Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Way You Wear Your Hat: GW2

I have never liked the way Guild Wars 2 handles appearance. For an MMORPG with an endgame predicated on fashion wars it's always seemed clunky and awkward.

In part, that's down to the business model. There's a good deal of favoritism directed at cash shop clothes, not just in the inevitable higher level of detail and greater care taken with the designs themselves, nor the enhanced frequency with which new lines come into stock, but also in the way the game allows you to swap them in and out.

I don't propose to enumerate the confusing and convoluted mechanics of the conflicting systems. The game's closing in on eight years old. Everyone who cares already knows and no-one who doesn't needs to waste time finding out. Suffice to say the whole farrago's annoying enough to have stopped me paying it much attention for years.

As well as the practicalities, there's also the small problem of looks. Most of the supposedly desirable outfits just aren't to my taste.

I have a habit, almost a tradition, of spending the first Sunday after a character dings eighty trawling through the options and fixing on a signature look I plan on leaving unchanged forever. When that happens (and I've only had one character hit eighty in the last couple of years), most of the pieces I want are skins I've already unlocked or things I can buy very cheaply on the Trading Post.

It came as a big surprise to me a few weeks ago, when I ran across an outfit I not only hadn't seen but found I wanted. World versus World has picked up a lot in recent months and I've been spending a lot longer there than for a year or so. One week towards the end of April I played so much I completed not just the first set of skirmish chests, Wood, but also the second, Bronze.

Time was when I would routinely get all the way to Platinum most weeks but these days I rarely even finish the first set of four. There's not much motivation since there's nothing in the chests I want. If there was, I wouldn't have over a thousand of them stashed in my bank vault, on one account alone.

That's why I hadn't noticed ArenaNet had added something to the end of Bronze. I spotted a small, red chest icon I didn't recall seeing before. I opened it and it offered me the choice of three sets of Warlord's armor: Light, Medium and Heavy.

Not expecting much I started to open them up in the Dressing Room to see what they looked like and to my complete amazement I found I liked them. I particuarly fancied the Light hat. It looks like something Admiral Nelson might have worn.

I asked Mrs. Bhapgpuss, who still plays a lot more WvW than I do, if she knew anything about it and she told me it had been added just a few weeks earlier. It was, in fact, part of the massive WvW and PvP focused update on 25 February. I read the patch notes at the time but they were so humungously huge I must have have missed the relevant line: "The Warlord's armor set has been added. Warlord's Armor Boxes can be obtained from the WvW Skirmish reward track."

Getting a set for my Elementalist, the character I do 99% of all my WvW on, seemed like an eminently achievable project. You can only get one Warlord's Armor Box per match and there are six pieces so it should have taken me six weeks. And amazingly, that's exactly how long it did take!

I nearly missed the target by a week. I'd done the first five weeks without having to think about it much, mostly on Sunday afternoons, finding a Commander with an open squad to follow after I'd done my dailies. This week, though, I'd somehow forgotten all about it until Friday evening.

WvW matches reset on Friday at around midnight or one a.m. my time. I was going to just let a week slide and pick it up again on Sunday but then I remembered you get a bonus in the new match for having at least finished the Wood set in the last one. I thought I might as well get that done so I'd be set up for the next match. Then one thing led to another, I had Tier 6 participation, it seemed a shame to let it go to waste...

I ended up playing WvW for about three hours after tea, finishing the Bronze set at about nine in the evening. I had stuff to do in Norrath and Portia so rather than rush the ceremony I left the great re-robing until this morning.

Which is when I was reminded all over again just how irritating GW2's clothing options can be. First I had to select all six items separately from a list of eighteen, all with very similar names and icons, being extremely careful not to mis-click and end up with the wrong weight or slot, which would mean another week to get the right one.

Making the choices put six actual Exotic quality items into my bags. All I wanted was the skins, of course. Anyone able to get the six Bronze chests in WvW is almost sure to be wearing at least Exotic in every slot, most likely Ascended or even Legendary but it seems churlish to complain about getting real gear instead of skins. There will be players who'll use the exotic gear and be glad of it. It's account bound so it can be handed on to other characters, assuming they use the same weight. It can be salvaged into mats. Well, maybe. I haven't checked that last part.

For me, though, the six pieces will probably sit in the bank until the game shuts down. That's the main reason I hardly ever open any armor or weapon boxes, of which I have dozens. As boxes, they stack. As armor, they don't.

The Warlord's armor automatically unlocks a skin for each piece as it flops into your bags, making the whole process even more redundant - or generous, depending on your perspective. The next stage was to translate those skins onto the Ascended armor my Ele was wearing.

Simple enough. Except doing that overwrites the current appearance, meaning my Ele would lose her signature look. If there was a way to store appearance templates, like there is to save builds, that wouldn't be a problem but there isn't. Again, in a game that's basically all about looks, how is that possible after eight years?

I wanted to be sure of being able to go back to my old look and that meant doing some paperwork. When you apply a skin to an item it does still tell you on mouseover what the name of the original piece was but not what the last skin applied might have been. I had to write all six down in a book! In longhand! What is this? The 19th century?

It also cost me six transmutation charges but that was the least of my any concerns. I have more than four hundred saved up. When you never change your look they tend to acumulate.

Anyway, I got it done and I'm very happy with the result. My Elementalist looks like a kid going trick-or-treating dressed as Lord Nelson. A very peculiar kid . Freakish, even.

The other weights aren't as attractive, at least to me, but I enjoyed getting the Light set so I might carry on and get Medium and Heavy, too. It's something to do, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. That doesn't sound too convenient indeed.

    Looks great though, especially on that Asura with the ears hanging down the side. Thumbs up! :-)


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