Category Archives: Review

Bombastic

The seventh profession of Guild Wars 2 is revealed! The Engineer!

"Thief's sappin' mah turret!"

At first glance, this class looks like it’s straight out of a steampunk dream. With rifles, turrets, bombs and pistols, the Engineer wouldn’t look out of place in Fable or Bioshock.

What I find interesting about the Engineer is the variety of crowd control options they possess. In the official videos, we see the glue shot, a net trap, and various alchemical snares to slow down, stun or immobilise enemies. One of my favourite aspects of MMOs and RPGs is crowd control, especially in PvP and multiplayer. This class seems proficient in snaring targets into vulnerable positions and then dealing out some nasty damage. I think it’ll be my choice for WvWvW and/or structured PvP. It couldn’t have worked out better, really; as I was hoping for an alchemist-like class for my PvP Charr character, and that particular wish has been fulfilled.

Of course, I’d love to know the lore details behind the Engineer. With the advancements in technology, Tyria has developed a new class of adventurer, and I’m interested in which races are responsible for each new innovation. My guess is that the majority has come from Asuran and Charr experimentation, but that remains to be seen.

We also got a look at some new Charr designs – all fiery and menacing. These cats must be part of the Flame Legion.

Badass hell-cats. Oh, yeah!

Can’t wait to try this profession out, too!

– Cornish

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Sneaky Thief Reveal

No! Bad Gametrailers!

I’m not sure how I feel about the circumstances surrounding the new profession reveal for Guild Wars 2. I’m incredibly excited by the new profession, sure, but annoyed at the manner of the information drop. There’s slight irony in that it happens to be a class that relies on stealth and backstabbing, too. I’m talking, of course, about the Gametrailers release of GDC 2011 demo footage of the Thief profession of Guild Wars 2. I’m not really surprised the megasite took no time in breaking the convention embargo, and I’m disappointed that they show ArenaNet such little respect, but there you have it. This just adds to the ill-feeling I have for these huge, corporate gaming websites. It also seems that others aren’t too happy about this info leak, either.

As for the profession itself, I’m excited to see the return of the shadow stepping abilities of the Assassin, and the “Initiative” resource  is reminiscent of the combination chaining abilities of said profession. It’s pleasing to see that stealth isn’t unlimited, as I’ve always seen that type of tactic as gimmicky and out-of-place in non-sci-fi environments.

The class seems pretty frail, though, and appears to take a large amount of damage even from lowly enemies, such as moas and eagles (I shouldn’t really judge this on one sample of demo footage, however). I’m enjoying the possibilities surrounding the thievery ability, and what you can steal from particular enemies. I’m equally amused and terrified by the prospect of the Gakis’ return in Guild Wars 2, as I’m sure there’s only one item that could be stolen from them. Namely, the underwear. “Baaa-!”

 

Honestly, this works better than Blurred Vision.

Dual wielded daggers, among other weapons, are set to make a return with the Thief, which makes this the first profession I’d consider for my Norn character since the Warrior and its gun wielding option – I can’t say no to dual pistols. In addition to that, even though I’m happy with the Norn week information, and the demo footage of GDC, I’m still waiting for the appearance of some friendly buccaneer NPCs in Guild Wars 2. Come on ArenaNet, don’t disappoint!

Right, now I’m off to check out the new Embark Beach update, and then to storm FoW with [MVOP]!

– Cornish


MVOP Night and the Dervish Update

Massively Overpowered!

Last night, MVOP met in the Consulate Docks to begin the run through the Nightfall Campaign. I stayed behind to check out the new Dervish update, but I did join the livestream group for the vanquish of Melandru’s Hope. Discussion covered the Dervish skill update, PAX, and of course there was Guild Wars 2 speculation. You can check out the recorded session here, and tune in to the next MVOP Night over at the Massively channel.

In other news, ArenaNet changed up Guild Wars yesterday with the new update for the Dervish, so I’ll give my initial impressions.

Firstly, the Dervish is now much less of a tank than it used to be. Well, I find it harder to use as a tank, anyway. A few of the skills that I had on my old skill bar changed too much for me to want to use them, and others won’t function as I’d like with the new enchantment remvoval skills. At first I thought this was a bad thing, but after changing up my skill bar, equipment, secondary profession, and attributes, I’ve discovered how versatile the new Dervish can be.

"I now juggle conditions like I juggle geese!" - Kronox Gaia, Feb. 2011.

The Dervish is much more of a support profession than before, with more party heals and condition placement abilities available to them. Energy management is better, with the introduction of adrenaline use on certain scythe skills, and the revamp of mysticism. I’m also glad they increased the attack speed of the scythe to get adrenaline notches quicker. These are all great improvements.

As for skills, I’ve always steered clear of the Avatar skills before, but after the update they seem incredibly useful. These elites can now be used for a multitude of beneficial purposes, be it team support, self defense, inflicting conditions, stealing health or energy. The number of different skill bars that have yet to be created with these changes is exciting, and I’ll share with you a new build that I’ve just started using:

Profession: Dervish/Mesmer.

Attributes: 13 Scythe Mastery, 11 Earth Prayers, 8 Mysticism, 10 Illusion Magic. Also, I’m currently running with 440 health and 30 energy.

Type of build: Condition spamming and Area of Effect damage.

Skills:

1: Avatar of Balthazar – Elite skill. Use for increased physical armour, faster adrenaline build-up, and applying burning when enchantments are stripped.

2: Fragility – AoE damage when enemies gain/lose conditions.

3: a) Crippling Sweep – Use to apply crippled condition.

b) Zealous Sweep – Useful for energy/adrenaline management.

4: Staggering Force – First flash enchantment. Strip off with skill 5/8 for cracked armour condition.

5: Wearying Strike – Strip off flash enchantment, applies deep wound.

6: Reap Impurities – Strip off enemy condition, damages adjacent enemies.

7: Heart of Holy Flame – Second flash enchantment. Strip off with skill 5/8 for burning condition.

8: Signet of Pious Light – Self heal, use to strip off flash enchantment.

As you can see, this build is based around the application and removal of both conditions and flash enchantments. It’s important to maintain the Avatar and have Fragility active on at least one enemy at all times. With each application of a condition, enemies hexed with Fragility (and enemies adjacent to them) take 15 damage, and once again when a condition ends/is removed. Because of the almost constant application and removal of conditions, most enemies will go down pretty quickly. This skill bar also causes more burning than my Elementalist’s!

I’m loving this build, but I’ll likely tweak it if I find any bosses/foes that counter it. I’d also love to try it with an E/Me hero/guildie with Teinai’s Crystals and Hypochondria. >:D

Here’s the build code (that’s minus rune attributes, of course) – OgWkEop6ayej7dC8f1uBYn74V/C

Have fun with it!

-CornishRocker


Doors Close on Shiro and Human Week

To begin, I’ll apologise for not writing an MVOP Night blogpost yesterday. My evening was spent (in other words, wasted) watching the Machinema Minecraft livestream, featuring Notch, the creator of Minecraft. The less spoken about that boring experience, the better.

Getting back to Guild Wars, on Thursday, Massively Overpowered blasted its way through the last couple of missions of the Factions campaign, aswell as adding a little variety at the start of the livestream with a vanquish of Witman’s Folly.  With Shiro bested, MVOP can now move on to Elona and begin the march towards Abaddon, and the ganked ascension of Kormir. You can watch the livestream here next Thursday.

Can we expect parlor games in the Throne Room, perhaps?

ArenaNet finished up Human Week yesterday with an intriguing post on the three human military forces of Kryta: the Seraph, the Ministry Guard and the Shining Blade. This post builds upon what we learnt about the Seraph and Shining Bade in ‘Ghosts of Ascalon’ and ‘Edge of Destiny’, and includes a little passage of prose that may find its way into either a third book or the plot of Guild Wars 2. The post introduces two new characters, Lieutenant Serentine and Minister Caudecus, affiliated with the Ministry Guard. The previously mentioned backlash against the Queen is hinted at in the exchanges between Serentine and Caudecus, and it’ll be interesting to see how this plot will play out in Guild Wars 2.

The post delves into Krytan law, some of which we saw in ‘Ghosts of Asclalon’ during Dougal’s interrogation. It appears the Ministry Guard prefer to deal with upper class crimes, leaving the Seraph to sweep up foreign and lower class disputes. The ministers, and even the Ministry Guard themselves, also seem to be kicking up a little political unrest, as was touched upon by Queen Jennah in ‘Edge of Destiny’. These elements may play a part in the personal story of human characters in Guild Wars 2, and would be interesting to follow, especially if we could pick a side ourselves.

The Shining Blade seem to have risen from their lowly state in Guild Wars 1, and are now the personal protectors of the Queen. It’s strange that they aren’t widely recognised by the public, even after their involvement in the fall of the White Mantle. I suppose they must have faded away from public interest over the decades, and the Seraph have instead flourished in their place. It’ll be great to see the new uniforms in-game, and compare them to the Robin Hood-esque designs of those in the first Guild Wars.

Is Brave Sir Robin a member?

With human week finished, I think I’ll read up on the new Dervish update preview and give my thoughts in a later blogpost. I already like the idea of “flashing” enemies with new enchantments. Dirty Dervishes, eh?

– CornishRocker


The Flaming Asura: Oil the Steel, Polish the Leather

Blogg, the Flaming Asura

The next installment of ArenaNet’s Human Week was released to us this evening, and this time we’ve been treated to several looks at human armour art in Guild Wars 2. Firstly, I shall have to say how much of an improvement this new armor looks in comparison to that in Guild Wars – and are those both Mesmers? (EDIT: Maybe, maybe not. Read this post by Regina Buenaobra)

The paragraph that stands out to me most in the blogpost is that regarding the six armor slots. That’s one more space for armor than in Guild Wars 1. On one hand, I think it’s interesting that ArenaNet is making the torso component separate from the shoulder plates, as it could allow for some interesting combinations – such as a warrior bearing huge iron plates on his shoulders while sporting nothing but a few “strategically placed” leather strips along his midriff. Yet, I’m concerned how this design choice will affect the implementation of storage spaces we’ll have available in Guild Wars 2. With the possibility of having six slots of storage burdened with that second set of armour, it’ll be good to see what system the developers have put in place for storage options. It’s possible that the system of GW1 has been completely overhauled, but we’ll have to be patient. I do like the Xunlai, though. If the Order of Whispers is still around, the Xunlai could be too. Hell, they managed to get into the Realm of Torment in the first game, why not Kryta “in these Dragon haunted times”. Urgh, that expression is grating.

I know which set I'd take into the Shiverpeaks.

Right, to go even further off topic, I’ll address the rather touchy subject of “sexiness” that was broached in the blog. As an Asura, I’m not too familiar with the human approach to matters involving gender representation, but I believe it’s down to perspective. If an individual cannot handle the thought of an avatar showing a little skin, in a video game, I might add, then maybe this isn’t the right environment for them to be playing in. At least ignore that particular content and wear something a little more classy. There are alternatives to choose from. Simply put, if you cannot abide some of the design choices, move on and find something that better suits your taste. Besides, Guild Wars art isn’t that risqué, and you could do a lot worse than the ArenaNet design team.

Bookah, I can tell you’re drawing up your own conclusions about this topic, and probably wondering why I’ve started ranting in the first place. I should remind you that clothing is srs bsns, especially for we Asura. We still have to pay the same price for armour as the Norn?! With a third of the materials?! Scandalous! – speaking of which, the Norn were teased as the next race to have a week long feature.

The Browncoat Guild of GW2? I'm in.

I still haven’t said what  think of the armour shown in the news post. I’m overjoyed with the prospect of different choices in single set and multiple set pieces of armour. The renewed dye system will also be wonderful to toy around with, especially with the more elegant and baroque clothes. I also imagine Cornish is getting excited by that tricorn hat on the buccaneer type in the overcoat.

Yes, yo-ho-ho, and all that.

– Blogg, the Flaming Asura.


The Flaming Asura: The Gossip of Divinity’s Reach

Blogg, the Flaming Asura

Having finished reading ArenaNet’s newest blogpost on the dialogue of Guild Wars 2, I’m even more excited by the prospect of wandering the home instance and streets of Divinity’s Reach. It appears that ArenaNet has aimed for a level of background dialogue somewhat synonymous with that of various sandbox and RPG games we’ve been subject to over the last few years. On a much larger scale, of course. It seems that this dialogue will feature heavily in gameplay, and I hope ArenaNet can pull the implementation off effectively. I’ve seen Cornish play a few games where he’s killed a boss, and in the next town there’s an NPC still moaning that “Bluebeard Bonesmasher” is raiding his brother’s farm again, despite the fact that old “Bluebeard” has been slain. That kind of inconsistency is devastating to immersion.

I like the level of detail going into the lore behind the dialogue, and the throwbacks to the first game (including air elementalists). There appears to be a fraction of humans losing faith in the six Gods, a concept somewhat unfamiliar with the current Guild Wars humans. It would be interesting to see how completely new players to Guild Wars react to the Gods, as the attachment felt towards them from the first game likely wouldn’t exist. I hope there will be a basis for new players to grow attached to, or even care, for the Gods, as they may play an integral part in the personal stories of human characters.

Kormir's there too. She's hanging around out of aggro range, leeching exp and loot drops.

I found the last sound clip interesting, with the soldier recalling how many centaurs he’d killed. This made me think back to the Guild Wars Guru IRC chat with the GW2 developers, in which they mentioned a combat log. I wonder if it’ll have a record of what your character has killed, akin to the soldier’s example in the sound clip. I’m imagining a system similar to the heroic accomplishments screen of the character record in Bioware’s Dragon Age.

Alas, no Jeremy Soule samples, this time. Maybe in a few months we’ll get something.

– Blogg, the Flaming Asura.


The Guardian: the Good Sir Knight!

This hammer is very wise... no, you Can't Touch It.

After five, long months, we have been blessed with a new profession for Guild Wars 2. The Guardian appeared on the Guild Wars 2 website earlier today, fleshed out with details on skills, unique abilities and available weapons. I’ll delve right on in.

With the reveal of the Guardian has come much excitement over how the class can be used. It appears that the profession can both comfortably hold its own, and work well in a group environment. This is equally great news for those looking for a support option, and for those who wish to be able to enter melee with self buffing capabilities. As mentioned in this Gamespot interview with Jon Peters and Izzy Cartwright, “Guardians are, like pretty much all of Guild Wars 2’s professions, balanced to be good when played solo and good to have in a group, but not needed in a group.” That’s reassuring.

The skills available to the Guardian look cool to use, especially in a group. Imagine the possibilities of using wards to back enemies into an Elementalist’s AoE spells, or a Ranger’s barrage attack. The weapon spells feel as if they’ve been greatly improved from those in Guild Wars 1; they’re now used as an active summon, instead of a passive bonus added to a weapon. The protection skills also seem to be a re-imagining of monk skills we have in Guild Wars 1, such as Aegis, adding to the feel that the Guardian has drawn much from old professions.

The virtues available to the Guardian don’t appear dissimilar to the abilities possessed by old professions, either. It appears to me that when Guardians keep virtues to themselves, they’ll be reminiscent of a Dervish, with buffs affecting only the individual. I’m thinking along the lines of a reworked Mystic Regeneration and Heart of Fury. When the Guardian shares the virtues with other party members, they’ll become more of a throwback to the Paragon or a Monk. Sounds like a good Guardian players will need a decent sense of timing to be able to best utilise the group focused abilities.

The weapons available to the Guardian seem like they could be split into a binary opposition of spellcasting and melee. Sceptres, staffs and warhorns, I’d like to imagine, would focus more on supportive spells and buffs, whereas swords, hammers and maces may be used to apply more offensive tactics. There could also be opportunities to create a middle-ground of offense and defense. We’ll have to wait and see what further gameplay footage/articles/staff interviews bring.

It seems like ArenaNet will indeed pull off not having a dedicated healing class in GW2, but I can’t help thinking we’ll see some pockets of players hanging around dungeon entrances “LF Guardians”.

GLF Guardian. Healer only. Favourite colour: blue. Must be good rabbit hunter.

 

-CornishRocker


The Flaming Asura!: The Winners of Wintersday.

Blogg, the Flaming Asura

Greetings, bookah! My name is Blogg, the Flaming Asura, Asuran scribe and keen critic of tomes, tablets and tapestries. Recently, ArenaNet announced the winners and honourable mentions of the 2010 Wintersday Art Contest. Of course, I will discuss my own favourites from those revealed on the Guild Wars website.

 

#3 – Wintersday is a time of year that brings a festive, warm merriment. It is also, however, a time for grinding for Ebon Vanguard reputation points, wintersday gifts and candy cane shards. The activities should be fun, but they can easily lapse into daunting, repetitious tasks. Of course, the grind is entirely optional, yet it can really pile on the old holiday blues. I like to think this painting captures these elements and displays them in a bleak, despairingly frigid setting.

 

Ross G. - USA

 

I imagine that this particular fellow is stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of Miniature Polar Bear farming. Witness the air of weariness; the scythe slung over the shoulder as the wanderer searches fruitlessly for that unquestionably rare minipet.

 

# 2 – Wintersday isn’t all gloom and Dhuum, however. My No.2 spot is reserved for a much more light-hearted, cheerful painting. Wintersday is a time for giving and sharing, and of enjoying the company of others. Even if they are a member of the opposing Snowball Fight team.

 

Meghann B. - USA

It seems bookah Gods can be won over with simple affection. The sweetness of this exchange is delightful to behold. It seems Grenth isn’t as chilly as we had once thought.

 

 

# 1 – Over the years, the number of handmade dolls submitted to the contest has increased. These submissions have become extremely popular, and with good reason. My number one spot goes to Koreena Anchalis – ArenaNet’s 2nd place winner.

 

Koreena Anchalis - USA

 

 

What a wonderful collection of Guild Wars memorabilia! With the skill bar necklace and the summoning stone pendants, one would make easy work of mobs of monsters. Maybe we could record such victories in the Nightfall tome and Flameseeker Prophesies. Afterwards, we could celebrate with Gwen Chan and a fine bottle of Krytan brandy. Finally, what can I say about that magnificent golem? Koreena should certainly apply to the College of Synergetics in Guild Wars 2.

 

– Blogg, the Flaming Asura.


The Flaming Asura!: Edge of Destiny

 

Blogg, the Flaming Asura

Greetings, bookah! My name is Blogg, the Flaming Asura, Asuran scribe and keen critic of tomes, tablets and tapestries. Today, I shall be discussing the new Guild Wars novel ‘Edge of Destiny’. Also, don’t worry about the flames on my head, they aren’t made of primordial fire. Just a little joke the Mad King made last Halloween.

So. What do I think of ‘Edge of Destiny’?

I’ll explain how I feel about the novel, but be prepared for spoilers.

Firstly, I love the characters and the Guild’s development. The humourous exchanges that occur between Logan and Rytlock are amusing, and the genius of Snaff and Zojja does not disappoint. Eir and Caithe flesh out the drive and determination of the Guild, and having Garm appear as a team member, not just a pet gaining all the aggro, is wonderful.

The settings described fit the Guild Wars world well for the advance in the timeline since GW1. The maritime theme of Lion’s Arch contrasts with the old, royal city we used to know. The settlement has become home to more than just humans, making it a multi-racial hub, will be exciting to explore in the sophomore release. I look forward to seeing Norn pirates in the dockyards.

Magnus the Bloody Handed?

 

The descriptions of Glint’s Sanctuary and the Dragonspawn’s lair are also immersive, and the Dragonbrand’s inception is developed from the description in ‘Ghosts of Ascalon’. Rata Sum seems to have grown larger and more impressive since we first visited it in ‘Eye of the North’. That would be down to the fantastic developments of the College of Statics. The fantasy environments stay true to the beautiful and impressive vistas shown in GW1.

I imgine that video game novelists can struggle with the exposition of lore to those unfamiliar with its origins. Here, though, the author has kept the descriptions minimal, but effective. J. Robert King has mentioned Svanir and Jora in passing, without dragging us into a drawn out explanation. In addition, with regards to Glint’s appearance in the novel, we can understand her place in Tyria without having to play Prophesies. A plus for any non-GW1 players.

The battle scenes are written well, with both failures and battlefield innovations abound. This does seem to happen rather repetitively, however, with each problem being solved by a new piece of technology or magical item being drawn out of thin air. One such example would be the ‘hole in the pocket’; it is placed into the novel without any reference to its creation or development beforehand.

The same could almost be said of each new foe the Guild faces. The Dragonspawn is regarded a huge threat, and is spectacularly killed in chapter 20. Within the next four chapters, the guild manage to kill another two champions. The same amount of build up is not expressed at all with Morgus Lethe and the Destroyer of Life. This strikes me as a little rushed and unbalanced. It seems to me that plot devices, such as the dragon champions, were just created to drag out the story until Destiny’s Edge could be disbanded.

RIP

 

Next, came a surprise – with Glint being the next dragon champion. With Glint’s introduction, and the awakening of Kralkatorrik, came the opportunity to expand upon the lore behind the dragons. King gave us a piece of lore we’ve never had before; how the dragons lived in Tyria before the Exodus of the Gods. It was interesting to see further into Glint’s past than just the events of GW1.

Of course, Glint’s death hit hard to Guild Wars players. This character, who had granted us her wisdom and strength in GW1, is now gone, and the potential for an encounter with her in GW2 is gone. Still, I’m almost satisfied with the Guild’s failure to kill Kralkatorrik, as now we have a shot at it ourselves.

As for character relationships, I felt more could have been done to develop the Guild’s bond. King doesn’t seem to have focused on the Guild’s relationship as a whole, and they, in fact, are split into seperate groups within Destiny’s Edge. This is especially clear when Logan’s ‘betrayal’ causes Rytlock to leave the Guild, with no mention of his bond to the others.

As for other characters’ relationships, Caithe’s interactions with Faolain, of the antagonistic Nightmare Court, are almost confusing. To what end does Faolain attempt to poison Caithe? Her presence in the book seems to be just a distraction from the plot, to merely show that a sinister form of the Sylvari exists. They certainly do seem interesting, though.

Definitely a future Mesmer of mine

Regarding the bizarre interactions between queen Jennah and Logan, that too just seems like a weary attempt to set up the conditions for the breakdown of the Guild. The formality of the exchanges is also grating; it is discribed earlier that Logan despises the Seraph and avoids Divinity’s Reach, yet he is completely taken to the queen and her influence. I remember reading on the ArenaNet blog that the team had decided to turn down formal language in GW2, yet the letters in ‘Edge of Destiny’ spill with pretentious courtly langauge. Even though the letters are from, and to, the queen, it seems out-of-place. Especially when Logan acts like a cocky teenager around his brother, Dylan, and Rytlock.

Overall, I enjoyed Edge of Destiny, with its wonderful depictions of Tyria and its inhabitants, the battles with the dragon champions and the protagonists’ stories. Unfortunately, I also feel that the pacing was rushed, and that the story’s advancement was too easily changed by just one line of dialogue, here, or a new piece of technology, there. Snaff himself seemed like a walking, talking plot device unto himself, with his inventions and ideas changing the story drastically, or making every mission – before Kralkatorrik- a breeze. In the end, it is clear that his genius holds the Guild – and plot – together, and the aftermath of his death sets the stage for Guild Wars 2.

– Blogg, the Flaming Asura


PUGing for the Claw of Khan-Ur!

I’ve just finished ‘Ghosts of Ascalon’, and I must say that it was a fascinating read. What a great PUG the GoA team made, eh? No monk or nuker, and four warriors… dear me.

The unlucky buggers didn’t even get one ecto drop in Ascalon City. Arenanet must be decreasing drops rates for Guild Wars 2. 😛

Anyway, in all seriousness, I really enjoyed the book. The plot may have been a little slow around the middle, and at that point I really only cared about one of the characters, but as the plot progressed, the quirks of the protagonists grew on me. I loved the references to Guild Wars 1’s characters, and the lore was fleshed out and expanded upon well with the two hundred year shift in time. The brief touches of humour are also a delight. Especially the references to a particular sport involving bovines, and the suggestion that hero AI is still a nuisance.

As for technological developments, I’m still not sure if I like muskets in a Guild Wars setting, but I suppose the parallels with our own history are present. I know I’m going to eat my words when I roll and dual pistol wielding Norn in GW2, but for now I’m happy with bows, scythes and fireballs.

Regarding class reveals, I realise that there is more information awaiting in ‘Edge of Destiny’ -which is currently sitting on my desk, unread-, but the “potions master” or “alchemist” role was an exciting addition with Kranxx. Can’t go wrong with a skill bar full of rallying potions, if you know what I mean.

I imagine alchemy will be very useful in GW2, but what I don’t understand is why no-one in Tyria carries a Res Sig anymore. Poor –-Spoiler?

– CornishRocker