[GW2] Masteries and Markets, Part 1

The initial furious dust of an MMO expansion launch is beginning to settle in Guild Wars 2. People are beginning to claim about the PvP meta more. Lore delvers are finding hidden nuggets and putting things together. And, Mrs. Ravious and I have moved from the immediate to the long-term.

There are only two immediate goals in Heart of Thorns. The first is the story, which does have some very soft mastery walls, but I felt getting through the story was as available as going from level-limited quest hub to quest hub in any conventional MMO. The other, which was changed on the fly, is getting the elite specialization. It is interesting because initially getting the elite specialization would have been more of a mid-range goal. Now, it is much more accessible from the beginning.

The rest of the goals feel really sticky. There is one reason for this: masteries.

Masteries are… something. On one hand they are genius. I actually care about XP now, possibly more than I ever have in Guild Wars 2 or any other game. I get a hit of endorphins for every rezzed player. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see them back on their feet, but that hit of sweet XP makes it all the better.

It gets even better because Guild Wars 2 has always [tried] to be about events. Events give a ton of XP (and karma). Add on the walking pinatas full of XP for the winning combination. It’s amazing how much difference this makes. Defense events in Cursed Shore become glorious floods of XP whereas defense events in Heart of Thorns don’t give mob XP. There’s an even in particular in Auric Basin involving skritt scavengers and unending, overscaled mordrem trying to make sure nothing is scavenged. When there appears to be only three of us active in the event area and elites are scaling… well that’d be oookay if I got XP for the trouble of an elite. But, no.

My progress is currently slow as I am working on a mastery that requires about 3 million XP, which is roughly 30 level 80 levels. This is the other hand. Masteries can be grind.

I saw an interesting conversation on Reddit the other day (link now lost to the quagmire) where players were arguing about grind. “Don’t tell me what grind is,” spoke one as the other tried to talk about repetition of action. The latter is correct. Repetition of action creates the worst grind especially coupled with randomness (RNG) in the form of loot tables, or what have you.

Under the “repetition of action” definition of grind, masteries are not it. One has so many options available to gain XP. Events are on top of the list. Adventures also provide a very fast hit of XP, especially if you are good at it. Finding mobs that have lived too long provide a better chunk. Gathering provides XP. And, it is largely area independent. If I really like Auric Basin, I can stay there for my Heart of Thorns XP mastery gain. I really think that ArenaNet went back to the “just play” theory of game design.

Yet, 3+ million XP for a mid-level mastery is daunting. It begins to feel like I am grinding away at that bar. It’s weird because it seems like my mind splits. I enjoy playing. My current apple is Auric Basin. I am really enjoying the event quadrants and the meta-event. The immediate play is a lot of fun. I am gaining a lot of gold (see Part 2, hopefully posted tomorrow for that). Mrs. Ravious and I are learning new tricks, understanding new mobs, etc. The immediate play is a lot of fun, and then I look at that bar at the bottom. Did it move? Much?

A friend who plays World of Warcraft says that this is par for their course. He says with each expansion in that MMO that he loses a few more alts because he just cannot get himself to grind out the last few levels to get each alt to the new level cap. Seeing the leveling bar move too little for each quest is just part of things, he says.

I feel that masteries is a great system for Guild Wars 2. I am very excited about seeing what they use it for after this initial onslaught. I like that value has been brought back to XP. I can only hope they do the same the karma… perhaps even adding a karma-based mastery, hmmm. I don’t like the feeling of grind that is creeping in to my mindset. The masteries feel so powerful and helpful. Why of course I want to have no endurance bar while gliding and auto-loot!

–Ravious

n.b. I wonder how much different masteries would feel if a 6-mastery point mastery was split in to 6 XP bars so the bar moved faster while the amount of required XP remained the same?

5 thoughts on “[GW2] Masteries and Markets, Part 1”

  1. There technically is a karma-based mastery… kinda. “Supply Line Management” in the Pact Commander mastery line opens up a series of vendors that sell exclusive items for karma. The problem is that you can only pick up one item per day and there’s a level of RNG involved if you’re after the ‘cool’ item, the Bough of Melandru back item. I wouldn’t consider it a huge issue, but some people might also consider it a problem that the NPCs also move around every day and need to be tracked down.

    It’s not ideal by any stretch, but it seems like a good start.I’m hoping eventually there are regional masteries (“Kryta Mastery”, “Ascalon Mastery”, etc.) with more unique skins and such to track down.

    The game has desperately needed Karma sinks for ages though because it’s just not considered a valuable currency. I hope in the future ArenaNet looks at Karma and decides to rework it; my impression at launch was that Karma was the reward for doing good deeds (though, why doesn’t reviving friendly players provide karma, then?) but it ended up being mostly useless and everyone seems to have accumulated millions of it at this point. It seems to be everywhere but nobody cares, I’d love to see it come back a major reward currency tied to behavior.

    1. The base game had a similar karma sink, a Karmic Converter you could use to spend 5K Karma a day on an item from a randomly determined list: https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Karmic_Converter Problem is it’s locked behind a collection that costs ~400 gold to complete at current TP rates.

      What demonstrated the difference with XP for me is when I got an XP Booster from a Black Lion Chest last night. My reaction wasn’t “Ugh, an XP Booster,” but “Cool! An XP Booster!” (The fact that they significantly buffed them in HoT probably helped on that front)

  2. Adding even more grind to a game filled with grime is the modern day lazy developer design flaw. People just eat it up too for some reason, gone are the days of quality in which it wasn’t how long they can force you to stay in a game to reach your goal but the quality of the design of the game that made you like being there and never logging out that made the sale.

  3. One of the reasons I like HoT a lot more than I though I would is that ANet have effectively turned the game into EQ2. Masteries are just EQ2’s AA system under a different name which is fine by me. I understand that system and I like it.

    Since the Mastery system is now apparently going to form the structure of future progression it also effectively stands in as a Level Cap increase, a cap that will continue to increase each time new Masteries are added. If anyone doubts this all they need to do is look at the new Character Select screen and the number next to your character’s name and picture in the Party window. It’s your Mastery number that will define your level for now on.

    So, GW2 has to all effects and purposes been transformed into a clone of the game I partially stopped playing to play GW2. Unsurprisingly that’s a change I approve of but I can see why it’s not going to work for everyone.

  4. Grind, for me, is when one is far too focused on the end result and willing to do/repeat unenjoyable actions in order to get there.

    To me, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel because I’ve finished the gliding mastery – ley line gliding looked so helpful for the Dragon’s Stand fight, itzel poison – which was roadblocking various hero points and story before the change, exalted markings – to actually shortcut travel to places in auric basin, nuhoch vendors – to be able to open map chests for loot with chak acid, etc.

    Ie. All the “must-haves” are nearly almost reached (seeing stealth frogs and treasure mushrooms is the last I’m working on) and the rest are “nice-to-haves.”

    I liked the suggestion that the Masteries could really have done with some re-ordering of their sequence, so that gating Masteries come earlier.

    Fortunately, I happen to like repeating killing mob xp pinatas with boosters and running to places where few have wandered to do so. Add on being happy to do map meta events towards an organized success, and it has not really felt grindy or especially onerous to me.

    (One exception was ley line gliding, at 4.4 million xp, I did keep watching the bar and telling myself, ok, that’s 500k xp you just did, objectively, that’s a level 1 mastery already, don’t feel bad about it. I had to look at the objective numbers more, because subjectively, the graphical depiction felt harder to budge.)

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