I know the expansion has been out since Friday and many people have already finished it, but I’m still slowly taking my time and making my way through. I actually almost didn’t want to write about it yet, because I’m afraid that ANet is going to do something to tarnish the story or the fun I’ve been having with PoF… and then I’d have to come back and reverse all the good things I’m about to say here.
Someone who had almost given up on GW2 completely, who has been grouchy with the direction of the game for years… admitting to having fun and saying good things about the newest expansion?
You heard it here!
No major story spoilers.
I’ll just say that so far, I’m on board with the story in PoF for the most part. I was dubious about the whole Balthazar thing coming into it, and there are still a lot of questions unanswered. So far, it’s taken me in directions I didn’t expect and has done it well.
I’ve only gotten up to the point where I unlocked the Springer mount in the second zone, so there’s still plenty of time for the story to jump the shark. I remain wary. But also hopeful that maybe… maybe… ANet has figured some things out in the storytelling area.
I think one of the things that has made the biggest difference is that the writers have hand-picked the NPC companions you take with you, and they actually work for once. Instead of constantly having all of the Loser’s Club of Destiny’s Edge 2.0 hanging around, they picked up Rytlock, Canach and Kas to take into the fray.
Rytlock and Canach are great! They play off each other well, and I really, really enjoy having them in my group. Their dialogue is just fun, and there’s a sense of begrudgingly growing friendship between the two.
And while Kas has been on my list of least liked NPCs, when you let her stand on her own away from Jory… and she’s not fawning all over her girlfriend and sucking face constantly… she’s actually starting to earn some respect in my eyes. She’s a more gentle presence in the group, one that represents the struggling human who is questioning everything seeing that one of her own gods has seemingly turned on them.
Honestly, the one character I like least is my own. If I have any complaints about this story it’s that the voice acting and dialogue written for my “commander” character is completely NOT what my character would actually say. It’s brash, overbearing, and often eye rolling. I’m actually hoping my character fails and gets taken down a notch or two because man… he’s gotten really pushy in the latest story line.
So far, I haven’t had any real issues with the new zone or instances in terms of being able to survive. The open area of the desert, while it has plenty of danger, gives a lot more room to move than the enclosed jungle. Also, the basic trash mobs hanging around the desert are no where near as punishing as the Mordrem of the jungle, thankfully.
I’ve never found myself without something to do — events are plenty and varied. Yet, it doesn’t feel suffocating and overwhelming like a few of the zones did in HoT. I still haven’t finished the HoT story yet, as I jumped ahead to get my mounts in hopes they will make my path through the previous expansion easier.
The major battle instances are spaced apart well enough, and are challenging for a single player. But not impossible. The Forged Bastion boss gave me a bit of trouble, but they’ve seriously improved a lot of mechanics around fighting bosses in instances.
For example, your NPC buddies are more useful — they actually rez you when you’re down. And rather than be fodder that die once and lie there on the floor dead at the boss’ feet, leaving you to a chain of rez-rushing the boss until you defeat them somehow, NPCs actually return with you to the starting point when you die (alive) and follow you back into the fight!
Not only that, but I didn’t see the boss regaining health after I rez-rushed back in a few times. That’s not to say that the boss will never regain health after you failed to kill it, but it didn’t at that point.
I also have to say that there have been a few boss fights that I was impressed by — once I saw and understood the visual cues for mechanics. The Herald of Balthazar was one of them. Not quite on the level of FFXIV mechanics, but getting there. And almost… almost as understandable in terms of telegraphs. Much improved.
I touched on a bit of how the open zone has improved my experience with this expansion. Not to mention a lot of nods back to GW1 — many of which I haven’t encountered yet (but have heard about). I’m a fan of the new map designs and a fan of the way you use mounts to solve puzzles and get around.
Which leads to…
Naturally, I love the mounts! I love it even more that when I unlock a mount, it unlocks for all of my characters!
I wasn’t going to talk much about the 5th hidden mount… but anyone who has been in any of the main cities has probably already seen lots of people riding around on it. The griffon mount was not advertised, and left to the community to discover.
It came as a surprise to me — not exactly a full-fledged flying mount, but pretty darn close. I didn’t expect them to put something like that in the game.
However, earning it will take a player like me some time. I’m excited by the prospect. I’m also excited that everything about it can be earned through exploration and open world content. While I need to save up about 100 more gold in order to be able to afford the mount, it is a long-term goal I know I want to shoot for.
So, overall… yeah. I’m having fun. I’m not regretting giving GW2 another chance. There’s a possibility they may win me back. I’ll tell you which way it goes, later… once I finish the expansion’s story. 😉