Category Archives: Guild Wars 2

Then & Now: Reliving the newbie experience (1-5)

With the recent feature patch, ArenaNet released the new player experience. There has been quite a lot of controversy around the related changes. For example, your skills unlock one by one when you level up. The last one, your elite skill, is not available until you hit level 40 (it was at level 30 before). Some of the changes annoy some veteran players because when we create the 10th alt, we obviously do not need the handholding anymore. However, not all systems should be hidden and/or disabled for veteran players who already levelled a character. As usual with patches, there are bugs (I wish there weren’t, but we all know how it is… :p).

Anyway, as they said, these changes are to make it easier for new players, to keep them playing the game instead of running away screaming and to give a nicer feeling of progression as they get rewards with every level.

GW2_asura creation

My initial reaction was a very negative one. Those changes sounded bad! Very very bad! And yes, while I agree that ArenaNet throws a lot at the players at once, I always thought a better tutorial would help, but not stretching everything mercilessly without giving you a choice. You know, an actual tutorial before you start the actual game. Not this very short story introduction. However, I assume making a tutorial is very costly (and time-intensive). So here we are.

And instead of ranting and raging about the changes, I decided to “recreate” my first steps in Tyria as much as I can! Keep in mind that I have been blogging about Guild Wars 2 since before its launch. So, I was in no way new to the game even when headstart happened. I also have experience with a lot of different MMOs. Both do not make me the “problem child” of ArenaNet (as in: the one that needs more hand-holding). However, my goal was to remember what it felt like being new in Tyria (and I, too, was confused about some things!) and compare my reactions to the gameplay now with the reactions I had back when my first asura stepped into the world for the first time.

GW2_the original Flummi

The original Flummi

My first asura was no other than Flummi, a mesmer. In hindsight, while I really loved that profession, I also had a few issues with the mesmer. It took a while, but I figured out how to survive even difficult skill challenges (judging by how often I ran past them later on and found players in the downed state :p). When compared to levelling the warrior afterwards, the mesmer still was much harder to play. So she seems to be the perfect choice to test the new player experience. Luckily, I did take screenshots of the settings in the character creation screen, so I could literally create a clone of her: Flummi Two.

I also do not play on my main account, because that one comes with lots of XP bonus thanks to achievement points. My second account isn’t often played and has 0 extra XP, and 1 % karma and gold gain. I figured the last two won’t be that much anyway. I sent all my gold (4. In letters: Four… -.-) to my main account and wrote down how much karma I had in the beginning: 255.125. So, while adventuring through Tyria with “Flummi Two”, I will not spend more karma than she has earned herself and I will not use my other characters to help her out. I want the real newbie experience again! :p I will write about my experiences here in our blog. Very likely not level by level, because that would be boring. Today’s part will be about my first impression and the first five levels.

Back at headstart, I remember that with the first “boss” mob that appears at the end of the tutorial zone, I got downed for no apparent reason. “Fight for your life” – yes, but… why? I was perfectly healthy in one second and downed in the next. Does this happen all the time? What can I do to be sure to predict when something like this happens? What is even causing it? This annoyed me to no end. If ArenaNet wanted to show us that they have a downed state, they should do it differently, not in the middle of a big fight and certainly not without indicating why you got damage. But maybe it was also just a bug. I never figured that one out. However, Flummi Two now had no such issues. In fact, if I understood correctly, she cannot get downed (and thus, die) until level 5. I had no problems surviving with her, though, so I did not experience this.

The collections which were also newly introduced with the feature pack, popped up at the right of my screen when I collected an item that belongs to a collection. I feel that with the whole revamping and making it easier to understand, they could have also thrown a tooltip with an explanation towards that notification window.

GW2_NPE_level 2

Level 2 gives you your second weapon skill slot.

Flummi Two started with a scepter and only the first weapon skill slot. This wasn’t bad, actually: I quite enjoyed the slow unlocking of weapon skills per level as it meant that I had time to learn and try one skill before the next one appeared. With the previous system, we also had that, but it happened faster. After killing a mob with a weapon, that weapon’s next skill got unlocked a bit further. After killing a certain amount of mobs, the skill got fully unlocked and you could use it. This had to be done with every single weapon the character could use. When you were higher in level, this could get a bit annoying. Say you found a staff for the first time, you equipped it and only had one single skill to use. But it still meant you could slowly get used to the weapon skills. The system now works great for a new player who hasn’t played the game before, but only until all 5 weapon skill slots are unlocked. When the player then equips a new weapon, all weapon skills are immediately available. If this truly was about “slow pacing” and not overburdening a player new to the profession, then the new system would fail. On the other hand, I guess this is more part of the “levelling should feel rewarding” as getting a new weapon skill slot is not dependant on X killed mobs anymore (especially annoying when you levelled by doing peaceful things instead). At the same time, more experienced players do not need to unlock a new weapon’s skills one by one, but can access all of them immediately.

GW2_NPE_no water bucket

I remember there being useable water buckets for extinguishing the fire instead of just running through them now…

Anyway, it didn’t take me long to experience my first disappointment: The golem game in Soren Draa was taken out. Well, the little golems are still there, but you cannot interact with them anymore. In fact, you cannot use any items anymore. At least not in the low-level area (like picking up a bucket of water and throwing the water at flames to extinguish them). Back at release, I did play a few games with the mini golems. It has no real purpose. It’s just there to fill the bar and get you closer to the heart reward. I lost the game, repeatedly, because I had trouble with the control skills. Yes, I was a newb. ;) But I still had fun and loved seeing this little touch from ArenaNet! It just showed how detailed the world and the game was that they cared enough to add something like this. It’s also so very cute! I want one for myself.

GW2_NPE_level 5

Level 5 rewards: My beloved F-skill and the downed state

What I really did miss was the F skill. With the mesmer, the first F skill lets you destroy your illusions for some nice damage on the enemy. When I first started playing the game, I created several professions to see what their F skill was, as I felt that this was what’s making the professions feel distinctive and special. Even if both the mesmer and the elementalist are using a staff and cast spells, the F skills are what makes them very different from each other. Having to wait until you finally unlock those skills is a bad decision if you ask me. Or, maybe not having to wait per se. But it should be a level 2 unlock. Level 2 happens so fast, after all. And it just lets a new player see what’s special about their profession almost immediately after starting playing them.

GW2_NPE_dodge tutorial

This is a great addition! A dodge tutorial was certainly needed to introduce the mechanic to new players.

There was also a dodge tutorial in the open world and this one is definitely needed! I would have loved to get this when I started playing. Even though I had read about dodging, I still felt a bit overwhelmed when I first had to do it.

However, not everything is nice and good about this system. There is also the “navigator” (not sure what it’s officially called). That navi shows you an arrow of where to go next. It mainly led me from heart to heart and to the dodge tutorial. This resulted in me looking at the upper right corner of my screen instead of looking at the world. It made me follow the arrow, because… this is what you do, right? Other MMOs work like that as well in a way. You get a quest, which leads to another quest, which leads to another… And here in Guild Wars 2, it’s hearts and little tutorials. You follow the navigator. But this isn’t what us veterans learned about Guild Wars 2 when we started playing! We may have been overwhelmed sometimes and I know there were a lot of players asking: “Where should I go now?” but this was what set Guild Wars 2 apart. The answer usually was: Follow your nose. Go, explore the world! Well, try not to run into mobs a lot higher in level than you. But other than that, take a stroll, sniff on the flowers and you may run into an event that you can participate in.

GW2_NPE_navigator

The navigator (upper right corner) tells you what to do and where to go next. No need to think for yourself here.

Flummi Two is now level 5. All in all, it took me one hour and 8 minutes to get there. This is long, in case you’re wondering! I took my time, looked around, read every tooltip, etc. As I said, I wanted to recreate the original experience. I imagined being new in the game again. I don’t think a new player who needs guidance will play much faster, if at all.

My impression of the new player experience, so far, is a positive one. I did not expect that, to be honest. ;) The slower unlocking of things isn’t as bad as I thought and just as ArenaNet said, getting rewards for level ups is neat. At no point did I get too many things thrown at me. Everything was nicely paced and levelling feels very rewarding. This part I like and I’m sure it’s great for new players. On the other hand, the heart of Guild Wars 2 seems to be missing. There is no sense of wanting to go and explore the world. Not as long as the navigator tells me where to go. But maybe this will change. Flummi Two is only at level 5, after all. There are many more levels waiting for the two of us now and I’ll be sure to report about my progress here.

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!

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”.

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! :)

Guild Challenge: Map for Deep Trouble

We were just doing the guild challenge “Deep Trouble” again tonight. For those who don’t know what it is: It’s a guild challenge in Mount Maelstrom where you have to rescue quaggans from krait. It’s a bit tricky as there are several quaggans that need to be saved and once you free one, they start running and krait spawn. You definitely need more than one person to escort the quaggan. The quaggans are always in the same spots, but it’s a bit difficult to coordinate your groups as some are quite close to each other (so saying “the one in the east” is misleading).

While trying to coordinate which group should go for which quaggan, we realized that the map on dulfy’s website is outdated. Apparently, the quaggans were repositioned at some point. So, in order to help our guild coordinate, we made a new map and we figured: “Hey, we’ve got a blog. Let’s share this new map with other players!” :p

GW2 Deep Trouble Guild Challenge

Map for the guild challenge “Deep Trouble” showing the locations of the captured quaggans.

When doing this guild challenge, make sure that your party is close together and moves on when the quaggan does. Ignore the krait, just follow the quaggan (and kill the krait when the quaggan stops moving and starts to fight them)! And don’t free a quaggan if your party isn’t close to you. Those krait are tough to fight alone. If even one quaggan dies, the guild challenge is failed.