Fluidity and Stupidity

August 30, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 13 Comments
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Me inside the Eye of the North instance wearing heritage armour and my pimp hat.

The dungeons in Guild Wars 2 are interesting in that there are free waypoints to travel to inside the instance. Fail or wipe and you can travel back to any waypoint you’ve unlocked. The first waypoint at the entrance even has the convenience of a repair NPC.

I was going through the Ascalonian Catacombs yesterday with some people who were new to the experience. Their first impression was negative. “That’s stupid.”

I have to disagree. For a number of different reasons.

At first glance maybe it does seem like it takes the game out of killing things. Why should there be little to no penalty for dying? Doesn’t that take the difficulty out of the dungeon?

The trash mobs in Ascalonian Catacombs are mostly pretty tough. Veterans of varying difficulty. It’s interesting because most games would throw cannon fodder at you to simply waste time, give you something to do before you get to a boss. Sometimes they’ll require strategy but usually there isn’t much difficulty.

Guild wars 2 tries to make each enemy encounter something of an experience. As a result I feel like there are far fewer mobs that might be considered trash, although I won’t say playing through a dungeon is entirely different in this respect. It’s still similar.

In our dungeon, early on, we had taken out a few groups of enemies and at some point we had begun to get downed/defeated. It was looking grim but the defeated in our party warped to the waypoint and ran back to continue the fight.

I guess this is where the idea came in that it was “stupid.” The idea being we should have wiped, failed, and started from the beginning.

In a more traditional MMO you would start, stop, start, stop, depending on how successful the run goes. In Guild Wars 2 unless you’re doing particularly badly it’s always just go.

It’s a much more fluid experience. I think that is to the great benefit of Guild Wars 2 players.

Raiders won’t like it, I admit that at least in this early story mode dungeon it makes things easier and removes difficulty. However I think explorable mode will probably increase in complexity and strategy. And I can’t agree that adding roadblocks to playing is a fun mechanic. Coming to a dead stop should never be a large component to a game. There is something to be said for momentum.

Guild Wars players will love it. I’ve argued before about how Guild Wars is essentially the ultimate casual MMO with loads of content all packaged in small, defined, pieces. Guild Wars 2 is the same way. We finished this dungeon with a pretty fast time, somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes.

I think, generally, taking the start/stop functionality out of dungeons was a smart move, not a stupid one. It is easily less frustrating and more fun. I enjoyed my time in the story mode and look forward to the explorable versions of the dungeon.

A couple other details about the dungeon.

– I was level 32 and the dungeon IIRC is targeted at level 30. I was too low level to be doing the dungeon (I think) and it only took a couple of hits to put me down so I had to stand at the back and be very mobile and shy.

– I didn’t get any of the trade-in items for the dungeon armour, but I did get the helm. In truth I’d rather have gotten the trade-ins. Choice is better.

– Everyone is calling my new helm the Pimp Hat.

– I’d be remiss if I did not mention what others have been clamouring for. Items that are useful to our own professions from chests and other rewards.

– The random events inside the dungeon are pretty cool and count towards stuff like monthly achievements and reward XP etc.



  1. Interestingly, I’m almost certain that all the dungeon armors are bugged right now. My friend and I did bot AC and Caudecus, and both helms looked the same. Then I went to the traders where you exchange tokens, and all the sets for each weight class all looked the same from every dungeon (which we know is not correct). Your pimp hat may in fact be a different skin after they fix it!

    Anyway, I enjoyed the dungeon for the most part, but the mesmers were really frustrating to me. Our first group wiped over and over again, and it just got maddening. Add to the general difficulty the fact that sometimes they just don’t move when you knock them around and you can get a pretty hairy situation. I will say however that doing it a second time with my guild mates (instead of a PUG) it went VERY well, with only one person dying one time throughout the whole thing, so YMMV.

    As for getting relevant items, I feel it will be far less of an issue once we get the AH up. Items are BoE, not BoP, so we can sell these items to other people who would want them, which basically nets us a decent reward regardless. Sure, some will be more in demand than others, but it will be far better when we can get a good price for things and buy what we want.

    • I did AC with my guild and it was as smooth as silk. I don’t even want to think about PUGs because every experience I’ve ever had with pugs was negative.

    • I honestly don’t think it’s bugged anymore. For it to be “fine” one BWE and for everything, including the vender previews and the actual drops to be 3 sets across the board seems too consistent not to be deliberate. For comparison, there’s a bugged preview of a scholar armor in PvP that’s the right icon, but the wrong preview.

      It’s only the first tier that’s changed so I think they decided they wanted to keep the dungeon-specific skins more exclusive and attainable only as the 80 uniques and scrambled for a solution, and since they can’t cough up new skins, they just picked other existing ones.

      Hopefully you’re right about it just being a bug, but I have my doubts.

  2. I done AC today afternoon. It was fun, but I am not a dungeon player. I think I will not try the explorer mode.

    Anyway, I get to level 41, so the next dungeon opened for me. Maybe I try it tomorrow or saturday.

    • Story mode I’m betting is significantly easier than explorable so it may be the right decision for you to avoid explorable if thats how you feel about dungeons.

  3. Interesting. the thing is though – “In a more traditional MMO you would start, stop, start, stop” …the opposite DID exist in some very oldschool MMOs to some extent, even in WoW you would theoretically do this in 5man runs. the reason why most players wouldn’t was simply distance / respawns – but I remember several particular runs where we outlasted a dead tank or healer running back to us from the instance entrance a.s.a.p. and man, it was FUN if you eventually did it! 😀

    Azuregos also comes to mind back in vanilla WoW and generally I’ve experienced this playstyle lots in FF11. so it’s not actually so unheard of. I’d claim any smart group would not just give up and wipe in any MMO – but try to last while dead partymembers make their way back. the other concept is actually quite the disconnect in terms of giving up too fast imo.

    • addendum: especially in Cataclysm dungeons you also had the teleport points and at least when I was playing it, running back to the fight when you died was common in many instances.

      • Agreed, i used to play pally for this reason in wow. Though he wasn’t particularly good at anything he could both heal or tank till they were able to run back (worst case) or just recover from whatever stuff up had occured. I could always lend a hand to whoever needed it, and that was what I loved about them… plays nothing like that now days of course, which is why I don’t play them anymore. I am hoping I get to do a lot more of this style of play in gw2.

        • It exists to an extent, in that if you’re not defeated its usually faster for someone to res you than run back, but the difference is marginal.

      • I’m sure running back is viable in a lot of different dungeons but in AC story mode there is no wait time to running back, there are waypoints pretty much right next to all the major fights.

  4. Did it last night. It was great. And more challenging than even a WoW heroic. I figured it would be on par with a level 70 or 80 dungeon, and explorable would be like a heroic but story mode felt on par with heroic. I was also curious how the lovers fight would play out without conventional tanking and pulling. Between that and a few other encounters, it will forever be known as the boulder dungeon. To me, things like way points and a less forgiving death penalty are what allow them to make more challenging encounters. WoW I think is difficult in all the wrong ways…when it’s difficult at all.

    It kind of reminds of the difference between games on the original Nintendo where once your lives were done, the game was over vs. later Nintendo games that allowed you to save your progress. The death penalty was obviously more forgiving, but the content was broader in scope and more challenging over all.

    • A more forgiving death penalty I mean.

    • Thats an interesting point, encounters can be a lot more challenging.

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