Sunday, November 18, 2012
The Shores of Lost Potential
As promised, let's talk about a pretty filled weekend of Guild Wars 2 events. I've been fairly vocal on the addition of the ascended gear, and brought my first impressions on the latest dungeon. However, I have avoided talking about talking about the events, primarily because I wanted to see them all first.
I had a lot of anticipation for this patch, and a great deal of it culminated in my excitement for phase one. I live on the East Coast, and when 3:00 p.m. hit, I was standing on the prow of the nearest ship to the bay. 10 seconds later, I would be scrambling as the ship was slowly sinking to the bottom. Karka had begun attacking a small portion of Lion's Arch, and almost immediately the server was crippled by lag spikes. The mechanics of the karka were interesting, and I have to admit I loved the "jump on your face and suck your brains out" animation adopted by the hatchlings. It was a little bit challenging, a little bit fun, but the lag really hindered the experience. As I visited the forums later, I realized that it wasn't just our server that was lagging, it was nearly everyone. That's a problem, a huge one. Having that many people playing in that small of a space is going to cause havoc.
I'm extremely surprised ArenaNet didn't know this going into it. I mean they have pulled off the Branded Meta-Event and the Hunger Royale events in the beta weekends. They have witnessed the details of WvW and understood the weaknesses of their infrastructure. Why not design a more wide spread event?
With a decent amount of disappointment of phase one, I jumped into the Fractal dungeon and did not look back. However later, I followed the event leading up to Noll and Canach. What I experienced was even more underwhelming...bugged NPC's that hindered the progress of one time events. They were fixed in close to 24 hours, and people were able to complete the chain. I just couldn't help wonder why one time events were not more rigorously checked for glitches. However, I do understand that this is a MMO, and the unexpected often happens. I really don't have hard feelings about these events, though I do wish they were a little more interesting.
Phase Two for me was nearly missed entirely. Real life calls, and I must admit that I occasionally answer. I visited the new zone later that evening. I explored the island from top to bottom, and I have done one of the two jumping puzzles. This jumping puzzle features giant geysers of steam that send a chunk of rocks that you must jump on in quick succession. You then must follow these trails of rock up a side of a cliff, only to do it again, then cross along a deck of pirate ship. Once finishing, you can even continue further to face your mettle with a Champion mob that is most promisingly impossible to solo or duo. Overall, the jumping puzzle was fantastic, and the zone features several challenging events. It was a nice change of scenery, and it finally didn't feature the undead or centaurs....so I was pretty pleased.
Phase Three was where my opinion on the weekend would hinge. It was the finale, afterall. Part one of phase three featured us escorting demolitionists into the hive of the Karka. We escorted them over several floors in the hive packed with all sizes of Karka. Even with my overflow packed, people were dying left and right. This part would ultimately be the most fun part of phase 3. It featured hilarity by fellow players, and featured the appropriate amount of epicness and challenge. I am also very happy to report that there was no lag. How this happened in such a small space blows my mind.
After we had laid the charges, a giant Ancient Karka spawned on the other part of the island. I would have loved if when it spawned, it began ravaging one of the camps. However, as a quick thief I was the first one to arrive, and also the first one stupid enough to attack it solo. Luckily before I met a very painful demise, the zerg caught up to me and we began attacking a tree so that it would fall on the Karka.
This led to several events where we would drive the Ancient Karka back to it's hive where we had laid charges. Some of these events were diverse enough to be mildly entertaining. We caused a landslide to fall on the beast, threw some stones into geysers, and an assortment of others. The worst events by far were the reinforcement phases. The Ancient Karka would summon probably 40-50 Karka in the immediate vicinity. That alone wouldn't make me cringe. It was the fact that the veterans and champion mobs literally had too much health to be fun. The reinforcement phases would take nearly thirty minutes to complete, and were met with must disgust by the community in-game. Even worse, lag began to strike many players for the remainder of the event, and many people in the community were hit with disconnects.
When we drove the Karka back to the Hive. We had to free the charges from Karka webbing, and then pursue him all the way through seven floors of the hive to the bottom. That's where we finished the job by blowing up the stones beneath the Karka's feet revealing a pool of lava. I was on skype at the time, and phase 3 I had guessed would have taken thirty minutes. Instead, it took roughly 2-3 hours depending on your server's progress. We were exhausted, and I literally said as I opened the chest "I better not see any blues or greens." And I was never happier to be more right.
The rewards for this event were amazing. Everyone received an exotic earring, a 20 slot bag, and 4 extremely randomized items. I received an exotic, two rares...and...drumroll please....a LEGENDARY PRECURSOR. Now, before I go on, I have to say of course...I would get the one worth 8 gold. (Rage- A Precursor to the Legendary Speargun.) When I realized lots of people got precursors, I felt a little less special, to be honest. However, being the only one in my party to receive one, I have to say I am fortunate for even getting one.
So Phase 3 was even a mixed bag. It was fun and rewarding, but a good deal too long, and plagued by periods of poor game design. I feel for many players who were disconnected during the final fight only to not receive any loot, players who couldn't make the one time event, and players who couldn't stay on long enough to complete it. Not everyone can take 3 hours out of their day for a game, and I wish the event was recurring throughout the day. I really think having the event be featured once isn't the best way to minimize lag and maximize accessibility (two of the biggest problems for these events at the moment).
Overall, I have to say it was...interesting. Again, I felt this whole weekend of events was a whirlwind of impressions. It had it's moments where I was like wow, this is really amazing, and other minutes, where I was left scratching my head. If this was my first impression of Guild Wars 2, as I expect it was for many (this was the first Trial Weekend), I don't know what I would think. Needless to say, I will definitely remember this weekend years from now. And that's one of the best features of the game, that strikes to the very being of ArenaNet. Special in-game events that we will remember for ever isn't a bad way to operate. Now I just have to wonder whether these memories will be filled with nostalgia or disappointment....
Note: There has been an update from ArenaNet, those players that disconnected during the event without rewards, will be receiving their just compensation in the mail in a couple of days. Much rejoicing was had by the community.
Extra Side Note: Did anyone else wonder why we essentially slaughtered thousands of babies during this weekend? Whatever happened to Ventari's "Everything has a right to grow?"