I finally finished Guild Wars 2’s Living World Season 4, Episode 2, “A Bug In The System” on Friday night. So here’s the quarterly post where I yell at Guild Wars 2 again for making me incredibly angry when I play it.
It was the most disjointed episode I can remember, but I’ll concede it was probably because of the way I played it. The episode consists of five “chapters.” I played the first three chapters all in a row (because you have to, grumble, grumble) back in March. I started into the fourth “chapter,” the one where you have to wander all over the new Sandswept Isles map and destroy shield generators, but I stopped in frustrated disgust (because I really did not care for the maze-like, mob-packed map or the lack of clear directions about where to go) and left the game for a month. Then I went back into the game and finished the shield generator bit over several non-contiguous days last week, and played the final chapter on Friday night.
Gameplay-wise, I just don’t even want to talk about this game any more. It’s reached Scary Movie trope-level status. It’s an endless series of annoying, aggravating, tedious, meaningless puzzles or fights. But wait, there’s more! Lately they’ve even had the nerve to add to the long, tedious boss fights by adding … a long series of trash mob fights leading up to the long, tedious boss fight! It’s a test of endurance. And of course they undermine every bit of the difficulty by giving you infinite chances, which is even more aggravating, because it’s even more of a pointless waste of time.
Story-wise, we continue with the same complaints as always. I have no idea what I just finished. Wasn’t there a big dragon destroying the planet just a little while ago? I guess we don’t care about that anymore. Or is the dragon wreaking havoc in super slow-motion, like in Inception? They threw in a couple of mentions of him “gaining new powers” just so we can ponder how annoying that boss fight will be.
Anyway we’re still chasing down this Joko guy, who was last seen locked tight in some weird alternate-dimension prison, but now he’s out for no apparent reason, like every cartoon villain ever. At least we know it’s really him now, because we actually saw him. (Then again, we saw Lazarus too.) And now there’s Inquest who are the most horrible people in the world, but also really funny so it’s all okay. And bioterrorism of course, that old, tired fantasy trope. I don’t know. It’s just … whatever.
There was a big dramatic scene at the end with Taimi and Blish and I just stared at the screen thinking, “Why am I supposed to be moved by this? Who is this Blish guy? Why does it sound like Taimi and Blish were more than just casual acquaintances? Did the game ever once say that? Let alone demonstrate it in any way?”* All I remember is Taimi saying, “Hey try not to hurt those guys because I know them.” (Not that I had any choice about it.)
Cut to the commander (me) saying, “Oh gosh Taimi I’m so so sorry to have to tell you this because I know it’s going to crush your tiny little spirit but Blish is a robot now.” They played it out like it was supposed to be a huge dramatic, emotional reveal and I was just like, “So what?” And how was I (the commander) supposed to know it would upset Taimi? Since Taimi never once gave any indication that she hoped Blish was not a robot? I must have missed the line where Taimi said, “I can’t wait to see Blish again and boy I sure hope he’s not a robot because wink, wink, nudge, nudge!”
Of course it’s possible I missed something because they sometimes try to deliver story dialog in the middle of fighting, which is, incidentally, a terrible idea and I wish they would stop that.
What they should have done is a scene where Taimi grills her old friends about how they got involved with the Inquest. That would have made sense within the context of what they had told us. Because Taimi did say repeatedly that she didn’t understand how her old friends could get involved in the Inquest. And we, the audience, still don’t either.
I also remember another scene at the beginning, right after the first boss, when that Charr leader died. It was played as another dramatic, emotional scene (and it was done well… it was clear the characters were very sad over the loss of this leader). It’s just that since I never knew that Charr leader, and I don’t think he spoke more than a single line, so it was impossible to feel any emotional connection with his death. Imagine how much more powerful that could have been if we’d had even a single meaningful conversation with him before he died.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m thinking too much like an editor. “You can’t put an emotional scene here without building some sympathy with the reader beforehand!” Maybe this is one of those situations where programming issues forced them to have to cut out important story bits that would have explained everything.
Speaking of thinking like an editor, I immediately assumed these new Asura have arrived in the story and joined “the team” because they are setting up a plan to kill off Taimi later.
Oh, and one more thing: I don’t enjoy doing puzzles in GW2 at all so I didn’t care for those aspects of this episode. And there were a lot of them. I don’t play puzzle games for a reason. I got so mad at the game at one point because I spent ten minutes trying to figure out a puzzle when I hated every second of it, submitted it, failed, got attacked by a million golems, then it turned out all I had to do was just “break” the thing to get past it. So I never needed to figure out the puzzle in the first place. That kind of crap is an enormous breach of trust between the developer and the gamer. Grrr.
Reading over other reviews, people saw a shift in the storytelling in this episode. I didn’t notice anything like that. Unless Rox’s voice actor changing is supposed to represent a shift. (I didn’t like the new Rox either, but it’s not like I was a huge fan of the old Rox, who seemed to have a grand total of two lines over the last two years.) Was it the Inquest-as-thinly-veiled-Nazis motif that people thought was a shift? I thought they undermined every bit of the grimdarkness that could have been there with the comedic Office Space-style humor of the Inquest workers, and the “Remember, we care!” hologram. In other words, it seemed to me they were playing the Inquest for comedy and not horror.
Anyway, the important thing is that it’s over, and I never have to play it again, because I recorded videos. :)
I doubt I will log in to GW2 again until Episode 3 arrives. If then. I’m kind of over GW2 (again). I mentioned that I was getting close to the end of my rope with FFXIV recently, but I reached that same point with GW2 years ago. The only explanation I can think of for why I even bother to log in is that it’s free to do so, and the game loads very fast, so there’s not enough time to change my mind about playing between the time I click the desktop icon and the time I’m in the game. If I had to pay a subscription for GW2, I absolutely, positively wouldn’t be playing, and I probably wouldn’t have bought any of the expansions either.
* Wait, wait, don’t tell me. The whole thing with Blish is explained in that book isn’t it. :)