Lion’s Arch is now open for battle. Instead of being forced out due to miasma for a 15-20 minute break, the ruined city is now a constant battleground between the players and Scarlet’s armies. On the hour, Scarlet’s three legendary assault knights descend from the Breachmaker UFO to smash some players good. The chink in Scarlet’s armor is that if players can kill all three to attune themselves to the Breachmaker’s energy, they can warp up.
Another very intense raid-like battle occurs with Scarlet’s holograms, which seem directly tied to her, and beating those gets in to a personal instance to stomp Scarlet flat. This personal instance is also available through a purple portal on the west side of Lion’s Arch if a player doesn’t want the hassle of open-zerg gated content. The key to the purple portal is the Spinal Blade back item.
Weight of a Bug
Let’s get the bad out of the way because unfortunately there is bad. It mostly surrounds the assault knight event, but it compounds itself in a way.
First, bugs. They are just bad this time around, and it feels like they’ve been getting worse since the patches. The two biggest bugs (or design issues?) seem to be the assault knight’s attendance prize and the event scaling. After 4 hot fix bug patches, I fought and killed the red assault knight this morning for no loot. According to the attunement we had about 30 players most of the time that then ramped up to 40+ at the end. We beat her with seconds to spare (out of 15 minutes).
TTS claimed to have beaten the assault knight event in 2 minutes post hot fix IV. Something is incredibly wrong with scaling if there is such a discrepancy. I love these open world events, but it makes scaling absolutely a critical feature. I think scaling is pretty good usually for player vs. mob ratio. It feels like when a single creature is scaled it rarely feels good.
Then the assault knight loot has been bugged or cut off or something basically since the start. The latest hot fix claims players get a chest for the event if only one assault knight is downed, even if that player’s assault knight is not downed.
The few times I have received full loot from the assault knights and the hologram, I’ve felt it’s been pretty good. In comparison to Escape from Lion’s Arch, it is fantastic. Those blue bags were a constant let down, especially in the face of the reward scheme of saving citizens vs. farming events.
Mrs. Ravious still uses Queen’s Pavilion as her benchmark for good Living World loot. That was definitely a high water mark in my opinion, but there seem to be very clear water lines from karka farming and champ farming. And yet it seems like Living World rewards are all over the place. Marionette was pretty darn good with opening the chests in Scarlet’s secret hideout. Then we had the infamous 1200 citizen bags, which were quite simply not worth the effort.
If both events can be beaten, it feels pretty good. Not wow amazing! But good enough to play something different instead of farming. One problem with the hologram fight (semi-leading back to scaling issues) is that failure means no loot, which is pretty rough for the time involved in failing.
Color Design Theory
For the most part I like the assault knight design. Due to scaling issues it definitely feels a little long each time we near the 15-minute mark and just barely get the assault knight(s) down. I feel the design going from condition immunity to condition crash is interesting, but it is not really great for the meta of Guild Wars 2. If this were another MMO were I could switch builds on the fly it would be great, but once again ArenaNet places condition-oriented builds and classes in a lower caste. Power builds couldn’t care less about the switch up. ‘Zerk all the way!
Assault knights are still the gate event. I don’t feel like they should be complex. They feel active enough, especially for melee. I understand the reasoning for the timer in this case, but it feels like DPS race is becoming a norm, which pushes the ‘zerk meta further ahead, and the community follows.
The complex and fun event is definitely the hologram. Here players have to attune to colors in order to damage the hologram(s). It’s a really active “raid”. There are NPCs to rez dead players. It’s fairly difficult, but definitely doable. Movement skills are pretty crucial in the first phase to collect all the colors to attune white.
The one disappointment is the second phase where there are three holograms – red, green, and blue – to take down. The most efficient way is to beat them all within 30-60 seconds of each other. The least efficient is to zerg 1 which forces it to split into 6, zerg another while the first is splitting, go back and defeat the 6 lesser ones, and repeat down the cycle. I’ve had a blast doing it the efficient way in overflow, but Sanctum of Rall seems to insist on doing it the boring zerg way each time.
It takes so little effort and awareness to get the three holograms down at once. If you are on red and red is going down more quickly then move to the hologram least damaged. I’ve done it three times in overflow; it will balance out as long as most the people are flexible. Yet event “leaders” insist on zerging. I am really disappointed at the least common denominator right now.
Curtains for Scarlet (SPOILERS)
The final instance has some good and bad. It takes a much different approach in the use of cinematic-style shots. I am looking forward to more of these since I have always liked the GW1 approach over GW2 for story cut scenes. Hopefully next time my character can be in more of the action instead of facing the railing while Braham talks about his broken leg and Kasmeer hiccups over Marjory.
I really disliked Braham telling Scarlet to shut up at the final part. Some players likened it to reflect on the player base that just wanted Scarlet dead. I think Scarlet’s actions will continue to be veiled post Season 1. Clearly she was trying to poke Mordremoth, which is shown in the final, amazing cut scene. I still don’t think she was acting for Mordremoth, which is hinted again in the Spinal Blade blueprint.
I want to shout out grand kudos for all the text within Lion’s Arch after a player kills Scarlet. I really liked reading all that. Small things can make such a difference in making an event feel “real”.
My take is that in Season 2, I hope players will still be referring to “what Scarlet did” as we move forward. If ArenaNet can do that, I feel Season 1, while having many growing pains, will be a good success.