There is a lot to talk about with the latest Guild Wars 2 update, which closes out Season 2 of the Living World story. I am going to go from least spoiler’y to most spoiler’y in my posts about the update. First, I am going to talk about the Silverwastes and its boss.
The latest two zones are what I would consider highpoints of MMO zone design because each zone has its own rhythm and life. My least favorite MMO zones are ones where there’s a bit of everything, and none of it really ties together. My favorites are ones where when I enter the zone I know what the cadence will be. Dry Top is an event farming zone with handy dandy hourly timer and reset. Silverwastes is more chaotic, and also more rewarding.
Now with the believed completion of Silverwastes the song of the zone goes like this: First, players build up the zone by holding and upgrading the four forts. The more upgraded a fort after a successful defense from Mordrem (jungle dragon minions) attack the more the bar goes up. When the bar maxes out, players enter the Breach, where there is a unique boss fight below each fort. The better the map does in killing the bosses the more rewarding for all. Killing all the bosses nets 3 rares and additional loot. The end of the map is a 15+ minute cooldown where players can grab chests Pacman style below the surface of Silverwastes.
With the last upfate, right after the Breach (before Pacman crazy labyrinth running), there is a zone wide boss fight that is very reminiscent of Season 1’s Marionette fight. In fact, it is pretty fair to call it Marionette 2.0 – Mordrem Style.
There are three lanes to divide the map population. Each lane has a siege creature and ammo dump. Mordrem attack both. The map gets 15 siege creature lives, and if the ammo dump gets “killed” players have to switch gears and snag more ammo while the siege creature stands in one place getting stacked on by the Mordrem enemies. The siege creature’s role is to open up the vine gates that block each lane by using the ammo.
Once a lane is unblocked, the players in that lane can rush in to fight one of the three unique champions of the Vinewrath. The Vinewrath is a big menacing flower thing that watches players fight and occasionally kills everybody. These champion fights are timed, and if players cannot kill the champion in the allotted time the map loses 3 siege creature lives and those players are kicked out of the “arena”. The next lane then goes in to fight that same champion. If the champion is killed the next lane goes on to fight the next champion. A perfect fight would be each lane killing a champion, three in-a-row.
If a champion is killed everybody participating in the event gets loot. It’s pretty good. The best loot is when all three champions are killed (before 15 siege creatures die), and there is a chest. This chest is the only way to get the Carapace armor set chest pieces to complete the Luminescent armor set.
The boss fights each have their own style. Players cannot simply stack up, stack might, and wail away.
For example, the second Vinewrath champion is the big brother of the Breach’s platinum boss. It’s a Mordrem thrasher that flings outward poison globs. At half health it switches attacks to a massive area-of-effect (AoE) poison attack. It’s not that hard to range attack and keep strafing to avoid the poison attacks. However, “pustules” make a mess of things. They can pop for massive AoE damage. If one or two players work on taking them down though they provide a small AoE buff and don’t kill people. Seems simple, but someone has to do it.
Then the thrasher champion gives up and lets the Vinewrath take a turn, the whole group has to stand in one spot (using the thrasher as a sound shield). Unshielded players get a 20 second stun. In the other Vinewrath champion fights, similar mechanics exist, but it’s just insta-kill or insta-downed.
The additional roles are fairly simple in all three fights: (1) agro bees to honeycombs to create a honeycomb shield, (2) pop pustules, and (3) open flowerbuds for players to stand on. Someone still has to do it.
In the lanes, there are two additional roles beyond protect the siege creature. The first additional role is to use the siege weapons, which in my opinion aren’t that effective with the exception of the arrow cart. (Also if ArenaNet keeps using siege in PvE, I would love to make use of my WvW traits. Be a good incentive to branch out.) The second is to protect the backline / ammo depot. It’s usually really easy until the Mordrem siege husks arrive. I’ve seen them wipe out an entire lane because no one would peel off the siege creature to deal with the relatively easy backline threat.
I am pretty impressed with the design of the Vinewrath open-world raid. I am a bit concerned as to its viability when the world moves on from the Silverwastes; perhaps they will allow for a Guild World Event eventually. For now, the song and dance of the Silverwastes is pretty fun. I am enjoying being the one that takes on roles otherwise ignored to “save the raid”. It’s only self-congratulatory, but I feel like I have added significant weight to the event.
I know recently ArenaNet had a job opening for a “raid designer”. I am thoroughly enjoying the three raids* they do have, and am looking forward to more.
*Tequatl, the 3 Wurms, and the Vinewrath