Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hitching A Ride : GW2

In the eighteen years since Mrs Bhagpuss and I took up MMORPGs as a hobby we've played both separately and together, solo and in groups, in the same guilds, separate guilds and no guilds at all. We've played the same MMO at the same time, the same MMO at different times and different MMOs at the same time.

When we first started in EverQuest we played together and apart all at once. We shared characters on the same account so we couldn't log in at the same time. Then for a while we had two accounts and one computer. Finally we had two computers, two accounts and before long we weren't even on the same server!

Mostly, though, we have played in the same virtual space, knowing some of the same people and doing many of the same things. Over the years we duoed more or less extensively in EQ, EQ2, Vanguard, Rift, Wizard 101, WoW, Warhammer, The Secret World, FFXIV and the original Guild Wars, just to name the ones that come immediately to mind.

For the last five years we've mostly been playing GW2. It's an MMO that doesn't particularly encourage close, individual co-operation between specific individuals. It's more of an all pile on affair, all the way up from small events to map-wide metas.

So ingrained in the design philosophy was the zerg dynamic that it was something of a surprise that dungeons were included at all, less of a surprise when development on the five person instance faltered and stopped. Dungeons had tended to be where we did most of our duoing in other MMOs.

At the beginning of the game we duoed a couple of maps for map completion. It wasn't exactly what you'd call efficient. Much later we did duo some dungeons, which was quite good fun, although not so much that we did any of them more than once.

Mostly "duoing" in GW2 has consisted of one of us jumping into the other's instance to help out on one of those unbelievably tedious Living Story boss fights or running around in a party of two surrounded by anything up to a hundred other people in a huge amorphous zerg. There's no reason to be grouped in a situation like that other than that it's companionable.

There's another kind of duoing that crops up occasionally in various games but which GW2 is seemingly made for. It's a sort of asynchronous partnership that allows one player or class to benefit directly from the acquired skills of another.

The most obvious and prevalent example is the Mesmer portal. Mesmers can open a gate from where they are to a spot some distance away, a trick that allows them to transport other players to, let's say, the top of a jumping puzzle. This, which could easily be treated as an exploit in other MMOs, is intended behavior in GW2, a part of the social, co-operative approach ArenaNet designed into the game.

Today Mrs Bhagpuss belatedly began exploring Path of Fire. Specifically, she'd found out Druids get new pets and she wanted them. This led to opening up all the maps and getting mounts and masteries.

It also led to a small epiphany on my part. Mounts, that key element of PoF, as well as being transportation, provide access to areas that otherwise would be difficult or even impossible to reach. Masteries expand that scope. Mounts and their masteries, once acquired, are shared across the whole account.

All of which means that, having done the grunt work last month on my Druid, I can now use my Mesmer as a glorified taxi service. All the effort and time it took to get the bunny with the high hop, the poison-proof skimmer and that Swiss army knife of mounts, the Griffin is now paying off as I run my Mesmer through all the maps, jumping, flying and skimming to the hard-to-get Masteries or the inaccessible pets so that Mrs Bhagpuss can waypoint in, take the portal I drop and hoover up the benefits.

I rarely play a Mesmer but whenever I do I wish I did it more often. It's enormous fun to be able to open portals for other people. I'm not in the least surprised so many Mesmers do it.

I'm not sure this was what ANet had in mind when they hid all those POIs and Hero Points and Masteries away on pillars and buttes or surrounded them with poison gas. They can hardly complain, though, given the established role of Mesmers in the game, not to mention the existence of the Teleport to Friend item that turns everyone into a Mesmer for a moment.

I guess so long as everyone involved had to buy the expansion it doesn't make much odds to ANet how they use it. Just so long as they do.


  1. Hah! I never even thought about doing that with a Mesmer via mounts! That's fantastic! :D

    1. I spent much of yesterday and today getting enough Mastery points to fill out the remaining skills on all the Mounts and I can now confirm that you can Mesmer portal people in to locations only reachable by Jackal portals!

  2. Reminds me of the old "get all the flight points" runs in classic WoW.

    1. I used to love it when you had to visit the Dragon Spires in EQ and pick up a dragon's tooth from each one before you could use it as a portal. And the druid bushes the same in EQ2.


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