Thursday, November 18, 2021

Anyone Seen My Jet-Powered, Flying Death-Turtle?


When Wilhelm mentioned in the comments to yesterday's post that Visions of Vetrovia had acquired a firm launch date (1st December, for those taking notes.) I went to have a look at the beta forums to get a feel for how those who'd already had the chance to try it felt about what they'd seen. 

I don't imagine any of it's under NDA, since all you need to do to see it is pony up a month's sub but since I haven't taken the trouble to copy a character and check it out for myself I'll just say that, having spent half an hour reading threads, I came away with the distinct impression that people were finding less to complain about than usual. One or two even sounded... happy.

Of course, beta testers for an expansion that's going live in a few weeks in a seventeen year old game they all play are, by definition, going to be a self-selecting cadre of committed players. You might expect some degree of leniency or tolerance. Yeah, well, if you do, you obviously don't know many EQII players, then, that's all I can say. If there's something to complain about, they'll find it, trust me. And if there isn't they'll complain about it anyway.

On that basis I'm expecting something good even if, ironically after what I was saying yesterday, there do seem to be some quite significant, even major, changes to core game mechanics. A couple of things are being removed entirely - infusions and reuse speed buffs - and the adornments I was talking about are getting some kind of revamp, too. 

If changes on that scale haven't brought out the tar, feathers and burning torches then I'm guessing the rest of the expansion's probably in good shape. We'll find out in a couple of weeks, I guess. 

I'm looking forward to it somewhat more than I expected. New World remains fun for me but I'm getting to the point where I wouldn't mind a change of focus. Every session there sees slow, steady, unspectacular progress towards my two main goals, Level 60 and my first house, but while slow and steady wins the race it doesn't always make for the most thrilling gameplay. 

I think I'm getting to the point now, after a couple of months, that people who reported finding the game too slow and repetitive reached after the first couple of days. Lucky for me, then, that today Amazon dropped the first big update. 

You can tell it's a big one because it's got a name: Into the Void. That's not going to come back and bite anyone, I'm sure...

I haven't yet logged in but I have read the extensive patch notes. I won't pick through them in any detail because it's basically the same stuff I wrote about when it appeared on the new Public Test Server, which, by the way, automatically installs itself on Steam and downloads the entire game all over again unless you stop it. I'd watch for that if you value your hard drive space. 

There are a few extras that I don't remember being mentioned before, like a ten per cent run speed bonus on roads, which struck me as being at one and the same time welcome and annoying. It's great that staying on the road is going to make travel faster but ten per cent? Are we even going to notice?

I've always been something of an afficonado of amusing lines in patch notes and these had a few that I thought I might share, not least because the whole thing goes on for so long I imagine most people will give up long before the "Wildlife" subsection.

One note that caught my eye read "Fixed an issue where Elk could get stuck in doorways or inside buildings." I'm not sure how that would ever happen. I've never seen an elk anywhere near a building. They tend to run as soon they see anyone approaching. As a melee, you have to creep up behind them and hope you can stun them long enough to kill them before they gallop away. Getting them stuck in a door would have been a useful bug to exploit.

Then there were the boars. I've never used a musket so I was unaware there was "an issue that would cause Boars to behave erratically if a player shot a projectile near them". I'd like to know what they did but it's too late now. It's been fixed. Can't really blame them for getting "erratic" when people fire guns at them. I'm pretty sure I would.

My favorite wildlife-related note, however, was this one: "Disabled Cats ability to look at and track the player with their head when stunned." They do say a cat can look at a king. Not any more. Not after you hit kitty with a hammer, anyway.

There were also some previously unannounced visual changes to starting zones that I'm keen to check out. The mysterious Varangian knights have landed on the south-eastern coast so I should be able to take a look at them while I'm doing it.

I'll be logging in as soon I finish this post, always assuming the servers are up. I imagine there are likely to be any number of unforeseen issues with a patch of this size so I'm not counting on it. 

The servers were down all afternoon for the patch so I decided it might be a good time to do some more of the "Return to..." event in Guild Wars 2. Earlier in the year I was trying to get enough done to qualify for the free End of Dragons legendary weapon precursor. It was going very well, until I forgot all about it.

Fortunately, like the Panda quests in EQII, this is content that's sticking around. Better yet, unlike the panda quests, you can do the "Return to" sections in any order you like. The whole thing involves replaying the entire Living Story from Season Two onwards.

In my estimation, although it doesn't necessarily get better the nearer you come to the present day, it definitely does get easier.  On that logic I thought I'd restart at the Icebrood Saga. I had a fairly clear memory of the prologue being considerably better than the rest so that's where I began.

It turned out to be both a good and a bad idea. When it first appeared I wrote that the prologue was the "Best "Living World" episode for as long as I can remember". Having spent a couple of hours today going through it again I stand by that review - with the proviso that you do have to be very interested in Charr politics to fully appreciate how good an episode it is. 

As it happens, I find Charr politics one of the most interesting aspects othe game. I would be more than happy to have a whole Living World season devoted to the topic. Oh, wait, that was the Icebrood Saga, wasn't it? Shame it completely fell apart after the first couple of chapters and turned into an incoherent  farago of melodrama and farce, then, wasn't it? If only the whole thing had lived up to the promise of the prologue.

That was the "good" part. The "bad" bit was me not noticing that to get the necessary updates for the EoD meta-achievement, doing the Prologue means ticking nearly twice as many boxes as you would in any of the other Icebrood chapters. I ended up finishing the entire storyline without even making it halfway through the fifteen tasks I was meant to do. 

It shouldn't be too hard to finish it up. At four in the afternoon on a weekday the map was amazingly busy. Two people had tagged to draw people into events, there were people asking in chat when things started and the whole place felt alive. GW2 is amazingly good at keeping a huge number of areas active pretty much non-stop. It's rare to go anywhere and not find other people there already.

I don't really mind another session in Grothmar Valley. It's a stunningly lovely zone, one of the most gorgeous in a game full of beautiful scenery and it also has a lovely festival vibe that makes spending time there feel a lot more cheerful than the usual killing zones. Not that there isn't plenty of killing but it's happy killing, don't you know? It's a Charr thing.

Even though all this effort is in aid of the upcoming End of Dragons expansion, I can't say I'm all that excited about it. Not nearly as much as I am for Visions of Vetrovia, even though we get three EQII expansions for every one GW2 manages to spit out. I still haven't pre-ordered EoD although I will eventually, I'm sure. The whole Cantha thing does nothing for me and the promotional videos ANet are starting to release are actively discouraging.


The one they put out today would almost qualify as a shark-jumping moment if the game hadn't long since pole-vaulted over the Champion Megaladon (In-game reference - just ignore it.) If you've always felt what was missing from your GW2 experience was being able to ride a giant, jet-assisted turtle while your best mate blasted stuff with the turtle-laser then all your dreams are aboout to come true.

There's even some talk about letting these things loose in World vs World which, if it happens, will mark final death-knell of that game-mode. Mrs Bhagpuss hasn't logged into GW2 for a couple of weeks now. I suspect if she hears about the turtle she'll never log in again.

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