Guild Wars 2 Mini Llama

Yesterday, I was lucky to win a mini llama on Guild Wars 2’s twitter giveaway. Since we were away at the GW2 community meeting at Cologne (where gamescom is currently taking place), I couldn’t redeem the code immediately. Oh, the irony. ;) More about that community meeting later. For now, I’ll just need coffee.

 

You currently cannot buy this mini, by the way, but I’m pretty sure there will be more ways to win one in the future… Once we know more, you will get to hear it here on the blog, of course!

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (August 7, 2014)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWelcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch and the first Geekwatch in 2014! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to Guild Wars 2 – and on occasion, other games.

If you have thought about trying out Trove in their alpha, but thought that paying 18.99€ for a game that you have not been able to try out first, then this deal may interest you: From now until August 10, you get alpha access for spending 4.99€. What’s especially nice about this deal is that you will get almost every of the milestones you can see listed on that page. You can read my first impressions here on the blog. My opinion about the game hasn’t changed since then and I do not regret spending money on it despite having free alpha access. If you need more information, have a look at gameplay videos on YouTube or Twitch. There is no NDA on Trove. :) If you still don’t want to spend any money on it, then watch their Reddit page, as they apparently always include a multi-use alpha key with their patch notes.

Rift has had another patch which revamped the auction house interface. For the most part, I love it! It now shows you suggestions for prices based on the sale history of items. This is a great feature, if you ask me, especially for players who do not “play the auction house” regularly and spend hours memorizing prices they have seen for various items. Unfortunately, they also increased the fee you pay for listing items. Artifacts used to be very cheap with a flat amount (I think it was based on a low percentage of the vendor price) you paid for listing them, but now it’s always based on how much gold you’re asking for. On the other hand, at least they will increase the time the items will be listed to 7 days. I always found 48 hours as the maximum amount to be much too short. For more information, this blog post may be useful.

And the last bit of news today – isn’t about Guild Wars 2 either. I wrote about that game yesterday already. :p No, the last bit of information is that WordPress has released a new feature last night. You can now “like” comments. For existing blogs, this feature is automatically disabled, so you need to manually enable it if you want your readers to be able to like comments. I have done so. So, if you’re ever here and see a comment that you like, feel free to hit that button!

Tyrian Explorer’s Knapsack – worth the price?

GW2 Covert Charr BackpackToday is Tuesday and as is usual on Tuesdays, we get to see new items in the gem store (and a new trailer). The first item is the Covert Charr Backpack Set for 300 gems. If you don’t have a charr backpack yet and this is your favourite, then go buy it! Otherwise, consider getting the tiger charr backpack, the plush tybalt backpack (my personal favourite) or the cheetah charr backpack. All of them are available on the Trading Post for less than 2 gold!

But let’s have a look at the second new item, the Tyrian Explorer’s Knapsack. It costs 1650 gems and has quite a few items in it: 1 hairstyle kit, 1 Zephyrite color swatch: green, 6 transmutation charges, 1 top hat skin, 5 metabolic primers and 5 utility primers.

GW2 Tyrian Explorer's Knapsack

I always find it difficult to judge whether such a package is worth the price tag or not, so I decided to have a closer look. Some items are easy, as you could buy them off the gem store directly. Others cannot be bought, so those are a bit trickier. However, we can compare the items to items you would instead use in-game. I will take the price we would pay for those items on the Trading Post and will then see how many gems we would have to pay to get the gold to buy the items off the Trading Post.

First, let’s have a look at the items that can be bought directly:

Item Price on Gem Store
1 hairstyle kit 250
6 transmutation charges 180 gems (you can only buy 5, so I used that price as my basis)
1 top hat 200
5 metabolic primers 550
1 zephyrite color swatch: green Not in the gem store
5 utility primers Not in the gem store

As you can see in the table above, we are now at 1180 gems. So far, so good.

One thing is important to note: the color swatch gives you a choice of one non-exclusive (!) green dye! I checked and the most expensive of those green dyes was the Emerald Green Dye for 72 silver. If you exchanged gems for silver, then it would cost you 9 gems to get 75 silver (as of writing this). For 9 gems, you get the most expensive non-exclusive green dye!

This brings the total to 1189 gems.

And now there are only the 5 utility primers left. What this item does is extend a utility buff to last for 12 hours. With the primer, you would only need 5 items to have the buff for 60 hours (5 * 12). Without the primer, you need either 60 or 120 of those items. So, without the primer, you’d need an additional 55 or 115 buff items. This whole calculation, of course, only works if you really did use those primers that effectively and would otherwise use up buff item after buff item within those 12 hours.

GW2_Gem gold exchange

I admit, it was quite difficult to see which items are even affected by this primer… Dulfy says it’s items like sharpening stones and focusing crystals. The wiki article about nourishment also helps a bit. I looked for the most expensive utility buff items.

Buff item price on the TP for 55 or 115 items
gems you would exchange for that amount of gold
Swift Moa Feather (30 minutes) 83 silver for one; 95 gold 45 silver for 115 items ~ 1030 gems
Potent Master Tuning Crystal (1 hour) 30 silver for one; 16 gold 50 silver for 55 items ~ 190 gems
Toxic Maintenance Oil (30 minutes) 30 silver for one; 34 gold 50 for 115 items ~ 380 gems

The Swift Moa Feather cannot be bought anymore as it was previously sold by Tiggs in Lion’s Arch. I decided to include it for fun (or rather because the primer could be worth it for this item!).

 We were at 1189 gems. Depending on which buffs we wanted, we would now be at 1379 to 2219 gems. As you can see, the question “Is this package worth it” highly depends on which buff items you are using and – as mentioned above already – if you are really using them with no interruptions.

If you are like me, who hardly ever uses any buff items, then no, this package is not worth it at all!

But wait! 190 to 1030 gems for 5 utility primers… Have a look at the 5 metabolic primers for 550 gems. This is the price you pay, but it essentially does what the utility primers does, only that it’s for food. Are those worth their price? Let’s have a look!

Buff item price on the TP for 55 or 115 items
gems you would exchange for that amount of gold
Bowl of Garlic Kale Sautee* (1 hour) 1 gold 70 silver; 93 gold 50 silver for 55 items ~ 1017 gems
Spicy Marinated Mushroom* (1 hour) 85 silver for one; 46 gold 75 silver for 55 items ~ 516 gems
Bowl of Orrian Truffle and Meat Stew* (30 minutes) 13 silver; 14 gold 95 silver for 115 items ~ 163 gems

*I checked for the two most expensive food items. Guild Wars 2 Hub has a few suggestions on what the best buff food items are and the Bowl of Orrian Truffle and Meat Stew only costs 13 silver per piece, which is why I have included it in the list to give you a much cheaper – but very viable – alternative.

GW2_Top Hat female asura If you always go for non-stop buffs and use the most expensive ones, then this package may be worth the price! Otherwise, this package – and the metabolic primers, too – are overpriced. Stay away from them and treat yourself to a top hat (unless you’re a female asura, then this is a rip-off as you only get the mini version) and a pair of glasses instead. Or get the charr and the quaggan backpack. Or buy Mini Scruffy and the self-style hair kit. Braham’s Heavy Armor Skin, Magitech Medium Armor Skin and Phoenix Light Armor Skin are currently 25 % off. Use the gems you save from not buying this package and get yourself two of those (for 1200 gems total)! As you can see, there are a lot of alternatives and many better ways to show ArenaNet that you want to give them your money!

What about Guild Wars 2’s endgame*?

Two years ago, in July 2012 – and thus, before Guild Wars 2 was released – there was the usual pre-launch discussion that happens with every MMO: What will the endgame be about? Will the game even have meaningful endgame? I had joined the discussion here in our blog and posted my own thoughts about it.

I figured now is a good time to look at the topic again, as the game has been out for almost two years now, season 1 of the living story has finished and episode 3 of the 2nd season has just started.

“One complaint about MMOs that I have seen several times is that the game worlds’ importance in MMOs is constantly diminishing.”

I had mentioned that and talked about how Guild Wars 2 wants to do it differently. As we have seen by now, they were serious about that and still are. Season 1 added a lot of fights and content in the open world. Most of it was removed again after a while, but some zones were left completely changed (Lion’s Arch is the most prominent example here), and almost every content patch made us go into the open world and experience the content there. Even though the amount of instanced content has increased with the release of season 2, they have also introduced new zone events in several zones and added a new map, so that the open world is anything but deserted!

“For me, the big question is: How do the events work at max level? How complex will the fights be in general and how much strategy will they require?”

GW2 Marionette fight with guardian

Fighting against the marionette with my guardian

I would say this has been a “hit or miss” so far. Some of the living story events were horrible and some were really good. This is, however, highly subjective here! I, personally, would say that the best one has been the marionette fight. It was a good mix of challenge and it had very interesting mechanics. However, the platforms had the issue of sometimes tossing one single player in who had very slim chances of winning in the given amount of time. A bit more fine-tuning and it would have been an excellent fight, I think, and I would love to see something like this return (again, with fine-tuning and maybe scaling fights on the platform so that if there is only one player, the fight gets easier).

We recently had a long break from the living story releases and every active player consequently experienced the PvE endgame without that part. So let’s look at that: What kind of endgame is there in Guild Wars 2, other than the living story? Once again, just like I did two years ago, I will leave the PvP aside. While I have enjoyed battlegrounds in WoW and scenarios in WAR, I just cannot really get into sPvP that much. I think it’s because it is a lot more competitive in Guild Wars 2, whereas in World of Warcraft it was more “for fun” or even “something to do before my raid starts”. Open world PvP is usually following a zerg. So even if I took PvP into the equation, it would still not be anything I would spend most of my gaming time doing in Guild Wars 2.

I don’t know what other players have been doing during the break from the living season. My personal “problem” is that I don’t enjoy the dungeons too much. Then again, we haven’t exactly gotten a lot of new dungeons anyway and even those players who like them have had to go through the same ones for almost two years now (with the exception of the new Twilight Arbor path). Fractals – the few I have done – seem to be more fun for me. But the person I want to do them with (other than bookahnerk, of course) and me seem to have terrible timing, so that we switched from using whole sentences and explanations on why we can’t make it to just saying “rain check”. It’s more efficient, really. So while I definitely think this is a viable part of the PvE endgame experience, I can’t talk much about what I haven’t really explored in-depth. ;)

The main thing I seem to be doing in Guild Wars 2 and the moments where I have the most fun are two other things: For one, I love screenshotting maps, because I stop to smell the flowers, I take myself out of the game as it is and appreciate what ArenaNet’s artists and world designers have done. The other thing is levelling alts.

I have always been an altoholic in MMOs. In World of Warcraft , I regularly levelled up new alts because we switched servers with our main characters a few times. I did not want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on server transfers as you pay per character! In some MMOs, like Warhammer Online, I never really set on the one main character and had up to three (tanky black orc, goblin shaman or dwarf engineer – a decision that really is harder to make than you would think!). Only in Lord of the Rings Online, I could not get myself to levelling alts. I have never disliked levelling as much as I did in that game! So, playing a game like Guild Wars 2 is great, because alts have never been more fun to level for me. In fact, I actually wish it would take longer to reach maximum level. I have even tried to avoid doing dailies with my thief when I levelled her, so she would be slower.

Anyway, this is part of my personal “endgame”*. I know that by definition, it’s not the endgame – on the contrary, actually – but it is what I have been doing most of my play time in the last few weeks, even during the attacks on Lion’s Arch which I used to get a taste for my thief when trying to decide whether I really wanted to level her.

I am kind of dreading the day when I have levelled all professions to 80, because even though I can still level up other alts, it is a bit boring when you can’t explore anything new about a profession. Even the world is well-known by now as are the events in those maps. I am curious whether ArenaNet will ever let us use different weapons like they once said they may do (still hoping for a pistol/pistol mesmer here …).

GW2 Living Story Season 2 RytlockAnother good side-effect of levelling up my alts is that once they are level 80, I can switch between my characters when I don’t feel like playing my warrior. ArenaNet has also changed the way the living story works with their second season. Previously, you had certain time windows (two or four weeks) in which you could participate in the current content and after that, most of it was gone again. Now you have to log in during a certain time window (two weeks for each episode so far) in order to unlock the content free of charge (it costs gems to unlock otherwise) and then you can play it whenever you want to. You play through the different episodes of the living story on a per character basis now and also get the rewards on a per character basis. This means that with my habit of switching between characters, even when they have reached level 80, I now have more to do and can decide when I want to do that. It is nice and challenging to do the living story with my squishier thief instead of my warrior. Although I am not sure I would want to replay all of the living story with all my characters. Still, it’s nice to have the option!

GW2 Living Story Season 2 Episode 3

Open world event in episode 3

So, having said all of that, what is my résumée about Guild Wars 2’s endgame? As I had predicted back before the game’s launch, it is different from other MMOs. There are still no raids (as instanced areas), but they have added big open world fights where you need coordination, such as the Tequatl one. Unfortunately, dungeons have been mostly ignored and even though I don’t enjoy them much in Guild Wars 2, compared to how much I loved them in World of Warcraft, I would still like to see ArenaNet give them some love. In general, I think the living world is a good concept and keeps us occupied and entertained, especially now as we can replay them whenever we want to, but I still can’t help but feel that the game lacks more options of things to do, such as new dungeons (and more fractals more often!) or maybe some activities to do in the cities (Polymock, anyone?).

But as I said above, this is for me personally. I do wonder… Is Guild Wars 2’s living story enough PvE endgame for the rest of the players?

*”Endgame” is used loosely here and means “the things you do in the game once your main character has reached maximal level”.

First impressions: Trove

Trove Alpha Screenshot

The path up the trees leads to a boss.

A few days ago, I was idling for a bit before it was time to leave and catch my bus to the doctor’s office. I had decided to check Twitter and saw a tweet by mmorpg.com which had been posted a few hours earlier announcing that they were giving away Trove Alpha Keys. Not really believing in my luck, I still went there to check if any keys were left and actually got one! I immediately made bookahnerk aware of it, so he could get one as well.

I have spent quite a few hours playing Trove now and – as a tl;dr version of what my first impression is: I also now spent 18,99€ on the adventurer pack, so obviously, I enjoyed my time playing the game enough to give them some of my money.

As usual, this “review” has “first impressions” written in front of it. It is going to be subjective and about my experiences within the first few hours of playing this game. Read the following post accordingly, please.

Trove is a sandbox game currently in alpha which will be free to play once it gets released. I haven’t followed it too closely lately, so I’m not sure which features will still be added in the future. I do remember that when Trion Worlds first announced the game, people called it a Cube World clone. I had never heard about Cube World, but it does sound like it belongs to the genre of Minecraft and Terraria – as does Trove now. As far as I can tell, Cube World is more about adventuring (and questing as the developer has added or is adding a questing system to the game) and not so much about crafting, creating and collecting resources. In Trove, you do adventure, kill mobs and collect better items to advance to more dangerous areas, but you’re also collecting various resources and will probably spend quite some time crafting, most of all items for your homeworld and your cornerstone – more on that later. Let’s just say: Trove has got housing! :D

After installing and launching the client, I had to name my character (“Paeroka” in case anybody wants to add me to their friends list) and that was all there was to the character creation. Off my little (male-looking) avatar went into the tutorial hub. This is just a very small region which introduces you to the very basics of the game like moving, switching between adventure and building mode, etc. After leaving the tutorial, I got thrown into another hub where I quickly found a barber shop. Here, I could finally change my look and make Paeroka female – as female as it gets with those avatars – with reddish hair and green eyes as most of my main characters have.

Trove Alpha Screenshot

The class changer with the three classes currently in the game.

I had automatically become a Knight, but I knew the game has more classes than that. In fact, three are released already and there will be more. A quick internet search told me that I can change classes in the hub and that the Gunslinger is free now (this was added with a patch which also hints at how they’re handling classes in the future: Some will be free, some will require a purchase) while the Fae Trickster costs something (in-game currency or credits which are bought with real money). When I had created my character, I actually got some in-game currency. I am not sure if that is something like a daily login bonus or what triggers it. However, you can also earn more of this currency by playing the game and defeating bosses. I decided not to save the in-game currency for the Fae Trickster and bought myself a mount instead. After that, I rode through the hub to finally find the class changer. One click and I was a Gunslinger! You level each class separately, by the way. I got the Gunslinger to level 5 at which point bookahnerk suggested I should try the Knight because that’s usually what I enjoy more than a ranged class (but the dual pistols of the Gunslinger are quite awesome!). The Knight was still level 1 and she is now level 6. The current maximum level in the alpha is level 20 for each class, so I still have quite some content ahead of me.

Speaking of content: What is there to do in Trove? You start in a central hub where you and other players gather. From there, you can take one of several portals to the adventuring world. Those are divided into level brackets. You can go to a world that is higher than your level, but mobs will hurt you a lot more than if you were even level.

Once in such a zone, you can stroll through the world and will probably get attacked by mobs that roam around in the world. All mobs are hostile. There are no quests, but something like “events” in some areas. Sometimes, those are bosses, sometimes, those are waves of mobs spawning to attack you after you started the event. Some of these events have something like jumping puzzles to get to them. Nothing has been very challenging so far, but I’ve only gotten to level 6, after all. Bosses drop chests which give you loot (equipment) which makes your character stronger. Standard mobs can also drop such loot but this is rarer.

Altogether, you can roam the world to farm bosses and earn XP and loot to advance in levels and get stronger. However, the other part of Trove is what I enjoy much more: There are resources in the world. Some are, for example, tree stumps or mushrooms that you destroy to gather the resources. Then there is also ore. You need different kinds of ore to craft different items. And most of the world can be destroyed as well. It mostly consists of cubes which you can collect and use for building yourself.

Trove Alpha Screenshot

This was the way my cornerstone looked before I destroyed the building on it. The glowy thing on the left lets you refill your healing potion.

When I first started playing, I found a cornerstone. If nobody else has claimed it, a simple click on “E” on your keyboard claims it for you. You can have one cornerstone in the world. It is basically a tiny piece of land that you can build on. It can also host different useful things like the healing potion refiller (your healing potion has 15 charges and can be refilled for free here). I had claimed a piece and then gotten attacked by a mob. I realized that there were two or three mob spawns right next to the cornerstone and I didn’t even have a calm minute before another of them showed up and attacked me. I was a bit upset because I hadn’t seen how I could switch the cornerstone yet. So, I left it and went to explore the world. The further away from it I got, the less I remembered where it actually was. So at that point, I wasn’t just disappointed about the location, I also had no idea where the location actually was (it shows up on your map, by the way. I’d just been too blind to see it!). However, by now I know that a cornerstone is not meant for you to claim a specific location in the world. You can do that, I guess, but that’s not using the cornerstone to its full potential.

There are lots of places in the world and in the different zones where you find empty cornerstones. As soon as you find one, you can click “E” and the cornerstone moves from the previous position to the current position. A cornerstone can house, as mentioned above, the healing potion refiller (handy to have in the world out there, right? ^^), crafting stations, a box where you can store some items, or even a crafted item that lets you destroy looted items (you can’t sell them anywhere but you can destroy them to get a resource that you need to upgrade your items). So, the cornerstone basically follows you wherever you go and lets you conveniently do whatever you want to do – as long as you have crafted the respective stations and put them on your cornerstone. You can also build on it, of course! And if you happen to die, you will get resurrected at your cornerstone (or the starting point for that world if you haven’t claimed a cornerstone).

Trove Alpha Screenshot

A small part of my homeworld where I’ve started building a modest little house (with a garden, at least).

One bad thing is that the cornerstone is tiny. Your homeworld, on the other hand, is pretty big! And that’s where you can build to your heart’s content. But first, you need to build your homeworld portal which creates your homeworld. After that, you can jump to it from anywhere in the world (the homeworld is an instanced area). Since the cubes are pretty big, placing items in your homeworld isn’t rocket science (oh, the amount of rage items in Rift have already caused when I wasn’t able to align them properly …). One may argue that the graphics are ugly, too blocky or whatever. I guess this is a case of “either you like it, or you don’t”. I like the graphics and I think they’ve got a certain charm. It works for games like this one.

As mentioned above, I bought a supporter pack now. I like knowing that I support the development and that I spent about the same amount of money that I would have spent on the game had it not been “free to play”. It is not a required purchase, of course. The things I got as bonus items are things like a pet or cosmetic items. It doesn’t look like I’ll get anything that’ll give me an advantage and I hope that this is where the shop will also go. No f2p without an item shop, right? ;) At the moment, the shop mostly has mounts, pets and the Fae Trickster class (for credits or in-game currency) available. But the Knight and the Gunslinger are free, so you do not have to spend money on it.

So far, I would say that if you don’t mind the graphics and enjoy gathering resources, crafting and building on your homeworld, then Trove is a game to check out. If you’re into challenging fights, collecting items to make your character stronger, etc. – then I’m not sure if you’ll have tons of fun in the game or not, because I haven’t seen enough of the bosses yet to judge that part of the game properly. ;) One thing I do not like is that apparently, you don’t have a wardrobe or a cosmetic item system where you can choose a certain look but wear other items for their stats. With the amount of funny looking items, I would have assumed they have such a system in place!

Since it’s in Alpha currently, you either have to sign up and hope you get an invitation or buy your way into it (it starts with 18,99€) – or, as in my case, be lucky to win a key in some giveaway. If you’re patient, you can also just wait for beta to start (5€ gets you a guaranteed spot in the beta – yes, unfortunately, it seems that the best and easiest way to get your hands on the game in alpha or beta is to spend money) or even wait for the game’s launch since joining the game will be absolutely free then! We will also know a lot more about which features will be in the finished game then. And, of course, the whole experience will be more bug-free than it is now. I haven’t encountered a lot or anything game-breaking, but still. It’s not yet a finished product and you notice that, of course.

Weapon Master…

We have successfully moved and most of our stuff is in the new place. I have also been ill for the last three weeks – yes, my timing is impeccable. However, now that most things have settled, it is time to call for an end of our summer break and you’ll see me blogging here more often again. :)

Some time ago, I wrote about my favourite “profession” which is actually not a profession per se, but a weapon and a specific playstyle (especially in Guild Wars 2): The one-handed sword.

I’m very close to 10.000 achievement points and had a look at the various categories to see where I could get some more points when I found the weapon master tab. As I said in that post, I really love the sword, but I had no idea how much I love it, especially considering that I actually do have five professions at level 80 already!

GW2_Weapon Master

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (June 25, 2014)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWelcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch and the first Geekwatch in 2014! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to Guild Wars 2 – and on occasion, other games.

I’m going to take a quick break from our summer break to post, because there have been two quite cool announcements today. For one, we finally heard something “official” about the next Rift expansion. We have already gotten the new crafting profession (Dream Weaver) as well as the four new souls and the PvP dimensions. But as far as I know, we hadn’t yet heard the name of the new expansion or what the new content will be about. A new producer’s letter was released today: The expansion is called “Nightmare Tide” and the new content will be free. There will also be new equipment slots which you will have to unlock on a per character basis by playing the game. They also announced a “digital edition” of Nightmare Tide with no further details. It will unlock those equipment slots for your account immediately. We will see what this means exactly, I guess, how much it costs, how difficult or time-consuming the unlocking process will be in the game and so on. For now, I’ll remain excited about the fact that they did announce their expansion and gave it a name and even said that it will be here “this year”. Hey, you never know… ;)

Let’s switch over to Guild Wars 2. By now, the whole Maguuma trailer is old news, I assume. But that’s not the news piece that I meant anyway. Guild Wars 2 now has a tumblr account as well. I had already seen that account before today’s announcement, but I really like what they are planning to do with it. It is not just another page where they mirror their news posts, etc. Instead, they want to use it to promote fan art! The good thing about tumblr is that you can submit your work to them. So, you won’t have to wait and hope for anybody at ArenaNet to spot your creations. Point them at your art instead! If tumblr is totally your thing, by the way, we are mirroring all our posts over there. ;)

And now, let me go back to stressing over the upcoming move. If all goes well, we will have uninterrupted internet access, at least! :)