Dungeons and Drag Ass

September 21, 2012 at 7:41 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 10 Comments
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I haven’t really been blogging very much. It’s interesting to me how much of a substitution blogging had become for gaming. I’m not going to stop blogging and I’m absolutely filled with opinions on all things Guild Wars 2 but I’d so much rather be playing, even right now as I type this, than writing about it. Writing feels like a bit of a drag when I could be doing something.

But I guess I’ll talk about dungeons today, because there are various things that require a bit of analysis.

Dungeons are hard at first. And that’s a good thing. Challenges like dungeons should be unfamiliar and require practice and training to overcome. I think eventually a lot of these dungeons will be put on farm mode by even the most casual of players.

I’m no expert or anything but I’ve done 7 of the 8 story modes, some multiple times, and explorable mode on AC, CM, CoF, and TA. There is only one thing I can say about all of them. It is a varied experience.

It’s extremely hard to describe the width and breadth of the experience. Some dungeons are a fun challenge, some dungeons have been a bit of a faceroll, some dungeons are a maddening combination of frustrating bosses and terrible bugs.

Let’s take for instance Twilight Arbor. All dungeon explorables have paths you can take, but TA actually makes you fight the first boss before you make any choices. On our way to it we were immediately greeted with an annoying problem. Deadly blossoms. These flowers emit an incredible amount of poison damage and erupt when you walk near them. They cover the path you take to the first boss. They respawn within ten seconds. That’s if you can destroy them without getting the ‘obstructed’ error. You can easily die just by trying to get past these things, but TA makes you fight elites amongst them.

Our strategy quickly became luring mobs to any location that did not have deadly blossoms. Fighting them anywhere blossoms might spawn was suicide. Even if you did manage to kill them they would respawn ten seconds later and you’d be gambling on whether you would be obstructed at that point as well.

The aggravating thing is they covered the boss room, the boss is stationary so there is no luring. It wouldn’t be that bad if the blossoms didn’t cover every inch of space, but that wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t respawn literally every 10 seconds, but that wouldn’t be so bad if we could kill them without being obstructed, but that wouldn’t be so bad if the bosses weren’t already a fairly formidable fight, but that wouldn’t be so bad if we could dodge freely, which wouldn’t be so bad if when we died and had to run back we didn’t have to get through the blossoms again.

A completely miserable experience.

Fortunately what I’ve found typical in Guild Wars 2 dungeons is that the early bosses are often far more difficult than the final ones. The final centaur boss in the butler explorable mode of CM is practically a pushover compared to several other encounters. Nobody in my party had to warp back from a waypoint during that fight. The same can not be true for other points during that dungeon.

I’ll also note CoFs initial boss compared to the final story mode boss. You go up against a whirling warrior who can cut you down if you’re in his path. He has two invulnerable allies that do the same thing, so you really have to be on your toes moving around. But then he switches to hammer and devastates single targets, and then he switches to stealth mode and you can only damage him for a couple of seconds at a time. Compare that to the final boss which comes across like a donkey kong encounter. He rolls boulders down a path at you, if they touch you you’re a goner, but they’re relatively slow. If you stand behind rytlock the fight will pretty much go on indefinitely. To damage him you pick up rocks and throw them at him, at certain percentages of health things get more complicated when he throws up walls to either prevent getting at him with the boulders or trap you behind them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very different, very fun boss fight but it is not difficult.

There’s a lot of weird inconsistent moments in these dungeons. You go from extremely hard trash mobs to a relatively easy boss to an easy trash mob encounter to an extremely difficult boss. I’m not saying that that’s necessarily bad, it’s certainly forcing me to keep my wits about me, but it just feels off kilter.

That extends to the events that Arenanet has thrown into some of the dungeons as well. The butler path in Caudecus has a ‘fight’ of sorts where you pick up an airgun and start shooting at rockets being fired at you. Those rockets turn around and damage the turrets firing them. A well co-ordinated group could make short work of this, but for anyone else you’ll probably run back from the waypoint a few times. It’s definitely something that requires more than just a good build and good dps.

Actually I’d consider the rocket hallway an excellent example of creativity from Arenanet, and there tend to be little things like this in each path.

I like that in AC story one of the better ways to defeat The Lovers is to trap one of them inside the doorway while the other remains outside. This seems to break their bond and works like a charm once you get the hang of it.

In CoF the Magg explorable path requires at one point that you gather a number of objects from around a cavern and deliver them to Magg while on a short countdown. Not your typical boss fight and you can’t progress until you beat the clock.

That’s one of the good things about GW2 dungeons, there’s always at least one little thing that seems creative and original.

One of the not so great things is that, well, I can’t tell who is under-performing. Or if anyone is under-performing.

It’s not like I’m one of those min/maxers who won’t play with anyone who isn’t min/maxing or using a mod to monitor who is doing the most dps. Those people suck, but on some level if something is going wrong I’d like to know why, and at least at this early stage of the game I can’t figure it out. This all has to do with the trinity. If someone is taking a normal amount of damage but dying because they’re not getting enough heals, we could talk to the healer and figure out the problem.

In Guild Wars 2 I haven’t figured out how to gauge if someone is dying because they’re screwing up or dying because someone else is screwing up. Much of that is likely simply because the game is so new, but to be honest I can’t even tell if *I’m* screwing up and that should be pretty evident to me, right?

One thing I do know is that Arenanet was right when they said you don’t need a particular class do go do a particular dungeon. I’ve not once stopped to consider whether we need a tank or we need a particular class, and we’ve done fine. All those guys standing outside of a dungeon saying they’re looking for a guardian to join their group are idiots.

I will say that I think Arenanets guidelines for what levels are appropriate for a dungeon are just deranged. I did AC story at 32 and felt way underleveled. That continued with pretty much every dungeon until I started doing them well over-leveled. I’ve noted people doing the dungeons at the supposed suggested level and they never seem to have a good time of it. I’ve not once thought “that’s the perfect level for this!”

Another thing I’ve learned, and probably should have been the first thing I mentioned is just how important reviving people is. It should be the number one priority of every player in almost every fight to immediately get your ass to anyone who has been downed. The longer they’re downed, the longer it takes to revive them. Quick revives are integral to a good group.

Finally I’ll comment on rewards. They’re kind of sucky right now. I don’t know where to start because rewards all over the game are kind of underwhelming. Chests in general reward blues or greens at best. The chances of getting a gold from a chest are pretty much nil. The only really good rewards, exotics, were from zone completion of Straits of Devastation, Malchor’s Leap, and Cursed Shore. Chests from dungeons, world events, puzzles, all reward random crap I end up salvaging or merchanting and very rarely selling on the Auction House. I’ve never gotten a gold from a chest. Most of the gold drops I’ve got have come from random mobs, a few from bosses. Nothing good comes from chests.

But the worst rewards come from dungeons. Sure a nice hat from story mode is okay, particularly because it’s for your armour class, but explorable tokens are a bit nuts. All together you’ll need nearly 1400 tokens for a complete set of exotic armour. You get around 30 tokens per dungeon run. You cannot combine tokens from one dungeon with another dungeon. You cannot combine tokens from one character with another characters tokens, god forbid they be account bound and not soulbound. So what we’re looking at is 46 runs of a particular dungeon. Not including weapons.

Plus you’re further limited in choice because AC and CM do not reward max level exotics. Who is going to run a dungeon 46 times for non max level exotics? People who really want those skins I guess.

Plus if you want to do a dungeon path twice in a row you’ll get fewer tokens.

I will say that if you’re after stats and not skins dungeons need not be the only way you get exotic stats. That’s a big positive. But a lot of people I know really like to have full sets of skins. It’s an accomplishment and an achievement. Adding to that, if you’re only after the coat or the mask or some other piece, you won’t be put through the grind treadmill either.

The problem is there really isn’t supposed to be a grind treadmill. Yet here it is.

So yeah. That’s where I stand on dungeons so far. They’ve been maddening, fun, thrilling, boring, challenging. All over the place. Some of that is quality control, but some of that is letting Arenanet devs have fun with what they’re making. The result is really difficult to easily quantify. But I’m working on it.

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10 Comments

  1. I agree that the dungeons are a bit hit and miss in terms of difficulty (I have to admit I havnt done that many yet as I only just got to level 55) and that it would be better if there was a single currency for the dungeon armour, its that you need to run the dungeons too many times as it is but you have to run the same dungeon too many times.

    I’m gonna paraphrase on the grind issue as I cant remember the exact quote but remember reading something posted by ANet that basically said leveling and Max level armour wouldn’t be a grind but it also implied that if you wanted to look a certain way would have to.

  2. It’s funny you mention farm mode. A couple of dungeons were already on farm mode the other week. I had a feeling they would be tweaked as soon as I noticed people advertising “speed” clears of the same two dungeons over and over again to the exclusion of all else. And sure enough, ANet tweaked them and people flipped out.

    I was surprised by the amount of dungeon grinding but then I considered armor in Guild Wars 1. Mostly it was just a gold grind which could be done across content and characters, but some involved grinding faction and then there was obsidian armor. The dungeons are this game’s obsidian armor. I do agree that the lower armors require too much, and I presently don’t see the point of tier 1 dungeon armor at all since the skin isn’t even unique.

    Chests are a mixed bag. Some people seem to score yellows and even golds. I almost always get blues, though I did get a yellow the other day.

    I did refer the game as having a gear treadmill the other week but that’s somewhat ingenuous since the gear that requires a grind isn’t mandatory to access content. You don’t need to run dungeons to get into instanced 25 man raids. Instead you can do raids in the persistent world, or what I would consider real raiding in WvW whenever you want. Exotics make a lot of content easier and give you an edge in WvW but can be purchased from the TP relatively inexpensively depending on what stats you want. I think it ranges from 10-20 gold especially if you post ads instead of buying directly. That sounds like a lot starting out, but I noticed a significant increase in gold making at 80.

    • Yes I’ve done some of these speed clear type things and my biggest problem with those is probably that it really takes the whole point of dungeons out of the picture. It’s not supposed to be easy or fast.

      I open chests all the time, get nothing but blues.

  3. I was genuinely surprised at how difficult “trash” mobs seemed to be. Then I realized that this is no normal MMO. Really, the whole dungeon thing seems more like an intense game of hot potato: aggro = potato. No matter your class it seems the general idea is to just avoid getting hit at all costs.

    • It really is a different experience from most dungeons. Some games you just sit there while one guy holds aggro, not so with this game, ever.

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