After writing my previous post about PoF last week, I did a lot of thinking, reading and actually playing GW2. That’s right, for the first time in three years, I actually sat down and put some time into GW2. My overall feelings are mixed, but swaying more towards the positive side. This is gonna be long, so warning!
I’m going to admit, I put my money where my mouth is. I did not buy HoT all this time, saying that it needed to come down in price significantly before I would. Well, I approved of the price point of PoF and I approve of what I’m hearing they want to do with this expansion (take it back to what made GW2 something fun and engaging when it first released, while wrapping it up in GW1 lore).
Since it looks like they’re re-routing most sales to PoF, and HoT was a fairly cheap add-on while purchasing PoF, this was the point where I finally decided to buy HoT. I’ll offer my thoughts on that in a little while.
Keep in mind, a lot has changed in 3 years and I’m having to learn about all the systems in HoT… way behind the curve of the rest of the population.
Choosing a Character
I have a roster full of level 80 characters, with the lowest characters being level 40 (thanks to birthday level boosters). Most of these 80s have been boosted and then leveled through the Tomes of Knowledge you get from daily log-ins. I think I have at least 3 level 80 characters that took that route.
Funny thing is that PoF/HoT came with automatic level 80 boosters, but I’m holding back on actually using them. I have two open character slots and I’m still trying to determine what to do with those.
I went through my roster one by one my first day of playing… and cleaned out inventory. Yeah, that needed to be done. I also took stock of who had what in terms of Hero Points (used to be Skill Points). I didn’t quite understand how the whole Mastery system worked at that point, but I did know that Hero Points were used to unlock the Elite Special whatever classes.
In the end, my Warrior, Tai, has the most accumulated time, Hero Points, experience, and map completion. However, I ended up choosing to play what used to be my RP-based character, Zznaf.
I had several reasons for this:
- He’s not completed his Personal Story, and I wanted to see if there were any changes there
- He was only 38% through map completion, and it would be fun to re-explore the map and re-learn Tyria again
- Reaper is the Elite class I want to play most
- He hasn’t finished Season 2 (though I did finish it on Tai), so I can go back and refresh myself on that
- I have positive attachments to him, since he was an RP character who actually got quite a bit of a response when I played him on Tumblr years ago
That last one may seem silly, but when I dusted off his RP Tumblr, I was surprised at how many people actually remembered him still! <3
While it’s so tempting to mess around with other characters, the nature of the Hero and Mastery Points has curbed that desire. I can see what they’re doing with progression beyond level 80. It’s pretty overwhelming when I think about it from the standpoint of 8 different characters…. so I’m just gonna focus on one.
Impressions of Open World Content
I’ve been alternating through different paths of progression for Zznaf, which is actually nice, because that means I’m never bogged down by one thing for too long. And I’m going to tell you, I have a LOT to do.
My rotation has been:
- Clear a map for world completion
- Do a few quests to progress Personal Story
- Do dailies (which often leads to more map completion)
- Make progress in HoT story
My biggest fear with GW2 was that introducing raids would destroy the casual environment with an invasive leet raider mentality. I’m not happy GW2 buckled and went the way of raids… but mostly because that invites a section of players who often (not always) exclude and look down on other players.
That never existed in GW2 before… because the game was originally focused on equality of players and people helping people. I’m never going to touch a raid in GW2, that’s just the plain truth of it. But does including raids sour the open-world experience that I used to love?
After playing for several days across several maps, I’m going to answer that: No. It hasn’t.
I saw an interesting comment by poster Tom Turtle on Massively OP:
That the game has become raid or die is a perception problem. As someone who solos in GW2 and doesn’t even bother with raids at all, the game has absolutely not become raid or die. Unfortunately that stint during the content drought where a raid came out without much else has colored people’s perception of what the game is about.
ArenaNet bungled on that, among other things since HoT, and that’s something they need to recover from. I don’t know how they could manage that though I am hoping that the expansion restores the game’s credibility after what HoT did to many players’ enjoyment of the game.
This I find to be very true.
During the time I’ve spent out in the open world, mapping, doing dailies and other things, I’ve run across nothing but helpful people. There’s a Mentor status now, and unlike in FFXIV, the people who use it are actually helpful in leading events and walking people through events. People wearing Dorito tags have also been very helpful.
I had instances where I launched a Champion battle for a Hero Point, and people came to my aid, even though they didn’t need it at all. I’m seeing people rezzing other people in the field again — by the time I left this game three years ago, people mostly left you for dead if you were downed.
Overall, running on the open world maps has been a positive and helpful experience. I even got to clear the Claw of Jormag on Zznaf for the first time, and was pleased to see that people can still fight this one without needing to join an alliance.
The open world content that I enjoyed and craved from launch is still going pretty strong in the vanilla areas. HoT… sometimes not as much.
Impressions of HoT
Where I enjoy the open world of the original game a lot, the HoT zones… well… no. Some areas are very pretty, and I like some of the music. However, they are so convoluted and densely populated with mobs that can rip you apart in the blink of an eye.
Oh, these Mordrem plant frustrations… they’re exactly what I hated about Season 2. The knock downs, the unending poison rings, the overpowered nature of their attacks. I’m like… really? The first thing you do is knock me down for three seconds before I can do anything to you? Ugh.
And don’t get me started on the difficulty of some of the boss battles in the storyline. I died so many times… it became a game of rez-in-rush. But I finally did get it done.
The only reason I have half a chance at any survival out there is because of the power of the Reaper class. I’m in love with the Reaper. It uses the Greatsword. It has scythes. It has powerful AOE. It has shouts!
“YOU ARE ALL WEAKLINGS!” Yeah!
I love Reaper. And when things are going well, I feel strong, even though my build isn’t complete yet (only 45% done unlocking all the skills). I spent a good block of time and some money crafting/buying a set of Beserker/Valkyrie gear and getting my accessories squared away. I still haven’t finished the whole Power build, but I’m getting there. A bit squishy when I’m not in Death Shroud, but, I love how long I can actually stay in DS.
Anyhow… back to HoT.
Gliding. It’s not a flying mount, but in terms of GW2, it’s super, super useful and I really enjoy it. It’s made clearing maps a whole lot easier.
A long time ago, I bought the black wings from the gem store, as a cosmetic for Tai and Kip. I found out, when looking through the glider skin section, that talking to a Scout in the jungle would allow me to use those wings as a glider skin as well. Made me a happy camper. Woo!
I was happy to see that once you unlock gliding for one character it seems to unlock for the rest of your account. Actually, looking up the Mastery system, it seems to indicate that everything you unlock is available to the whole account. That’s pretty nice.
So, yeah. Mastery System.
This is GW2’s answer to progression without lifting the level cap. Learning that it’s account wide makes me like it a lot more. There’s a bunch of different ways to earn Mastery Points, and these allow you to unlock special skills, such as things on the gliding track, mushroom bouncing, etc.
However, you can’t just unlock it with a point, you actually have to fill up the experience bar first. So, for example, to unlock further gliding skills, you have to gain enough experience while in HoT zones to level your 80 character again (fill the XP bar), and then you have the option to spend Mastery Points.
Stuff you do in (what they now call) Central Tyria doesn’t count towards HoT, but Central Tyria also has its own Mastery tracks. So, while I’m rotating between the different maps, I’m always earning something for something.
Storyline. And here’s the dragon in the room. So far, I’ve cleared the first HoT zone in terms of story. My impression? It’s soooo cringy… mostly because the game acts like the players are too dumb to get all the cool plot points that the writers are trying to impress over and over and over upon us.
Show, don’t tell. And show once, maybe twice — I think we’re smart enough to catch on.
WARNING HoT SPOILERS
Sylvari might be EVIL DRAGON MINIONS! Ok, I get it, stop having characters repeat this constantly.
Some of them can’t be trusted. Some of them are weak-willed and will be consumed by Mordremoth. I already got that spoiled before I played this, so this is no surprise, but it must have been a bummer to some Sylvari players. But does the game have to remind you of this “plot twist” constantly?
At least Canach is still cool.
I get that Rytlock came back (appearing just in the nick of time!!!) with all these cool new powers. Characters can stop marveling and asking him about it. If I have to hear, “Wow, Rytlock, how did you DOOOOO that?! Where’d you get these POWAS?” one more time… Even Rytlock is telling you to shut up about it. XD
Braham. Where do I start with him? Yeah, he’s worried about his mom, but dude. Chill out! He’s so whiny and pushy and always trampling the orders he’s given (it doesn’t help that Rytlock is an enabler). I used to like him (one of the few of Destiny’s Edge 2.0 I did like). Now I just want throw him off a cliff.
Eir. I knew she was going to die because I heard spoilers. But the whole scene with her and Faolain was just cringy. Yes, Faolain is a bad guy, but it seemed illogical that she’d stab Eir through while Eir was actually increasing her chance of survival. The whole death scene was just… meh.
I liked Eir, but I couldn’t get any emotion from it because it, again, felt like something used for shock value. GW2 writers like to destroy and slaughter things just to make you mad at their bad guy, and I’ve long since stopped being effected by it.
My character… I really don’t like how my own character acts now. Slinging orders around, acting like a military commander… it just doesn’t fit Zznaf at all. I guess that’s the risk you take when you write dialogue for a player character. It’s become so consuming that I hear other players refer to the player character as “The Commander” now… because that’s all there is to their identity.
I really miss the days of things like this…
In terms of HoT story, I’ve been unimpressed thus far. It’s been the same old comic-booky scenarios that I saw in previous Seasons. I hope that it improves in PoF — I’ve been told not to expect much from Season 3.
So, anyhow. There are things I like about the game, things I don’t, and the story needs a lot of help. But I’m having fun working on map completion (I started with 38% and I’m now 48%… so, I’m getting there…), and I like the open world gameplay. Giving it another shot.