Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: Time to Talk About Mount Skins

I really have tried to avoid writing this post. I’ve bottled up my feelings about what’s been happening around GW2 and selling mount skins in the Gem store. But, it’s bugging me. I need to get it off my chest…  Mostly because I’m starting to feel a little like I was duped.

Let me explain. This could get long.

Continue reading “GW2: Time to Talk About Mount Skins”

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: Griffon Gold Get

I know it’s a little late for a Halloween picture, but I took the above shot and never got to use it anywhere. I liked it too much just to leave it in my screenshots folder. So, there you have it.

So, I’ve been working on saving up for my griffon mount in GW2. I started the PoF expansion with under 100 gold, seeing that I was newly returned and didn’t have a ton of gold before I left. I learned that dailies give 2 gold a day, and that selling unidentified drops was a good source of income, so I’d been plugging away at those to bring my stash up to 180+ (after spending gold on the mounts throughout the expansion).

But I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been. Some of my other GW2 friends didn’t seem as intent on getting the griffon (mostly because of the cost) as I was. And other games and projects have been pulling my attention away from GW2 as well.

This all changed this weekend.

Mystic Coins Reserve

A Free Company friend, Bean, posted a picture of her griffin in our FC discord channel. I sent my congrats and noted that I was still working on saving up for mine. She responded, and somewhere in the conversation, mentioned that selling Mystic Coins was profitable.

“Wait…” I said to myself. “Mystic Coins? Aren’t those those things I get every week and just toss in the corner of my bank?”

I Googled and saw they were mostly used for legendary crafting, other armor recipes and some guild improvements. AKA – Nothing that interested me more than a griffon does at this point.

I checked my bank. Over all this time, I’d stashed away 300 Mystic Coins. They were selling for a little over 80 silver each. So….

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I no longer have any Mystic Coins, but I now have more space in my bank and more than enough gold to get my griffon!

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I wish I’d known about this sooner! Makes me wonder what else I’ve got stashed in my bank that could be worth something. I should probably clean it out sometime.

About Those Mount Skins…

All of this is pretty exciting to me… just enough to help me deal with my extreme disappointment of the GW2 Mount Adoption License mess. I meant to write about it last week, but I was pretty tired out after some real life work stuff, and never got around to it.

I’m not going to damper this post with discussion of RNG, lockboxes and gemshop greed. I’ll just say that I don’t mind GW2 selling fluff in the gem shop — I even buy things that I really like. But I don’t approve of the way ANet decided to monetize this huge number of skins in a grab-bag way.

I like a few of the skins. But some skins are either (IMHO) lackluster or too flashy. I would have ponied up for some gems if these were sold individually where I could pick what skin I was buying. But, since RNG is a part of this, and I refuse to pay for a chance at getting something that I like, GW2 gets no money from me at all on this.

Oh well. I have a griffon to work on! Right?

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

GW2: Path of Fire First Impressions

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.

What’s that?

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!

Story Thoughts

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.

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Seems like folks in Amnoon are also questioning Balthazar.

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.

Character Thoughts

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.

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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.

Combat Thoughts

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!

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Yay for useful NPCs!

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.

Zone Thoughts

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…

Mount Thoughts

Naturally, I love the mounts! I love it even more that when I unlock a mount, it unlocks for all of my characters!

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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. 😉

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”