Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Orr Is A Bore: GW2

Azuriel over at In An Age has been doing due diligence and taking another run at GW2. I think it's fair to say he's not enjoying it much more than he did the first time. Which is absolutely fine. Everyone doesn't have to like everything and what a dull world it would be if we were all the same, wouldn't it, my little one? Lawks-a-mussy!

Ahem...getting back to the point, Azuriel alludes to something mentioned by several people (I was one) in his comments section: "a lot of people are suggesting that the zones/enemies/storylines get dumber the farther South you go". Which puts a finger neatly on one of Guild Wars 2's real problems: Orr.

I vaguely remember reading about Orr before launch. How it was where all the promise of the Dynamic Event system would bear fruit, how it was GW2's equivalent of raiding, how it was going to be a step-change from the rest of the game, which was really only there to prepare you for Orr. Yadda yadda and indeed yadda.

There's a good discussion at GW2Guru which goes over most of what's wrong with Orr in some detail. The thread's called "I Hate Orr" but there are posters there who don't and make a fair case. Everyone, different, see above.

I don't hate Orr but I dislike it enough that I've been there just twice. I'd say that having three large maps at launch, which quite few people visit once or twice and cross off their list of "Places I'd Like To See Again" is a fundamental problem.

Issues that I have with Orr from just those couple of quick visits include:
  • It's frickin' ugly, especially the lighting and color scheme.
  • It's chock-full of the same mobs over and over and over again.
  • Mob density is overcooked.
  • There's far too much of it.
To sum up, it's laborious, unattractive and somewhat dull. It's not, as has been claimed, particularly hard or testing. I didn't find it significantly slower to open up than any other map, nor did I die any more often. It's just not very entertaining.

I didn't stay long enough to confirm whether the other big complaint is true, namely that for such a supposedly important area, nothing much that matters happens there. I also have sufficient concern for my blood-pressure not even to have attempted the underwater parts which by most accounts are truly awful.

Orr wasn't all bad. The undead chickens made me laugh out loud. The way the dead Zhaitan raised carry on their now meaningless lives is mildly affecting. I may even go back for another look, some day, although it's a long way to go just to laugh at a chicken. As an aspirational set of end-of-game zones, though? I don't think so.

Since I'm not there I can't estimate from experience how well-used Orr is. Is it busy down south? Let's hope not, because if and when we get new maps it's going to be a disappointment if ArenaNet attempt to emulate or even outdo Orr in "difficulty" and "challenge".

There's been no word that I've seen on what part of the map might open next, but my money's on Crystal Desert. In Ebonhawke the guards at the Southern Gate are already fielding questions from interested adventurers:

Let's just hope that when that gate does open there's something more interesting behind it than a barren wasteland filled with mindless husks.

Coming Next: How It Should Be Done or "North with the Charr!"


  1. For someone who hasn't been there yet, it is not sounding like any kind of fun. Was there anything right about the area?
    What would amount to Fow or the Underworld in GW1 should be a bit more umph!

    1. I quite liked Malchor's Leap, the middle map of the three. I also think the whole area would probably be quite attractive if it wasn't teeming with undead and had normal light conditions. There's plenty of interesting architecture, it's just hard to get a good look at most of it.

      Honestly, though, I haven't spent enough time there to pass any meaningful comment on the content. The core problem is that after a fairly short while I just strongly wanted to be somewhere else.

  2. There's never a good discussion at Guru.

    Anyway, Orr was always going to have one of two problems. Either there wouldn't be enough people to push content, or there'd be too many. Right now there's too many. It's a blast when we haven't staked our claim on everything. Once we have, there's not much left to do except wait for the next boss fight lead-in to start, or fight for credit in other events while ele bots down mobs before they appear.)

    Aesthetically, it may not be pretty but it looks exactly the way an island raised from the sea should. It's also the realm of an undead dragon so it wouldn't make sense for it to be vibrant and alive. What I don't understand is how the undead are privy to contemporary fashions.

    Have you seen the super-sized undead chickens in Malchor's Leap?

    Also, the Crystal Desert isn't the only place you see that sort of thing. There's also the Tengu in Lion's Arch and along the wall in Metrica Province. There's lots of hints of things to come. I was just looking at the map last night contemplating all the inaccessible lands.

    There's still a big chunk of Orr left, though, too...

    1. Yep I noticed the Tengu guarding their gate the other day. Lots of interesting possibilities.

      It's entirely true that a land raised from the sea by a supernatural force and re-populated with the reanimated corpses of its previous inhabitants would look like Orr. That's kind of the problem! I did a piece about that a week or three back, how our reward as players is to go from the green, leafy fields and gamboling lambs of our starter areas to the dankest ruins and blasted deserts, teeming inevitably with demons or undead. It's a structural problem with the form, but I noticed it more strongly and sooner in Orr than in, say Cartheon in Vanguard or the Plaguelands in Azeroth, to name two of many examples.

  3. I agree with your four bullet points, and having completed the Straits of Devastation map, I can definitely confirm that the underwater parts are even worse.

  4. Unfortunately, I think Orr is balanced for max level gear. Having blown several gold picking up a set of exotic weapons to go with the armor, I zoned back to mess around and had a much more tolerable time than previously, to the point where I could almost imagine myself doing some farming and gathering there.

    Except I now have a problem with the immense number of bots plaguing the area. Not as bad as Frostgorge Sound, but still noticeable and irritating.

    Scenery-wise, I'm ok with it. It's a blasted desolate risen-from-ocean crawling-with-undead wasteland, yes, but what can you do? It fits the lore.

    As for what is right about the zones, I rather like the lengthy event chains - assuming nothing breaks - and the odd secret chest area or jumping puzzle. It's really like exploring never-seen-before ruins, catacombs and shipwrecks, with so many mobs to cut through, the level of challenge is a mite higher than in the zones with hearts.

    Malchor's Leap is also home to a jumping puzzle on steroids. I think there's 12 items to find to unlock chests, and I've only managed to stumble across 4-5 the last time I was there. Should be a crazy guild event venue.


    1. Went down there today for the first time in ages. The bot situation is ridiculous. I thought it was bad in Frostgorge and all the starting areas but in Orr it's insane.

      I'm very happy indeed with almost everything about GW2 but the bot fiasco is close to undoing all of that. If I stop playing it will be because of bots.

  5. Cursed Shore actually has some color to it, so I just stay there most of the time. =P

    1. I was down south for a while today. Mrs Bhagpuss's engineer dinged 80 and wanted to look at the karma gear on the vendors at the final dungeon in Cursed Shore. Turned out she had never even been as far south as as Sparkfly so that was quite a trek.

      Upshot was that I spent quite while down there and took a good look following my recent commentary. If the Risen would just lie back down and stay dead Orr would be a rather attractive place to explore.


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