Monday, August 13, 2018

A Little Late or Always Read The Instructions : GW2

When the Festival of the Four Winds began three weeks ago I took a look at the Meta and decided it was impossible. Usually these things allow a certain amount of leeway. They let you to skip a couple of the achievements you might find particularly difficult. This time it appeared you had to do all of them.

What's more, there were twenty-five, which is a lot. And the reward was some piece of armor that you couldn't Preview in game. A pair of gloves. It sounded like an awful lot of work for a pair of gloves. Who looks at their hands in an MMO anyway? Gloves aren't like a cloak or a hat that you can show off or admire. They're just gloves.

I dismissed any thought of finishing the meta. I just got on with doing the events and achievements that interested me or those I enjoyed. Which turned out to be most of them.

For one thing, I loved finding all the crystals. I was gliding around Labrynthine Cliffs on thermals for the sheer thrill of it anyway, so why not swoop down and pick up the shinies?

So much has changed since the Festival was here four and five years ago. One of the most under-reported additions to the game has to be the UI tweak that lets you to have the names of all interactable objects visible on screen, at a distance, all the time. Combined with the ability to fly - either  with a glider or a Griffin - what was once annoying and difficult has become simple and instinctive.

So instinctive, in fact, that I didn't need to use Dulfy's excellent guide until the very end, when I had to resort to research to find a couple of particularly well-hidden crystals. Mostly I just ran or flapped around and grabbed them as I saw them. Working out how to get to some of the ones I could see from a distance was particualarly enjoyable and satisfying.

Boss Blitz, the event in Queen Jenna's Crown Pavilion that involves the perpetual slaughter of six Bosses, held my attention for the entire three weeks. It's an almost perfect demonstration of social interaction in MMOs. In fact, when I came to write about it here I found I had so much to say it was in danger of unbalancing this post, so I'm going to write it up separately.

After a week or so I noticed that I'd done about two-thirds of the achievements for the meta. I also
realized about then that the tally of achievements that counted included some I hadn't thought were part of it, while some I thought were included didn't seem to count after all.

Had I thought to left-click the meta itself, all would have been revealed. There's an itemized list of what's required. Despite having played this game for six years that simply never occurred to me. It was only when someone mentioned it in map chat yesterday that I gave it a try.

Instead, I kept plugging away over the course of the Festival, letting the meta fill in as it would. For a long while I thought some of the achievements from the Queen's Gauntlet counted. They don't.

I surprised myself by getting all the way to Liadri, the last of the original Gauntlet bosses, in a single session. The Queen's Gauntlet, a series of timed, solo fights against increasingly tough or tricksy opponents, isn't really my kind of thing but it was fun to do once.

What does count for the meta are the races, or at least most of them. Fortunately the all-but-impossible Griffin race doesn't figure on the card although the ill-conceived Skimmer race does. The skimmer race isn't much fun. Skimmers all move at the same speed, slower than any other mount, so it's not much of a race. It's also never won by anyone on a Skimmer. 

Every race is won by people who jump off their skimmers in the final land section and mount up on raptors instead. Every race ends with a lot of angry skimmer riders calling raptor riders cheats. Luckily  you don't need to win for the meta, just finish within two and a half minutes. You could probably walk the course in that time. If you could walk on water.

The other two races are tougher all round. The mounted one at the end of Boss Blitz and the Dolyak race in Cliffs are both incredibly annoying and enormously entertaining at the same time. The former takes you through a lot of awkward terrain and a pile of hostile mobs; the latter turns you into a pig-sized dolyak and makes you use the original zephyrite crystals to control your movement.

For the meta you have to complete each race in about half the maximum time allowed: two minutes for the mount race, two and a half minutes for the Dolyaks. That's tight. It took me a number of practice runs to work out a strategy and a number more to implement that strategy effectively.

Since the mount race starts only when a Boss Blitz has been successfully completed and the Dolyak race is every two hours, it took me several sessions to get them both done. The Dolyak race was about the last thing I needed.

With that finally done I hit 25/25 and received my reward. It was better than I expected. The gloves have a very nice aura effect that is quite noticeable. An aura's not a hat or a cloak but it's not nothing.

I thought it would be of interest to Mrs Bhagpuss. On my original advice she hadn't been bothering with the meta either. She wouldn't have been able to complete it in any case because she absolutely cannot ride mounts. She literally gets motion-sick just thinking about doing it.

She had, however, already hit 19/25 on the meta meter, with just a few crystals, the races and one or two odds and ends to do. I finished those up for her yesterday afternoon, meaning we have now each  completed the meta on one account.

Ironically, when I read through the Dulfy guide after I'd finished, I found out you can "craft" the gloves anyway. By "craft" I mean there's a Mystic Forge combine for them. Since the meta gives you a stingy single armor weight of just one of the three designs, if you like them, you're likely to end up "crafting" several more anyway.

Even so, had I been paying better attention three weeks ago, and had I understood sooner what was required, I might have finished the whole thing on more than one account. Nearly all of it was fun to do.

Also, in retrospect, it would have made more sense to have done at least some of the events - and the dailies - on the other two accounts, especially the one that wasn't around the last time we had the chance to do all this. It's not a big deal because the items on sale aren't all that special but I do have a lot of them already on the account I was using to run the events this time.

There were a few things I wanted. I didn't have the new Watchwork Mk II outfit. I have the original and I used to use it a lot. Now I have the new one. I'm not sure I can see the difference to be honest. And for some reason I never had a kite until now. Not sure how that happened. I bought two.

Anyway, it's too late now. The Festival ends tomorrow. You live and learn. At least I had a ton of fun. And I hope and trust  the Festival of the Four Winds is now established as an annual event. I'll be better prepared next year.


  1. The griffon race is actually not as hard as it looks. I think most people find it hard because the griffon controls are not explained at all in the game. I'm not the player with the best reactions (i'm nearly 50 years old) and i made it yesterday after perhaps 10-20 tries which took about 15 minutes while waiting for the dolyak race. I though it would be much harder.

    If someone is interested i can explain the controls.

    1. I can fly the griffin - in theory. I know how the controls work - in theory . The problem comes in practice.

      I would guess that if I took 20 runs at it I'd get it done eventually. I did do that with one of the Griff races in PoF. Once I realized this race didn't count for the meta and has no meaningful rewards attached to it, though, any interest I had in doin git until I got it right vanished.

      One thing I'd be grateful if you would explain is how, after having done the steep dive (which I can do easily) the person in the video maintains that flat path through the next two gates without using up the stored momentum needed to do the climb. I did read up how that works a few months back but I must have forgotten. I see the wings flap a couple of times but if I ever flap any stored momentum seems to dissipate. On the other hand, if I don't flap I don't make it to the third gate. I'm guessing I should just glide but I have a feeling there's another keypress that comes into it somewhere...

    2. During the dive at the start you must flap your wings to get enough momentum. Pull out of the dive by letting go of your dive key. You can then coast through the gates if you enter the first one relatively high. Also you have enough momentum stored to flap your wings once or twice if you must. Pulling up was never a problem if the dive went fine even after i flapped once or twice.

      I think this race is actually a very good tutorial for the griffon since you can learn all the necessary skills on a short course you can reset rapidly. I approached it like one of those racing games (i.e. Trackmania Turbo) where you constantly try the same course to eek out another millisecond.

    3. Ah! I never flapped on the dive. Didn't know that stored extra momentum. I'll try and remember.

    4. At 290ms, the griffon course was an interesting exercise in teeth grinding frustration, coupled with “I never knew that” learning.

      After a great deal of experimentation and swearing, I found that two wing flaps during the dive downward were necessary, if you wanted enough speed and momentum to make the journey back UP. There was a better than 50% chance that by the time I got two wing flaps in, I’d built so much speed that the griffon would plunge straight into the water before the game registered my pulling out of the dive.

      Still, as one gets more confident with whatever one is doing, the efficiency of those miliseconds between key presses reduces, and I was more or less able to luck my way through eventually. There was a great deal of slamming into various obstacles at speed with 0.3s latency between where the game thinks you are and what buttons you just pressed though.

    5. I never realized how much latency plays a role in this. Perhaps it's just easier for me because i have a super stable connection with low latency.

      The in game display normally tells me my latency is around 50ms. External tools like Ping Plotter normally show a time about 9-15 ms. I think the in game display includes server response time and not only network response time.


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