It’s kind of a joke, with the 5000+ word patch notes, that Guild Wars 2 just received it’s small January update. It will pale in comparison to February and March. Is it a fraction of a campaign-size update season? I don’t know, but in my few hours last night the game felt a lot shinier.
I spent most of my time in Orr last night. Destroying the Orrian Balthazar went great, for once, and it was nice filling out my Obsidian Shards I need for Gift of Mastery. The Grenth priest event on the other hand was brutal. Polish was apparent across Orr. I heard a lot of players saying that given the changes they were planning on returning there instead of constantly running dungeons. I know the dungeons got a lot of updates as well, which hopefully will feel similar.
The final piece in Orr are the Lost Orrian Jewel Boxes, which are currently seems the best way to convert karma into money. Some people are reporting that it is twice as good as throwing masterwork items into the Mystic Forge. What’s really fun about it, similar in nature to Black Lion Chests, is that players get a karma return almost every box. In some cases, with boosts, the net karma return on an opened box can be greater than the box’s cost. This is working as intended.
The big game changer is, of course, the daily achievements rotation and laurels. Now there is a handy UI on the side showing how far players are in their quest to complete the daily. Each full daily rewards a single laurel, which goes in to an account-wide “bank”. Laurels are used to buy some impulse-like items or they can be saved up to get Ascended gear.
Syp remarks that a big part of this is getting players to experience things that they wouldn’t normally do. It’s funny to see in Orr, the end game, people asking how to basically dodge to “evade” an attack. I am guessing part of the daily achievement last night was a learning experience for many. This is probably the best part about the daily achievements. It gets players to waver just enough off their normal (sometimes boring) course to keep things pretty fresh.
The worst part is that grind feeling involved with looking at the only other available way to get Ascended gear besides the Fractals dungeon. It will take 100 days of daily completion to get two rings and an amulet. Ascended back items are still Fractals dungeon only because ArenaNet wants to add them to a different reward system later instead of laurels. Ascended amulets are obtained by laurels only.
Yes, Ascended gear is that long goal gear, which is required for only high-end Fractals, but it still is a goal. For many, it is a goal that cannot now be accelerated either. Only through carefully completing a daily achievement for thirty days can players receive ascended amulets. For many more players not really interested in Fractals, ascended rings will follow the same route.
I know ArenaNet is playing the long game with laurels, given the cost of the miniatures. Yet, it feels like a small blemish when for quite a few weeks I feel most players will be saving for 30 laurels, and then beyond. In other words, it is going to be “work” before “fun”. That’s not wholly accurate because figuring out new ways to game the daily achievements is going to be fun. In an ironic MMO way, the actions are less grindy / more fun than that initial reward.
The Living Story – Flame and Frost: Prelude, starts about now. An NCSoft email said this was “the Prelude to an Epic Three-Part Series”. I’ll be interested to see what the new content entails. Thankfully there is plenty of other things to do with this patch even if the Prelude content is where the small part of this January patch comes from. See you where sky falls and the ground shakes.