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!