Category Archives: Guild Wars 2

A Daily in the Life of: GW2

Log into Guild Wars 2. Alt-tab and open the TaCo addon, which provides invaluable overlay support to extra activities, should I choose to engage with them.

Load main character (Scourge). Collect daily login bonus. Today is Day 8 of the 28-Day cycle, which is four Mystic Coins. The prices of Mystic Coins have collapsed since the End of Dragons expansion, presumably because the new Legendary weapon options that came with it use less of them. I have also heard that some cheater may have been banned a while back, and tanked the market? In any case, they used to be worth 2g apiece and today they are 71s. I bank them with the rest, bringing my total stash to 415. That seems like a lot, but apparently you need like 230+ of them for one Legendary.

Waypoint to Divinity’s Reach, enter home instance. Not many personal nodes in there – the math says you’d need like 500+ days just to break even on the typical 50g purchase price – but the Quartz node in there supposedly sometimes drops Charged Quartz Crystals which are otherwise 1/day limited.

And… holy shit, it actually happened:

Waypoint to bank to deposit goods. Use the Ley-Energy Matter Converter for some “free” goodies, same with Princess (eating some of the thousands of Draconite Ore I stashed for some reason). Between the AH and the vendor, I made about 21s.

Waypoint to Lion’s Arch, near a Skritt vendor that gives me a Provisioner token in exchange for a Mystic Forge Stone. I have 108 of the latter somehow and this appears to be the best use for them. Waypoint to Durmand Priory with its easy Commune Hero Point to turn 25 Quartz Crystals into a Charged version once per day. Waypoint to Black Citadel near another Provisioner token NPC, this time trading one for an Obsidian Shard. Need 50 total Provisioner tokens to exchange for a Gift of Craftmanship, a component in Legendary Sigils and Runes. I could earn more than 2/day from these and other vendors, but the other exchanged goods cost money and I’m not in a particular hurry. Two per day will add up over time – I have 42 total, for example.

At this point, I check the actual Daily quest options. If you complete three “achievements” from a rotating list, you get 2g straight up plus some other bonuses. Some are more annoying than others. I generally hope for “Mine/Chop/Gather X nodes,” “Vista Point in Y area,” and “WvW Big Spender.” Of the WvW options, I will settle for things like killing a Sentry or capping a Shrine, but it’s highly dependent on what’s actually going on in WvW at the time. Today is… ugh. Veteran Creature Slayer or Kill 5 Guards. These aren’t hard but increases the risk of me encountering enemy players. Luckily, a Jumping Puzzle is one of the daily options and TaCo will provide an overlay of exactly where to go and how to jump.

Completed all three, collect the 2g. There’s more I can do, but I switch to alts now.

Load Daredevil. They are already at Flax farm in Draconis Mons. Collect all the nodes, sell the 14 Piles of Flax Seeds for 43s. I could just keep the alt here, but I use the Spearmarshal’s Plea item to teleport to a small corner of a map on the opposite side of the world. Just south of that destination is a guaranteed Rich Orichalcum Vein. Sell the 10 ore for 31.8s. I use a Watchwork Pickaxe bought with Karma, which adds an extra 6.75s worth of sellable goods to the haul.

Load Renegade. They are right by the Rich Orichalcum Vein mentioned above. They get a rare gem proc, which is an extra 7.5s, totaling basically 45s altogether. Use the Season 3 Portal Tome to port to Draconis Mons, in basically a reverse route as the Daredevil. Somehow get 16 Flax and a bonus item, selling for 50s even.

Load Mirage. Repeat above.

Load Mechanist. This alt is parked near a Grand Chest in Echovald Wilds, in the new expansion. Looting it gives a Jade Runestone worth 36s by itself, and I occasionally get two. The chest also has about 6ish Unusual Coins which… probably have some purpose. Not selling anything just yet, just in case.

Load Tempest. This alt is parked near the three chests in the Sanctum of Nabkha from Path of Fire. I honestly don’t really know why. Most of the items can’t actually be sold (below minimum price on the AH). I do get 25+ Trade Contracts, which is a sort of expansion currency. Hmm. After checking the Wiki, the Trade Contracts are necessary to use with other goods to trade for Funerary Incense, which is then used to help build Legendary weapons. So… probably that reason.

Load Firebrand. This alt is parked at Bjora Marches, near the frozen waterfall. There are three chests here that can each be opened once per day for a lot of Eternal Ice currency plus other (low-value) goodies. Eternal Ice can be converted to other map currency, to use in the creation of a Legendary without having to farm in more annoying ways.

Done.

Total haul appears to be 2.62g + 2g + miscellaneous currencies. I don’t typically do the Flax/Ore loop on my Scourge, Mechanist, or Firebrand, despite it being fairly easy to get them back into position, thereby losing out on another 2.62g daily cash. Resetting the Tempest would be more annoying than it is worth, assuming I value Trade Contracts at all. Which I do, for the hypothetical future.

At the time of this writing, 4.62g is worth exactly 15 gems. Buying 800 gems costs $10, which means… 8 gems equals ten cents. I earned about $0.20 with all that activity. Not difficult activity, but not nonzero either. Jesus Christ, I never bothered doing the math until just now, writing this post. What the fuck am I doing with my life?

Log off.

Skyscale, Go

A few days ago I finally unlocked the Skyscale mount in Guild Wars 2.

Unlocking it has been one of the most absurdly grindy things I have done in an MMO. I haven’t played every MMO out there and certainly not even more than a handful with any sort of seriousness, so I cannot speak towards where it may rank, objectively.

That said, the day that I quit WoW for the first time, I made this criticism about a similar grind:

The difference between creating enough content to occupy people for a month versus creating content it takes a person a month to complete is the difference between bankruptcy and a sweet raise. Think about those Tol Barad trinkets you spent 30+ days “earning.” That they required 125 marks and Exalted reputation was entirely arbitrary. It was not about creating content, it was about creating a time wall that needed to be dismantled brick by brick by repetitive activity which creates an illusory value to the end-product. Something you have worked towards accumulates value that simply getting it right away would lack.

The Skyscale unlock chain is not “repeat 30 daily quests” which, at first, is a mark in its favor. But in the final analysis… perhaps daily quests ain’t so bad.

I used this site and addons to work through everything over a period of about two weeks. Again, that’s better than 30 days of dailies, yeah? Ehh… maybe not. For posterity’s sake, here is the basic summary:

  • Complete all the Living World Season 4 content
  • Find Gorrik on the Dragonfall map
  • Pick up 21 Skyscale Scales around Dragonfall
  • Complete 5 achievements around Dragonfall to purchase medicine from vendors
  • Give medicine to 14 Skyscales around Dragonfall
  • Collect 21 Skyscale eggs around Dragonfall

So far, so good. Then comes Saving Skyscales. To complete this achievement, you must complete 12 achievements which themselves have 4-5 sub-achievements from around the game, ostensively to understand under what conditions are best to hatch these eggs.

  • Complete 55 sub-achievements from all over the world
    • Jumping puzzles, environmental damage, events, a whole gamut of nonsense
  • Collect 14 treats from mobs around the game
  • Feed your Skyscale 12 times (4/day timegate)
    • Food can be bought for 3.8g but otherwise requires 1/day account-bound resource
  • Collect 4 toys
    • One is at end of event chain, another requires 30+ gold or max jeweler
  • Find your hidden Skyscale 21 times
    • 8 are in jumping puzzles, 3 at world bosses; can skip a step with 7g/each item
  • Play with your Skyscale 18 times, twice
  • Collect saddle components
    • 250 map-specific currency across six maps total
    • Return To X achievements makes this trivial; otherwise it would be weeks of grinding
  • Complete 28 flying lessons across the world

At the end of all this toil, you receive the Skyscale, a mount that is essentially a combination of the Griffon and Springer. That is selling it a bit short, of course. The reality is that it is a sort of helicopter that allows for hovering and just enough useful maneuverability to supplant multi-mount swapping. At least, that is what I tell myself to keep the dissonance at bay.

It is probably good game design to have these sort of extreme quests (in the historical form of that word) available, especially in games like GW2. These sort of things give you something to work towards, especially in a game bereft of typical character progression. Although there is already Legendary gear.

I just… don’t like how they went about it. There are steps that were just very obviously busy work. Having to get 250 map currency across six maps is frankly absurd, especially before the Return of X achievements were released. To contextualize that, you would basically have to run around a map looking for special resource nodes, hit them up, and get between 0-3 currency. That’s right, they’re not even guaranteed! The nodes are Account-based, so you are probably looking at maybe 40-50 currency a day by hitting the entire map, doing multiple events, completing Hearts, and more.

All to… build a saddle. Wut?

My least favorite stage was Saving Skyscales with the 55 nested achievements, but at least that ostensively made sense: see if your dragon egg responds to the Spirit of Fire by exposing it to flames from important heat-based lore locations. It’s arbitrary, but makes “sense.” Meanwhile, finding your Skyscale in 21 random-ass places? Busy work. Map currency? Busy work. Might as well have tacked on 101 Heart completions from Tyria on the list for all the similar meaning it would evoke.

In any case, that’s one bullet-point down, five to go. I’m actually on the first chapter of the Icebrood Saga right now, so let’s see if this momentum continues!

10 Years of Guild Wars 2

Little late to the party, but two weeks ago marked 10 years since the release of Guild Wars 2.

Surprisingly, I’m still playing.

Okay, perhaps “still” needs some quotation marks or an asterisk or two. There have been multiple, years-long periods where nary a guild has been warred. But it is absolutely true that I have been low-key doing daily quests and farming for probably well over six months now. And it is even more true that I ended up purchasing the ultra-deluxe edition of the End of Dragons expansion, that came with a bunch of extra premium currency.

Even more true than that is the fact that… I continue to play the game all wrong.

As any long-term reader could readily diagnose, my problem is an unhealthy desire for efficiency. Why do X when you could do X + Y instead? Because Y requires Z, about 15 hours of research, and meanwhile you never get around to doing X in the first place.

Let’s start basic. What I want to do is set my Future Self up for success whenever I get back to playing GW2 “for real.” So, for example, these last six months I have parked all my alts around a certain resource node, mined it, switched characters, repeat, log off. That plus the log-in rewards plus the occasional daily set if it’s achievable within 5 minutes has resulted in a nice nest egg. Thanks, Past Self.

Now that I am “back” in the game, I have additional priorities:

  • Play through Icebrood Saga content
  • Play through End of Dragons content
  • Try some of the new Elite specs
  • Work towards completing “Return of” achievements for free Legendary
  • Work towards unlocking Skyscale mount
  • Work towards unlocking some Legendary gear

The rational thing to do would be to pick something and do that thing in particular. But we’re not rational, we’re efficient. Which means spending dozens of hours setting yourself up for future success rather than using those same dozen hours achieving it.

So, for example, instead of continuing to mine that random ore node all my alts are already parked at, wouldn’t it be more efficient to park them at a node that provides resources towards completing Legendary gear? Absolutely, let me just try and start plowing through the Living World mission that unlocks that resource. But wait, since I am already low-key working towards a future Legendary, I should go ahead and set things up to work on the other time gates I know are ahead. Okay… I can get two Provisioner tokens a day just teleporting around, and I have plenty of resources to craft the 1/day Lump of whatever cooldown. Druid Stones take… alright, they take completing 4 Hearts in a certain area everyday for like 16 days. Better work that into my daily routine. Man, I already got all the achievements done for the “Return of” meta in this map other than redoing the story mode. I really want to try another new Elite spec for that though, because my Scourge is getting a little stale. Damn, my Engineer already spent all their Hero Points so they can’t unlock Mechanist without doing End of Dragons areas though. I wonder if I can just pop into the new zone real quick and then ignore everything while going around the map? Damn, I’m pretty close to the Skyscale though…

And so on, and so forth.

I suppose it is remarkable enough that all of this is still compelling in 2022. I mean, yeah, some of that compulsion originates from my side of the screen. But there are some things still extremely unique to the GW2 experience. “Quest” chains like the Skyscale are both meme-worthily long and relatively achievable, provided you eat the elephant one spoonful at a time. Combat isn’t difficult, but it can be satisfying. The mounts in the game are both a joy to use and perfectly enhances the scale of the world rather than diminishing it. There is an Explicit Schedule of Villainy that ensures there is something going on practically all the time. And there are people that appear out of the woodwork eager to engage in these scheduled events for some reason. Seriously though, no one really know how the economy of the game even works, but somehow it continues to do so. Okay, sure, the Mystic Toilet requiring you to flush thousands of materials away to create Legendary gear is one reason demand for goods have not yet collapsed, but are there really that many people working towards them simultaneously?

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have the answer as to whether I will still be playing in a week. But of all the F2P/B2P MMOs out there that I have tried, GW2 is the only one that has felt “real” enough to “matter.” As in, time you spent playing and unlocking things would still provide utility years later. Granted, the marketing department is nearly nonexistent, the balance team doesn’t play their own game (although someone is recently cleaning house), and you can never really tell with NCSoft titles how long they are for the world. However! I am glad Guild Wars 2 has made it to the ten years mark, and here’s hoping it goes on for another ten. Or at least as long as my interest persists.

GW2: Expansion Math

I think it’s safe to say that I will still be playing Guild Wars 2 in February, which is when the End of Dragons expansion is coming out. Which means I need to start doing some expansion math.

Under normal circumstances, I never opt for anything but the base expansions for whatever MMO I am playing. GW2 is a bit different since it’s more freemium and cash shopy – there are more utility items than straight cosmetics. For example, the base expansion costs $29.99 and includes (among other things) a Shared Inventory Slot and a max-level boost. The latter two items cost 700 gems and 2000 gems, respectfully. Or roughly $8.75 and $30. So… if you wanted an instant-level 80 boost anyway, you get the expansion for free! Not that an instant 80-level character is that valuable, of course.

In any event, the tiers get a bit weird.

Standard – $29.99

  • Shared Inventory Slot (700 gems or about $8.75)

Deluxe – $54.99

  • Additional Character Slot (800 gems or exactly $10)

Ultimate – $79.99

  • 4000 gems (exactly $50)

Again, there are additional items in the tiers there that I don’t care about, and thus value at zero.

Character slots are definitely something I want more of, but that middle tier ends up being much more expensive than what I could buy via gems on my own ($25 vs $10). But once you hit the Ultimate tier… things change. It costs $50 for 4000 gems, bringing down the hypothetical cost of the Ultimate tier down to the Standard level. But since you get the character slot from the previous tier too, the scenario is that I would get 5500 gems worth of things I value (or roughly $70) and the expansion itself for $10.

How could I possibly afford not to purchase the Ultimate edition of this expansion?!

It’s a trap, of course. Ish. Getting an MMO expansion for $30 straight-up is pretty good, notwithstanding it comes with something as valuable as a Shared Inventory Slot. And let’s also be clear that nothing here is breaking my bank – I’m just a parsimonious bastard. But kudos to the accountants at ArenaNet for making me do some math and seriously consider paying $80 for something I’ve spent less on in the last nine years of playing.

[Fake Edit: Black Friday Sale Edition]

I drafted everything above last week, but as it turns out, there are sales happening on Black Friday:

  • 20% off Gem Cards – $20 = 2000 gems ($25 normal)
  • 20% off Shared Inventory slot – 560/1512/2240 gems (700/1890/2800 normal)

Doing the math… nothing much changes, actually. The relative value of the Ultimate deal drops since it costs $40 for 4000 gems instead of $50, but that still doesn’t make the Deluxe edition worth it at all. What it does do is make it a bit palatable to skip the Ultimate tier and just buy what you need with gems. Getting 4000 gems with the Ultimate tier all at once will mean they’re gone on possibly silly shit within minutes. For example, there are infinite gathering tools on discount currently, and those + 3 shared inventory slots is basically 4000 gems right there.

On the other hand… ugh. The “discount” forces you into the $20 for 2000 gems category, which means that I’m going to be buying the Standard edition ($30) + 2000 gems ($20) and immediately spending at least 800 of them on a character slot anyway. Having 1200 leftover gems is, again, way better than the Deluxe edition. But now I’m at $50 vs $80 for the Ultimate, the latter of which includes a Character Slot.

Like, props to the fucking sadistic accountants over there at ArenaNet, but this shit right here is a dumb position for any player to be in. I shouldn’t need to do calculus to see if something is a good deal or not. Yeah, my situation in valuing only certain items is probably unique, but needing to math things out at all is likely to result in my purchasing nothing instead, as all thought shuts down from overheating.

That and, you know, I could buy a lot of other games for $80. Probably 4-8 of them, even.

GW2: Class Act

Close to 60% of my Guild Wars 2 gameplay is determining which class/spec I want to play at a given time. It’s a struggle because there are nine classes with three specs which have two broad categories of damage types (Power vs Condi) apiece. Nevermind the various Utility options and talent tweaks and, oh yeah, all the weapons that bring different skills too.

When looking at what to play though, my priority list is:

  1. Sustain, e.g. self-healing
  2. Pressing buttons feels satisfying
  3. Good open-world DPS
  4. Has option for ranged damage
  5. Condition cleanse
  6. Good open-world burst damage
  7. Class/spec is competitive (with tweaks) in fractals and/or PvP
  8. Rotation isn’t crazy

Might seem weird to have Sustain at the top, but in my nine years off and on playing GW2, I have discovered that the worst feeling I experience while playing is eating some big boss hit for 2/3rds of my HP and then frantically dancing around waiting for my self-heal to come off cooldown. Will other players help you up? Often, in fact! But I would rather be the guy helping other people off the floor than eating dirt myself.

Scourge [Necromancer elite spec]

My current main is a Scourge. While I have not played every single class/spec combination, I can say that Scourge is about as perfect as I can imagine. Phenomenal self-healing and barrier, great DPS, all ranged damage, baseline Condition cleansing, Boon stripping on a short cooldown, and even decent burst if you just unload all the cooldowns right away. While “class fantasy” isn’t listed as important above, it does count for something. And the Scourge has it, what with the sand necromancer schtick.

The “problem” is that… well, I’ve been playing that same spec for months. Not even months in a row (although it’s close), but like for a while, then taking a multi-year break, then playing it again. While the damage is good, the rotation is pretty straight-forward, so I end up pushing the same sort of buttons in the same sort of way, forever. It works, but it’s rote.

For the last several weeks, I did try to make Reaper work. Greatsword that turns into a giant scythe, the ability to burst down regular mobs in seconds, what’s not to love? Well, the sustain, or lack thereof. Bursting mobs depends on accumulating Life Force and popping a cooldown that burns Life Force naturally, in addition to said Life Force being your 2nd HP bar. So, get low on normal HP, pop the cooldown, and if the fight is still going on a few seconds later, you get to be right back on low HP.

Renegade [Revenant elite spec]

My up and coming new main, or at least secondary main.

I tried Revenant when it was first released and didn’t “get” it. Maybe it was undertuned at the time? All I know now is that the Condi Renegade pushes all the correct buttons for me: great sustain, good DPS, and bursting potential. Plus, it has great ranged damage, which is a huge plus. I plan on using my Renegade to go back through the various Living Story, er, stories in order to complete the Return Of… meta-achievements. If I have to play these again, may as well be on a different character.

Holosmith [Engineer elite spec]

I really want to like the Engineer, but it’s a struggle. Conceptually, the Holosmith is cool. The damage looks fun, there is some bursting potential, and so on. The problem I find is that the self-sustain isn’t there, even though I’m walking around with a shield. It is very possible that I’m simply not playing it correctly. Looking at some Scrapper videos, it’s also possible that I should be trying that spec out more, since it has a lot more sustain.

Really though, the main reason my Engineer is getting any attention is because of the upcoming Mechanist spec in the expansion. That is something I’m very interested in.

Mesmer [Any]

Another class that I should really like, but don’t in practice. I love the concept of an illusionist fighter dealing psychic damage, with a bunch of clones running around confusing people. Playing with it though, I find it extremely hard keeping up 3 clones for maximum DPS, let alone shattering them and then creating three more. I end up either not having three because one died or whatever, or wasting cooldowns trying to create three and doing nothing. Meanwhile, nothing is dying particularly quickly.

Maybe it’s my lack of gear on this character, but it’s hard to justify grinding Winterberries for the 10th time to get them enough gear to potentially be fun at a later date.

Thief [Any]

Again, I wanted to like them, but nope. One of the meta specs (Condi Daredevil) has a “rotation” of literally evade spam. Like, use an ability to makes you Dodge x3, use actual Dodge Roll x2, and then auto-attack a few times. Repeat. What’s not to love about that? I prefer simpler rotations myself, but damn guys.

Power Deadeye actually came closer to being good for me despite having an even simpler rotation of pressing Unload a bunch, because Unload is cool. Like you are just shooting with dual pistols a bunch over and over. The problem is that it has no cleave, so I had to press Unload a bunch on one guy, then swap, then swap again. Maybe Scourge has spoiled me, I dunno.

Elementalist [Any]

My character is named Azuriel Prime, as it was my original class when I started playing nine years ago.

Too bad Elementalists suck, and have pretty much forever. Is there something more brittle than a glass cannon? Sand castle cannon at high tide? Zero sustain, your elementals disappear when you mount, and everything kills you. Oh, and your rotation is cycling through 20 abilities compared to “just Dodge on cooldown and things die.”

[Fake Edit] Between when I originally wrote this and when the post was scheduled, I did spend a bit more time with the Elementalist. I went for Condi Tempest with full +Toughness, +HP, +Condi damage gear. And… it’s working, sorta. It’s not particularly fun and I couldn’t tell you what the Tempest brought to the table aside from being able to press your elemental attunement again (which is a DPS loss), but it’s not totally useless in of itself. It just can’t compete with other options, which have better sustain, higher damage, and easier rotations.

Guardian, Ranger, Warrior

Don’t have the character slots to have any of these.

Granted, I did before the Revenant, and actually had a few at level 80 back in the day. But back then, I wasn’t particularly impressed, and now it’ll cost me $10 to try them so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Fits and Spurts

It is difficult to play Guild Wars 2 in any sort of consistent manner.

I mean, sure, things would probably be easier if I were not so allergic to appointment gaming. But things are extremely fluid in GW2 that you must immediately drop whatever you are doing and follow the zerg when it appears like a flash mob. Otherwise you may be spending days or weeks hoping for lightning to strike twice to unlock one of ten million achievements or collections.

One of my long-term goals is to progress along the Season of Dragons meta-achievement, unlocking at least the 32-slot bag. This meta-achievement consists of dozens of other achievements, which are themselves unlocked by fulfilling a laundry list of tasks within specific zones. Some of those activities include things like “complete 10 bounties.” Bounties are basically extra-hard open-world group bosses that must be killed within 10 minutes. The LFG tool in GW2 is pretty useless for cobbling together groups, and it would be a bit irresponsible for me to create my own group for content I have no actual way to coordinate.

So… I wait and hope. And when I see someone running around the map with a Commander tag, I abandon my plans immediately (including going to sleep) and try to get whatever it is done.

So far, this strategy has been surprisingly successful. There are usually enough other achievements to work on while waiting to see if anything decides to spontaneously happen. But lately, it has stopped working. In particular, the Domain of Istan map only requires 5 bounties, of which I have 3 done, but the flash mob disbursed after Champion Suneh Stormbringer popped up and literally mopped the floor with us. Seriously, of all the bounties I have participated in, this guy was WAY overtuned. While the achievement can be earned with two more bounties of any type, I have nothing else to work on in that area – I must either camp on the map and be AFK, or try to organize something myself.

The flash mob situation was especially prevalent when I unlocked my WvW mount. I was just in WvW to get 1-2 daily achievements done to pocket 2g a bit easier. Three hours later, we assaulted and claimed a Keep, and then spent a considerable amount of time evicting the prior owners. That was not what I had intended to be doing with my playtime. I’m glad it happened, mind you, because now I don’t have to worry about it anymore. But as someone who prefers organization and analysis, it really makes me wonder how random I want my average game experience to be.

In any event, it is becoming increasingly clear that I need to join a guild. It is Guild Wars 2, after all. The issue is that you are basically in the same situation: waiting around for random guild chat spam in Lion’s Arch, or the sporadic and ephemeral postings on “Looking for Guild.” I found a promising guild on Reddit, but I’m chaffing a bit at the thought of having to essentially fill out a gaming resume and go through a probationary period. I get it, I was a GM for many years in WoW, and having some kind of filter would certainly have prevented a lot of awkward drama later on. And it’s not as though I want to join simply to leech goodwill.

But, ultimately, I don’t know how long I will be playing GW2, which days I will be playing, or even how long each individual session will be. There is an expansion coming up, and I’m very interested in that. So, maybe we just assume I’ll be around and go from there? All I really want is for another channel to be open in case someone wants some warm bodies to do X activity. I would settle for LFG if it were at all consistent.

All I know is that the quickest way to burnout is consistent inconsistency. So maybe I should solve it.

Mount Up (Still)

Almost four years ago, I said that mounts in Guild Wars 2 are a lot of fun. I’m here to say… they still are.

Indeed, this comes a few weeks after having unlocked the Griffon mount. And it is amazing. There is always a fear in making active mounts (e.g. needing to press buttons to move) into too much of a gimmick, especially flying ones. “Ugh, I have to flap its wings every time?” But I would say GW2 devs have threaded that needle with the Griffon.

For one thing, it’s less a flying mount and more of a gliding one. Pressing Spacebar will cause it to do a leap into the air, with further Spacebars causing it to beat its wings once while consuming the entire Endurance bar. If you do nothing else, it will glide down to wherever you are pointing it. Press Spacebar when you have the Endurance to do so, and it will gain a little altitude for a moment and continue gliding down. Hold Spacebar and it will automatically beat its wings when the Endurance bar fills up, but you’re still losing altitude overall. Time the Spacebars at 75% of an Endurance bar and you can technically maintain roughly the same altitude as when you started, but that of course requires some concentration on your part.

Here’s the key though: it’s fun and engaging.

I find myself often using the Griffon as my primary mount, even though it will lose to other land mounts in a horizontal race between two points. I just like looking for those opportunities to bound up a small hill and gain some airtime. Once you unlock its Masteries, your Griffon can go into steep dives to gain some forward momentum which will beat out land mounts, at least while you are in the sky. And those times are the best.

This sort of thing would not work in every game. For example, I don’t think WoW could pull this off. That said, a lot of the developer pushback during WoW’s Flightgate was how flying trivialized questing content. GW2 does not have this problem. Even in the scenarios in which a Griffon can get you somewhere that lets you skip portions of a jumping puzzle – and there are plenty of enforced no-fly zones around jumping puzzles – you are still engaging in the terrain in other ways. Getting on your Springer mount and climbing up mountains. Using Jackal portals. And so on. Flying over the gates and landing directly on the objective feels more earned, from both a player and developer standpoint.

Supposedly, the Skyscale is a more traditional “helicopter” mount that lets you stay flying indefinitely. I have not unlocked that one though, and possibly never will. Then again, I never thought I would be playing GW2 every night for the last month and a half, but here we are.

Specifically, climbing hills and flying off them.

Checkpoint: Guild Wars 2

I’ve been playing some games. Let’s talk about it.

Guild Wars 2

At the end of September, I complained about the impenetrable nonsense in GW2. Since then, I have been, er, penetrating it daily.

Originally, the goal was to keep the oven pre-heated, so to speak, by doing some daily chores to score the 2g payout plus login bonus. That way, if the expansion coming in February piqued my interest, I would have a nice stack of cash heading into it. Plus, you know, if I didn’t like playing the game prior to the expansion, I could come to my senses and not buy it.

Somewhere along the way, I got the idea to go ahead and unlock the Griffon mount.

Oh boy.

The impression I had going into this endeavor was that you needed 250g saved up and you basically walked flew away with a Griffon. That… is not even remotely accurate. Step 1 is completing all of the Path of Fire expansion. Which, I admit, is a reasonable request for someone who purchases expansions. At least, in normal MMOs – I have never actually finished the Personal Story in all the years I have played GW2.

The Path of Fire story was quintessential GW2 material. I had no idea who anyone was, why they were there, or what was going on. And that was fine because it didn’t matter. Oh, and here is a huge, stunning domain of a god that you can explore for 15 minutes before never coming back. I swear that ArenaNet devs must be made up of 80 artists and 2 scenario writers who hate their job.

Story complete, you can now start on the Griffon achievement. Which requires 250g… and five map achievements. Which each have a half-dozen boxes that need checked off. Some are simply exploring and finding Griffon eggs in certain locations. Others are defeating Legendary/Champion bosses that require a group to accomplish. Somehow that little detail always got left off of the Griffon description.

As of the time of this writing, I believe I have the hardest elements taken care of. It took 5-6 days to luck into groups of other late-Griffon enthusiasts, and the LFG tool factored into zero of them. I managed to snag credit for one of the kills simply because I noticed a player wearing a Commander tag down in the general area I knew the boss to be. I dropped everything I was doing and frantically galloped my way there and tagged credit on the last 10% HP. It was cheap, but I’ll take it. And did. But there was one escort mission that took multiple days for it to even show up as an option and I almost abandoned the effort, thinking it was bugged out.

Once the Griffon is unlocked, then what? Part of the impetus to get the Griffon was how annoying it sounded to get the “Return to X” achievements to unlock, among other things, a 32-slot bag. So that is probably the next goal. We’ll have to see though how difficult that happens to be now that it is no longer “meta” to do so. If it’s more like the Griffon quests x10, then… I dunno.

Then again, what else am I doing?

I Should Like GW2 More

After loading Fallout 76 for the seventieth time, it occurred to me that I should really like Guild Wars 2 more than I do.

In Fallout 76, I’m basically logging in, collecting some resources for later, progressing down the seasonal reward track via daily quests, and killing everything in 1-2 hits. The last part really is silly, as I spend a considerable amount of time farming/grinding new weapons despite already owning several that destroy everything. For example, I watched a video showcasing a sort of Gatling Shotgun and decided I had to have it. So I do… and it kinda sucks. But… horizontal progression!

Meanwhile, I have found myself logging into GW2 to at least progress through the calendar goodies before immediately logging off. The thought process is that if I ever get gung-ho about the game again – there is an expansion on the horizon – I will be glad my past self was so thoughtful.

But why log off immediately? Whereas my “progress” in Fallout 76 couldn’t possibly matter at this point, stuff in GW2 does could. So this weekend I logged in and stuck around.

… and remembered why I don’t.

To be fair, the comparison is unfair. I stick with Fallout 76 because the moment-to-moment gameplay is enjoyable, even when there is little personal danger. GW2 gameplay is… different. Not terrible. Not great. It definitely lacks the satisfaction of, say, pushing buttons as a Frost or Fire Mage in WoW. Or Rogue. Or most other classes in other MMOs, period. But maybe I’m just out of practice.

Indeed, that continues to be the biggest hurdle: the impenetrable nonsense from a decade of horizontal progression. Where do I even start? Goals are good, I guess. So let me see:

  • Unlock Griffin
  • Unlock additional character slot
  • Unlock some Quality of Life upgrades

The Griffin requires me to clear the Path of Fire expansion, which I apparently didn’t do, so that’s a start. The other two are solvable with $$$ at borderline exploitative rates, or they can be grinded via gold farming. I’m not against some casual farming, even if it takes a while to reach my goals, so let me just see the avenues to get gold in GW2…

[Two hours later]

Welp, there’s all my gaming free time.

Again, unfair. If I just log in and do some WvW or whatever it looks like the zerg is up to, chances are I’d be 80% effective at gold farming compared with casual optimal. But I don’t like not knowing what I don’t know, you know? Learning anything in-game though is nearly impossible – there’s literally ten thousand+ achievements and collections, some of which actually give you permanent bonuses. Great for veterans needing long-term goals, less great for returning optimizers.

We’ll see where things go. I never imagined that GW2 would be some kind of MMO sandbar for me, so some of the blockage is my own mentality. But if you guys have some 5-10 minute routes or something surprisingly worth it to unlock, let me know. Last time I played, I spent about three months farming Winterberries to gear my alts, for example, and I considered that reasonable/entertaining enough to keep my toes in the water.

No Thanks, I’m Good

One of the events coming back in Guild Wars 2 is the Twisted Marionette encounter from early in the Living World days. You know, when the devs thought it would be super clever to spend tremendous resources on unique events and then literally delete them from the game after X weeks. That sort of nonsense has been a bad idea forever, so my interest was piqued when I heard ArenaNet is bringing back some of the Season 1 content.

Then I came across a helpful guide to the encounter on Reddit:

New drinking game: take a shot every time it mentions an ability will one-shot you. And prepare to be downed yourself.

I slid off Guild Wars 2 towards the beginning of Season 1, so I have no attachment to this “fan-favorite” event. And, granted, I led raids in WoW for many years which had the same sort of one-shot, “wipe the raid because one person didn’t dance correctly” mechanics. Perhaps that was the idea of the time, to craft an encounter similar to those of its peers, even though I don’t think anyone ever actually thought it would be a good idea in GW2. Sure, put on some zerg protection for X number of bosses to shake things up. But this sort of thing? Yikes.

So, anyway, Twisted Marionette is back for whomever still enjoys that sort of thing.

It was interesting feeling my physical revulsion bubble up just from reading that guide though; a sort of literal gut check of where I am in 2021 regarding group content. I do still log in very occasionally to GW2, sometimes seeking out the world events and killing dragons. The zerg is much maligned as mindless, and I suppose it is, but that has always felt more core to the GW2 experience than anything else. A big pile of people and particle effects, working separately together, without competition or ego, achieving great things. I never felt bad seeing another player beside me, or was concerned about their DPS performance or general competency. The more the merrier!

I have been out of the raiding game so long that it’s difficult to imagine ever enjoying the opposite experience. Highly regimented, strictly choreographed, tightly tuned… school group projects. Wherein your personal aptitude is diluted in a pool of randos who very much care less about the final grade than you do. Sometimes it’s even worse when you know everyone else, because now you have worry about letting them down, or worry about pretending you aren’t annoyed when they let you down.

Is there a sense of pride and accomplishment when you finally defeat the difficult encounter as a group? Sure. Although it’s more relief than anything, as I get to avoid the awkward, weekly debriefing in which I try to delicately tell our best DPS that her healing boyfriend needs to step up or he’s getting benched. And even though we succeeded, there are those who wanted both gone due to drama.

I used to do this sort of thing for fun? Christ almighty. No thanks, I’m good.

[Fake Edit:] For the complete opposite take, look no further than Bhagpuss.

The next two lanes also killed theirs but after that it was fail time for everyone, and we wiped. Second time around we did even worse and then I had to go to bed. It was a great introduction all the same.

He’s not being facetious. Dude is clearly an (inter)national treasure and we should all aspire to be this excited to still fail through no fault of our own, instead of considering that being literally the worst possible outcome.