Festival of the Four Winds

It’s been some time since we’ve gotten a content-based update in Guild Wars 2, hasn’t it? I didn’t realize how spoiled I was by the biweekly release schedule until the first arc of living story ended.

But next week that changes, with Festival of the Four Winds! The Zephyrites are back in the Labyrinthine Cliffs, and Queen Jennah is reopening the Crown Pavilion and the Queen’s Gauntlet. Now, as I wrote about last year, those two particular updates were my favorites of the living story as of yet, and at this point, they still remain very high up there amongst the content that I loved best. They were fun, they were full of things that would definitely last you the full time of the patch being around, and they also added quality of life features that were greatly helpful. They were also ones I really wished would have been permanent in some manner, so seeing them return has me excited.

Also I really love the design of the pavilion area.

Also I really love the design of the pavilion area.

Now, both the Bazaar and the Pavilion last year brought a lot of new things to the game, and there were a number of other things that happened with it due to the new stuff. These patches were the ones that introduced the ability to craft Celestial gear, achievement chests, champion loot, dungeon rewards, and the account wallet. While they were primarily content patches, both also contained a number of quality of life changes that, at this point, I can’t imagine not having. Sure, I became very sour on champ bags after a while, but it’s nice to see enemies that are meant to be some challenge give guaranteed loot. The account wallet keeps my bank under control (in theory. It’s still a mess, but at least it’s not due to dungeon tokens!). Achievement chests are a nice little extra reward for doing things in the game. Guaranteed dungeon rewards are great, as I enjoy doing dungeons. Celestial gear was less important for me, but selling quartz crystals is a steady handful of silver a day (so long as I remember to go gather in my home instance), so I’m okay with that.

So the first thing I’m wondering is, are there going to be any other new things added in with this update? Now, I know that the big feature patch happened just a month ago. But there’s still plenty of little tweaks that could be added. We still know that precursor crafting is a thing that will be coming at some point, though I see it highly unlikely to be happening now. If it was, they would have said something about it, because there’s been requests for precursors to be fixed since launch. But there are other things I could see being added in. Trait unlocks being tweaked, or adjusting megaserver algorithms.

Celestial crafting is a bit...involved.

Celestial crafting is a bit…involved.

There’s also the question of, what exactly from those two patches last year will be returning? I still have Fortune Scraps in my bank, for example. Is it safe to assume that they’ll be usable again? As the Bazaar was when Celestial gear was added to the game last year, and the only time recipes were obtainable, will those be dropping again? Personally, I have no interest in Celestial crafting, but look at what you’ll pay just to get the recipes for a set of light armor right now. I really feel for anyone who didn’t get those last year while available, and then decided recently that they wanted Celestial gear. Ouch. Personally I think they also should no longer be account-bound. Crafting has actually become profitable now (well, for some items), so give people who like crafting another bone, okay?

The other thing that will be interesting to see is how the Pavilion is going to effect the current game economy. The Pavilion is basically one huge farm – more vets than you could hope to count, events happening frequently, and lots of loot to be gained. It was a fun farm, though, and very lucrative (especially if you farmed things other than destroyers). The prices on a lot of things dipped last year during this, both due to farming the Pavilion and the addition of champ bags. Precursors saw a price drop (not a huge one, but still enough to be noticeable). Many T6 mats went down a bit, while vicious claws absolutely tanked in price – I remember buying a stack for 8s a claw. Destroyer lodestones also saw a price drop that they’ve never really recovered from.

Without much information about what will actually be included in this update, as far as things returning from the previous two updates as well as new stuff, it’s hard to really say. However, I will say this much. I loved Bazaar of the Four Winds. I loved Queen’s Jubilee. And I will be playing the hell out of Festival of the Four Winds.

And hey, maybe we’ll get a peek at what’ll come in the new Living Story…

So what’s been going on?

As far as the game goes, stuff in Guild Wars 2 has been a bit light as of late. The feature patch has settled in and everything has turned over to megaservers. There’s as of yet no news as to when Living Story season 2 will start. The game has launched in China, though that has little to no effect on us. Basically, there’s not much happening right now!

And as such, I thought this was a good time to just sort of sit down and go over some of the things I’ve been doing lately.

So what have I been doing as of late?

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned already, I finished the Minstrel back at the start of April, bringing my legendary weapon count up to three. I think I’m going to take a break from making legendaries for now; I’m at a point where there’s only one or two that I haven’t done yet that I’d consider making. The price of precursors is currently ridiculous, so I’m not even going to start thinking of that for a long time. There are other things I’d rather work right now anyway (I want the scepter Immobulus, for example), so I’m good on legendaries.

Rianna Xi, the newest of my level 80s.

Rianna Xi, the newest of my level 80s.

My baby thief that I made the day of the feature patch has hit level 80, and I came up with a ridiculously silly and fun build to run on her. She is based on a roleplay character of mine, so to remain true to the character that limited me in a lot of ways – for example, pistols cannot be used. Main weaponset had to be melee. Luckily, dual-wielding daggers on a thief perfectly matches said character. Peacemaker and Dark Asuran daggers were as close to the look I wanted as I could get, but they match pretty well. The build I’m using is 4/4/0/6/0, based on signets. It’s very powerful, it keeps you alive forever, and it’s terrifyingly effective. I’m having a great deal of fun with it.

For all that I’m unhappy with the current trait system as it stands now, leveling to 80 with such a limited trait selection did mean that I wound up using ones that normally I wouldn’t have played around with, and found them to be better than I had expected. So there was that. This was also the first character I leveled up where I didn’t do any crafting. I got to level 50ish and at that point decided I was determined to play through to 80 without getting any levels from crafting. As a result I actually made a pretty significant amount of money while leveling – I did tons of gathering, and the 50-70 zones in general tend to be good for money due to the t4 materials you can get there.

This also brings my total number of level 80s up to 10. I still have 7 characters that are unleveled – two (asura elementalist and human guardian) are in the mid-40s, the others are all in the 20s. I’m undecided yet as to who to level next. Logic would say finish the elementalist or guardian, but I find myself drawn to my sylvari necromancer.

As I’ve written about previously, I’ve been doing some sPvP as of late. It’s a fun way to do something different while in game. I also like to mess around in Edge of the Mists. I’m still not a big WvW person, but EOTM is fun. I do really hope that a lot of things that were done in there are brought into WvW proper, such as varying the bosses for different areas you’re capturing. I’m always in favor of boss mechanics that are more than just “lots of HP”.

Even though she has to share, of course my mesmer gets the new toy first.

Even though she has to share, of course my mesmer gets the new toy first.

Since ascended items are now fully account-bound, I decided to bite the bullet and make plans to make some ascended weapons. Yesterday I finally leveled my weaponsmithing to 500 and made an ascended greatsword. In a few days I’ll be adding an ascended sword as well. My mesmer gets first dibs on the shinies, of course, but these two weapons will be shared between her, my ranger, and my guardian. I cannot recommend enough that if you are going to craft ascended weapons, to farm as many of the materials you need yourself. I waited until I had almost all of the materials I needed for the swords themselves before crafting to 500, and in that time I was also able to collect fairly large amounts of orichalcum, ancient wood, ecto, and t6 materials. By the time I hit 500, despite having to buy more materials along the way, I had actually made a pretty good chunk of profit from selling the weapons I had made – by the time everything sold I had about 30g more than I had started out with.

Everything else has been more of the same, really. Running dungeons with my guild, doing gathering runs. I’ve been starting to hit world boss events every so often again – I had stopped doing those after the feature patch because I’m not a big fan of the schedule, but there are some good timers available now that make it easier to keep track of what is running when. My former Orr gathering runs have been replaced with gathering in Sparkfly, Timberline, and Maelstrom. I’m finding it to be as profitable as running in Orr was, as platinum and hard wood are so much more plentiful than orichalcum and ancient wood are to gather. All of these things mean I am able to steadily make a consistent amount of money. I’ll never be one of those people who is insanely rich (from playing the trading post, generally), but I generally sit comfortably around 100g. That’s enough money for my general needs and wants, so I’m happy with that.

So yeah, in a nutshell, that’s been what I’ve been up to for the past month or so in GW2. Anyone else up to anything new or fun?

Hello, Deer (rank)

She has amazing armor.

Today I would like to introduce you to a character of mine. Everyone, this is Carella, my necromancer. She was the…fifth character I got to level 80, if I remember correctly? She’s gone through the most changes of every character of mine except for my mesmer; when I first made her I was playing her as a straight condition necro. Rabid gear, Runes of the Undead, all that fun stuff. Her original armor set was a mix of Priory and (what is now called) Seer, the named exotic set.

A few months later I decided to change to a more straight DPS-heavy build, going heavy on power, and made a set of berserker armor. The main focus off this set was to be the Orrian leggings, from Arah. Initially I was going to use the Orr temple armor top, but I didn’t have enough karma, so I bought the Whispers top instead as a temporary replacement, and decided that fit even better. Some adjustments came over the following months, until finally I had something that was just right, both in looks and stats. She is, however, one of the very few characters of mine that hasn’t had an actual makeover kit applied to her appearance – I made her to look like me, and always had the idea of throwing away the idea of necros being dark and creepy. So she’s stayed cheery and cute. She now switches between wearing bunny ears and glasses, because both are awesome to wear into battle.

Carella is also the character that I leaned towards using when I considered doing sPvP. I did a few games here or there, but after the feature patch, I decided to give it another go, due to the new changes made. It still isn’t my favorite game mode, but…I actually enjoy PvP.

So, how the heck did that happen?

Well, to start out, there’s a few different ‘types’ of sPvP. There’s custom arenas (also known as hotjoin), solo queue, and team queue. Hotjoin is when you just hit the Play Now button and get thrown in a game. It’s fun if you just want to play a quick game, but the rewards for this game type are the lowest. They also tend to be very “every person for themselves” since it’s hard to communicate while playing (if you stop to type while in a PvP match, you are an easy target). But they can certainly be very fun!

Look! I'm a deer!

Look! I’m a deer! But no longer a bunny…:(

Solo queue and team queue are more organized, and the rewards you get reflect that. They’re ‘tournaments’, as opposed to the casual hotjoin games, and they have leaderboards. If you’re by yourself, you can pick solo queue, and it’ll place you in line for a game. When I’m playing alone, I tend to not want to wait for that, so if no one else is on I’ll just do hotjoin. Patience isn’t my thing.

Team queue, on the other hand, is what I’ve been doing a lot of as of late. Team up with some guildies, and cause some chaos. I like these because then I’m playing with people I know and we can coordinate what we’re doing (yay for TeamSpeak!), which makes things much easier. Since several of my guildies that I play with frequently are much more into PvP than I am, this also means I’m able to get valuable advice from them as to what to do and what not to do.

So what have I learned in sPvP so far? Well, first of all, knowing the layout of a map is going to be one  of the most useful things to you. Some maps are easier to learn than others (Forest of Niflhel is my favorite), but they all have unique layouts and mechanics. You want to know how to get from your spawnpoint to all of the other points on the map – preferably multiple ways of doing so if you like sneaking around to capturing the far point on the map.

As I said...I'm new to this.

As I said…I’m new to this.

Distracting is good, sacrificing yourself less so. Running into a point that the enemy team has captured and is sitting on and promptly dying helps no one but them. Your team is down a person while you respawn, and they scored points from killing you. On the flip side, though, if you can stay alive long enough for another person or two from your team to catch up, or are able to de-cap one of the enemy team’s points so they are no longer getting points from it…distraction. When I’m playing hotjoin, if the enemy team is camping out on the midpoint, I’ll frequently go and capture the far area, which then draws them away, which then (if the others are paying attention) lets us go in to capture mid.

The way you play in PvE is going to be very different than PvP. Some skills work differently, yes, though PvE/PvP splits are few and far between. The bigger thing is you’re playing against other people who are going to actually react to what you’re doing, instead of just balling up all nice and neat against a wall for you to spike to death. They will move around, dodge out of the way, stun you, fear you, knock you down, and you need to be able to react to that. I play Carella as a damage/condition hybrid in PvE; in PvP I go for conditions and minions. Yes, I know, minion necro is cheap and easy. That’s why I do it. I’m not familiar enough with PvP to want to start messing around with something new when I know I can do this well. Conditions are so much more viable in PvP than they are in PvE, and minions make great meatshields. More than once I’ve rallied off of someone who bled to death from bleed stacks I put on them before going down myself.

Try and communicate with your team. Even if all you can do is type in chat “going far” or “thief near mid” or “2 home”, that’s valuable information that will make thing easier for everyone.

Reward tracks! I should go do that next tier of Arah already.

Reward tracks! I should go do that next tier of Arah already.

So I’m not going to lie, the new reward tracks are a large part of why I decided to try PvP. There’s a number of different tracks you can activate, each becoming available in different ways, and then you work towards specific rewards. I’m currently doing the Arah track, so as I progress I will be getting Arah tokens, weapons, and a piece of armor. After that I may go do the Kryta track. Not decided yet! The nice thing is I can switch to another one – say I decided I really, really needed the Balthazar backpiece (I don’t, I think it’s ugly, but that’s besides the point) – and the progress I’ve made on the Arah track is saved for when I go back to it.

You also get reward chests as you rank up, but as ever, these are heavily RNG. I’ve yet to get anything decent from any of them. One of my friends has gotten a number of exotics. My fiance managed to get an ascended armor chest (Zojja’s, naturally), his very first PvP match. Talk about luck. But you still get stuff, as well as a gold reward when finishing a match, so it isn’t a choice between playing PvP and playing something in-game that will earn you money. You can do both.

There’s one more thing I didn’t mention yet, and that’s Team Deathmatch. It’s a new mode that was added, and isn’t fully supported, so you will only see it (and the map it’s available on, Courtyard), on player-owned custom arenas. It’s exactly what it sounds like – the map is tiny, with two spawn points and a courtyard between the two, and you simply go in and…try and kill the other team. That’s it. It can be a lot of fun, but it can also get unbalanced very quickly, and spawn-camping can be an issue. It is a highly entertaining fast-paced game mode, though, so if you see an open custom arena with it available, give it a try!

So, yeah. PvP. It will never be my favorite thing in the game, but it’s something that I’ve come to have fun with and play occasionally. I’d suggest, if you’ve never tried it, to give it a go. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it too!

Trait Disappointment: A Followup

As I wrote about yesterday, I am pretty unhappy with how the new trait unlock system works. One thing I noticed from comments I’ve received on twitter and the like, is that a lot of people, having had characters already made and leveled before this change was made, were unaware of how bad some of the required unlocks are. This post will serve two purposes: to list out all of the current trait unlocks, and then to list some of the ideas we’ve come up with that would make good replacements.

This will be a long, text-heavy post. But I hope it’ll help in getting more attention brought to this issue and for it to be rebalanced in the future.

Continue reading

Trait Disappointment

So the feature patch for Guild Wars 2 has been out for a few days now. It’s not 100% perfect – there are some bugs, such as dailies not resetting properly for some (a problem I had happen), chat breaking on Tuesday, and some things not unlocking properly, but largely it’s been a smooth roll-out. The wardrobe is great; it took me a few tries to get all of my PvP skins to unlock, but once I did that I wound up with over 600 skins unlocked on my account. Account-wide dyes are also amazing, and I was surprised by how many unidentified dyes I wound up with once I finished going through all of my characters. I’ve actually been playing some sPvP and enjoying it. Megaservers I’m not really a fan of, but thus far I’ve seen no real glitches with them.

There is one thing that really has me bothered though, and it annoys me even more because it was something I thought had potential to be really cool, and that is the trait unlocking.

So to start out, when I initially logged into all of my characters, it became clear that unlocks are the same across every profession. The new trait for each profession in trait line A are unlocked by fighting the Risen High Wizard in Cursed Shore, B are unlocked by defeating the Priest of Grenth, and so on. That was the initial disappointment – that there’s no variety across professions. There are so, so, so many options available out there…so why lock every profession to the same few events? There’s also the fact that unlocks are character-specific instead of account-based, so if you have a lot of characters…have fun doing those same things repeatedly to get all of your new traits.

The other thing is that the unlocks are not even remotely even. Of the new grandmasters, they consist of the Risen High Wizard and Priest of Grenth, as I mentioned, as well as the Karka Queen, Risen Priestess of Lyssa…and going to a ship in Straits of Devastation. Um, what? I don’t really get this. The ship is minorly annoying because it’s underwater and there’s a couple vets there, but that’s all. Grenth is an event that is very easy to mess up and fail, Lyssa is just long and tedious, Karka Queen is a pain to spawn…High Wizard is generally pretty easy, to the point where it dies too quickly.

The disparity in how to unlock the traits becomes even more apparent when you look at the adept and master traits, though. One of the things I did on Tuesday was make a new characters, specifically for playing through with the new changes. The character I made was a thief, as she is based on a roleplay character of mine. To start out, thief is a hard profession to play without traits, so not having any until level 30 was painful. When I did hit 30 last night and was able to unlock a trait, I decided to look through the unlocks for major traits and…ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

An adept trait, that you'll have trait points for at level 36...what.

An adept trait, that you’ll have trait points for at level 36…what.

There are so many problems with the requirements to unlock traits. For starters, the vast majority of the adept traits, which you’ll have points to unlock starting at level 36, require completing content far above that level – one requires map completion of Gendarran Fields, which is somewhat reasonable, but very few of the others were anything below level 50. Many require keeping up on personal story. There are ones that require map completion of zones such as Fireheart Rise, Mount Maelstrom, and as pictured above, Frostgorge Sound. To which I have to say – seriously? These are low-level traits that people should be able to unlock easily. They are ones that you should be able to use at low levels. They should not require mapping level 70-80 zones to get. Most of the master traits require lower level content than many of the adept traits, and that, honestly, is just wrong.

The other major issue I have with it is so many traits are tied to personal story or map completion. Why do this? That, along with there being no variety between professions for unlocks, just makes zero sense to me. There are so many events in this game – thousands of them. So many jumping puzzles and mini-dungeons. More than enough that they could have easily tied each trait on each profession to a different, level-appropriate event, and not had any problems, or doubles. This also would do a much better job at encouraging people to explore zones than just…having them map a handful of mid to high level zones.

I’d say it’s more worth it to simply eat the gold cost to unlock traits…

This must be the new goldsink now that armor repairs are free.

This must be the new goldsink now that armor repairs are free.

…they aren’t horribly expensive individually, other than the new grandmasters. But at the same time, it’ll be far, far more expensive to unlock traits this way than simply buying a trait book last week was. It’s 10 silver per adept trait, as well as the skill point cost. Six adept traits, across five trait lines…that’s 3 gold right there. 10g for the master traits. A whopping thirty gold for grandmaster traits. On top of having to spend 360 skill points. That is, of course, if you want to unlock everything. But with free trait resets being available whenever you want, why wouldn’t you want all of your traits available to you? How are you supposed to experiment and find a build that you like without having all of the options available to play with?

The changes to traits really, really bother me. It had so much potential to be something really neat, but it just feels like the ball was dropped so badly on this one. I’m not one of those people who thinks this whenever there’s something I don’t like, but this made me really wonder if whoever selected the unlocks for each trait actually plays the game.

Between the level increase to unlock traits (seriously, waiting until level 30 is terrible. If it had to have been changed, it should have been to level 20, at the highest), and the requirements to then unlock traits, I see this as being something that is more likely to hinder and put off new players, rather than make it easier, as was the intention. I really hope that these things get looked at and adjusted to being something more reasonable. I know this will likely put a dent in my desire to make and level tons of alts, and I know the game very well.

This isn’t a quality of life change; this is one that has potential to cause real harm to the game. Someone please rebalance these!

Edit: I’ve written a follow-up post where I go over the details of every single trait unlock, as well as make some suggestions as to how to fix this. Please take a look!

Feature patch, day four: Social upgrades, account-bound goodies, and saving silver

As yesterday’s feature patch announcement was a fairly small one, I decided to wait until today’s information to write about it, and just group it all together. The new features that had info about them released over the past few days were mainly quality of life changes, but good ones to hear about nonetheless.

Yesterday’s post mostly mentioned improvements to social play within the game. There really wasn’t a whole lot that was mentioned here; one of the things it did go into was a feature that will allow guild leaders to see when members have last logged in. As a guild leader, I do very much like that feature being added; it is one that should have been in from the start, but late is better than never. I also hope that it is the tip of the iceberg in what they will eventually add in for guild leaders to work with; there’s a lot of functions that we currently lack that I’d love to see. Also mentioned are upgrades to the LFG tool, including adding in WvW channels, and the ability to specify the group’s main language – something that will be handy for players on multi-language servers. Last is a mention of support for guild members and other changes to reduce griefing; this is something I’m curious about, there are no details on it yet. Soon!

The heft of today’s news came from the first post released, talking about account-bound restrictions. There are several major changes that they are making here, all of which I am very happy for.

The first one I’ll mention is that world experience is finally going to become account-bound. Now, I don’t WvW a whole lot, but wxp was added in around when I was doing map completion there on my ranger, so by default my ranger gained levels fairly quickly early on. As a result I basically only WvW on my ranger, because she’s got the highest WvW rank, and hence the most points to play with.

Like I said...I don't WvW all that much.

Like I said…I don’t WvW all that much.

Most of my other characters have at least a few ranks, though, and most of my 80s are somewhere between rank 5 and 10, but my ranger remains the main there. With wxp going account-bound, all of my characters will benefit from the time I’ve spent in WvW and (more often) EOTM, and at the same time she’ll benefit from the ranks scattered around my other characters. And hey, maybe I’ll actually be able to go into WvW on my mesmer – you know, my main who has a commander pin – and not be hindered by my lack of wvw ability points.

Now, the bigger one. Legendaries and ascended items are no longer going to be soulbound on use, but rather will remain account-bound. I was excited a few days ago with the wardrobe making legendary skins account-bound, but now I can pass my weapons around my characters as needed! That is an amazing change that I’m really happy about and have been wanting for a very long time. Not only can I put my Bifrost’s skin on a staff for my mesmer or necro, but I can take the staff itself and give it to them if I want. This change is also what has me finally considering doing some ascended crafting – I had held out for so long because the price wasn’t worth the tiny stat boost. But if I can share the items between all of my alts…it suddenly becomes so much more worth it. I probably won’t still bother with armor, but if I make just a few weapons, I can essentially use any alt I want for Fractals.

I can share around this stuff, too. Sweet.

I can share around this stuff, too. Sweet.

Also, I really must say, all of these changes that are making things much more alt-friendly are great.

The last thing that was mentioned today were a few more small things, that will have impacts on the game’s economy. Trait resets will now be free, but with the changes to traits that were mentioned last week, this one is far from being a surprise. Armor repair costs are being removed, which I think is great. I never liked repairs having a cost; it was a gold sink, but a not very effective one, as it punished newer players while being a non-issue for people who have played more. Waypoints are a much more effective goldsink in the long run. So I’m glad to see repair costs go. Since that way of removing money is being taken away, the amount of gold earned from events and from champion loot bags is being reduced.

Now, gold being reduced from events is a bit annoying, as you get a trivial amount for that anyway…but with so many other ways of making gold, it’ll wind up to be a minor change. The gold reduction from champ bags I am totally okay with. I don’t see it being a major change to the game’s economy, but it will turn into a small nerf to the champ farming trains, which is fine by me. I don’t like what champ farming has done to the game and the economy, so anything to try and get it back under control is a good thing, even if it will just be a small thing. There are other changes I’d like to see made to champ bags, but I’ll save that for another post.

The last note is that there will be adjustments made to the Mystic Forge, to give more variation to the stuff you can get out of it. Precursors, however, will not be touched. So basically Zommoros might be a bit kinder…unless you want a precursor. Then you’re still screwed.

(I joke. I got a precursor from the Forge. It just takes insane amounts of luck.)

We’re now two-thirds of the way through the new features announcements for the feature patch, and so far everything’s shaping up nicely – just a few more days to go now.

Feature Patch, day three: Wardrobe and dye, oh my!

So, I’m not going to lie. This was the feature update information I was waiting for the most, and man was waking up to see the new blog posts this morning a way to get me excited.

We got two new things announced today; the first of which is a wardrobe system. Let me just let that sink in for a moment. A WARDROBE SYSTEM. The basics of it are that skins you have will be unlocked for your account, and can be changed on the fly by using Transmutation Charges, which is similar to the way the current transmutation system works, but easier to work with.

As someone who loves armor, but doesn’t like how much space carrying multiple sets takes, this has me really pleased.

This doesn't show other skins I've had and have since salvaged or transmuted over - just sets that character currently has on her. Also, whoops, forgot to repair my armor...

This doesn’t show other skins I’ve had and have since salvaged or transmuted over – just sets that character currently has on her. Also, whoops, forgot to repair my armor…

Equipping different stat types will be now separate from equipping skins; stat types will still be equipped through the basic hero panel. There will be a different panel specifically for the wardrobe, though, where you can view all of the different skins you have available to you, preview looks until you’re happy, and then apply. I transmute tons of armor (I tend to buy my characters nice sets at a low level so they’ll look pretty while leveling and then transmute my way through), and I know that sometimes when transmuting I double and triple check to make sure I have the right combination selected – especially on certain armor skins where they have generic icons (norn cultural heavy, I’m looking at you!). Don’t have to worry about that anymore!

Our hoards of transmutation stones won’t be going away, either – they’ll be transferring into the transmutation charges used in the new system. There’s some other neat changes – town clothes are mentioned as being turned into outfits which will be unlocked account wide and can be equipped over armor without using a transmutation charge, similar to how costumes in Guild Wars 1 functioned, which is very cool. Certain clothing items that can’t be bought any longer will be turned into endless tonics. Also, for items that went through a skin progression, such as a legendary? You’ll unlock both the legendary’s skin, as well as the precursor.

Yeah, I’m putting Bifrost, Kudzu, and the Minstrel on everyone I can.

Part of me is slightly frustrated at this coming in so late – I have bought SO many armor sets, including multiple sets of t1 and t2 armor across characters (or in some cases, rebuying them). But honestly…it’s just money, in-game money at that. Big deal! I’m excited to see all of the fun I can have with this. There’s still some things we don’t know yet – it’s mentioned how skins will be unlocked, but not if there’ll be any changes with how armor stats will be obtained – but over all, I’m really happy with this.

Now! Blog post number two today was about account-wide dye unlocks! Again, let that sink in for a moment. All dyes you’ve unlocked will be now unlocked account-wide.

I have something like 300 dyes unlocked on my mesmer, including a number of rare ones (Abyss, Celestial, and several of the various limited-time dyes). I love dyes. This is so great.

It scrolls. A lot.

It scrolls. A lot.

“But I’ve unlocked X color on more than one character!” you say. They’ve planned for that already – when you log in after the April 15th patch, if you have a particular color unlocked more than once, then you will receive an unidentified dye for each duplicate you’ve already unlocked. Personally I can’t wait to see how many unidentified dyes I wind up with after that, as I know there are a ton of colors I’ve unlocked multiple times (Icing, I’m looking at you).

The flip side to this is that dyes are going to be removed as a random drop; the logic behind that decision is that dyes will go down in demand due to unlocks being account-wide, and I can certainly understand that…and I feel like in a few months we won’t care about it. But right now there’ll be a lot of people wanting to finish up their dye collections (or at least get all of the colors they’ve wanted), and it’s going to be difficult. At the moment, dye prices have spiked dramatically – blue quality dyes that previously sold for under a silver are now about 40s or more each. The good thing is that it says they’ll still be available through select in-game rewards, and they only specify them being removed as drops, so I assume that we’ll still be able to spend laurels on dye. They’ll also still be sellable on the trading post, as well as able to go into the Mystic Forge, so that’s good. I’m mainly wondering if they’ll still be an occasional bonus you can get when gathering herb nodes, as I personally love when a node gives me vanilla AND a dye.

I had tons of armor in Guild Wars 1. I spend way too much time in Guild Wars 2 previewing armors and playing with dyes (the number of times I’ve started redyeing my armor in the middle of a dungeon run…). This is such great news for someone like me, and holy hell am I excited to log in on April 15th and see all of the new options available on all of my characters.

Bring on the feature patch!

Feature patch, day two: Critical damage, runes, sigils, and balance

Today came the second and third of the blog posts about the upcoming feature patch; this time we got to learn about the changes that will be made to critical damage, as well as updates to runes and sigils, and some general balance updates that are being made.

First, let’s look at the crit damage changes. The biggest thing about it is that critical damage will be tied to a new stat of its own, Ferocity. It’ll work the same as any other stat, starting out at zero and being able to be increased through traits, gear, and other buffs. The hope is that by doing this, it’ll make critical damage easier to understand, as well as make it easier for people to experiment with builds and still be able to crit. This will also have the effect of a slight nerf to full berserker builds; they say that at level 80 with a full zerker build this will work out to about a 10% decrease.

An example in the blog post of how the hero panel will look with Ferocity added in.

An example in the blog post of how the hero panel will look with Ferocity added in.

Now, full disclosure here: I run berserker gear on four of my characters (mesmer, ranger, necro, and warrior). And I am totally okay with this change. My mesmer sits at 103% crit damage, without any buffs, and with a couple pieces of gear still not being berserker (for some reason I have a valkyrie sword on her. Don’t remember why I did that; I suspect to save on money). I also on other characters play a variety of different builds; my guardian, for example, is full support. My engineer is conditions/support. My ele swaps between damage and healing. My thief currently is running venom shares. And my second warrior does a hammer control build. Even my berserker necro has a mix of rampager and rabid trinkets and still pulls heavy condition damage. My healing/boon shout guardian is as fun for me to play as my DPS-heavy phantasm mesmer – they’re different builds, with different uses. And the damage nerf will not be so hard to my DPS-based characters to put me off them, but it will give more opportunities for my more support-based characters to shine.

Build diversity is always a good thing, and I like how this change to crit damage will make things a bit more even of a playing field, and make it easier for people who like playing builds that are more than just “hit that thing with a stick until it dies” to show their stuff, as well as facilitate more experimentation.

Speaking of build diversity, let’s take a look at the post about runes, sigil, and other balance updates. One of the things they mention as working on for runes is updating the stat boosts given to be stacked more towards the fourth, fifth, and sixth effect; a lot of people sometimes mix and match runes, and they want there to be a real benefit to sticking to a single set. It’s also said that this will make it easier for newer players to pick runes.

Now, sometimes mixing and matching is a necessity – my guardian, for example, uses a mix of three different rune sets to get what I want. One of the things that is also being done is that a number of rune sets are being reworked, to take away some of the need of this mix-and-match. It also says that more runes will be updated to have a specific focus, such as a certain condition or boon, which I can see being very nice in some situations. I know the Power runes in general could use a lot of this fixing – so many sets that give power either have might or burning as a secondary effect, but there’s not much else in there. I don’t even use runes on several of my characters, opting for orbs instead as there are no rune sets that do what I’d like for them to do, so changing things up so that there aren’t so many cloned rune sets and they’re all more clearly defined is something I’m looking forward to.

Next, sigils! They’re looking to take away all of the hidden rules that sigils have and make it much clearer how they work. Things like recharges, how they stack, and so on will be made clear in the sigil’s description. One thing they mention is that each sigil will have its own recharge, but they do not stack. To explain that better, this is the example given:

A character with two Sigils of Blood (minor, major, or superior) who activates one will set both sigils on recharge.

So doubling up on sigils won’t be worth it, which is actually not a bad thing by any means, as it’ll encourage people to play around with more types of sigils for different effects. And do people really double up like that anyway?

Sigil of Fire with an updated description.

Sigil of Fire with an updated description.

Another thing that is made note of is on-kill sigils will get a few updates. The first is that killing a human opponent in any game mode (PvP or WvW) will gain you five stacks, as opposed to just one. Regular monsters remain at one. The second is that more strict rules on their use will be applied; namely you can’t build up 25 stacks and then unequip the weapon for another and keep the stacks. Again, a good change, as being able to do that just feels like an exploit to me.

Oh, and by the way, if you use a two-handed weapon? Two sigils. On the weapon. This was the part that had me the happiest (until I got to the bottom of the post, anyway). Just, enough said on that. Two-handed weapons can slot two sigils. I love that change. I’m excited for that change. I’m already planning out what I want to slot on my weapons to add to them.

Several sigils will be getting updated to make them more desirable; this ranges from things like some of the “on-crit” defensive sigils to be changed from “on-crit” to “on hit”. As someone who uses Sigil of Water on my guardian’s staff, I’m loving that change, especially as it’ll give me more wiggle room when playing around with builds. A number of sigils will be getting tweaks on numbers (recharges, how often they trigger, how hard they hit, etc), and there’ll be some that get reworked entirely. The example given for that are the Sigils of Conjuration and Sanctuary, which currently both have the same effect (which is not a terribly useful one). They’ll both be getting majorly changed; Conjuration will become Celerity and give 5 seconds of quickness once hitting 25 stacks (guess what I want for my mesmer’s greatsword), and Sanctuary will become Benevolence and increase ally healing (guess what I want to put on my guardian’s Bifrost along with her Sigil of Water).

Last but not least are a preview of the balance changes, all of which look good to me. Elementalists will get some more survivability when using main-hand dagger, which is handy. For engineers they’re looking to increase build diversity; they say they’re aiming for more power-based builds as well as more support opportunities. Anything that can break people out of the mindset of “grenades are the best ever” is good by me; just don’t nerf my elixirs! Guardians they say will mainly be quality of life changes, but at the same time they want guardian burning to be the strongest burning conditions in the game. Warrior changes will mainly be bug fixes as well as slight nerfs to regen. Necromancers are getting a good number of changes; a big one is Death Magic no longer requiring you to run around with minions if you trait into that line, as well as more survival options and some Death Shroud. For rangers they primarily mention pet AI changes, which are always welcome. Thief they mention some bug fixes, and some more support and survival via traits, such as the Invigorating Precision trait mentioned in yesterday’s trait blog post.

And mesmer. I had to give mesmer its own paragraph, because I love mesmer, my main is a mesmer, and the updates listed for mesmer just make me so happy. More options for conditions. More support and survivability. Updates and bug fixes to illusions, with Illusionary Warden being specifically mentioned as having been fixed. The sigil changes being very good to us. And yes, Maim the Disillusioned is an amazing trait name.

Unlike yesterday’s post on traits, where some of it had me a bit unsure, today’s information I am solidly behind and like quite a bit. So far so good, and as I pointed out yesterday, I’m really enjoying these posts detailing the changes. The next two blogposts, to judge by their names, have to do with armor, town clothes, and dyes, so I’m excited to see what’ll be announced there. My mesmer currently has over 300 dyes unlocked, so I’m really crossing my fingers hoping that account-wide dye unlocks are coming. There’s not much that could make me happier right now.

If only precursor crafting hadn’t been confirmed to not be a part of this patch…ah well.

Feature patch, day one: Traits

So, today information on the upcoming feature patch for Guild Wars 2 has finally started to be released. Yay! Over the next two and a half weeks, we’ll be getting a number of blog posts going over each of the new features or major changes, culminating with the patch going live on April 15th. They have listed the titles and dates of all of the upcoming blog posts, hinting at what’ll be coming, and a lot of it looks like it’ll be really neat.

Today they started off by talking about changes that are being made to traits, and I have to admit, a lot of it looks really good. There’s a few parts that I’m not 100% set on, but for the most part…good stuff. Here’s a highlight of the big changes:

  • Tier unlocks will be automatic and free at a certain level
  • Trait points will be condensed and earned at different levels (including when you start learning them)
  • Trait refunds will be free and available at any point not in combat
  • Major traits need to be unlocked via “trait guides”
  • Each profession will be getting a new grandmaster trait in each line (forty new traits!)
This window will be looking a bit different after April 15th.

This window will be looking a bit different after April 15th.

So what do I think of all of this? For starters, free tier unlocks (and them being automatic) is a great thing. I hate having to go back to buy trait books, especially as they reset your traits when you use them. On top of that, I hate having to spend so much money on them. Yeah, at this point, 3.1g is nothing for me. But when the game first launched? Saving up that single gold for the level 40 book was an accomplishment. So was the 2g for the level 60 book. I remember feeling rich in the BWEs if I had 10s for the level 11 book. If you just started out playing, you’re not going to have money for those things at the appropriate level, more likely than not. And that’s assuming you even realize you have to go buy them! So doing away with that is great.

My quibble on it is the level changes that come in to this – you start getting trait points at level 30, with master unlocking at level 60 and grandmaster at level 80. This…I’m not so cool with. There are certain professions where playing them without any traits at low levels can be very difficult – thief and elementalist in particular come to mind, and mesmer may also be very tricky. But we’ll see. Perhaps other changes being brought in will balance that out. I also don’t like master and grandmaster unlocking so late. I feel that around levels 60-70 I have a good idea of how my level 80 build will play out, but now that will no longer be possible.

GOOD RIDDANCE.

GOOD RIDDANCE.

Trait condensing. Again, a thing I like. Right now, you gain 70 trait points by the time you’re level 80. With this, they’re going to make it so that you’ll gain a total of 14 trait points – each point will be worth five points with how they are now. This makes it so that trait points have more effect and will be noticed more readily; in the post they also mention that this will make it easier for newer players to figure out the system – they give the example of someone who may not know better putting 11 points in one line, 14 in another, and unintentionally giving themselves a far less effective build than they could have. Starting at level 30, you’ll gain a point each six levels; at level 66 it’ll then be 2 points per six levels. I do like the extra points in your last stretch of leveling; they recognize that at this point you’ll be settling on what you want to play at level 80 and giving you more to play with. I just wish that grandmaster wasn’t at level 80.

Free trait refunds. Oh man, this was the best part of it, I think. WE NO LONGER HAVE TO GO INTO A CITY AND PAY TO REFUND OUR TRAITS. The fee was paltry (3.5s at level 80 with all traits used), but it was an unnecessary inconvenience. Now, at any point you’re not in combat, you can refund and change your traits from the hero panel. I’m so excited for this – stuff like this will make things like high level fractals and certain dungeons much easier, as well as swapping builds for World vs. World. It also promotes experimenting more since you can change things whenever you want. The only issue that will arise from this is gear – most people pick their gear based on their build. Trait resets are great, but there’ll be issues with people either feeling they need to carry around a half dozen sets of armor, or complaining their builds are now sub-optimal because their gear doesn’t match. Personally, I’m not too fussed on that, but I can see why it’d be a concern. I also would kill for a way to save build templates, like in GW1, but we’ll live for now. That’d be a great quality of life change, though, hint hint!

Major traits will need to be unlocked. Okay, so this is actually really, really cool, I think. If you played Guild Wars 1, you’ll remember capturing elite skills from bosses, or using skill tomes to learn skills you’d already unlocked on your account. This is similar. Major traits will be learned from trait guides that can be found from completing specific content – anything from personal story to WvW to dungeons to meta-event bosses in the open world. And if you don’t feel like going out and finding that specific trait guide? You can buy it from your profession trainer. I really like this, myself; it gives a bit more of a sense of accomplishment in your build, but if you’re looking for one that you simply cannot get, you can still get it.

The example image used in the blog post, showing a trait unlocked by taking the Gates of Arah.

The example image used in the blog post, showing a trait unlocked by taking the Gates of Arah.

And last but far from being least, each profession will be getting new traits – a new grandmaster trait for each tier, which is a total of forty new traits in total. New traits are always a good thing, as they mix things up and give more chances for build diversity, a thing I’m always a fan of. They gave an example of a new trait for each profession, and I do have to say I’m impressed and excited to see what all of the new ones are going to be. The elementalist one listed, for example, will be a must-have for my ele, and as a longbow user I’m also really liking the ranger one. The thief one is a great way to give thieves more survivability when attacking. The engineer trait makes turrets not entirely useless. And so on. The mesmer one is the only example given that I’m not 100% sold on, but that’s simply because of other game mechanics (I’m looking at you, defiant) and enemy AI getting in the way, but I can easily see how it’d be very powerful in WvW and sPvP. And personally I’m hoping that the new Inspiration grandmaster will be another phantasm trait, as I’d take that in an instant ;)

So far? This is good stuff. There’s a lot more to come, though – tomorrow will be posts about combat and critical damage, which I’m certainly interested to see, as well as the Ready Up livestream where ArenaNet will talk about some of the feature changes. It’s good to see how openly they’re communicating these new changes with us – it reminds me a lot of the pre-release blog posts, and I’m glad to see that format return. I hope to see more things discussed with us like this, as the more communication, the better.

Living World Wrap-up

With yesterday’s patch, this first season of the Living World storyline has come to a close. It’s been an interesting over-a-year, and it’s certainly had it’s ups and downs.

I’ve been skeptical of this Living World concept from the start. As it turns out, some of my worries still hold, and some came to be nothing. Overall, I did enjoy the content that we’ve been given since it started, while it wasn’t always perfect, it was at least generally enjoyable to play through (some things moreso than others).

It was slow to start off, with the updates originally coming weeks apart and being very light in content. Once we got the Molten Facility update, though, things started rolling in a bit more frequently, though it took months for things to start to actually come together and make sense as to how they were connected (and some things, like Southsun, still remain unconnected to the storyline). I also had some issues with how disjointed things felt for a long time – for example, there was the attack on Dragon Bash, and then we went to the Labyrinthine Cliffs. Sure, there was the sub-story there of voting for a new captain on the Lion’s Arch Council, and I loved the Bazaar of the Four Winds update, but it felt…jarring. Once Scarlet arrived on the scene, though, things began to flow together more smoothly.

Queen's Jubilee - zerg content, but fun zerg content.

Queen’s Jubilee – zerg content, but fun zerg content.

The dungeons we were given through the Living World updates were phenomenal. Molten Facility, Aetherblade Retreat, and Aetherpath were all dungeons that brought some challenge to the game, but with a bit of skill and time to learn the mechanics, were not horribly difficult. I didn’t do Aetherblade Retreat as much, but Molten Facility we ran basically daily, and Aetherpath is something we still do on a semi-regular basis. The Tower of Nightmares was an interesting intanced area that was like what an open-world dungeon would be like. It was fun to go through, but I admit that I did not actually go through the Tower more than once or twice.

There was quite a bit of time in there that I didn’t really play the game much. Starting during the Halloween patch until towards the end of the Origins of Madness release (so mid-October until late January) I rarely ever was on. Still, in that time I didn’t miss too much – the Tower, which again, wasn’t quite my thing, Fractals, and Wintersday. Origins of Madness was where things started to really pick up, story-wise, and it was clear that we were steaming on towards the end game. Edge of the Mists is surprisingly one of my favorite updates thus far; I don’t like World vs. World much, but I was in the alpha test of EOTM and really enjoyed it, and I hop in there on a semi-regular basis. The Twisted Marionette was a great boss fight, requiring more coordination than most open-world bosses, and I find myself regularly wishing that it had been permanent, as opposed to the Jungle Wurm in Bloodtide Coast.

That poor lion...

That poor lion…

And then we come to the attack on Lion’s Arch and fighting Scarlet herself, which I’ve already written about, so I won’t go over here much. Escape from LA was a lot of fun, and I found myself running it regularly; helped that it counted for monthly dungeon completer ;) Battle for LA I also enjoyed. I missed most of the bugs involved with it, having done it initially soon as the patch went live, and then not going back in too frequently, but I did still go in and do the Knights and Hologram fights every couple of days. It wasn’t content I felt the need to do constantly, but it was fun nonetheless.

As of yesterday, Lion’s Arch is no longer a battleground, but it is by no means back to its former glory. The city is a complete mess – even more destroyed than it had been while Scarlet’s armies had still been in there. The destruction of the Breachmaker has taken its toll on the city, and now there are pieces of the ship scattered everywhere, including a particularly large one that is taking up most of Fort Marriner. There are several bulletin boards located around the city (one with notices for those who went missing, one memorializing the dead, and one thanking those who fought), and a graveyard. There’s also lots of dialogue to be had if you talk to NPCs.

You are given recognition for your part, of course.

You are given recognition for your part, of course.

If you talk to her on a sylvari...excuse you, I killed Scarlet!

If you talk to her on a sylvari…excuse you, I killed Scarlet!

There’s also an instance in the Dead End in Divinity’s Reach, where you can talk to and witness a number of conversations between the biconic characters. I liked the instance, even if things felt a bit stilted and the pacing was a bit off, and honestly, I think that made it feel a bit more real. We just killed a horrible person that’s caused a huge number of deaths and woke up a dragon. We’re trying to celebrate that this particular terror is over with, but things are far from being back to normal, and so it’ll be awkward. Trying to be happy for the sake of the others while at the same time trying to not dwell on the terrible things that have happened. That’s a thing that happens in real life, so I’m okay with it happening here. I know I’ve certainly been in situations where I had the thoughts of “Okay, pretend to be happy, don’t think about it. Crap. That silence went on for too long. Say something! Ugh, that was awkward.” going through my mind, as I’m sure most people have, and that’s what this instance reminded me of.

On a sidenote, I’ve seen people complaining at the fact that the characters didn’t know that a dragon was woken up right away. We as players saw that cutscene. The characters did not. If you tried to interact with the control panels on Scarlet’s ship, you were unable to unless you were an engineer. So there’s no reason they should have known that.

That'll be fun to move...

That’ll be fun to move…

So at this point, we’re left with…what’s next? We’ve got a major city in rubble and a new dragon waking up. I’m certain that Lion’s Arch will eventually be rebuilt, but it certainly will not be an immediate thing. But for now, we don’t know what’s going to come next. I do feel that things may change a bit with what ArenaNet has learned from the past year. I am personally hoping that the rumors of an expansion coming next year are true, as I would hope that facing another dragon would be expansion content, and not temporary living world content. We know there’s a large feature patch coming soon, but what that will consist of so far we’ve gotten little in the way of hints.

If I were to guess, I’d think that the next Living World story arc will revolve around dealing with the aftermath of what happened (rebuilding LA), investigating events connected to the dragon waking up, pushing further west into Maguuma (read: I WANT NEW ZONES), with things eventually culminating in the dragon fully awakening and revealing itself, and then everything from there on being an expansion. On top of that, I’d really love to see some changes in Orr; I want to see it start to return to its former self, instead of just a realm of the undead. Zhaitan is gone, and I’d like to see this reflected in his influence going away and the land healing.

For now, we just have to wait and see. And hope we get some info soon on what’s to come!