Sunday, July 14, 2013

Top Of The World! : GW2

Gnashblade probably supplies the Ballot Boxes. Just sayin'
Achievements aside (and boy, what a worm-can that turned out to be) I really like the current episode of GW2's Living Story. Not that there seems to be all that much of a story to it. Is it my imagination or are the conversation and the cut-scene between Ellen Kiel and Magnus in the wrong order? She seems to be talking to him about what he's asked her to do before he asks her to do it. And what exactly is her job, anyway? Is she a soldier, a policewoman, a diplomat, a trade delegate or just some kind of Pirate Superwoman?

Next week we get to vote her onto the Lion's Arch Captain's Council so it's just as well she's added Ship's Captain to her already-impressive C.V. Magnus is going to have to haul back on the sarcasm when he uses her honorific or people might begin to suspect she's not a Captain at all. I'm voting Gnashblade, anyway. I hope we get campaign buttons.

Les Dawson! I thought I recognized you!
Labyrinthine Cliffs is an astonishing place, absolutely on a par with the original five cities in terms of detail, complexity and exploreworthiness (yes it's a word). At first I thought it was another island like Southsun but it seems to be the extreme south-western tip of the otherwise inaccessible Deldrimor Front peninsula. It had been mooted that, while the Zephyr Sanctum airship would certainly be departing at the end of this event, the landmass to which it was anchored, the Labyrinthine Cliffs map itself, might stay with us. No such luck, according to the Dulfyc Oracle.

Ironic foreshadowing, folk-club style
It seems almost immoral to create something this beautiful and just to throw it away, although I guess it's more "put it back in the cupboard" than "chuck it in the bin". No doubt the Bazaar will open again some day but then again maybe it won't so best make the most of it while it's here.

There's a lot more to do than lollygawp like a tourist and take a thousand photos, not that that isn't what I did for the first few hours. No, there are Sky Crystals to be parkoured, races to be run, unholy writ to be read backwards, shows to be seen, trades to be made, recipes to be scribed...the whole place is as filled with opportunity as, well as a Bazaar.

My personal favorite is the race. I'm fond of racing in MMOs. It seems a very organic, believable way to include non-combat activities without things getting excessively gamey. That's the theory; implementations vary. This is a good one.

It does have some oddities, such as the way you tend to start your first race entirely on your own with no other competitor in sight. The reason for that becomes clear when you pass your first checkpoint and realize you're running dead last in a race that started without you. Works quite well as an informal tutorial, I found.

There are a bunch of the dreaded Achievements for taking part including one for doing the whole thing 25 times. Suffice it to say I have already done that plus a few for luck. By the time the Zephyr Sanctum casts off my tally may well be nearer 50 than 25. I just like running it, what can I say?

It's certainly not that I'm any good at it, although as with anything practice does make a difference. Early on there seemed no chance whatever of getting the Achievement for coming in the top three, far less the one for winning outright but now I have both. Actually, I came first twice, only in one of those races I was the only person running. It was nice to have the box ticked but I'm very glad I really did win one race later on or I'd feel a bit of a cheat.

I'm no fan of jumping puzzles. I can do them if I have to but I tend to find them stressful not entertaining. I've read a few observations that the new Map is fundamentally one huge jumping puzzle, which didn't have me looking forward to it much. If it had turned out to be true I'd probably have had a very unfun time. It's not and I didn't.

It's alright for you. You've got wings!

The Bazaar of the Four Winds is a settlement that has made some left-field choices in its public transport policy. It reminds me of places I've visited where you ride funiculars and cable-cars to get from one part of the city to another. Apart from one brief segment (the second one) the entire map is navigable with no jumping skills at all (and with the help of a friendly Mesmer even that part can be circumvented). Once done and waypoints opened you're free to enjoy all the fun of the Bazaar at will.

A plan!
Unless, of course, you decide to collect Sky Crystals. I wasn't planning to do that. It's jumping and I don't like jumping, as I said. Well it isn't jumping. It's climbing and that's a cat of a wholly different color.

I love climbing in MMOs and have done since I first went buildering through Felwithe long, long ago. First I started picking up the Crystals I happened to spot as I explored, then I started actively searching for them and in that way half of Sunday disappeared. As I write I'm 33/40 on the Achievement. There are supposedly over fifty of the things but so far the harder part has been finding them not getting to them. I only know of two that I haven't tried for yet.

If I do a handstand
will all the gold fall out my pockets?
So far I have looked up absolutely nothing out of game, which brings me back to the discussion about Achievements. If there wasn't an Achievement for finding Sky Crystals I wouldn't know there were at least five I haven't found. I might stop looking for them having found 35 and think I'd found them all. Would that be bad? Or good? Does it make any difference at all? If I wanted to understand this sort of thing shouldn't I have studied Philosophy instead of English? Should I just stop over-thinking things and play?

Dunno. I just know I'm enjoying this update a lot more than the last one and quite possibly the most of any so far. I'm off to find those last few Crystals then trade some of my crafting overspill for recipes. Then I'm going to go see how this crystal charging thing works.


  1. The Sanctum Sprint is a super fun minigame. It's probably my personal favorite of this episode. All those hours on Mario Kart has finally paid off.

    What bothers me about it though, again ties into the achievement points. There are people who clearly do not enjoy the content and yet are doing it solely for achievement points. This one room I was in had a guy counting down "10 more games until I'm done with this stupid minigame..." Then there were the ones begging people to let him come first for the achievement (I flat out said no and told him to earn it yourself, and I was called a "jerk" to put it mildly).

    Seriously guys? This modern movement towards achievement-hoarding never ceases to amaze me.

    On a different note, I got the Quartz Node in my home instance and...noticed a bunch of Hylek from my personal story? Were they always there? It was super neat, but I just never noticed it because I had no reason to go there. Here's to hoping for more improvements to the home instance, IMO the GREATEST thing GW2 is missing right now.


    1. I'm still mulling on the whole achievement thing. It's so hard to pin down what's going on psychologically. In the races I did there were several people who absolutely hated it. Clearly they would never have gone near the race other than to get the achievement.

      Once I got my First Place Achievement I stopped trying to win and stopped using the abilities that hinder other players. It just seemed rude. I still needed to finish 25 races, of course, which seems like one heck of a lot. How many players would have done it that often if there was no Achievement? How many would do it 100 times or 1000 if there was?

      As for the Quartz Node, just going to do a post on that now. Apparently your Personal Instance changes at various points according to the decisions you make in your Personal Story but like you I haven't visited mine for months so I have no idea what used to be in it. What an opportunity squandered.

    2. Anet said they will make a better work with the Personal Instances and give players more reasons for return there. I retruned there for do the drink game, each NPC you need see is inside one of that 5 personal instances.

      When going there, I noted some races that made no sense stay inside that racial personal instances (for example, some frogs living there). I guess some NPCs get added to that instances when you complete personal story quests.

      Not sure what Anet can do for make that personal instances be more serious business. Add a node there can work, but need more than that. I know Anet is trying to do something diferent from the "normal" home instances, but I think I prefer something more like that "normal" home instances where I can put trophies and furniture.

    3. I just want to have control over it and decorate it. That alone is worth all the Living Story episodes they could ever come up with in terms of loyalty.


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