[GW2] Late to the Aetherblade Assault

I just got back from vacation. Zubon held down the fort in fine manner. The Guild Wars 2 players assaulted another while I was gone. Apparently sky pirates, a guild/faction known as the Aetherblades, were docked right next to Lion’s Arch (and under the Tengu wall!) thanks to the evil asuran Inquest corportation’s help. The good people are on the assault taking out Aetherblade caches across Tyria and attacking their Aetherblade Retreat dungeon head on.

In a way this story is interesting. The Aetherblade are themed around lightning, and indeed they have appeared out of nowhere. More of the story of Mai Trin, and how she tied in to the Dragon Bash assassination will be revealed next week. For now we are left with Inspector Kiel pondering her first engagement with the Inquest and their pirate lackeys. I feel like the Aetherblade kind of got caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and the response by Lion’s Arch was impressive.

There are a few ways to kill these new Aetherblades. The worst is randomly happening upon them near the Dragon Bash holographic emitters out and about in the field. There is some chance of the pirates appearing if a player walks near the emitter, but it is mostly frustrating either wasting time or waypoint money.

The current achievement grinder way is to hunker down at an Aetherblade cache and tag the respawning Aetherblades as they succumb to the effects of a thousand greatsword blades. I had a lot of fun visiting new mini-dungeons and jumping puzzles I hadn’t completed yet, and there was some fun and frustration in revisiting others, like the “dark room” jumping puzzle. Overall I consider it the cache achievements a success as far as the devs using and showcasing content already exisiting in the game. Next weekend this is how I plan on knocking out some achievements, but I am in no rush to compete for kills right now.

Finally, the grand entrance is of course the new dungeon, the Aetherblade Retreat. Jeromai covers this dungeon very thoroughly. It’s a really fun dungeon with a difficulty more for somewhat experienced dungeon runners than “Living World content is easy for all”. The achievements are all in place to make it just a touch harder, even if some are rather unclear and/or buggy. Players are always going to find the path of least resistance regardless of developer intention or unintention.

I feel the biggest issue with Aetherblade Retreat is that it is simply not rewarding enough in comparison to core dungeons to hold the interest of dungeon runners. Dungeon runners attention is needed to maintain a good active population for late-comers. I popped in Thursday night, and checked GW2LFG. Surprisingly the Aetherblade Retreat calls were among a far minority. This is not right in my opinion.

Like farming at Southsun Cove, I feel for ArenaNet to move the community around difficult group content, the rewards should be unquestionably good. Unlike the last Living Story dungeon, the Molten Facility, the unique rewards just don’t seem to have that same pull. And for profitability, the core dungeons just seem to be far better. I feel that as achievements are gained, the population of gamers interested in Aetherblade Retreat are going to diminish at a too-rapid pace.

I know ArenaNet is still learning a lot with how to farm the community, and I know there is a fine balance to walk for reward determination. Right now it is very exciting to be part of the constant updates right at the time they release. I loved seeing random players run towards Tears of Itlaocol with me. I hope that ArenaNet can continue to improve on these releases so that there is more of a sustained feeling of the content. Being too late to the party is never fun when everybody else is done eating.


9 thoughts on “[GW2] Late to the Aetherblade Assault”

  1. I’m sorry, I disagree with your take on things. The rewards in the dungeon are fairly good, a gold and a rare on successful completion. In a group that knows what it is doing, I believe the dungeon would take 30-45 min, if that. Better players than I (and there are a lot) would probably shave this time even further. I’m just a friendless idiot who joins random PUGs and tries to help them succeed or tries not to look incompetent when lucking into a team of strong players.

    If anything, AR is not that popular BECAUSE it is hard and players seek the path of least resistance. They run back to their comfort zones, for one thing. It’s harder to sleepwalk through it, and each member has to take responsibility for themselves AND the team.

    And because it is more exclusive, it is much harder to form random groups and succeed, leading to more pickiness and less casual groups willing to form, which may lead to less groups being seen on GW2LFG.

    I do wonder how many guilded or closed groups are going through this, as it seems more designed toward that end. A glance at the roster of the two big guilds I’m in, doesn’t show as much visitation as Molten Facility either.

    I would actually keep an eye on the monocle and the new potent recipes on the TP to see how the supply changes. If more arrive consistently, there is a decent amount of players running it.

    And the last thing I would want is a unique exclusive reward to dungeons that compells people to run it endlessly without enjoying what they are doing. That’s asking for players to rapidly burnout once they look up and realize what they have been doing.

    1. Here’s the thing: people are running dungeons regardless. Many mindlessly so, as you say. AR is a great bar for requiring thought so you have to have “surprisingly good” rewards… not just “fair”. I agree that 1 g per run + loot is pretty fair.

      I think there is no question that this dungeon is fair, difficult, and good. People are still running CoF P1 moreso (or at least advertising for groups moreso) than AR. I feel that for gathering more players together, if AR had rewards that were clearly, clearly better than CoF P1… it would be a better way to gather the community.

      1. I came into AR this week and asked some guildies if they would run with me, hearing that it was a bit tough. Lots of people turned me down (185 ppl strong guild, with about 30 online at the time, and I was having trouble finding 4 who would run with me). Eventually I corralled a group together and headed in.

        I liked that it was tough. It was challenging in a way that most of the other dungeons aren’t, in the sense that there are puzzle bits, or new mechanics to deal with. They’ve found the conditions that people have the most trouble with (confusion, stun, knockdown) and they’ve made bad guys who use them.

        The mini-boss asura with his lasers was more difficult than the final bosses, yeah, but the way the fights are structured I found them more interactive/challenging/interesting than simply standing in a corner and wailing on Tequatl, for example. I got a few rares but I’ve got a couple of MF buffs. It would be nice to drop something AR-exclusive though.

        One of my party did say after we’d finished that “That was the LAST time I ever do that”, even though the run went pretty smoothly. I think I’d prefer challenging but fun to monotonous farming.

        1. I guess in part it comes down to expectations: if someone goes into this expecting it to be just another mindless dungeon run, they’re going to be frustrated and disappointed.

          On the other hand, if they’re going in knowing it’s hard, and actually desiring, as you do, the fun of the challenge, it’s going to be much more enjoyable.

          At risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, it seems like many more folks these days are doing things for the ‘material’ reward, and not the enjoyment of a challenge.

        2. I think a lot of people did play it for the challenge. They beat it one time, and then move on to either CoF P1 (mindless reward) or another challenging dungeon to work on whatever they want, such as more armor or legendary gifts or whatever. For repitition, which is required for a constant pool of players, you need to dig in for reward.

          ArenaNet making Living Story dungeons is awesome, but because of their limited nature they get harmed by a pool of ever-dwindling players. A lot of dungeon running players run it once, and that is good enough since it is going to disappear.

  2. “And the last thing I would want is a unique exclusive reward to dungeons that compells people to run it endlessly without enjoying what they are doing.”

    This is my worry, too – people running through a dungeon, usually as fast as possible, just for the reward at the end. I don’t find that fun, and honestly I’d much rather play a dungeon like AR just for the challenge and fun of it, than for (virtual) material reward. It’s kinda like WoW raiding, in a way, in that when people do it purely for Teh Epixx, they become a detriment to the team, putting their own personal reward desires above that of the team’s.

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