Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Next Stop Kessex Hills. All Change Here! : GW2

Another fortnight, another Living Story. Ho hum. Or maybe not...

For what might be the first time since launch, certainly the first time I can recall off the top of my head, there's been a full-scale change to one of the regular overland zones. We saw the addition of new NPCs and add-on instances in Wayfarers Foothills and Diessa Plateau way back in the opening chapters, several zones still encounter regular disruption from Scarlet's invading hordes and the new, improved Tequatl casts a pall over the Splintered Coast, but until now the only physical restructuring I can remember is the recent draining of the lakes in the WvW Borderlands.

To a degree this is similar in that the vast krait tower has appeared in the middle of Viathan Lake in Kessex Hills. It's not an area I was particularly familiar with, as the statistics on the loading screen below make plain, so I don't know what, if anything, in the way of content has been usurped or inconvenienced by Kasmeer's renting of the veil. Not much, I suspect. Nevertheless, the map and the territory have both undergone undeniable and significant change.

The Tower of Nightmare update also introduces two significant changes to mechanics. Well, they're new to me, at least although maybe they already exist in one of the many parts of the game I don't know in as much detail as I might, like Fractals or Dungeons. News of the crisis came via the usual letter but when my ranger waypointed in to Kessex Hills instead of arriving as expected at Overlord's Waypoint a second loading screen appeared right after the first and he found himself in the new instance.

It kicked the whole thing off with a much more fluid, in media res impact than the usual anti-climactic hunt for the relevant NPC. Of course said NPC was still standing there waiting for me and nothing really happened until I spoke to him to tell him I was ready, but still, it's a start. If we can just get to a point where our character's very presence is sufficient to get things rolling then we'll really have made some progress.

The second innovation occurred during the first fight. A couple of Krait had fallen to a merciless barrage of arrows and my attention was on the ones still standing when it dawned on me those lying on the ground weren't in fact dead. They were downed and throwing rocks, just like a player would. It occurred to me that one of their slimy krait buddies might be able to revive them so I closed in to see what was going on and stap me if the "Finish Them!" stomp box didn't pop. So I spiked them.

It was joyous. I did it as many times as I could. Most of the mobs went into the downed state; a minority just died like normal mobs. I couldn't see an obvious reason for the difference. If I was going to be cynical I might speculate whether adding this mechanic to PvE mobs mightn't be a means to increase sales of Finishers in the Gem Store but it's so much fun I don't care. I'm happy with my plain old stake anyway.

The instance itself was excellent, if rather short. Perfectly pitched in difficulty for soloing. I found myself playing my ranger the way I did back in beta, sending the pet in to get agro, pulling carefully to get singles. The big fight at the end was set at just the difficulty level I like best - I was always going to win so long as I kept my concentration. Very satisfying.

As for the plot, Marjory Delequa and Lady Kasmeer are a very odd couple. Whatever's going on there is...intriguing. And we all hate the Krait, that's a given. The Nightmare Court I have never taken to (or against) but they ensure the theme of unlikely bedfellows first encountered with the Molten Alliance continues. At this rate I might even begin to suspect there's some method to the seeming madness of picking these allies out of a hat.

But, to return to where we began, perhaps the most impressive part of the update so far came when I came out of the instance to find myself in a Kessex Hills indistinguishable from the personalized version I'd just left. Can it be true? Actual change?

We'll see. I'm guessing that tower's there to stay, at least.


  1. As far as I could tell the Nightmare Courtiers go into downed state, whereas the krait just die like good little mobs. However, the krait definitely DO help their sylvari chums get back up and into the fight if given a chance. Definitely a fun twist on the game mechanics.

    1. Ah that's it! I really should have spotted that but I didn't even realize there were Nightmare Court there until one of the NPCs mentioned it. It was all a bit hectic at the start.

  2. Most definitely an attempt to sell finishers.

    Which I have no problems with. Finishers are THE best implemented cosmetic reward system in GW2 right now. a "locker" which allows you to swap/select what you want at any given time and purely, utterly cosmetic.

    Now stop shooting downed people's feet, it's quite rude, I think?


    1. Yep, Finishers are a great idea - entirely optional, no in-game advantage and highly attractive to quite a few people. I'm all in favor of NPCs/mobs having as close to the same skills and abilities as players as possible so giving them downed states and the ability to revive is a good thing in my book. And if you don't want Finish them, just keep shooting them in the feet!

  3. The finisher thing is not quite as new.

    If you think back to the Scarlet invasions, some minions would be 'killed' but would also require you to stomp them to actually destroy them. If you hadn't by the time the next wave appeared, some of the little guys that spawned would fly to a downed enemy and they would merge and revive.

    In large scale events like that, it was more annoying than fun, to be honest...

    1. That's true but it used the "Interact" mechanic that brought up the cogwheel icon, which made it seem more akin to completing an objective within the event rather than part of the combat itself. It was clear from map chat last night that some people love to Stomp and others find it irritating. It will inevitably lengthen fights whether you opt to Stomp or DPS the downed mobs to death, which may wear out its welcome after a while. On the other hand, most GW2 fights are so short adding a few more seconds isn't going to do any harm.

  4. I fear the tower will stay, but it will be a huge jumping puzzle... I really do'nt like jumping puzzles.


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