Wednesday, April 28, 2021

This Is The Summer

Okay, then. Let's take a look at the Great Guild Wars 2 Summer of Fun! ArenaNet aren't calling it that, by the way. I am.

I might not even mean it ironically. I was quite impressed when I skim-read the program on the official web site. I'm curious to find out if it stands up to closer examination. 

One thing I noticed on the first read-through was that whoever put it together had eschewed chronology. Normally what you'd expect in something like this is linear progression through time. That's what a program of events traditionally requires. People don't just want to know what they're getting: they want to know the running order so they know when to line up and when to head for the bar.

If ANet had stuck to a strict timeline, though, they'd have had to open with 

May 11—Skills and Balance Update 

and no-one wants that.

Skills and balance updates somehow manage to be both predictable and controversial. At any given moment there's one bunch of yahoos wailing they need a full rebalance right now while another argues everything's just fine as it is so leave it the hell alone. Inbetween those poles you can find a lobby for every class and even every elite specialization in the game, all making their case for special treatment as all around the various camps trolls and troublemakers prowl, spreading the notion that various classes or abilites are gamebreakingly OP and ought to be nerfed into oblivion.

Whatever ANet says or indeed does about balance they know they can't win. Not hearts, not minds, not even arguments. Like some sisyphean ball of confusion, all they can hope to do is push it a little further up the slope than last time and hope that when it rolls back down it doesn't crush them on the way past.

So, although that little treat is the first course in this summer-long feast, it's been tucked away behind the big reveal. And the big reveal is... there's going to be a big reveal!  


July 27—Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons First Look

Believe it or not that genuinely is the most exciting prospect of the whole summer schedule. It fully justifies its place at the head of the program. I can't help feeling there's something just a little sad about it. The thing we're all the most thrilled to see is an announcement that there's going to be an announcement. Not even a date. Just what the new content is.

Don't care. Still excited. I'll be there on July 27 (probably not something any of us should be saying during the end times but you gotta stay positive). The stream's set to include "features, an introduction to the story, a new trailer video", all of which you'd expect, but also "elite specialization beta event information.

I'm not all that interested in the beta event (or the elite specs) per se but I am interested to hear one's already being planned. Combined with the run of dates for this "Live summer", none of which extends into August, I'd guess we'll get the beta event(s) soon after the livestream, then some kind of anniversary celebration and the expansion will drop either at the end of August or in September.

If not, they're going to have to come up with a Fall Festival of Fun to follow this summer spectacular because we ain't getting another season of the Living Story, we know that much. No, End of Dragons late summer/early autumn. Mark your dance cards.

Of course, when I said the EoD reveal would be the most exciting prospect I was speaking objectively. From a personal point of view, as I made clear yesterday, the true highlight of the summer will be


July 13—The Twisted Marionette

I mentioned this to Mrs. Bhagpuss this morning, just after Yaks Bend's expiditionary forces had been unceremoniously dumped back on their own border following a failed assault on Dragonbrand's Air Keep. Her reply was "Oh, I liked the Marionette!", which stands in stark conrast to the kind of reply I usually get to conversational sallies of this kind, namely "What's that? I don't remember it". 

The Marionette fight was unforgettable, which is a lot more than I can say about every Living Story boss fight ever and just about every meta event since Heart of Thorns. Generic events have been the name of the game for so long now it's difficult to remember when ANet knew how to create fights that were actually interesting. Perhaps refurbishing this one will remind them how it's done.

Next comes something from the Quality of Life department. I didn't think ANet had one of those. It's certainly been underemployed these last nine years.

July 13 - The Legendary Armory

This doesn't interest me at all and for a very good reason. I have no legendaries. What's more, not only do I not plan to get any, I specifically plan never to get any. As in I have positive intentions to avoid getting any if at all possible. 

I'm not saying I wouldn't take a legendary if ANet decided to give them away but short of that I would rather not, thanks very much. Never saw the point of them and still don't now.

The thing is this: I really, really hate changing my spec. I like to decide on it once then play it forever. If forced, as has happened a couple of times, I will grudgingly and irritably make the necessary adjustments to fall into line with some new orthodoxy but having done so I will expect to get several more years out of the new set-up before something drives me to change it again. 

That attitude has served me admirably across many mmorpgs and I see absolutely no need to change my behavior. Consequently, the attraction of items that are no more powerful than those I already have but which allow me to change my spec on the fly is utterly lost on me. 

I'm sure the Legendary Armory is going to be a boon for some people. It's nice that they're going to get it. Just don't expect me to care.

And finally, before we get to the list of regular holidays and returning weekend specials, here's the fifth pullout package. It's an odd one:


Beginning May 25—Living World: Complete the Cycle

I had to read this several times and I'm still not certain I understand it. Here's what I think is going to happen:

  • There will be a series of week-long windows devoted to specific Living Story episodes from Seasons 2 and 3.
  • Anyone who doesn't have that particular episode can get it for free during the week it's up.
  • The featured episodes will get new achievements.
  • If you complete all of the new achievements you get "a voucher for a Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons precursor weapon". This would seem to bootstrap you past the first segment of the interminable crafting process for a single Legendary weapon when EoD drops but that's about all. 
  • There's going to be "a new meta-achievement for all three playable Living World seasons and The Icebrood Saga". If you complete that you get a legendary amulet. Whoop-di-doo. 

All of the above (except the getting them for free part) persists indefinitely so you can work on these time-consuming (let's not say time-wasting) tasks at your leisure.

I would literally rather spend my evenings cleaning my oven than ever do any of LS Seasons two or three again and as for achievements I never did most of those in the first place so that won't be happening. Once again, good luck to them as likes it. I'll pass, thanks.

That just leaves us with what you could call the usual suspects, otherwise known as 


Ongoing Summer Events

For once, there are a lot of them. They switch on at a slightly better cadence than twice a month for the whole of the designated "summer" season, beginning with the ever-popular World vs. World Weeklong Bonus.

I say "popular" because it generally seems to be but there are plenty of dedicated WvW players who hate these weeks with a passion. They attract hordes of ignorant, unskilled PvE players into the borderlands, afking at the bank, asking inane questions and generally getting in everyone's way. They do have their advocates, though. 

The more positive voices always call for patience, pointing out  the opportunities these events offer for introducing wide-eyed newbies to the joys of WvW. Meanwhile roamers relish the plethora of easy kills and the chance to re-inforce every prejudice and preconception PvE players already have about wicked gankers. I just like the chance to push my rank higher. 

There are a couple of events like that and something similar for the sPvP crowd, who also get tournaments, something that's been denied to WvW for many years. Instead, in WvW we get the marmite "No Downstate" event (June 18), which always kicks up a ruckus on the forums as people take extreme positions, claiming either that they'll never play WvW so long as they actually die when someone kills them or that they wish downstate had never been invented and the event should made permanent. I just find it a fun diversion for a week, which, I think, is all it's meant to be.


In PvE there's some kind of "Fractal Rush" in which I don't intend to learn about let alone participate in and then there's Dragon Bash, the festival in Hoelbrak, which I do. I notice there's no mention of the Queen's Jubilee or the Crown Pavilion but on refelction those both take place in August, so outwith the remit. I'm sure they'll be along on schedule to tide us over until the expansion arrives.

In fact, with the anniversary also in August, that does seem to fill the calendar nicely until the beginning of September. It's all falling into place.

Eliot at Massively OP wrote an op-ed piece this week on maintenance mode in mmorpgs. I know this is actually a lull before a major expansion, which is hardly the same thing, but as a program it does feel remarkably similar to what you might think of as active maintenance. I have to say it suits me quite well.

I'd happily sign up for no more Living Story, ever, in exchange for bi-annual expansions with a program like this in the off-seasons. That sounds like a manageable and sustainable business model to me. Especially if the best of the older events, like the Marionette, could be spruced up and re-introduced. I could make a list of those.

Probably lucky I'm not in charge, isn't it?

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