf to make such a game. Indeed, it’s only because HoT turned out to be a commercial under-performer that we aren’t getting an even more “challenging” experience in PoF. The watchword now seems to be “don’t do anything to frighten the nervous”. We’ll see how that works out for them financially – I suspect there will be a resurgence of complaints about things being too easy again, although with luck Raids and T4 Fractals will shunt the worst of the self-proclaimed elite into instances where they won’t bother the rest of us.

    As for needing to know what all the mobs do – I don’t! If I didn’t read Jeromai’s blog I would have no idea about most of them. I don’t believe you do need to know most of that to have a great time in the open world maps. I just treat every mob as though it’s going to be a lot tougher than me. I put my EQ head on, in other words. That seems to be all the preparation necessary.

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