[GW2] Harmony and Discord in the Season 1 Finale

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.

Real Loot!

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.

–Ravious

9 thoughts on “[GW2] Harmony and Discord in the Season 1 Finale

  1. Ocho

    Good to hear, and I hope so, too. I started playing GW2 again last night, but I’m approaching it in probably the easiest way: Don’t touch any living story content until I’m max level. The past couple of times I’ve done so, I’ve been burned by a not-so-optimized system. Content designed for lvl 80 characters isn’t designed for level 50 characters, even with up-leveling. It’s hit and miss, but feels mostly miss.

    However, I wonder if season 2 will just feel more of the same. I mean, there’s a reason why GW2 is referred to as Loot Zerg 2. A fight doesn’t have to contain 100 people for it to feel epic. If they design a fight for, like, 10 or 15, I’d be happy.

  2. bronkitus

    ” 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.”

    spinal blade blueprint text: “Backside reads: “Caithe, someday you’ll see, Tyria needs me. -Scarlet”

    From what Scarlet Saw;

    “… The forces that push us this way or that can be redirected. They can be set against one another to the detriment of both, and now I know how.”

    The dragons are just one of the forces she’s provoked and pointed at the bonfire, getting to this point just proved her doubly insane.

  3. bhagpuss

    A year and a half in, GW2 has two reputations: zergfest and buggy as hell. Second needs fixing. First they may as well go with. Too late to re-brand now.

    The three knights is quite possibly the most bad-tempered, divisive, snarky event GW2 has had. I can’t ever recall seeing anything close to the level of arguing and name-calling I saw last night – it was terrible on Yaks Bend and on Tarnished Coast and Blackgate where I guested and on several Overflows.

    Outside of that, the atmosphere was fine. Lost Peter seems to generate an amazing amount of harmony among players and the Generals do okay too. It’s just those damn Knights.

    On balance I think it’s a feeble ending. I love the untied loose ends and the dialog is pretty good (Braham’s refusal to let her do the Super-Villain Explains Her Grand Plan speech is indeed a glaring exception – especially so since we as players have no option to over-rule him) but the events themselves are a step back from the standards of the Marionette or 3-Headed Wurm and as for being a fitting send-off for an arch-villain – pfeh!

    If ANet have learned one thing from LS1 I hope it’s to stop biting off more than they can chew. The positive is that they have managed to get me invested in both the characters and the plot, so on balance it’s a win.

    1. Jeromai

      You know, I’m amazed at the level of vitriol being flung about on random overflows and even certain servers at certain times. It’s terrible.

      And you know what? It makes me just want to leave that map and go find a better, more organized map to do the fight (that I very much enjoy) in. And I often do.

      Assume I’m not the only one with this reaction, and the vitriol slingers are only shooting themselves in the foot by being divisive, scornful and toxic. A map containing people like that deserve to fail. Behavior like that should not be rewarded with success.

      I’m only dismayed that casual players with no connections, no options or knowledge to switch maps are getting caught in the crossfire and getting turned off as a result. It’s like the Queensdale champion train poisoning whole crops of newbies with their toxicity.

      (That said, it’s my opinion that the knights are still a little buggy after the latest hotfix. Specifically scaling issues. A bunch of not-very-aware people hanging around without a buff are probably still scaling the knight’s hp way up, making it much harder for 50 people to defeat. Conversely, I’ve been at a less popular knight with 20-30 people and it does seem to scale in response to the people around it.)

  4. João Carlos

    @Ravious

    The NPC characters will behave like we think that kind of character will behave, but not how what we want that character need to do. It is a trick you learn if you GM a D&D session (I made it with the original first edition D&D, 30 years ago…). The GM too need roleplay.

    So, Treharne is a sage-scholar made general, and he will give us long lectures about Orr, undead there, the elder dragon, the human gods… and eventually everyone want kill that boring “professor”. But he IS being “roleplayed” as a scholar made general… so, kudos for Anet actors and writers. To be true, there is a quest where an impostor disguise itself as Trehearne and start to tell to player “kill first, ask later” and if you are giving to the game story some attention you see soon that it is not Treharne, that is like “talk a lot first, second and third, then maybe we take any action”.

    So, Braham tell Scarlet to “shut up at the final part”, well, he is a norn, he is emo because have mother issues, he saw norn villages be destroyed by the Molten Alliance and he lost the girlfriend. I am sure that “lost the girlfriend” pisses him a lot… mmmmm…. maybe “mommy don’t care about me” pisses him more, that huge norn baby…

    If all that things happen to you, what you had to say to Scarlet? “Yes, please, tell me your plans while I sit down and take a cup of tea, I see you will tell us a very long story…” mmmmm… I think it is not very norn, mostly maybe he want drink beer and not tea… nah…. Braham correct roleplay is “kill first, I really don`t care to ask”…

    From that NPC character, the weaker developed was just Scarlet, too much Mary Sue. But, in general, Anet is doing a good work “roleplaying” the story NPCs.

    My guess, there is an epilogue at 18th march, story driven. Then we will see what Scarlet was really planning.

    1. Jeromai

      I dunno, Braham channeled my thoughts exactly as I was thinking them. Did I really care to know what Scarlet was trying to do?

      Especially, at that time, endure a villain monologue when one just wants to finish her?

      Not really. I lost interest in her as a character when her outlier-ness was stretched to the point of disbelief by her having passed all three Asuran colleges. Asuran. Colleges. All. Three. I don’t care if the asura decided they wanted to study the bookah, it’s inconceivable that the snooty lil genuises would let her get away with such an accomplishment, look at the amount of backstabbing and politicking and sabotage they already do to -each other.-

      Now if she had -gathered- people from all three Asuran colleges to help her construct something together, that’s perhaps more believable since one wants to sell her as a creator of alliances, a silver-tongued diplomat. But a crazy antisocial genius engineer (the antisocial coworker that comes in one day with a gun stereotype is generally not known for being good at relationships and social connections) who also can somehow be a leader and form multiple alliances, well, that’s really stretching things.

      It would have been nice also if she was played more sympathetically, and with more strengths and weaknesses, rather than a Mary Sue, since the general theory now is that perhaps Ceara had good intentions but was gradually corrupted by some outside influence.

      But as portrayed, meh, she is merely a vehicle to some kind of interesting plot. Perhaps involving the sylvari and an Elder Dragon.

      My dream epilogue guess: Mordremoth wakes. Something drastic happens, possibly doing something fairly irreversible to Lion’s Arch..

      My pragmatic epilogue guess: We get a bunch of conversations with NPCs concluding the story…

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  6. bhagpuss

    I’m not going to argue that Braham’s reaction wasn’t in character. Obviously it was. The point is that the entire sequence didn’t occur spontaneously in an improvised conversation between players and a DM – someone sat down and wrote it. Clearly that writer felt that the players would be more in tune with Jeromai than with Ravious and myself – just shut her up and get shot of her as fast as possible.

    The odd thing is that I’d really started to like Scarlet. It began when we got to see inside her lair and all of a sudden she had a personality and a backstory that made a little sense. I was hoping we’d get to know her a bit better. The whole Grand Finale felt rushed and desperate and not in a good way, as if the writers themselves couldn’t wait to be free of the millstone they felt they’d tied around their own necks.

    After a year of building Scarlet up as an Archvillain of immense power and resource that ending came both as an anti-climax and a waste. I’d very much have preferred to capture her, not kill her. If we were going to kill her, though, it really should have happened in battle. I felt uncomfortable about killing her as she lay defeated on the floor. I’ve never liked the “spike” mechanic at the best of times, it’s tasteless and gruesome, and this was a particularly ugly use of it.

  7. Kaluu

    Something is compelling me to put my head in the door. I don’t know if that is because scaling and loot table adjustments are now being related to buggy as hell gameplay, which are not the same thing, or because the game is being distilled down to a one term description, zergfest.

    Both are inaccurate characterizations of this game. To read the last few threads one would think we had all forgotten the new event and quest systems that made this game unique, and still exist. The fact some events require coordination on a server level or that there are mindless drones who ball up in zergs, or zerg dungeons, and consequently call the game a zerg fest, has nothing to do with the way many of us enjoy the game.

    If I was looking at this game from the outside and reading some of these posts, I would think the thing barely ran at all. Fact is, it runs great. The story is engaging as ever. The artistic work fantastic. Graphics rendering better than ever.

    Although, I was pleasantly surprised that I did get loot the other night when we failed on a knight event. Pleasantly because I didn’t particularly care. Is the carrot so important that it defines our experience of the game?

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