Friday, 19 August 2011

Dungeon Date

Mousie and I were looking for something to do, so we decided it was time to dive into a random dungeon; and this time we chose the Vloxen Excavations.

We had a great time traversing the depths; finding the master gears and placing them into gearboxes to open doors reminded me of the Sorrow's Furnace. I picked up a "Golden Machete", at which point I had to ask Mousie if that was like the Golden Gun of swords. So anyway, up until the final boss it was a routine and fun experience; I particularly enjoyed an ironic Summit Sage defeat; he was attempting to heal himself with Ether Feast, and was killed by a tasty Mistrust; thank you, Gwen!

We got to Zoldark and right off the bat he seemed rather weak. That is, until he used a bunch of skills making his minions into rapid attacking, life stealing, health regenerating terrors who tore us to pieces. After a fierce battle (and a few trips limping back from the res shrine), we managed to drop him to half his HP; at which point he vanished. Poof, hey presto, alakazam gone! I was surprised and confused about that; perhaps one of his skills which supplied him with extra health was temporary, and it had ended; still, there was no death animation, he just completely vanished, along with his pets. Still, we were happy, because that meant looting the chest! Mousie got a Cyclopian Wand and a Diamond, and I a Divine Staff and Onyx Gemstone. Fairly mundane loot, but we had plenty of fun getting there!

Happy adventures to you all!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

You Look Mahvelous!

GamesCom 2011 has been going strong today and I came across some GW2 videos posted by AeronwenTrewent that are well worth a look. The videos show the Norn, Charr and Sylvari through the character creation process from start to finish and boy, what a lot of customization to be had! After race, gender and class, the screen goes to Body Features. You can then choose your height. Physique comes next, but this was disabled for the demos.

The next feature is fur for Charr and tattoos for Norn. The videos seemed to show about 14 styles of fur and 9 different tattoos for the Norn. While the video didn't show each one, they seem to be pretty different from one another.

Hair styles follows with 10 choices for Norn, 8 for Sylvari and 8 for Charr. Yes, Charr do style their hair! The choices in color seem endless and various combos can be made with head hair and facial hair.

After Hair comes Faces and Skin color with more than 20 available tones for the Sylvari and a good number for the Norn as well. The Sylvari video also showed ear choices! The Facial Detail tab was not available for the demos, but I'm willing to bet there will be a wide variety to that also.

One thing I really liked in GW1 was the dye system and this has been carried over to GW2 with even more variety. Three areas of each piece of clothing to dye with 24 colors to choose from for each piece make your character's clothes your own. No more looking like all the others! The ability to hide or show your headpiece has been included, yay!

The last thing is your character's story. Sentences are shown with a word to be filled in. Each race has different ones and the choices you make to fill in the blanks determines your character's "back story".

Character customization is something I always look for, and complain about if it's lacking, in games. These videos are really exciting and show just how much ArenaNet cares about players' feelings of uniqueness and variation. Kudos, Anet! Well done.

AeronwenTrewent's YouTube Channel

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Fire Forest, You're Fired!

"Let's vanquish Sacnoth Valley?" Mousie asked me. I felt the world sinking beneath my feet, my head spinning and my gut wrench, since I knew that meant one thing: the Fire Forest. Burning Spirits, Flowstone Elementals, any kind of mean fire critter you could think of in one giant forest fire.

Mousie was confident, though, and I wasn't about to let her down; so all I did was add Mantra of Flame to all of my heroes to reduce the impact of fire damage and provide them energy. After some tough battles and lots of being burned half to death, we were able to destroy all the flame creatures of the fire forest! It was quite a relief I can tell you!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Eliteism in Heroes' Ascent

I'm Rank 6 with 1000 fame in Guild Wars now, so I like to think I know a thing or two about how the Heroes' Ascent works; but let me tell you it wasn't always that way.

Let me tell you the tale of my first encounter with PvP in Guild Wars, approximately 6 years ago. I was a monk, enjoying myself having made it to 20, beating Prophecies with my guildies and looking forward to more to come. Guildies had been pressuring me to get our guild more into PvP, and as their leader I felt obligated to check out the scene and see what I could do to satisfy their desires for player versus player combat. So I head over to the Hall of Heroes, as it was called back then, and try to find myself a team.

Straight away I notice how many teams shunned you for being unranked. I honestly struggled to even find a team for more than 2 hours, but finally, a team took me in because they were desperate for a monk. Upon entering the team, I'm hit with chat such as "hey u can run woh ok"? and various other meaningless acronyms to me at the time. I was nervous, so I didn't want to show my complete lack of experience by asking just what in the great blue sky they were talking about, so I sort of nodded my head and said OK. They took me in with them and we came up against some form of brutal lightning spike; most of the team died instantly, then they started to yell at me. I thought it might be a good idea to ressurect the other monk, so I cast Rebirth.. apparently a huge mistake to have brought that, because I was met with "OMG ROFL LOL WHAT A F**KING NOOB HAS NO CLUE WHAT HES DOING F**KING NOOB IDIOT MORON NOOB" which was at the very least disheartening; I left in a hurry to the safety and solitude of the Guild Hall and made sure I didn't set foot in the Hall of Heroes again for years.

I often look back on that first encounter now and wonder; was I wrong for not speaking up when I was unsure of what to do? Were they wrong for assuming I knew what to do in the first place, knowing I was unranked and picking me up from the Hall at random? Either way, I often feel their reaction to my failure was very cold, brutal and undeserving; I definitely messed up bringing Rebirth, but screaming at me in such a way was not in the least productive or helpful to anyone.

A few years (and many characters) later, a friend decided to message me one day and tell me they really needed a smiting monk for a dual smite build they were running. I thought "not a chance in hell" figuring it would be a revisit of the experience I had previous, but I felt compelled to help because he was a friend of mine, so I went. Luckily for me, they were a little more helpful this time around; they gave me a build and a general "here's what you do", and after that, I was sorted. We won multiple games, and in the first session with them I had earned half the fame I needed to make Rank 3. It was definitely much better than the last experience I had with Halls PVP (now renamed to Heroes' Ascent), but I couldn't help but notice just how grumpy and self-entitled the guild leader of this little team was. He ranted, raved, and screamed at his guildies like a child crying for it's bottle, and I honestly wasn't impressed.

Still, I needed the fame, or so I thought at the time; I figured it might be nice to get back at those brats who show their rank emotes over your corpse in the random arenas. I had a few more games with these guys, and managed to make rank 3 which I was very happy about because it meant I got my first rank emote: the Deer (Bambi).

pretty right? I was pleased for sure, but after we returned from the Halls to Heroes' Ascent outpost, it all kicked off. The guild leader refused to enter again until he found out who "screwed up", as someone had used their ressurection signet a little too late in the game. So he stomped, huffed and puffed, and threw a temper tantrum accusing any and everyone of being a "scrub" before he started randomly kicking people from the guild. At this point I had joined them, but found myself kicked in his temper tantrum along with half of the other members; and that's when it hit me. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and felt liberated as I was no longer in the guild, and it dawned on me I had been spending my time with the wrong people. I didn't owe this brat anything, and neither did his other members. They could continue to take his abuse for all I cared, but I was gone and had no plans about coming back despite the others asking me to.

After this, I realised just exactly what I wanted from Heroes' Ascent, and that's the feeling you get when you work together to face down and conquer a fearsome opponent. I wasn't getting that with my previous team, as they were all about the fame points and upping their ranks. So I decided, now that I had my "Bambi of honour" I could lead my own team, and I did. I invited unranked, inexperienced players to join my team, but I told them what I would need of them and what they could expect. We were prepared for the worst and together, overcame many obstacles and teams. By leading unranked teams into the Heroes' Ascent, I was able to gain my Rank 6 Wolf emote, and fulfill a promise to Mousie to get her the rank 3 Bambi. A few others got their bambis under my command, too, and I was very proud to lead them into battle. Heroes' Ascent had become fun for me, and despite us not being as good as the "elites", we had a great time. We even stuck it to a few of the well known guilds out there, and nothing was quite as satisfying to us as trampling those "big shots" underfoot.

So all in all, what have I learned from this? There is an aura of eliteism and narcissism to be found (and hopefully avoided) in the Heroes' Ascent, but you shouldn't let that stop you from enjoying yourself. In all walks of life, there will be those who brag the most, shout the loudest and boast incessantly about themselves, but if you can tolerate them there's plenty of reasons to stick around.

With that said, PvP in Guild Wars definitely has it's pluses. In the right situation you can have a lot of fun, some tremendous and unforgettable challenges, and even some amazing loot now (such as the coveted Mini Ghostly Hero). If you can stomach the negativity of the scene and find the good people in it, Heroes' Ascent is a place you can enjoy.


After many (nowhere near as many as we thought) hours of battling Bandits, Grawl and Charrsies, Mousie and I made Legendary Defender of Ascalon! It's quite exciting to be level 20 in the pre-searing, and we couldn't be happier to have made it there. Honestly we figured it would take months, but with careful fighting and farming, as well as daily quests, we did it in no time!

If anyone is interested in advice on how to do this effectively and efficiently, we do have a few tips. First of all, avoid the "Hunt 6 of X" daily quests unless you know your maps very, very well, because you may spend a long time searching for the last X. Also, make sure to utilize the full potential of the Farmer Hamnet quest as a repeatable, simple farm for exp. It's easier to do for the first two levels of each "tier", by which I mean when you hit a certain level, your enemies gain levels and become tougher.


That table puts it better. from 10-13, your enemies are level 8, and so on; so we used Farmer Hamnet to gain the first two levels of each tier, then did daily quests to gain the rest. Once we hit level 19, we went mad on the pre-sear quest lines, and did practically every quest we could find to gain roughly three quarters of the level to 20; then finally, we dropped Utini WupWup and turned in the quest to hit 20!

Below is a picture of the farmer hamnet farm; simply, leave foibles fair and head to the res shrine; the academy monk will heal you while you attack the two nearby bandits. kill them, rezone, repeat. It's easy, fast, simple and great exp; much faster if you use the Fire Imp summoning stone too (which I forgot to use for an entire level!)

Good luck to all of you trying for Legendary Defender of Ascalon and happy trails!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Sexy Sylvari

The ArenaNet Blog just released the redesigned Sylvari and I must say I'm impressed! They're sleeker, sexier and far less "cartoony".

Combining elf-like basic structure with plant-like features make this design far superior to the previous one.

The cleaner lines really improve the look and feel of the Sylvari making them more believable as a "plant" race. Add in the new clothing and the look is complete.

As for their personality, Angel McCoy on the blog writes this:

"A sylvari’s honor gives her a sense of propriety that the youth of other races do not have. In many ways, they are like the Arthurian knights (without the gender bias). They take their duties seriously, and they live by a personal code. Their justice system involves duels, and when duels no longer satisfy, then the wisdom of an elder sylvari prevails. While evil sylvari do exist, most stand up for what is right, and even those who succumb to nightmare have a hatred for the Elder Dragon Zhaitan and the horrors of Orr."

I was excited about the Sylvari from the first moment I heard about them. This redesign is the best thing to happen to the race. Kudos, Anet!