A whole zone upended on the hour, every hour. That is what the latest content patch in Guild Wars 2 brings in Clockwork Chaos. The mad genius Scarlet Briar is attacking Tyria, and at the beginning of the hour a zone becomes her violent playground. Any zone above level 25 except Orr (locked in time) and Southsun (locked in… karka?) is fair game for her madness.
Mechanically, it works like this. For 15 minutes there is calm in Tyria as many players are emptying their bags of loot from the last invasion. Right on the hourly dot, the Living World UI will say there’s a new invasion in a zone, let’s say Harathi Hinterlands. Interested players teleport to a random place in Harathi Hinterlands at that moment. Once there it will be apparent where the events are. There are 3 waves of twisted clockwork creatures and the latter 2 waves are supplemented by either a Molten Core invasion or an Aetherblade invasion, which also have to be dealt with. If all waves are defeated players can fight the boss, Scarlet. If the players can’t work down all the waves in 45 minutes, the meta-event still rewards players pretty well for progress made.
Unlike Crown Pavilion in the previous update (which is still available until early September), a zerg isn’t the way to go. Commanders must split up the zone population to attack various areas. I’ve seen plenty of heated discussion bashing players wanting their commander tag on without wanting to intelligently lead. The other tip apparently is to work on events instead of enemies. I know this to be true for the reinforcement armies, especially the Molten Core event to kill the dredge carrier, but it seems unclear to me whether it is best to attack clockwork portals primarily while ignoring any twisted clockwork creatures untethered from a portal event or to deal with all the clockwork creatures regardless. Everybody in map has an opinion, which seems also to get heated a bit too much for the amount of players on the map. There are going to be dumb zebras in every herd. Out of the five invasions I’ve played, the closest I’ve come to failing is fighting Scarlet at 4 minutes. Mrs. Ravious has only failed 1 out of 7 or so.
The worst part about this invasion mechanic where everybody dogpiles on one zone is that more than likely players will be in overflows. This isn’t so bad, and is honestly more the norm than not for playing in the bi-weekly content. However, the overflows fill up so fast that whole parties get split between overflows and cannot easily rejoin the party. The other bad thing is that overflows will only create the invasion for 10 minutes past the hour. That means latecomers that don’t get in to an invaded overflow are basically unable to join the invasion event as their overflow remains peaceful for the remainder of that hour. If players are not watching the invasion UI right on the hour, it is likely they will miss it. These can both be frustrating.
My other main gripe is that the event is a 45-minute event since if I am not there at the start it is quite difficult to join an invaded zone mid-hour. Active participation is not required that entire time, and I keep re-assuring Mrs. Ravious that it is quite okay for her to find a merchant in the zone mid-fight to unload her loot bags. However, I can’t blame her for not wanting to stay in thick of things; it is quite intense. My final gripe is that a few achievements require players to participate in invasions in unique zones. Thankfully Mrs. Ravious started jotting down the zones we had saved, but this also means that if we have 2 hours to play tonight, it’s going to be a crapshoot to see if we get the zones we need. The Invasion Canceler is a 25 point achievement (pretty big), but it requires 13 hours of play and much attention.
Getting back to the good. The scaling on the meta-events feels really good. Last night we were hitting champions left and right. This morning before work I snuck in one invasion, and our smaller overflow was initially just fighting non-elite mobs and a few veterans. The difficulty was right on, and I loved taking down a portal event this morning with one other random player. It was tough.
The reason it was tough was because local krait kept getting in the way. I love this. Not only is it great to return to all the mid-level zones I haven’t explored in quite some time, but all the events interact. This morning we were fighting a champion twisted creature, and a largos assassin pops up and asks if we really want a challenge before laying in to us. Local deer are also feeling the bystander effects in the Darwinian sense.
I love the return of the Molten Alliance. Fighting a few champs last night I forgot how much I enjoyed the Molten Alliance champion design. Oh yeah, I do have to jump over that shockwave! How do I dodge those djinn bullets again? However, the air assault by the Aetherblades is just fantastic. I don’t know how many pictures I have taken of the multiple Aetherblade airships in the sky.
The new creature army, the twisted clockworks, is also quite fun because they are so synergetic. They leave behind corpses that have to be finished, ala a good PvP stomping. If their corpses are left unstomped, the creatures use them to build mines or even resurrect new creatures. I do wish that the PvE finisher would use my newly purchased spectre PvP finisher, even if I am the only one to see it. I am kind of surprised they don’t because I am sure a few PvE players would buck up to get the cooler finishers.
The best thing about this is the hints at what this meta-event can portend. The story of Scarlet Briar is getting quite interesting, but I know I am not alone in searching the horizons for another Elder Dragon. ArenaNet has shown gumption and capability in using the whole of Tyria as a battlefield, and it would be great to see an Elder Dragon attack along these lines. I guess for now it’s better to deal with an active psychopath rather than semi-complacent force of nature.