In which it took 20 hours to understand Paragons

It’s been a while since I wrote something about my Guild Wars adventures, didn’t it?

Since last time, I reached 23 points in my HoM. Not bad for someone whose target was 11 points, huh? Well, thing is, it seems I’m even closer to 26 points and I only need two more things: One title and a Vabbian armor. Those two and BLAM! 26 points, the last weapon I can wield as Guardian (the torch).

How would I get those two things? My plan consisted, basically, in Vanquishing the Norn area for the Slayer title, while gathering some gold in the process to buy the Vabbian armor. But, to be honest, the game lost a lot of charm after I completed the War in Kryta questline and it’s absurd 30 minute non-stop last mission (seriously, it left a sour taste ’cause it’s too damn long!). I could barely log with my Ritualist to keep going.

And that’s were the Paragon comes in. In one of guild runs in Bogroot Growths, someone mentioned that it’s hard to find good Paragons. And, out of curiosity, I rolled one. Over the weekend, when I had no mood to play with the Ritualist, I decided to play a bit with it. The result: The main quest of Elona completed till the Sunspear Hideout, and the Ebon Vanguard and Norn questlines completed in Eye of the North. I just didn’t keep going ’cause I decided to go full Imbagon and the elite I need to capture is far in the Elona questline and, thus, I decided to go for it (not to mention that the place to buy the Vabbian armor is even further).

And damn, it’s been a long time since I had fun playing Guild Wars.

Now, it doesn’t mean that Ritualists aren’t fun (well, that’s a bit true). Rits can get the job done, but their playstyle is more about positioning — or, more precisely, about how to position your spirits. There is no “oh shit!” button and there is no rotation, just “reapplying” spirits. Paragons, on the other hand, have a very thigh rotation due their mechanics. And those mechanics took me 20 hours of play time to figure out.

There are two forms of “energy” for Paragons: Energy itself and Adrenaline. You use energy skills to get more adrenaline and skills that require adrenaline to burn it. So far, it works pretty samey as a warrior (or so I believe). But Paragons have a special attribute called “Leadership” which make Shouts and Chants return Energy based on the number of allies near you. And it took me 20 hours to finally see that going — at which point, I already completed half of the EotN questline and was middle my first Vanquishing.

That’s when the rotation itself appeared to me: Push buttons to get adrenaline, no matter what; cast party wide buffs if there is enough energy; burn adrenaline with shouts and chants to get energy; use energy to push buttons to get adrenaline. Rinse, repeat. As long as you keep an eye on your skill cooldowns, your adrenaline power, your energy, your out-of-cooldown chants/shouts, you’ll be fine.

Sure, Paragons don’t have an “oh shit” button, but at least it’s not as static as “put down all spirit, see them do all the hard work”.

Guild Wars 2, Sidekicks, Skill Challenges

So last week Eric Flannum posted another Guild Wars 2 update. Besides the obvious, there is some stuff that it’s not in the post.

First, something the people on MMOrpg forums found in the Hero panel: If you look closely, you’ll notice that the attributes have green numbers next to them. And, right below the character name, there is a “Effective level 3”. That’s the sidekicking kicking in. Although this is a level 48 ranger, he’s probably near a level 3 event (like, for example, the “farm is under attack”, which we saw a long time ago, when the gameplay videos start appearing). One thing pointed was that the total health didn’t change, but I guess that’s only ’cause they forgot about this bit in the hero panel, as we can’t see the health orb in the shot.

Also, we can see how the points are not even per level. For example, if the player is level 50 and it’s sidekicked to level 5, one could expect that the new attributes would be 10% of the actual attributes. But, in the shot, from level 48 to level 3, attributes would be around 6% of the actual values but they are around 10%. Again, as I am guessing, the points are somewhat distributed inversely of the required experience points to level: You earn more in the lower levels and then it flattens.

The second point Eric brought was the acquisition of the heal, utility and elite skills. What they describe is what before was the trait acquisition system: For every profession, there would be challenges around the map, which you’d need to complete to get new traits. Eric makes a good point saying that this would split the community, as the warrior challenge won’t be the same as the elementalist challenge and, thus, one would simply tag around without getting a proper reward. This way, both warriors and elementalists can tag along and both will be rewarded for doing it.

But not everything is nice and dandy, as some people found some flaws. Kill Ten Rats saw the skill challenges as a return of classic quests. I somewhat agree with them. First, it’s not a classic quest per se, as it will be pretty much tied to the dynamic event system. But I guess you can’t simply stay around, wait for it to reset and do it again for more points: once you complete the challenge, you’ll have to search for a new one to get more points. So, even if the quest is just another event, there will be a way to prevent you to do it again. But that’s the only difference between normal dynamic events and challenge events I can see.

The other point brought came from Reddit is how this will affect those who level through PvP. Sure, there are two different things we must realize here: People who play in PvP and people who level in PvP. For the first group, there is no real problem, as every time you join a PvP match, you get all the traits, weapons and skills; if you plan to keep doing PvP, you’ll still have all skills and traits. Now, if you plan only to level through PvP, then you may have a problem, ’cause you’ll be level 80 without your heal, utility and elite skills. But, at the same time, you’ll probably have enough gold/karma to buy nice gear and weapons and then explore the world to find the skill challenges. And your weapon skills would be maxed already, so you won’t be completely lost.

Overall, the changes aren’t that bad in any shape or form — Actually, I think they are pretty nice. Again, ArenaNet shows how focused in making a social game they are.

Ritualist Skills by Icon

I watched a video on How to Farm Ectoplasm in Guild Wars (ectos being the most expensive material in the game) and it got me wondering what spells this guy was using (without using the code he left in the description, which only works inside the game). But I’m kinda bad switching between two browser tabs (one with the video, other with the skill list) and an editor, so I wrote small descriptions for the icons, switching between video and editor, so later all I had to do wa switch between editor and browser. Those are the descriptions I used:

Signet of Spirits” was the only one I knew the name, ’cause it’s an elite skill and I run after it.
Splurt.
Screaming chick.
Scared guy.
LaForge.
Gandhi on fire (I reckon it doesn’t look anything remotely like Gandhi looking at the 64×64 image, but on the small video on YouTube, it looks a bit like it).
Angry Bruce Campbell.
Debuff: Carrying a heavy weight (I knew it was a debuff due the pink down arrow — only visible in the video).

I want Diablo III, but I don’t want Diablo III

The first videos of Diablo III are now pouring through YouTube and now we can have a somewhat better idea of how the game is going to work:

Now, from someone that played Diablo I and II, Torchlight, is curious about that huge Skill tree on Path of the Exile and checked most of every other ARPG around, Diablo III looks pretty boring. Just looking at the video, it seems like a larger, darker version of Torchlight — but, then again, the ARPG format was explored a lot already, so there isn’t much difference between ARPGs these days.

And then you have the very simplified skill system. Good, bad? Don’t know, but seems… meh. Character personalization seems to fall all around runes, and there are only 4 options to each of those. Poisonmancer, Golemancer, Minion master, Bonemancer… All those are “builds” of Diablo II Necromancer class; all other classes had a lot more builds. So even with 7 classes, the number of builds made it possible to expand your gameplay a lot more. Now… not so much.

So skill system doesn’t provide enough uniqueness, visual is not impressive, gameplay is almost the same… what is left? Story. That’s the only thing that could drive me to Diablo III now: A meteor? What was that? Is there any references to the Wanderer? Is Tyrael doing something after he destroyed the World Stone? Yes, I’m curious about it. On the other hand, that’s the only thing I’m interested right now.

But then we fall back to everybody (and they mums) complain about the game: Always online requirement. Sure, sure, Blizzard can say whatever they want about the “proper experience” and “secure place for the Real Money Auction House” (as if World of Warcraft are hacked by the thousands every day and those are Battle.Net accounts now, so you can imagine the problem when you go in vacation and half way through it you can’t use your credit card anymore ’cause your limit was maxed when someone got your Battle.net account and bought half of the auction house with your credit card attached) but there are lots of problems with it already. Rock Paper Shotgun had a experience with the servers and, although they are still in beta, they shown a small experience what happens when your connection, your router, your modem, your ISP, Blizzard’s connect or their servers go haywire.

Also, by the report above, it seems a hacked version of Diablo III is very very unlikely to happen: They adopted a Guild Wars mode where the server comes with everything and you play in instantiated zones and you can bring your friends with you, sharing the instance. The only way a hacked version would work would be implementing the whole map generation, item generation and AI mobs in a server, so you can scratch any possibility of getting a version that doesn’t require to be online.

I mentioned before my problem with Always Online requirement (the number of things you need to check to be sure you can play is too much and Blizzard gave me a bad taste of their “maintenance time” while living in Australia) and now it seems Diablo is region locked — which probably means I can now only play with other Brazilians and their continuous trolling in online games — makes a complete turn off about the game.

Boring + Stupid Requirements > Good Story. Good thinking Blizzard, you basically killed your game.