It’s funny, as excited as I was about Guild Wars 2’s first expansion, I haven’t gotten very far into the new content yet. The reason for this is because of a couple of things I didn’t expect. First, WildStar stole a lot of my attention. I knew from past experience with it that it was a good game and I was going to play it from time to time, but I expected my excitement over it to plateu before now, especially in the face of an expansion to Guild Wars 2. I know a lot of people who played WildStar for a while and then got tired of the setting and/or burnt out on the constantly frantic combat, but I’m still loving both. And it’s poised to steal my attention again this weekend, because I really want some of those space ship outfits and decor pieces. The other unexpected thing that happened was that I really like my Revenant. What’s even more unusual is that, while there are usually a lot of different ways to play every class, I generally fall into one that I like best. That hasn’t happened with the Revenant; I like the way he plays with every weapon and every legend. So far, I’ve just been rotating them out as the mood strikes me. I think my favorite so far has been mace/axe with the Mallyx legend. I can stack a lot of torment that way, the combo on the mace gives up to 9 stacks of might, then I switch to the hammer and kite things around while the torment burns them down. I also like sword/shield combination–it gives a nice balance of DPS and survivability–but I haven’t amassed enough hero points to unlock more than the first few sections of the skill tree and slot skills for the herald spec, so unfortunately I think I’m going to have to hold off on that one for a while. And yes, the fact that I’ve unlocked the shield means I finally got him to 80 a couple days ago. I ended up using about half of my Tomes of Knowledge and leveling the rest. I had planned to save more of the tomes and do more with personal story (I still haven’t finished the Orr parts on any of my characters), but one of the quests is bugged right now and I can’t progress, so I decided to just forget it and do the last ten or so levels with tomes so I could get to the new content.
Anyways, I finally glided my way into Verdant Brink. The theme of the expansion so far has been finding creative new ways for me to die. I expected to die a few times from wyvren attacks and acid-spewing plants, but getting zerged by knee-high raptors, knocked off of cliffs by giant bipedal mushrooms (this is revenge for all those hours of Mario I played as a kid, isn’t it?), and running out of glider energy and falling to my doom in a writhing vine pit were not on my list. Also, is it me, or does this zone desperately need more waypoints? I get that this area of the world is supposed mostly unexplored, but would it kill you to put up a few more so I don’t have to run/glide half way across the map to get back to where I died? Overall, though, when I’m not lying on the ground, the expansion has been pretty good. I know many players have felt hindered by the new post-80 mastery system, which is perceived (perhaps somewhat rightly) as a pointless grind just to give you something to level without causing gear and stat inflation, but I can see why it might get annoying later down the road. It is a little silly that I have to earn the ability to ride on updrafts. There’s wind going up, and whether I’m skilled or not, my glider should catch some of it at least. It’s especially annoying since a lot of the hero points and such require you to glide down and ride the air current back up, which means you’ll end up paying for a teleport out an awful lot until you earn that mastery.
As for the story, it’s been cool so far–the fallout of the revelation that sylvari are basically dragon minions has caused a lot of chaos and mistrust in the Pact, which makes for a good story–but the fact that so much of the early story is focused on frog people is a little weird to me. Also, there’s no animation whatsoever when they talk, which is a little odd considering the graphical overhaul the Hylek just got. I really like that they’ve shifted away from the awkward talking heads style of cutscenes and gone a more traditional route, with in-world dialog and actual animated videos. I’m sure it’s more work, but it’s really worth it. It’s also nice to have Destiny’s Edge a little more back in the spotlight after showing up only for occasional cameos for the Living World story.
Overall, I think this has seemed like a pretty solid expansion. I’ve seen a lot of negativity flung at it (and I mean more than average for an MMO update, and that’s saying something), and so far I really don’t see why. Yes, it’s different, but if it was just more of the same people would complain about that too. As usual, I’ll be over here, ignoring the haters, enjoying what I enjoy.
It gets better and better the more masteries you get, which is kind of what they said they wanted to happen. The problem with that is that it works well if, like you (and me) you are broadly enjoying yourself to begin with but if you aren’t then it just adds a whole layer of insult to injury. I think that has a lot to do with why some people reacted so strongly to a bad first impression.
Once you get the mastery that lets you glide without using any endurance at all the whole thing becomes a pure joy. My tip, though, is not to bother with the final Gliding mastery – apart from a very, very few spots Ley Line Gliding isn’t needed and at times I find it more of a hindrance than a help. I’d definitely not have taken it before a whole lot of other things if I’d known, not at the high cost it comes in at.
For me exploring Heart of Thorns is still far away: I got absorbed by the recent SWTOR expansion and LOTRO…