[GW2] The Four Winds Carnival

Guild Wars 2 has updated with a content patch – Festival of the Four Winds – after the last, big feature patch. The content is mostly a rehash combining the Queen’s Pavilion with the Labyrinthine Cliffs. The combination creates an eerie yin and yang effect. It’s uncanny how stark the two places are with Guild Wars 2 players.

Blitzed

The bad is by far the Boss Blitz in the Queen’s Pavilion. They took out the easy farmfest of joy and replaced it with an event to take down the 6 bosses in timed fashion. As each boss is killed it passes some abilities to the surviving bosses. A lot of instances (and guilds like TTS) have Boss Blitz on farm mode. It’s not that hard with some communication and responsiveness to split into 6 groups.

The first problem is that the Boss Blitz languishes. It isn’t kill as many as you can within X minutes! That would’ve been great. Instead fail instances are insanely punished because the failed Boss Blitz just stays. Players leave because the instance is clearly not led by anybody, and the Blitz is already lost. So the unclean have to pick it up and try and gather enough people to take down the remaining healing Boom Boom Baines. Last night I defiantly tried to rally in one of these instances. It took 20 minutes to take down the last boss even with plenty of people concentrating on the healing turret. It is a double punishment for failure.

Here’s what is happening behind the scenes. Each boss has some scalable “safe” zone where with X number of players the boss can be reasonably killed within the time necessary. If too many players arrive, the boss scales to become zerg-resistant. It start punishing the players for gathering too much. This was likely developed so that a zerg or two didn’t go around the bosses and melt each one. So now again players are punished for congregating. What do you think happens with one boss left in a failed instance? Players congregate and get punished again with a super damage resistant boss.

I feel half of the Boss Blitz, or rather the Queen’s Pavilion, is expectations. I expected a nice farm. ArenaNet expected a lot of communication to beat the Blitz, on the order of raid-level communication. This requirement for success is only beginning to seep through the community, when such a drastic requirement should have, in my opinion, been better told by ArenaNet.

Bottom line, find an instance with 6 commanders or don’t waste your time on staying.

Zephyrous Upgrades

The Labyrinthine Cliffs, on the other hand, is a place of peace. It’s relaxed with easier expectations. The place is as beautiful as ever with a small art update making it even more so. Plus, with the megaserver smooshing everybody in to one, the place is really hopping even after the Dulfy tribe has ran through getting their crystals, now newly placed for further challenge.

The mechanic I absolutely love, and I hope we see more, is an inverse of Boss Blitz (or in my opinion, what Boss Blitz should have used).

There are two new events that have fill bars. One is running some crystal energy to a frog bartender, and another is becoming a baby dolyak and running through the Cliffs in Guild Rush style. In the old style, the fill bar would be filled within the time limit of the event, and players would get rewarded for the completed event.

Now there are multiple tiers of fill bars. The event can be over, and players can take a lower tier of rewards… Or, they can keep working on the event and go for greater rewards for all. Both fill bars are a kind of race up the mountain; however, it is really hard to say no to running it up another time to get that fill bar up.

It’s weird because it feels like that dilemma we just had with saving the citizens. Only, there is no capstone reward. There are only more rewards. It feels safer, and I don’t even notice or care about all the crystal jumpers or AFK’rs. It feels in a way like success and more success rather than consolation prize and success.

The Others

I haven’t gone back in to the Gauntlet yet to re-defeat Liadri, but I plan to. I am really excited since they’ve taken away the ceiling, which caused horrible camera effects. I also like Aspect Arena quite a bit and plan on doing a session in there.

Overall it’s a nice update. I wish Blitz was a bit more friendly, but in ArenaNet’s defense, perhaps this is the type of gameplay they want to push. I don’t think it’s wrong, but better communication and expectations are required to further smooth this learning experience. At least I find peace among the kites.

–Ravious

16 thoughts on “[GW2] The Four Winds Carnival

  1. Kett Shee

    I missed last year’s events and have only managed to log in for a few hours so far, but I only managed to do about 30 mins of Boss blitz before I gave up out of boredom. The Queen’s Gauntlet, on the other hand, I ADORED. The mechanic where everything is a puzzle boss, but you can watch other people fight to get hints, is a great idea.
    Watched one guy try and fail twice with the boss who sets down instant-kill fire circles on the ground, which gave me enough preparation to manage to do it myself when the time came. And of course he was watching me too, so after I showed how it could be done he managed it himself and thanked me. It felt like a nice way for people to help each other in an indirect way, that normally does not happen with explicitly single player content.
    Need to find some time to log in later and check out the cliffs too.

    Reply
  2. Jeromai

    The thing to remember about Boss Blitz is simple. Never never zerg. 10ish players per boss is all that is needed, even for cleanup of a failed instance. It’s clear Anet has taken a very heavy hand against the zerg in the scaling factor they’ve chosen to use.

    I think a lot of it has to do with expectations too. People were expecting a farmfest, and when they didn’t get one, they started throwing tantrums instead of rolling with the punches and adapting.

    I honestly don’t see what the issue is. It’s not like the Crown Pavilion Boss Blitz was the only thing that dropped or has an exclusive reward – do it or else. If it was, I would be the first to scream my head off.

    There are so many options. I spend like 75-90% of my time in the Labyrinthine Cliffs, because I prefer soloing, peace, and cooperative events where every small contribution counts. I can still get Festival Tokens playing activities I prefer.

    I can solo in the Queen’s Gauntlet for Favor of the Pavilion, or buy it off the TP or just settle for completing the meta and getting one Festival Favor. Or I can bite the bullet, and find an organized group or instance to do Boss Blitz, or step up to teach/lead my head off in a pickup map, preferably finding six people with tags to do the same.

    Or I can choose not to bother with it at all and lose out on… what? 8 potential champion bags and 3 greens, that I could get in at least three other maps, zerging champions the old comfortable familiar way. Or I could run dungeons and earn way more gold than 8 champion bags.

    There are no achievements contingent on achieving gold rewards in the Boss Blitz. You could do all of it RNGing in the worst coordinated zerg instance, one boss at a time, and find a few randoms to whittle down veterans with.

    If anything, Queen’s Gauntlet is the one with the super-crazy-rare Lyssa recipe that is promising to be very exclusive or very expensive on the TP, and I see far fewer people screaming about that.

    Beyond “my expectations were different and now it’s harder” and “someone else is doing it, but I can’t do it,” can someone give me a good reason why people are kicking and screaming about Boss Blitz?

    Reply
    1. Ravious

      It’s not just harder… it’s punishing. But, otherwise I agree. The rage would have been tenfold if there was a single 1 pt achievement to get gold on Boss Blitz.

      Reply
  3. bhagpuss

    The main problem with this update is that it dropped in the middle of the penultimate week of the WvW Tournament. It’s been incredibly disruptive and has caused immense bad feeling with some dedicated WvW players on my server.

    I personally feel nine weeks was too long for the tournament. It should have stopped at the end of last week and then this update would have been fine. Given that the dates of the tournament had already been fixed, however, it should have been allowed to run its course uninterrupted.

    I’ve spent about half an hour in the Bazaar and haven’t visited Divinity’s Reach yet. Mrs Bhagpuss went there for a morning and didn’t think much of it. For the time being we’ll likely be spending most of our time on the Borderlands. Clearly the only reason we have this particular update at this specific time is because of the Chinese launch, so the whole thing feels uncomfortably artificial and forced anyway. I don’t really feel very bothered about giving it a miss, at least while more important things are happening elsewhere.

    Reply
  4. Jonathan

    I have a friend that is a guildie from EQ2 who has just started in on GW2, so I’ve spent a fair amount of the past few days in Queensdale, and I think one overlooked part of this content patch is important for the discussion in question. In addition to adding in the Queen’s Pavilion and the Labyrinthine Cliffs, champion level mobs in the starter zones were downgraded to being veterans in order to remove the “champ trains” from those zones.

    Now, I’m not a fan of the “champ trains” myself. But I can’t help but notice how, every few minutes, someone pops into the zone and asks where the train is. And how many times people proclaim that the troll is up, or the boar. Over and over again, I’m hearing people ask about the game play that they enjoy, and hearing their reactions as the others in the zone (generally quite politely) explain that it was removed.

    What kind of player would have enjoyed the Queen’s Pavilion the way it was more — someone who already works in co-ordinated groups, or someone that zergs Queensdale in order to gain some casual loot? Isn’t it quite likely that for this kind of player the old Queen’s Pavilion was the very best part of last year’s Living Story?

    I think at least part of the frustration with the change to the Pavilion is that, not only was it not communicated, it is paired with a significant gameplay change for the people that loved it the most.

    Reply
    1. Jeromai

      I, for one, am so relieved they are removing it as the first “experience” new players encounter. It’s training them in all the wrong things that GW2 shouldn’t stand for. Toxicity, power-leveling, brainless convenience, loot waterfalls, grindgoldgrindshinies, spam 1, rush to max level.

      What is the response of such a player? Speed to max level, expect everything easy, whine and moan when Monty Haul loot is not given to them, ragequit the game out of entitlement or reach all their goals and then give up out of boredom and lack of direction.

      Anet has a right to make certain executive decisions about the audience they want for their game. We don’t have open world full loot FFA PvP or tolerance for verbal abuse over public channels. Those potential customers are lost. The long term effect on the community is almost certainly better as a result.

      The zerg will always find a way if open to them. It’s not the end of the world, and I’m fully confident there will be content drops later on that end up open to zerging. Half of Escape from Lion’s Arch was about spam 1 for tokens. Unimportant tokens, even, compared to the rescue reward, but 50% of the people still zerged anyway for xp, levels and tokens.

      But some content will not be easy and will be meant for organized, coordinated groups. As long as rewards are not exclusive (thus forcing all players to participate or else get nothing), I don’t think having -some- content for the group of players who enjoy coordination is wrong.

      Reply
      1. Jonathan

        Well, I don’t disagree with you, Jeromai. I think that the new player experience suffered as a result of the “champ train”, and I didn’t enjoy it myself.

        That having been said, the “train” came into being for a reason — it was actively created in response to incentives. Achievements in the game started as nothing more than an arbitrary score for those that enjoyed “checking off things”. Then laurels were added, so that “achievements would have some meaning” but “nothing game changing”. Then ascended items came about, requiring crafting, and the formulas required came from… those once-optional laurels. Oh, and you need to have plenty of dragonite ore, bloodstone, etc…. all of which drop from chests that come from champions. Oh, and the monthly achievement this month? Yeah, you need champs for that, too.

        Is it any wonder that people optimized for chasing champions? Is it any surprise to anyone that, given frequency and scaling, this happened in the starter zones?

        People respond to incentives. Don’t get me at all wrong, I *agree absolutely* with the goal of eliminating the champ trains from the starter zones. But the problem isn’t that the starter zones had champions — that was actually quite good! The problem is that the incentives of the game say “farm champs — lots of champs.” The goal of the game — as explicitly explained by ANet in the upper right hand corner of your screen every day and every month, and even on your login screen — is to clear achievements for rewards. The best (meaning most efficient, in this case, probably not the most fun) way to do this to to kill as many champions as you can, as quickly as you can. *That’s* the problem.

        Leaving the goal intact, while taking away the means that people found to solve it, feels to those running the “trains” rather like pulling the rug out from under them. I worry that ArenaNet is becoming tone-deaf. They produce lots of quality work — I’m still amazed at some of the things I find in this game, even after a year of frequent play — but they constantly seem surprised at the way typical MMO players respond to the the goals and tools that they themselves put in.

        Reply
        1. Jeromai

          I actually like your phrase “pulling the rug out from under them.” I think you may have hit on one of the reasons why this change is getting such a reaction.

          The game rules have changed around players, and some players have more difficulty adapting to this than others. Expansions can sometimes have the same effect, I think?

          Some changes are necessary for the long term though. City of Heroes’ Enhancement Diversification was pretty traumatizing for some. GW2′s Ascended gear did make a fair number of GW1 players (me included) grumpy, but I do recognize that Anet wanted to keep one character super-achievers around and interested in the game.

          Perhaps Anet is thinking that for the long term health of the game, they need to encourage at least some percentage of players to improve their level of play and perhaps get them connected to various communities…while still remaining as inclusive and open as possible.

          Reply
  5. Zubon

    I logged in after a fair absence and tried the Pavilion. I found the Boss Blitz awful and don’t know when I will be interested in logging back in again.

    Reply
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  8. Flakfizer

    I have always hated raids and the mindset they encourage but in my previous MMO’s they were safely instanced away where the ‘hardcore’ could organise and do their thing.

    This push for open world raids in GW2 is just baffling. It runs entirely counter to their so called manifesto and feels like a bait & switch to me.

    Reply
  9. bhagpuss

    The Champ Train, Gauntlet and other zerg content may have been mindless and boorish but they were far more in keeping with the original design ethos of GW2 than any of the more recent “harder” content. Why? Because they are opt-in, come-as-you-are, no invite necessary inclusive open access content, that’s why. The very kind of thing GW2 was supposed to bring to the genre to create a new paradigm for MMOs.

    It’s all very well making the best of things and explaining why Teq/3-Wurm/Mannequin/Fractals/NQG and the rest are fun and enjoyable in their own right – they may well be. They aren’t anything to do with the game we were told we were getting, though. The game many of us wanted and used to enjoy.

    And yes, you can say everything changes and players can adapt or leave but that’s a poor excuse for betrayal of trust. Actually, it’s no excuse.

    Reply
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  11. Aspeon

    I never did Boss Blitz before today’s patch, but rebalancing the reward structure seems to make a difference in how it’s perceived. The bronze reward is no longer “failure,” a chore you have to do to go for the real prize, but it’s a casual alternative to experiencing the content. And the fact that you can get all the achievements without ever doing better than bronze suggests that that’s probably what Arenanet was intending all along.

    Reply
    1. Jeromai

      It seems to have produced a little more motivation in some people to act cooperatively.

      So I guess the feedback “Rewards do not feel motivating enough to make the effort” and “I was hoping to use Crown Pavilion to obtain T6 materials” got heard.

      No complaints here, just watching with amusement. :) I’ve been getting a lot more champion bags than I usually do, since I normally can only do an hour or less of Frostgorge before getting bored to tears.

      Reply

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