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Aidan's Guild Wars 2 Blog

A in-depth review of Guild Wars 2 from the perspective of a long time Guild Wars 1 player. In this blog, I look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of a promising new title.

Author: Aeander

Trahearne and the Sylvari (spoilers)

Posted by Aeander Monday October 29 2012 at 2:04PM
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If one were to pick words to sum up the Guild Wars 2 community's opinion of Trahearne, they might go with "horrible," "cliche," "Mary Sue," or "the worst character ever." Simply mentioning his name in any zone will quickly stir up revulsion among most players who have experienced the personal story past level 60. 

 

But do these insults hold up? In this blog, I seek to answer this question by pointing out the good, the bad, and the misunderstood aspects of Trahearne's character.

 

 

He is a walking cliche.

 

Yes, he pretty much is. Despite the unique flavor of the Sylvari race, the entirety of their role can be viewed as one big Deus Ex Machina that comes out in Tyria's time of dire need with an immunity to the dragons' corruptions and heroes with birth rights to defeat them.

 

Trahearne is especially bad because the entire story seems hand-crafted to fit him. He is the very first of the Firstborn. The original Sylvari with a divine right to save the day and undo Zhaitan's work. He is given a magic sword that is the bane of his foe's existence. He is respected by all groups and feared by an enemy who seemed fearless. Even your own player character immediately respects him and willingly becomes his lackey.

 

So yes, he IS cliche. And he is a Mary Sue at face value. But there is more to him than this.

 

He comes out of nowhere and steals your personal story

 

Well...... yes and no. This is an issue of PISS-POOR PRESENTATION.

 

The truth of the matter is that Trahearne is very important to the story of Guild Wars 2 because he represents something your character does not. A neutral, informed character who has a history of fighting the Dragons in his own, unique way that is crucial to Tyria's success. He possesses knowledge that all of Tyria needs. And he was not given this knowledge - he earned it through 20 years of dangerous and extensive research.

 

Your character possesses none of this. You did not immediately set out to kill a dragon (unless you chose Sylvari).  You merely lived your life as you could and rose to the challenge, becoming a hero through your choices. And while you were initially neutral, you lost this when you joined an order out of necessity. Because of this, you became unfit to lead the pact. 

 

The big problem with Trahearne's role in your story is that it LOOKS like he comes out of nowhere. It is easily the worst implementation of a main character I have ever seen in any game I have ever played. He was not mentioned in any Guild Wars 2 novel. He was not alluded to at any early point in the Guild Wars 2 story. If you were not a Sylvari, you didn't even meet him until about level 50. If you were not a Sylvari, you did not get to witness his vision of the future at the Pale Tree. In other words, if you were not a Sylvari, he most definitely DID seem to come out of nowhere. And even if you were a Sylvari, you had probably forgotten about him until his reappearance because he made such a small impression.

 

Why do all of the Orders respect him?

 

Believe it or not, he deserves their respect. Each Order has a logical reason for wanting to recruit him:

 

The Vigil

 

Here we have an organization dedicated solely to combatting the Dragons and their minions. Trahearne has more knowledge of Zhatain, the Undead, and Orr than anyone in Tyria. It is natural that the Vigil would seek to recruit him, learn new ways of killing the undead more efficiently from him, and train him to be a tactician in their army.

 

The Durmand Priory

 

The Priory are knowledge seekers in all aspects and Trahearne could be viewed as the Scholar-who-got-away in regards to their organization. He has spent his life doing the most dangerous and important research of anyone. In other words, he would have been an excellent leader in the Priory.

 

Much like the Vigil, the Priory wanted his knowledge.

 

The Order of Whispers

 

It is rather subtle, but the very nature of Trahearne's job in Orr implies a gift for stealth and a desire to observe secrets and learn information. This is the very nature of a Whisper's Agent. Trahearne could not have surived on Orr without these traits. As such, it is natural that the Order would admire him and seek to recruit him.

 

Why are the Sylvari even here?

 

The Pale Tree seems to be a sort of living McGuffin. I figure that she is either:

 

A) A part of Ancient Tyria that is as old as the Dragons and naturally opposes them.

 

This is evidenced by the fact that she was but one seed found in a mysterious cave with little to no knowledge of its existence. It may have been forgotten by history. It would also explain her immediate need to give her very first child a divine mission to undo the corruption of Orr. This is also supported by the immunity of Sylvari towards corruption by the dragons and their natural base nature of good vs. evil.

 

This means that the Pale Tree could be a piece of Tyria itself. A force sent by the world itself to resist its demise.

 

B) A relatively new entity that did not exist in Tyria's older days and was created by magic of some sort. Perhaps, she was created by one of the races that previously fought the Elder Dragons.

 

All evidence that supports the initial claim would support this as well. If the Pale Tree and her sibling seeds were created to combat the dragons.

 

Being a new life form would provide the simple explanation (which is guessed at by ingame NPC's) of "They can't corrupt us because they don't know how we work yet."

 

Either way, we have established that the Sylvari are heavily ingrained into the plot of Guild Wars 2, moreso than any other race, even though they are a new face on Tyria. It is only natural that a Sylvari would be the hero of the storyline.

 

His dialogue is too wordy.

 

Yes, but he's a scholar. He has spent the majority of 20 years being far removed from all other life on Tyria and thus should be expected to have very low communications skills. He is not good at speaking in a natural way, and this shows.

 

He is way too self absorbed

 

I can't really refute this... because I kind of agree. He is the most important man in Tyria and he knows it.

 

His Voice Acting / Appearance is terrible.

 

No..... arguments..... here..... They need serious work and revision for Trahearne to ever be a respectable character.

 

He needs character model improvements and a voice actor who shows some personality, rather than draining the life out of a scene the moment he appears.

Rangers - More well-designed than you may think

Posted by Aeander Sunday October 28 2012 at 4:13PM
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Preface

 

I have logged almost 500 hours into Guild Wars 2 thus far and have played every profession to an extent - with most of my time on the Mesmer, Elementalist, and Ranger. 

 

The Ranger is a class that gets a lot of flack on the Guild Wars 2 forums, almost to the degree that ranger players believe that their profession is the weak, unplayable, poorly-designed red-headed step-child of Tyria. 

 

I'm not going to say that we do not need some tweaks on our spirits, a couple signets, and a couple shouts, but overall, I would say that the Ranger is the most well-designed and well-balanced class in the game. 

 

Your Pet Is Everything

 

What a lot of Ranger players don't understand is that without proper pet selection, "micro-management", and swapping, they are GIMPING themselves. A Ranger's pet is roughly half of his damage, depending on the build. More importantly, however, is the fact that Ranger pets provide valuable utility in both their passive skills and their F2 skills that a Ranger player needs to take advantage of to master the profession.

 

"But I can't control my pet!" BULLSHIT. With proper use of active/passive controls, calling your pet's target, calling your pet back to you, and swapping your pets out, you significantly increase the life-span of your pet, especially if use your healing skills to support it.

 

One of the most important things a Ranger player can do is coordinate his pet choice with his build and learn how the pet's naturally act. I, for example, use two Canine pets and swap between them, taking advantage of the fact that they often open up with their knockdown leap immediately upon being summoned. 

 

Everything is Designed Around Your Pet

 

Contrary to popular belief, MOST of the Ranger's design is not incoherent or random. It's weapons are not bad and the class is not thrown together.

 

Your weapons are weak because they are only half of you. Furthermore, they are clearly designed to support your partner.

 

Longbow:

It is held together by Hunter's Shot. While Vulnerability is normally one of the weaker conditions, it synergizes beautifully with the direct damage role of the weapon and your pet. Also, the swiftness makes your pet more difficult to kite.

 

Sword:

Designed expressly to make foes incapable of kiting you and your pet while buffing your pet and evading damage. It does have some oversights and flaws on its abilities, however.

 

Greatsword:

Designed for bursting with your pet while providing defensive utility.

 

Warhorn:

Designed explicitly for AoE boon support - IE: Your pet.

 

Torch: 

Designed for synergy with your traps and for pets that have combo finishers.

 

Dagger:

Anti-kite, just like the sword. Evades help keep you alive while your pet does your job for you.

 

Main-hand Axe:

Slow down foes for your pet to damage while you attack from afar. Basic skill set, really.

 

Off-hand Axe:

Designed for BEASTMASTERS. Swap for quickness and use crowd control pets to unleash PAIN with the 5th skill.

 

Shortbow:

Designed to synergize with ranged pets, primarily. Try using Crippling Shot with a Lashtail Devourer's F2 Skill. You will be pleased.

 

Beast Mastery is a Good Trait Line

 

Yes, the majors mostly suck. Never speck 30 points into the line, because the Grandmaster Majors REALLLLY suck.

 

THE MINOR TRAITS ARE SOME OF THE BEST TRAITS IN YOUR ARSENAL. I can't emphasize that enough. 

 

I speck 25 points into Beastmastery to take advantage of the powerful minor traits:

 

When I swap pets, my swap cooldown is 16 (living) and 48 (dead). That is considerably better than the agonizing 20/60 second pet swaps when untraited. With this reduced cooldown, I can easily keep my pets alive and take advantage of their pet skills.

 

When I swap pets, I gain 2 seconds of quickness each time. Can you name another profession that gets a burst of Quickness - the most overpowered mechanic in the game - every 16 seconds? This is quickness that has no downside. No reduced healing. No endurance drain. No increased damage taken. Use this to greatly increase the damage you put out and unleash devastating comboes (such as those involving Whirling Defense).

 

10% of my healing power becomes Power. This allows my damage to be relevant in a support build by using Cleric's equipment.

 

 

Your Pet's Do Have AI Tendencies

 

Learn them. 

 

With my dogs, for example, I quickly learned that they often use their leap (if off cooldown) immediately after I swap them in. This means that I can swap my pet to gain the quickness and trigger the knockdown to follow up with a Whirling Defense for a powerful combo - much like the Warrior's Hundred Blades combo or the Mesmer's Blurred Frenzy combo.

 

That's beautiful synergy between the pet and their master.

 

You Have the Best Attribute Combinations in the Game

 

Power / Condition Duration (Used by every profession)

Precision / Prowess (Natural combinatin. Much more effective than Precision / Malice).

Toughness / Malice (Durability naturally synergizes with a condition damage build).

Vitality / Boon Duration (Probably the odd one out. No particular synergy, but the line itself works).

Healing Power / Pet Bonuses (With this, you buff your pet in 4 areas while increasing your survivability + support capabilities, making this the most beneficial point allocation attribute-wise IN THE GAME).

 

The only other class that can approach you attribute-wise is the Elementalist, which is unfortunately shafted by poor trait synergy and a need to speck highly into a line that gives no character stats (other than boon duration). This on a class that needs to play catch-up because of their low bases.

 

We have some of the BEST trait compression in the game

 

We have a lot of traits that offer a lot of things in one neat package:

 

Off-hand Mastery (Wilderness Survival)

Buffs all off-hand cooldowns and increases their cast ranges. No other profession can claim a trait compression of this level.

 

Martial Mastery (Wilderness Survival)

Reduces Sword, Greatsword, and Spear cooldowns by 20%.

 

Range and damage on longbow are buffed by the same trait. Engineers, on the other hand, have to take two traits to receive this benefit on their rifles.

 

Trap traits are highly compressed: 50% larger + ground targeted for one and Cooldown Reduction and condition duration for the other.

 

Etc.

 

Does that Mean We Don't Have Issues?

 

Of course not!

 

Every class currently has issues. What are ours? Our spirits suck, some of our signets suck, some of our shouts suck, a minority of our major traits suck, and our sword has a gamebreaking bug that causes you to be rooted in place while attacking with it.

 

Trait compression on the spirits could also use hefty improvements - especially considering almost all of those buffs should be baseline.

 

If those are fixed, the profession will be remarkably solid. 

 

 

It is already a decent profession, even if the holy qua.... quad..... SOMETHING of Warrior / Mesmer / Guardian / Thief is still superior to it. 

 

 

Guild Wars 2 - The Beautiful, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Posted by Aeander Monday October 1 2012 at 10:24AM
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Preface

 

I am a long time Guild Wars 1 player with roughly 3k hours logged in that game. Thus far, my Guild Wars 2 account has logged just over 339 hours (let's be generous and say about... 20 of those were afk, for the sake of fairness), with a roughly 200 hour old main.

This means that I have a large amount of insight as to what the game is, what it offers, and what needs improving.

 

This first blog post is a general one that focuses on a large-scale overview of how I currently feel about the game. Future posts will go into greater detail.

 

If you came here expecting me to spout the good news of Guild Wars 2 and hand out Arenanet bibles, then you will be sorely disappointed. The same can be said if you expected me to condemn the game as a flop and a failure - which it is most certainly not.

 

The reality is that it is a promising, misunderstood game with an incredible core experience that is more than a little rough around the edges.

 

The Beautiful

 

No subscription fee. Reasonable cash shop.

 

Bang for your buck. As of now, I have logged over 300 hours into the game and have barely scratched the surface. Dungeons still have a lot to offer me. I've barely scratched WvW, and I'm only rank 9 in sPvP, which still feels fresh. I bought the Collector's Edition, so that's about 2 hours for every dollar I've spent. If that were a standard edition, the ratio would be 5:1. Incredible.

 

The world. My God. The world. Tyria is gorgeous and interesting to an extent that I can very rarely say for fictional realms. 

 

The painterly art style. No other online game can come close to the art style of Guild Wars 2.

 

The soundtrack is top-notch.

 

The world feels ... not necessarily alive but.... lively, at least. With the exception of Orr, for perhaps obvious reasons.

 

The core combat system is far superior to every other game in this genre (with the sole exception of Tera Online - which offers great combat... and nothing else). 

 

Player vs. Player is based on skill, not gear or levels. This is incredibly important and means that the game may eventually evolve into a thriving e-sport.

 

The game is immediately enticing. Content is fun from the start and stays that way for a long time. 

 

No inherent barriers to entry. Every class is useful (or will be when balance reaches a point of relative stability) and all PvE content can be successfully run with any class combination.  Levelling is fast and gear is not terribly difficult to obtain.

 

The Good

 

Plentiful, varied content.

 

Good character creation.

 

Good graphics.

 

Nice spell effects (unfortunately a bad thing as well).

 

Challenging to a degree one wouldn't normally expect from an MMO.

 

Great humor and ambient dialogue.

 

Varied armor designs to cover a wide palette of tastes.

 

Superb dye system that provides loads of character customization.

 

Grind is reasonably low, so long as you aren't striving for a Legendary or karma gear. Consider these things optional goals that you put on the back-burner while you do other things.

 

Game mechanics encourage exploration and map completion.

 

Tons of hidden puzzles, activities, and other things to discover.

 

Dynamic Event system and other core PvE content provides a great method of presenting traditional content.

 

The Bad

 

Spell particles can be excessive, leading to confusing fights on any sort of larger scale.

 

Dungeon mobs are bullet sponges. They just don't die. Seriously, dungeons would be considerably more fun if they chopped down mob health by at least 20%.

 

Gameplay often doesn't bring out the merits of the combat system. While you COULD do amazing combos, kite constantly, use your godlike dodge reflexes, and coordinate with others around you, you rarely have to. This varies by class, of course. An Elementalist has to work way harder than a Warrior to achieve the same results. Which brings me to my next point...

 

Class balance. The game is new. What did you expect? Why would I ever take the time to master the slightly underpowered Elementalist and Necromancer when I could faceroll as a Guardian for often better results?

 

The weapon system is a good idea on paper and in practice. The problem? It is a threat to the game's longevity. The solution is to add more weapons and to unlock previously unusable weapons for all classes. If half of your bar is a pre-made template, there better be plenty of those templates to choose from.

 

The story is weak. Dialogue is often lacking, voice acting is lackluster, and characters are forgettable at best and despised at worst. The only lovable characters take a dirt nap before you even get to know them. Oh, did you come in here expecting no spoilers? Too bad. Your personal story dies at Claw Island. Enjoy.

 

The Ugly

 

Trahearne. The very mention of his name will usually bring up instant revulsion in any map chat. Trahearne makes the "Personal" in your Personal Story a lie the moment he appears. He immediately hijacks your story as your character proudly makes himself Trahearne's lackey. Trahearne has a terrible voice actor, bad dialogue, a self-absorbed personality, and a list of Mary Sue traits that would bring shame to Micaiah from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.

 

Orr. Orr is the worst end-game zone that I have ever seen. It has more bugs than undead - and it is nothing BUT undead. These undead are not fun to fight. They are difficult to kite. They attack in huge numbers because there are simply too many of them on the map. They respawn too quickly. All of them have anti-run mechanics (slows, pulls, stuns, etc.) so you are FORCED to fight them. 

Orr simply has no life, no interest, and no reason to stay there other than that the only alternative is to accept weak loot and little challenge in low level areas or to go to Frostgorge Sound, a single level 70-80 area.

 

Underwater combat is a disease. It is currently clunky, typically boring, and full of frustration. It is bugged beyond reason - the worst bug being the one that causes AI allies and enemies to go through walls and stay there until you get lucky enough for them to come out. This is a terrible experience that creates something that should never have existed - underwater wall ninjas. Yes. Underwater.... wall.... ninjas. Take that in for a moment.

 

WvWvW queue times.

 

Large number of bugs that will hopefully be ironed out asap.

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