Changes and Learning

Frequent changes make evaluation difficult.

Going through Guild Wars 2 a second and third time, I am finding it easier. I do not know how much of that is familiarity with the particular content, better knowledge of game mechanics, more experience with a class, playing a different class, having better equipment, or changes to the game itself. Those game changes could also be subdivided into changes to the content, game mechanics, or classes. Those could be further subdivided into bug fixes, intentional adjustments/rebalancing, and unintended effects of other changes. In group content, multiply all these by your number of players.

I know that some early complaints, mine included, came down to whining that the game got hard at the end. Orr and the dungeons differ, with a difficulty curve like Psychonauts (not, blessedly, Psychonauts at release). The same tactics that thrive in Plains of Ashford events will get you killed walking to a cypress sapling in the Straits of Devastation. I am confident that Orr is easier due to learning, but I do not know if the other factors are more important.

Underwater content, for example, is still ugly on my elementalist. I have gotten better at it, but the class is just lousy in the water. My ranger has few problems, with higher DPS when I hit 1 and AFK than my elementalist sees using all 20 skills. My guardian is at least as effective underwater as on land; spear’s 2 is just ridiculous. I am confident that the difficulty of underwater content varies with class, but there are other factors also in play.

These examples are from Guild Wars 2, but I did not use the [GW2] tag because this happens with all games that rebalance, particularly when they update frequently. Sometimes I feel really awesome on patch day, only to discover that some mobs were nerfed. Sometimes I return to an old game and think I have forgotten how to play, only to discover that “how to play” changed while I was not looking.

: Zubon

2 thoughts on “Changes and Learning”

  1. An example from Rift would be playing my rogue on Ember Isle, this free weekend and after a big class revamp recently.

    When I played a few months ago, there was only one spec that could handle the mobs on the isle, it was a combination of defensive tank spec with AoE damage capabilities plus passive self-healing. That spec likely still works, but haven’t tried it yet.

    Tried the bard spec then, didn’t work very well because the damage was pitiful, now it works quite well with respectable damage and good self-heal.

    Even better a full marksman spec can solo there now, before that would have meant I’d died in a few seconds, now I can burst a single mob down before it even touches me, which would have been impossible the last time I tried it many months ago. Still a squishy build if taking on more than one enemy but the noticeable damage increase makes it work.

    Which leaves me wondering if I’m putting out more damage after the big revamp, or the new talents intended for level 60 make a level 50 overpowered (this happened with WoW before each expansion), or the mobs defenses got nerfed, or maybe the better gear (hard mode dungeon purples and not questing blues) I had when I took a break allows me to put out that kind of damage that I couldn’t manage when newly levelled to 50 and attempting Ember Isle for the first time. Could look at the patch notes because I suspect there might have been a nerfing, but it could just as easily be all of the above.

    Happy to be able to play that ‘noobiest’ of specs, a melee ranger with pet, and get on quite well with the content, plenty of damage to take the mobs down fast enough before my boar pet eats the dirt.

  2. The problem with Orr has never been that it’s hard. The problem is that it’s tedious.

    I first went there with my ranger at around 70 and had little trouble exploring all the way down to the final Dungeon. I did it solo in a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. After lunch I went back and did the entire thing again in a duo with Mrs Bhagpuss’s ranger. I could not see any appreciable difference in difficulty over most other zones and I certainly used exactly the same tactics I’d been using ever since, yes indeed, Plains of Ashford (being a Charr).

    Since then I have been back to Orr twice at 80th, once to do nothing other than harvest. Apart from the insane proliferation of bots the only appreciable differences between Orr and every other zone were the ludicrous over-packing of mobs, the numbingly dull lack of variety (Risen, Risen, Risen, more Risen) and the deeply unattractive lighting.

    This may, however, be as much a function of my playing a Ranger as is the difference you describe between underwater play for different classes. Rangers are very good indeed at opening maps, exploring and gathering natural resources, as well they should be.

    The upshot is that I have spent perhaps six hours in total in the three Orr maps put together and if I have my way none of my other characters will ever go there at all.

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