GW2 Go Blackgate!

Oh hey, according to the mid-season WvW report, Blackgate is winning. Go Blackgate! When I randomly chose Blackgate to play on, I picked a winner! (Actually it wasn’t random. It was a choice between Blackgate which was the "coolest" sounding server, or Yak’s Bend which was the "funniest" sounding server, and in the end I went for coolness.)

My only contribution to the war effort was capturing one empty Ruins and escorting one yak.

Speaking of GW2, when I look around the MMO-sphere, I still see a ton of posts about it, which I find completely baffling. I keep logging in to see what I’m missing, but all I see are those annoying achievement progress bars over my characters’ heads. It’s like the game is telling you right on the login screen that you aren’t welcome unless you’re willing to play a game of statistics.

Just for fun I went into the Tower of Nightmares. I zerged with everyone else through the first part of the tower, running past countless krait, which was mildly amusing, only to find that the zerg stopped at a door to an instance. It was surrounded by people saying “lfg.” Total waste of time for me and I logged out there.

Don’t get me wrong. GW2 was and is a great game, and it was awesome building three level 80 characters (okay, one is still 79), and I hope some of its core concepts make it into future MMOs. But now there is nothing more to do, or at least, nothing MMO-like to do. Level 80 characters remain more-or-less exactly the same for the rest of eternity, as far as I can tell. All you can do with them is tour living story areas.

MMO Pinball

Just so you know, I have been a veritable pinball of MMO playing lately.

First FFXIV leveling an Archer/Bard to level 30. Then WoW leveling a Mage from around 17 to 50, and leveling some other characters. Then GW2 to check out the Tower of Nightmares. Then LoTRO leveling my hobbit Hunter from 38 to 45. Then Rift to check out the Song of Dreams patch. Even a little bit of Neverwinter and TERA and (gasp) Aion thrown in there between.

Now I am thinking about getting back into EverQuest II because about 95% of it is still new to me.

When will the madness end??

GW2 Thank God I’m Not An Achiever

I was reading a post on Why I Game which talked about lackluster enthusiasm for GW2, and I started to feel really bad for him. I cannot imagine what it’s like to feel such a compulsion to obtain achievements that you’re willing to log tons of game time doing things that aren’t fun.

I certainly agree about the lack of enthusiasm for GW2. This Tower of Nightmares update is more of the same. Log in, kill lots of stuff, get some achievements, log out. Really nothing to look forward to except watching your achievment progress bar go from zero to full, and that’s not fun for me at all. I mean I guess there’s loot too, but I’m 80 so what do I need loot for? A new "finishing move?" I’m not doing PvP and it’s not like there are any raids to do.

The Living Story wasn’t doing anything for me, so I dropped into WvW to see all the excitement there and … there’s no excitement there. My server Blackgate is apparently good at this WvW thing, so they were pretty much crushing the opposition and held a big chunk of the map already. I ran around all by myself in a vast empty wasteland for a while until I came across a Ruins.

Capturing a Ruins
Capturing a Ruins

I expertly stood in the white circle until it turned blue, capturing it for my team, and I felt good about contributing to the war effort, even though I have no idea what a Ruins is or why it was supposed to be captured. It looked empty … you know, like a ruins. Then I came across a Yak and walked with it back to the castle and got a Silver Medal for my efforts.

Walking with Yaks
Walking with Yaks

I noticed a Vista nearby so I climbed up and got that. There was a whole map full of vistas and POIs that I could have gotten (weird since I thought I’d already gotten most of them), but instead I logged out to go play a game that was actually fun. I’m extremely thankful that I’m not someone who needs to get achievements, or I would be dying from the repetitive, time-consuming labor required to get all of the Living World achievements. I had a hard time just getting through one stage of an achievement for killing like 25 Toxic Alliance people.

It’s really a shame because GW2 is awesome in many ways, and I want to want to play it, but there is simply nothing to do in there that hasn’t already been done. (Caveat: I still haven’t done any dungeons; it’s the only thing I can look forward to, but to be honest, the LFG tool doesn’t look all that great.) I can’t see myself doing much more in GW2 unless new classes are introduced, or the level cap is expanded, or new abilities are added.

GW2 Tower of Nightmares and Story in MMOs

I saw a lot of negative reactions around the blogosphere to the GW2 Tower of Nightmares update. Surprisingly, the main criticism seems to be that people aren’t interested in the new story. It isn’t engaging enough.

This is puzzling to me for a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t even realize there was a story in the new GW2 update, and second, I didn’t realize people judged new MMO content on the new storylines brought into the world.

I was kidding there. Of course there is a story in the new update, it’s just that I couldn’t tell you what it is. There’s a big bad tower that just appeared in Kessex Hills. That’s pretty much the gist of it from my understanding. I don’t know whose tower it is or why it showed up, but it clearly brought a lot of new krait and bark people because I had to fight a bunch of them. (I still can’t remember what the bark people are called.) My point is that finding out the story behind the Tower of Nightmares in no way factored into my decision to log in. I logged in to see if there was anything new to do. Like maybe a new class or new weapons or an extra 10 levels or something like that.

From what I can tell, there is nothing to do but collect achievements, and that is not particularly fun for me. Once you’ve played all the classes and seen all the zones, there’s really nothing left to do in GW2 except collect achievements. (Of course, that’s true for just about any MMO.)

Back to the subject at hand, I can’t recall ever wanting to play an MMO because the story and lore sounded cool. You might think I’d be psyched to play TESO because of the rich lore and history of the The Elder Scrolls Universe. And surely I must be psyched about WildStar because of the science fiction angle that is so rarely used in MMOs. Nope. I just want to play a fresh new MMO with new mechanics and new landscapes and new monsters and most of all, new challenges.

That makes me sound like a 14-year-old twitch gamer. Maybe I should rephrase this. I wouldn’t say I don’t care about the story of an MMO, it’s just that I’ve gotten so jaded about it that I don’t expect much. I usually do read quest text, but not always, and rarely does it stick in my mind. Five minutes after I’m finished with a quest I couldn’t tell you what it was about. I guess you could say that I appreciate it when it’s good, but it’s somewhat rare that quest text is good enough to really pour over. (The Secret World is the undisputed king of immersive quest stories, followed possibly by SW:TOR.)

I think I prefer quests that are more self-contained short stories than quests that are a part of some big over-arching epic storyline. Usually the short ones are side quests, like killing rabbits that are plaguing a farmer’s garden. Maybe it’s because I have a lot less playing time now. You can log in and digest a short little story about rabbits in a garden much easier than trying to remember where you are in a long chain of events. That’s a problem I have with the main storyline in FFXIV actually. I know I’m supposed to kill a titan soon and there are all these steps I need to go through first, but I don’t remember why I’m doing them, or even why I need to kill this titan. That information just doesn’t stick in my head after I’m done playing.

Incidentally, Rift did a wonderful job of reminding you where you were in the epic story by putting it right on the loading screens. That was brilliant. And I believe each zone had its own story. Each time you went back to an old zone you were reminded of your awesomeness in defeating the local bad guy.

I guess my point is that the story in an MMO just serves to set the stage. It really doesn’t matter to me why a tower appeared out of nowhere. It’s a lot more important that the tower bring new gameplay experiences.

Tower of Nightmares

I stopped by GW2 and discovered a big ol’ patch had happened, and when I logged in to see if there was any chance of defeating Tequatl, I had mail telling me to go to Kessex Hills to save the world again. I could describe it, but Inventory Full did a nice summary already: http://bhagpuss.blogspot.com/2013/10/next-stop-kessex-hills-all-change-here.html

I haven’t played GW2 seriously in a long time but I was able to get through the initial Tower of Nightmares instance. (That’s one thing I like about GW2–it’s really easy to pick it up again after you’ve been gone, because there aren’t any complex "rotations" you need to know. Just target something, hit your main attack, and off you go.) I almost got facerolled halfway through the last boss fight when those four adds appeared right when my health was almost gone. I thought I was a goner but it turned out if you just run far enough away from them, they stop chasing you. It gave me time to recharge before coming back to take them out one at a time instead of all four at once.

Bhagpuss wondered if Kessex Hills had undergone any significant changes. After I left the instance I had no clue where I was. Everything looked totally different to me. If I remember right, that was the general area where people would stand on that broken bridge and farm a centaur event. Now there’s a big freakin’ tower there and bunch of green gassy crap and a bunch of bark-people who don’t die unless you FINISH THEM.

Anyway, it was a nifty little introductory event and blessedly short. I don’t feel any burning urge to stick around Kessex Hills to see what else is going on, though. I would imagine there’s some achievments to collect, some story quests, and some event-specific drops to pick up. None of that changes the basic gameplay of GW2, which is what I’m burned out on for the time being. I have vague plans to jump back in and check out the LFG tool, since I’ve never experienced any of the dungeons, but it hasn’t happened yet.

WvW Season In GW2

I saw an announcement recently about the start of the Guild Wars 2 World versus World "season." I personally have never gotten into the WvW thing in GW2, so I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care about a new season. Conceptually I like the idea of jumping in there, zerging around for a while, and leaving, but it never seems to work out that way.

First of all, I’ve never been a fan of PvP in any MMO, because it’s inherently random. Two opponents of equal skill level should theoretically play to a 50/50 win/loss ratio over time. However, thanks to the random factor, you might go higher or lower than that ratio due to forces beyond your control. I just find it irritating to get killed by a random crit. Therefore I never go anywhere alone in PvP settings.

That leaves running with the zerg, which is fun for a short time, but once you realize that the zerg is not executing some devious master plan, and is in fact just running around randomly, you start to wonder why you’re wasting your time. Especially when you see that if everyone would just go over there and take that objective, your team could make a lot of points, but the zerg is more concerned with facerolling one lone guy running away over a hill.

Beyond that, the biggest problem I have with WvW is finding the zerg. Those battleground maps in GW2 are frickin’ enormous. I used to find myself zoning in and running and running and running and never finding anyone or anything. Everyone is always bunched up in one tiny little area, while the rest of the map is a wasteland.

Also, I don’t feel any compelling urgency to win WvW games. I mean, you don’t get anything, do you? You certainly don’t lose anything if you lose. And people get so worked up about it. Someone is always yelling at you in chat for not putting your entire soul into winning battles. Who cares? You get the same loot and XP whether you win objectives or not.

At least it was like that last time I played WvW, which admittedly was many, many months ago.

Tequatl’s On The Juice

I usually stick to one MMORPG at a time, play it until I get bored, then move to the next one. This week though I’ve been firing up a different one every night. The latest one was Guild Wars 2.

I got sucked into this session right away. I had last logged out in Sparkfly Fen on the beach where Tequatl attacks. I went there to see the new-and-improved Tequatl event I keep hearing so much about, but it wasn’t running when I got there, so I just logged out. Well it was running this time, and damn.

Previously, it only took a few minutes to blast him down to nothing. All you had to do was run in and stand next to him and whack away, then collect your loot. Nobody ever got hurt unless they were extremely unlucky. It was so easy I used to stand around and take screenshots of it:

Say cheese, Tequatl!
Say cheese, Tequatl!

It’s definitely not like that anymore. :) I don’t know the lore behind this, but Tequatl sure did buff himself up. Now there are players running around everywhere, Risen everywhere, from Normal ones to Veteran ones to Champion ones, and Fingers everywhere, and damage circles everywhere, and corpses everywhere, and a vast roar of noise from every angle. The difficulty has been multiplied by about one thousand, and that’s without even getting anywhere near the actual dragon.

Tequatl

Though we had what seemed like thousands of players in the area taking on the Risen hordes and the dragon, when the time limit ran out and we failed the event, I would say that Tequatl still had about 90% of his health left. Holy crap.

Hey, don't tread on me.
Okay, you won already, you don’t have to stand on my corpse.

Great fun, though. Massive dynamic world events are the greatest addition to MMOs since the dancing emote.