Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Make It Worth My While

This afternoon I found myself doing something I thought I'd never do again: the Dry Top meta. Not that I have anything against Dry Top or its eternally recurring sequence of set-piece bar-fillers. It's the original model of the map meta format Guild Wars 2 has been using for about as long as I can remember and it's aged better than a lot of the iterations that followed it.

No, I just never thought I'd have any reason to go back and do the whole thing from start to finish. I guess, technically, I still don't. All I really needed to do was complete ten events and I might have done that in half a cycle or less if I'd been a bit smarter about moving around the map or if I'd happened to land in something a little more organized.

I'd still have stayed for the whole thing, most likely, anyway. As well as ten events I also need to pick fifty plants, mine fifty rocks and chop fifty logs. And I'd have had to be there for the sandstorm that exposes all the buried chests because I need to open ten in the east of the map and ten more in the west.

Why, you may well ask, do I suddenly want to do all of that? Haven't I managed perfectly well for many years without setting foot in Dry Top, far less going there with "needs"?

Yes, I have. And I could carry on that way, too. Only I saw the news squib on MassivelyOP about the repromotion of Living World Season Two and it struck me I could get a blog post out of how weird an idea I thought it was. 

I had it in mind to spin the news into a piece about how ArenaNet will never be able to follow Daybreak, Jagex, Blizzard and the rest down the retro-nostalgia-progression-classic path because of the way the game is structured. I'll add that one to the growing list of posts I'm thinking about doing. I'll have an actual draft post backlog at this rate.


As I was thinking about it, I realized it was Tuesday. (Yes, I had forgotten what day it was. I've been furloughed since New Year. That's my excuse). Tuesday is patch day in GW2 so I thought I'd see if the update notes had appeared on the forum, which they had. 

I had a read of those and noticed, to my considerable surprise, as well as the expected return of the old there was also some rather more interesting new: "Taimi and Gorrik are setting up a lab in the Eye of the North. If you've completed Episode 5 of The Icebrood Saga, check in with them for the latest information."

If it hadn't been in the patch notes I'd never have known about it, although if I hadn't known about it I wouldn't have missed much. When I logged in I was met by one of those big envelopes that fills the center of screen to let you know ANet have sent you mail they don't want you to miss. 

I opened both the letters I'd been sent. One told me what I already knew: Season Two was back in play. The other offered me free unlocks for the first couple of chapters in case I didn't already have them, which, of course, I did. 

There was nothing pointing me to the Eye of the North and no mention of Taimi or Gorrick. Neither was there any orange headline in the events listings that fills the top right of the HUD. Nor was there any change to my Journal, which told me I was, as always, nine years late for the presentation of my Krewe's submission for the Snaff Prize.

Nothing for it but to go and see for myself. I ported to the Eye, hoping I'd at least receive some kind of indication where to go when I arrived. No such luck. In the end I just ran around until I happened to spot a couple of conversation icons, little green-tinted speech bubbles, hanging over some tiny figures in a corner at the very back, next to the scrying pool.

Taimi explains this is where she and Gorrick (for it is they) have chosen to set up their new lab because it's next to the only available dragon, Aurene. They seem pleased. I was unconvinced. The pair of them reminded me of Harry Potter trying to pretend his cupboard under the stairs was a real bedroom. 

I ran through the desultory conversation options. I asked several questions about the aftermath of the recent deaths of the two elder dragons, Jormag and Primordus. From the brief replies I gather no-one knows anything. Some dragon minions died, some didn't. The missing magic is still missing. The people Jormag froze are thawing but no-one knows how long it will take or if the victims will survive it.

Finally, Taimi suggested it might be helpful if I relived my previous dragon-killing experiences, at which point I finally tumbled what was going on: it was all just a set-up to get me to go do the same, old  Living Story stuff I'd already been told about by letter. 


Just to be sure, I did as she suggested and went to look in the Scrying Pool. There was a new dialog option: Relive Your Adventures In Dry Top . I clicked on it and it ported me to Dry Top. Not a special, back-in-the-day instance of Dry Top. Just plain, old regular Dry Top. 

It was busy. I might have stayed for a few events just for the fun of it, since I was there anyway, but before I'd decided, someone in chat started talking about a Legendary Amulet, then someone else linked it, and finally a third person suggested typing "Seasons of the Dragons" into the Achievements search box. So I did.

Almost since the game began, the paucity of rewards for completing content has made GW2 something of a standing joke in the genre. The old meme about two blues and a green is very nearly as true today as it was in 2013. Someone at ANet wants people to do these new achievements, that's for sure.

For completing the meta-achievements for the all four promoted chapters of the revived Living Story you will receive:

An ascended weapon chest

Your choice of precursor for an End of Dragons legendary weapon.

A 32-slot bag

A legendary amulet.

As it so happens, none of that is so good I feel I have to do content I don't want to do just to get it. I have unopened Ascended weapons chests in the bank, I can make 32 slot bags (and what's more I can afford to) and as I've said on many occasions I have never understood the point of legendary items. 

Even so, I'm more than willing to agree those are good rewards. There are even some decent rewards for doing the individual chapter metas. The first one gets you, among other things, three Mystic Coins and your choice of a nice-looking weapon. There are some skins there I'd use.

Best of all, there's no rush. The new achievements are permanent. They don't go away when the promotion ends. You can take as long as you like, making this a decent option for something to work on when there's nothing much else happening. Which, let's face it, is quite often in GW2.

I said at the start of the post that I never imagined myself doing the Dry Top meta again. While it's certanly true I had no plans in that direction, it was always possible I might have done it on a whim. I enjoyed it when it was current content and it's still good, knock-about fun today. 

The chances of me ever feeling the urge to run through an old chapter of the Living Story, though? Infinitesemal. Most of it I didn't much enjoy the first time. I only did it for the story and I've seen how that turned out. Why would I put myself through it all again? 

For the loot, of course. That's why we do this stuff, at least half the time, isn't it? And even though I don't especially want the items I listed above (although who can turn down a free 32-slot bag?), the sheer novelty of a GW2 event with good loot might be enough to make me feel I really should take advantage of the developers' momentary lapse in judgment.

I can do the six achievements in Dry Top, at least. Those are very easy and not at all unpleasant. After that I guess I'll try the first of the LS2 missions just to see how it goes. I am slightly curious to see if the small amount of power creep the game's experienced with two expansions has made any of those attritional boss fights any more palatable.

The open-ended timescale makes it feasible. I could turn it into a long-term project, knock off a mission now and again, whenever the mood takes me; a rainy Sunday afternoon, a dull Wednesday evening when I have nothing better to do. I wouldn't say it sounds exciting but at least it doesn't make me come out in a cold sweat.

Maybe they could put that on the poster.

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