Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: Ranger Experiment Outcomes

First of all, thanks to everyone who stopped by and left suggestions, thoughts and feedback on possible Ranger builds I could look at! The response I got only reinforced the idea that there are so many different options to try, which is a heartening thing.

Also my apologies to anyone who left a comment that was eaten by WordPress. I went though the spam box and approved the ones I found. I don’t know what’s been up with WordPress.com lately, but it’s been bad on sending stuff to Spam. If that happens again, just send a tweet or contact me.

So the discussion continues about GW2, returning/new player difficulty, and the GW2 preview weekend. Seemed that GamingSF had a similar experience to me in trying out an unfamiliar job and thinking a demo weekend would be a safe place to do it.

All this leads into what I really want to report on: I rolled a Ranger!

Rolling a Ranger

So I had exactly two open character slots and two level 80 boosts to use on my account. Seeing I already have one of every class (except Revenant) and duplicates of a few classes (I used to pick up character slots whenever they went on sale), it didn’t bother me to roll a second Ranger.

Why didn’t I just use my first Ranger? Good question.

First, I just wasn’t feeling her character design. Second, she’s already in her low 60’s, and it just seems like a waste to boost on a character less than 20 levels from cap. I wanted to experiment while the discussion was still HoT (pun intended). And I decided I wanted a Charr ranger because it’s been a while since I’ve played a Charr, whom I love.

So I rolled Fletch Wayrunner (because he runs away, right?). At first, I made the Charr a female. But then, when I went back in to fine tune with a makeover kit, I gravitated to rolling my first male Charr. I’ve wanted a male in the past, but never found a look that I liked. There’s a lot more customization options now days, so…

I ended up with this flighty doof who looks perpetually scared of everything. Even his pet.

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Trying the Level 80 Boost

I want to give ANet kudos on how the level 80 boost system works. You use it like any item in your inventory, but it’s not an instant consumable. Instead, it drops your character in front of a Level 80 Guide in the Silverwastes. There, you can trial the new class boost as long as you like, as long as you don’t leave the zone. Upon leaving, you get the choice to retain the boost and consume the item, or not.

Now, the Silverwastes wasn’t one of my favorite zones in the past because of all the Mordrem, and because it felt overly busy the little bit of time I spent there. But, I decided the whole idea was to see how Ranger fared vs Mordrem, so I went for it.

The boost gave my character a default build and full exotic gear. Checking it out, it looks like Rangers start in all Soldier’s stats with Ranger runes.

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That was good enough for me, so I took my Ranger out and did some events. Things went well, and I spent about 20 minutes trialing it before I pulled the trigger and made the boost permanent.

The Ranged Experience

Once that was done, I took Fletch directly into the HoT storyline and hit the jungle. The great thing was that doing events in the Verdant Brink was part of the daily. So, perfect timing, I jumped in and out of story and events all night long.

During that, I gained enough experience to unlock the Exalted Markings mastery, which had been blocking my story progress on Zznaf since last week. I was just too busy with other things to sit down and grind out the experience needed, but now that block has been removed! Allowing masteries to be earned across the account is the best idea ever!

Since I already had a glider and the bouncing mushrooms, life was a lot easier for Fletch in the jungle. I got him all the way up through The Jungle Provides, where you helped the Itzel protect their tree-home.

I can pretty much confirm that after a few hours playing Ranger, and not even an optimal build, surviving in HoT is much, much more leisurely and less complicated than a melee class. As long as I was aware of my surroundings and didn’t get pounced from behind, my pet soaked most the damage and quickly taunted anything that roamed my way.

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I played with the longbow I was given from the boost, and because I had no points to put towards Druid yet, I ran with the Beastmaster build that Jeromai suggested. I’ll look into expanding the build and switching out gear stats later, but for now, I’m having no problem.

Choosing a Different Path

I also discovered that the path you choose in the story can significantly lower the game’s difficulty. For example, in The Jungle Provides, you have the choice to defend the Itzel within the village or to go into the jungle and take out the enemy before they get to the village.

The first time, I defended from within the village. Doing that, I had to take on this boss enemy (Stavemaster Adryn) who could one-shot you with huge beams of energy. This quickly slaughtered all the NPC backup I had and took me out time and time again. There was no time to rez my companions, so it turned into a frustrating solo death and revive endeavor. Somehow, mostly through learning to read the boss’ cues and dodge his attacks, I managed to whittle him down, but the fight took a LONG time.

It was pretty awful.

I wasn’t looking forward to doing that quest again, understandably, and decided to try the other option. I was shocked when not only did I not have to fight Stavemaster Adryn in the other option (which I fully expected), but there wasn’t even a boss at all! Just waves of normal Mordrem, and nothing difficult about it.

What the heck?

Why make one path face a legendary boss and the other a simple “defeat the trash waves and hold waypoints” mechanic? Here I was dreading that all story instances were going to have terrible bosses in them from now on (I didn’t know the difference).

The Verdict

So, Bhagpuss was right. Ranged gameplay is significantly easier than melee in HoT. In fact, it was so leisurely, I started to miss the excitement of my Reaper (haha – can’t please me, huh?). While I didn’t put out as much damage, even without Druid and with the gear that the game just handed me, I never died, and rarely felt threatened thanks to my pet.

I even went off and tamed one of those Fire Wyverns, which are sub-optimal from what I’ve read. But I don’t care. It got the job done and the fire thing looked cool. I’m never going to take Fletch into Fractals or Raids, and as long as I can wander the open world, I’m content.

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Fletch: You mean I have to go out there again?

But confirming this also shows there’s a disparity for endgame melee players in GW2, especially those new to HoT or are returning, like me. Suddenly you get dumped into this world where even the normal mobs all have mechanics, and these mechanics hit melee the hardest.

While I won’t say that you can’t melee in GW2, I will say that as a casual-kinda-midcore rusty-returning player, I found ranged a breeze in comparison. Heck, I had little to no experience with Ranger at all. I just picked it up, used some of the feedback and suggestions I read, and was romping HoT with so much less stress than the Necro I’ve played quite a bit in the past (yes, Reaver is new to me, though).

I like Fletch a lot, and I like the relaxed playstyle. But, with PoF so close to launch, coming in with a brand new character who is even MORE behind than the one I was working on in terms of story and world completion is a daunting thing.

I think that I’ll keep pushing through on HoT story with Zznaf for now, but with a better understanding that play style and story choices really do effect everything in GW2. I’m looking forward to coming back to Fletch in the future, though, and trying different things with him. If anything, this has opened my eyes to Ranger, which is a class I didn’t play much before.

Thanks so much to everyone for thoughts, feedback and guidance! Hopefully this experiment helps a bit with the conversation we’ve been having in the GW2 gaming community. 🙂

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: Ranger Experiment (And Preview Weekend Thoughts)

I’m going to look for some feedback from GW2 folks in a moment. Please keep reading!

I had intended to write a post about the PoF Preview weekend, but then a fascinating GW2 discussion came up across the blogosphere. It started over at Endgame Viable where a group of us began discussing the difficulty of the story instance in the Preview Weekend. I’ll talk about that in a bit.

That led to some analyzing of the difficulty level and new/returning folks in a number of interesting posts. If you have any concerns with these topics, I suggest you check them out:

There’s a lot of good conversation in the comments, as well.

Anyhow, the newest discussion of ranged vs. melee has me sorely tempted to roll and boost a Ranger-Druid just to test the difference (since I’m mainly a melee player). I’m not giving up on my Necro, but I am curious to test this out – For Science!

Rolling Ranger – Help Me! 🙂

Druid is actually a spec I’m somewhat interested in. But I’m a complete Ranger noob, so I’m looking for a bit of help first:

  • Is Druid okay at soloing (especially HoT)? Will I do enough damage?
  • Best weapon combos?
  • Is there an example of a build I should work towards? I’m terrible at making a build from the ground up.
  • Best armor/rune combos?
  • Can I still use pets?

Basically, I’d have to put my necro progress on hold (and I don’t have a lot of play time as it is), so I want to make sure I go into this experiment knowing as much I can so I can be effective.

PoF Preview Weekend

Now, with that out of my way, on to my experiences with the PoF Preview Weekend. Because I needed to roll a new demo character for this, and I was curious how Charr sit on mounts when they ride, I decided to roll a Charr that looks similar to Nipp.

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Because this was a demo, I thought it would be a fine time to try out the only job I haven’t played yet – Revenant.  I mean, certainly, a demo weekend that is partially there to snag the interest of returning players wouldn’t be too hard, right?

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Wrong.

Okay, so they shoved endgame story battle into the demo, nearly first thing. All these Balthazar jerks gang up on you… and me having not a clue what any of my skills did… I saw the defeated screen quite a bit.

I know I had no clue about my class, but really? I’d think that this would be tuned so that a new or returning player would be able to pick up the fully kitted out, newly-rolled demo character and enjoy the process.

I also had no clue until later that they put a bunch of armor, runes and food in our bags. Not like I’d have known what to do with them on a class I’ve never played.

But anyhow. I finally got past that to the raptor section — the part I was really there to see in the first place. Actually, Charr ride quite well. There is some tail clipping, as I assumed, when it comes to the raptor swishing its own tail, but not terrible.

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I enjoyed my time riding the raptor and getting used to the controls. I know some people reported motion sickness due to the animations, but I didn’t have any issues there. So I hope ANet can find a middle ground that doesn’t take away from the mount too much.

The raptor felt really solid to ride. I don’t know if it had to do with the sound effects (jingling saddle!) or the way it side-hops when you start up, or how it handles. It wasn’t a flighty mount like you get in some games that didn’t have any weight. I felt like my character was on a giant, fast and leaping dino, and this pleased me.

I did finally get to the town, but I didn’t do a whole lot there. I saw a Hero Point off in the bay, but every time I tried to commune with it, I was constantly interrupted by crabs or sharks or whatever. Finally, when I had  a vet shark tearing into me, I gave up on it, swam back to shore and called it a night from frustration. I didn’t want to spoil the story anyhow.

tl;dr: Playing Revenant for the demo wasn’t a good idea.

Preview Weekend Revisited

After reading that I wasn’t the only one who found the story in the demo frustrating, I decided to re-roll as a Reaper Necro to see if my troubles were caused due to not knowing my job. This time, I knew that I had runes and gear in my inventory… though interestingly, all of the gear I saw had condition damage built into it.

No power reaper for you!

So my Necro build was sub-optimal compared to what I’d normally run on, but the story instance was still much easier the second time. I knew what to expect, of course, but also playing a familiar class helped so much. I got through the story instance the second time without any deaths. And then, right before the raptor part, I got disconnected.

This was fine, because logging back in sent me to the city (I wish I’d known that before), and I already had my raptor from my previous unlock. So, now I was free to explore a lot more.

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I didn’t go too far because I didn’t want to spoil too much, but I really loved riding my raptor, and the desert looked fantastic. There was just enough of a GW1 vibe here, mixed with the new GW2.

I did a heart in the town where you had to use the raptor to catch fireflies, which they adorably like. I experimented with how far the raptor could leap and getting a good feel for how to ride. Besides that, I didn’t delve too much.

I’m glad I came back and gave it a second try, though I still worry what impression that intro story instance will give returning or new players. While I gave it a second shot, that doesn’t mean everyone else will.

This will be the only PoF demo I try out for GW2 because I’m not going to PvP and I don’t really have a lot of interest in the new specs PoF is introducing. I’m still looking forward to mounts in my GW2, though!

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He loves being scratched right there! Too cute!
Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: Further Progress

So, a number of things have been happening on the GW2 front. First, a huge patch was released this week, setting the stage for PoF, and sending out a bunch of balance tweaks to jobs. This included a nerf to Power Reaper, which happens to be the class/build I’ve been scraping by trying to use.

Building Necro

Now, I’m not much of a min-maxer build maker… in fact, I’m pretty bad at figuring these things out. Even in GW1, I just went to the build site, read through the different builds and how they were meant to work, and picked something that fit my play style.

Yeah, I know. MMO folks like to exaggerate things. But even I could see why this nerf was pretty bad, and it really has the Necro community at their wits end. There’s a feeling that things are getting nerfed at this point in order to make way for the new PoF specializations.

I have no interest in the new PoF Necro spec. Overall, Power Reaper does a lot to check off the boxes that make me a happy player. It’s just quite squishy sometimes. I’ve been struggling to find the right gear and make something where I don’t die while still doing sustainable damage.

So I was really distraught when it felt like the build I was working toward had already been nerfed to the ground, and I’d hardly returned to the game for a week yet. I’m not sure why I decided to turn to CuriousCat for help — maybe because they offered some really good advice and seemed knowledgeable about what classes did what in my previous GW2 post.

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I have to send my deep thanks to CuriousCat for taking the time to talk about builds, skills and gear, and determine what might work for me best. It turns out that I didn’t need to abandon the work I’d been doing, that I could keep my Power Necro, the gear I’d scrounged up, and still enjoy it. Of course, there were some changes to make, but GW has always been a series about flexibility and adjustment.

I think the build CuriousCat suggested is going to see me through HoT, and I’m very thankful for the help!

Doing Dailies

I think I briefly mentioned dailies in my previous post, but I never really got to talk about them in depth. GW2 dailies are much changed from the dailies that I remember, and in a very good way!

It used to be, the game did this scattershot of suggested daily activities and you had to finish something like 6 things on the list to be rewarded…  This system is so much better.

First, you only need to finish 3 items on the list. Every time you finish an item, you get a reward. Then you get a reward (and 2 gold) for being a daily completionist if you finish all 3 objectives on top of it. So, even if you couldn’t finish everything in one day, you still get some reward for what you did do.

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The options are usually pretty simple to complete. When there’s a specific jump puzzle, often you have kind Mesmers who open fast-ports to the end for you. Some of them take tips for the service (I have no idea how much is proper to give for that, though).

When it’s daily event completion, there is almost always a group of folks out in that particular zone doing events. Also, mentors and commander tags (or catmander tags) abound, leading people through event chains. I’ve seen a lot of events I never saw before, and I’ve been working on world completion in those zones, as well.

World Completion

Speaking of World Completion, I’m slowly getting there. Last night, I cleared a few more zones, and now I’m sitting at 52% map completion.

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Seeing that my most played character is at 78%, I’m slowly gaining ground.

Oh, and speaking of maps, here’s something cool that happened yesterday!

Story Progression

Since I got a good chunk of mapping done last night, I also decided to jump into the next section of the HoT storyline. Finally, I’m  finding something interesting that’s not just the writers force-feeding us the obvious. Also, finally, my character is doing something interesting and new, all on his own.

SPOILERS

I don’t know if I should mark this as spoilers seeing it came out years ago. But old habits die hard.

So we finally catch up with Caithe, who stole Glint’s egg at the end of Season 2 for reasons that made no sense to me. Well, she reveals the egg is her Wylde Hunt and it’s her job to protect it. Alright, well, that explains a bit… but why Caithe thought running off by herself into a Mordremoth-infested jungle with the egg was a good idea is beyond me.

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Anyhow… Mordre-Faolian appears to snag the egg for her new master! I’ve never liked her character, so while her new form was way over the top, at the same time, it’s just deserts. Except… that she’s chasing me, who now has the egg, and can pretty much one-shot me if she catches me.

This instance was one of action sequences where the egg is empowering your character with abilities, much like those seen in the Zephyrite community. So, it’s a bunch of jumping, teleporting and shooting forward through Mordrem obstacles while avoiding Mordre-Faolian. Some of this was frustrating… especially the annoying glider part at the end where you had to think to super jump and THEN glide to make it across (while under pressure and being nudged by an NPC to GLIDE RIGHT NOW!).

Speaking of NPCs. So we’ve got these creatures in the jungle called the Exalted that reminded me instantly of a shinier version of Mursaat. That was kinda cool, and felt rather GW1-ish.

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I’m heading towards their city at this point in the story, and I’m actually very curious about who they are and what’s going to happen. I’ve been spoiled for some major plot points in the game, but I still don’t know all the little details. 😉

I really liked the idea that the hatchling in the egg chose Zznaf, connecting with him and giving him dragon abilities. It’s nice that my character is the important one for a change, rather than this hodge podge of NPCs that keep butting in all the time.

I’ll try to pick the story up again tonight and see where it goes before the weekend preview hits.

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs, Uncategorized

GW2: Trying to Give it Another Chance

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!

Continue reading “GW2: Trying to Give it Another Chance”

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

Thoughts on GW2: Path of Fire

It’s been a while since I’ve written about GW2. This is mostly because it’s been a long time since I’ve actually played the game.

Those who know me know that I have a long-standing love-hate relationship with GW2. I’m a long-time GW1 fan who absolutely LOVED GW2 when it first launched — it was everything a MMO for someone group-shy like me could want or need. But, then, over time it changed until it became a game I hardly recognize anymore.

I never bought HoT. I missed the whole third season of the story because it was locked behind the expansion (I still logged in to put them in my journal though). But hearing how the story turned out, maybe it’s for the better. It sounds like they took a bunch of beloved GW1 lore and mangled it badly… and that trend seems to continue into Path of Fire (PoF).

Some… Praise (?!)

Ah, but I didn’t come here only to sling my lore-loving grouchiness at GW2. I actually wanted to write this because I have some praise for PoF.

Wait, what?

You heard me. Where I thought they got so much wrong, including the price points, with HoT, I think they’re doing quite a bit right with PoF. Since I grouch enough when I think things are wrong with GW2, I’ll say when I think things are right, too. 😉

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First, let’s start with the pricing. Apparently, PoF is a stand-alone expansion – very good! From what I gathered, if you didn’t play HoT, you can still jump into this expansion and get right with it. Not to mention, there’s a level 80 character boost in all versions of the package (very good, though I don’t really need one).

The cost for the stand-alone is a very reasonable $29.99!

I did a double take on that, especially after the HoT pricing. Well done on learning from the past, A-Net!

If you want HoT and PoF, you can also buy them together at $49.99. I find that reasonable.

If you want the bling-bling bells and whistles, there’s the special versions for $59.99 and $79.99. The most expensive one includes a lot of extra stuff, plus $50 worth of gems, which alone makes it pretty worth it. It doesn’t include HoT, though, but you can add it in with it for extra.

Not only that, but the release date is September 22. This year! They don’t let that hype die on the vine, now do they? Plus a sneak peek weekend on August 11-13… which I just might be tempted to try out.

Mounts!

Yet another thing (along with raids) that they told us GW2 would never ever get. And is now getting.

This is something good on the outset, especially if it’s done correctly. The whole glider thing, after all, was a way for GW2 to avoid mounts… but just like with raiding, they caved and added them.

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Now, I love mounts. And I love leaping and jumping mounts (their leapers remind me instantly of the mounts in EQ2). It’s difficult for me to resist the call of mounts and the idea that mounts may be more than just mounts (you can focus on new masteries for them or something?).

BUT. We all know what else a mount system introduces — cash shop opportunities!

No doubt, A-Net is probably running low on new glider ideas by now. So why not mounts? And other MMOs have shown mounts can be sold for a pretty penny.

So, while I’m happy to see mounts in GW2, part of me knows that this is just another thing for them to milk in the cash shop. As long as they don’t shove them in Black Lion chests, I guess I can’t complain too much.

Elona!

Finally! The Crystal Desert! Finally, Elona and Vabbi! And already whispers of Palawa Joko!

There’s a LOT of temptation there for a GW1 fan. Also, a LOT of concern as a GW1 fan.

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Everything I’ve heard lately about the direction the GW2 story is going, especially concerning Balthazar’s attitude, has been pretty off-putting to me. I would be super excited about returning to Elona if I weren’t even more afraid of how they’re going to further mangle the lore to create this attempt at comic book fan-fiction they call a Living Story.

I used to try to give the writers the benefit of the doubt. But the story has gotten so convoluted and has jumped so far off the shark that it’s hard for me to do that anymore. Story was always the most important element to me, and this story is what’s preventing me from supporting this game. While I haven’t played since before HoT released, I’ve heard enough to just shake my head at what they’ve done.

So, despite the fact that the price is right, mounts are so tempting and exciting, and I’d love to see the Crystal Desert again, I’m having a hard time budging from my spot on this.

However, that being said, I’m willing to give them another chance on the upcoming preview weekend. How many chances is this now? The fact that I keep doing this means I really want to love GW2 again one day. Halp! 😦

PS– If they screw up Palawa Joko, my most favorite “bad guy, but not so bad of a guy… still kinda a bad guy” from GW1, that’s something I can’t forgive. However, if they write him well and to his proper original character, there’s a lot of brownie points to be earned. So much potential there!

Just saying.

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

I Guess GW2 Really Doesn’t Want to Win Me Back

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Not that I’ve had a lot of interest in coming back to GW2. It’s still installed on my laptop somewhere, but I had even given up logging in for the daily rewards once I got my third (or was it fourth) level 80 character from the tomes.

I never bought HoT. I’m not all that interested in HoT, especially after hearing folks who enjoy the kind of game play I enjoy saying it just wasn’t fun. I know they’ve been working to fix a lot of issues, but if I can’t log in and have some fun soloing in the world, while helping out folks I just happen to run across (like the game used to be), then it’s not for me.

Also, I’ve never once seen HoT on sale. Nothing like the sales they used to have on the base game. (Update: A week after I published this post, ANet announced they would have their first ever sale on HoT with the release of Season 3.) I just can’t justify paying full price for an expansion I’m not sure I’ll enjoy, even if it does come with an auto level 80 character. I have lots of level 80 characters already, and leveling was actually the most fun part of the game, IMHO. Anyhow…

Living World Season 3 Announcement

So, I heard about the new Living World season coming out. It’s the first big GW2 news that’s had me click on it in a long time. I was curious where the story was going, even though I’ve long since been lost to the story because I didn’t play HoT.

When Mordremoth was killed, all the magic he held was released into the world, and of course, there are plenty of factions coming out of the woodwork to claim it. Chief among them are the White Mantle religious cultists who worship the mursaat and are trying to harness the power of the Bloodstone to resurrect one of their gods.

There’s some good news, though, as hypercute Asuran researcher Taimi is working on figuring out how to take down other global, dragon-related threats. Meanwhile, the players found and protected a dragon egg from Glint, an ally to Tyria’s races. While Anet is teasing that the child may or may not side with the Tyria mortals, I’m wondering how Taimi’s going to react to the whelp.

Ah, Guild Wars 1 references are ways to get me curious. As long as they’re written well.

Okay, I might log in and try out this new season of… oh wait…

…you do need to own HoT and have a level 80 character to access it…

Well, scratch that, then. Living World story is now gated by expansion. Guess they don’t want me to come back to try it.

Regardless of whether you own HoT, you’ll want to log in while each episode is active to “bank” it for your account to play through in the future.

Yeah, thanks, I think. Like I’m coming back months later to playing old story that no one is involved with if you ever put the expansion on sale enough for me to consider picking it up. Come on. It’s been a year or so already?

This could have been the perfect thing to lure those of us who enjoyed the old updates and Living World stories back into trying GW2. I probably would have tried it out. Who knows, I may have enjoyed myself again. But instead, they’re gating it behind the expansion (though you don’t have to finish the expansion story to play it – makes sense?), and losing out on an opportunity to earn back old players who felt burned by the development direction long ago.

Yes, I understand that the game needs to make money. My Steam library proves that I’m not against putting money into a game or an expansion if I respect it. This game used to get plenty of fluff buys from me in the gem shop when I enjoyed the game play. But for a long time now, GW2 has been telling me that I’m not their target player anymore. So they haven’t been getting my money.

See, this is why I don’t blog about GW2. I’m still grouchy and bitter about the direction this game stumbled off to. I’ll go to my corner now, and dream of how great Tyria was… before it got monetized to death.

time-out

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2 – Super Adventure Box

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So I may be soured on GW2 now days, but even I can’t help but log in and smile when they bring the SAB back. Hey, I may as well get that free mail carrier for my Infinite continue coin. And I still had nearly 50 baubles saved since the last SAB to spend. It was a hard choice, but I picked up the blue staff skin.

Plus my character, Zznaf, used to be a SAB junkie back in those RP days. I couldn’t resist visiting there just for the good memories.