Most players want to rock that monthly on time. With the New Year came January’s Monthly Achievements in Guild Wars 2. The evergreen monthly WvW player kills achievement remains evergreen, and the fractal completion has continued from last month. Monthly event participation has returned from the early days too. The new monthly achievement is Intrepid Explorer – find the locations of Tyria’s jumping puzzles.
Monthly achievements, in my mind, are one of the developer’s ways of herding players towards the better parts of Guild Wars 2. WvW kills has remained because WvW is a really good, active part of the MMO. The Fractals of the Mists dungeon is the best instanced group content in my mind. The monthly achievements have also heavily highlighted the holiday events where high concurrency is desired. Now the jumping puzzles, one of the heralded jewels of Guild Wars 2, get their turn in the monthly sun.
The new monthly achievement is a little tricky because it is not completing a jumping puzzle; it is finding one. Or rather to fill out a month, find 30. Except that players do not have to find 30 unique jumping puzzles of the 40+ currently in game. Theoretically a player could “find” a single same jumping puzzle a day for the month and get the achievement. I am not sure how this works on different characters either, but I would guess that each character can “find” the same jumping puzzle. With three jumping puzzles in Lion’s Arch, some knowledge of completing the monthly can game it a long way.
Then it gets more interesting because of the Lion’s Arch overflow, which has presented a thoroughfare for many, many “time-limited” achievements. In Lion’s Arch overflow X, a character can “find” a jumping puzzle. In Lion’s Arch overflow Y, or the server’s instance of Lion’s Arch, the same character can “find” the same jumping puzzle in the same day. There are supposedly sweet spots where players logged out, logged back in with the same character, different overflow instance, and “found” the jumping puzzle without even moving. I will assume that overflow jumping was not what ArenaNet intended for the makings of an intrepid explorer, but it is either a bug or a limitation of their overflow technology.
Anyway, for players that just want to win, and win immediately, that portion of the monthly achievement was completed the first day of January. Casual, knowledgeable players will use the “finding” tricks at their leisure, and casual players that don’t read fantastic blogs might think that they have to find 30 unique jumping puzzles, which is a quite a task.
The direction of the monthly achievement is good, and I really like that ArenaNet took the time to make it “find” a jumping puzzle instead of “complete” one. Every holiday jumping puzzle I see cries of difficulty. I’ve even seen players have serious trouble with the lighter jumping elements in the Fractals. I don’t like how easily the monthly achievement was gamed, but I feel that those that gamed it would have received the least benefit anyway.
On one hand, players that want to win have likely already done quite a few jumping puzzles. “Finding” more jumping puzzles does not really have much of an effect if they are going to be around the whole month anyway. On the other hand, for a player to find 30 jumping puzzles without gaming the system would be quite a task. It is nice to nudge them towards one of Guild Wars 2 jewels.
I started out wanting to win, but about halfway through I stopped. There were quite a few jumping puzzles I had not seen. If I wanted to game the system I could always do that in the second half of the month. Now I decided to use ArenaNet’s nudge as momentum towards seeking out a bunch of jumping puzzles I had not done. And perhaps that is all ArenaNet intended to happen.
Players in the middle ground, like me, that play pretty consistently but have left a lot of jumping puzzles untouched might find it a good idea to check them out before the “big” January and/or February updates. Players that just want the notches in their belt regardless of fun, can do so. It’s hard to break MMO efficiency, but I found last night that it becomes much easier to savor the monthly achievement if I accept the nudge to seek out new jumping puzzles. Now that the little quaggan has rez’d my character, I am going to attempt to take another one down.