And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
–T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
The experiment start at 7:48pm on Saturday. I zone into Sparkfly Fen, a level 55-65 area for the first time. During the loading screen, I let out a heavy sigh. Okay, here we go.
I may have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating again: Guild Wars 2 looks amazing.
I can see the sort of watercolor schtick being an artistic preference, but more than the looks, the game does make you feel like you are moving in 3D space. I could (and did) climb that little rock wall thing on the left, for example. Skyrim still has GW2 beat, but they both share that sense of space and scope that encourages a “let me go over there… because I can!” feeling.
So far, so impressed.
After talking with a scout, I head over to the NW. A Heart icon and unfilled meter appears – the game face comes back on. I start clicking on the shiny things, filling up the meter 20% of the way before catching myself. Part of the experiment is to read ALL the things, because the head writer is not an accountant like I alleged. I talk to Jezza, and he/she wants me to help clean up undead by clicking on things, killing Risen, or picking up a flamethrower and using it on the bushes. I pan the camera around to case the area, then say “Yeah… flamethrower.”
Halfway through the meter, I hear a WHOOSH and glance over:
Clearly, someone at ArenaNet reads the blog and is following me around after complaining about the lack of Events. I drop my flamethrower and move to the cannons on the beach. We apparently have 15 minutes to kill the ship before… things happen. As I shoot a cannonball every 5-6 seconds, I see some other players running around near me. It is hard to see what they are doing, although I know the ship is launching things at the beach. None of them ever hit me, so I just keep firing.
After about the first two full minutes of said firing, it gets a bit tiring. Eventually, the ship goes down.
I briefly wonder when I started getting 1.33s for Events, as I go looking for my flamethrower. Oh… the Heart completed too. I talk to Jezza, browse the wares, and look around. Okay, there is a Skill Point just North of here. There is a crumbling stone building at the Skill Point location, and it appears to have several different levels. I walk in, start killing some things, and realize that I might have to commit some serious time to this place because it isn’t immediately clear A) where the Skill Point is, and B) how I would get back out. But… science!
I hop down to the bottom floor, and see some other players engaged with the Skill Point “guardian.” I land one blow before it dies, getting the Skill Point. I do talk with the NPC afterwards, as it appears to be a ghost. Interesting. It is apparently a “good” ghost that is also fighting the Risen in the area. Ghosts fighting undead is an interesting premise, and one I hope gets expanded on at some point. Indeed, I remember going through the Charr beginning zones thinking “if ghosts are this absurd of a weapon, why aren’t they used more offensively?” Anyway, getting out of the fort ends up being pretty easy.
I grab a Waypoint or two, and then pause for a photo op:
I get to a… frog-people village at the tail-end of a king-of-the-hill-ish Event and get credit for basically 40 seconds of standing there. While so doing, I kept an eye on the unfolding drama in Map Chat regarding a Champion Shark spawn:
By contrast, Qoetl was not particularly interesting to talk to. Fix signs, kill Risen, or squirt guards with a water gun. As I get started on these tasks, I hear a giant WHOOSH.
In case you did not want to check the timestamps yourself, it has been exactly 20 minutes. Dynamic, indeed. As I squirt a frog with a water gun, I muse on how it could have been possible for me to have missed the boat at the fort. Then again, as I eventually came to realize, you can hear the boat surfacing from anywhere in the entire zone.
All frogs hydrated, I head South. There are two Event notifications, but they are on an island with Hearts two levels higher than my current level. I get to another frog village, this time headed by Potatlan. I am linking all these characters so you can read their “quest text” yourself.
Having no interest in killing Risen, I get perfumed in the stench of death to attract the flies away from Risen corpses (both redundant and contradictory!) and bring them back to the frog so he can eat them. Okay… what is he going to do 4 hours from now when he’s hungry again? I guess it is a silly question, either because I may solve the undead problem entirely later on, or he could just eat the flies by cutting out the undead juice perfume middleman. I mean, it was not like I was preventing the flies from eating the corpses – I was merely bringing them to the frog so he wouldn’t have to move.
What a dick. I vow to let him die next time an Event rolls around.
Finishing up, the next Heart I see is to the South, but I see an Event notification to the North, near a Heart I already completed. Backtrack or press on? It has been about an hour, so I decide the Events can wait.
I barely get time to talk to Cuadinti before another survive-the-waves Event starts in the same area. I start to notice Risen frog-people are spawning, and they just sit back dealing 10% of your HP in attacks and stacking poison on you. Since you do not regenerate HP after combat until all debuffs fall off, this poses a particularly strong danger; at one point, I had a poison debuff that would have lasted 35 second. I spec’d my Elementalist as mostly Arcane/Water, so I could cleanse it pretty quickly when I pay attention, but it perhaps might have been an issue for some classes.
I cannot quest any farther South, as I am below level and have no interest in fighting Risen even in those rare times when I manage to get placed 1-2 levels above them. I move West and start working my way back up North. I run into the Champion Shark along the way:
I have 7425 HP in this area, and as the combat log shows, the shark dealt 9,174 damage in, for all intents and purposes, a single attack (probably a “charge,” but I saw no warning for it). This was the first situation in which I experienced the underwater downed mechanic in a setting where I could actually get to the surface quickly.
As it turns out… it is fairly ludicrous. Just getting to the surface auto-heals you for an amount that is akin to 2-3 people rezzing you, making things fairly trivial. I could probably still auto-die after getting downed multiple times, but there were several other people around to act as additional targets so it was fine. The shark eventually died, and I got a grey vendor-trash fin, plus whatever the Event normally gives.
Talked with Ayomichi, who wants me to pop bloated fish corpses and kill infected wildlife to stop spread of corruption, just like all the other frog-people so far this map. I begin to wonder if that Vigil outpost at the beginning is all of civilization I am going to see.
I am immediately distracted by a waterfall/jumping puzzle.
After solving the puzzle and harvesting a cauliflower “farm,” I check the AH prices. Hmm, vendor+1c for the vegetable. Makes sense.
I complete the Heart offered by Admiral Clarinda Demard, who is apparently a pirate that looks like a Seraph and willing to turn me into a Chocobo to peck open treasure chests. I swim into the water as the bird, to see what happens. You can do it, but you lose all your abilities, including the ability to untransform. I get out of the water, untransform, and get back in. After the first Risen mob I pull, I remember why I never A) fight Risen if I can help it, B) fight underwater. Elementalist underwater combat is awful, aside from the 10 seconds or so when you can turn into the Vortex with your Elite Skill and deal ~1500 damage per second.
Final Heart of the night is offered by Leemoola. I complete it as fast as humanly possible. Whoa, Aquabreathers! I upgrade my level 40 aquabreather with a level 60 version.
Believe it or not, I am actually missing Events and Enemy Types for the daily. Apparently the daily achievement resets between 8pm-9pm EST, because that isn’t prime time or anything. I open the map and see no orange circles, and am too tired to desire playing for much longer. I Waypoint myself over to the beginning Charr area, and roll the dice for Chili Peppers on the herb nodes (selling for 1 silver apiece!) and get my last few Events/Enemy Types filled.
Log off at 10:12pm.