Wednesday, June 27, 2018

This Joko Isn't Funny Any More : GW2

This afternoon, I finally got to play "Long Live the Lich", Episode Three, Season Four of GW2's Living World. Just shy of a full day after it supposedly launched. Along with almost everyone else, I couldn't get stuck into the (no doubt thrilling) storyline right away, due to major bugs.

They supposedly fixed the worst while I was sleeping although as I write there's still a caveat on the forums warning they haven't found, let alone stomped, all of them. Supposedly the disconnection issues that made me go play EQ2 instead had been fixed (it was those pesky Fractals) but the first three times I attempted to log in today - post-fix - the game was still giving me a network error.

Oddly - or perhaps not so oddly - I was able to log in my two accounts that don't have the Path of Fire expansion without any issues. I did my dailies on those. I also went round all ten chests for the repeatable Sunken Treasure Hunter achievement, the first time I've been able to open them for nearly a month.
Most of the new map doesn't look like this. The rest is boring old desert.

That's how long ANet took to fix that particular bug. There's a sixteen page thread on it on the forums. They also forgot to mention the bug fix in the update notes. If anyone's missing the glory days of SOE's MMOs of a decade and a half ago I strongly urge them to come play GW2. Every patch breaks something and no-one seems all that bothered about fixing most of it.

I'd been stashing the keys, which you could still get from the Kill Ten Krait Daily (it's not called that but that's what it is). I have about twenty on each account now. It took me an hour to go round all the maps using them up just on one account so I might have to pace myself. I'm only doing it because I want the breathing mask that covers your entire head with a huge bubble.

With that out of the way I tried logging in my Path of Fire account and miraculously it worked. That meant it was time for my Druid (One of my five Druids. One of my two Druids on that account. No, I don't know why, either...) to wake up.

GW2 does have pretty interstitials.

He's the Asuran who dresses like a toddler. Watching everyone trying to take him seriously as The Commander makes the dialogue of every Living Story episode seem like comedy even when it's supposed to be tragedy. I use him because when Druids were invented I specced and geared him for maximum healing and he can generally outheal most of the stupid gimmicks they put in LS instances so I don't have to bother learning how they work.

So far this time he hasn't needed to go full firehose with the healing stick. It's far too early to give any details even with a spoiler warning but I will say that up to where I've got so far, which is to the end of the story element of the new map, I'm guessing maybe half-way through the whole thing, it's a lot less annoying than most episodes.

Thus far all the fights have been easy. The first mini-boss didn't seem to have any dumb tricks. The inevitable instance where all your real skills are taken away and you have to use a whole load of new ones that the game tries to teach you in real time isn't infuriating or frustrating. It's actually - whisper it - fun. It's a long time since I've been able to say that.

Extremely minor spoiler: if you go under the deck on the ship after the fight ends you get to hear Joko being unpleasant. You might  want to avoid doing that.

The narrative so far is at least coherent and comprehensible. Original or surprising it very much is not
but you can't have everything. It also has the kind of tonal problems that could only really be solved by splitting the entire thing in two. And then preferably burning the part of the script that has all of Joko's lines in it.

I don't know how Palawa Joko was played in the original Guild Wars but here he seems to be channeling both Mad King Thorne and The Joker at the same time. At one point he sounds so indistinguishable from Mad King Thorne that I wondered if it was the same voice actor. Perhaps it is. It would explain a lot.

Personally, I don't find sadistic psychopaths amusing. When Alan Moore and Brian Bolland redefined and re-invented the character of The Joker in The Killing Joke they were making a point about how unfunny he was,  a point that seems to have been comprehensively lost over the ensuing decades.

I'd go for "Guilty but Insane"

GW2, perhaps more so than any MMORPG I've played, fails to harmonize its registers, leaving them to clash horrifically like some nightmare wind-chime made from sheet iron. It frequently interposes the sadistic with the twee in a manner that suggests, at best, a lack of professional judgment that would put most writers on the unemployment line and at worst a serious psychiatric disorder.

This tendency, always present, seems to be worsening. I'm not at all sure how much longer I'll be prepared to put up with it. I'm damned sure I'm not going to make excuses for it. I'm just hoping we finish Joko off for good and get back to Dragons. You know where you are with a dragon. (On fire, mostly).

My deep antipathy for Joko aside, I found plenty to enjoy in the first few encounters and instances. There's quite a lot of talking and some of it is amusing. I'm warming to Gorrick and Blish, who appeared full-born as Venus from the waves last episode. They seem to be bedding in nicely.

Is there something you'd like to tell us, Tiami?

Gorrick has literally no empathy at all and precious few social skills but he doesn't come across as vicious, which makes his "Did he really say that?" moments more funny than disturbing. Blish, by comparison, is almost a tragic figure in some ways, even though he gets some good gag lines ("Can I have my arm back?"). Taimi's hitherto unsuspected relationship with him (with both of them, really) is more affecting and believable than it has any right to be, given our complete ignorance of their history and the way it was shoe-horned in out of nowhere.

Come off it! If you're a real Lady, I'm a real cat.
Lord Faren is on hand to play the narcissistic fop, an act he carries off so well that I suspect almost no-one believes it any more. The Lore sub-forum has been discussing not so much whether it's an act as what the act is supposed to be concealing.

I'd love to believe the writing team have and have always had deep plans for Faren but I don't. If he turns out to be something other than he seems it will be retcon. As seems to be the case with the sudden and positively mindblowing appearance this episode of a character who has been a mystery for the six full years of the  life of the game. That's it? Really??

I will probably have more to say about that in a while when spoilers are less of an issue. Suffice it to say, if and when we eventually discover the identity of the mysterious E, he'd better not be some fanboy with an autograph book and a selfie stick.

That's as much as I have to say for now. I'm anticipating the usual, tedious Boss fight to come along and spoil the party towards the end but so far, so good. I'm enjoying it. Joko always excepted.


  1. After reading all the bug/server crash posts on Reddit, and logging into the game WITH a VPN at 400ms ping (280ms normally) and easily 1k-2k ping without said VPN, I decided not to even go anywhere near the new content for the time being and just did dailies, which were already somewhat challenging to complete at 400ms. Vabbi bounty + spinning lasers + not at all corresponding to where they seemed to be on one’s client makes for some interesting times.

    The surfeit of technical problems as the years pass seems to imply quite a bit to me.

    Anyway, assuming the servers don’t go down permanently, there will be ample time at some point in the future to attempt the current episode, when it’s not so swarmed by content starved players. Note my reluctance to say that any glitches might be fixed by that time. I have the “hope” but no longer the expectation. Hurrah for low standards.

    1. Granted, I do want a roller beetle.

      But the terror of experiencing glitched events with a crowd of 75 players is slightly more overpowering than the desire. The trick is now timing it so that I don’t wind up doing it with 0 player allies. Fashionably late, rather than SOL late.

    2. On the forum thread a lot of people are blaming the Amazon hosting for the DCs but that would seem to be a separate issue (the bad ping times for half the planet, that is). In the UK I can't say I've seen any difference at all since they went to Amazon but it's clearly impacting their overall business. I wonder if they are considering other options yet - I was surprised to see that, according to the latest Superdata report, GW2 is neck-and-neck with Aion in NCSoft's portfolio. I'm not sure if that means Aion is more popular than we tend to imagine or that GW2 is less.

      As for the roller beetle... if there was ever a shark-jumping moment for the game, that has to be it. Pretty much never going to take the franchise seriously again after that.

    3. Rollerbeetle racing has been in since GW1 though! Was one of my favorite events/activities then.

      ...Steadily becoming less favorite the more the Amazon hosting ruins my day.

  2. Between their ignoring the PvP hackers and this bug bs, Anet has become one of the worst MMO companies in the business.

    1. The most laughable aspect of the whole sorry affair is that the update was delayed so they could raise the quality bar, in their words. That worked out well.

  3. At least it has Gandara, our very own utopia.


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