Monday, July 2, 2018

Roll Your Own: GW2

After all that moaning yesterday, naturally I spent much of today on the new map, Domain of Kourna. What's more, having roundly disparaged the new Roller Beetle mount, what else would I do but decide to go get one for myself?

I don't want the mount but I do like a good scavenger hunt, especially when I know exactly where to go and to get the beetle you have to do not one, not two but three collections. The in-game directions aren't bad but Dulfy has the full spec, with pictures.

I was hoping to get the lot done in time to take a screenshot or two of my cat-hatted druid clinging on for dear life to the saddle of his new, nonsensical ride. It turned out to be more time-consuming than I expected, not least because I also got sidetracked a few times by events. In the end I only managed the first two sets before the ticking clock told me I had time to finish or write about it but not both.

The first collection is very straightforward. All you have to do is find nine "Secret Caches" scattered around the new map. I barely needed to refer to Dulfy's diagrams. They are mostly easy to spot from a good distance away, particularly from the air, should you cruise past on a griffin, as I did.

That took maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. Or it would have if I hadn't stopped to help one Asuran "scientist" who wanted me to dance with some Choya and another who had some half-baked device for tracking mutated rats he needed testing.

Those felt quite like the kind of events GW2 built its original reputation on - daft, inconsequential, amusing. If you avoid the metas there are often a few little amuse-bouche like that scattered around.

Speaking of the meta, I did some of that while I was working on the second collection. Lognodo in the comments to yesterday's post said the new map meta felt incomplete and I agree it certainly seemed on the short  side for a meta. More like a short chain.

It'd be a lot more secret without the glaring yellow text.

The three collections are thematically coherent. The first has you finding medicines and drugs - some legal, some not so much - to fix the ailing Petey (a beetle). The second sees you collecting parts to make a saddle to ride him.

I don't really want to think about how the saddle attaches to the beetle but if that makes no sense at least all the bits that go to make it seem logical. Bits of golems, kit liberated from the Inquest, power sources from the energy-rich anomalies...

It also means a good deal of traveling, most of it in a crowd. There were so many people at Golem Mk II that my frame rate dropped to a slide show, something that hasn't happened to me at a World Boss event for years. As for the Anomaly, those events have been deserted for what seems like forever but in Gendarran Fields this afternoon there were three Commander tags and something like fifty people.

I was expecting this to be a problem but the only problem was getting there before it died.

One thing that GW2 manages better than most other MMOs is keeping elderly maps alive. It would be so easy to keep all new content in maps attached to the current expansion (and for commercial reasons most new content does require access to Path of Fire) but ANet routinely thread some of that content back through the older maps as well.

Oddly, it wasn't the older events that posed a problem. They were heaving. The one thing that slowed me down was finding anyone doing a Bounty in the new map. I hung around by the Bounty Board for the best part of an hour, on and off. I checked LFG regularly. Nothing.

I tried taking a bounty and starting it to see if people would join in but the one I chose was up on a mesa and no-one passed by. I was seriously considering popping my Commander tag and starting my own LFG squad but I wasn't keen to exhibit my complete ignorance of the mobs and their tactics, never having even seen one in action.

By contrast, a very poor turnout for the bounty. I was just happy to get it done.
In the end I went to World vs World to sell and clear my bags and when I came back there was a small squad doing the Bounty Daily. I flapped over to them on my griff and got there just in time for the kill.

With all the various parts for the saddle stuffed in my packs all I had to do was check in with Blish and Gorrick. Much to Gorrick's amusement, Petey the Beetle was having none of it. Now I have to run all over Tyria scraping up scraps to make a beetle banquet to bribe the blasted bug.

One of those delicacies comes from the Toxic Spider Queen in Kessex Hills, a vicious Champion mob left over from the Scarlet era. People have giving that thing a wide birth for years. That's absolutely going to need a good turnout.

Another is a new mob, the Alpha Beetle, deep in The Silverwastes. Dulfy warns " vigilant as the beetle has very little HP and dies quickly" but that was before the latest patch-to-the-patch "Updated the “Kill the alpha beetle” event to be a champion group event".

Even the sky is uninspiring.
All fine and dandy right now, when people are falling over themselves to grab the shiny, new mount, but perhaps not so much in a few months time for the late starters. Oh well, it's been tweaked once, it can be tweaked again. Not sure when I'll get around to finishing up the final part but I'll be sure not to leave it too long, just in case.

As for the new map itself, I can't say I was very taken with it. It's a scrubby tract of desert with a lot of grey rock. There are some striking orange sands and a few lush, green oases but overall it's not the kind of place I can imagine wanting to spend more time in than I had to.

I'll be very glad when we're done with the desert altogether. Ironically, I wanted to go in the direction of Crystal Desert after Heart of Thorns but I've had more than enough of sand and rock now.

I hope when we're done doing whatever it is we're going to do to Kralkatorrik we head off to the Far Shiverpeaks to sort out Jormag. Or, after the recent revamp of underwater water weapons, maybe we could go hunting for Steve the Sea Dragon. I could go for a subsea expansion.

Just please don't let's go underground into the magma tunnels looking for Primordus. I've seen enough lava to last a lifetime.


  1. You know, of all the MMO developers I’d trust to do an underground setting justice, it’ll be Anet with their exemplary art team. Just as underwater content isn’t just all blue water and ocean sand, I’m sure they can imagine decor beyond darkity dark stone and lava tunnels. From crystal caverns and sunlit skylights, pockets of natural vegetation, ravines and gorges, luminescent fungi, dwarven and asura architecture/ruins, multilayered caverns, underground water systems and so on. Hell, we get quite a bit of it with the Silverwastes areas and HoT already.

    Granted, this is presuming ample time, budget and manpower. Their recent AMA on LS4 ep 3 suggests a great deal of scope shrinkage due to significant limits on all of the above. A lot of Anet devs seem to have jumped ship with responsibility changing hands over the last two years, and I think it shows in the slightly schizophrenic content we’ve been getting - no follow up once the project holder leaves, swerving storylines, etc.

    Hopefully, they’ve managed to reassemble teams to the point where some longer term connection follows through over the course of a year or two...but I guess we’ll see what we get over time.

    1. I don't doubt they'd do an underground setting as well as anyone could but it would still be underground. Commercially, I think an expansion set either underground or underwater would be problematic. In fact, any single-theme setting - jungle, desert, mountains, snow - risks triggering a whole bunch of people who will just cross the game off their list as soon as they hear the word.

      I would have thought that they'd want avoid locking themselves in to any tight theme after the last two expansions but I imagine there are also practical design reasons that make thematic expansions attractive. I'm guessing we won't even hear about the next expansion, whatever it is, until next year, anyway.

    2. Well, there’s an easy non-single theme setting, if we follow tradition. Tyria, Elona and... *hem* ;)


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