Friday, 11 September 2015
Call That An Invasion? : GW2
Giant skeletons, as tall as the half-timbered Qeynosian cottages, cackling like loons, chased terrified level fives back into the tunnel to Surefall Grove. Swiftly, word spread. The spires and rings began to hum as wizards and druids ported in parties of adventurers ready, eager and willing to send the undead hordes back to their unquiet graves. It was stunning, overwhelming, memorable, magical.
Over the years I was lucky enough to see many more uprisings and invasions all across Norrath, from werewolves in the Commonlands to dark elves in Firiona Vie. It only took the merest hint of a rumor to set me scrambling towards danger, throwing myself into the thick of things, my only goal not to die too much because back then dying hurt.
One of the most attractive features of Rift when it arrived was the way it institutionalized invasions. Seen at their absolute best in the beta weekends but still robust for as long as a few weeks after launch, the elemental armies that spewed forth from the cracks in Telaria's skies commanded the roads and overran the camps, creating a sense of perpetual anarchy that worked well for me.
Sadly, too few players felt the same way. Paying customers objected strenuously to the denial of essential in-the-field services and the inconvenient interruption of their questing. War's all very well but not when there are hand-ins to be handed in and trash to be sold.
Still, the complaints Trion had to field back then were as nothing compared to the criticisms Anet receives every time they try to rally favor for a mass incursion. Look no further than the Great Karka Debacle to see the way that land has always lain.
There was one brief moment when it looked as though the wind might have changed. When Scarlet first sent her hybrid armies out across Tyria players welcomed them with open arms and fireballs. Experience and loot rained down and we scooped it up by the bagful. The joy was unrestrained for, oh, almost a whole evening.
Then factions developed. Some were still working on achievements for the events while others who'd finished them wanted to farm. The forces opposing each invasion splintered into competing alliances that bickered fractiously as they pursued their incompatible goals.
ANet responded by removing most of the indirect incentives. The mobs kept their drops but the champions lost their bags. In later iterations on the invasion theme the directive process was refined further, particularly with the addition of Elite mobs, as tough as champs but with no loot table at all. And now we have The Mordrem Invasion, in which the dead hand of central control tightens its grasp to strangle all the life out of the entire event.
The set-up is promising. Mordremoth, the great jungle dragon, star of the second season of the Living Story and of the game's first expansion, Heart of Thorns, has sent his limitless minions to spread fear and chaos across Tyria. Well, across three somewhat out-of-the-way maps at least, where they won't really inconvenience anyone all that much.
Brisbane Wildlands, Diessa Plateau and unlucky old Kessex Hills are the venues for the current batch of pre-expansion shenanigans, a limited engagement lasting just four days. The stage looked set for a wild romp across open country with fifty or a hundred of your new best friends. It's a shame that's not how things went on the opening night.
In what looks dangerously like yet another attempt to troll their own playerbase the doors opened yesterday to a fumbling, unrehearsed mess of an event. An amateurish performance riddled with bugs and wrought with what appear to be terrible shortcomings in design.
That the event didn't work properly should have surprised no-one. New events in GW2 almost never do.Two or three fixer-upper patches is par for the course. Sometimes it takes half a dozen. Even so, when launching your prestige, premiere curtain-raiser for an expansion you're hoping to persuade people to shell out anything up to a hundred dollars for, you would think some measure of quality control would be advisable, if only for reasons of staying in business.
Long-suffering community rep Gaile Grey was firefighting on the forums within minutes. I doubt anyone envies her that job. She did her best as she always does but there was little she could do to quell the growing resentment and disgust as players found that not only did the event not perform any of the most basic functions expected (no loot, no experience, no karma, nothing but wasted time and expense) but that even if it had been working perfectly they would need to do nothing but invasions non-stop, save for sleeping just a bare few hours a day, from the beginning of the event to the end if they hoped to buy the top items on the event currency vendor.
The mood on the forums was (still is) incandescent. In game there were more people prepared to go with the flow but even there patience was wearing very thin by the time I logged out for an early night. Personally, I enjoyed the invasions for the chaotic zerg fun but they really do seem rushed, thin and unconvincing compared to what Scarlet provided. Mordremoth seems like a feebleminded foe on this showing.
As for the missing rewards and the outcry over the expected grind, it seems ArenaNet are reaping the whirlwind of the Achiever-oriented audience they've so diligently courted these last three years. If you constantly wind people up to perform according to the rewards on offer then you have to expect problems when theose rewards don't match the effort let alone, much worse, when they don't materialize at all.
We have a couple more days of this event. Maybe they'll haul it around yet. I kind of doubt it though. Whether it's the only one scheduled before the expansion arrives in almost six weeks I couldn't say. It's certainly not whetting many appetites for more of the same, though, that's for sure.