Guild Wars 2 Difficulty: Challenging or Frustrating?

Guild Wars 2 has a reputation as being hard – from its unforgiving dungeons to its jumping puzzles. But is it fun hard or frustrating hard?

That’s the question that the blogosphere has been pondering for a while now – and here are some fascinating viewpoints on the problem:

  • Jester, normally an EVE player, ventured into a GW2 dungeon, and found it both startlingly hard and very rewarding“The level design was great, the AI design was better, and the balancing of the opposition we were facing was nearly letter-perfect. As long as we pulled together and used our joint skills smartly, we advanced. If we didn’t, we got steam-rollered. “
  • Hunter’s Insight looks at one aspect of GW2’s dungeons that he argues is just plain frustrating – the distance between bosses and respawn points“One of the worst penalties in gaming is wasting the time of the player. It’s a commodity that is valuable to us not just in gaming but in the rest of our lives as well. So when you waste it, you had better have a damn fucking good reason.”
  • And Clockwork looks at the infamous Halloween jumping puzzle, the Clock Tower, and considers whether the difficulty was real, or simply tedium“You can’t really “out skill” the presence of other players blocking your vision. No amount of skill could save a player that jumped towards the clock face without knowing it would soon break. Perhaps you could argue that “skill” can alleviate these but they were choices that were character specific, not player.”

Personally, I’m enjoying the brutal difficulty of some of GW2 – but then, I’m also a fan of the Demon’s Souls series and WoW TBC Heroics, so I may not be representative of the playerbase at large…

What do you think? Too hard, or just right?

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Dungeons Compared Across WoW, SWTOR and TSW

Everyone’s been running dungeons this weekend, it seems – but not, as you might expect, Mists of Pandaria dungeons.

No – instead we’ve got a series of fascinating posts looking at the dungeon experience in other games, and across all MMORPGs:

  • Redbeard writes a really interesting piece recounting his experience in his first SWTOR dungeon” You stop worrying about damage meters and trying to fine tune your threat management; you just roll with it and do what is best for the group.”
  • Rohan sums up the differences between SWTOR and WoW endgame, focused on dungeons“I think the biggest thing is that TOR has the balance between AoE and single-target almost perfectly correct. Sometimes you AoE, and sometimes you single-target individual mobs. Crowd Control is often used, but it is not absolutely required.”
  • Stubborn recounts positive experiences in the dungeons of The Secret World and Guild Wars 2, both of which have come in for criticism from other players” I’m really not sure why there are so many criticisms of the GW2 dungeons flying around. They’re supposed to be tough. A little chaos that requires some improvisation is a good thing. Apparently not everyone shares that sentiment, though.”
  • And Gordon at We Fly Spitfires laments the death of tanking as a mechanic across MMORPGs” as much as I love both the playstyle and roleplaying aspect of being a tank, I appreciate the evolving nature of MMORPGs.”

Personally I STILL haven’t managed to get into a GW2 dungeon (blame a really hectic work schedule), but I’m looking forward to them – they sound like just my cup of tea.

What MMO are you playing right now, and what do you think of the dungeons/instances in it?

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Things About Guild Wars 2 Which Kind Of Suck

Guild Wars 2 is very, very cool. But it’s not perfect – and today, three players are pointing out some holes in its otherwise perfect vista.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Guild Wars 2, still, as are millions of other people. But no game’s perfect. From lack of direction in your character’s story (and yeah, I’m getting a little annoyed with how chirpily positive my human thief is too) to jumping puzzles FROM HELL, here are a few things that, well, aren’t going so great:

  • Mystic Worlds tells the story of the Vista from Hell“I’m at the 4-pull mob group for the umptenth time. I tried waiting further down for other players to get up here but people venturing this deep into the cave are far and few. All my gear is broken and my resolve is failing. Each fall having unnerved me, I’m more tentative with each attempt. “
  • Hunter’s Insight looks at the problems with uneven difficulty and broken mechanics facing many GW2 dungeons” 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.”
  • And Erik at TL:DR discusses why his character is forced to wear underpants – and more seriously, why they’re forced down a single story path“You could have just gleefully murdered a town of Skritt and stolen everything they owned, gone for a run through the city of Divinity’s Reach in your underpants (though, alas, not totaly naked), and punched a friendly dolphin in the face all in one day, and you would still be THE HERO.”

Is there anything about GW2 that’s driving you up the wall right now?

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Weekend Roundup: Guild Wars 2

This weekend’s been quieter than some on the MMORPG front, but the bulk of writing, discussion and debate reveals one thing: an awful lot of bloggers are still playing Guild Wars 2.

From NPC personalities to Arena.net’s sales tactics, it’s all here:

  • Dusty Monk writes a fascinating piece examining the new roles that replace the Holy Trinity in Guild Wars 2 dungeons“When ArenaNet said there was no trinity, what they meant is that the traditional trinity didn’t exist. Because there is still a trinity of roles, and there it is: Damage, Control, and Support. “
  • Klepsacovic writes explaining why he feels the Hearts system is far superior to conventional MMO quests” Furthermore, having many people helps average things out, so I can imagine that despite my obsession with shooting wasps, someone did eventually get around to fixing the pipes. Quests can use the trick of stacking, having a few quests that relate to the same area, but this doesn’t give the flexibility of wasp-killing vs. pipe-patching.”
  • Green Armadillo looks at a question that has a few people concerned – given that we don’t pay a subscription, how accountable will Arena.net and similar publishers be for what they do to or with player accounts?“We don’t have the data to tell whether bannings in Guild Wars 2 is actually more prevalent in other games since none of the studios routinely publicize such numbers, but one can certainly imagine that removing the subscription fee removes a financial incentive NOT to ban a customer. “
  • Azuriel still isn’t convinced by the Guild Wars 2 economy, and makes some good points in an admittedly somewhat pessimistic article on the subject“I do believe Guild Wars 2 brings some extremely nice innovations to the MMO formula. However, I am getting the distinct impression that other MMOs do not have these features precisely because of all the unintended consequences they bring down the line.”
  • Stubborn has a bit of a problem with the Sylvari and Human NPCs he’s met so far – they all appear to be bad guys (warning, spoilers)” It seems like all the NPCs I work with or against are bad. I won’t go so far as to say they’re evil, as some of their actions, like murdering a murder, are morally neutral, but they’re certainly not good.”
  • Syl applauds Arena.net’s reverse-psychology attitude to persuading players to buy items on the in-game shop“Of course they don’t just give away stuff for free. Well, they do – but not in the way one might think. They’re way more devious than that.”
  • Keen explains the feel of GW2 dungeons in a nutshell – which might have been intended to put us off, but had the opposite effect on me. The comments are fascinating too“I finally figured out how to explain dungeons in Guild Wars 2. Previously the best explanation I had was simple chaos and dodging. My guildmate has a better explanation: It’s like a WoW dungeon when the tank dies. “
  • And Tesh indulges in a great bit of creativity, coming up with Twitter-length backstories for every possible race/class combination“Norn Necromancer – Preparing heroic spot in afterlife for friends… by any means necessary.”

I’m fascinated to see how the Arena.net “exceed expectations of free stuff” strategy works out. I know some people in the Internet Marketing space have used the same technique to make really large amounts of money, so it’s not without precedent…

What do you think? Are dungeons chaos? Is the economy fine?

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Weekend Roundup: Guild Wars 2

It’s been a very busy weekend in the MMOsphere, and so today we’re rounding up the must-read posts by category rather than anything fancier – there’s a lot of really good stuff to read this weekend!

First up, Guild Wars 2, where it would appear much of the discussion has centered around the game’s economy, which may be Less Broken Than It Previously Appeared… But there’s more, too:

  • MMO Gamer Chick has entered Guild Wars 2’s first dungeon, and writes an extensive and very interesting look at the gameplay and the different mindset of a GW2 instance run” I thought I was going to hate this aspect of GW2′s dungeon fights, but in the end I found myself strangely fine with it. As one of my guildies said, “EMBRACE THE ZERG!” That became my mantra.”
  • Syl looks at the gold-gems exchange rate, and finds its economic premise unconvincing and potentially flawed“What will keep the balance from shifting further in favor of gold farmers or “gem hoarders/speculators” (buying cheaper gems now, waiting for demand to raise)? “
  • Tobold has been experimenting with the GW2 Auction House, and appears to be finding little niches of profit, even within the massive global Auction House“With everybody on the same auction house, there aren’t many opportunities for quick money without much effort or thinking. But with a careful study there is money to be made, even in the deflationary market of Guild Wars 2.”
  • Stubborn applauds GW2’s approach to levelling and non-linearity, calling it the first non-linear leveling experience for some time“This hearkens back to old school WoW, where even though you needed an exhausting amount of experience, you didn’t have to do every zone. “
  • And Ravious looks at GW2’s economy as a whole, from gold sinks to gem sales, and is ever-more impressed with its design“So far I am very impressed with the economy in Guild Wars 2. It is clear that time has been taken to interweave a lot of big moving parts in something on the order of the Eternal Alchemy.”

How’s your GW2 experience so far? Are you managing to make gold? Are you enjoying it?

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I’ve Got The ‘Flu, So Here Are Some Great Posts

It’s clever-title-free day at the Pot today, as I’ve got something nasty and have barely dragged myself to the keyboard today. But the blogosphere does not sleep, and there are some really interesting discussions going on.

So, to the posts!

  • Belghast and MMO Gamer Chick both write in praise of Funcom’s customer service for players of The Secret World“In one instance, I reported a bugged encounter in a dungeon, and we moved on to the next boss. The GM responded before we were through the first phase, and patiently waited for us to finish the fight so I could more properly respond.”
  • Jim Younkin alerts us to something both very interesting and quite worrying – there’s mounting evidence that WoW is currently suffering from an item duplication bug“Since July 14, 2012 the number of Deathchargers available ballooned to 1014 as of this writing. That is a 10 times increase in less than one month. If that isn’t damning evidence of rampant item duplication I don’t know what is.”
  • Apple Cider Mage writes a really interesting post looking at compassion fatigue as a Guild Master“Firstly, I think that it is entirely believable that guild leading can max out your ability to care about others. On top of all the other relationships and responsibilities we might have in our lives (partners, spouses, and children are a big one), leading a guild with your whole heart can tax an already dwindling supply of caring for others. “
  • Azuriel considers just how big a risk Blizzard’s new “More than Dungeons” endgame is“De-emphasizing dungeons is a paradigm shift and Grand Social Experiment all rolled into one.”
  • And Syncaine wonders if Guild Wars 2, for all its fanfare, will suffer from a player retention problem“With no item chase, no long-term leveling progression, and no real ‘point’ beyond moving your server up in the standings (which will only appeal to a sub-section of the PvP community, so not exactly a mainstream thing), why exactly are people going to be logging in a few months after release?”

Uurgh snuffle thud. I’ll see everyone after the weekend with, hopefully, a less throbbing head, and definitely more very cool posts.

Enjoyed these posts? Please consider sharing them!

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The Social Niceties Of MMOs

MMOs are a lot of things – but notably, they’re a unique social space. Nothing quite like a WoW guild has ever existed before, and we’re still figuring out the social mores and niceties of this new world.

Today, three bloggers have been debating various aspects of the social side of MMOs – from the difficulty of sitting on the bench in a raid group to the tricky question of whether it’s beneficial for developers to offer incentives for good behaviour…

  • Minstrel at Holy Word Delicious has been pondering why she rarely joins a group for more than one dungeon, and realises it’s because of the surprising social pressure“The longer the time spent with a group of people I don’t know, where at any moment I may be called upon to interact, the more the toll. … When you add in the knowledge that anyone in the party could be a griefer or that the first adversity (or any random event, really, from your point of view) could turn one or more people into raging jerks, that adds to the cost.”
  • Pugnacious Priest ponders the tricky question of how to persuade people to volunteer as benchwarmers for a raid team“Bench warming is also where good guild leadership comes in. You also need to keep your bench warmers warm. Keep them interested. Keep them committed, to the point that there are no bench warmers per se. “
  • And Stubborn is considering psychology and sociology to answer the surprisingly tricky question of whether game dev incentives for good behaviour are a good idea“If you get a reward for helping a newbie every time you help a newbie, it’s entirely possible that as soon as you “cap” whatever the reward is, whether it be having enough money, a high enough social score, or some social currency, then the behavior will vanish.”

All interesting stuff, and I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say!

Don’t forget – to get a summary of all the hottest issues in the blogosphere every week, sign up to the new MMO Melting Pot Weekly Digest

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Good Dungeons! Bad Targeting! New Cars!

Today, we’ve got one link that’ll make you start playing an MMO again (LoTRO), one that helps explain why you stopped (WoW), and one that talks about why apparently similar games, well, aren’t.

So, let’s go!

  • Windsoar at Jaded Alt has been playing a lot of Skyrim lately – like many of us – and has been considering just what makes it a different – and similar – experience to an MMO“When you crank up a single-player RPG, it’s a pristine environment waiting for your input for everything to happen. Those untrodden peaks really are untrodden, even if the guy 4 blocks over is playing the exact same game. Even better, it doesn’t matter how long the game has been out, there aren’t any “helpful” people trying to tell you the best way to reach the inn in the next town, or navigate your way to the armory when all you really want to do is find it yourself.”
  • I know we only featured The Grumpy Elf’s Cataclysm Miscues series yesterday, but his article on Cataclysm’s targetting mistake really hit a problem I hadn’t considered! “Magmaw, can’t tab to him. Al’Akir, can’t tab on him. Deathwings limbs, can’t tab to them. There are these mountainous being and we can not hit tab to get to them? “
  • And Random Waypoint manages to get me to go back to LoTRO again – in spite of all that Skyrim and SWTOR to play – with a great article on the design of the awesome-sounding Goblintown“At level, it was a classic dungeon crawl. I could spend hours inside there, and actually did, simply exploring and killing Goblins. It took me three evenings to reach the lowest areas.”

What’s turned you on to or off of a game lately?

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Dailies, Dungeons and Choices

Hey, everyone! I’m back from my week off, refreshed and renewed – thanks to Johnnie for holding down the fort in my absence.

As I’ve been reading back over the last couple of days in the blogosphere, the common thread that’s struck me is a lot of very interesting, intelligent discussion of some fairly high-level game concepts. It seems that change is still in the air, and people are looking at old concepts with “the future’s coming” eyes…

  • Nils has a really interesting piece on daily quests, focusing on the idea that dailies are driven by a fear of lossBy introducing an artificial limit of how often an activity can be conducted per day (/week), Blizzard also introduces a potential permanent loss. If you don’t do a daily today, it will be lost forever. Thus, you feel like you really should do the daily.
  • Straw Fellow has been considering randomised dungeons, and asking whether they’d help preserve a game’s longevityRandom dungeons would require a bit more attention than normal ones, as you couldn’t reliably predict the next encounter or puzzle. Randomized loot means there is potential to find an upgrade for everyone, unless you outgear the content of course. The track record of success with randomized dungeons is fairly high already, and the random nature ensures a good level of re-playability at least.
  • And Tobold’s been considering the issue of choice, and just what a game needs to offer to make a choice meaningfulIf the option to make the “wrong” choice disappears, then that is not really a choice any more. It is like the “choice” in a MMORPG whether you want to accept the quest to kill 10 foozles, or whether you want to those foozles without a quest and miss out on the quest reward.

What are your thoughts? Hate random dungeons? Feel that SWTOR will offer genuine choices? Love dailies? Put ‘em below!

All quotes taken directly from the respective blog post.

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WoW Patch 4.3 Dungeons: the War of the Ancients in the Caverns of Time

Updated: 20th of September

So the info’s out – WoW Patch 4.3 dungeons will be all new, original, and exciting. We now know that the new patch will bring with it three new 5-man dungeons, running in a sequential storyline.

Spoiler alert – some significant details of the 4.3 dungeons have now been revealed, including some plot twists that you might prefer to wait to experience. If you don’t like spoilers, don’t read on.

Much like the Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons, the patch 4.3 dungeons will need to be tackled in a specific order – you won’t be able to get access to the Well of Eternity (the 2nd dungeon) until you’ve completed End Time (the first dungeon), for example. Together, the dungeons will tell a consistent story, which will lead up to the new raid. Each of the new dungeons will be accessed from the Caverns of Time – appropriate, since the storyline is going to involve a lot of time travel.

End Time – Patch 4.3 dungeon 1

“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

The first new dungeon is called End Time and it takes place in the future – or, more specifically, a future.

Nozdormu (the dragon aspect with all the cool time-travel powers) wants to send you back in time to aquire the Dragon Soul – the one device with any chance of stopping Deathwing. He can’t do it, though – something is stopping him from sending you back in time. There’s something – or someone – lurking in the shadows of the distant future and messing with Nozdormu’s mojo. You’re going to have to head to the future and figure it out.

End Time takes place in the Dragonblight of the far future, after Deathwing’s triumph over Azeroth. Dragonblight is in ruins, and Deathwing himself is dead – impaled atop Wyrmrest Temple. In this dungeon, you’ll have to fight the twisted echoes of some of Azeroth’s greatest leaders. The two bosses will be chosen at random from Slyvanas Windrunner, Cairne Bloodhoof, Tyrand Whisperwind and Jaina Proudmore. Each of them is long-since dead, so what you’re fighting is just a corrupted echo … but you can bet they’ll still hit hard.

Well of Eternity – Patch 4.3 dungeon 2

“Remember, whatever you do and wherever you go – the clock in San Dimas is always running.”

This is the big one. The loregasm. The dungeon that was hinted at early on and that caused so much excitement as a concept: the War of the Ancients.

Nozdormu will send you back in time ten thousand years, to Azshara’s palace. All you have to do is steal the Dragon Soul. Simnple.

Oh, right. Did we mention? You’ll be arriving as Azshara attempts to summon Sargeras and trigger the Great Sundering. There may be fireballs.

The Well of Eternity will see you ally yourself with Tyrande and Illidan, and will finally give you a chance to return Queen Azshara’s Dressing Gown that you dug up from those old ruins the other week. There are three bosses in this dungeon:

  • Peroth’arn, a Highborne wizard with demonic powers.
  • Queen Azshara before she turned all scaly. While her presence as a dungeon boss here doesn’t preclude her appearance as the Big Bad in the next WoW expansion as some people have speculated, it’s an unexpected boon to those who love Warcraft lore.
  • Mannoroth and Varo’then. Mannoroth’s blood was source of the original corruption of the entire Orc race, so no pressure.

War of the Ancients dungeon background

The War of the Ancients was originally introduced as a concept in Warcraft III, and has since been expanded in an in-game book of the same name, and an out-of-game real-world book trilogy. It seems likely that the dungeon will follow the events of the book trilogy, as other WoW events have followed the fiction.

Interestingly, the book trilogy follows a number of current-age WoW characters who are themselves sent back in time by the Bronze Dragonflight. We’ll presumably be heading back to deal with something affecting them. Complicated!

In summary, the story of the War of the Ancients is thus:

  • The Night Elves led by Ashzara discovered magic and started to manipulate it, drawing Sargeras toward Azeroth. Ashzara was corrupted by the Burning Legion and let them into the world.
  • Tyrande, Illidan and Malfurion (yep, those old chestnuts) fled the chaos in the Night Elf homelands and sought out Cenarius. Cenarius and company mounted an assault on the Burning Legion.
  • As they did so, the Highborne (Ashzara’s followers) waited for Sargeras himself (the Destroyer of Worlds, head of the Burning Legion, and WoW’s ultimate number 1 Big Bad) to come through the Well of Eternity (around which their city was built).
  • Illidan changed sides and stole some of the Well. Malfurion and Tyrande attacked – Tyrande, needless to say, got badly wounded, and Malfurion charged in and managed to destabilise the Well whilst fighting with Ashzara.<
  • Everything Went Boom. Sargeras was defeated, and the continents thoroughly scarred.

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This was subsequently modified in the book to include:

  • Illidan didn’t actually go bad, thanks to a complicated series of coincidences featuring one of the time-travellers. Instead, he pretended to go bad, and told the demons about a thingy called the “Demon Soul”, which Neltharion – AKA Deathwing – had made.
  • Neltharion was a Dragon Aspect at the time – however, he decided to go evil, and forged the One Ring – er, the Dragon Soul – which contained power from all the Dragon Aspects. Then he used it to wipe out pretty much everyone in a big fight between the Night Elves and the demons, before returning to his big, dark cave to sulk with it.
  • Malfurion stole the Demon Soul from Deathwing. Illidan and the demons then stole it from Malfurion. The demons took it off Illidan. Subsequently, Malfurion took it off the demons, then the Dragon Aspects took it off him and sealed it up, Basically, just about everyone important got their paws on the damn thing at some point.
  • Illidan snuck off and tried to create a new Well with the water from the old one, but he was rumbled and subsequently stuck underground for a while – until The Burning Crusade, basically.
  • What happened to the time travellers in all this? I’m not entirely sure, to be perfectly frank. One of them was involved in changing Illidan’s plotline, but other than that they appear to have mostly just hung around.

Hour of Twilight – patch 4.3 dungeon 3

“Remember who’s standing in your way! Remember every black day I ever stopped you, and then, do the smart thing: let somebody else try first.”

You’ve got the Dragon Soul, and you’re back in the present. Just in time, too – it’s all kicking off. The Twilight’s Hammer have besieged Wyrmrest Temple. You’re going to have to fight your way through.

This dungeon contains three bosses:

  • Arcurion, a powerful water elemental tasked with killing Thrall and retrieving the Dragon Soul.
  • Asira Dawnslayer, the Twlight’s Hammer’s top assassin and all-round nutcase.
  • Archbishop Benedictus – Argh! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal! Archbishop Benedictus, head of the Church of the Holy Light and revealed as the secret leader of the Twilight’s Hammer in the novel Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, now stops his pretence entirely and leads the Twlight’s Hammer forces into battle.

With the Twilight’s Hammer forces defeated, the stage is set for Thrall to use the Dragon Soul to defeat Deathwing – that’ll only happen with your help, in the new raid called – appropriately enough – The Dragon Soul

Know anything more about the 4.3 dungeons? Have we got our War of the Ancients lore backward? Let us know below!

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