Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hearth, Home, Hammer - Talking Myself Into The Latest Updates For Valheim And Guild Wars 2

It's surprising sometimes how the prospect of new content for a game you're playing doesn't set your heart racing the way you'd expect. Or my heart. I should say mine, I guess. Maybe it does yours. I wouldn't know. Do feel free to share with group in the comments.

Several games I play regularly have major updates or expansions on the way and my level of interest and excitement seems to be swinging wildly and unpredictably between them. 

I found myself unaccountably enthused by EverQuest II's relatively slight pre-expansion event this week, spending a couple of hours doing some very basic repeatable quests and getting my Swashbuckler the first twenty levels of artisan crafting required to set her on the path to becoming a master jeweller.

I could have done that at any time but somehow the spurious connection to an upcoming expansion I'm keen to play made it seem more appealing than just running through the familiar, albeit excellent, introductory tradeskill questline. 

Why I'm quite so keen to see EQII's Visions of Vetrovia but distinctly meh on Guild Wars 2's End of Dragons is a good question. I'm glad I asked it.

On paper, I ought to be more fired up for EoD. It's only GW2's third expansion while VoV is EQII's eighteenth (!). ArenaNet only make an expansion when NCSoft bully them into it whereas Daybreak pop one out every December whether you want it or not, like an elderly aunt knitting yet another pair of seasonal socks.

It's not even as though I can claim what's coming in Visions of Vetrovia is more to my taste. I have no idea what's in it. I can guess. It's probably "more of the same", but that just about describes what's in End of Dragons, too. 

I guess you could argue that means I like what EQII does more than what GW2 does but I don't think that would stand up to close scrutiny. I play more GW2, after all. I certainly complain a lot more about it, too, but mostly that's because ANet is roughly ten times the size of Darkpaw and I think they need to be held to a different level of expectation - and execution - entirely.

Based on what the EQII team does manage to get out, year after year, I can only imagine what they could do if they had ANet's resources. Of course, bitter experience suggests that, beyond a certain point, the more money and people an mmorpg has to play with, the less-satisfying the end result. And the longer it is before we see it. Just look at World of Warcraft. Or Star Citizen.

Small teams don't always mean great updates, though. Of course they don't. Valheim's much-hyped Hearth and Home is out today. I'm patching it as I type this. It's been half a year and more in the making and once again I'm struggling to summon up much enthusiasm for it. 

Oh, wait! I've patched it already. It was 180mb. It took about ten seconds. I forgot just how tiny Valheim's footprint is. I would log in to see what's in it but everything I've read so far has had the effect of making me less keen to play than before. 

I'll run through a few of the highlights. My favorite weapon, the bow, is getting a nerf because it's deemed to be overpowered. Guys? Guys??  That's why it's my favorite. 

Blocking gets a lot of attention, which is either not going to affect me at all or annoy me a lot. I never block in Valheim, never having found the need to and I definitely won't be happy if it turns out they've made it so I have to start.

You can name animals you tame. I've never tamed an animal. I thought about it but even though I like pet classes in other games, the methodology in Valheim didn't seem very appealing. I don't think not being able to name my boars before I slaughtered them was really at the root of my lack of interest.

I won't go through all the changes line by line. I'll save my commentary for when I've experienced the new build in person. If I do. I haven't logged into Valheim since May and I don't feel the urge to log in coming on now.

Part of that is that Valheim very much feels like a winter game to me. I played 380 hours of viking make-believe from February through April but as soon as the spring came I stopped. I will go back but it's still too warm and sunny outside just now. 

When I do, I'll have to decide whether to carry on from where I left off or start over from scratch. Developers Iron Gate are keen we should all do the latter. I should be happy, what with my long history of starting over (and over) on new servers in various mmorpgs but Valheim isn't an mmorpg. 


Among other things, it's a building game and I spent at least half of those 380 hours setting up my various homes and the portal network between them. That was, to a large extent, the point of it all. To drop all that just to see some new stuff , much of which I don't even want (I categorically guarantee I will never make my viking vomit.) seems like a big ask.

I'll might compromise by moving my levelled-up character to a fresh world and creating a new character for the old one. They only have to live there, after all. They won't need to do anything much. We'll see. I've kind of talked my own enthusiasm up just by writing this post.

Going back to GW2, my interest in End of Dragons got a small boost today with the release of the latest new Elite Specialization (aka sub-class or, as I would have it, Class). I haven't paid much attention to the five announced so far because although I have all of the classes the only ones I ever play with any attention are Ranger and Elementalist. 

Ranger is still under wraps but the new Elementalist spec is called the Catalyst (Bleh!) and the new weapon is the hammer (Yay!). The reason I like the choice of the hammer for the weapon is simple: you can see a hammer. 

To my mind, one of the huge problems GW2 has, as a game with a quasi-progression model based almost entirely on appearance, particularly the appearance of weapons, is that almost all the weapons are too small or too close to the body to stand out. Daggers, symbols, torches, scepters, focuses (Or focii, which no-one says.), warhorns... they're all hard to see, in or out of combat. Even axes, swords and shortbows don't really show up well.

Only the really big two-handers seem to make an impression: staffs (Or staves, which, again, no-one ever says.), greatswords and longbows are the only three weapons I ever bother with for looks because they're the only ones I can make out on screen. Also shields, I suppose, but shields are a terrible choice for anything other than looks.

I am oddly excited about the prospect of my three Eles bouncing around waving giant hammers, especially the two Asuras. I have quite a few unclaimed weapon chests in the bank, where I already had the staff, greatsword and longbow from the set and couldn't see any point in the rest. I'm going to go in and claim all the hammers from those!

There's a "beta" for the next three Elite Specs, Elementalist, Warrior and Revenant, coming soon. I didn't bother with the last one but I'll give this one a look. 

There's also a much more significant beta, one that deserves to go without the sarcastic quotes, for the long, long, long awaited (or feared) Alliances revamp for World vs World. The official post on that is epic in length, packed with detail and very well-judged in tone, two out of three of which are almost unheard-of in the sporadic, patchy history of ANet's communication with the WvW playerbase. 

I was very skeptical about the whole thing and I still am but I was also very cynical, which now I might not be, or not as much, at least. I still think it will most likely be a chaotic shambles but I'm willing to give the people working on it the benefit of the doubt: I now believe it will be a well-meaning chaotic shambles.

As with Valheim, I won't speculate further until I've seen it in person. The test starts next Friday (Not tomorrow, the one after that. Okay, the 24th. Of September. 2021. Happy now?) and runs for a week. I will be playing and most likely posting about it.

Finally in this liturgy of ought-to-be exciting stuff for games I play or am on record as wanting to play, there's the much-delayed launch of Amazon's New World on the 28th. Right in the middle of that WvW beta test, although by then I should have seen enough to make my mind up. 

I was red-hot to play New World a year ago. Actually, two years ago, which is when I pre-ordered it (December 2019). I've gone off the boil a bit but I can feel the heat building again now we're getting close. 

It's good timing in a way because I've run out of steam with Bless Unleashed, almost entirely because of that boss fight I mentioned with the quick time events. I am one hundred per cent certain I can beat the boss but I am not at all sure I can do the quick time events simply because of lag issues. I've done several other Field Bosses recently with similar events and failed them because of latency. 

I am flat-out unwilling to go through the fifteen minutes of attrition to get the Boss's hit points to the point where the final quick time event kicks in only to have a lag spike leave me dead in the dust. If it wasn't an automatic one-shot kill on failure it would be annoying enough but to have to restart from scratch every time the connection wobbles is too much of a risk. So I've stopped playing. 

A rambling post to represent my wavering state of mind. At least there's plenty going on, even if much of it isn't exactly what I'd have chosen. And putting my thoughts down in writing has had the unexpected effect of raising my interest and enthusiasm for all the games I've mentioned.

That's the power of blogging for you! Well, for me.

Don't let's start all that again.


  1. Hmm.... And Valheim is on sale on Steam....

    I'd better not for now. There are too many other games I could be playing right now, such as the Baldur's Gate run I've been doing the past week or two.

    1. Is that the old Baldur's Gate or the new BG3?

    2. It's the old Baldur's Gate, the Enhanced Edition from Beamdog. I last completed BG back in, what, 1999? I did start up BG about a year and a half ago, but that was on the old PC, and I wanted to try something different than the traditional Minsc/Boo and Dynaheir that I picked up in the past and went with Neera (a new toon for EE that carries over into BG2) and Branwen. Having a Wild Mage in the party is... Interesting. I'm also not going to Dual Class Imoen, which I have done in the past, just to see how a pure Thief does at the end in BG1.

  2. Your issues with Valheim (to start over or not to start over) is one of the reasons I try to resist Early Access titles, though I did give in to FOMO and buy Valheim, though I never got very far into it. I used to leap into EA games with abandon but found that generally by the time the game was 'finished' I had moved on and was no longer interested.

    1. On the other hand, at our age, if we wait for most of these games to reach their final, finished, fully released status, we might not be around to see it! Also, $20 for 380 hours so far...

  3. I always spell it "staves"!

    And I'm the same with talking myself into being excited while blogging sometimes. It's quite funny actually, as you lay out all the reasons why you're totally not excited, you find yourself thinking "actually... that does sound kind of interesting" or it suddenly gives you an idea for something new to try in game. Funny how that works.

    1. Pretty sure "staves" is the right way to spell it.

      Usually if I'm being critical in a draft and find myself questioning my negativity I rewrite the post a little but sometimes positivity just sneaks up on me. It's a definite perk of blogging.


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