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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!