The Origins of Madness, Part One

This week saw GW2 returning to its bi-weekly updates after a break during the holidays.   This is the first installment of four which will wrap up the ever controversial Scarlet’s story.  Two new world boss fights have been introduced:  the Twisted Marionette and the Great Jungle Wurm.  The former is temporary content and meant to be more casual with the later being a permanent addition and on the same difficulty level of the revamped Tequatl encounter.  There is also a short story instance which does an excellent job of finally introducing Scarlet’s backstory into the game, rather than making players read a separate blog post on GW2’s website (something I had completely missed when it first came out.)  Finally, players will be able to gain access to Scarlet’s secret lair which was recently discovered.

I collected the necessary components to enter Scarlet’s lair fast enough and that shall comprise another entry as there is potentially a whole lot going on there.  There   have been some who instantly fell back on the comfortable Scarlet hate brought on by the marionette fight’s bad aspects, but I have a feeling that those who have done so only had a cursory look at the patch and never made it into her lair.  After going in, I have to say that I feel a lot less hatred towards the character of Scarlet now and can’t help but feel excited and hopeful that ANet just might pull off a good story. *fingers crossed*

I’ve mainly spent my time on the marionette fight considering it’s temporary content.  I figure the Great Jungle Wurm will be there to deal with later, with the special boss killing guild that we have in the EU.  I’ve had mixed reactions regarding the marionette fight.  I feel ANet has learned some things about making a good world event, have created new issues and still haven’t figured out other problems.

The actual premise of the fight isn’t making much sense to me, but I suppose like other people, since it actually is a good fight, we’re looking past the absurdities of it.  A bit of Lornar’s pass saw some changes and the story is that this is a new weapon that’s being tested.  It’s supposed to be a mockery of the Divinity’s Reach Watchknights.  Basically the marionette lowers from.. something.. a portal? new device designed by Scarlet?… in the sky, is suspended by chains, stomps and slashes around some platforms where players are fighting.  Outside of that arena are 5 lanes in which mobs are trying to reach portals to charge up an Aether cannon and players in each lane must prevent that.  So, I have to say I’m not really getting the marionette and what sort of weapon this is testing.  I’m failing to see the purpose of it.  It is interesting that a marionette concept has been around since the original Guild Wars and the concept is actually on one of the tapestries in the Hall of Monuments.  So, I dunno… is this a cool boss idea that’s been floating around the company and they finally have the chance to use it?  Or is it actually something more?  I really hope it gets explained.

I feel all in all that it’s a good and enjoyable fight.  Given that you need 100-125 people at least for it, it’s not that hard to organise, even on an overflow.  I’m not sure I’d agree with ANet that it’s made for a more casually-skilled player as some bits of it are tough.  Regarding things that ANet has learned, I feel they’ve made a massive event yet managed to split up the zerg, twice over.  The zerg must first split into 5 different lanes then each of those lanes gets their turn at severing a chain which splits that group up into 5 more separate groups.  Five chains must be destroyed in order to defeat the marionette, yet a few chain-severing attempts are able to fail before the entire event fails.   In many ways I prefer this over the big blob so many world bosses are.  Also very little loot drops, especially no champion bags, yet it’s still very important to kill said champions.  But the items that do drop go towards opening chests in Scarlet’s lair that yield plenty of rares.  So I think of it as delayed loot.  As a whole, the fight is a good concept.  Players have different roles at different times, each role is important, even each individual is important (yet that can also be a negative as covered below) and players are rewarded with items through the event and some afterwards based on how far the event progresses.

Image courtesy of Dulfy.net

Whilst on one hand, I find it a positive that the zerg is being split up, on the other hand it is causing problems and failures of parts of the event by just a few people.  The achievements also make you rely on others whilst you can do absolutely nothing to help.  That has been one of the biggest frustrations.  There are issues with the players being distributed evenly on the inner platforms, which means setting some up for near certain failures.  Or sometimes it’s unlucky and less skilled or less knowledgeable players get grouped together.  I don’t know what ANet could do about the later given part of the fun of new fights is figuring it from the clues one is given.  I believe they’ve most definitely given enough for this fight.  It always seems a portion of the population is unable to read the event instructions or even the words written under champion’s vitals that a give clues as to how to survive its attacks and beat it.  Honestly, it makes me despair sometimes. :/  In order for a chain to be severed, all five platforms must succeed, yet it is very common for only 4/5 to do so.  Nearly every group I’ve been with has swiftly beaten the champ and had a good minute to spare on the timer.  Then there are others who can’t complete their event at all.   It is impossible for players on different platforms to help the other ones out, so you have to just stand there and watch the other ones fail.   I honestly don’t know why ANet thought that was a good idea.

The worst bits are the same that keep plaguing every large, new fight: waiting time and overflows.  Especially the waiting time.  Over at reddit, there’s a thread titled “Wait Wars 2”.  They’ve scheduled the marionette to start every even GMT hour (6pm, 8pm etc) and the Wurm to spawn on every odd hour so at face value it looks like you could bounce between the fights with 30 minutes in between.  But then we come to the issue of overflows.  Generally you have a better chance of success for these harder more coordinated fights which require a lot of people on main servers (though that’s not always the case.)  You can’t be assured you’ll have enough in an overflow and quite frankly the trust just isn’t there give people are so used to overflow fails due to lack of known and trusted leadership I suppose.  So what happens it you try to get to the map at least an hour beforehand to guarantee a spot.  And then you just have to sit there.  I’m just not very sure raid-like encounters like this should be in the open world.

Lastly, there are issues with loading screens that take too long when you’re loading to the platforms, which screw up achievements, etc, the ever present shitty fps at the large events.. frustrating crap regarding ANet’s optimisation of the game.

Though all in all I’m having a decent time.  What’s been the most fun has been seeing what’s in Scarlet’s lair and reading the speculation that’s going on on reddit and the GW2 forums.  That shall be for part two though. 🙂

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