Guild Wars 2: Story Time

  By Shamus   Oct 4, 2012   198 comments

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This is a hard game to cover. I keep making notes of stuff I want to discuss or complain about, but before I can assemble the words we get a patch where the dev team changes just enough to render my comments irrelevant. So I make more notes, it gets patched again, and the cycle repeats. In fact, we got a major patch while I was writing this article.

And then we got another patch an hour later!

About a month ago I made the post complaining about the trading post being down for a whole week, but they managed to fix the thing about an hour before the post went live. So at the risk of writing a couple of thousand words about something that might look completely different or be changed in the next patch, let’s talk about the story mode.

Image unrelated: That’s my warrior in the middle. To the right is Josh’s elementalist.

Every character has a set of personal story missions. These are branching things that let you fill in your backstory and get some flavor lore. These quest lines generally converge as you progress through the game.

For example, as a human you can choose the background of street rat, a commoner, a noble. You can also choose a short-term goal for your character: You want to meet your birth parents, you never recovered your sister’s body, or you’ve always wanted to join the circus. Your first couple of quests will settle the background stuff and you’ll meet human faction Hero Logan Thackery. Once you’re friends with him, you’ll move on to the stuff with your short-term goal. From there you’ll converge into a quest line common to all humans, and further on you’ll converge with quests common to all races. (Then it diverges again. It’s complicated.)

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In story missions, you’ll run into cutscenes where two characters talk and emote against a static backdrop. This is opposed to doing things the Mass Effect way, where the game tries to arrange the characters in the scene to enact their lines, despite all the ways this might go wrong: Lighting, camera placement, NPC’s standing in the way, actors floating / buried / intersecting with world geometry, props getting in the way, characters not turning and facing one another properly, characters not keeping plausible eye contact because of positioning or radical height differences, immersion problems with the player asking “how did these characters suddenly arrive in this position?” and the ten thousand other things that can go wrong with a scripted cutscene like this, which is one of the reasons these games can get so expensive to produce. By putting everything against an abstract background they free pass for a bunch of stuff that would be dumb or jarring.

The story quests are a pretty good idea. They give you some identity in the world, as opposed to the various NPC’s treating you like a generic nobody. They make sure that you’re up to speed on the lore, so when you get to the end zones you’ll understand what all this crap about risen, dragons, and branded mobs are all about. Sadly, the whole system is a frustrating mess that’s best ignored after level 20. The big problem with the story missions is that they’re…

Hard

I probably shouldn’t throw the word “hard” around like that, or we could end up having this argument again. Difficulty is pretty subjective. The problem isn’t that they are too hard or easy, it’s that the difficulty is all over the place. A simple encounter with a bunch of nameless mooks can result in the player getting completely pancaked. Then a climactic battle will end up being a pushover. This is clearly not the intended experience, but I don’t know what the devs did intend. But the way it is now, I tend to notice the quests that flatten me because in this game death leads to expensive equipment repairs.

Why would I come back later? You’re still going to scale me down to the same damn level, and I’m at the level cap now!
Why would I come back later? You’re still going to scale me down to the same damn level, and I’m at the level cap now!

If you’re having trouble beating a mission, your first instinct might be to simply wait a level or two and come back. That won’t work here. You’re auto-leveled down to the “proper” level for the quest. Now, over-leveling can help. Eventually the stat bonuses from your higher-level gear will give you an edge, but you’ll need to be 10 or 20 levels over the quest before those bonuses make a meaningful difference. And even then, it’s not enough to turn a hard fight into a cakewalk.

It’s entirely possible these variances are due to character class. Maybe this is a tuning problem. I don’t know. But when I do struggle, it’s usually not because the game is demanding a high level of skill from me, it’s because the game is straight-up…

Unfair

Maybe “unfair” isn’t the right word here. “Cheap” might be a better way to describe how these fights are set up.

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This isn’t a game built around “tanks”, “DPS”, and “healers”. No character in this game is supposed to tank a half-dozen guys at once and expect to come out on top. Having said that, some classes are a lot more squishy than others, and a warrior has a much better chance than an elementalist in a close-quarters fight against many foes. Which is a shame, since this is a really common kind of fight in story missions.

The game is not shy about ganking you in cutscenes. You approach a battlefield, and a cutscene takes over. The talking heads talk and the cutscene exits into a scenario where you’re trapped in a small room with five guys in heavy armor. Or maybe you’re in an open field, but you’re somehow two steps from a group of five centaurs, and each centaur has an attack that can stunlock you for three seconds while the others murder you. If you’re a caster, this is pretty much a worst-case scenario.

You are not allowed to win yet! STOP TRYING TO WIN!

There are also cases where your foe runs in and is invulnerable while they deliver their mustache-twirling pre-fight taunt. Since he’s an AI and you’re playing over the internet, he’ll get to enter combat mode and tag you at the same time, meaning he gets the first hit, even though he was the one running his mouth. Boo ArenaNet. I boo you so very hard. Bonus points if you unload all your big attacks on him before you notice the “Invulnerable!” message flashing, so when he decides to allow your attacks you’ll be at a disadvantage.

I consider this is be some major cheating shenanigans. If you want Baron Von Bassass to cackle before the fight, do it in the cutscenes.

Now, I’m not against a good challenge, and if you’re going to put something difficult in the game then putting it in the optional story missions is a safe way to go. However, I feel that if you’re looking to test the player’s skill, there needs to be some kind of proportional reward at the end. Here the quests are very…

Unrewarding

The XP is nice if you do the quest at the proper level, but there are a lot of ways to get XP in this game, and most of them are less hassle than this. The money and loot are modest or non-existent. Some quests have foes which will never drop loot, ever. Most of the end-of-quest rewards give you one piece of ordinary armor. On one hand, this is a good safety valve to make sure the player has the gear they need. On the other hand, this gear is just shamefully bare minimum, the sort of thing you find and sell by the handful in the open world. If you’re in need of gear, you can get better stuff from a vendor or the trading post for no effort at all.

This is the reward for fully exploring a single zone in the game. Thirty-six silver is an AMAZING haul. For contrast, I think I SPENT that much doing a dozen story missions.
This is the reward for fully exploring a single zone in the game. Thirty-six silver is an AMAZING haul. For contrast, I think I SPENT that much doing a dozen story missions.

Many quests offer no coin as a reward. However, you’ll likely spend coin on travel. Assuming you don’t want to blow twenty minutes hiking around, you’ll want to use fast-travel points on the world map.So you travel to the capital city to begin the quest. Then travel to the field where the quest takes place. On rare occasions, you’ll even travel to a secondary location. Then travel back to the capital to wrap things up. Congratulations, you just blew through four silver and the quest doesn’t pay anything. The end-of-quest-item is going to be worth less that what you spent on travel. You’re working for the Queen of Tryia, and you’re losing money on expenses. This is particularly true if you’re trying to overcome an unfair gotcha fight by out-leveling it, since travel expenses go up as you level, but the quest rewards for the story missions don’t.

(By the way: The economy in this game is really tight. I mean that in the best possible way. Even with a character at the level cap, I still count my coins. A quest reward at level 80 is only worth about six times the reward for a new character. compare this to World of Warcraft where the end game quests pay a thousand or ten thousand times what a newbie makes. I really like this economy where money always matters.)

Things get even worse if you find yourself dying in these quests, since the more you die, the more money you lose, which makes an already bad situation that much worse. To mitigate this risk, you might be tempted to bring a friend. But you might have a hard time finding help, since these quests are…

Designed for solo play

You think the quest is unrewarding for you? Just wait until your guild buddy joins. Your friend will not get the block of XP at the end. They don’t get the money (if there is any) or the one guaranteed item of loot. As far as the game is concerned, they’re not doing a “quest”. They’re just killing the odd mook.

You friend will need to pay to travel to your zone. Then they will sit through a loading screen. Then they watch a cutscene, staring at you and whatever lamebrain NPC you’re working with. Then they help you kill guys. Then more cutscenes and maybe hiking. Maybe more fighting. Then another loading screen to return to the open world.

Your friend will do all of that running around and waiting, and in the end their only reward is the XP and (maybe) loot from killing mooks. They could have gone anywhere in the world and killed mooks for a lot less hassle. Also, mooks in quests seem less likely to drop loot than mooks in the open world, so your friend is really getting screwed.

Maybe your friend will come along just to see your individual story. This would be a bad idea, since the story quests are…

Dumb

Your mileage may vary, obviously. I’ve only done story missions for Humans and Norn, and even then I’ve only seen a fraction of the available story-branches.

Logan Thackery is a big dumb stupid idiot moron-head.

We have friendly arguments in guild chat, trying to decide which particular NPC hero is the most offensively stupid and counter-productive. Logan Thackery is usually the stand-out among the legions of dunces that inhabit the world of Guild Wars 2, but once in a while he’s upstaged by the others. These idiots are a competitive bunch, and I wouldn’t rule any of them out until the end.

Part of the problem is that these cutscenes set the bar higher. The story here isn’t NEARLY as willfully dumb as Champions Online or WoW, where reading the quest text in search of story is like panning for gold in public toilets. But I think it’s natural for expectations to go up once you’ve got a couple of animated, voice-acted characters on screen.

For those of you who have played and are curious what I think is dumb: The scene where the faction heroes (Destiny’s Edge) meet in Lion’s Arch is and argue like middle-school kids is excruciating. There are also numerous times where big important people let you make major decisions for them, but they don’t give you any information to make the decision properly. I’m saving more specific examples for later, in case I do a Let’s Play.

There’s also the problem that, as baffling as it sounds, these quests are really bad at delivering lore and exposition. The game will often throw the names of places or historical events at you without giving you any clue what it’s talking about. These story missions are where that sort of thing needs to go. Instead of teaching me the lore, it feels like the story quests are quizzing me on the lore. Am I supposed to be reading the wiki while I play?

At one point Logan Thackery asked me where I was from, and I had no idea how to answer. I didn’t know what I was choosing or what it meant. Fifty levels later, I still don’t know what a “Canthan” or “Elona” is. They were never mentioned before or since.

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Don’t get me wrong. There’s some good worldbuilding here. If we really want to give the game a backhanded compliment, I suppose I’d say the story isn’t bad for an MMO.

The writing works well when you’re knocking around with your in-game friends and family at the start, but as the backdrop becomes more epic the writing gradually seems more absurd in comparison. It begins as a bit campy, melodramatic, but generally harmless. But once you begin working with your faction’s hero, you will gradually come to hate them and their supreme stupidity.

If you do the missions at the proper level they’re a great way to make a large block of XP, and only a modest expense. If you wait, then the XP is worth less and the cost to do them is much higher. This would suggest that the best way to do story missions is to do each one as it becomes available. However, that means waiting for a level or two between each mission, which is really goofy because the quests are chained together. You’re often rushing to prevent an attack, or trying to uncover a plot, or running to the defense of someone. Having to go level up before you can save the orphanage from being burned down… Well, okay, that’s a pretty common thing in RPG games. But still.

I know I’ve hammered away at this stuff for 2,500 words now, but I want to stress that the story missions aren’t horrible. They’re less dumb than typical MMO fare and less stilted than the “kill ten womp rats” stuff in The Old Republic. It’s just that they’re just an oddly flawed system in a game that otherwise has a ton of polish and carefully considered mechanics.

At this point I’d usually make some suggestions, but I really can’t tell what ArenaNet is going for here. Is this supposed to be a group thing, but they forgot to give your buddies a reward? Is it supposed to be hard but they forgot to give you a reason to go to all that trouble? Is it supposed to be easy but the level designer just got a little too trigger-happy with the mook spam? Are these for giving the player a personal stake in the world, but they didn’t realize how badly two-hour breaks can disrupt a story? Are these for delivering lore, but someone forgot to fill in the blanks?

I don’t know. Given the care that went into the rest of the game, it’s odd to see a system so off-kilter that I can’t even tell what they were trying to do.


A Hundred!2020202018I bet you won't even read all 198 comments before leaving your own.


  1. SteveDJ says:

    And, we finally get the real thing…

    Oh, and I meant to add — I’m not usually one for onine games, but your review is making me want to try this one. :)

    (P.S. Your comment counter said “No comments whatsoever.” It sounded so sad … I just had to post something

  2. Hitchmeister says:

    Elona is the Tyrian “Asian” analogue. The Djinn that lives in the Mystic Forge is from Elona. Cantha is the homeland of the Tengu bird-people. You really have to dig around and talk to obscure NPCs to find this information in game.

    Having never played GW1 I had to look hard, and mostly at the wiki, to find out these things.

    • Rick says:

      Elona is Middle Eastern/African. Cantha is East Asian. They were the settings for the GW1 Nightfall and Factions campaigns, respectively.

      • Hitchmeister says:

        Ah, okay. Sometimes Middle East gets included (properly) as Asia. All I’d found about Cantha was Tengu. I assume they’ll give more information about these other regions if/when they release expansions.

    • Eathanu says:

      Not that it matters all that much to the choice. I guessed (correctly) that the only difference would be the colour(s) of the sister. I don’t think her face even changes to match.

      Good of them to offer the choice, though. With the skin and hair colours I tend to use, meeting a Krytan sister would insinuate some interesting things about one or both of our parents.

      • Zukhramm says:

        Though, if the choose her looks based on that choice, you might end up with very different looks. I was worried about that, because I picked Elona with a fairly light-skinned character.

        • Abnaxis says:

          My character looked not related at all. She was a pale, bony necromancer with an exotic, deep-honey-skinned sister.

          Nevertheless, I still got a kick out of making my necromancer’s biggest character-defining regret her failure to retrieve her sisters dead body…

          • SKD says:

            Nice twist…

            And what is intentions for the body? Will she bury it out of filial respect or raise her dear departed sister to act as her eternal guard?

          • Alex says:

            “My character looked not related at all. She was a pale, bony necromancer with an exotic, deep-honey-skinned sister.”

            Nobody ever said necromancy was good for your complexion.

            “Nevertheless, I still got a kick out of making my necromancer’s biggest character-defining regret her failure to retrieve her sisters dead body…”

            Heh. That puts a different spin on it. “But… she’s still alive!” “Not if I have any say in the matter.”

  3. Jeffwik says:

    I’ve enjoyed Guild Wars 2 more than I expected to, enough that I’m already grim about how eventually I’ll run out of new things to see and do and reasons to see and do them. Last time I responded like this to a game was WoW back when it was new, though then I had a cadre of distant post-collegiate real-world friends I could meet up with, and nowadays it’s just me and my wife (who prefers Diablo 3 anyway).

    My highest-level character is only 26, but already I’m guessing that Anet has a careful throttle on the overall money supply, that they’d rather high-level characters get ratcheted down and need to count pennies than low-level characters feel their most efficient moneymaking comes from begging high-level friends for a gold piece that represents two minutes work on the 80’s part and three months of effort on the lowbie’s.

    • Mephane says:

      The problem is not the scarcity of money, which is actually good, but the cost of very specific things, i.e. waypoint travel, dying in WvW. Remove those two and people would, even if no richer, feel actually free to travel around the world and help friends, do stuff here, then some there.

      Example: Some heart vendors sell gathering tools for karma. These guys are scattered all over the landscape, but these tools are a good way to save a bit of money in exchange for pyingg a tiny portion of your not-so-tight (unless you are saving for something really expensive) karma for the tools. Except that merely travelling to these waypoints costs almost as much as buying the tools for money at the next standard merchant. It would only pay itself off if you hauled these tools around in bulk, or run halfway across the world just to save 2 silver on a mining pick.

      I have the odd feeling that the game was never designed for waypoint costs, and these were only added late in development as an extra money sink, without much consideration of the overall impact on the game.

      (For those not familiar with the game, gathering tools in GW2 have “charges”, i.e. they deplete themselves, so you need to buy fresh ones regularly)

      • Eathanu says:

        Those waypoint costs are my number one problem with the game. I know I need to pinch pennies for later, so I never use waypoints, which leads to literally hours of slogging around areas I’ve already cleared, just getting angrier that I can’t insta-teleport to the places I want to go without spending relatively huge amounts of money.

        I would understand a little if the system was better implemented, but it really gets to me when I have to enter a city (loading screen), waypoint to the Asuran gate (and sometimes the nearest waypoint is a sizable jog from the gate itself. Loading screen, often), go through the gate (loading screen) to get to Lion’s Arch, walk through another gate (another loading screen, also the gates are not marked on the minimap so you have to look at the people standing in front of the gate to even know where it leads), then waypoint (if I’ve explored the city) to the exit (loading screen) then leave the city (loading screen) to get out into the field.

        This is just to change to another starting area. You can freely waypoint around your current city, but you cannot waypoint to other cities from the city you’re in without paying 55+ copper at level 40. You need to sit through a minimum of three loading screens just to change the region you’re in.

        For reference, you could change the continent you were on for free in two loading screens in the original Guild Wars.

        • Abnaxis says:

          I still like the waypoint cost.

          It’s annoying, sure, but I think it’s the primary reason stuff doesn’t cost ridiculous gold on the TP or in the currency exchange. That would annoy me a lot more than a quick-travel tax.

          • SKD says:

            I don’t mind the waypoint cost too much, I just think the scaling of cost ramps up too quickly

            • Mephane says:

              Particularly, the base cost is too high. At level 80, the cost to teleport to a waypoint only a few meters away is about 1s35c, while halfway across the zone might be 1s65c. So the scaling portion is actually quite acceptable, but the minimum upfront cost should be severely reduced, if not removed entirely (i.e. porting to a waypoint you are already standing at would start at 0 cost).

              • Aldowyn says:

                +1 to this idea. Up to a cap that’s about what the cap is now, just a few zones away instead of across the zone you’re already in.

              • Abnaxis says:

                The only way to know whether its reasonable or unreasonable would be to have access to the server data. How much gold do you need to sink? How much does it actually “cost” to walk instead of teleport? How many teleports are results of death, versus results of travel?

                Supposedly, ANet has a dedicated guy for looking at these things, adjusting the formula for waypoint costs as deemed necessary. For my part, I’m still able to get where I need to go most of the time and still manage a positive income, so I’m happy enough with it. Being able to say more than that requires more data than I have available to me.

          • Luhrsen says:

            So you’re saying the sellers aren’t smart enough to factor in their own travel costs and raise sale prices accordingly?

            • Varil says:

              The GW2 economy is either running perfectly or broken beyond repair, depending on who you ask. Most items sell at base vendor cost(despite the fact that listing stuff on the trading post costs 15%, so this is actually a way to lose money), and have hundred or thousands of units on the market. For the vast majority of common items, selling for a copper above base price simply means you didn’t sell anything.

        • Jeff says:

          Just for the record, you can TP to the Mist from anywhere for free, and from there go to Lion’s Arch.

        • Kdansky says:

          You lose money by walking, because you’re not killing monsters and looting more money in the time it would take you to walk.

  4. Drew says:

    According to the wiki, any player helping someone else with a story quest is awarded with karma. Without knowing how much karma, I can’t say how useful that is, but karma is a pretty useful currency, so it’s not a completely useless reward, and is certainly more useful than a basic piece of armor.

    • Andy B says:

      You’re supposed to get Karma — according to the Wiki. However, there are a number of recent forum posts about how this is no longer true.

    • Crimson Dragoon says:

      That’s news to me. My wife and I have been helping each other out with story missions for 50 levels now, and I can’t recall ever getting a single karma point from doing her missions.

      I wish is was true, though. I find karma to be more useful than gold.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Never noticed any reward notifications, at least, when helping a few folk out. I’d guess that if there is a rewarding-syste in place for assisting on storymissions, then it’s thoroughly bugged.

    • Drew says:

      Ah, yes, it does appear that there’s a lot of question about that in the forums, and there doesn’t seem to have been a response from the developers yet. So it’s not clear if this was a bug or a design choice.

  5. anaphysik says:

    Re: that first image:
    Does your char have space armour and- and a *broom*? Wha?

    Okay, it’s possible that’s actually the butt of a firearm’s stock or something, but it sure looks like a low-poly broom to me :P

    • Hitchmeister says:

      That’s a rifle stock. My first thought was, “She’s not a Charr.” Then I realized you meant character.

      • neolith says:

        The same thing happened to me and I was scrolling through the article three times to find the screenshot with the Charr until I noticed somthing was wrong. :D

    • Torsten says:

      That first picture seems to a cheerleader, a space amazon and a disco wizard. The second one is really more troubling to me, seems to be yet again guys in plate mail and girls in breast plates.

      How free is the game on deciding outlook of the characters? Is it possible to choose the look of your clothing freely, or are you forced to look like a circus clown because of the mismatch armor?

      • Mephane says:

        Through “transmutation”, you can merge two items of the same type. You basically can pick between the styles, stats and upgrades (seals, crests etc.) and turn that into a new item. The yellow cubes shown in Shamus loot screenshot are such transmutation stones used in the process, the yellow ones are for items <= level 79 and can theoretically farmed infinitely by making fresh characters, and completing zones, the blue ones for level 80 items appear to be only available through the gem store, i.e. cash shop, but given that you can convert gold to gems, you can also effectively just buy them with ingame gold.

        There are both skimpy outfits in the game as well as more reasonable armor, clothing etc. for females. If you see a player dressed like a prostitute, it is either through their volition, laziness to do anything about it, or it is only stuff they might wear for a few levels and then replace anyway, and don't feel like bothering getting transmutations stones for that.

        • krellen says:

          The level 80 stones are a possible reward from Black Lion Chests, which require Black Lion Keys, which while purchasable with gems, can also be acquired during normal play. I got 20-some of them over leveling a character to 80.

      • Lovecrafter says:

        There are things called “Transmutation Stones” in this game, and they work like this: Say my level 20 female character is wearing some kind of level 20 breast plate, and this mook drops a level 8 piece of plate mail that actually looks very nice. I can use one of these stones and drag both pieces of armor in a window that allows me to mix and match in the following three categories:

        1) Looks and icon. Do I want this to look like that breast plate or like the nice plate mail?
        2) Level, stats and stat bonuses: Do I want the stat block of the level 20 plate or the level 8 plate?
        3) Runes: Runes give various bonuses and abilities. Do I want the one from the breast plate or the one from the plate mail?

        When you’re done, select “transmute” and voilà: I now have a single piece of armor that looks like the level 8 plate, but still has the better stats of the level 20 plate.

        Additional note: look-wise, at every level, there’s usually around three common full sets for each armor type (Light, Medium, and Heavy), plus some rares that might have a different look. Furthermore, each character has a personal collection of dyes that can be applied to any piece of armor.

        • Torsten says:

          Ok, so there apparently is only one equipment system, and not for example one for actual gear and another for outlook.

          It’s not a big issue, but having only one equipment system does tend to limit character concepts; no loincloth wearing barbarians or steampunk brawlers if you have to wear the typical fantasy setting armors.

          • X2Eliah says:

            Correct, there’s only one equipment system. Also, you can only transmute appearances between the same class of items. Meaning, armour to armour, sword to sword, hood to hood.
            You cannot get a warrior to wear armour that looks like a mage’s robe, and you cannot have a mace with a sword’s appearance.

            • Aldowyn says:

              Something that also needs emphasizing: You can set the color of every item you’re wearing yourself at any time. You start out with a decent set, and unlocking new colors can be a pretty big deal (straight black dye is super rare, as always, and goes for like 5g+ last time I checked. Which is a TON) Most of the gear also doesn’t go horribly together, so you’d pretty much have to deliberately try to look like a clown.

              • Mephane says:

                I was pleasantly surprised when I looted my very first “unidentified dye”, used it and found it was added permanently the character’s collection of dyes. Once unlocked, you can use a dye for free as much as you like.

                What I also like is that when you equip new armor pieces, they automatically assume the color scheme of the item they replace, which means even someone who only picked a few colors at character creation and did not bother yet to play with the system after that would never look like a clown unless deliberately making it so.

            • Sumanai (Asimech) says:

              Well, there’s the occasional Legendary Sword (axe), but those aren’t player controlled from what I’ve understood.

          • Skyy_High says:

            They’re pretty good about giving you options that go beyond the typical “fantasy armor”. See: Sorrow’s Furnace armor

          • Abnaxis says:

            Well….TECHnically, there’s a town-clothes slot (doesn’t provide any mechanical bonus, has a lot more varied stuff like sunglasses and chef’s clothes) and an armor slot, but the only way to get clothes-items is from the gem store.

            …Which apparently has alternative armor skins too, according to the wiki. Huh.

      • Ateius says:

        Disclaimer: I speak only regarding heavy armour, as I’ve only seriously played a warrior and guardian so far.

        Most of the armour is good – that is, practical. The generic stuff you’ll get from loot and rewards, that you can buy from vendors, or that you can forge yourself tends to look anywhere from “boring, but acceptable” to “actually pretty cool”, and doesn’t show off your belly for a quick gutting.

        However, I’ve found most of the specialty or higher-level stuff tends more towards fantasy boob-plate. This includes most of the Norn cultural armour, all the major faction armour (Vigil, Whispers, Priory), the rare (yellow) stuff you can forge yourself, and the level 70+ forged armours. In many of these cases the men also get something less protective and more Conan-y, but it universally looks cooler and less degrading on them than the female models.

        That said, max-level super-forging armour and the stuff you can get from explorable dungeons swings back towards “not embarassing to wear”, although the dungeon sets can get pretty fantastical in appearance and theme. And of course there’s always the transmute stones in the meantime.

    • Bryan says:

      Hmm. It appears someone is playing as Bill again…

      “It’s the best weapon in the game!”

  6. MelTorefas says:

    Man, I have been WAITING for this post. I found the story mechanics Shamus is describing fairly infuriating. Of course, I don’t enjoy the rest of the game nearly as much as he seems to, either, as I believe it suffers similar problems with the difficulty level. I just don’t get how constantly being on the verge of death/actually dying when fighting random trash mobs is supposed to be fun. Whatever effect they were going for, it doesn’t really work for me, so I end up sticking with WoW. But, as the story quests had the worst examples of this, I am really glad to see Shamus tackle them.

    And let me just say I would LOVE to see a GW2 Let’s Play. Star On Chest was possibly my favorite thing ever posted her after DM of the Rings.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Story quests are not the worst examples of dying to random trash, though. That dubious dishonor goes firmly to the load of idiocy that’s called “dungeons”.

      • Ateius says:

        Dungeons aren’t full of random trash, though. You’re fighting “elite” mobs, which is to say, “HP and damage tuned up to bullshit levels” mobs.

        It is extremely difficult, especially if you are going into it just barely at the minimum entry level, if it’s your first time and if you’re with a random group. You really need to be on the top of your game and your group has to be working together, combo-ing skills and supportive trait bonuses and focusing your fire. They are really best approached as part of a guild, or at least a group of friends you regularly play together with.

        And that’s not even getting into explorable mode …

    • Eric says:

      One thing Shamus didn’t mention were all the “betrayals” and stuff, i.e. your character falling into obvious traps, then stammering and sputtering while the bad guy twirls his mustache and gets away… even though I’m over his level and could easily ruin him in a straight-up fight. It’s one of those worst examples of a game trying to make its story personal but doing it in the most contrived, forced ways.

  7. Abnaxis says:

    Since I read the first draft, I’ve had a couple of days to think about your points.

    I have a couple of IRL friends who play, and I can say that while the rewards don’t scale up, the story missions are SO MUCH EASIER with someone else. There are 2 massive, massive advantages to teamplay. First, if you start to go down, the “kill an enemy to revive yourself” thing counts any enemy who you have damaged in the fight as good enough. If you open with an AoE, that means as soon as your partner kills a mook, they indirectly revive you.

    Second, if you go down anyway, your partner can pick you back up. Almost every time I’ve gone down it’s because there are one or two more enemies on the screen that I’m just too spent to finish off. A human partner can finish them off and pick you back up, whereas an NPC can’t/won’t (I’ve seen them pick up other NPC’s, but never a human).

    Seriously, I think 90% of the problems would be fixed if they made quests reward people who come with you to help, and all they would need to is set it up like the dynamic event rewards (rewards appropriate to level, people who don’t participate don’t get rewarded) for it to work. I’m not sure why they don’t.

    • Jeffwik says:

      I’ve got to agree with that. It’s one reason I wish my wife wasn’t such a Diablo III maven; the game rewards teaming up more than is obvious. That is, there isn’t an obvious reward for forming a party, what with the server being one big party and everyone’s invited. But the way you struggle when you go down, it’s great to have someone handy to haul you back up.

    • Ateius says:

      Actually, I have been revived by an NPC at one point. It was an early Norn mission, back when the instances were still bugged and your friends couldn’t join you. I died many times, but the fourth time the accompanying NPC, Eir Stegalkin, finished off the boss and then revived me.

      Only time that has ever happened. These days the NPCs are the first to die. A real live party member is way more reliable.

  8. Hitchmeister says:

    “Why would I come back later? You’re still going to scale me down to the same damn level, and I’m at the level cap now!”

    One reason you would leave (or at least I have) is to repair all of your broken gear from dying repeatedly. Then taking that time to look up the mission on the internet and finding out that the in game text is deliberately misleading. The game told me to kill the Champion Spider Queen (or whatever it was) near the bomb, which just resulted in me getting ganked repeatedly by her minions. The correct way to do it is stay well away from the bomb, pick off a few minions on the side nearest you, then kite the boss as far from the bomb as possible. That turned out to be not too hard, but completely contradicted the instructions.

    Boo, game, lying to me to make yourself harder.

    • Jeff says:

      You also get more abilities – it’s a lot easier when you have all your skill slots unlocked, and higher tiers of abilities.

      • Mephane says:

        Some classes benefit from this in particular. The various passive regeneration utilities come to mind – having those on a warrior or ranger can make the difference between night and day.

    • Urs says:

      Yes, when my lvl 10 human thief met that lvl 11 Doc Howler, and died three consecutive times while only nagging away about 40% of that foe’s health, I rather naturally started to exit the instance – that’s several times, yup – because:

      • This sucks. I’m outta here (for a while).
      • I’m almost in my underwear.
      • Maybe I should gain that 1 lvl.
      • after the ckeckpoint, my Sidekick is dead anyways and – apparently – I need him.

      As for the difficulty here: Yeah, it took me seven or so attempts and it was a bit on the frustating side, but when I eventually had made it (with the sidekick’s help who did help me up and by making first-time use of a sword) I didn’t feel like having only cleared an annoying obstacle but I rather felt rather a victorious “Ha, eat this, Doc!”

  9. Abnaxis says:

    On one hand, this is a good safety valve to make sure the player has the gear they need. On the other hand, this gear is just shamefully bare minimum, the sort of thing you find and sell by the handful in the open world.

    I must be doing something seriously, seriously wrong. The reward gear always blows mine out of the water…

    I think it’s probably because I always do the missions as soon as they’re available, but I can count on one hand the number of times I didn’t equip the quest reward as soon as I got it. It’s always as good as or better than what I’m wearing, probably because it’s gear exactly for my level, whereas all the stuff I loot from mooks is crap and all the stuff I’m able to craft is either 5 levels above me or 5 below.

    • Lovecrafter says:

      Most of the gear you get from story quests are indeed quite decent, but from about level 20, 30-ish onwards, heart vendors start selling green (masterwork) gear, usually with runes, for karma, and they frankly blow the story gear out of the water.

    • Duffy says:

      I have the same problem until I realized the heart guys are vendors that sell gear for karma. After that the game got a lot easier.

      • Abnaxis says:

        Ah. This probably my problem.

        I knew about the vendors, but all the low level ones didn’t have anything I wanted, so I gave up on them early on.

        • Jeff says:

          Don’t waste karma on gear while leveling, use it for scavenging/harvesting if you must. There’s plenty of gear on the trading post for really, really cheap, and you can resell it later (unlike the karma stuff).

  10. The Rocketeer says:

    Another thing folks find irritating about the storyline missions- and this was true of GW1 as well- is the games’ insistence on introducing an NPC to ‘carry’ the canon, and it’s poor implementation. I’ll clarify.

    Because all you adventurer types are, by necessity, anonymous in the official canon, ArenaNet needs an official, canon NPC to associate with the important tasks that your character accomplishes in the storyline, such as Mhenlo and Kormir from the first game and Trahearne from this game. I’m not opposed to the concept; the Elder Scrolls series does the same thing, much more successfully; in Daggerfall, Barenziah serves this purpose, and so does Martin in Oblivion. Morrowind cleverly cheated by making your character a reincarnation of Nerevar, who fills this role through you regardless of player choice.

    But Guild Wars really struggles with this, which is a shame since they try it constantly. I think it all comes down to three separate problems that contribute to this.

    First, the writing of what I’m calling the ‘anchor NPC’s’ is not really any better than the writing for Joe Jerk begging for wolf pelts out in the wilderness, but there is so much more focus on and time spent with the anchor NPC’s that it becomes far more noticeable, to the games’ detriment. Even without any other problems, these NPC’s need to be substantially better than they are just to be bearable, and this is something ArenaNet rarely pulls off.

    Second- and this is related to the problem above- they often try to secure these characters’ places in the canon by shorting the player. You’ll never hear Kormir mentioned without hearing about how she basically killsteals the main boss of the storyline she’s in. In attempting to give these characters something meaningful to do, they have them assume a place of importance over your characters, or at the expense of them, and people really hate this.

    This and the point above are both writing problems, and they go together; one won’t really be fixed without the other. Even if the NPC’s are likeable, the players will resent them if they are a millstone that the player has to haul to a pedestal… so that they can take all the glory. And if they do strike a good balance between the NPC’s role in the story and the players’, they will still feel superfluous or irritating if they are not substantially better written than they are.

    Third, any problems with the game that occur near these NPC’s will be pinned on them. The NPC AI in Guild Wars is about standard for the industry, meaning that they are rock stupid, have no concept of aggro management, and take punches as well as an antique vase. These are mechanical problems, but they *will* be held against the characters themselves. Who sees Destiny’s Edge or Trahearne as even more incompetent solely due to spending all their time in missions or dungeons dead on the floor or plowing into a huge group of mobs on their way there? I will say that Guild Wars 2 has a MUCH sweeter deal than the first, since you can just revive NPC’s when they get smeared, rather than failing the mission as in the first game. I haven’t forgotten, Mhenlo! You’re not off the hook!

    There’s more to it than that, though; any game-related stress or mission design problems are going to rub off on the NPC’s associated with them, and as stated above, the story missions aren’t as good as they could be. And the dungeons? Not even going there. For a specific example, there’s a mission where Trahearne gives you a special sword to fight enemies with. You are stuck with this sword. It isn’t as effective as it really should be, and some classes can make a lot better use of it than others. As a result, the mission is frustrating for a lot of people, and this frustration is directed as much at Trahearne as the designers. With a bit of tweaking the mission could be a lot more enjoyable, and reflect favorably upon Trahearne for lettting you cut loose with a neat new arsenal. But as it is, it just builds resentment towards an NPC that every single player has to deal with and which you are really supposed to like and respect.

    So ArenaNet has their work cut out for them as far as building better rapport with their anchor NPC’s goes. This is one of the prime things keeping Guild Wars 2 from being great, as opposed to being really, really, really, really, really good as it is now.

    • Lovecrafter says:

      I fully endorse this post, which details almost everything that’s wrong with the GW2 storyline, and I’d like to add one more point:

      Fourth, the story has this strange habit, where it reveals things or creates events which are clearly meant to be a big deal, but then simply glosses over them and/or never refers to them again.
      Without going into spoilers, this can be seen in the story arcs based on they selections you make during character creation: once you hit the 30’s, level-wise, the events and characters from those quests pretty much cease to exist.
      But this also happens later on, and one of the biggest offenders is the reveal of the identity of the Master of Whispers. Again, no spoilers, but that bit of info is literally given in a throwaway line, during a cutscene!

    • Grampy_Bone says:

      A few points:

      1. I don’t think the Elder Scrolls have done the ‘Anchor NPC’ well. Martin from Oblivion was an annoying character who’s only redeeming factor was that he dies at the end. You do all the work, he gets the glory. Why not make the player character the Emperor’s Heir? The story ends up the same, only now the player is the hero instead of the sidekick. Skyrim wisely did this by simply making you the dragonborn. How lame would it have been if the dragonborn was some stupid NPC you had to tag along with? Awful.

      2. ‘Anchor NPCs’ are unnecessary. The role of Trahearne and the PC in Guild Wars 2 could be safely reversed with no gameplay or story repercussions whatsoever. Make him the aid and make the player the hero with the cool sword. Trahearne’s existence and role in the story is the result of a hack writer, plain and simple. Don’t let the stupid player mess up your “awesome story.”

      • X2Eliah says:

        The problem is that you need a proactive force driving the plot. If you make the player character the “big leader”, the problem is: How do you get the player to do the stuff you want them to do? Mostly this is handled by throwing circumstances and changes at your character, so you are in a reactive role all the time, responding from one crisis to another. But.. that’s not being a leader anymore. You cannot “force” the player to “think of brilliant active strikes”, for example, becuase that counters any roleplaying. An anchor NPC solves all of that.

        • The Rocketeer says:

          That, and they need a way to refer to these events in lore, as little as that actually matters. Saying that something was sorted out by Trahearne and a big group of heroes sounds better than saying that ‘some dudes’ showed up and sorted out the apocalypse.

          These kinds of relationships work best when the NPC has resources or information, but only the player has the wherewithal to actually get things done, either through raw skill or some sort of special innate potential. When the NPC’s start taking over for you, that’s when people start getting upset, especially if they had shown no capacity for action before and let you do all the work up to that point, like Kormir.

          That, I think, was Martin’s biggest weakness; since it’s Martin that has to fight Mehrunes Dagon, it feels like you’re an element in his fight. They actually build up Martin a good bit by having him take care of his own stuff in the background while your wading through dungeons, but at the end of the day, he got to fight the final boss, and he’s the one remembered by all Tamriel. I can’t even remember any references to Oblivion’s player character when reading about the events in Skyrim, in contrast to the explicit references to the Champion and the Nerevarine…

          Not that it’s impossible to do just fine without these characters, even when the PC is a blank slate. But I think the better these anchor characters are implemented, the less identifiable they tend to become, so it becomes a bit of a semantic discussion when you try and identify this kind of character in, say, a Fallout game.

          • Jeff says:

            Oblivion’s Player Character became a god. The Daedric Lord of crazy, and all that.

            • The Rocketeer says:

              Something occurs to me, since you brought that up: the crux of the political situation in 4E Skyrim is that the Altmer say no mortal could have become a god like the Nords say Tiber Septim did, and are willing to subjugate anyone who claims it’s even possible.

              So how many people know the Oblivion dude became Sheogorath? Anyone? Just a bunch of daedra worshipers, probably, if even that? I’m not sure if becoming a daedric prince is like becoming one of the Divines, but if it were common knowledge that some guy did just that, even if it were a very contested claim, that would really throw a wrench in that whole debate. Especially since it would be a claim coming primarily from mer. And especially since, for many players’ canon, that daedric prince would have once been a man, not an elf!

    • Ateius says:

      “Who sees Destiny’s Edge or Trahearne as … incompetent solely due to spending all their time in missions or dungeons dead on the floor or plowing into a huge group of mobs on their way there?”

      My guild just leaves them dead at the soonest opportunity. Zojja is the worst party member; she never knows when to not pull.

      Speaking of Kormir, anyone wanting to catch up on her lore can get a 100% accurate and not at all defamatory summary of her questline here.

    • Partial Charge says:

      I am commenting on this site, for the very first time, simply to tell you, Rocketeer, that this line:

      “…they are a millstone that the player has to haul to a pedestal… so that they can take all the glory.”

      is fantastic. I award you maximum style points, and maximum content points. Bravo!

      A friend and I were discussing the anchor PC phenomenon, and he said that it’s like what a bad GM does in a tabletop game. To wit, forgetting that the story should be about the player’s characters, not yours.

  11. Mephane says:

    Shamus, you summed up my two biggest gripes with the game – the sometimes awkward, often unrewarding, occasionally preposterously difficult story missions, and the waypoint travel costs.

    Actually, I consider the latter the worse problem, because if unchanged it will linger forever, eating away bits of your tight savings all the time. The worst part is that when you dye and there is no around to help you up, the very act of respawning also results in a waypoint travel fee (which is, at level 80, more than a silver even if the waypoint is just around the corner) in addition to the already hefty equipment repair bill*. Considering ArenaNet’s repeated “if it is not fun, don’t put it into the game” manifesto, I cannot imagine how they could possibly have put in such expensive travelling costs, or even a cost at all.

    *By the way: equipment damage should be completely removed from WvW, even if that makes it necessary to reduces money rewards from keep sieges etc. There are far too many situations where in PvP you cannot avoid dying through no fault of your own. For the moment I solved this by putting all damageable armor pieces in my inventory in WvW, running around with only my weapon and jewelry. Its ridiculous, but the reduced combat effectiveness has already been worth the amount of money I have already saved this way (probably a full gold coin).

    • Abnaxis says:

      I don’t think removing waypoint costs is a good idea at all. The economy requires something for players to be sinking gold into to function, and the waypoint system is ideal for this job. The cost itself can be minutely adjusted fudging the dice on a per character basis if the devs wanted to. Further, the cost of the waypoint system is unavoidable; you can either spend gold getting from A to B or you can spend time-not-making-gold going from A to B, either way it throttles the gold being created in the economy.

      TL;DR: Waypoints are a fully customizable, unavoidable gold sink in an economy that creates gold from thin air. They do their job, do it well, and shouldn’t be removed.

      • Mephane says:

        Well, I end up spending time making gold and karma while going through half a dozen dynamic events on the way from A to B. Sometimes I just want to get there and use only the closest waypoint in the target zone, and then hike the way from there.

        I agree on the need of gold sinks, however I would much more willingly spend 2 silver over the course of a day while using the waypoints regularly, than spending the same amount on a single trip and then only running around for the rest of the day.

        A clear sign that the waypoint costs are prohibitvely high – the common, often adviced and always used way to get from anywhere to any of the major cities, go to the mists, then through the Lion’s Arch gate there, from there to the other cities. Even though that involves three loading screens in succession, the sheer amount of money saved by this method is worth the hassle.

        • Abnaxis says:

          Well, I end up spending time making gold and karma while going through half a dozen dynamic events on the way from A to B. Sometimes I just want to get there and use only the closest waypoint in the target zone, and then hike the way from there.

          …which in turn greatly slows you down from earning the gold the Waypoints otherwise enable you to more-quickly earn (quicker access to map completion points, doing high level event runs, etc).

          No matter what way you cut it, Waypoints literally take a toll. To me, this is a necessary feature for an effective gold sink.

          • Jeff says:

            The fact that you participate in the DEs is another motivation for the waypoint costs. If the waypoints were free, that would encourage people to just teleport everywhere and not participate. Now, if you’re running by, there’s no reason not to spend a few minutes with your fellow players and earn some rewards – which enrich their experience as well.

  12. Tuck says:

    Hey, the story missions sound better than the “epic” quests in LOTRO.

    Objective 1: Talk to NPC in the far wastes of Angmar about [urgent matter].
    Objective 2: Talk to Elrond in Rivendell.
    Objective 3: Return to NPC 1 with Elrond’s wise words.

    Now, if you don’t have a VIP account or milestones (i.e. teleport-to-location thingummy) then travelling back and forth between these places could take anything up to an hour. Part of that has to be done manually as well, as there’s no automatic travel in most of Angmar. All for a smidgen of xp and money. Possibly a (most likely useless) item.

    Apart from the actual game time, the idea of travelling from Angmar to Rivendell on an urgent matter is just ridiculous.

    • Ofermod (Formerly Keredis) says:

      Urgh, for as much as I liked LotRO, some of those quests were terrible. From a design standpoint, my opinion is that any time that your options are “Hit autorun and make a sandwich” or “Lose money from the fast travel costs versus quest reward”, there’s something wrong. From a plot standpoint? You’re completely correct about how goofy the “Urgent! Travel back and forth halfway across the world!” bit is.

      • Joshua says:

        Volume One was the worst, by sending you from Elrond to Forochel, to Ered Luin, and back to Rivendell, to Angmar, to Annuminas to….and oh look, Amarthiel has gotten here *just* ahead of you…again.

        Either way, both the main storylines from LOTRO and GW2 make me cringe, although I found the GW2 ones slightly less sadistic.

        “Yeah, thanks Celeborn, I really needed insulted for my poor decision skills about keeping the orc leader alive when in fact I argued just the opposite” or “You know, it really is fun being forced to flee from an NPC while being mocked the whole way back by his minions”.

        I swear, take Shamus’s comments about the Turbine developers laughing everytime you try to escort Sara Oakheart in the Blackwolds’ hideout and apply it to most of the Epic Stories.

        • Draxom says:

          The worst book in the LotRO epic has to be book 14. Where Laerdan takes the 2 halves of the ring back to Amarthiel and instead of going after him immediately, Elrond sends you on a scavenger hunt across the entirety of middle earth. Then he asks you to go recover the now re-forged Narchuil anyway…which you fail at because the game stun locks you for the 5 minute cut scene where the enemy walks away with it.

          I actually had a whole post written out where I explained exactly how this quest line fails at every turn, but it ended up being 1.2k words (I’ll post it anyway if you guys want a good laugh). But the one part I really need to put out there is the quest to get Laerdan’s horse. Before you can take the horse the stable master needs to make it new shoes. To do this he needs Dwarven CUTLERY molds, 5 of them. Google defines cutlery as “Knives, forks, and spoons used for eating or serving food”. Why are 5 of these needed for 4 horse shoes? Even if he did somehow use a cutlery mold to make a horse shoe why would he need 5 of them for 4 shoes? Did the tail need a shoe, or was the horse just that well-endowed? Was it a spare in case the horse got a flat? That’s part of the first quest for this book. I’d say the writing goes downhill from there, but with that angle of descent it was more like being shoved off a cliff.

          I also wanted to note that, having not played GW1 much, to me “Destiny’s Edge” sounded like some kind of emo rock band. I found it hilarious when I finally met the group and found out I was right.

  13. Blackbird71 says:

    Wait a minute, fast travel costs coin? That’s a definite downgrade from GW1!

    Also, I belive this was partially mentioned earlier in the comments, but Cantha and Elona were the settings for the GW1 Factions and Nightfall expansions respectively. Cantha was an Asian-themed continent, and Elona was a sort of Africa. Ascalon and Kryta were regions in the original (now known as “Prophecies”) GW campaign. Ascalon was a typical western/european medieval kingdom setting (before it got blasted into a scorched wasteland by the Charr), and Kryta was a vast jungle.

    It seems like this question of your character’s origin is posed as a sort of quiz of “which of our previous games have you bought?” Considering the number of people who have bought GW2 and never played any of GW1, this strikes me as a poorly calculated and badly executed move to try to entice GW2 players to buy GW1. Are there more questions of a similar nature, i.e., asking about lore related to the first games?

    • X2Eliah says:

      Progressively increasing coin. At early levels, fast travel is dirt-cheap (6,7 copper or so), and at late-game levels the travel cost is not insignificant (3-4 silver – that’s 300-400 copper). As Shamus remarked, even at late game levels every piece of silver matters. If you travel a lot, then it gets really expensive.

      • neolith says:

        To make things worse the amount of money you need to pay for fast travel is linked to your char’s level and the distance you want to go, but not to the area where it takes place. This way porting in the newbie zone is just as expensive as it is in the high level zones.

        Also porting within any of the greater cities is for free, but not into the cities. So if you want to travel into a city, what you have to pay is once again measured by the overall distance you want to go. If you want to go to the other side of the town from outside of it, you can either pay for the whole distance or port twice (once to the towns nearest travel point and then once again inside the town) to save money. Each time with a loading screen no matter the distance. Hooray for stupid ideas. :(

    • RukiTanuki says:

      Actually, the point of this question is to determine the race of your sister. Ascalon makes her Caucasian; Kryta makes her more Hispanic; Cantha makes her Asian; Elona makes her African/Middle-Eastern.

      That story ended up very odd-couple-ish for me: a towering, curvy Caucasian named Yuni and a short petite Asian named Deborah. Genetics are funny like that.

  14. Stebbi says:

    I’d just like to point out that the quests in WoW now tell a decent story. Especially the new ones in Mists of Panderia and if anyone knows how to do a story through quests in an MMO I would have to go with Blizzard.

    • Mechakisc says:

      “decent” ?

      Because I’d rather make inappropriate jokes in guild chat about Chen and Li Li than read the quest text.

      And no, my guildies are not that tolerant. But Chen is that irritating.

      They seem to have changed some of what they’ve done in the past, and I’ll allow as how it seems better to me than it was.

      BUT.

      The old school class quests – the hunter one is the only one I ever did – were much more interesting to me, because you had to use your skills to get through it. The rogue legendary quests feel like the closest thing to similar that they’ve had in game in a long time. I think it is funny that they said “no class quests” and then immediately put in the rogue-only legendary chain.

      • Stebbi says:

        Aye decent. Not good and not great but decent.

        I quite liked the Taran Zhu revenge arc in the Townlong Steppes and all of what his name Lorewalker dude quests.

  15. The Other Matt K says:

    For me, I really like the story missions early on – mainly because the initial story actually is about you, and that personal touch is nice. The difficulty issue… honestly, that feels like a class balance issue. (Or, rather, that the story mode is ‘One Size Fits All’.) My Elementalist struggled constantly on story missions. My Warrior hasn’t had a single one that gave her pause.

    One of the things that bugged me with with the later story quests… is that I actually liked the idea of finding out more about Destiny’s Edge, and the conflicts within them. Again, it was a more personal story than the world-shattering ones that somehow always come off as meaningless in these sorts of things.

    However, at least as far as I’ve gotten, pretty much all the Destiny’s Edge story actually plays out in Dungeons. I’ve gone to exactly one of those, and it was miserable. I dread trying out the rest, even though I really want that story.

    Instead, the story quests shift to a focus on the three Orders (Vigil, Priory, Whispers). That, too, wasn’t bad, as it still feels very personal, and you get to know and like the NPCs you are working with. The part where it really broke down for me was directly following that… where the NPCs you’ve come to like go away or are killed or run off or whatever, and you are suddenly stuck with some complete stranger on a quest that is no longer about you, and instead is all about him.

    Now… I get that this sort of thing is necessary in order to eventually have all player’s quest lines converge. And I get that they need an NPC stand-in to be the main commander of the Pact. But it was such an abrupt shift in tone that it really bugged me, and lost a lot of my interest in finishing out the story mode.

    • X2Eliah says:

      True – it seems that the entire purpose of destiny’s edge, in this game, is to set up a lure for you to do the game’s dungeons (which suck). Far as I can tell, the moment they have their big meeting, you can forget about them entirely, and they have 0 effect on your personal story at all.

    • Even says:

      The Destiny’s Edge story doesn’t really get any better either. I’ve been through all the dungeons in story mode and the stuff they pull off is just incredulous. It’s like the whole arc was written by a 12 year old. The participating player character is about the only one who displays ANY common sense and even then it leaves you begging you could just tell the idiots to get their shit together and stop fucking around. Even when they actually reconcile with each other it’s all just so goddamn cheesy.

    • Jeff says:

      My Elementalist spent the first wave of the “Unknown Parents” chain on her back. One Elementalist being ambushed by 2 attackers with stun and knock down is just… what the heck, ANet?

    • Mephane says:

      Yepp, the moment Sieran sacrificed herself was heartbreaking. I would much rather have thrown Trahearne away as a bait for the undead horde. During that quest the game basically took away one of the most adorable NPC characters and replaced it with a guy I have never heard of before, did not care for, and then went on to steal the show from me on each and every occasion.

      I still rage when I think about that future vision from the Pale Tree (which I also despise because it is an effin mystical see-the-future session that felt completely out of character for my rational, scientific-minded asura, why could we not choose how to approach that section of the story?), and how on every occasion the Pale Tree only ever addressed Trahearne, and did not even acknowledge that I have been there, standing right next to him. One moment we I was fighting a horde of undead while Trahearne effectively just watched, the next moment HE is supposed to be some kind of chosen one (not that trope again, duh!) who gets some mystical macguffin sword (as if the game tries to invoke overused tropes out of principle) that I never heard of, without the Plate Tree even saying hello to me.

      It was like watching a section from the middle of a completely different story, without context, without care for the main character.

      I would have cheered if it had been Sieran who had taken on some bigger role in the story. Instead I got a Mary Sue I despise in a story that is not mine.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        Yeah, screw Trahearne.

        • rofltehcat says:

          Agree. Traherne is even worse than the idiotic Destiny’s Edge “cheerleaders and college bros” group.
          He is such a shallow character, steals all the spotlight, does a lot of stupid decicions and worst of all: When his idiocy has brought you into a trap, he suddenly goes:
          “oh no, seems like I need to summon my almighty swarm of undead to kill the enemy’s swarm of undead. Too bad I forgot about it earlier because it could have totally saved us a lot of time, trouble, soldiers and other lives. Too bad I can’t ever really use it again, but here it comes! Of course, player, you’ll need to protect me while I fulfill this task. You should be proud of that honor!”

          The worst part is that the “protect the idiot” part doesn’t even exist and he summons his swarm of undead within a few seconds.

          • Ateius says:

            … which proceed to be of pretty much no use at all and sometimes end up fighting the NPCs you’re supposed to rescue (although thankfully they couldn’t actually damage each other).

            I think that was their “Oh, wait, he’s supposed to be a necromancer, right? Make him do something necromancer-y” moment.

      • The Other Matt K says:

        Yeah, that is pretty much exactly how my playthrough went, and exactly how frustrated I felt.

        And it really bugs me because pretty much every NPC from my earlier story lines felt much more strongly developed than Trahearne. He comes out of nowhere, and is chosen by fate to be the hero. Even if it didn’t involve upstaging the character and casting aside the NPCs they’ve grown to like, that’s a pretty tired story-thread to begin with.

        Add in that he has little to define him as an actual character… he’s a scholar forced to be a warleader, but he never shows any particular gift for either lore or tactics. He gives some unconvincing speeches that nonetheless unites the bickering factions, not because he’s actually inspiring, but because that is what the plot demands.

        From levels 1 – 60, or thereabouts, I tried to do the story mode as close to the proper level as I could, because I was interested in seeing where it was going. I even overcame the cave of blowing you off bridges!

        But I hit Trahearne, and that was apparently too much for me – I’ve still got my level 64 story mission sitting there waiting for me, and I’ve levelled up to 80 without it, and every time I consider doing it, I realize I’d much rather go find a jumping puzzle or finish exploring a zone or join in some of the actually interesting, dynamic stories being told via world events all around me.

  16. HiEv says:

    Typo: “The scene where the faction heroes (Destiny’s Edge) meet in Lion’s Arch is and argue like middle-school kids is excruciating.” The first “is” shouldn’t be there.

    Also, Shamus, your character looks pretty cute. :-)

    Finally, could you and another person on the same story mission team up? Would that work? I suppose you’d have to run the mission twice for each of you, but that should make it equally as rewarding/costly for both of you and make them easier to get past.

    • Otherion says:

      You can team up with another person to do story quests. The person who starts the mission will be seen in all the cutscenes and will make all the decisions, but at the end the other player will be given the option to accept the choices and outcome and advance to the next mission. Rejecting it means doing the mission again but gives you the opportunity to be the main character and allows you to choose your own way.

  17. X2Eliah says:

    An addition to the “story missions are dumb” part, I’ll say that they also have convergent mechanics that are utterly idiotic and liable to disregard your character’s unique path in previous segments.

    For example, take the Sylvari. A few of the origin stories let you meet and work with Trahearne at ~level 5-10. Then, at the point where story missions proceed into the dead-dragon-thingie and you meet Trahearne again, he is introduced as if you had never met him.

    Further on, at about level 50 or so, you are brought to the Pale Tree (the sylvari mother-of-all, of sorts), with which you definitely worked in early levels as a Sylvari. The set-up practically introduces her to you and treats the situation as if you had never met her before.
    Perversely, at the end of that mission, if you are *not* sylvari, the Pale Tree still refers to your fate/destiny/future as a “Wyld Hunt” – even though that is a term that only makes sense applied to a Sylvari.

    Another example – you do faction-specific quests for a while, depending on which one of three orders you choose (sneakies, academics, barbarians). Later on, Trahearne makes them all kiss and play together, and whatever affiliation you have is largely irrelevant.

    Overall, there are very clear, very obvious divisions between segments of personal story. TutorialChoice->2ndChoice->IntroductionToOrders->OrderMissions->TrahearneMissions. And those segments are very modular, and often disregard one another. At a very obvious level.

    —-
    Another issue entirely I would like to bring up with the story missions is this – they are instanced, and they do not store your progress. This means that nobody can “drop in” while a mission is ongoing – you are effectively locked off from the world. Furthermore, if you log out, disconnect, change character, leave the game due to a forced patch, whatever – you lose *all* mission progress and have to restart it from the very beginning. Except you do get to keep your new armour damages (and admittedly loot). Personally, I’d say that the connection stability to an instance server-fragment is always far, far slower and more unreliable than to a main server.. So disconnecting in a story mission is a very high possibility even if you don’t have that in normal play.

    • neolith says:

      “And those segments are very modular, and often disregard one another. At a very obvious level.”

      I’ve been disturbed by how bad this actually is. Playing a Norn that once got really, really drunk and joining the Vigil later on can get you the same story parts twice.

      • Lovecrafter says:

        The worst part about it is that the story arc segregation actually retcons slight bits of character development:

        When I created my Charr, I had to choose who my father was. I decided that my father was a traitor, a shaman in the Flame Legion. At the very end of that arc, Rytlock calls me in his office. He congratulates me on a job well done, and says this:
        “It’s not easy standing up for a traitor. I know.”
        At first, I believed he might’ve been referring to some Flame Legion dude he knew, but after meeting the other members of Destiny’s Edge, I believe he’s actually talking about Logan, and that he (at least at some point) tried to understand Logan’s decision.
        Of course, once you get to the next arc, all this is cast aside and Rytlock’s back to hating Logan’s guts 24/7.

  18. Wedge says:

    I just finished the mission to (fail to) defend the island outside Lion’s Arch, and that one drove me nuts. I honestly don’t know if I’ll even bother with the story missions from here on. It was infuriatingly difficult; I ended up spending about 15s repairing all my gear after it was over, and the reward was just garbage. It’s like you say, what’s the freaking point? I can complete an area, have actual fun doing it, and get a giant haul at the end.

    I really like your faction companion for the Order of Whispers: Tybalt. That guy’s hilarious. But for the most part, the writing is just terrible.

    • rofltehcat says:

      Really seems to be a class problem. As an Axe/Sword warrior, this particular story part was a cakewalk. The others aren’t really hard, either.
      On my Mesmer, the quests are a bit more challenging up to now, but I only did the quests up to lvl 15 or so, so I’ve yet to get to the “hard” part a bit later.

  19. meyerkev says:

    Agreed on the unfair bit. I’m a Level 36 Asura elementalist and I’m stuck on Free Rein, the level 16 quest.

    Basically, there’s a guy at the end of a corridor. The walls of the corridor spawn infinite elementals. So you can’t kite because of the range issues, and every time you kill a couple of elementals, they respawn. Combine this with the inherent squishiness of Elementalists, and it’s impossible (which is a pity because I was actually liking the story in a general sense). I have 2 meteor swarm abilities (glyph of storms), and can spawn a giant elemental and a golem to fight by my side, and I still can’t do it.

    /Also, on a non-related issue, crafting seems to be a giant money sink. Leveling up requires massive amounts of cash (or doing every last resource and then some) for the materials you need. So far, I figure I’ve burned about 1.5-2 gold getting resources to level up, and then the stuff you make sells for about a fifth of the materials price if you can sell it at all. Does it get better at higher levels?

    • X2Eliah says:

      Crafting is an immensely unfair, overall-lossy endeavour. The short gist is that it is always more profitable to sell components of X on the tp than it is to make X and sell X on vendor/tp. More than that, it is actually cheaper to sell components AND buy X from another person than it is to make X for yourself, even if you discount all the previous craftng-levelling you have had to do to even be able to make X.

      I’d say that it does not get better at higher levels, at all. At the very, very best you can +- break even by making tier400 stuff. If you are lucky. (By break even I mean break even on that particular item. You will NEVER recoup the money you spend on getting from 0 to the high levels.) And as more people level their crafting, the less your crafted stuff will be worth.

      Also, crafting is seriously disbalanced. It took my character a total of ~3.5 gold to get jewelry from 0 to 400 in about 2 to 3 hours, by buying/selling purely off of TP and not gathering anything from levelling/mobs.
      Comparedly, it took that same character about 8 gold to get weaponsmithing from 0 to 226, in the same conditions (no drops, just tp buying/selling and craftgrinding). And that was with as much recipe discovery and as little repeat-grinding as possible.

      • Chargone says:

        upside? crafting = xp.
        not just crafting xp, but leveling xp.
        so… you’re basically paying for levels.
        value for money still varies drastically.

        • Aldowyn says:

          which is a decent idea but as the main carrot for the mechanic? DUMB. I’m used to crafting being a relatively decent way of making GOOD items for your character, as long as you’re willing to put in the time. And that’s at medium levels. Top level crafted stuff should be better than just about everything but epic tier (or whatever the GW2 counterpart is) If it’s not practical to make gear with crafting at all, then the mechanic is broken. It’s as simple as that, really.

          • Chargone says:

            yeah,about right.
            i’m actually running into an awkward situation where i’m mostly collecting iron and silver but my crafting skill isn’t high enough to use it and to Raise it i need to learn to make new stuff and to do That i have to find all sorts of weird odd bits (which i previously had but screwed up and sold. whoops?)

            … the 8 slot bags from leather working were worth it though. probably. i dunno, most of the time the only vendors i talk to are the armour repair ones. sell junk, repair gear, zoom off again.

            • kanodin says:

              This happened to me to, my artificing was getting close but not at the point where I could use the next tier materials when I left the areas where the lower tier stuff even spawns. I eventually buy enough low level material to make up the gap, righteously craft all my softwood logs and have nowhere near enough exp for the next tier logs I was starting to get.

              It was at this point I realized crafting was not fun and I am not gonna to do it, at least until I can just easily by my way to the top. Flash forward and I’m level 80 gathering orrian truffles and ancient wood logs with my highest skill at 125.

    • Even says:

      You don’t really NEED to spend that much on it if you just keep playing. Doing map exploration, collecting resource nodes and salvaging all the gear drops I don’t need I’ve been having a pretty steady supply of materials, including mob drop materials. When you’ve cleared several equal level zones, you’ve got a fairly decent amount of materials to advance to the next tier or close to it.

      • meyerkev says:

        Part of my problem is that I discovered crafting at Level 30. So, for example, to start, you need Copper, which I don’t have. Instead, I have Iron, which I can’t use (Repeat for every single crafting thing). Now I went back and basically ran around in Level 1-15 areas for about 6 hours, while I fixed that issue, but that’s a money sink, because armor repairs are so incredibly costly, and the loot drops are pathetic. I had 97 silver, now I have 12 (and it costs about a silver to teleport).

        • Shamus says:

          I realize it’s too late for my advice to help you, but for the benefit of others:

          Get a salvage kit. Salvage all common gear. (Say, anything that’s blue, and green if it’s cheap.) If it’s light armor, salvage it no matter what, because the jute it contains is worth more than the item itself. This is true even if the object is supposedly a metal circlet or tiara or whatever. If it’s light armor, it drops cloth when salvaged.

          It can make a lot of copper by salvaging ll those grappy weapons and armor you find, and the lump of copper you get from salvage will usually be worth more than the item. It’s a mad world.

        • Ateius says:

          … I really, really hate to be “that guy”, but how on earth are you accruing costly armour repairs running around in a zone that’s 15+ levels below you? I know you’re scaled down, but your trait and equipment bonuses should more than make up the difference. I can one- or two-shot stuff in those zones by the time I’m level 30.

          Are you remembering to slot gems/runes in your gear? That stuff adds up pretty fast.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I will say one thing: Cloth. Good luck finding enough jute to make your way past the first tier. Also it’s STUPIDLY expensive on the market, like nearly 10 times other first tier mats.

        Just all in all the crafting mechanics are horribly, HORRIBLY balanced.

        • Even says:

          Maybe I got lucky then, I don’t know. Only profession I’ve needed it for so far was leatheworking and I’ve never bought anything from the TP leveling it. The only resources that have been stalling my progress so far at any point has been the mob drops for discovering new recipes which is by far the most efficient way of leveling up a profession.

          • Ateius says:

            Same here. The uncommons from mobs are the only limited resource I’ve run into (although I’ve run into it a fair number of times, mind) – not counting early levels when I was consuming a ridiculous amount of copper to forge myself 5 8-slot boxes to expand my inventory in addition to normal forging and discovery.

            Mind you, my relative glut of raw materials is probably directly attributable to the bottleneck of the uncommon materials slowing me down.

    • David F says:

      I had trouble with the exact same quest, so here’s how I finally finished it. Kill the earth elementals, then go past their spawn point to the left, going behind the generators rather than through the stupid corridor of death. Then just go up the hill and come in again at the end, and you’ll just have to fight the air elementals and the Inquest guy (I forget who it is at this point, Kudu maybe?). Once you’ve beaten the Inquest guy you then are allowed to destroy the generators, so you can progress down the hill taking out one group at a time and once a generator is destroyed those elementals will stop spawning.

      • meyerkev says:

        Ok, so go to the left == loop way around, and not just “sneak behind the earth generator and run straight into the embers” Good to know.

        /Beat it first try. Thanks.

    • Rack says:

      Have you tried using Glyph of Storms in Earth attunement? It blinds enemies inside it for pretty much the entire duration, about 15 seconds. It’s gloriously overpowered and solves a lot of the Elementalists problems in getting ganked by mass mobs. If you have a dagger off hand you can open up with earth 4 to stun everything, drop the glyph of storms then use dagger 5. That will kill everything near you and you typically won’t even get hit.

      • meyerkev says:

        Dagger?

        “Looks up Dagger”. Wait, ele’s can use daggers? “Looks up attacks”. Those are actually fairly decent. I know what I’m doing tonight.

        I’ve always just used my staff, because Fire Attunement for staff is hilariously broken (Lots of damage, and a rollaway method that causes yet more damage). I may need to get a cheap scepter and dagger and try this out.

  20. Friend of Dragons says:

    Well, I’m a sylvari, so I’ve been paired with Caithe, who appears to be much less of a dunce than most, if not all, of the other Destiny’s Edge “heroes.”
    Overall, I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed the story missions. I am playing a ranger, however, which out of the classes I’ve tried is by far the most competent solo hero due to having a pair of pocket tanks in the shape of pet bears, as well as having some very powerful AOEs with traps, barrage, and entangle.

    My main complaint, by far, is how the level of the story missions fast outstrips your own, so it seems that any time something particularly dramatic occurs and gets me pumped for the next story missions, I find that I’m a couple of levels short of being able to do it and have to go do the other things the game offers, and by the time I’m strong enough, the emotion has worn off.
    Like, it’s what you’d get if you took the lord of the rings movies, and between every scene you inserted 40 minutes of the hobbits cooking while Aragorn stands watch over camp, occasionally shooting a nearby orc or something.

    • Lovecrafter says:

      Personally, I found Caithe to be a serious downer. I got this quest to defeat an immortal knight, and when I finally find a way to off him for good (it involved a large hammer), my character’s celebration was cut short by Caithe, who found it necessary to remind me that “peace never lasts” and that “victories fade away”. If I was a Norn, I’d be holding a moot for the rest of the week!

      My vote for “least unlikeable Edge member” goes to Rytlock, who, despite being perpetually angry, seems to at least have some common sense, and gets some good moments in the early Charr storylines.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Caithe (admittedly not all that much interaction with her) just seems really, really boring to me. Like, the rest all have their thing (I just realized I don’t know about Zojja’s role with DE, but.. felicia day) with the history of the group, but Caithe’s just like “come on guys stop fighting and be nice to each other!”

        • Lovecrafter says:

          Cathe’s supposed to be naive, like most Sylvari, and beyond that she’s also sort of an Eeyore who often gets all gloomy and fatalistic. It just doesn’t come out all that much in the script.

          • Savage Wombat says:

            In the start of the novelization, which now has some continuity problems since they reworked the Sylvari, Caithe is “tainted” with Nightmare, which is supposed to make her inevitably fall. That’s why she’s so dark and fatalistic.

  21. Even says:

    Like said above, I think the biggest issue with the story quests is class imbalance. I just finished the storyline on my ranger two days ago and through it all, the only times I had problems finishing a quest was when going in underleveled or when the instance itself bugged. Otherwise it felt either somewhat balanced or cakewalk depending on the quest. While I died every now and then, it never was to something I couldn’t overcome. On the other side of the coin, trying to do early quest missions with my lvl 12 something thief, I ran exactly into the same problem as you did. I went in thinking that I can’t be TOO squishy since it’s still a medium armor class like ranger, but boy was I wrong. It was about when I realized how much of a difference having a pet makes, especially if you use one that can tank. I even recently managed to solo a melee champion in Frostgorge Sound just by swapping pets whenever one went down and keeping him crippled while kiting him whenever I got aggro. Wasn’t really worth the time spent, when all I got was a crappy blue off his corpse, but still, it goes to show that the game could prolly use some rebalancing.

    • Chargone says:

      my engineer varies. also medium armour. there was a mission i struggled with early on (Caithe is quite useful at killing enemies, but not Enough for the waves that spawn, and makes no effort to help you if you’re downed), though i got through it eventually… mind you, i’m now level 20 something with a thumper, healing, and seed turret, dumped a bunch of points into explosives, and carry bombs.

      the ability to set explosives While Dodging (as in, dodging plants the bomb) is a HUGE help against damn near everything. and the big ol’ bomb is just made of win.

      doesn’t matter what weapons you take as an engineer though, power 4 is always situational and power 5 damn near useless. (though sometimes entertaining)

      • Even says:

        Hmm well I’ve found 4 and 5 on the rifle to be quite useful on my engie. Just got her to level 30. 4 is great when fighting melee mobs plus it knocks down everything but champs which is always handy. 5 proved to be a godsend in that certain sadistic jumping puzzle in Metrica Province and it does pretty good AoE damage too if you can afford to get close.

        • Chargone says:

          yeah, just after i posted that i thought ‘wait… the rifle’s a bit different…’
          still, the jump-shot is awkward as hell to actually use in a combat situation. and … does the rifle have a net shot? that’s not terribly useful due to short duration, from memory.

          (i didn’t use the rifle much. tried it out, but it wasn’t offering much advantage over pistols and lost some of the condition/aoe stuff i liked. … that said, i now barely use my pistols either. bombs and turrets ftw :D)

          • Even says:

            Heh, well I guess it depends on the playstyle. The net is not really vital but it is decent when skirmishing against melee mobs. I run around and strafe a lot to keep my distance when I have aggro and using the net can give a small tactical window to make a maneuver. I usually just blast them to the face with 3 while they’re unable to hit me. It’s also handy keeping mobs away from my turrets for a while longer and at the start of combat if I’m in an area where I have to avoid running around too much.

            • Chargone says:

              i find most mobs you can keep at a distance simply by walking backwards while you shoot. dive roll when they got to use one of those powers that rushes at you. (added bonus if you focus on explosives for your … traits? diving drops an explosive once you get that up a bit :D)

              at this point my style involves ‘drop thumper turret. drop healing turret. drop seed turret. shoot things with pistols to get their attention. switch to bombs and dive around a lot while dropping explosives.’ hehehe

              • Lovecrafter says:

                First off, a word of caution: in my experience as an Engineer, dodging all over the place (and especially backwards) often attracts unwanted attention from enemies.

                Second: The best way to use the Healing Turret is not to leave it standing, but to detonate it about a second after dropping it. That way, it combos into itself, creating a “Heal Area” effect that gives you and any ally close to you a little extra health. The timing is somewhat tricky, but not too difficult. Plus, blowing up your turret that fast means you can heal yourself again sooner.

          • Jeff says:

            The rifle is superior to the pistols and shields when you focus on grenades and turrets, because it essentially becomes your set of control powers.

            Pistols are for Condition Engies, I believe.

            • Chargone says:

              pistols are also all multi-target/area attacks. rifles are mostly not.

              • krellen says:

                Rifle bullets pierce enemies, so the auto-attack is a multiple enemy ability. As is Blunderbuss (ability 3) and Jump Shot (ability 5). So rifles are pretty much also multi-target/area.

                • Lovecrafter says:

                  Dual pistols are all about inflicting conditions, Pistol/Shield is more defensive and better up close, Rifle is about playing with range (Jump Shot to get close –> Blunderbuss in their face –> Overcharged Shot to put some distance in –> Net Shot to hold them in place –> Hip Shot until your other skills can be used again.)

        • Lachlan the Mad says:

          Engie Rifle 4 is unquestionably *the* best skill in the entire game.

  22. Paul Spooner says:

    Wow, lots of good points! From what little I’ve seen I can totally agree with the odd tone of the story missions. It’s like the owner of your company giving you a compliment with a straight face, but in the form of a “your mom…” joke. Is he serious? Why did he go out of his way to do this? How am I supposed to feel about this?

    My guess is that the writing team are all cross-checking and editing eachother’s work, and there’s no strong authority dictating the overal tone. So you get well thought out strings of missions, but with oddly or outright goofily named antagonists, delivered in passing fair voice acting. If this is the case, then GW2 writing is a good contrast to ME3. GW has a good arc that makes decent sense, and the details mostly fit together, but the tone is all over the place.

    It probably doesn’t help that the designers are trying to appeal to both the light-hearted and the serious-minded players. It would double (or more) the amount of work, but a “goofy vs serious” toggle button in the options menu would be welcome.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I’ve found the tone depends a *lot* on your race. Charr, in particular, struck me as me a good deal less kitsch (though certainly not “serious” by any stretch) than the other four I picked–that could just be luck of the draw on other background picks, though.

    • Urs says:

      Yeeaah. On a related note, a quote from wiki.guildwars2.com:

      “Humans will do the Melbourne Shuffle in the style of [proceed with caution] LMFAO’s Party Rock.”

      lesigh

  23. noneofcon says:

    I tend to do the story missions in GW2 for the xp (I sell mats and buy gear off of the trading post.)

    Best MMO for story/mission intros has been the secret world, which is basically your character listening to the npc monologue. see here for an example:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwnzPmHNyg0&fb_source=message
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Adba8PbRuI&feature=relmfu

  24. BlckDv says:

    The problem that I have felt with the Story missions is a violation of the game’s otherwise great tacit bargain that there is no right (thus no wrong) way to play.

    My wife and I have a paired set of toons in dXX (Ellaesar Evensong and Dragon Ghost for the usual crew) that we made as a duo and play as a duo. They are built to harmonize well and support each other as a potent team. She’s a nasty melee Thief, and I’m a healing support archer (Ranger). With my Spirits and her attacks, I crank out Regeneration and Healing combos like mad, as well as frequent Blind and Confusion debuffs.

    Well, to cut it off before I go too deep into specific tactics, despite neither of us having any real “tank” potential, we can fight nearly nonstop in the open world, and often roll three or four events nonstop.

    Then comes story mode. Some chapters will pancake us both 3-4 times in a row. Some feature exclusively mobs that are immune to my wife’s condition damage. Many feature mad amounts of interrupting that shut down my cavalcade of generous healing. This often leads to a feeling that we have the wrong build; a feeling that GW2 otherwise does a great job of avoiding.

    On a separate issue, we intentionally made our set a pair of Sylvari Order of Whispers to allow shared story progression (we take turns “driving”). At random points the game just decides this is not allowed. It is not the missions that have forks in them, but random middle of a story missions will suddenly force us into separate instances with no ability to share. This always leads to great pain and the mission of a thousand deaths as lacking my wife’s DPS I get steamrolled, and lacking my healing she gets near insta-killed by tougher mobs.

    In total, these experiences seem to convey a clear message that we are doing it wrong, and that our choices are wrongbadfun. GW2 is worlds ahead of any other MMO I have played at avoiding this feeling, which makes the Story experience stand out that much more as a disappointment.

    • Chargone says:

      *blinks* yet more evidence that they did little or nothing to account for classes in story missions, perhaps? which is… rather insane, actually.

      it sounds like the missions are built for sword swinging warrior types, for the most part.

      you know what most players i see in the game are armed with?

      rifles and longbows.
      toss in some pistols and magic staffs of crazy awesome for variety.

      you know the player characters i almost Never see? (and often turn the tide when they do show up, admittedly, because only the players who it actually suits Bother, so far as i can tell, rather than the forced trinity making it incredibly common) heavily armored sword swinger types. which were the ones the story missions were apparently designed for, mostly.

      that i remember actually fighting with: 2 swordsmen of some description who were Insanely awesome at pulling my arse out of really bad spots. a couple of characters who… i honestly can’t tell if it was a really weird sword or a staff with some funky magic ability tied to it.

      necromancers? all the time.
      rangers? all the time
      engineers? all the time.

      others are rare and hard to identify without having played them myself.

      *laughs* i can just see someone eventually getting a guild organized enough to actually employ rifle volleys. given that you can fire without a target, and the bullet hits what it hits in a straight line from where you fire to where you’re aiming, this is actually viable. (what you lose in accuracy you gain in the time not taken to coordinate targets/screwing up said process. Everything coming at you gets hit. well, probably.) … pistols are actually better than rifles for this, due to their burst effect. … if this all works the way it appears to. (front rank with pistol and shield = cover for second rank when the enemy gets to melee range too, especially as the shield throws the enemies away.)

      if it all works as it appears to and i’ve not missed anything, at least.

      still, think about it… it’s a fantasy world who’s technomancy is hitting industrial revolution levels, by the looks of things, and the players are actually going for the logical use of ranged weapons. that’s really rare, because most games either don’t bother with melee or force you to use it.

      then they, apparently, balanced the story for melee characters. (bombs make engineers functionally melee characters, in some ways, but they’re still not the right sort for that.)

      • Even says:

        I think the favoring of ranged weaponry may just simply be due to game mechanics. You only need to deal with enemy ranged fire when and if you’re away from melee combat and that’s a lot of avoided damage if you can keep it that way. The classes you mentioned benefit from range the most because of the fact that they get summons and pets which do a lot for distributing damage and aggro and thus makes a lot of the solo content easier. The difference between them and the heavy armor classes is that latter ones naturally adept at soaking damage and Guardians can especially excel at this role.

      • Jeff says:

        Elementalists are easy to identify. We’re the ones raining meteors and setting up combo fields everywhere, then falling over when they look at us funny.

        • meyerkev says:

          This right here.

          For about 20 levels, I was wandering around with 2 separate Meteor Storm abilities. I really want to see the look on people’s faces when I suddenly drop 2 separate meteor storms to kill a wasp at some point.

          /PS: Arcane Shield does wonders. It only takes 3 hits, but given that your health is only good for 2, it literally doubles the time it takes to kill you. That,(other) Meteor Storm and Radiation Field are the my preferred loadout, and I almost never have to leave Fire attunement.

        • Chargone says:

          the fact that one’s there, sure.
          the individual? not so much. (if only because they’re cowering out of sight Behind you *laughs*)

        • Aldowyn says:

          Fire Staff Eles have insane AoE DoT. lava font, flame burst, meteor shower, and the normal fireball… you essentially have at least 4 times your typical DPS in a fairly large area. Eles DESTROY in large scale events.

          It’s gotten to the point I don’t bother using anything other than staff because that AoE is so amazing. (although dagger has some good mobility for solo play. I don’t have good daggers atm)

      • BlckDv says:

        My solo play bears this out. While my above mentioned Ranger is my “Main”, I have an Alt for solo play who is pretty much the same level (mid 60’s as of this post) The alt (Zree Wolfslayer) is a Charr Warrior, and has almost none of the same troubles. It also helps that as a Charr he gets a “warband” of allies for many early story missions (Dinky remains my favorite NPC in the game). Zree wanders around with his great sword and a load of Regen/Take less damage sigils and banners and just smashes things. I carry a longbow for the sole purpose of switching over to use AoEs from range for some of the fast paced rampage through waves of low HP enemy events. Otherwise, Zree just plays the unstoppable force, waving his sword and walking forward until anything that gets in his way falls over. He really feels almost silly powerful much of the time, especially when I’ll stop to heal the same ally from down 3-4 times without having dropped below 70% HP in a boss event fight.

  25. Eljacko says:

    I take issue with the cutscenes in Guild Wars 2. In fact, I hate them. I would forgive them if they were more than just people standing against a static background and talking at each other. I would forgive them if they gave me dialogue choices so that I don’t have to watch my character behave totally contrarily to how I roleplay him. As it stands, unfortunately, the cutscenes are both boring and lacking in any roleplaying value whatsoever.

    You know where the game DOES let me choose my dialogue and roleplay a little? The non-animated dialogue boxes outside the cutscenes! Why aren’t there more of those? Why didn’t they get rid of all the half-baked cutscenes and just give us THOSE instead? Both are equally visually boring, but at least the dialogue boxes let me talk for my character. At least they offer choice and interactivity.

    If ANET wasn’t willing to shell out for fully-featured cutscenes I understand completely. They are well within their rights to avoid such an exorbitant cost. But slapping some barely animated character models against a painting that sorts of looks like where I’m supposedly standing is not a substitute. If they couldn’t make proper cutscenes then they shouldn’t have tried to.

  26. Mari says:

    Thank you! These are my complaints exactly! I can even live with the bugged missions (that are slowly being fixed) because, y’know, bugs happen. But the things you’re talking about here aren’t bugs, they’re just flaws. For the record, I’ve hit the level cap but I’m still a long way from completing my story missions. The difficulty level of one particular mission (which has since, according to the patch notes, been adjusted) was so insane that I did end up doing the thing where I waited 15 levels to complete it. That didn’t make something insanely hard easy, it made something insanely hard just plain hard – even with gear from 15 levels higher, more skills and traits leveled, etc. I still completed the mission by the skin of my teeth and limped back to town in my skivvies. For a really crappy weapon that was way below my level since I’d had to wait so long to complete it anyway.

    Then there’s the “step and fetch” mission for Trahearne (who is quite possibly more annoying than Logan Thackary) that I did recently. Travel to a meeting place, climb an insane wooden tower, talk to Mr. Firstborn, run halfway back down the wooden tower behind Trahearne, listen to him blather, climb back up and talk to him, climb back down and talk to a bunch of other people, climb back up and talk to him again, climb back down and listen to him blather some more…what the heck? Is this a story mission or a step aerobics class?? Then, after all the running on the stairmaster you FINALLY get to go kill something. Except the mission was bugged (fixed the next day) so after mowing through ten thousand mooks suddenly the dummies you’re supposed to escort to safety stand around in a clump and won’t go anywhere. Which is fun because then you get to do the whole step aerobics part over again too when they fix the mission.

    I would really like to see more consistency and thought in the story missions. The biggest disappointment to me is that the story bits in Guild Wars 1 were such a treat. Maybe it wasn’t the best, most epic story in the history of MMOs but it was compelling enough to make me want to know what happened next and be willing to play through to find out. Honestly I’m at a point in GW2 where I really don’t CARE what happens next. My play isn’t story-driven at ALL. I’m still playing because I have a compulsion to put a check mark in a box. I pretty well ignore the story missions unless I happen to be standing next to one while exploring. The map exploration and crafting is what’s driving me to keep playing, though. I want the next cooking ingredient, I want the next map area cleared, I have a compelling need to see what’s at the next vista or where I can find the next recipe.

  27. Athan says:

    I can confirm that at least in one instance ANet nerfed a Personal Story mission at least twice.

    It’s one of the earlier Norn ones where you’re rescuing a Minotaur Spirit from the bad guys. I did this first at level 13 or so, downscaled to 10, during BWE1 or 2, and it was near impossible, even when I switched from dual Daggers on my Thief to a Shortbow for ranged attacks. By a late ST they’d nerfed this down somewhat, in fact it was a level 7 quest, but still a little tricky.

    By release it had been nerfed even more, I barely noticed the adds on it and could just nuke down the boss. I don’t think this was a case of me having a better idea of how to play the class, there’s not much that can differ by level 7-10. Of course half the problem was Eir and Garm (NPCs on your side) being all stupid.

    Just to confirm that if you report Stupidly Difficult Quests[tm] they may actually retune them.

  28. Maldeus says:

    When I wrote this lore summary, I thought it would be for people who wanted an in-depth view of previous game’s lore so that they could join in on things like lore speculation or roleplay that had its roots in the original game, not just anyone who was paying attention to the plot. I’m kind of disappointed to know that ANet is apparently relying on you having played the first GW, since their audience has exploded, but fortunately that lore summary should probably fill in all the blanks you’re missing. That thing comes out to about 5.5k words, but it’s a lot faster than playing all three original campaigns plus the expansion.

    In case no one else has answered the specific gap in the game’s exposition already: Cantha is an Asian-themed place across the ocean to the south and Elona is a middle-east themed place on the other side of the Crystal Desert. If the game has also failed to inform you what the Crystal Desert is, that’s the desert-y looking place in the southeast corner of the map. I don’t think you can go there in the core release, so they’re probably saving it for an Elonian expansion.

  29. meyerkev says:

    Also, I love the side effect of their dynamic events.

    1) Get Event notification.
    2) Kill completely random dude who’s unrelated to the event, but in the area.
    3) 15 minutes later, get Bronze XP reward for event.

    /I’ve gotten a couple of skill points this way.

  30. Mike Lemmer says:

    I thought Guild War 2’s story was quite good, in comparison to the most similar MMO plotline I know of: World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King. If you thought GW2’s characters were stupid, Wrynn & Garrosh’s actions would’ve had you banging your head against the wall. At least the major factions (and heroes) cooperated in the end, rather than fighting in the halls of the undead king they were sieging.

  31. Stranger says:

    Honestly? I don’t mind Logan’s background and from my perspective it’s his old friend Rytlock who’s being a bit childish. Of course I’m looking at it from a perspective of a Human Ranger. Maybe getting to know Rytlock from leveling my alt Charr Warrior (trying to get how they work and enjoying it) will get me to see things a different way.

    Face it, all the five members of Destiny’s Edge are deeply flawed people. Logan had to choose duty over friends, and regrets the choice he made . . . Zojja lost her master and his other apprentice appears now and then to taunt her over how much he’s doing while she was out “wasting time”. Eir took charge and the burden of leadership . . . she has to shoulder responsibility for what happened to break up the team. Rytlock put his trust in a HUMAN of all people, becoming almost like a brother to Logan, then Logan chose duty over friends and left him feeling hurt for giving that trust.

    And Caithe is a special case all around. She is basically only half as old as any of the others, and as a Firstborn Sylvari she has . . . no real basis of how the world works. She discovers how unfair choices can be firsthand, and she has the closest thing to a sister/lover in someone who is actively betraying her own race. The kicker is, the more Caithe sees, the more it seems like her ex was right.

    Drop into this Trahearne, another Firstborn who knows his calling is to deal with Orr but he has no idea how. He’s studied it of course, and learned a lot . . . but not enough to know what to do to FIX anything. He’s given a vision of a grand undertaking and told he’s got to lead it, grow up and get serious. Stop studying, the final exam time is here now.

    Now, here’s the problem everyone else is reaching: “I should be the center of the storyline, hence it is ‘personal’ as in I get to be the badass.” Well . . . no. Could you imagine that, if every one of the player characters in the game, hundreds of thousands of “One True Chosen Ones” running around? Or alternatively, hundreds and thousands of “Ordinary People” who have no impact on anything and just watch pet NPCs do all the work while they play foot soldiers, or squires or something. It’s a balancing act to get it to feel just right, and did ANet manage it?

    . . . I’m on the fence but leaning on “not quite”. It’s good, and a lot of the personal storyline quests I went through with my Ranger weren’t problematic. (There were THREE though, after the halfway point, where I had very frustrating experiences . . . I’m on the final leg now, in Orr, so I might yet reach more.) Could they have gone better? Kinda . . .? I have only played through as the Ranger who could take exactly about three hits off a Champion and any group in numbers greater than 4 would routinely use my spine as a mop handle. My Charr Warrior, on the other hand, had to learn a harsh lesson about melee range being a Bad Answer to some situations . . . but in others it is an awesome one.

    I dunno . . . from story perspective it’s easy for me to go “pfft, I can do better” but I really tried to with a D&D campaign once. You know what I discovered? It’s REALLY EFFING HARD to have an epic storyline where the player characters are the heroes when you deal with actual people as opposed to hypothetical characters in a novel. Novels are easier, you are the only person making decisions . . . games are much harder. Much.

    • Joshua says:

      I’ve had a few problems with my Ranger. In most cases, I can get by just fine, but there were a few combats that were just plain annoying and frustrating.

      The one where you defend the Queen-I’m with the Priory, so I had all of my normal attacks replaced with a new set of powers that I immediately got thrown into a hard fight with. I literally got revived by Logan at least ten times(he wouldn’t help fight), while trying to take on at least six Risen.

      Another one is where you had to defend the island from the naval attack. I ended up with way too much Risen on the beach, and spent the whole fight kiting around.

      Is kiting a useful skill to have? Yes. But when you spend at least ten minutes running around in a circle baby-sitting cooldowns of both your attacks and heals, it gets a bit silly.

      • Stranger says:

        I was trying to avoid spoilers for the specific fights, thanks :P The second example was one for me – I wound up with an army of Risen between me and my objective and thus had to nibble at them. Only they kinda got replaced as fast as I was clearing them out. I wound up having to get them to chase my pet as a distraction, and dash through as my pet went down. Silly? Kinda . . . it was mostly a timing issue with me standing too far out when I should have been playing careful.

        Another one involved a crowd I was trying to bunch up to AoE kill but that turned out to be a stupid stupid move which got me defeated and then needing to really play it cautious to get the target I needed to kill out.

        The third one giving me trouble arose as I was finding out what happened to Falcon Company. Suffice it to say, I learned the following – if you are alone, do not fight two ettins on similar levels as you, at once, where you can’t run. It does not end well. Would have been not a problem if I’d not chucked my melee kit into the bank vault earlier.

        On the other end of the spectrum. When following leads to where you join one of the three power groups, some of those looked like they were supposed to be hard but with some placement and ensuring NPCs stayed up . . . it became not stressful. When (FAR FAR later) you have to deal with bad stuff happening near Fort Trinity? So long as you can identify what needs to die, you’re good.

  32. RTBones says:

    I have one character, a level 15 human engineer that has just 100% completed the human starting area. I have, so far, thoroughly enjoyed playing the game. A few random observations –

    I enjoy the story missions (to this point, anyway), but am generally underwhelmed by the rewards. The gear I’ve gotten is either just at or below what I’ve already got. The first time I tried a story mission, I got my arse handed to me – in part because of how I approached it. The next two or three I felt like it was a pretty even match. The one I just finished, however, seemed over about the time it started because I had 2 NPCs with me.

    Of story missions – the potential invulnerability of the baddies at the start of the fight is…annoying. I understand why its there to an extent, but there is nothing like dropping mines and grenades of a guy only to realize he’s not done yapping yet – and when he IS done yapping, I get to try and survive while I cool down.

    I always seem to be low on cash and materials for crafting. I’m sure there is a more efficient way of getting mats than what I am doing (kill mob, loot, salvage loot, or mine/gather) but I’m always off looking for more leather or whatever.

    I like the fact that money actually seems to have relevance in this game. It just proves the old adage: the DM can giveth (look, shiny), and the DM can taketh away (want to fast travel, that will cost you several limbs). Making money is something I haven’t mastered yet in this game – and I refuse to camp at the Trading Post buying low and selling not quite as low.

    Speaking of the Trading post – its not exactly intuitive, but it does seem to work.

    I like the fact that just about EVERYTHING you do has the possibility of giving you XP, even if its a small amount. It means that if I’ve just failed a particular fight for the third time, I can go off and do something else and still get XP. It also means that my natural tendency to explore every nook and crany of a map will net me experience.

  33. Amarsir says:

    This may be the first time you’ve come tangental to one of the great MMO truths: XP just isn’t that important of a reward. (Your recent level cap hit may be related.) Whether from exploring, killing, questing, grouping, or whatever, XP really exists only to stagger your learning curve.

    (I’m using some poetic license of course, and presuming the “endgame focused” design that’s been standard since WoW did it.)

    So it’s all about cash, which can go faster than it comes; and gear, which is actually a tricky thing. You have:
    A) Random mob drops
    B) Vendor sales
    C) Quest rewards
    D) Crafting (each type)
    E) Repeatable “challenge” content (each, possibly per section)
    F) PvP
    and only so many types of gear you can have players use before it starts getting silly and raising bookkeeping issues. It’s rather difficult to ensure that each source matters, especially as content gets broader.

    And therefore, as I’d replied to one of your previous entries, they can only get so easygoing with loot before it backfires in other ways.

  34. Zaxares says:

    I hope other people see this post, because I’m about to share a big tip that will save you a LOT in travel costs.

    Whenever you need to travel to a main city, do NOT use a Waypoint to get there. Instead, press ‘H’ to bring up the Hero panel, click on the last tab (PvP), and click the button that says “Travel to the Mists”.

    The Mists is where World vs World takes place, but don’t let that scare you. The first time you arrive there you’ll have to do a few tutorials that introduce you to mechanics important for WvW, but they’ll take you less than 5 mins to complete. You’ll then come to an area that has an Asura gate that leads to Lion’s Arch. From here, you can access Asura gates that will take you to any of the main cities. FREE OF CHARGE.

    So every time you use a Waypoint to travel back to a city? You are wasting money. Go through the Mists for free travel that takes maybe 20 – 30 seconds longer.

    Money is definitely tight in this game though, so you have to be really careful about what you spend it on. A couple more tips I can offer:

    1. If your armor gets damaged, don’t rush to repair it immediately. Damaged armor has no negative effects on your character apart from that ugly yellow icon on top of it. Only when all of your armor is Damaged will they then start to become Broken, which is when you start accumulating penalties.

    You’ll probably find in your travels that you tend to find a fair bit of armor from drops, often better than the ones you currently have. As such, odds are fairly good that you’ll find a newer, better armor piece and replace any damaged armor you have with it before it becomes a real problem. You’ll save quite a bit on armor repair costs this way.

    2. Get familiar with what are “hot items”. The economy in GW2 is kinda wacky; unidentified dyes usually sell for anywhere between 4 – 5 Silver, for example, but identified dyes, depending on their rarity and popularity, can sell for as low as a few coppers. As such, you’ll likely come out ahead in the long run by simply selling all unidentified dyes you find, and then simply buying the dyes you want from the Trading Post.

    I do agree that the difficulty for missions is kinda wonky though. And yes, it definitely seems to be skewed in favour of high-armor/high-survivability characters. I’ve steamrolled through just about everything on my Charr Warrior except for Group Event champion-rank foes. Yet I often have to play a lot more cautiously on my spellcasters to avoid getting killed. Thankfully, ANet does seem to pick up on feedback about missions/events that are too overwhelming and make corrections appropriately.

    For the record, there is a /bug command in the game that you can use to report bugs and problems yourself if you come across any!

  35. Steve C says:

    Tip on avoiding repair costs:
    Don’t repair! Replace!

    There’s no good reason to repair outside of dungeons while leveling. You’re generally not going to use or have rare or better armor before max level. Rare+ is the only stuff you want to repair. Any fine or masterwork (green/blue) armor you may want can be found on the trading post for 1 copper more than it’s vendor price. So your repair costs end up being 1 copper per item if you replace rather than repair.

    This isn’t necessarily true for Low level (pre 15) armor. That generally costs more than it’s vendor cost. As long as it’s fine (blue) quality you can resell it on the trading post for what you paid for it. You’re generally replacing that so quickly it doesn’t have time to break.

    And to repeat what others have said: Don’t buy karma armor (exluding aqua helms). That stuff can’t be vendored, auctioned, or salvaged. There’s better gear on the TP that will work out to a net cost of 1 copper per item when you are finished with it.

    • Mephane says:

      Unless you want to keep a specific style which is not available in your level range – that would require a constant flow of transmutation stones…

    • Rack says:

      Good tip, for me anyway, I assumed repair costs were subtracted from sale costs. This should save me a gold or two per character.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Karma armours and weapons may have unique appearance. And you can actually preview it, unlike the stuff on tp.
      So a straight-out suggestion to not buy them at all is a bit off.

    • Ateius says:

      This doesn’t apply, however, if you’ve got some really good gem or a set of runes embedded in your armour. Then you have to factor in the cost of also replacing the slotted gem or rebuilding your rune bonuses (even minors come in sets of two).

    • Steve C says:

      You’re still going to need to keep changing the appearance of new gear if you are going for a specific appearance while leveling. If you want karma gear due to the appearance then you’re in the same boat. Again I’m talking about leveling here. The gear is going to be replaced regardless as you outgrow it.

      Keep in mind that your gear first damages, then breaks, 1 item per death. Starting from fully repaired, all 6 slots will become damaged on the 6th death. Nothing will brake until the 7th death. But if you have 5 slots damaged, and one slot with no damage then that tells you exactly which slot will be damaged next time you die.

      Armed with that info, buy multiple copies of that single slot. Each time you die, replace that one slot with your backup item. It could be karma gear if you wish, but I still suggest it be something you can vendor instead of destroying. At that point it doesn’t matter if your other 5 slots (all damaged, non broken) are expensive, transmuted, karma or whatever. They’re never going to break as long as you remember to swap in the new item as soon as you die.

  36. Steve C says:

    On Story missions:
    I caught a few of the other race’s stories through helping others. Yes they sucked. However my main character is an Asura and I really liked all the Asura stories. Doubly so after seeing some of the other race’s. So give the Asura a shot for better writing.

    Yes, that first mission with Destiny’s Edge in Lion’s Arch is excruciating. Wasn’t that the point? They are characters you are supposed to dislike. Melodrama between real players in MMO guilds is very common. I interpreted it as the game developers telling players “Get over yourselves” by putting a spotlight on it.

    But no matter how bad that was, (or similar conversations) something makes up for it. There’s a conversation you overhear between 3 kids as you start that particular Lion’s Arch/Destiny’s Edge quest that is so awesome I can forgive everything else. To me it was like Mordin singing but better because it adds a lot of back story extremely efficiently.

  37. Talbot says:

    This game has a few nice gimmicks, but that’s all they are, gimmicks. Like many MMOs it’s initially impressive but gets old fast.

    The “dynamic” events are really just plain old MMO quests by another name, the PVP is just a numbers game, and the story missions are a joke.

    Still better than WOW though.

  38. Steve C says:

    I’ve noticed something reading the comments…
    We have fairly diverse opinions on the Destiny’s Edge npcs. I think that’s a good thing for any narrative.

  39. Rack says:

    There were a few quests that tore me apart, and my solution was to just strip naked as soon as I saw a quest getting overly tough. Mostly through using a Scepter/Dagger combination, using Glyph of Elemental Power in Earth attunement, and the lava tomb fire trait I’ve been able to survive the zergfests as an Elementalist. A few of the quests offered quite nice rewards otherwise only available on the gem store though mostly the xp was the major benefit. On level the xp they offer is substantial. It’s a pity it doesn’t scale though, for exactly the reason you mentioned.

  40. Ateius says:

    It’s not just you, Shamus. The story missions can be brutally hard at times, even if you’re used to plowing through the ordinary PvE content like some manner of murderous lawnmower.

    Mind you, if you think Destiny’s Edge is childish in Lion’s Arch, just wait until you start doing story dungeons. I’ve completed … I think six? so far, and right now the only one I don’t want to slap repeatedly is Caithe.

  41. Aldowyn says:

    TBH… I’m playing Elementalist and I haven’t had a ton of trouble in a LONG time, since about lvl 2x (I’m a 43 now). The melee enemies they like to throw at you are ridiculously easy to kite if you have a dodge ability and are good at timing your dodge rolls. Also meteor storms are amazing. I’ve heard tons of people complaining, though.

    I do NOT like underwater combat, though >.> (water trident ele is nice. So many slows and good mobility)

  42. Dev Null says:

    Couple of points:

    “Out-levelling” a quest by at least getting better gear also works less well than you think because the game appears to downscale your gear when it downscales your level. My guess is that you’re still better off with the higher level gear (this shield has 2 stats on it, both downscaled, compared to the 1 stat I’d have had at that level) but I honestly don’t know how the scaling works, and haven’t yet cared enough to try to figure it out. But I _did_ test that I was getting less than the total item bonus while downscaled.

    Not only is it incredibly unrewarding to help a friend do story quests, but the game quite often won’t allow it. My wife and I are playing together, and many of the early story quests would simply not allow another player in. (This seemed especially true of the Charr stories, where you were often saddled with a warband full of suicidal NPCs, so possibly that was interfering with the party mechanism somehow.)

    • X2Eliah says:

      The opinion on gw2related forums is that the downscaling is percentile based. That percentile is derived from zone level vs. your level, and is applied to your equpment.

      Which means this:
      Suppose you are a level 70 going into a level 35 zone. You get, essentially, a 50% reduction factor.
      So, your character level drops to 35.

      As for armour, depends what you have on you.
      If you have all your gear also at level 70, it will drop to gear-level-35-appropriate stats.

      If, for some reason, you have, say, level 52 gear instead, then it will get the 50% reduction, and end up being level 26-gear, with appropriate stats.

      Thus – in that zone, you could end up weaker while downleveled than while at original zone level, if you haven’t bothered to keep your gear upto date.

      • Joshua says:

        That is correct, from what I’ve seen. I was playing in a down-scaled leveling zone, and took a look at my stats right before I leveled. Sure enough, after I leveled my stats went DOWN. Despite using the exact same equipment, the game now assumes I’ve got higher stats and downscales me appropriately.

        So, a person who kept their level 1 gear and leveled up to 80 would be CRIPPLED in a level 1 zone. This is a major reason why I don’t like downscaling -it forces you to make ideal choices and keep up with the Jones to get by. You’re no longer buying and equipping better gear to get better, you’re doing it to not get worse.

  43. MadTinkerer says:

    Two games I have played recently that handle multi-player quests: Dragon Quest IX and Torchlight II.

    In DQ9, whoever is hosting the game determines which story stuff is available. The guest players might easily be playing through the same cutscene they saw in their own playthroughs. This is not a problem because in DQ9 everyone is from their own parralel universe and any plot holes, such as a guest getting further in the plot than the host, are hand-waved away using this device.

    In Torchlight II, everything is generated on the fly except for the landscape, which is set by the host when play begins. If the host drops out for some reason, the guests seamlessly go into single-player mode, with the only noticeable difference being that some monster encounters and treasure boxes have reset but with fewer monsters/treasure. Everyone gets separate loot and share XP if they’re close enough. scaling is most noticable on bosses, and sometimes you’ll get extra “Lieutenant”-type copies of bosses where you’d get only one at a time in SP.

    (The first time my brother deliberately quit TL2 as host to see what would happen, I didn’t realize he was gone for a few minutes. When I figured out I was suddenly playing singleplayer (with no interruption), he mentioned something to the effect of “Another thing Diablo 3 can’t do!”.)

    In short, my advice to ArenaNet is to go play those games. Especially DQ9. Dragon Quest is tragically underrated here, but there’s good reason an entire real-world nation is addicted to the series: every game in the series is ridiculously good.

  44. Brian says:

    Well, I’m primarily playing GW2 because of you, Shamus, and a few work friends as well. My experience has been a bit different.

    First caveat, I’m only level 32 on my Guardian, and my first real story quest on my Mesmer creamed me viciously. But class differences aside let me address two things.

    First, my understanding is that, if your friend is in your guild, then there is a reward for helping you: influence, which is the guild currency. A quick look at the wiki seems to suggest that helping a guildmate with a story mission is one of the best means of getting influence.

    As far as the point about story missions being a few levels apart, my experience so far has been that just traveling to the next place, casually (and sometimes not so casually) doing hearts, events, gathering, all the other fun GW stuff means that, if I end one story mission at 30, and the next is 31, I’m usually almost 32 by the time I get to my green swirly. (YMMV, of course. I also am rather…insane about crafting. Every five levels I craft myself a complete set of armour, and two sets of weapons, which is usually good (between discoveries and crafting) for an entire level in itself.

    As far as my Mesmer goes, he’s just so much darn fun that I don’t care that he constantly gets killed by a half dozen centaurs popping out of nowhere. HE THROWS A PURPLE SWORD, Shamus!

  45. carrigon says:

    Thank you for this post! I’m a lvl 15 Norn with Ormi mocking me from level 6. I thought I was doing it wrong, makes me feel a hell of a lot better knowing I’m not the only one who has trouble with the story quests. And I realize from your post its not cost effective, but I can’t just leave the mission hanging! It must be finished or I lost the game!

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You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!