Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Wintersday, Skritt-Kickers! : GW2

Wintersday is here again and, with the repairs to Lion's Arch progressing slowly (euphemism for "not happening"), the center of celebrations has shifted to Divinity's Reach. Jennah, Party Queen of Tyria, was never one to miss an opportunity to spend taxpayers' money on having a good time so I doubt Magnus, Kiel or whoever is supposedly in charge of the burned-out wreck that is L.A. needed to ask twice.

All the usual favorites are back for us to ignore enjoy - snowball fights, toys running amok, amateurs who couldn't carry a tune in a blanket giving it plenty on the handbells... Tixx is around somewhere with his airship doing something or other. And like that.

Apparently you can make one of these trees and put it in your Personal Instance
so its Wintersday all year long. I'll get right on that.

There are a few new wrinkles. That "amusing", autonomic, self-aware golem is back with his bucket. This time around he's trading under the name Ho-Ho-Tron which suggests he may be self-aware but he lacks any sense of self-awareness. Also I'm pretty sure he's scamming. As he herds his present-laden cow from one side of the giant hole to the other he makes some comment about doing his community service but didn't he already complete his sentence, at our expense, months ago?

I'd like to be able to claim I was the one posing the moral dilemma rather than making the Katy Perry joke but...
Authenticity aside, he's nothing if not a hard worker. Round and round he goes, surrounded by a jostling pack of players determined to grab for themselves any presents that fall off the cart. Are we any better than the demented skritt who burrow up through the flagstones to steal them? Don't ask me difficult questions when I've got my kicking boots on!

At least they seem to be feeding him well
The oddest addition has to be the new quest. Yes it is a quest. Well what is it then? It's not an event. It's not an achievement. You speak to a Grawl, he tells you to get him something, you go speak to someone who might have it and he wants something else so you go get him that. Then you go back to the Grawl and he comes up with the next thing he wants and so on. That. Is. A. Quest.

It's also ill-considered and incoherent. This Grawl has stolen some Wintersday "ornaments" from a bunch of orphans, ostensibly because he doesn't like the noise they make (I think he means the ornaments but maybe it's the orphans. He's a grawl. Who knows what he means?). All this happens in your personal instance.

Pity you can't say as much for the education.
Just look at that spelling!
Now, if you're a Human, there actually IS an orphanage in your personal instance (just go with it) so there's at least a basis for suspending disbelief. The Quest, however, has to work for all players, so this Grawl and his attendant, ornament-deprived Orphans (actually one orphan, presumably elected by the rest and delegated to speak on their behalf. And his "friend") are lurking in the Personal Instance allocated to each race in lieu of actual housing.

In the case of a Charr player, that means there's a Grawl hiding at the back of a section of The Black Citadel that's positively teeming with heavily-armed Legionaries, many of whom are off-duty and liquored up. With a human child. And a Charr cub, who gets no lines.

Best mob skill ever
How did they get there without being, at best, arrested and, more likely, spit-roasted and eaten or used for target practice? What about that cub? Is he an orphan too? Would it matter even if he was? Wouldn't he just be in a Farhar anyway? Can't ask him - he didn't get a speaking part in this little nativity play. And why in the name of the gods we Charr don't believe in are they hiding in MY house anyway? I don't even have a house! No, don't get me started...

So, things don't get off to the most credible of beginnings and it doesn't improve from there. The Grawl insists on giving clues in some of the most execrable doggerel I have ever read. Yesterday's clue did manage to point to the next part of the quest, handily situated right across the metal gangway from the instance, but today he was rambling on about a place made of flowers.

Hey, Vogons! Better up your game!

The Grove perhaps? No, luckily for me Mrs Bhagpuss already went there and tried that and was able to save me from wasting my time and my silver. In fact you just go to the same place in Black Citadel you went to yesterday. I just gave up trying to make it make sense. It carries on tomorrow (there's a day's wait between stages). Maybe all will become clear in due course. Or it won't. I'm betting on won't.

He followed me home and I'm going to keep him.
As well as new things to do there are lots of new things to get. The familiar wrapping of the presents hides a slew of interesting additions to the usual range of socks and snowflakes. Runes, sigils, tonics and finishers abound. There are already complaints about inventory space being compromised. There was even an inexplicable occurrence where I opened something (I didn't notice what - I was opening so many things just then) and received an item that auto-completed the entire new collection (which I hadn't even started). I got a Skritt mini. Result!. Oh yes - there's a new collection. Did I mention that?

All of this abundance and confusion arrived with the threatened promised revamp of the Daily and Monthly Achievement systems. I was going to do a whole post on that but honestly? I can't be bothered. There's a eleven page thread on the forums about it already, running roughly 50-50 Love It/Hate It. I don't feel either. I just feel meh.

Could you be more specific?
The people who really love it are the ones who were previously doing the dailies just to get the Laurels. Laurels now come automatically through the Monthly, for which you have to do quite literally nothing more than remember to log in. The people who hate it are the ones who enjoyed seeing the daily fill out in the background as they dd whatever they felt like doing. The first lot feel liberated; the second lot feel trapped.

The WvW seem much, much easier than the rest
but maybe that's just me
I'm one of those weirdos who does the dailies because I like doing the dailies. I did prefer the old ones, which offered a lot more choice, but I don't object to the new ones, which are extremely specific. I'll do them as long as I continue to find them amusing and then I'll stop. As for the rewards, I don't spend the sodding Laurels anyway - I have nearly two thousand of them stashed away across the two accounts. The rewards they've attached to each individual achievement are marginally more useful.

As a revamp I'll give it five. Out of ten. It was completely unnecessary from my point of view but I'm sure they have their reasons. Getting everyone to cluster in the same maps so it looks like there are more of us comes to mind...

It might have been better not to have introduced the new system at the exact same time as adding a second set of holiday dailies that do reward a Laurel, though. Not likely that was going to confuse things, was it? Also, the two days of Wintersday dailies we've had so far have been identical. Not sure if that's a co-incidence or whether we'll just get the same half-dozen for the entire season. If so, I think that could get a tad wearing.

I'm begging you, don't make me go to Queensdale any more.

We're asked to perm any five from six but since one's completing the insanely hard Wintersday Jumping Puzzle that's actually five from five as far as this household is concerned. Of the five I can do, the Snowball one is really annoying, albeit simple if Mrs Bhagpuss and I duo it, and the Bell Choir looked to be impossible until I bothered to read a walkthrough and actually pay attention. Now I can do it with my eyes closed although with my ears closed would be preferable.

The remaining three are trivial but I have to wonder along with Mrs Bhagpuss, who, upon being faced with the second, repeated set of tasks, asked "How is this meant to be fun?". I don't really have an answer for that. Fortunately there's still a lot of non-directed content left that is fun, like marching a dozen golems around Fort Aspenwood's borderland and taking all their keeps like we did this afternoon, so I'll just have to make do with that.

And we do have Wintesday in WvW too, you know. We decorate and everything.


  1. as one of those people who was doing dailies for the pleasure of seeing them fil up as I did whatever else it was that I wanted to do in GW2, I certainly do feel trapped. I'm extremely casual as far as GW2 is concerned, but the dailies allowed me to get something done while I was pottering around doing whatever else it was that I was doing. Now, I'm needing to stop doing whatever I'm doing and go make my dailies - and as Secret World dungeon running and raiding is enough play-that-looks-like-work for me for any given evening, it's likely that I'll just leave GW2 rather than knuckle down for another set of task-completion.

    1. As far as I'm concerned GW2 is on a long, slow slide. Although few of the myriad changes of the last two years have been terrible, few have been what I'd call necessary and most have been at least a little unwelcome. I'd very happily go back to the game as it was at launch - I'd just keep the bug fixes.

      As far as the Dailies are concerned I liked it best when we didn't have any (just as I preferred Champions not having loot and World Bosses dropping greens and blues with a tiny chance of a rare). Once we got dailies I liked the first iteration best (when they were the same every day) but the second iteration was fine. The third, current iteration is okay too, but it's not as good as the second which wasn't as good as the first.

      I'm not against change but the direction of change and the detail of the individual changes in GW2 has consistently gone against the type of gameplay I prefer. At what point that crosses a line and GW2 as a whole stops being fun for me I can't predict. We aren't very close yet but I can imagine it happening. If the expansion iterates on the current model that could be a breaking point.


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