I have been spending the past week re-visiting certain old MMMO haunts. On the one hand, the whole White Mantle/Shining Blade kerfuffle is ramping up in Guild Wars and I want to try my hand at unravelling the mysteries in-game. On the other hand, I have signed up for a new Everquest II 14-day trial – my third such vacation to Norrath, which I will use to decide whether I really can talk myself into re-subbing to the game when New Halas and the rest of the goodies promised with Game Update 56 go live.
My attempts to return to Guild Wars have been brief lately, as I am mostly burned out on the game, having leveled 13 characters to max through various storylines. I am focusing on my main character now, trying to get her one last item to add to her Hall of Monuments: the Protector of Tyria Title. All I need for this title is to complete the mission and bonuses for each of the 25 Prophecies missions in Normal Mode (I would not even attempt Hard Mode; its inticacies are beyond my mediocrity, and I’m perfectly okay with that). So far I have completed 13 towards my goal.
Evenings consist of logging in to GW, asking around for my guild and alliance mates for help and company, then hopping the map in search of PUGs forming for the same purpose of mission+bonus completion. I usually only have time for one mission in any given evening, and my playtimes are erratic, so sometimes I get a PUG bingo or chatty Alliance chat, and sometimes I don’t see anyone at all. I hate myself a little for letting myself grind like this, but the title itself seems so simple to get as opposed to Hard Mode Vanquishing, getting Sweet Tooth or Alcoholic titles, or the much-awed Defender of Ascalon title, that letting the Protector of Ascalon title go unfilled almost seems a waste of a gimme. Still, I can only complete a few missions in a week before I feel the need to take another break from the game. And this is my favorite!
I’m really in need of new content, and I’m hoping the War In Kryta additions will help breathe some fresh air into Guild Wars for me, for the time being. In the same vein, I have returned to another aspect of the game that I gave up on a while back: the Bonus Missions. On this subject I will say I was a bit disappointed. I appreciated the new content, but didn’t care for some of the ways the missions were structured. While Gwen’s story was inventively handled, and Turai’s played more like a standard GW party mission, I didn’t like the Togo and Saul missions’ seeming over-reliance on monster skills to overpower mobs of enemies; in Togo’s mission in particular I felt like there was no room to develop a strategy because the margin for error was so small. To me, that feels more like bad design than challenging design.
Please note: the next paragraph will contain slight spoilers for the Master Togo mission The Tengu Accords.
Perhaps that’s just my own poor strategizing ability talking, but I recall fondly doing Guild Wars missions with other people where we were completely new to the material (oh, those halycon days of the first week of Nightfall!), and although GW missions are always pass/fail, it remains possible in almost every case to pull a team back from the brink of a wipe, regroup, and rethink your approach. Sometimes it does involve a bit of knowledge gained on the fly, i.e. this group seems to spawn when we do that, x boss spawned when we hit y point; but rarely did we have to learn the encounter at the expense of a successful mission completion. Having looked at Togo’s mission walkthrough after several frustrating attempts, I see that by its basic design you are not rewarded for being cautious. You are not rewarded for successful pulls. You are not rewarded for, or even given the opportunity to, direct your henchman effectively. More than one room is successfully won by using perfect timing of your overpowered AOE spell; to mis-time is to die, and to die is to fail. I can only hope this isn’t the direction ArenaNet plans to take GW2 in for future story-driven missions.
But those days are finally behind me. Now I am ready to move on to the real story; that of the war in Kryta and my character’s role in it!
As for Everquest II, I have been experimenting with different races for the benefit of different starting areas, and with a few different classes than I am used to. I have taken a Wood Elf through Kelethin for the first time, and am levelling a Dark Elf through to Freeport next. I know that Freeport in particular is an old-school area with lesser equipment rewards than the newer Timorous Deep or even Kelethin, but I want to know these areas’ stories, and not become burned out on TD just because it may have the most cohesive levelling experience.
Among the new classes I’m trying are a Berserker, Swashbuckler, and Shadowknight. Although I am normally a Mage+survivability person (see my Conjuror), I have come to enjoy the Berserker for her sheer ability to remain standing, health draining slowly, axes flashing in all directions. It’s the other side of “heroic” that I associate with these types of MMOs and I’ll admit to getting quite the adrenaline rush when I’ve just managed to outlive my foes. I have not got far with my Swashbuckler (which I am trying out because of the jaunty hat) and Shadowknight (since everyone else has one, why not me too?), but I look forward to getting more face time with them while my Berserker gains her vitality bonus over the next week.
And if not, there’s always another trial!