Saturday, July 26, 2014

So You're Über Now, Eh?

"No you're not. Yeah you're level 80, but we designed the world to be hella hard in those zones cause you all think you're so über." - No one has actually said that in a blue post, but it's pretty clear that's the thinking. Beginning about level 70, the PVE zones get very difficult, by which I mean, harder to solo. No, it's not in the WoW way, which created group quests that forced you to PUG or beg your guildies. No, it's a combination of design elements in the landscape.

First of all, the zones are occupied by the ultimate bad guys and they're everywhere. To say the zone is densely packed with evil is an understatement. It's hard to avoid fighting as you work your way around...ALL the time. Secondly, the architecture is cleverly broken, interesting, and arrayed in such a way as to create some serious barriers, forcing you to engage rather than skulk about. Yes, skulking is sometimes possible, but often not.  Thirdly, the elites (not champions, just, lol just, elites) roaming about tend to be a PITA, in part because of adds and in part because they have very annoying spells or super hard hits.

The MegaServer Solution

In short, once you hit the last several zones, you fight. A lot. However, to balance the difficulty a tad, ARENANET has done something pretty interesting. It's fairly recent, but it's both good and bad. Or rather has an upside and a downside. As in most MMOs we had our own "home" server, though it was easy enough to party with friends on other servers by going through Lion's Arch city, which originally was so popular it required an "overflow" server. That is, you and your buddy from the other server would go to Lion's Arch and end up tossed onto a separate server referred to as overflow. At some point your home server's access to Lion's Arch would come available and you'd get asked if you wanted to travel back to your server. Anything you did on the overflow server still counted and you could be with friends without them having to transfer to your server. Pretty sweet, albeit limited.

A couple of months ago, ARENANET went whole hog with the megaserver solution. Now each zone within the world is a megaserver. The upside is, you're rarely alone in a zone. As noted above, having buddies, even PUG buddies, as you move through the difficult upper level zones is a real boon. The only downside is for people like me who deliberately chose an RP server, in my case an unofficial RP server, because it has nicer chat (none of that WoW Barrens middle school chat). RP servers have a sense of decorum, and you don't see people named (real player names here): Nips McChesty or Ulga SteelMellons. =sigh=

More Public Zerg'ing

I do love this. You're walking around doing your thing and a call goes out in the general chat: Champ Such'n'such is up at [place name].  People convene at the waypoint and on we go. Sometimes you run across a train, that is, a large roaming zerg group usually with a leader (marked with the commander icon) who follows a preset path through the zone, timed to hit each champ as it comes up. And, yes, it almost always takes a big crowd to burn down a champion. I *did* once two-man a champion with some random guy. I was on my ranger (like a WoW hunter) and he was on a guardian (like a WoW Paladin) and between us we kited, healed, and traded tanking (with my pet) till we burned it down but it took us about 20 minutes. 

Champs usually drop a big chest of goodies when they finally go down, and of course there's the standard kill drops from adds 'n such. It's an extremely efficient way to farm if you join a train.  The bottom picture comes from a train I was following for a while. The top one I actually logged in to based on the server timers. That is, I knew the champ was due to come up soon.

Mid-level zerg

High Level Zerg

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting Into the RP

No, not really. But I am getting invested in the dying and altering of gear. The game devs have set up your account such that any gear style opened/unlocked on any toon is available to any of your toons on that account. Given that I have close to ten guys now, I have a lot of wardrobe choices.

I've just rerolled an engineer as it's been forever since I played my lvl 80 engineer, and I've always found it best to re-learn a toon from the bottom up, especially after build changes have happened. You get a better understanding of the synergy of the actions and specs if you work through them as you level.

Anyhow...I was really going to write about the gear twiddling. Here's my new low level engineer in what I deem to be appropriate gear look for engineers, kinda steam punky. What's especially cool in this snapshot is the guy next to me. He's wearing some of the same gear on his level 80 mesmer. His name is El Mustachio Grandé. How cool is that. And I love his goggles.

One of the things you can do, especially if you're obsessive or a hardcore RP'er, is work the colors to highlight the small details of the gear, e.g., buckles and buttons 'n stuff. So here's Kayleee Frye. Yes, she's named for Firefly's Kaylee, who was the engineer on Firefly. I had to add an extra 'e' cause, of course, the name is already taken.