Category Archives: Guild Wars 2

Weaver Feature

Making Weaver Fun and Accessible

The idea behind the Weaver utilizing 2 attunements at once is superb and offers lots of fun gameplay and build potential. The problem with the Weaver is it feels unresponsive, and it has become even more difficult to remember everything you need to do when you are constantly shifting between front and back skills at a 4 second interval. With only a month left before the release of PoF, realistically not much can be changed.

Elite Specs are often designed in order to offer classes the ability to function in similar roles or play styles as other classes. I believe it was the original intention of the Weaver’s design to slow the switching of attunements in order to have it feel more like a traditional Guild Wars 2 class that is limited in its number of available weapon abilities, thus channeling the player to choose builds that focus on particular gameplay roles (dps, support, survivability) rather than the current elementalist which is able to do all things at once.

The problem with the current longer attunement intervals is not so much the design, but rather the implementation. Longer intervals between attunement swapping can be an interesting trade off, but it must feel good. The player must feel like they are getting something in return for the change. With all of this in mind, I offer the following changes:

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What Should Change

  1. All attunements after swapping should have a 8 second cooldown before another attunement switch. Both attunements can be selected one after the other at the same time.

    The current Weaver design requires you wait 4 seconds between swapping half of your weapon skill bar and attunement. This suggestion would place an 8 second cooldown on all attunements after swapping. You would be able to choose 2 attunements at a time or press the same attunement twice if you desire to have just one selected. This would be more simple for players to understand and would feel more in tune with how other classes currently play. Typical classes have 10 seconds on weapon swap and this system would reduce the barrier of entry for players that are used to that.

  2. Grant 5 secs of alacrity on attunement swap

    To compensate for any loss in skill availability from reduced attunement swapping and offer interesting gameplay choices.

  3. Allow both chosen Attunement effects to be active at the same time

    Currently only one attunement is had at a time, but in order to have the payoff of reduced attunement swapping, allowing for both attunements to be active is a rewarding way to increase build diversity. Many traits offer benefits for your current attunement and allowing both attunements to be active would greatly incentivize the choice to focus on prefered attunements and increase the payoff of focusing on desired trait lines.

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The Pros

  • Greater build diversity, but also easily balanced
  • Lowers the barrier of entry from players that play other classes
  • Fixes the clunkiness of the current 4sec global attunement cooldown
  • Allows Elementalists to become specialists rather than “Jack of all trades, masters of none”
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The Cons

  • Would play very differently from current elementalist rotations
  • Would decrease the elementalists ability to do everything (dps, tank, heal, support)
  • Greater risk/reward gameplay (could be viewed as a pro)
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Conclusion

The current status of the Weaver is not as enjoyable as it could be. Much work has already gone into it (awesome work btw) and with a month left until release, realistically only small changes can be made. It is my hope that these suggestions will offer a solution to the Weaver’s downfalls in a manner that still maintains the balance of the game yet offers enjoyable, dynamic choices and payoffs.

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Clouded Chimera can be found taking leisurely strolls down Forged infested sand dunes and streaming his exploits at Twitch.tv/Clouded_Chimera.

Thrill of the Crime

Thrill of the Crime: PvLeague

Today I wanted to to talk about Guild Wars 2 sPvP—specifically, PvP Leagues and their rewards. I have always popped into some PvP matches every now and then, but when PvP Leagues were announced I was extremely excited to participate and see how far I could go. Over the past two seasons however, I’ve had trouble playing consistently during the season because, quite honestly, I have not been strongly motivated.

Motivation is the biggest problem for me and, from what I’ve seen, has been a similar problem for many during a ranked season. Motivation for playing the entire season just isn’t there. Right now there are two things to motivate players: 1) Get to a certain division and 2) finish ascension legendary back piece achievements. I do think it’s natural that people who don’t PvP a lot stop playing ranked after reaching a certain ranked or finished getting the rewards but I feel the system itself can be better. Going into the third season, the best or dedicated players have already finished the back piece achievements and getting tier and division rewards is the next best reason to play for these players.

The unique PvP tickets you get from these rewards however, don’t have much use outside of getting the back piece, unless you like mini llamas. Buying Shards of Glory with tickets is a waste as they are super cheap on the trading post and are relatively easy to get if you PvP. I guess you could technically make another ascended precursor back piece. It seems to me that if you do play for extra tickets, it is best to save these tickets for next year’s PvP back piece. But that could be a problem in and of itself if players continue to accrue these tickets without anything to spend them on.

Overall, I feel the motivation to progressively get better and to have challenging matches should be one of the major factors when playing ranked matches. It is the main reason why any PvP player consistently queues up.

Issue #1: Profession Balance

This is getting better every quarter but it’s still worth noting as profession balance for PvP hasn’t been the greatest. I can understand the difficulty of balancing across PvE, WvW and PvP, but that is a discussion for another time.

Specifically Thief and Warrior have had trouble in the past two seasons and even some time before that. This season you’ll see both of these professions more often than before, but I’m not sure how they’ll do in higher tier play. I think ArenaNet is slowly but steadily getting each profession in a decent spot to be viable to some degree in high tier play. While this should definitely be the goal, the issue is the slow progress it is taking to get there.

Major balance updates right now happen every three months. So it took 3 months to see Thief/Daredevil and Warrior/Berserker relatively used in Season 2 and another 3 months for them to be back in regular use in Season 3. Now Guardian/Dragonhunter is the profession on the decline and in need of some help. There’s also the issue of obvious “overpowered/broken” updates that are fixed either later in the season or after the season is over. One example that comes to mind is Season One’s bunker meta that was painful to play in and how it took about 2 weeks into Pro Leagues—which at the time was a month into the first PvP League season—before ArenaNet finally did something to balance that.

Issue #2: Queues

This is something that has plagued PvP Leagues—and even unranked for different reasons. Either way, queues have always been an oddity.

Ranked matchmaking has gotten better over time, but as it is still fairly new I can’t judge too much on it yet. It was quite evident in Season One—and a bit in Season 2—however, that queues were a major problem with organized teams fighting a mix of solo queue and duo queue players. It still happens every now and then, but it’s now less frequent. The population of players and the divisions players are in may play a part as well, but with no metrics to look at it is hard to say for certain on the matter.

The issue with three or four man groups usually causes a lack in communication with the other solo/duo players and, in some cases, one or two of the players in the larger group is less skilled but it brought up to a higher level due to how queues work. For those that don’t know, group matchmaking will work based on the highest division in the group. So if an Amber player, Emerald player & Sapphire player queued together, the matchmaking would be based off the Sapphire player. The results of this is that there’s usually at least one person who doesn’t react, fight or rotate as well because they’re playing against stronger opponents which is a liability solo/duos usually don’t want to deal with. On the flip side, people who solo queue don’t want to fight organized teams. If you duo queue, that’s a risk you take.

Then there’s the issue of class stacking with up to 3 or more of a single profession on a team. Someone needs to switch because in some cases it’s not the best thing to stack so many of a single profession. Then the person swapping may not be on a profession they’re as comfortable or skilled with. You probably already see where I’m going with this downward spiral into less than ideal matchmaking situations. So far in Season 3 though, this issue has also been better probably due to having more diverse picks available.

Issue #3: Divisions

“What about division prestige as motivation” you might be thinking as each player works toward getting to legendary or to that division they are personally proud of reaching. Sadly there are two parts to this issue as 1) any dedicated player can get to Ruby and 2) many players that reach legendary or the division they want either start playing whatever profession/build they want—which may or may not be good for those they end up queued with—or just stop playing for the season.

For those who don’t know, the ranked system is made of pips and tiers. There are a certain amount of pips per tier and a number of tiers per division. Both of these numbers vary per division, but once you complete every tier in a division you are moved up to the next division. In Amber—the 6th and lowest division—you can’t lose pips or tiers. In Emerald and Sapphire—the 5th and 4th divisions respectively—you can lose pips but not tiers. And lastly in Ruby—the 3rd division—and in higher divisions you can lose both pips and tiers. At no point are players able to lose and drop down to a lower division.

Division crossing is more of a time spent type of deal where any competent player can get into Ruby just by playing enough games. Keep in mind I’m not saying a fresh, new PvP player per say although it is not impossible. The reason it’s like this is that players who aren’t as skilled at PvP can finish the achievements for the back piece. It may take longer for said players but in the end they can obtain it. Ranked should be about progressive skill and a little luck. Making it easy to climb the ladder all the way to Ruby—which sits in the upper half of league divisions—doesn’t make either the games or the system competitive. In fact, it just means that the player were tenacious enough to play the games needed to move up a division irrelevant of their actual skill. I can see crossing from Ruby into Legendary being more of challenge due to having more pips and tiers to cross; maybe this is the trade off ArenaNet wanted.

Then the second of the issues I brought up—where players reach the division they wanted and are “done”—has two very real problems. First is when players start playing whatever they want, no longer caring for making meaningful progress through the divisions and making it harder for those players they queue with that are still trying to make progress or just have serious matches. For example, let’s say my Revenant PvP play is Diamond level but my Scrapper and Tempest PvP play, the only other professions I play in PvP, are Emerald at best. If I reach Diamond and then suddenly I need to play other professions to finish the League Professional, I have a problem. My team also has a problem because if I swap to a Tempest or Scrapper, I’m essentially handicapping my teammates. Then equally worse is that the players stop playing which can create longer queue times as there are fewer players queuing for matches which degrades the quality of matches that players get queued into.

Issue #4: The Ascension Back Piece Achievements

I have a few qualms with the Ascension achievements. The achievements are broken into four sections each of which reward an item for completing that section. Finishing all 4 sections and combining the 4 reward items will give you the Gift of the Competitor—one of the four items required for crafting the Legendary PvP back piece. The way the Ascension achievement completion works is that the more you progress the faster you’ll get the needed four items for the legendary back piece. While there are four PvP League Seasons in a year, players are able to finish the legendary in just two out of these four PvP seasons.

I strongly believe that you shouldn’t have been able to obtain all of these items needed from the achievements without participating in a full year of PvP League. Making it a yearly achievement creates a motivational end goal for all players where everyone has a specific end date to get certain objectives done. This would be much better than what we have now as it would promote players to continue to play and do well throughout all of the seasons and not rush through it in the first half of the year.

Then there is a part of the achievements themselves that inadvertently cause problems for players trying to progress. The League Professional achievements require players to win up to 10 matches on 2-3 different professions depending on which achievement section you’re on. The first problem with this is that some players do not want to play more than one or two professions in PvP. This problem is debatable, but understandable as many players may enjoy playing only one or two professions in PvP.

The second problem with these League Professional achievements is that a player’s secondary professions may not be up to par skill wise in the division they have reached with their main profession. This is going back to the example I used in the division issue.

As a whole, I don’t really like that the back piece—the best, most prestigious ranked PvP reward—is accessible by pretty much everyone with the drive to do so. Guild Wars 2 has always been casual in that sense, where you can get almost anything you want if you put in the work. That’s fine. However, I feel that PvP should be a measure of work and skill and that both should rewarded instead of just playing a lot of matches.

I wholeheartedly believe that anyone can get to Ruby if they play enough games. It all depends on how many games a person is willing to put the effort into to get there due to the way pips and tiers work in Amber, Emerald and Sapphire. Players that put in the extra games beyond this and have the skill to continue to progress higher should get something significant for their efforts. I don’t think that being able to make the back piece before a majority of players is enough and goes into the problem of what do leagues offer those players after they have finished the back piece.

It feels like ranked play in Guild Wars 2 isn’t motivating enough and it lacks drive. It may be due to the structure of PvP League or due to the population of GW2’s PvP scene, but I feel it can be better than it is now. ArenaNet is the type of company that they may miss the mark on their first run at a feature, but they work to vastly improve on it the next time around. Living World Season 1 to Season 2 is a perfect example of this. Hopefully we see the same improvement when ArenaNet works to make PvP Leagues better for year 2.

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: A HoT Desert

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja.

There is a lot of talk in the community about how Heart of Thorns was bad. I have already done a review series of sorts, and while I do think there are areas of improvement—many of which are likely to be improved upon with the April Quarterly next week—I think the expansion was really good.

One of the complaints floating around of late is that Heart of Thorns only delivered half an expansion. Mike O’Brien already gave his points on the topic, but really the idea of HoT being half an expansion is just really dumb. The major points players will bring up are Legendary weapons, the Fractal Legendary backpiece and the lack of Legendary Armor. These three things apparently equal the four maps, personal story, WvW map, guild halls, new profession, elite specializations, masteries, new crafting discipline and all of the other little things like new weapon and armors that players can earn in-game.

I will agree that it sucks Legendary weapons were cancelled—especially when they were a bullet point on the HoT list of features. Legendary Armor however, was never expected to be out yet. They said that you would be able to make the armor once the first raid was fully released which they also said was being released as three separate wings. Before HoT launched I was expecting the last wing to land in late April which was only slightly off as the third wing isn’t expected until late May or early June. You can’t say they haven’t delivered on something when we haven’t even reached the estimated delivery date.

The last item on the community’s short list is the Fractal Legendary backpiece. I’m a bit sad that we don’t have this yet, but seeing as the wait means it won’t be tied to a leaderboard more than makes up for the wait. If you didn’t know, there was going to be a Fractal Leaderboard implemented with HoT. The details and rumors are a bit sketchy on how the leaderboard worked, but apparently the leaderboard ended up not being good at all and was scrapped. Before it was scrapped however, the leaderboard was going to be a source of one of the gifts required to take the Fractal backpiece precursor and turn it into a legendary. Never able to place on the Fractal leaderboard? Guess you were never going to be able to make that legendary.

So it does suck that we don’t have the Fractal Legendary yet, but I think the delay was for a good reason. The wait is almost over as the teaser trailer from yesterday confirmed that we are getting the legendary as part of the April Quarterly.

Something else that the April Quarterly is going to be changing is the amount of grind that is needed for everything HoT. I haven’t seen many complaints about grinding lately, which I think might be in part because of the quarterly hopefully fixing some things and part is just that enough time has passed.

I have already said that I don’t think the grind is that bad. In fact it seems somewhat comparable to what we have had in GW2 previously. Living World Season 2 gave us the Dry Top weapons and the luminescent armor. The latter was a boring grind as each new piece was a copy pasta grind of the previously released pieces. In actuality each subsequent release made it harder to get the RNG piece that you needed as we went from a guaranteed for the first piece to a 1 in 6 chance for the last—though the patient could wait for a special guaranteed method of obtaining them in follow up patches. Dry Top weapons were even worse as you would open chest after chest hoping for that fossilized insect in addition to the geode grind to buy the recipe for a weapon.

But at least those grinds didn’t have an end date on them—which gave players like myself time to finish them in the break leading up to HoT. We could go back to Living World Season 1, which had multiple times where rare items had high RNG or time investment to obtaining them during content that left after only two weeks. I ran the Molten Facility Dungeon multiple times a day for the entire two weeks it was out and never saw either the Mini Molten Firestorm or the Jetpack backpiece. Monocles, Mini Helmed Moas, Selfless/Thoughtless Potions, Sovereign weapons—and probably more that I can’t recall at the moment—all fall into this category of burst grinding.

But we could go back even further. Legendary weapons have always been a huge grind since the game launched. We could also talk about those dungeon skins and how each path only gives 60 tokens for the first completion of a path. Want to collect all the armor and weapon skins from a dungeon? It’s going to take you a couple months farming the dungeon paths for those tokens. We could even go back farther, to when dungeons would only give about 20 tokens when you completed a path. That couple months of farming was going to be closer to 6 months of farming if you still only did each path once per day.

Less than four months after HoT launched I was about 3/4ths of the way completed with collecting everything directly obtainable from the first three maps. This includes all of the weapon and armor skins, tonics, miniatures and all of the collections in some way tied to the maps—I had all of the elite specialization weapons, both of each of the three order backpieces and both of the luminescent backpiece collections all completed. This however doesn’t include RNG items such as the handful of unique weapon skins and items like the Chak Egg Sac infusion. Currently I am not all too interested in these items, though the Lightward’s Battlestaff is pretty cool.

So I was on track to average 2 months for each of those first three maps which puts them on par with the dungeon skins and in the realm of the living world season 2 maps. I was undoubtedly farther along than the average player, but I also wasn’t the furthest along out of anyone. A player on reddit posted that he completed everything I was going after and did it when I was just reaching the halfway point.

Overall I don’t think the grind on the first three maps were that bad, but I have all but stopped progress to wait and see how they are fixing the grind. I originally planned to farm up a bunch of map currencies to buy up everything once the update went out, but then decided to wait as it’s possible that the fix to the grind isn’t to make things cheaper on the merchants but make the currencies easier and faster to get. I’m guessing this is the case for Verdant Brind especially, where 3 airship parts always felt lower than what those cargoes should have been dishing out as the base amount.

If there is one thing that I think that ArenaNet truly messed up on the expansion with, it wasn’t with the expansion itself but with the lull in content before and after its release. In the AMA they mentioned that they have 70 people working on the next expansion. I think it was a mistake to announce this, as when anything happens negatively the community is quick to comment how ANet could take developers off of the next expansion. I do however, think that it is good to have a good amount working on the expansion already.

I think this sets up nicely for a lot of the expansion to be worked on while we are still getting Living World updates. With HoT, it seemed like a skeleton crew was working on the expansion up until Living World Season 2 was completed at which point everyone was moved over to work on the expansion. This would have left a lot of work to do on the expansion without anyone to really work on anything else both leading up to the expansion and for anything to be released shortly after the expansion. I think at some point we will still see developers being swapped—where instead of the current approximately 70/30 Living World/Expansion split we will see it go to 30/70 Living World/Expansion—but that core Living World team will still be able to release content leading up to the expansion and get content ready for after the expansion’s release. ArenaNet just threw too many resources at HoT which left a desert of content before and after the expansion.

Something else that has me really hopeful is the setup that was most of HoT as ANet made comments that HoT was setting up for the future with getting systems in place. With the next expansion, ANet doesn’t have to worry about decorating the house while it’s still being built. The mastery system is in place and ready to be expanded upon, the balance team isn’t trying to convert all of the old traits into the new specialization system while also making the new elite specializations, Guild Halls and Missions are in place and ready to be expanded upon and even WvW is getting its overhaul before the next expansion comes out.

So while GW2 is in a shaky place within this desert of content, I think that the game will be in a sustainably better place once the next Living World season starts up in the next couple months and will remain so up and through the next expansion.

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: Journey to Nowhere

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. Earlier this week, Age talked about the disappointment and concern with the latest announcement that new Legendary Weapons were being “cancelled indefinitely”. I agree with most of what Age said, so for the Scrying Pool I’m going to focus on what I believe is the core reason for this shift: precursor crafting.

Precursor crafting has been “on the table” for a very long time. The idea of getting lucky—either through the forge or getting a precursor as a drop—or spending hundreds of gold to buy a precursor was always a large deterrent to crafting a legendary. It just isn’t fun to constantly wish upon a star or throw your life savings into something that is only a piece of your true end goal.

This is where precursor crafting came in. Instead of being an all or nothing goal, precursor crafting was going to give players a more measured approach to getting that singular, yearned for piece of the legendary puzzle. Instead of going all in to buy a weapon, the idea was to slowly save toward it.

This is where collections were going to see their grand triumph. The parts of the collection might end up adding up to the same cost that buying a precursor originally entailed, but the journey, the slow completion of a collection would divide that cost into more manageable pieces.

In place of this simple goal, we ended up getting a much more bloated system. Now instead of a singular precursor, every legendary weapon has three different levels of precursors. While the idea is interesting—letting players craft a broken prototype of a weapon that slowly builds in grandeur until the final legendary is built—we end up with a bunch of weapons that most people will never use. How often will you want to roam around with a gnarled looking staff once you have the Nevermore staff to wield in its place?

While having two additional skins creates some bloat and more development time for the artists to create the skins, I don’t think that it is the art side of precursor crafting that is the real problem. The larger problem is the implementation of more steps and collections than were needed.

It is kindof cool to make the legendary journeys unique. Each weapon gives a little bit of story and place within the world of Tyria. The benefit of these unique stories however, does not match up with the development effort to implement them vs how many players will see these journeys. A long time ago I talked about how cool it would be to get new skins for existing Ranger pets. One of the largest negatives about the idea was that it would reach very few players as the only ones that would be interested in these new pet skins were players that actively played a Ranger. While the potential playerbase for these new precursor journeys is not limited by race or class, I feel the percentage of the playerbase that would pursue them would be smaller even than those interested in pet skins.

Even if there are a lot of players who go after legendaries, the likeliness of them going after a second or third is incredibly low which is a problem when ArenaNet spends the development time making every legendary journey unique. If there are players that go after every single legendary, it then doesn’t mean that those journeys are going to be memorable enough to bother making them all unique.

A number of weeks ago I had started working toward H.O.P.E. and successfully finished the first collection and crafted its subsequent precursor. They only thing I remember is that I needed bolts of damask to filter some honey. I don’t remember anything of the journey so far and it isn’t something that is repeatable. There is no going back and “reliving” that part of the world. After it is completed it is essentially removed from both the game and my memory.

Which all ties into the ultimate problem of precursor crafting. It is stupid to make content that very few players will see, fewer will remember, even fewer would share and rewarded with “broken” versions of weapons that most players won’t care about.

The problem of these legendary journeys extends beyond just the development vs. benefit issue. These journeys are also tying the world down in various ways. There are now events, mobs and random interactable objects that must stay in the world for the rest of the game’s lifespan. Want to blow up a city or have a corner of a map come overrun with dragon minion’s? First you need to go through and make sure that removing the existing content won’t interfere with any of the 24 precursor journeys that will be in the game once the new short bow comes out in the April Quarterly.

That isn’t to mention the bugs that we are seeing all over the place in terms of the legendary journey. Remember the Shatterer remake? ArenaNet went and remade an entire world boss because the fight caused a single issue with just one of the precursor journey requirements. Multiply that development time by the number of bugs across the number of precursors and a large issue becomes clear.

Solution #1

Precursor collections should have simply been the 2nd tier of each legendary. Talk to any master crafter related to the weapon to learn how to grow as a craftsman. Now blowing up a city doesn’t matter as there are 5 other cities with those master craftsman plus the handful littered around the open world. There isn’t worry about random event X being broken that then causes players to not be able to make a certain legendary.

The second collection by itself fulfills what precursor crafting was set to do. It gives a way to slowly progress through smaller pockets of progress. The second collection is very easy to copy paste across all of the weapons making development time on it short and simple. Then because the formula is the same across all the weapons, players can help players understand what needs to be done even if they haven’t worked on that specific precursor.

Solution #2

This solution comes from a good friend—a Mr. Clouded Chimera—who brought this up as I was talking about how the legendary journey should be. He brought up the solution of simplifying the journeys into a single repeatable journey for every legendary.

One of the problems of the current system is that most players won’t experience most of the journeys. Even if a player went and made 6 legendaries, they are only seeing a quarter of the journeys that ArenaNet developed. With a single journey for all the legendaries, players only need to go after a single legendary to see everything.

I would even go farther as to make a different journey for each core set. The original 20 legendaries would have the Core Legendary Journey as the source for their precursor. Complete the story and at the end you would get a chest that lets you select one of the core precursors. The new HoT Legendary weapons would have the HoT Legendary Journey. Finish this story and likewise get a chest that lets you select one of the HoT precursors. Ready to release the next HoT Legendary? Just put its precursor in the chest.

Focusing on a single journey could also allow more development to be put on making it more memorable. While it removes the uniqueness of lore bits for each weapon, ArenaNet could potentially build this into a small personal story complete with instances and cutscenes. A small part of the current journey and its lack of memorability, is that the journey in no way feels Legendary. This solution would put more development into a single journey that could feel way more epic.

The first solution is definitely the easiest, as all of the pieces are essentially in game to set up the simplified journey. I do however like the second solution which keeps the idea of a journey intact. While the second would take much more development time to get implemented, once the current two journeys were completed it would become more manageable. Expansion 2 could have its journey implemented with or near the launch, be a major bullet point of the expansion and be easily expandable to include all of the legendaries until the full set is released.

While the second solution still has the problem of tying down the world—with NPCs, objects and instance locations needing to remain in the world—limiting it to just one journey per expansion makes it easier to manage and see where items/NPCs that can’t be messed with exist.

I hope that this decision to stop production on legendaries doesn’t discount the release of Legendary Weapons in the future. Instead, I hope it allows ArenaNet to step back and see where they can improve in the future to make these items more easily implemented.

Thrill of the Crime

Thrill of the Crime: Legendary Axe’d

Last week a bomb shell exploded that resulted in a lot of commotion. Unlike most of the dramatic instances that have happened in the last year, this time around the commotion is well warranted. Of course I’m talking about the new legendary precursor journeys being indefinitely suspended.

For those who don’t know, ArenaNet President and temporary Game Director Mike O’ Brien got on the forums last Friday and dropped the news that after the April release of the Legendary short bow—Chuka and Champawat—all work on new legendary weapons will be indefinitely suspended. The team that worked on this content will be shifted to work on Living World style content.

First off, let’s talk about the word “indefinitely”. It has two meanings. For an unlimited period of time or unspecified period of time. So yes, there’s a chance that the weapons are cancelled. There is also a chance that they’ll work on them later, but even so I’m not expecting anything extra this year in terms of legendary weapons.

Another thing that I have a problem with is that O’Brien referenced the Guild Wars 2 Design Manifesto that came out in 2010. That was a bad move as it validates players who reference Guild Wars 2 blog posts concerning legendaries when talking about this suspension. The most notable one concerning legendaries was the “Looking Ahead: Guild Wars 2 In 2013” post that states in the Legendary Gear and Precursors section:

… what I can say is you will see a specific way to build precursor items on your way to a legendary. On top of this, you’ll also see new legendary weapons and new types of legendary gear in 2013“.

It’s obvious we didn’t see anything like this in 2013, but that post also says near the end “As always, the content above is subject to change as we test and iterate on these systems.”

There’s also the blog post titled “Hot (not HoT) New Legendary Weapons” made shortly before the release of Heart of Thorns that says “… we will be releasing new legendary weapons in small groups at regular intervals until the full set of sixteen has been added to the game“. Note that they said game not expansion which leave room for a huge time table to release them all. Given we initially thought all the new legendaries would be accessible at HoT launch to begin with, I feel that many players thought that it was heavily implied that the legendaries would be regularly released within a reasonable amount of time after the release of Heart of Thorns. I think that’s a fair assessment to make given the information we had at the time.

By quoting these blog posts I’m not trying to start a he said/she said with whether it is ArenaNet or the players who are right. This is just what I see in these posts. Getting into the actual news, if I had two words to describe the situation they would be disappointment and concern.

Disappointment

Despite the format of releasing new legendaries, I believe it’s not unfair to say that the goal was to have sixteen new legendaries and their journeys in the game within a reasonable amount of time. Let’s say a year or so after HoT release, all sixteen new weapons were supposed to be in the game. After all this time, with only one new legendary journey coming out after the newest first three journeys, you can obviously see ArenaNet can’t deliver on this. At least not right now.

It can be really irritating for players that consider legendaries their end game. Then there are players that have been holding off for months to craft their Legendary shield or greatsword to see what the new versions of these legendaries look like. These players have to take the hit so that new Living World content can be focused on.

Concern

I think this is the first time in all my years playing Guild Wars 2 I’ve been truly concerned about the development process. It has been 5 months since the release of Heart of Thorns. Let’s say they had a month off—Christmas and all—which makes 4 months of development on new legendary weapons and their journeys.

You’d think ArenaNet would have a good understanding of the time and resources needed to make legendary journeys at a reasonable pace. They did give journeys to all the original legendary weapons and we did get 3 new legendary journeys. Buggy or not, that is what was delivered. There could have been issues within those months that reasonably hindered progress—such as fixing all the current Legendary journey bugs.

On the flip side, one Legendary after 4 months isn’t so hot. I know there’s a lot that goes into making the journey—connecting events and NPCs to the collections, making new items, developing the lore background of the weapon—but I feel like ArenaNet should have had a good understanding of how fast this process would take long before now. I can only speculate that they overestimated their abilities to build these journeys.

Staying on the concerned train of thought, I have to ask: why is this team now going to work on Living World content? Is this content behind if the Legendary Weapons team doesn’t help? Is it to speed up the timetable of Living Story Season 3 because of the recent content drought?

These questions were the first things to pop into my head and quite honestly scare me as it’s the more important issue that O’Brien’s post brings about. There’s also the mention of work on Expansion 2 which makes me ask: shouldn’t most of the issues in the first expansion be fixed and evaluated with feedback from the community first before working on another expansion? The reason I say this is that there are a lot of issues right now in every mode of Guild Wars 2. Some of these issues might be mirrored into the next expansion which is just overhead to fix once fixed in Heart of Thorns which means more wasted time on development.

In the end, I do like the transparency and I am glad that Mike O’Brien did come out and say ArenaNet can’t do legendary journeys, at least for now. It’s a sad thing to happen but Living World hits a much bigger audience than people who want to make legendaries. I feel like the timing & phrasing for this news could have been better though. After all, the April quarterly patch is just around the corner and would have resulted in less blow back. This news does however bring up concerns about how resources are being managed right now with all these issues and announced delays and cancellations on features.

It’s always important to keep in mind that people are mad, disappointed, or concerned because they love Guild Wars 2. Seeing this one forum post about indefinitely suspending work on expected content does however, raise a lot of questions that has me feeling that something needs to change.

Thrill of the Crime

Thrill of the Crime: A Sloth of Mechanics

Note: This article was originally posted on Age’s Blog.

I beat the first raid wing quite a little while ago, but I never talked about what I thought of it. In this post however, I will not only be about the first wing—including what I’ve learned of it’s mechanics in a nutshell—but will also talk about the second raid wing and how the different mechanics change the way squads play together.

In Raid Wing 1 there were a lot of little things we learned:

  • The tank is the person with the highest toughness.
  • Slick shoes is great for bosses like Gorseval.
  • Utility Chronomancer is amazing for quickness and alacrity.

Then there was the unique boss mechanics. Vale Guardian’s landfall required that at least four people had to be on to prevent party wipes. Gorseval’s prison mechanic required people to keep moving and be aware of another person’s path to prevent getting encased. Sabetha has a flak attack which targets the farthest person from her. What’s interesting was that each of these boss fights in Raid Wing 1 went from being less mechanically dependent to more dependent for individuals in the squad.

For Vale Guardian, you needed anyone melee to not stand on blue teleports, some knockbacks for seekers and at least 4 people always going for green landfall. Nothing really to hard about that. The tank would just need to move the boss accordingly so the squad didn’t eat the lava floor and so that the landfall would be in the right area. You’d also need good breaks which a power Revenant with staff and another person could easily fill. Gorseval required 3 people to have cripple, chill, or immobilize to slow down Charged Souls, a tank to lead Gorseval around, ideally someone to pull in spirits when going to a wall, and one or two people clearing spectral orbs so the squad can move around to avoid getting a damage debuff. The dependency on the entire group falls with getting to the wall where the tank was pulling so that Enraged and Angered spirits could be cleaved out and to avoid the Ghostly Prison mechanic which slows DPS.

Sabetha required a lot more group dependency on the mechanics. You have two to four jumpers going up to destroy cannons but the squad needs to be aware that almost anyone can get the green bomb which you need to throw onto a pad where the jumper needs to be. Since there is four pads—one on each side of the boss’s platform—everyone needs to be aware of where they should throw if they get the bomb. There’s also timed bombs where the person closest to Sabetha—or two closest people during the last half of the fight—will need to move out of the group to avoid doing damage to everyone, but you also have to not hit jumpers and the person who’s on flak duty if possible.

In all three fights you can have a few people purely DPS and have some players handle the other mechanics such as tanking or flak shots. So far, Raid Wing 2 sticks with the idea of progressively adding group dependency for mechanics.

Speaking of Raid Wing 2, I’m on Slothasor right now and I have to say this fight is mechanically intensive for everyone. I personally feel like this fight is really easy but still hard at the same time. It’s really easy because I find it’s very simple on what your squad has to do to beat Slothasor. It can be hard because depending on how people handle the mechanics and execution on what to do can be a nightmare.

Slothasor introduces mechanics that require everyone to do well. And I mean everyone. There is a random Fixation mechanic where Slothasor will target a specific player as the tank. This changes from time to time so people need to be aware when they’re the tank and move the boss accordingly. There’s also a Volatile Poison mechanic every ~25 seconds where a person will gain a debuff that drops a growing poison field after a few seconds drops requiring the player to move to an area away from where the squad is at or where they are going. All the while you’re traversing a poison floor of mushrooms that the squad must make a path through via an imbued mushroom that turns an ally into a Slubling. The ally who eats the mushroom becomes a Slubling enemy and can be hit with the attacks from the rest of the squad, so you have to be careful where you cleave and so on. These few mechanics alone makes this fight easy or hard depending on if people are aware of the icons on their heads and if they can move to the proper locations in time.

Essentially, everyone needs to learn how to tank and move the boss properly like with Vale Guardian & Gorseval and move dangerous stuff out of the group like with Sabetha. So if players have never done these mechanics on these fights—either because they let other people handle it or don’t know how to move a boss—it can get really hard. There’s even a small orange circle AoE that appears at people’s feet; 3 of them are placed based on your location. The squad needs to collectively move after 2 seconds to reduce the spreading of that AoE. If hit, you take substantial damage and are knocked down for 5 seconds per circle. This orange circle mechanic is similar to Gorseval’s prison mechanic and Vale Guardian’s blue teleport field mechanics where getting hit will result in a loss in DPS. Of course you still have other mechanics specific people can do such as clearing path, reflects and pulling/cleaving enemy slublings out.

Personally, I like Slothasor this way. It shows who needs to work on the mechanics, though since it’s only been a week I think everyone can improve on something. Slothasor also rewards squads who are on point and truly understand the mechanics of the fight. It may seem easier to some groups because of the experience gained with Raid Wing 1, the group understanding the mechanics, and understanding the professions they’re playing to optimal potency. For some groups it’ll be harder because they need to learn the mechanics and how to deal with them, to survive a lot better, to watch their positioning more and they need to get the best out of their professions which they may not have been doing before.

I’m hoping the rest of Raid Wing 2 will be like this. I haven’t done research or looked at much outside of Slothasor, but I’ve heard some things about the other bosses such as the second one being really easy. It’ll be interesting to see what those fights will be like. For now, I’ll be doing more Slothasor homework.

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: The Future~

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. This article we are going to talk about something a little different: the future~. While a lot of the times I focus on the future—with my grand ideas for fixing this or adding that—this week I wanted to focus less on the what and more on the when.

I had this idea to create a schedule of when I expected things to come out last week, but wasn’t really sure if I was actually going to release it. There is good reason why ArenaNet doesn’t put dates on their future releases as community expectation can be a call to arms when not delivered. Just look at the fractal leaderboards and backpiece that has some crazy fans claiming that not even half the expansion has been delivered.

The AMA at the end of last week changed things a little bit. Not only did it show some more openness from ArenaNet, but also put some lose scheduling that confirmed some—and changed a few—of the recent parts of the schedule I had put together. Plus ANet already has the crazy fans in an uproar so my schedule isn’t really going to hurt anything.

So without further ado, here is my estimated schedule of GW2 releases for the rest of the year. I’ll dive into the schedule more below.

  • March 8:
  • Raid 1 Wing 2
  • March 22:
  • Basic Update (Bug Fixes, etc)
  • April 1: (Friday)
  • April Fool’s
  • April 5:
  • Super Adventure Box
  • April 19:
  • PvP League Season 2 Ends (April 18, Monday)
  • Spring Quarterly Update
  • May 3:
  • Basic Update (Bug Fixes, etc)
  • May 17:
  • PvP League Season 3
  • May 31:
  • Raid 1 Wing 3
  • June 14:
  • Living World Season 3 Episode 1
  • June 28:
  • Living World Season 3 Episode 2
  • July 12:
  • PvP League Season 3 Ends (July 11, Monday)
  • Summer Quarterly Update
  • July 26:
  • Living World Season 3 Episode 3
  • August 9:
  • PvP League Season 4
  • Living World Season 3 Episode 4
  • August 23:
  • Basic Update (Bug Fixes, etc)
  • Maybe something special (Festival of the 4 Winds, Anniversary things?, etc)
  • September 6:
  • Raid Release #4
  • September 20:
  • Basic Update (Bug Fixes, etc)
  • Maybe a SAB re-release (probably not include new content, just opens up again)
  • October 4:
  • PvP League Season 4 Ends (October 3, Monday)
  • Fall Quarterly Update
  • October 18:
  • Halloween
  • November 1:
  • Living World Season 3 Episode 5
  • November 15:
  • Year 1 Pro League World Championship (approx. give or take 2 weeks, most likely a Saturday)
  • Living World Season 3 Episode 6
  • November 29:
  • PvP League Season 5 (Year 2)
  • Living World Season 3 Episode 7
  • December 13:
  • Wintersday
  • Raid Release #5
  • January 17?:
  • Living World Season 3 Episode 8
  • January 23: (Monday)
  • PvP League Season 5 Ends
  • January 28?: (Saturday)
  • PAX South Xpac 2 reveal
  • February 7:
  • Winter Quarterly Update
  • February 21:
  • PvP League Season 6

There are a few things that make a schedule like this easy to make. First is the consistency of ArenaNet to do patches every other Tuesday. If you look at my schedule, every date mentioned is every other Tuesday unless it is specifically mentioned as being on another day of the week. The other is the introduction of 8-week long PvP Leagues and the quarterly updates that take place during the gap between seasons.

The first release of note on the schedule doesn’t come until April. April 1st falls on a Friday this year, giving a nice weekend for ArenaNet to fool their community once more. The following Tuesday is a patch day and is the day I foresee us seeing the return of Super Adventure Box. Rumors have it that SAB is definitely coming back this April and it feels right to lead off the month with it. I don’t think that it would be this year’s April Fool’s however, but I am hoping that the two are related with the joke being something “trolling” the community about SAB before turning around first thing Monday and announcing that SAB actually is coming the following day.

The month of May sees the only thing that I had change after the AMA last week. Originally I had slated that Living World Season 3 would start on May 3 and consist of 12 episodes. The AMA confirmed however that the 3rd Raid Wing would come out in May or June—giving more weight to my estimated release of May 31 for the next raid wing—and moving my estimated release of Season 3 to June 14. I am confident that Living World Season 3 will start the patch right after we get the next raid wing.

The Living World then ends up similar to Season 2, with us getting a few episodes and then a break before the later half of the season. Season 2 started in July, so my estimate of it starting in June puts a longer break between the first and second halves. This time however, we have content to fill in that gap. Raids, PvP Leagues, a Quarterly Update and Halloween highlight the in between with the possibility of the Crown Pavilion opening up for the anniversary and a back to school re-release of the Super Adventure Box being added in as well. Just to reiterate the schedule, if we do get the SAB back again in September I am not expecting there to be any new content. This September SAB would just be opening the doors again. I don’t expect the fourth world in SAB to hit until 2017, letting 2016 be the year of World 3.

Living World then continues back up in November to take a Wintersday break before the last episode releases in January. This lines up perfectly for another PAX South expansion reveal at the end of January with Xpac2 coming out again in the August-October 2017 timeframe. I didn’t put this on the schedule, as this is getting too far ahead, but I also don’t think that we will have an empty gap throughout most of 2017 like we saw with HoT in 2015. Not only will we continue to have PvP Leagues and Raid releases, I think we will see a Season 3.5.

For season 3 I think we will be staying mostly in the jungle and core Tyria. There is a Dragon’s Stand explorer achievement for discovering the whole map that highlights that there are two areas of the map that we still haven’t discovered. The HoT personal story achievement New Horizons leads us to a closed door in Rata Novus that will likely lead to where we meet back up with Taimi. And that is just what I think will happen in the first half of the season. The second half of the season I think will lead us somewhere else in the jungle, opening up a new map and rewards.

A lot of speculation is pointing toward Kralkatorrik being the next Elder Dragon of note. The problem is we are still in the jungle, all the way across the game world from the desert that Kralkatorrik calls home. This is where Season 3.5 comes in. The announcement would reveal that we are indeed heading into the desert and this in between season will open up the first map in the desert, preparing us for the fight—and expansion—ahead. In this way this new map would be similar to Silverwastes is for HoT, giving an existing map to pull players into the HoT personal story.

One thing I don’t have listed anywhere on the schedule is fixes and updates to game modes. People really want that fractal backpiece apparently and the WvW community wants some love. This is all stuff that fits into those Quarterly updates. It is hard to guess everything that we will see in these updates, as who expected the Brew of the Month club in the winter quarterly. I am expecting however, that these updates will end up being like dominoes for the major areas of the game in that once a quarterly update starts updating an area, the subsequent quarterlies will continue to include updates to that area.

The Spring Quarterly I have coming out April 19 and will see the Fractal Legendary Backpiece finally be craftable. ArenaNet has said the delay for this was due to the legendary only being craftable after doing well in a new fractal leaderboard. While the delay sucks, I like that we are not going to have to go through a leaderboard to get it. In its place I think we will have challenges similar the challenge motes that were part of the precursor collections, just at much higher fractal levels this time. To that end I think we are going to see the first round of instability improvements targeting the specific fractal levels that will be needed to make the legendary backpiece. Following quarterly updates will continue to update these instabilities with my guess that the Fall Quarterly in October will bring the first new fractal. Much like the improvements to instabilities, after the Fall Quarterly I think new fractals is likely to become one of the points in upcoming quarterly releases.

Also in the Spring Quarterly I am guessing we will see the next legendaries. While they mentioned that the mace and shortbow are the two closest legendaries to be completed, I’m really only expecting one of them to be ready by the Spring Quarterly. ArenaNet said that they are going to be releasing these when they are done, which could mean a quarterly with only one legendary or a multitude within the same quarterly. After the Spring Quarterly, I am expecting things to start ramping up and we will see 2-4 legendaries each quarter.

The WvW improvements I’m not expecting in the Spring Quarterly. The first improvements I imagine will start rolling out in the Summer with WvW quickly becoming the largest section of the quarterly updates. The WvW changes sound like they are going to be big, so I think we will be seeing WvW take the main stage all the way up to Xpac2 which hopefully brings another new WvW map.

The one thing I’m hopeful for but not entirely sure it will happen is the raid releases I have listed. While the AMA did help solidify my guess of a May 31 release for Raid 1 Wing 3, I have another two raid releases listed for this year. This ends up making the time between them fairly short with the last release I have listed just barely making it into the last patch of the year. This makes the content really nice for playing over the winter holidays, but also makes it very prone to slipping into next year. Plus with the 3rd raid release finishing of the Forsaken Thicket raid, it is very possible that the 4th release will take a little longer to get released.

Thrill of the Crime

Thrill of the Crime: PvP League Season Two – Are Things Better?

Greetings everyone! PvP Leagues have started up again and I wanted to take a look at how things in this season differ from Season One.

Season One was the Bunker meta where players could last forever on points. For Season Two the meta is all about damage where going into down state probably means death in a team fight. I think it’s safe to say some of the most played professions in Season Two consist of the following:

  • Condition Reaper
  • Power Herald (with Glint/Shiro)
  • Support Tempest
  • (Power) Scrapper

Other common variants of the above professions are Minion Master Reaper, Condition Revenant (with Mallyx), & Rabid Scrapper. Notice that these professions all utilize the elite specialization or requires Heart of Thorns in some respect. I think most people assumed that you would not get far – if at all – without an elite specialization in sPvP.

Condition Reaper has being strong since the first season, but with the additional bonus of boon corrupting Reaper is even better now. Power Herald is seeing more play since the nerfs to condition Revenant’s resistance in addition to the removal of Rune of Durability from PvP. Despite the sword nerfs, Power Herald still brings a lot of block potential, boons, reveal and some extra sustain with staff which makes it a fairly good pick up for Revenant players. Support Tempest has become the norm with the ability to mitigate team damage and conditions while providing auras to boot. Of course some damage comes out of Tempest as well but generally they are supporting their teammates in fights or trying to survive for as long as possible on a point till help arrives. Power Scrapper is a specialization that screams tanky fighter. Very durable, a lot of blocks, & consistent damage make it another very good pick up.

So I’ve talked a lot about the popular picks but what about other professions? Well let’s start with Mesmer. Since Bunker Chronomancer has fallen out of favor, Shatter Chronomancer has come into play more. Warriors were slim to none existent in Season One but in Season Two most Warriors seen in ranked are running a Condition Berserker build. Thieves are pretty much still rocking the Dagger/Pistol or Staff build where both weapon sets received buffs. Despite some nerfs, the trapper build is still the standard pick for Dragonhunters. Rangers right now are mostly using a Power Druid setup however there are some Sustain Druids about.

Really quickly I want to slip into the topic of base specialization setups versus elite specialization setups. Both seasons makes it clearly apparent that a player not running a HoT elite specialization is not going to do well, or as well, in PvP. Why is that? Well, because all the good or better stuff for each profession is in Heart of Thorns. Some even fix problems the base profession has. Off the top of my head:

  • Berserker provides a lot of burning and some condition clearing which works well with a condition based build where base Warrior struggles to make and combat condition based builds.
  • Chronomancer provides alacrity and better/more clones & phantasms which is by itself a huge bonus over base Memser.
  • Daredevils have more evades, specialized dodges and better condition cleanse than base Thief.
  • Dragonhunters have better zone control & damage with traps, new virtues with useful actives and flat out better range damage with longbow.
  • Druid has better sustain than Ranger that can keep you and your team healthy in fights while you—and your pet—do damage.
  • Reapers are just flat out better than base Necromancer.
  • Revenant is only available if you have Heart of Thorns and is a great mobility damage based profession whether you play it condition or power. Even then you use the Herald elite specialization.
  • Scrapper is tankier and has more sustain than Engineer.
  • Tempests have strong AoE overloads and higher sustain (with aura shouts) than base Elementalist.

Some professions are stronger than others while others still need some help in a few areas within their base specializations. For the most part however, you want to be running an elite specialization otherwise you cannot perform as well.

So the ultimate question I ask is: are things better? Well the answer is yes. Each profession is viable to some extent in higher levels of ranked PvP. The ranked system itself is much better with it’s matchmaking and handling the exploits from last season.

Are things where they should be? This is a bit hard to say. Some professions are clearly better than others which is to be expected, but given that Guild Wars 2 has nine professions you’d assume the power discrepancy wasn’t so far off. Some professions are still in need of help. For example Warrior did get some love but they can really only run one build in PvP and—to be honest—it’s not hard to deal with it.

Matchmaking still needs a bit of work despite the fixes to queue times and exploits. I understand it’s hard to make a fairly low queue time for some players with the Guild Wars 2 PvP population being sparse at higher divisions earlier in the season. There also the issues of solo and duo players versus grouped players in matchmaking where duo queues get matched up against a full or near full premade—which is never fun to deal with.

So in conclusion yes, this season is much better. There are some things that still need to be addressed, but thankfully this season’s issues are not horribly significant. ArenaNet has definitely improved from Season One and I assume that Season Three will be even better.

Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: Fix-r-Upper

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. This article is the last in a series of reviews for everything Heart of Thorns. To wrap up the series I wanted to go back through everything HoT and look at the things that I think ArenaNet can improve on in a patch.

A lot of the things I will talk about are things that I mentioned in one of the 8 articles (links to which you will find at the bottom of this article). That doesn’t mean everything that I wanted to change will end up here. For example, while talking about guild hall rewards I wished that the new guild hall weapon sets—Shimmering and Tenebrous—were individual collections similar to how the machined weapons were set up. While I still want this, I don’t think making a large switch like that is really going to be likely at this point.

The other thing I want to mention is how I didn’t actually talk about everything HoT. This is either because I have very little experience with them—such as the new precursor crafting—is a topic I had talked about leading up to the launch of HoT—such as how I love Stronghold in PvP—or is something beyond the scope of purely a review—such as the current state of WvW or dungeons.

So with that said, let’s jump into the Fix-r-Upper article of this review series. And by Fix-r-Upper I mean let’s talk about fixing some stuff, not the Scrapper hammer skin that I honestly think is just meh.

The best place to start off is with the Maps and their Metas. There isn’t a whole lot of room for improvement here unfortunately. As I mentioned in the Map Meta article, I really like these maps being on timers. Out of the 6 new maps—the 4 HoT maps plus Dry Top and Silverwastes—Silverwastes is the worst and is in large part because of its lack of timer to its events. The efficient way is to bail on a Silverwastes map to find another that is close to the breach. It seems even ArenaNet didn’t like this with the constant additions that tried to entice players with things like extra damage and magic find if they just stayed on the same map.

HoT map metas seemed to be set up like World Bosses. Unlike Silverwastes where players would just jump to a different Silverwastes, ArenaNet gave the option to bail on a HoT map in favor of a different map. As the timers rotate through their map, you end up with a system where about every 30 mins one of the major metas is kicking off. You could go do Chak Gerent in TD, then 30 mins after it had started the Tarir event is kicking off and about 30 mins after it had started the bosses in VB are spawning during its nighttime.

Out of the map timers, I think VB is probably the best—which is good since its Day/Night timer being socketed into the game’s day/night cycle makes it completely unchangeable time-wise. While I like the AB and DS metas the least, there would need to be a lot of changes made to change the timing of these metas. The events on these maps end up filling the time really well and shortening the timer would result in making it hard to complete all the events in AB and very difficult to get the Mouth of Mordremoth killed in DS. Dragon’s Stand would probably be easier—just make NPCs run faster and tune the health down on everything—but would still be so much work that I don’t think we would see a change.

The map that is most likely to see a change—and is the map most in need of a change—is Tangled Depths. While maps like AB do a really good job at filling the time between metas, TD does a terrible job at it. Instead of lasting 2 hours for a full rotation of the map-wide meta plus the Chak Gerent meta, the map could easily have its timer reduced to an hour. On an organized map the first meta could be fully finished in about 30 minutes, leaving an hour to sit around before the Chak Gerent shows up. This however is the extreme, so while the meta could be reduced to an hour, I think the meta shouldn’t be reduced that heavily—maybe to an hour and a half. Players on those organized maps would still find 30 minutes to kill—which is great for things like hero point trains—but still leaves room for the unorganized maps to get things done. Even this might seem difficult to change when left alongside all the other HoT maps that are potentially being left alone.

While I don’t seeing much room for changing the meta themselves, the way the rewards are handled is a different matter. The biggest problem I see with the timers and the metas changing every 30 minutes, is that the majority of rewards are dished out in these last 30 minutes of these map rotations. By being on the map when the map-wide meta ends and staying through the rest of the meta, you will end up netting about 80% of the rewards while you were there for less than 25% of that map’s rotation.

Auric Basin with something like 85+% personal participation will reward 75 Lumps of Aurillium for the 2 metas. The inbetween map progress rewards will get you around another 60 lumps. The hour and a half build up to get ready for the assault on Tarir? Only about 60 lumps total. There is just too much focus on those metas with the large sum of map currencies you get.

The first thing I think needs to get changed is nerfing the amount of map currency the metas give. Instead of giving 75, they should be reduced down to around 40. To compensate for this, the map-wide metas should be rewarding the map progress boxes way more often. Instead of getting 4 bouncy chests through that hour and a half, there needs to be like 8-10 bouncy chests. Now instead of getting 60/75/60/75 for the four different reward phases, players might get 150/40/45/40. Instead of 80% of the rewards in 25% of the time, players would get about 45% of the rewards in 25% of the time and a more reasonable 55% of the rewards for that remaining 75% of the time on a map.

One of the reasons I think this is needed is the community saying there isn’t value in playing for only shorts amount of time. This is currently true, as if you are not there for that 25% you really are not getting much for your time. This shift means going in anytime during the map will be rewarding to some degree.

Another place I think needs a look at it in terms of the map currencies is adventures. I didn’t realize for a long time that the daily chests from adventures actually gives map currency. For a long time I had stopped doing adventures as they were only useful for getting personal participation on the map up and the occasional rare gear. Currently the adventures give a uniform 2 map currency in the bronze daily chest, 3 in the silver and 5 in the gold. First is that the chests need to mention this as a source of the map currency, as the auto-deposited currencies are easy to miss. Secondly is that the currencies should scale depending on the adventure. Getting 10 map currency from an easy gold is nice, but there are adventures that aren’t easy to get gold on and just 10 map currencies isn’t enticing. So advertise better that adventures give map currency and increase the amount of currency for more difficult adventures.

The last point I want to bring up for map currencies is the Ley-Energy Matter Converter. This thing is awesome and I love that you can convert one map currency into another. The rate of 25 of one map currency for only 10 of another however, is not awesome. This could easily be changed to give two of the 10 currency bags for a 25:20 exchange rate. It would still be better to do the map that has the end currency you want, but if you are someone who hates TD you could still have the option to do AB and exchange over at a slightly less efficient rate. This way you can play more the way you want and still get the expansion’s rewards. Also, why is there a daily cap on using the Ley-Energy Matter Converter. If players have the currency and want to convert it to another they should be able to. Even if buying other things, it’s not like ArenaNet put super high value items in this thing.

Moving on to the actual rewards you can buy with that currency, overall I think a reduction wouldn’t be bad. I think the sweet spot for an item is 250 of a map currency, which is where a lot of the items you get on vendors sit at. If anything is much more than 250, it needs to either be just barely higher or something really special.

Chak weapons and Bladed armor are the two big culprits here. Chak weapons run 750 ley line crystals for two-handed weapons and 500 for one-handed weapons. This is in addition to the Chak Eggs you need to collect from the meta and bosses on the map. These prices are really high, and players are likely to get the Chak Eggs faster than the map currency which is the opposite of what players should be experiencing. Dropping these into the realm of 500 and 300 would definitely put these in a better place. Even so players are likely to get Chak Eggs faster than this, so ArenaNet should consider allowing players to exchange 1 Chak Egg for 10 ley line crystals.

I mentioned during the review series about Bladed armor and how I hate the blanket price of 500 airship parts for all the armor pieces. Not only is this blanket pricing uninteresting, it ends up with an armor set costing a lot. I’d like Helm and Boots to drop down to 250 airship parts, gloves and shoulder to 350 and pants to 450. Not only does this make things a little more interesting, it results in the cost of the armor getting cut by a third.

Next is the Runes and Sigils. While the Sigils are not in a bad place, the runes end up costing a fortune as you need to buy 6 of them to get a full set. Instead of getting cheaper, I’d like to see these change from buying the Rune or Sigil to buying a recipe to craft the Runes and Sigils. Now the 250 map currency cost would be good for just a recipe, and if ArenaNet still wanted a map currency cost they could implement a very cheap item—like 25 map currency—that would be used as an ingredient for that map’s rune and sigil.

Lastly is the Miniature and Tonic. Each map has one of these and the price is just too high. At 1000 map currency in VB, AB and TD and a shockingly high cost of 250 crystalline ore, these fun items are just way too expensive. These however, fall into that special item for things higher than 250 of the map currencies. While players spend 250 map currency for a piece of a collection that will eventually be the elite spec weapons, these fun items come as the whole, finished product. A good price point for these might be in the 600 map currency range. The crystalline ore miniature and tonic should be taken down from 250 ore to around 50 ore.

Speaking of things that cost a ton of crystalline ore, we move into the guild hall rewards. While I think everything could use a reduction in price, the armor and weapons are not too bad. The armor and weapons have the benefit of being piecemeal. Buying one weapon or one armor skin is not much of an investment. A single miniature however, could end up costing the player 30g, 150 crystalline ore and a couple months of guild missions. Doing the math, you are looking at a year of guild missions just to get the 11 new miniatures and that is if you don’t get any of the new weapons or armor and never throw guild commendations at the new guild trader in your guild hall.

The guild hall in general ends up being pretty expensive, but with the exception of a few outliers I don’t think this is necessarily bad. Scribe is really bad, but this is something ArenaNet has already said they were going to fix. The big problems with Scribe are Sand, Pigments, Resonating Slivers and Linseed Oil. Sand and Linseed Oil simply just need their amount reduced, sand by a lot and the oil by just a little.

Pigments and Resonating Slivers are only really a problem because of the compounding nature of Scribe. Players start out using Brown Pigment, but when they get to the next tier they don’t swap out brown for a different color. Instead, another color is added to the formula in addition to brown. Then the next tier adds another color, then another. For pigments, there needs to be a reduction in how much pigment is used, but not by a flat amount for all colors. Instead they need to ramp up through the tiers. Brown pigments might only use one, while the last color at the top of the pyramid might use 8. In the end this would help level things out as brown is used in low quantities many times while the higher pigments are not used very often but use a large amount when they are used.

There are two things I think need to happen with Resonating Slivers. Whenever a resonating item is used it needs 3 of them for the recipe. So a low level item uses 3 Resonating Slivers and a high end item needs 3 Resonating Lodestones. How you make those higher tier resonating items is by combining 3 of the lower tier. For example, 3 resonating slivers combines into a single Resonating Fragment. I think both of these recipes needs to have the amount reduced from 3 to 2. This means the recipes that use slivers don’t see much of a change as it just drops from 3 slivers down to 2. A level 400 recipe however, would see a big change as the total amount of slivers required would go down from 81 to a much more reasonable 16.

To finish things off is raid and fractal rewards. Last week I mentioned how I’m not a fan of the way the unique rewards are dished out. I’d still like to see this reworked, but unless we see a change with wing 2 that comes out next week I doubt the currency would see any change. Ascended gear also seems to be few and far between in both fractals and raids. This may be intentional—as we now know that ascended gear is the end game gear for the rest of the game’s lifespan—but still feels too low at where the drop rate sits currency.

And that is it. By the vast majority I really like HoT. Even the stuff that I don’t like, such as the state of higher tier fractals and scribe are things that they have already said they are working on and are potentially going to be fixed in the next quarterly update. Raids are awesome, I really enjoy the new open world maps and I had fun running 12 characters through the expansion’s personal story. HoT has been awesome and I can’t wait to see what comes next!


Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: The Fractals and a Raid

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. This article is the next in a series of reviews for everything Heart of Thorns. As we reach the end of the review series, it is time to talk about something a little more challenging. Challenging group content that is.

I like Spirit Vale. It is a good introduction to what raiding is in GW2. Overall I don’t have too much to say about raids as I think they are really well done. I am curious where raids go from here, but that wait won’t be long as the next wing is coming very soon.

The difficulty in raids feels perfect. It is challenging to where it is limiting to the higher and more committed player base, but isn’t to the point where it is only the top tier of players that are going to complete the content.

If there is one area that felt underwhelming with raids it has to do with rewards. Raids are the top end content where the rewards are only given once a week, but the drop rate on some of the unique items and non-unique ascended gear seems pitifully low. Out of my 20+ boss kills I saw one unique ascended—Sabatha’s backpack—and no non-unique ascended gear. Miniatures have been a better source of drops with three unique miniatures—out of the 8 total—with an additional two duplicates.

I like the weekly lockout on the reward chest for each boss, but the drop rates just don’t feel like they are matching up. While I don’t think that the rewards should be a super amazing drop rate—to leave reason for players to continue clearing the raid in subsequent weeks—the next wing is about to come out and there is still a lot of unique rewards left in wing one.

To help offset this is Magnetite Shards, the raid specific currency that is rewarded for successful and good, but unsuccessful attempts. Like rewards being capped per week, so are Magnetite Shards. One problem with this cap is that most players would need to go back and fail the bosses a good amount of times to reach the weekly cap on these shards.

While it is nice that players still get something for hitting their head against a boss, I don’t know that I like the currency being awarded for failure. I’d rather see the reward drops from bosses include a slot that contains either a unique drop (ascended skin or miniature), a non-unique ascended or a large chunk of Magnetite Shards. This way you are either getting something awesome or getting the currency to eventually buy the awesome thing you want off the vendor. Instead of a separate, invisible limit on how many shards you can earn, the cap on the currency would be tied to the same lockout of boss rewards where players would find the only source for the currency.

The other side of the rewards is the liquid gold and experience players get from the boss chest. While this is a really nice chunk of change, it doesn’t seem like a week’s worth of reward. Going and helping another group kill a boss you already rewarded for that week is super underwhelming. It would be nice to see 1 gold and some experience added to subsequent boss kills during the week. While a gold might not seem like much, remember that once wing two comes out the first kill on any of the Spirit Vale bosses will go down from rewarding 4g to rewarding 2g.

Moving over to Fractals, HoT doesn’t seem to have been nearly as kind to this 5-man content. Overall the changes to fractals ends up being kind of meh. I really like the change from a randomized set of fractals to being able to go and run individual fractals, but this came at the price of everyone rerolling swamp all the time. The cap was raised to 100, but the lack of additional fractals makes those extra levels just feel like extra levels. Fractal weapons now have a more direct acquisition, but the new Golden Fractal weapons came in with almost the same randomness to getting them that fractal weapons previously suffered.

Mistlock Instabilities were a cool idea, but fell far short of anything I imagined them to be. From the way they were described, I was expecting each fractal level to have a unique instability that was tuned for that fractal. An idea I had thought of leading up to the release of HoT was that players would take significant damage whenever they jumped in the Jade Maw fractal. While those players that automatically jump everywhere would be feeling the pain, the idea was for players to look differently at the fractal. Instead of running through straight to the boss, players would need to ensure they could get out of combat after jumping through the introductory jumping puzzle. While this would put a small spin on the Jade Maw it wouldn’t really do anything to any other fractal, which is why I was hoping for individual fractal levels have their own unique instability.

Instead what we got was a blanket instability system where every set of 10 levels after 30 has the same instability. Not only is this blanket system uninteresting, some of those tiers become really annoying. While the idea is probably to make players switch up their builds and play tactics, it just results in players slogging through fractals all while just accepting every enemy will have max stacks of every boon on them. Instead of bringing something interesting or clever to a fractal, instabilities are mostly an annoyance to not even consider. And another reason to just roll swamp.