Sunday, 13 August 2017

Taking It Easy : GW2

The Path of Fire demo kicked off a very interesting discussion at Endgame Viable and Why I Game. It followed on, in a way, from another conversation about GW2 that was already going on over at Aywren Sojourner. Some of the insights, explanations and observations in the various posts and comments helped to  clarify a few things I'd felt or suspected about the game but hadn't quite been able to put into words until now.

It's long puzzled me that GW2 can both have a reputation as one of the most casual mainstream MMOs, demanding a low level of player skill and little in the way of dedicated discipline and organization, while simultaneously being castigated for the unforgiving difficulty of almost all of its high-level open world content.

As soon as the first cohort of players started to trickle into Orr, five years ago, the complaints began: the mobs were too tough, there were too many of them, they didn't play fair. Orr got a good few thumps with the nerf bat and the complaints quietened down, only to return with just about every new piece of max-level content or large-scale, open world set piece event we've seen since.

Karka Queen, Molten Core, The Marionette, Tequatl, Three Headed Wurm,  Scarlet's Invasions, The Battle for Lion's Arch... you name it, it had to be nerfed then nerfed again before the mass of GW2 players would accept it. Usually then only with very bad grace. Meanwhile, even as ANet developers found themselves routinely de-fanging the content they'd just provided, the forums were filled with seemingly endless complaints that the game was "too easy", that what it needed was "more challenge".

Come round. Come round, I say! I never had this much trouble with the glider...

Out of that morass of disconnected discontent a tainted flower grew: Heart of Thorns. GW2's first expansion managed to satisfy almost no-one. It was perceived by many as being far more arduous and challenging than they either expected or wanted. The inevitable nerfs, when they arrived, served mostly to alienate the minority who found the difficulty, for once, tuned to their own more rarefied tastes.

By the time HoT had been knocked, dragged and pummeled into shape it was all but too late. Players from both camps had already left, in droves. The lasting impression was of a botched and misjudged attempt to turn a casual game into something more "hardcore". There was a change of leadership and with it a change of direction. Path of Fire will be the biggest test so far of whether that change has worked in favor of the long-term health of the game or run counter to it.

All of which is fine and dandy but how and why did GW2 in general and HoT in particular manage to acquire such a mismatched set of reputations in the first place? If you scan the current #3 thread on GW2's General Discussion forum, which looks forward to the forthcoming expansion and asks: "Has ANet Remembered the Casuals?", you'll find a wealth of comments like these:

"I took a year off too because how terrible HoT was and how I hated every minute playing in those maps".

"HoT made it clear that Anet was moving away from it’s casual base to cater to other gamer demographics"

 "Gw2 is one of the most casual friendly mmos".

"GW2 is the most casual player friendly MMORPG I ever played"

It can't be both great and terrible for casual players all at the same time, can it? Well, yes it can, not least because, as one of the most lucid and well-written comments explains, "while you may self-identify as casual, there is little agreement among all who so identify".

"Are you sure you're the Pact Commander? You look awfully small..."

Talking about whether a particular MMO is or is not "casual friendly" isn't going to get us far when we can never agree on a definition of "casual". That's always been a stumbling block to my own understanding of why it should have been that I, playing with what I would self-identify as a casual mindset, experienced Heart of Thorns as a liberating, exhilarating explorer's paradise, while others, similarly self-identifying, found it a constraining, frustrating turn-off.

UltrViolet, returning from a long sabbatical from the game to give the demo a run, found it confusing and frustrating in a whole number of ways, most of which I heartily endorse. As an advertisement for the game it has all the welcoming warmth of a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. What I found particularly interesting, however, was his description of the combat experience:
"It is a typical GW2 fight–totally chaotic, a million bad guys throwing a million AoEs and other effects at you all simultaneously."
Exactly, in other words, just what I love most about combat in GW2. It's explosive, colorful, exuberant and above all utterly chaotic. It's the kind of combat I think many of us dreamed about back when we were root-rotting treants in West Karana, standing motionless, casting a spell every thirty seconds or so then sitting down to meditate so we'd have enough mana to cast another thirty seconds later.

GW2's frenetic, rolling, dodging, mayhem, where everyone is healing herself and everyone else, where buffs last seconds and part of the gameplay relies on battle-rezzing anyone who goes down, is exactly the kind of free-rolling, liberating fun many of us could never even have dared to imagine, back when we were huddled together in the corner of a dank cave beneath the Crypt of Nadox, shaking with fear as we prayed our tank could hold agro and no roamers would wander along and add.

Okay, we're here. Now what? And remind me - who are you, again?

So why isn't everyone loving it the way I do? Jeromai can explain:
"The number one killer of people used to other MMOs – staying stationary or facetanking mobs in GW2. Every time.

You can observe this phenomenon on Twitch or if you watch newbies in the lowbie zones and so on. They lumber up and just STAND THERE because that’s what they do in other MMOs to attack. They expect a tank to deflect the aggro and a healer to take care of their health.

You’re thinking, “OMG move move too much damage incoming you can’t heal that up with your self heal OMG red circle why u stand there still plz MOVE”

Couple minutes later, they fall over. RIP."
Well, no wonder. No wonder people are finding it hard. No wonder they aren't enjoying themselves. I had no idea.

After all, why would I? Here's my description of how I play, from my own comment at Why I Game:
"My tactics, if you could flatter them with such a name, are to fire off every ability on my hotbar as often as it becomes available, while moving constantly. I don’t just dodge all the time, I run about, jump on objects, strafe and generally behave like a toddler on a sugar rush who just peed up against an electric fence".
It's a slight exaggeration. I don't always do that. If the situation requires it, I can be more tactical and anyway I do have a few channeled skills that require me to stand still. In general, though, I like to keep moving.

It's not a new thing for me. I didn't just start playing like this when GW2 came along. The first MMO I remember allowing me to cast and move at the same time was Vanguard; I believe it was one of the key reasons I loved that MMO so much and still do.

Since Vanguard arrived a decade ago I have wanted, even expected, my characters to be in almost constant motion during combat. It's the MMOs that don't allow it which seem somehow off-kilter.

Don't ask me. I just got here.

Once I began to think about this I realized something. Although I shy away from "Action MMOs" that use center-screen or reticule targeting systems and rely on pounding the mouse keys for attacks, it's not the "action" part I dislike. Not at all. Yes, I really hate not having proper control of the mouse and I can't abide having to hit keys for specials, but it's the method I'm objecting to, not the intent or the outcome.

GW2 has all the flexibility, all the dynamism of that kind of set-up and yet I can play it exactly the way I prefer, using the keyboard for nothing but movement and conversation and the mouse for the purpose God intended - clicking hotbars. It feels somehow natural - right - in a way no other MMO has, probably, since Vanguard.

On a slightly different but related topic, commenter Athie said something pertinent in a thread following the post by Aywren I linked right at the start. Referring to Auric Basin, she said

"...this isn’t an RPG zone. It’s a team action game. The story of the zone is: we win or we lose... GW2 is now a grindy action game with great casual grouping and wonderful art."

That description does have a ring of truth about it. Certainly, the "story", such as it is, has less and less relevance: as Jeromai says:
"I think regular GW2 players are starting to block out the story instances out of self defence..The narrative is prosaic and not very memorable, involves some chatter with some NPC you kinda knew once and see every six months when a new story instance is released, and some fight or other. Plot? Eh, whatever, it’s just a cardboard reason to get us from point A to B".
The thing is, I never wanted a story to begin with. And while I was nervous about playing an "action" MMO, it turned out I took to the particular mechanics of GW2 like a quaggan to water. I love the dodging and running and the constant movement. I love the self-reliance and I also love the big events that demand a lot of people, organizing spontaneously, to complete.

GW2 gives me the excitement of action rpg gameplay without the annoyance of action rpg controls. It gives me the camaraderie and sense of satisfaction of raiding without the inconvenience and responsibility of raid schedules or guilds. No wonder I find the game so exceptionally casual friendly.

For a particular value of "casual", that is. One that just happens to have my number.


19 comments:

  1. I guess my issue with the active battle is when I do all the running around, punching buttons and hectic diving and dodging... and I STILL get grabbed, dragged around, and beaten into the dirt before I even get a chance to react to it.

    Starting with the introduction of the mordrem, battle in GW2 became frustrating. I never had problems with pre-nerfed Orr, even solo. I did all the large events, finished my personal story, all that stuff without a problem. But those mordrem!

    They grab you. Knock you around. Stun you. Knock you down. Throw a million death circles under your feet. And you bleed out helplessly because you're stunned and your Shake it Off (or whatever the equivalent is) is on cooldown. So all you can do is watch yourself die. And you didn't even get a chance to react to any of it.

    And that's just normal mobs on the map, which is what I think is insane. If it's a boss, a champion or an elite, I can understand that. But the moment you get the wrong combination of more than one mordrem, it can be the death of you real fast.

    The only reason I do survive is because of my Necro Shroud. Without it, I'd never get anywhere. I don't see that as a noob or casual problem. I see that as a game mechanics problem. They've made it unenjoyable to battle (and I never minded it before that point).

    So I spend most my time in HoT frantically running away from fights unless I'm with the event train where I have a chance to survive.

    A friend of mine, and a long-time GW2 player, told me that she rolled a new Druid character... and chose Drid because it was one of the few classes that she could survive with out in the jungle. She also avoids soloing as much as possible.

    The other night, there was a player who was super frustrated in a HoT zone while I was out there questing. He repeatedly used shout to swear and vent about how terrible the maps were. Some people tried to help him out of sympathy, but he was pretty much voicing my feelings on the matter. Granted, he didn't do it constructively, and not in a way I'd do it, but I knew exactly how he felt.

    So, this isn't just a me thing.

    Am I asking for a nerf? Not completely. But I think they could look at how the mordrem gang up on you and as a combined force, make your life miserable. One or two aren't a big deal, but when you get wolves and tendrils and teleporting frogs and mushrooms that bludgeon you to death all in one group, you're toast.

    Not sure if that added anything to your topic (which I found very interesting). But it's some deep diving on the problems I have with GW2 currently as a self-proclaimed "casual-to-midcore" player.

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  2. Thanks for that great comment! It adds a great deal, especially to my growing understanding of the problem, if that's what we should even call it. You describe precisely the experience many people report having in Heart of Thorns. What interests me is that it's not an experience I can remember having myself.

    That could be because I've forgotten what it was like except for two things:

    1. I blogged about my experience of HoT at launch so I don't have to rely on my two year old memories. I recorded my thoughts just a few hours after the event. In the post I wrote on the day HoT launched I said this: "HoT is not that hard! Really, all the talk about challenge and some of the proof of that in beta, so off-putting at the time, is looking like just so much big talk now...Verdant Brink is pleasantly explorable. Day or night. Mobs have been heavily thinned. There are large areas where nothing wants to kill you and where it does it's as easy to sprint and dodge past without engaging as any other part of Tyria."

    2. I am currently playing a new character through HoT on an account with no Masteries or other advantages (except, of course, for my knowledge and prior experience) and none (or very few, at least) of the things that happened to you are happening to me. In fact, just to be quite sure about that, inbetween the last sentence and this one I logged in and ran my Staff Ele around Auric Basin for ten minutes. I opened up a few new areas, ran straight at and past every Mordrem and other mob I could find, did an event, then carried on all the way down to Tangled Depths. On the way I went through a horde of pocket Raptors and stopped to kill a large spawn of Chak. I wasn't knocked down, rooted, immobilized or anything similar even once. Even when I went linkdead in the middle of the event and disconnected from the server I came back at full health!

    So, the big unanswered question here is this: if HoT maps and mobs are so problematic to others, why aren't they problematic to me in the same way? It is absolutely nothing to do with any superior skills on my part nor on any clever builds or on great gear: like you I would consider myself to be a "casual-to-midcore" player (great description by the way, which I intend to keep using) and my characters wear run-of-the-mill exotics and use builds that would render any serious theorycrafter helpless with laughter.

    I don't have an explanation - yet. I have a couple of theories, though.

    Firstly, when I'm exploring I run away from fights as a matter of course. If I don't need to kill something I leave it alone. If it attacks me I try to break agro fast. I only fight if I'm certain the fight will go my way and as soon as it looks as though it won't I bail. Exploring is not about fighting or story and from the start what I wanted to do was explore. In the post I wrote after the first week I said "My trusty Exotics and familiar skills seem more than up to the new challenges and by the time my Personal Story reached the second map, Auric Basin, I'd opened waypoints all the way to Mordremoth's doorstep in Dragon's Stand." That would give a different experience to someone trying diligently to follow the storyline, I'm sure.

    Secondly, I wonder to what degree my countless hours in World vs World factor into the difference in opinion on the Mordrem and the other jungle creatures? The mobs in HoT may have more sophisticated AI and better tricks than their core Tyria counterparts but they are still Mobs. Compared to a ninety second dash from Citadel to defend Bay, when gank squads are guarding the roads and thieves are stealthed up and looking for easy marks, just about any HoT journey through HoT feels like a walk in the park - almost literally.

    That's all I can come up with so far - still doesn't explain how those movement-impairing effects are not landing onmme when they are landing on other people, though, does it? And they really aren't. Anyone got a theory about that?

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    1. I don't quite understand the stated cc problem either. The best way to analyze the problem would be with a video to actually see what's happening.

      On paper and in theory, the only thing I can think of is that necromancers are prone to getting cc'ed with less recourse (I was mercilessly focused in PvP matches against more pro players, because they knew that leaving a necro alive with epidemic would wreck them). Needing to rely on death shroud to soak some hits is exactly what necros must do because that's their class gimmick, they are built for attrition warfare and designed around having two health bars.

      Oh, and I can think of one other possible thing in the open world. New players are prone to adding toughness to their gear, thinking this is an added safety measure. Or they just walk around in mismatched gear picked up from wherever. In a mass combat with players who have crafted gear to match the meta (often viper or berserkers with zero toughness), nearly ALL the mobs will automatically pick the newbie with the most toughness on their gear as "the tank" to focus on. Especially if they get up closer in proximity because they're not sure which mobs are best ranged and which should be melee'd (though frankly, in HoT zones, I range nearly everything because that gives more safety time to react.) So unknowingly, new players may end up with what seems like a rather unfair fusillade of attacks aimed at them, some of which have cc?

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    2. I'm curious if there's another class you could suggest for me to try out in the jungles aside from Necro. I do want to focus on progression with my Necro, but I remember having just as much trouble on my old Warrior in Season 2 when the Mordrem were originally introduced. And that was duoing instances with my duo-partner who was a Elementalist. Melee classes seem to have it worst, and my Warrior was mostly melee.

      Of course, this was before specializations or masteries. So Warrior might be different now. I have a lot of classes to 80, but in terms of builds and hero points, the Warrior would be the only one that's halfway ready to try to tackle it to see if anything is different. I'm super rusty on Warrior, though!

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    3. I did not do well on a standard greatsword warrior when I first ran into HoT either, to get my hero points for the berserker elite spec. My usual open world main is a scepter/torch guardian, very hard hitting from range, and a greatsword to melee as needed. The warrior was set up full dungeon direct damage style at the time, with axe and greatsword on weapon swap and meleeing was extremely hellish - stoneheads would destroy me, etc.

      I think the most important thing in HoT is to have a ranged option. I would go condi on a warrior, longbow and sword/torch, but condi builds require viper or sinister gear which can be quite tough to obtain. (Try not to substitute rabid or carrion, that won't work as well, condi builds are really a blend of direct damage and conditions to do sufficient damage.)

      The poor man's not quite meta substitute would be a direct damage rifle, with a greatsword or axe as you feel comfortable using. Healing signet would give fairly good sustain.

      The second most important thing is to have breakbar options. As much as I was having fun denigrating "kick" in a recent blog post, if you don't have the berserker elite skills like Wild Blow or Head Butt unlocked yet, kick or throw bolas might still stand you in fairly good stead.

      Another quite doable class to try out is a ranger, imo. The pet can tank, or do some good damage up close or from range (smokescales and bristlebacks), or assist with breakbar (moas, electric wyvern.) Both condi and direct damage rangers have very decent ranged options, while going into melee can be done later when more comfortable with the mob types. When they get their druid elite, going into celestial avatar can help with extra heals and so on.

      Lastly, try to recognize and link mob types with specific attacks and a general strategy for dealing with them. Smokescales throw up a blinding field, it's useless to hit them while they're in it, so kite them out before attacking. Mobs that put up AoE fields centered on themselves should probably not be approached. Mobs that charge or attack in a straight line should be dodged sideways or sidestep. Mobs that do a frontal cone hit, often with a hammer, should be dodged forward and -through- so you get behind them, etc.

      Some mobs will get a little easier with masteries leveled. Mordrem snipers stealth. Most vets have leveled the mastery that lets them see the snipers by now. But players who haven't got that mastery yet should be aware that the sniper is still very much there and can be area cleaved, even if you can't target it, and that a line of death on the ground is still going to appear, and so on.

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    4. Having more more less mained a necro through HoT, I would say that these problems mainly occur to me when an event spawns on me and I am not paying attention. At those times the mob density can go way, way up and it is pretty easy to get run over.

      Bhagpus' advice is pretty good with the necro. Break aggro and then, if you choose, come back and approach the fight on your terms so that you can choose which mobs to fight and which mobs to ignore.

      The build I have been using (still mainly exotics btw since I am too lazy to get it any better) is a scepter/dagger build focused on condition damage - where my conditions heal me. It has stupid massive sustain and very rarely requires death shroud to survive. I still use it to run around HoT maps and rarely die. I often use it to hold points in VB solo, and while it gets crazy the sustain usually gets me through.

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    5. Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions! I've been kicking around the idea of re-rolling ranger (I have a couple leveling boosts), though I hate to put away the progression on my Necro.

      At this point, it's now a matter of curiosity, though, especially based on Bhagpus' newest post of ranged vs melee. I'm almost tempted to roll one for science!

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    6. I more or less use the warrior meta condi build with tactics swapped out for discipline for exploration. This gives you a remove of immobilize from movement skills (sword 2 and Headbut). Don't forget that headbut is a stunbreak. Condi Longbow is very good for modrem since it will burn them down fast und the berzerk burst will kill larger groups quite fast.

      If you keep strafing and don't stand in the sniper trails you can solo nearly everything apart from champions. Espacilly the modrem husks i hated on my power warrior do not pose a problem anymore.

      If you don't have access to sinister or viper gear i think carrion might work too.

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  3. Difficulty is always a very complex subject in MMOs, far more so than most people give it credit for (even I can be guilty of this at times).

    I don't have all the answers -- I haven't even played HoT -- but I did/do find there are certain things that can make high level combat in GW2 feel unusually punishing.

    Number one, as mentioned above, is the abundance of crowd control high level mobs have. You don't see it as much in the lower level zones, but high level mobs seem to have almost endless stuns. That's frustrating at the best of times, but combine that with the active nature of GW2 combat and the fact pretty much everyone in the game is a glass cannon and you end up in situations where huge chunks of your health are being stripped away while you're literally powerless to do anything about it.

    Also, death in GW2 is surprisingly harsh for what is supposedly a casual game. Waypoints tend to be rather far apart, and it can take a long time to get back to where you were. Longer if it's in a mob dense area and you have to fight your way back. And that's without getting into the gods-awful mechanic of contested waypoints, which makes everything even worse.

    Economics might have changed now, but back when I played on the regular, gold was also very hard to come by, so the costs of repairs and resurrecting at a waypoint could feel pretty harsh, too.

    These things don't necessarily make the game harder per se, but they do make what difficulty does exist so much more frustrating to cope with.

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    1. Repair costs were removed a long time back although you still have to repair so instead of a minor money sink it's just a minor time sink. People get very cross about it when ANet neglect to include a repair station in Living Story instances but other than that I doubt anyone pays repairing much thought these days.

      Waypoints still cost the same but gold is *much* easier to come by (you get 2g a day just for logging in and doing three very quick daily tasks, just for example) so the WP fee seems entirely trivial. I use them exactly as though they were free and I imagine most people do the same. They did tweak contested WPs a bit but that can still be annoying.

      The Crowd Control thing, though, is the crux of the matter in HoT. After replying to Aywren above, since I was in Tangled Depths I decided to wander down to Dragon's Stand. I ran through the Chak tunnels with Chak trying to grab me right and left, jinked past the Mordrem guarding the portal and into DS I went. Very few cc effects landed on me although many were cast and the handful that did were immediately countered with a click of a hot key.

      I happened to arrive in Dragon's Stand about fifteen minutes after the meta started so I opened LFG and joined a squad for Mid. The map was full so I spent the next twenty minutes or so exploring DS while I waited for someone to drop out and let me map hop. There were mordrem patrols all over but nothing even slowed me up. I had a fight with a group of them just to see if I could beat them but as I fought several more arrived and joined in so eventually I bailed by jumping off a cliff and gliding away. That fight lasted about three or four minutes, there were three mordrem at the start and maybe six or seven by the end; I was playing a Staff Ele, which is probably not a class you'd choose to solo on. I got downed once but got myself up again easily enough and the only reason I got downed was that I was pushing things to see how far I could go - if I'd been playing "properly" I would never have started the fight in the first place, nor carried on for so long.

      When I finally got into the active map I made my way to the runaround segment and did my laps. That part consists of everyone running round and round in a huge circle while more and more Mordrem pile in. You are literally running through scores of them clustered tightly together after a while, all of them CCing and blasting you like crazy. Even then I mostly managed to stay on my feet and keep going. It was only when the Commander got in a tangle and the whole thing fell apart that I finally went down.

      We got ourselves back together and finished the job and then I went on to fight Mordremoth and get the Achievement and the loot. Granted, I knew what I was doing but I did the whole thing entirely on the spur of the moment, with no preparation, just for the fun of it. It took about an hour all told and the one and only time I felt frustrated was after Mordy was dead and I found I didn't quite have enough endurance to glide from his corpse to a Hero Point.

      Long story short - to me HoT maps are pretty much one big playground and have been from day one. To other people they are frustrating, annoying and rarely any fun at all. We're all playing the same kinds of characters, approximately, and I'm willing to bet that a lot of players on each side of the divide have approximately equal skill. What ANet are supposed to do to keep everyone happy I'm really not sure but here's hoping they've come up with something for PoF!

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    2. "Immediately countered with a click of a hot key" - this swift reaction is what newer players lack, methinks.

      There is probably some processing delay going on between realizing they've been cc'ed, watching their characters get tossed around, hunting for the stun break and using it (if the new player even had the improbable foresight to include a stun break on their bar.)

      I suspect the moment someone used to the pace of GW2 find their character suddenly can't move like it can normally, the stun break is pounded and most often instinctively followed up with a dodge, leap, or some other kind of evasive maneuver to try and get the hell away from the hot zone.

      To be honest, I think this is just a necessary learning barrier for a new player to transition through. Is it frustrating that they don't have the needed reaction time and reflexes and are punished by death as a result? Yes. But if others are not having problems, it is clearly something that can be overcome or practiced to get better at over time, as long as the exact issue is pinpointed and thought about objectively, without needing to feel inferior or shy about the issue.

      It's exactly my same problem while playing Path of Exile. I'm not as used to ARPG clicker controls as WASD controls. I know I must dodge out of the way when I see a boss wind up with a tell because OUCH is heading my way fast. I manage this only 50% of the time because I don't know how to judge the distance I should click my dodge skill, I don't click the skill fast enough, I left the boss offscreen and didn't even see the windup animation, it's not a keybind that is in a comfortable position, etc. Then I explode into little giblets if I failed to dodge correctly too many times because I ran out of heals.

      Or I stood in the fire and didn't even realize that the glowy blue or red or green thing under me is not a great idea to be bathing in until half or more of my health bar is gone. While a PoE veteran is not even -on- the patch to begin with, because they recognized the signal in that game that this is a "bad" area to be in. While I'm busy fighting with the clicking controls and alternately running in and out of bad patches trying to get my character to cooperate and also find a spot the game thinks is a clear area.

      I watch someone else on Twitch, even newer to the game than I am, and their reactions are picture perfect, possibly because they have prior game experience from MOBAs or other such clicking control games. :( But I'm aware of my limitations and work on getting better at this dodging thing.

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    3. I don't think I've ever even had a stun break equipped on any of my characters. There's nothing in the game that says you should, and in most MMOs such things are considered to only be relevant in PvP, so it never even occurred to me it might be necessary.

      If the intended design is to always run with a stun break skill equipped, that's rather limiting for a game where there are so few skill slots to begin with. Again, why include so much CC to begin with?

      I also wonder if this is a melee/ranged issue. Not sure what everyone else in this discussion is running, but I've tended to focus on melee on my characters (main was a dual dagger thief, for instance). I imagine things might be easier to deal with as a pure ranged character.

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    4. It is also a game where you can freely change skills at any time when you're out of combat. So I think it's also fair to say there's some intended design that players should adapt their build or at least tweak some skills versus a particular encounter if they're having difficulty. CC is just one aspect of danger that can come from mobs. The most recent threat, if I read the new Balthazar faction right, is going to be tons of fast stacking conditions - get those condi cleanses ready.

      I guess one also has to take in the background of where Heart of Thorns came from. This was a period of time when the commonly accepted meta was stacking in dungeons and burning things down with melee cleave and AoE. This led to a complaint that ranged was disfavored, that there was no strategy in GW2 combat sans the holy trinity.

      Little wonder that the designers of Heart of Thorns suddenly came up with lots of mobs where standing still and melee cleaving things down is a recipe for dying very quickly. Going ranged versus most HoT mobs is generally safer.

      The new break bar also came in around this period, as a means of demonstrating the GW2 trinity - damage, support, control. I suppose that could also explain the obsession around cc, both incoming and outgoing. ;)

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  4. Having made the mental and philosophical preferential transition from static, face-tanking games (FF14, WoW) to those which are more action-oriented (Overwatch, SWL to an extent), GW2's hybrid reticle mode appears to me to be symbolic of a game which straddles varying demographical geography. Taking it easy in the open-world content is the approach which suits me best personally; GW2 is my Exploration game, not my Achievement game (it can be both and more for others, yes) - and it's taken me a long, long time to acknowledge and accept this. (It's still in progress.)

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    1. Yes, I think it can very much fulfill either or both of those roles according to the choice of each individual player. The people who seem to struggle are those with the Completionist gene, the ones who don't really want to do everything but can't relax until they do.

      Play the game, don't let the game play you - that's the watchword.

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  5. Oh, you're a *clicker*. Now things make more sense (and I really don't mean that in a pejorative sense). I've always wondered why you liked GW2 so much, but never took to TSW - given that, in my mind, TSW had similar-but-better combat to GW2: watch for telegraphs, keep strafing, keep up a good rotation.

    But it was always something I did with a keyboard - my mouse is for looking and moving, and not for clicking buttons on a screen I might miss in the heat of the moment. And indeed, when I tried GW2, the crazy mess of cooldowns meant I couldn't find any rotation and was just, essentially, facerolling the keys - it didn't feel fun, and clicking didn't help, as then I wasn't moving (and was dying). But if GW2 is a game that is meant to be played with clicking hotbar icons - then I understand why it never, err, clicked with me the way TSW (and now BDO) have.

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    Replies
    1. GW2 is very much not a clicker game. Quite a number of players use hotkeys bound to whatever their preferences are. But there are some who prefer to click and they can flick the mouse around and click very fast so it's whatever works for the individual player. ;)

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    2. I'm a clicker and proud of it! Fundamentally, I play most MMOs the way I learned to play EverQuest at the end of the last century. The problem I have with using keyboard shortcuts instead of mouse-clicking is that I have to look at the keyboard to see where those keys are. That never makes things easier! Also, my fingers stiffen up these days as I get older so the less strain I put them under the better.

      I am not a keyboard-turner, though. I'd just like to make that clear :P

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    3. My wife, who is also a clicker, played GW2 happily for 15 months until one too many bad rolls at the Mystic Forge (assuming that's the right name) caused her to quit. She really enjoyed the combat, where I never liked it. I'm not saying that there's no skill in GW2 - I know it has a high-end raid and PvP scene - but I'm wondering if the people who find it difficult/ not fun are those who are using specific controller set-ups?

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