Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You're Not The Boss Of Me! : GW2

On paper, my take on Tequatl Rising, the latest of GW2's inexorable biweekly updates, ought to be diametrically opposed to Jeromai's. That was certainly the case for the preceding two week's worth of 8-bit hell that he both completed and chronicled so exhaustively but which I scrupulously avoided to the point not just of skipping The Box itself but of not logging in to the game at all for the entire two week period during which it was the starring attraction.

The current offering eschews casio tonalities and kindergarten color schemes, offering instead a whopping great "evolved" dragon and a difficulty pass for all his Bossy pals; not just his dragon buddies Shatner and The Claw but all the rest of the Pinata Gang from the Fire Elemental to Megadestroyer. These bosses have been favored content of mine since the first of the various loot passes turned them from sideshows to main events, so having a whole update complete with Achievements and Dailies based around them would appear to be right up my street.

Well, you'd think so, but there's a catch. The one carry-over from Super Adventure Box seems to be the idea that if players like to do something they'll like to do it even more if they have to do it while someone sprays them with a fire hose and throws stones at their head.

Being in no particular way unhappy or discontent with the difficulty level we've had for the last few months, I was not clamoring for the Tequatl fight, nor any of these fights, to be made harder. I was not bored with them. I found them relaxing and fun. Believe it or not, I didn't do a few of them every day because I wanted the loot but because I knew if I went to The Frozen Maw or Jungle Wurm I'd be guaranteed a good time.

Last night I logged into GW2 for the first time since I got seriously stuck into FFXIV. My Necromancer virtually lives either in Sparkfly Fen or Mount Maelstrom so she got the call. She found herself in a vile green mist. Taking stock of her somewhat unfamiliar surroundings she noticed the inelegant addition of dozens of four-foot tall rotting fish-heads sticking out of the sand and being an Asura she began immediately to investigate.

After a kind bystander revived her, then revived her once more after the fish-head respawned and one-shotted her again just as she was thanking him for reviving her the first time, she took up a judicious observing role on a nearby podium until the traditional Hylek call of "Therrre's somethning in the waterrr!" announced the arrival of the star of the show.

A lengthy and quite enjoyable battle ensued, during which she adopted the traditional Necromancer role of area denial, keeping wave after wave of Krait and sundry undead from overwhelming the cannons, so long ignored but which now perform a vital, nay essential task. Lose the canons and you've had it, basically.

That went well enough, although it was already beginning to wear out its welcome by the time a clangorous sound announced the charging of no fewer than four Asuran megalasers. The Dynamic Event teleprompter warned that to lose even a single laser would spell disaster, which was exactly what happened not much more than a minute or two later when the first one fell to the mindless hordes of undead that had appeared out of nowhere (or possibly the sea).

Tequatl kicked up a vast tsunami and sent it rolling across the beach, leaving every player quite literally dead in the water, along with the event itself. Someone must have hung back because the revives began, along with the post-mortem. Guests from other servers said we'd done well to get the dragon to somewhere around two-thirds health, or maybe it was eighty percent. Hard to count when you're fighting for your life in two feet of filthy water, especially when you're only four feet tall. It was deemed "a good try", anyway. Apparently the best any server had managed at the time was half-way.

On a single exposure my feeling was "that was quite amusing but once is probably enough". From the comments in map chat that was an opinion shared by many, although sometimes without the "that was quite amusing" part. I'm not sure if this version of Tequatl is a one-week only performance, after which he will revert to something closer to his former punchbag persona, but if by any chance it does turn out to stay this way then I'd say the chances of gathering the required 80+ people to give him anything like a run for his money will be slim.

Next I checked the timer at Dragon Temple and saw that Claw of Jormag was due soon so I moved one of my rangers over to meet him. Most of the server seemed to have had the same idea and Jormag, as we know he isn't but everyone calls him anyway, flew in to face probably the greatest force ever raised against him, at least on Yak's Bend.

As well as giving all the Bosses (I hate that term with a passion but this is officially Boss Week so let's go with it) extra hit points and a fix for all the various bugs that have pretty much neutered some of them since launch (Hi, Golem!) a timer has been added to all of the events. A pretty generous timer in most cases, it has to be said, although I'd back Gamarien any day to ponder and muse his way through the full fifteen minutes he's been given to finish his hunt the for Great Jungle Wurm before he ever even gets to see the thing.

Claw of Jormag gets half an hour, which is not far off what it often takes. Or took. To my immense surprise, this fight seemed to have been made much easier. Firstly most of the leftover mobs now despawn when the ice wall goes down. Secondly the walls themselves seem to melt like, well like ice in a fire. Lastly, and most importantly, the golems no longer collapse into scrap metal at the slightest brush against an ice pillar. Oh, and his wings no longer fall off, which is nice, for him at least. Whether it was these changes or the sheer number of players present, far from needing thirty minutes we were done in less than half of that.

My last Boss of the evening was the Inquest Golem MkII. As Jeromai points out, this "World Boss" used to be soloable. My necro soloed him once, or would have had some johnny-come-lately not turned up when she had him at 5%, reducing her Great Achievement to a mere duo kill. Won't be doing that again. All the various AEs he always did but which everyone used to ignore now hit like freight trains. We still killed him, though, even though half the zerg jumped ship when someone popped into the zone and yelled that Teq was back.

My feelings on the whole affair are largely this: making these events harder does not make them any more entertaining. Ninety-nine percent of the people doing them are only doing them to get the loot and if the loot is deemed good enough they will jump through as many hoops as you care to put up, but that does not mean they like jumping through hoops, it just means they like loot.

While there are also achievements and it's flavor-of-the-fortnight it won't be hard to hold a critical mass to get results but I'll be interested to see how many people are bothering to do these Bosses by October, especially if Champions still dole out the same or better rewards for a fraction of the effort.

I'm very curious to try out all of my other old favorites to see how they've fared. Teq wasn't terrible although he's clearly not going to be handing out his miniatures any time soon unless and until the nerf everyone seems to be expecting arrives. Jormag was, arguably, improved. Golem I preferred when he just span round and round and let us dis-assemble him at our leisure but maybe that's just me.

In general, though, no matter how much players complain that bosses are too easy, I remain to be convinced that a majority of the players likely actually to go and do that content on anything like a regular basis really want things to be hard enough for the outcome to be in any way in doubt. Zergs like to swarm over things and tear them apart at no risk. That's what zergs do. And, for better or for worse, GW2 has built much of its positive reputation on providing that sort of gameplay to the large crowd that wants it.

Which talk of zergs brings me neatly to the changes to WvW. Seen 'em. Gimmicky. Don't like 'em. I think that's probably as much discussion as they require.


  1. Fire Elemental is back to where it was at the beginning of the year. Lots of embers spawn, lots of very deep AOE burn fields from the elemental in addition to the ember's lava fonts.
    Enough people understand the mechanics with that battle that it's only a mild bump in difficulty.

    Steam Ogre appears to have not changed.

    The Ulgoth missed this update, he's not a world boss for the daily and seemed unchanged.

    Champs are dropping slightly more gear boxes all over.

    Haven't checked to see if the wayward "Seraph Honor Guard"s left waiting for their very important dignitaries in Ascalon have gotten their orders to head home. I've been imagining the two south of Pig Iron Quarry setting up a lemonade stand between the iron and flame legion presence.

    1. Fire Elemental is one of the few on the World Boss circuit that I've seen wipe the entire zerg. He used to be a real handful.

      Champs dropping even more gear is...surprising!

  2. I really beg to differ with your sentiment. I believe that a majority of players want loot, but they still want to have a little bit of fun in the encounter. They don't want to fail, sure, but it's still hard to fail these events anyways, and the updates makes the fight a bit more entertaining. It's a win-win, for people who just want easy loot (it's still easy) and for people who like to have an active fight.

    Great screenshots of Jormag, by the way. The best-designed boss by Anet, IMO.


    1. A range of sentiments were being expressed at Golem from "this is so dumb now, why did they change it?" to "this is much better, at least I have to stay awake". Never going to please everyone. I see the whole concept of these "Bosses" as trompe l'oeil, where there's an attempt to create the illusion of the risk of failure without any actual chance that failure will occur in any but the most exceptional circumstance. People want a "good fight" but they always want to win.

      I thought the Scarlet events were interesting,although flawed, in that not only were there rewards for "failure" as well as "success" but there wasn't even that much difference between them. That showed some more creative thinking, although it led to some awkward social dynamics. I wouldn't at all mind the World Boss fights being made considerably more difficult a la Tequaatl, with a very real chance of failure every time, but incremental, achievable awards throughout the event, rather than all or nothing.

      I'm going to have to see them all in action to judge which are "better" and which "worse" though. I really disliked the new Golem, but new Jormag was a considerable improvement so I imagine it will be swings and roundabouts as usual.

  3. I only hit up the Wurm, Fire ELe, Fire Shaman and Behemoth. The Wurm is still easy, just takes longer and he'll heal if he eats a husk (which maybe he did before? I dunno). I didn't find the Fire Ele much harder, I just didn't melee it like normal. The Behemoth didn't appear much changed, just took longer. The Fire Shaman wasn't mentioned in the patch notes but they changed him too. At least in the last phase, you have to kill all the embers in a certain amount of time or the elemental will go back to full health and spawn more. I'm not sure how that's going to scale with just a few people.

    I don't mind the changes that I saw really. It will be a bit annoying for them to take longer but then that's also good as it gives people more time to get to said bosses.

    1. The scaling is an interesting issue. Are the World Bosses even intended to scale below a certain critical threshold of players? I remember before the loot changes doing The Maw with a handful of people and the shaman still never got to finish his ritual. Has he ever finished it on any server? People are always asking what happens if he does.

      For that matter, what do any of these Bosses actually do if they win? Are there any consequences at all?

    2. Before this update many of these bosses had no fail condition - they would just stay around until, some summoning stuff like the Shadow Behemoth until someone killed them.

      I think the Frozen Maw meta will see a frozen wurm type spawn (I think it does nothing and then disappear) and have the are littered with icebrood mobs.

      The bigger consequence I've seen is one not being able to use the temple vendors for the karma armor or to trade karma for obby shards.


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