Guild Wars 2

There’s a lot I like about GW2. Fast travel, a little bit of action combat, an overall design that emphasizes streamlined activity.

The main issue I have with GW2 isn’t intentional on the part of ArenaNet – it is that I really loved Guild Wars and thus miss what isn’t present. I miss double classing, hunting elites for elite skills, heroes and henchmen, zoned explorable areas, and alliance battles (the only PvP I really enjoyed. These were 12-v-12 matches, you could bring in PvP-only characters so each team should be evenly matched level and gear wise. Unlike WoW’s battlegrounds which were partitioned every 10 levels so there were wild mismatches).

It isn’t a bad game by any means!

In fact, I think Guild Wars 2 occupies a rare space in the gaming world: one where quality-of-life features are front and center. This was also true in Guild Wars (yes, yes, I’ll stop mentioning Guild Wars). Respecing in GW2 is free and easy. Travel to a location, at least to a nearby waypoint you’ve previously visited, is cheap. Crafting speeds up as you craft a stack of items (take that, LoTRO!). Need to transfer items between characters? GW2 offers special bag inventory slots for exactly that. Many items are bound-to-account so they can be used by everyone. The daily rewards feature laurels and experience tomes, useful for equipping and leveling alts. Birthday rewards feature instant level-20 to level-60 scrolls. With those, if you are at all a serious player you should have all character slots at level 80, it’s very doable.


As for my progress, I’ve tried every class and gravitated back to the ranger, which I knew I would (my GW main was a ranger too). I made characters with various races/profession combinations back when I started, and paired ranger with Norn. Now I wish I had chosen Asura. That’s because I love small/short/tiny characters in MMOs, since physics doesn’t matter. Nothing quite like a tiny character taking on a gigantic monster… I love the mismatch in size with the tiny player character emerging victorious.

If ArenaNet ever sold a race change scroll, I’d do it. Who knows, it might happen. Standing Stone Games said they were bringing that capability to LoTRO, so it could happen here.

Anyway, I completed the original storyline, participated in Living World Season 1 (not playable anymore) and started Season 2… but bogged down there because there was a surprising amount of jumping involved and that isn’t my thing in an MMO. On the other hand, there are jump puzzles, typically to access a vista or a hidden explorable area, and those are fine to me, because they are optional and don’t gate progress on the storyline. I should peck away and try to advance along in short sessions.

The friends I had that played the game drifted away so I found myself soloing along and well, if that’s the case then GW2 is my 2nd or 3rd MMO priority so I play very little these days.

I’m curious what ArenaNet is also working on. It’s been 7 years since GW2 launched… I know the studio had some bad times, including a mass layoff last year (?). I hope they are on solid footing now and are also working on GW3. 🙂

GW2 – Forum Anger

Every once in a while the playerbase, at least the vocal group that hangs out on forums, spills their collective guts in a (hopefully cathartic) bile spewing session(s). The most recent culprit was anger over GW2’s mount adoption licenses. The gist is: spend gems, get a random chance of cool looking mount skins that you don’t already have. There are 30 skins and getting them all is 9600 gems. Or in dollars… $120 (8000 gems for $100 and 1600 more for $20). I’m sure there are sales (right??) and you can always farm gold all day long to buy gems but yeah, these skins cost most players actual money. Lots of it if you only want a few specific skins.

This move was seen as a cash grab and loot box apocalypse and at one time on Reddit, there were 12+ angry ranting threads active:

Mind boggling! Well not really, I wonder how long the average MMO playerbase gets annoyed at something. Probably every other patch/update. 😉

This is somewhat moot for me as I don’t even have PoF and thus no mount at all. And I’m NOT buying PoF until I actually get there in the storyline. Which might be 4 years from now if I keep my current pace, haha.

My medium term goal is to take a break from the story and finish off exploration in Tyria. I need 165 more hero points to train my druid skills so I’m going to do that, starting with one zone in the Ascalon area I haven’t been to (Fireheart Rise), one zone in the Shiverpeaks I haven’t been to (Frostgorge Sound), most of Kryta, and most zones south of Lion’s Arch that are crawling with undead even though I helped kill Zhaitan. Oh well. 😉

I might jump back and forth and advance the Season 2 storyline a bit, for variety. If I had to rank my current goals in order they would be: 1) train druid skills, 2) zone exploration, and 3) advance in storyline. At some point when I finish Season 3’s storyline I’ll buy PoF.

GW2 – Victory or Death

I finally finished the Personal Story of Guild Wars 2… 5+ years after the game shipped. What can I say, I wandered away from the game, switched which profession I played as a main, ran a bunch of alts, got to a certain point twice and stopped.

But after pecking away here and there and now… I’m done.


Overall I enjoyed it. Yes, your character is doing everything on behalf of other NPCs (Trahearne) but what else are the writers going to do? GW1’s Nightfall campaign had you doing things on behalf of Kormir who barely helps at “Abaddon’s Gate” and usurps all your hard work to become a goddess. 😉

My only complaint is the session play, where you take over another character, a vehicle, or in this case, turrets. Not my favorite mechanism. I can see why devs do that, since it can provide a more consistent initial point. After all, by forcing a new skill bar onto every player, they can tune the fight and the difficulty they want. What if a player has no ranged attacks, or their ranged weapon is weak? They’re gonna fail miserably attacking flying dragons, etc. Easy solution – force the players to take over a launcher and now every profession/class is on equal footing in the mission, or at least for that particular fight.


However, the reason I pick a profession/class and play it is to use whatever skill set they have. I didn’t sign up to be a rocket lobber or whatever. So overusing the session play (or taking over a vehicle, or become a trebuchet etc.) mechanic is annoying to me. And this mission had a lot of rockets to lob.


On the other hand, LoTRO does this to great effect. In that game, session play lets you relive the Chamber of Mazarbul battle, play as an Elf Lord, play as an Angmarim, etc. and otherwise lets the dev team write a better story. I don’t find the usage in GW2 to be at such a level.


Anyway, afterwards I started up the Season 2 content. I missed parts of Season 1 (Scarlet Briar) and there is no way to replay it, so instead there is an NPC that will summarize the events for you. I did that and went off to Brisbane Wildlands to start Season2.

Once there I was confronted with some jump puzzles which kind of turned me off. I get it, players love jump puzzles and/or platformers (hey I’m a huge Ratchet & Clank fan!) but it doesn’t seem to mix well in what is theoretically an RPG. It took me a half dozen tries to land the “target jump” (Lightning Pull) that was the 2nd obstacle. I kept over/under shooting even after targeting the plateau – my char would NOT jump to the spot I targeted. Maybe this is just a UI miscalibration/failure.

While I would like to advance through Season 2, HoT, and perhaps buy PoF, I think I might take a break and work on some other MMOs. We’ll see!


GW2 – Cursed Shore

While I’m waiting for Black Friday draw near, with its PS4 bundles (hopefully), I can also advance in other MMOs I’m playing. Say… GW2!

While I’m not the biggest fan of the combat in GW2, it isn’t horrible. I’ve found a build I like even though I know it isn’t up to the standards of the cutting edge meta-game players. According to the benchmarks of the EU Quantify guild, I’m.. well, not even on the chart since the only ranger build I see if a “condi soulbeast”. I can tell myself that’s fine since 1) I’m not doing group content, and 2) I don’t even have Path of Fire in order to have the Soulbeast elite spec. I use a longbow, take 3 spirits (frost, storm, sun), and hang in the back plinking away at adds and/or weaker monsters (especially the ones almost dead) before concentrating on the tougher ones.

Anyway, why do I play GW2 if I don’t like the combat that much, you ask? It comes down to 2 reasons. First is I decided I need to finish the Season 1 storyline… even if I will be 5 years late. So… I’m chugging along, almost there!

The second reason has to do with GW2’s ease of play overall. I don’t have much time during the week and GW2’s advantage is I can jump in and out easily. I can also do that with LoTRO, ESO, and SWL, but GW’2 extra edge is that I can do the storyline without dealing with leveling or improving my gear. My char is max level, has a mix of rare and exotic armor/weapons (ascended is the best available but exotic isn’t too far behind), and has a set of ascended jewelry/trinkets (thanks for me collecing laurels from daily rewards and trading them in). Thus, I just need to show up at where the storyline quests start and do them. Whereas in LoTRO I need to get ~4 levels before starting the next book, and in ESO my char is a bit of a mess as far as equipment and skills. I remember being a level or 2 up in SWL but I think I’ll hit a level barrier after advancing a quest or 2.


So, GW2 wins right now since it’s the least friction.

I’ve been pecking away and am currently at “Against the Corruption“, having just finished up “Ships of the Line”. For extra credit (saves me a bit of time in the future, I ran to the nearest outpost to the start of that next step, so when I get a spare hour or so I can proceed.

One thing I do like about GW2 are the dynamic events. While running across the landscape to the next outpost, I’ve come across several events, typically escort or defend events. I’ll pause and help out, for a bit of variety.  I’ve had a few people join me (or vice versa, some events had a few players already present) and I love that the events require zero organization in order to participate. We may be doing our own thing, but playing alongside others and working to a common goal is still fun!

GW2 – Starving the Beast

So after cooling down I went back and finished the previous mission GW2 kicked me out of (due to network problems).  And now, my ranger Glyneth is furthest along in the storyline, having completed Starving the Beast.


No major problems during the mission, other than being downed a couple of times before recovering. This was during the early part of the mission where I had to shoot projectiles at a ship, but had lousy aim so the group of friendly NPCs fighting alongside me were whittled down by a respawning risen/undead group. But then I figured out I was aiming all wrong, so I fixed that and hurried up and sank the ship.

I chose to stop the invasion at the source, so the next storyline mission is Ossuary of Unquiet Dead.

My elementalist Aurora got to Starving the Beast, but I never continued and instead rolled up a bunch of alts and meandered around. The completionist inside me wants to finish the original Season 1 storyline (at least once!!) before deciding what to do. I’ve had a few extra demands on my time lately want to find a sustainable level of play so I’ve been thinking about what games to play. I suppose that’s a good problem to have. 😉




GW2 – Through the Looking Glass

I thought I’d do something different and play some GW2 with the goal of eventually finishing up the Season 1 story. Yes… 5 years after the game came out.

My ranger Glyneth was at Fort Trinity and at Temple of the Forgotten God in the storyline. So I ran, fought, and swam over to the quest starting point.  Along the way I remembered doing this years ago on my Elementalist Aurora, my only other char to be this far along.


Underwater missions aren’t my favorite. Combat is even more key mashing than it is on land, and I have to deal with the disorienting 3D path and direction finding.

Partway through the mission, I was stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the next green star location to continue. Eventually, I gave up and look at the wiki entry. Sure enough, I found this text:

You might find yourself apparently stuck in a room with a circular ramp above water and unable to jump up, the cause of much frustration with this dungeon.

Exactly! And the fix is to look for a much tinier opening to swim through. Armed with this information on where to look, I found the smaller opening I needed in order to continue.

Eventually I finished the mission and stopped for the night.

Tonight, I continued on with Through the Looking Glass. After another run/swim from Fort Trinity to the starting point, I began and eventually found myself facing the Eye of Zhaitan.


I defeated it and during the post-mission cutscene/dialog – after killing the eye – I got a network error and disconnected. Which means I get to repeat the entire mission.

I was not in the mood so I rage quit the game.

I get that network problems are unavoidable, but can’t the game checkpoint a little better and notice that I COMPLETED the mission?


GW – Path of Fire preview

I entered the weekend special event, hoping it would help me decide one way or the other whether I’ll buy the GW2 expansion next month. It did help me decide… not to.

First, I was having a frustrating time with the intro. Part of that was my fault – since I don’t have a max level engineer, necromancer, thief, etc. I decided this would be a good time to check those professions out. It did not go well; I kept dying and quitting to Amnoon city, but as I later found out, you have to complete the intro storyline to get the raptor mount to enable taking part in other events like the races. If you quit to Amnoon, the storyline quest takes you right back to the intro to do over again.


I came across another blogger, Endgame Viable, that pretty much summed it up for me too. Like them, I re-entered and eventually made it through. It helped I went back to playing a ranger, the class I have the most time on (I’ve played mesmer and elementalist a reasonable amount as well).

Once I got back into the groove of playing at range, kiting, strategically letting my pet soak up the enemy’s attention, I advanced to the checkpoint where you had to douse fires and then do some raptor jumping to reach higher area.

This too was frustrating as I couldn’t make the jumps that looked doable… I ran around and found another spot with a higher vantage point and finally was able to complete that section and advance to the cave run and spider fight.

Eventually all I had left to complete the quest was reach the city. Except in the way was something that gave me concern for the expansion, a simple missing bridge:


The first time I missed it and fell down. I tried to skip the jump by taking a straighter path to the city but got a “return to the zone or you will be kicked from the instance” message, so I ran back around to try the jump again. I made it on my second attempt.

But the thing is, I bet these kinds of stupid jumps are going to be littered all over the expansion. Why else would they have the intro quest tell you that you can jump with your mount, force you to jump with your mount to advance, and then insert another unavoidable jump  on the final approach to Amnoon?


I was so annoyed when I reached Amnoon, I logged out.

Action Combat

Basically, I could make it through by staying in motion all the time, running, dodging, attacking when I can and running in circles as much as possible. I don’t find that gameplay fun. It’s why I stopped playing Wildstar, the active combat mechanism is interesting but not when it is dialed to 11 all the time.

And that’s what the GW2 design feels like to me. Secret World Legends and LoTRO have telegraphs, times you need to move out of the upcoming fire, but I’m OK with it in those games because it is a mechanic for tougher fights, not a mechanic employed all the time for every group of enemies.

I think this is why I never could get into GW2 as much as GW1. The original game was more strategic, enemies didn’t respawn unless you zoned, there were henchmen and eventually heroes to direct, you could pause and plot the next fight… and a lot less rolling  left/right and running in circles. And GW1 didn’t have jumping… I fear it will crop up in PoF often enough to irritate me (jump to get to the next area of a quest, make a critical jump or fail a storyline quest, etc) so I’ll sit out Path of Fire. I would like to finish a storyline in GW2 so that’ll be a side project, one I don’t need the upcoming expansion for.

I know some players like the action combat of GW2, Jeromai and Bhagpuss for example, so I might be an outlier. Certainly most of the current playerbase has to be OK with it, or at least tolerate it better than me. One thing nice about having so many MMOs these days 😉 is these kinds of design issues can vary to offer a different experience to the wider audience. People that like this style combat have a place to go.

MMO Updates

This was an eventful week for the MMOs I am interested in. Secret World Legends released on Steam, GW2 has an expansion coming in September, and LoTRO expanded to Mordor. Whew!

Even better, my schedule is settling down and I should be able to carve out some consistent time in order to play. It’s been a lot of mobile games lately since they are convenient and doable in small chunks.


I’m determined to play this game more. I only ever reached the Scorched Desert in TSW, but some of the most memorable quests I’ve played in MMOs were from this game which is amazing considering that I am barely out of the starter zones.

Combat has been streamlined, build/skills simplified, etc so I’m going to give it another shot and get further.

In TSW I played a Dragon character, so this time I rolled up an Illuminati and a Templar to see if I like those factions better – granted there are minimal differences.


Well I broke down and bought the Mordor expansion despite telling myself to wait until December to buy it with store points. I did just buy one copy so I’ll pick it up for my other account with store points. I am at least partially frugal. 😉

My reasoning was that this is my favorite MMO. I haven’t played much lately, and I’ve taken breaks, but I’ve always come back and really enjoyed the pacing, setting, and storyline. When my kin was active I also grouped and really enjoyed it. How can I not get the expansion?!

Since my guardian Naerys is only level 100 and a few books behind in the storyline, my goal is to beeline the epic quests and enter Mordor. At least just a little bit.

I haven’t decided what to do about the character boost. I’d prefer a character that can heal should I join the occasional group, rather than tank (requires too much knowledge of the encounter) with Naerys, so that means Runekeeper, Minstrel, or Beorning. Of those, I have a low 60’s minstrel parked at Caras Galadhon. I could boost her up, but I’m thinking of rolling a new minstrel and boosting that character instead.

Why? Well, my existing minstrel is an elf and that’s fine, but I like hobbits and would rather have a hobbit minstrel. All else being equal, hobbits have 2 useful race abilities: stealth and silence, whereas elves have their own stealth and grace. I don’t remember Eldar’s Grace ever saving my bacon but Hobbit Silence has plenty of times. Minstrels get their own feign death skill, so a hobbit minstrel has two emergency skills which is very compelling to me.

Over on my other account my hobbit minstrel is level 20 and in the North Downs. What I plan to do there is roll a hobbit warden.The warden is so unique as far as how they play I gotta give it another whirl, and pecking away at leveling through the content would be a great way to relearn the warden gambit system.

My existing elf warden is also in the low 60’s parked at Caras Galadhon, but is on my first account. I’ll make better use of my store points if I play a character on each account rather, so the plan is a few months down the road, I’ll have a boosted hobbit minstrel on my first account, and a hobbit warden on my second account that I intend to play through the storyline normally.

On the other hand I also really enjoyed playing my burglar (who is level 82 in Harwick, only my 2nd character to move past Mirkwood) but is on my first account as well. Perhaps when I do buy Mordor for my second account I’ll boost a burglar there if my warden bogs down!


So this is where it gets tricky. I have super nostalgia for GW1, but that’s a different game. GW2 never fully clicked with me. The evidence is that 5 years after GW2 released, I have yet to complete a storyline or season on any character! I’ve gone into Heart of Thorns just enough to get minimal gliding on a few chars, and that’s it.

So, a purely logical analysis says that I should NOT get Path of Fire, or at the very least, not until I finish a storyline (or more) on at least one character, which will be my ranger or mesmer. Both elite specs look fun to play and are useful support roles. Both are level 80 and both have an ascended trinket collection thanks to me logging in most every day, even if I didn’t play beyond that, and collecting laurels.

Should GW2 not take again, I need to put it aside and try 2 games I have that deserve attention as well: DDO and ESO.

To this end I’ve decked out my mesmer and am venturing south of Lion’s Arch to advance the storyline.

GW2 – Overland to Fort Trinity

Bee-lining the Living Story chapter one has been pretty fun. Since Eve is already level 80 with a complete set of gear, the only thing I really need to do is run to the next spot. Rewards along the way are deposited (crafting materials) or sold (other gear, since it is worse than what I already have).

I make an occasional detour to grab a waypoint, but have been skipping everything else like vistas, points of interest, hearts/quests, and hero challenges. I do plan to go back to get the waypoints (because being to travel rapidly is very convenient) and hero challenges (to help with masteries) but the rest will be delayed for another time. I’m more interested in jump puzzles and vistas but I suppose one longer term goal is completing the exploration which means picking up the points of interest and doing the quests.

Doing the storyline chapters back to back, I noticed a significant change starting with the Battle of Claw Island. Before this, the story was quick and simple, generally taking less than 10 minutes and involving few fights. But with the Battle of Claw Island, and the same with A Light in the Darkness, the storyline quests balloon up to 30+ minutes, with multiple stages, lots of fighting, etc.

After completing Willing Captives, I turned to run over to Fort Trinity, where the next stage begins. Along the way I saw notice of a Ley Line event, so I detoured over to it, and found a typical GW2 massive fight going on. I find these fun, even if they are a bit zergy.


The fight lasted a few minutes and I simply targeted the toughest mob around and joined in. As a revenant, my hammer rotation (using demon stance) involves Unyielding Anguish to lay out a dark field, followed up by Drop the Hammer or Phase Smash, which are both blast finishers. Plus, in a group if I notice another field out I’ll try to blast finish that too.

After finishing the event, I continued my journey to Fort Trinity and decided to stop there, to continue later. Soon Eve will pass up my other two characters that are also around Fort Trinity in the storyline! I stalled out before shortly after this point but I’m determined to keep going this time.

GW2 – Revenant Boost

I’ve been fiddling around in GW2 and decided there are 2 related issues with my game enjoyment: the ranger was my favorite profession in GW1; I don’t like the GW2 ranger as much for various reasons mostly due to build and pets.

Build and pets further breaks down: the first 5 skills are locked to weapon choice (I miss the near-total freedom of making a build in GW1); GW2 rangers sort of need to have a pet to be most effective (in GW1 I didn’t use mine much – but then, GW1 had henchmen and heroes so I basically did have ~7 other “pets” for a lot of my adventuring. However, heroes/henchmen were a lot better than a pet).

Thus I did a level 80 preview on an engineer and revenant but not a ranger. I decided using a level 80 boost for another ranger was insane – all that would really get me is a different racial elite skill.

After some experimentation in the Silver Wastes, I opted for the revenant.

The way ArenaNet did the level 80 boost is really nice – the character gets a full suite of equipment, weapons (including underwater weapons), and trinkets. All skills are trained, except for the elite specialization. Even better, you don’t have to click through getting all this stuff, or even for each level (like you would for the level 20 and level 30 boosts). Use the boost and you are ready to roll as a level 80 char! The only thing you might do is tweak the build.

I like the revenant because it feels sturdy, using heavy armor, and the weapons have a good mix of combo fields and finishers. Especially the hammer which has a field (dark) and finishers (blast, projectile), and is a ranged weapon too! (What?! But it is). That’s my weapon of choice with sword/sword as my weapon swap (those were the weapons from the level 80 boost).


This char is already leveled, has unlocked traits and skills, so I’m going to ignore vistas, hearts/quests, and points of interest. Instead I will open waypoints and detour for an occasional hero challenge, while bee-lining the storyline. I believe emphasizing 100% map completion before moving on was a factor in my various burnouts and stalling midway through.