[GW2] The Aetherpath

I ran the new path in the Twlight Arbor dungeon last night successfully with more or less a pick-up-group. I say more or less because Mrs. Ravious and a friend who plays Guild Wars 2 casually came along with two completely random strangers. Mrs. Ravious does not spend much time at all in dungeons, and my friend who has some dungeon experience exclaimed that this was possibly the hardest dungeon experience he’s ever had. Our winning combination was a necromancer (me), a ranger, an engineer, a guardian, and a thief.

The Coordinated 80

The first thing to note about the Aetherpath is that it is level 80 content. Twilight Arbor is a level 50 story dungeon with two other explorable paths at level 55. The Aetherpath is much more difficult at least in part because it does require a decently geared level 80. I am not talking ascended, but players that intend to hit the Aetherpath should have a “build” complete with prefixes, runes, and jewels.

The other piece of the difficulty is in coordination. Almost every bit of the dungeon requires some coordination especially with the boss fights. It is not enough that players understand the mechanics because there are still roles involved. It is doable with a random group, but that group has to be prepared to face content requiring a specific plan of attack. Somehow my group gelled last night, but I am honestly not sure how.

Thankfully right after the first trash pass (non-boss content) there is a group check. Players must split up somehow and lead two glass-jaw oozes down a fiery path before lava elementals attempt to blot the ooze. Some players (I’ve heard it done with one) have to aggro the lava elementals while two players smear themselves with goo pheromones to lead the ooze down the path to the finish line within 10 seconds of each other. Did I mention that the ooze is hostile to players? It hits really hard and can succumb quite quickly to errant area-of-effect skills. If your group cannot rebalance skills and roles to beat this encounter then the Aetherpath is effectively barred.

Sublimated Content

Before I get to the juicier boss encounters, I want to mention the so-called trash encounters. Trash is colloquially known as the smattering of enemies between bosses that are haphazardly thrown in to slow down players between boss fights. In MMO terms it’s about as revered as grinding or pay-2-win. While trash is still the shortest description I have for non-boss encounters, ArenaNet has done a really good job making each trash encounter worthwhile and challenging in a different aspect.

For example, the first trash encounters are exercises in pulling and roaming mob management. This short phase culminates with some horrible spiders that bite players to turn them to stone for too many seconds. The next room starts with an exercise in pulling but quickly switches to dealing with angry jungle wurms. The trash encounters are so varied and in some parts deadly exciting that it feels part of the whole dungeon challenge. It does not feel like trash filler that should be skipped to get to the good parts.

There is also another puzzle room, which I quite enjoy. Players are faced with a tetris-block style electricity panels that run along the ground, and they have to get to various platforms scattered around the room without getting hit by a moving panel. It’s great because it’s doable by any group with minimal coordination, but to do it fast and without death it requires skill. I like that. Bad players can struggle through it. Good players can dance through it.

Gaggle of Bosses

Much like the first puzzle, the first boss is another player bar to the rest of the dungeon. Rather there are two bosses, and Scarlet notes she likes making weird combinations. One boss is an asura in a Molten Alliance armor suit (Sparki) that sprays fire everywhere, and the other is a norn that sprays poison puddles around (Slick). The twist of the encounter is that the poison puddles have to be eaten by an enemy ooze that runs around chasing players that randomly get the ooze pheromone. If the poison puddles stick around then the whole room starts applying a damage-over-time debuff to players. The first puzzle’s teachings are directly applicable to this boss fight.

The fight isn’t that hard, but everybody needs to be on board with the group tactics. We took down Sparki first because she does more damage and has less health. Killing her enrages Slick who then starts putting down puddles with increased rapidity. This creates somewhat of a controlled DPS race. Players can either concentrate on removing puddles, a Sisyphean task, or damage that norn down quick.

It actually takes a bit of both, but we found pushing the norn to a wall lessens the spread of puddles, but it also keeps a very damaging ooze much closer. I feel doing this next time will be that much easier now that we’ve cracked the puzzle. Still full group coordination is required. If one person gets chicken and accidentally pulls the ooze too far away from the group, the puddles and damage can stack up quickly.

The instance kind of ramps down in difficulty a bit after Sparki and Slick. Even with the second boss, things aren’t too difficult. It’s mostly learning about how the hologram army explodes when killed and that explosion can harm mostly invulnerable things. The second boss while active and interesting doesn’t seem to have much to do with the rest of the dungeon. It’s good, but different from most of the dungeon, which just seems to build.

The final boss is not that hard once a groove has been found. It’s a huge clockwork-infused nightmare tree that grows an invulnerability shield. Wouldn’t you know? Handy nearby hologram soldiers are just waiting to come explode on the boss and make sure that the shield never hits 30. If it hits 30, he enrages and basically kills off the group, which can be recovered from with some difficulty. Again someone needs to be on hologram duty, but the rest is stay within melee range and stay behind its frontal stomps. Two or three hologram explosions hitting the freak tree with burn phases in between should take care of it.

Meta-Achievements

What I really like is how ArenaNet is doing the meta-achievements for this Living World bi-week. The only achievement in the Living World category is the meta-achievement which can be filled by 10 achievements from the daily category and the Aetherpath category. Rather than fret over completing difficult achievements within 2 weeks, players have to complete 10 achievements out of many some of which are incredibly easy (Talk to Caithe) while some are pretty hard (don’t get electrocuted). It’s easiest to get the meta-achievement through at least attempting the Aetherpath, but some achievements can be done outside of dungeons (killing Aetherblades) or in other dungeons (Catacombs). I like that. It takes a lot of pressure off of smashing the permanent new path while still putting some Living World focus on it.

–Ravious

8 thoughts on “[GW2] The Aetherpath

  1. Jeromai

    If you stayed at range from the Clockheart and attempted to kite him, you’d quickly see where Foreman Spur comes in to teach one of the mechanics involved. The second boss definitely has a part to play. It’s a beautiful work of design. They polished this dungeon until it gleamed, and I think it shows.

    Reply
  2. moondog548

    Once again your in-depth insight and analysis makes me 1) happy that the content is there and you (and others) are getting so much out of it and 2) absolutely certain that I want nothing to do with said content. :p

    Reply
  3. zubonganai

    Meta-achievement: I got the Living Story meta (10 achievements) in 1 run, so that’s pretty quick. I also missed that “talk to Caithe” achievement, so that will be an easy pickup. I am amused that you can get the LS meta-achievement without actually doing any new content, given the dailies. (The same was true of Boss Week.)

    Reply
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  5. coppertopper

    …and for finishing the content you get more greens and blues, with the only excitement coming from the possibility of a precursor drop.

    Tough game to stay attached to when you’re a crafting/loot junkie when both those are too easily mastered. I’ll keep reading your post in hopes they figure out how to bring a less FarmVille-esque attraction to the game.

    Reply
  6. Pendan

    In first pick up group I was constantly rezzing team members in the trash and then spent a half hour trying to get the 2 oozes to the other side at the same time before giving up.

    The second pick up group got quickly to the the first double boss but then we could not get one members to stay with the group. After 4 times wiping and explaining to a necro player that he had to stay with the rest of the group and not be on the far side of the bosses at range because that just created puddles too far apart to clean up, we booted the player only to learn he was the leader and rest of us got kicked out of dungeon.

    Third PUG got to the final boss fight without a wipe but then could not figure out the exploding holograms and electric floor. Each time we would lose a couple either to the the exploding holograms while killing a generator or to the electric floor. Were then too many holograms and the floor damage to get everyone back up which lead to a slow group wipe. After 2 wipes the leader said was going to have to leave in a half hour. Another wipe 10 minutes later and he dropped out of group kicking us all out. Never got to fight the final boss even though were in room.

    They need a way to transfer leadership of a group and not send everyone else out but still grouped when leader drops out.

    Over 2 hours played, very little gained.

    Reply
    1. Jeromai

      And you probably would have reached tragedy at the final boss too if you had made it. :)

      Had a pickup that simply -did- not gel, despite the advertisement for ‘experienced’ players.

      Two seemed like they were ‘hardcore’ dungeon runners (one was actually from a very recognizable ‘pro’ dungeon-running guild) and looked like they were in professionally recommended DPS everything gear but simply could not adapt to the new dungeon. They rushed headlong at everything, and instantly squished. They gave off a vibe of seeing the place for the first time and ran pell mell into every sneaky ambush there was.

      Two seemed more distinctly casual and came as a pair, who revealed that they hadn’t gotten beyond the first boss their last try. (Really, and still joining an advertised ‘experienced’ party?)

      So I had to stop and explain mechanics, which the other two had barely any patience for (with said suicidal results), and every encounter took forever.

      The casual two suddenly revealed that one had to go for work in twenty minutes when we had -just- reached the final boss, and I suspected there would be NO way this group would manage 8 generators without wiping over and over, which I really wasn’t looking forward to.

      After said predictable wipe or two, the casual two logged off without a word. One of the other two began initiating kicks. I agreed to removing the first, which hadn’t opened the dungeon, since we would need new bodies for this. Then the guy (from the hardcore guild too) initiated a kick on the instance holder, “it won’t matter, we will still be fine.”

      Yeah…right… I paused, knowing very well what would happen when I clicked the green tick.

      Then I asked myself if I really wanted to help the remaining two guys finish the dungeon knowing that multiple wipes lay ahead before success. The answer was no.

      So I clicked the tick, snickering to myself that I was only finishing what the other guy started. The Caledon Forest loading screen came and went, then made my excuses and got the hell out of dodge.

      This coming from me, who even soldiered through another pickup group with one very obnoxious didn’t-know-how-to-kite didn’t-know-how-to-pull refused-to-listen-to-instructions stole-all-aggro-with-pet insta-killed-holograms low AP player for the sake of the other members and succeeded, tells you how totally uncoordinated this group was.

      Reply
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