Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns launch diary: Gaining masteries and lessening the grind

I've had the whole weekend with Heart of Thorns now, and I'm progressing very nicely in both the story and masteries. I've still yet to unlock an elite specialization, but I'm not actively chasing Hero Points at this stage because I'm putting so much effort into event chaining, furthering my personal story, and grinding experience. There's so much to do that I know it'll take me weeks and weeks to feel on top of things again, which is the perfect way to feel when a new expansion has just launched.

Many people have concerns with how Guild Wars 2's first expansion's progression is structured, though, so I'm dedicating this launch diary entry to dissecting the mastery system and discussing if there are ways in which we can contextualise the system and also minimise those complaints.

masteries to unlock shrooms

The problem in a nutshell

Plenty of players have voiced their dissatisfaction with how much experience it takes to unlock each mastery tier since Friday's HoT launch. I'm going to kick off this section by pointing out that I don't find masteries to be a grind in and of themselves: The clue is in the name, folks, and I don't think we need to look much further than the interview I conducted with Lead Designer Crystin Cox at Gamescom to see that these extra skills are intended to take a long time to master. She explained the intent of the mastery system back in August:

We were really inspired by classic games such as Metroid and Zelda and wanted to do something that felt rewarding in that way. When you get an ability in those games it opens up a new world for you, and we wanted to capture that feeling in an MMO. That’s where the mastery system came from. We want our in-game progression to be about earning abilities that actually make a difference to what you’re doing in the game by opening up more of the game for you, especially when it comes to Heart of Thorns and the new area we’re adding. We worked very hard with the content designers to make sure that it felt like the things you’re getting with the mastery system are very contextual and impactful for what you’re doing in that region by opening up new content and abilities that are more meaningful than numbers going up.

After speaking with Crystin, I was most definitely not surprised that each mastery level requires a significant amount of exposure to specific zones in order to unlock because this is exactly what makes each mastery unlock feel so impactful. Before I even had my first mastery unlock completed, I could see exactly what I was missing by not being able to glide, bounce, or converse in native tongues, and it most definitely spurred me on to explore and learn. Where the real issue with these unlocks lies for me is in the way the system is linked to story progression: Certain personal story chapters have mastery prerequisites that I find jarring and immersion-breaking.

flight

ArenaNet listened to our grievances and met us halfway

ArenaNet has partially addressed this complaint by removing the rather harsh requirement of needing a tier four mastery for one of the personal story chapters, which goes a long way to making players feel less annoyed by how much effort it takes to unlock the masteries. Players who passed Chapter 14 within the first two days would have had to sink time into earning Itzel Poison mastery, a tier four mastery that requires all the previous tiers in the Itzel chain to be unlocked.

Adding it all up and presuming you worked solely on the other masteries required for the story up to that point, that would make a minimum spend of eight full XP bars and sixteen mastery points to simply experience the expansion's storyline. By cutting that Itzel Poison requirement, the damage lessens to five full XP bars and six mastery points, which is clearly much easier to achieve than the original prerequisites.

pumpkin shrooms

Training masteries the easy way

Players can make the XP grind for masteries much easier on themselves, both in terms of the time needed and the likely enjoyment derived from the activity, by running the event chains in each new zone. By doing so, you'll find great safety in numbers because many players will be doing the same, and you'll also pick up some nice loot on the way via drops and rewards. There's plenty of flax to be found as you escort NPCs, and crafting materials can be stumbled upon this way too.

You can also lessen or perhaps even bypass the XP seeking in order to get back to the story by using up all the experience boosters you'll inevitably have lying around in your bank vault, or maybe try equipping an ascended amulet with an experience infusion to give you a nice 20% boost. This is fairly affordable too with only a small laurel cost of 30 for the amulet and 10 for the infusion. Don't forget that it's Halloween time too: Flasks of Pumpkin Oil grant both your character and a fallen comrade that you revive an experience boost, among other nice temporary perks.

shroom room two

The logic behind masteries

To be honest, I'm actually enjoying the fact that I know I have plenty of exploration to come over the next long while as I gain a better sense of the new environment and the secrets it holds. I don't know about you, but I don't think I could wander into a hostile and exotic new locale and be totally attuned to its ways in only a short while, so I'm happy that the in-game masteries follow a somewhat realistic sort of logic. Many of those who are currently frustrated over the mastery system are explorers at heart who love being able to see a vast amount of new areas in a short amount of time.

I adore roaming about in Tyria myself, and I know that it feels natural to be able to go anywhere my characters' little feet can take them without much effort, completing each separate area to 100% before moving on. What we need to realise, however, is that in Heart of Thorns we're not going for a simple ramble about on open planes. We are playing highly skilled commander characters who are on an almost impossible mission to eradicate one of the largest threats ever faced in all of Tyria's colourful history. We're entering deep enemy territory that is as alien to us as Mordremoth is, and it makes sense that we won't have a natural, innate mastery over our surroundings in that context.

SHROOMS

Rather than seeing zones as entire blocks to be methodically explored and unlocked, we should rather see a dangerous, hastily carved, and clumsy path through an inhospitable area that we take at first to learn more so we can eventually brave the wilds. Sure, without masteries we cannot go everywhere we wish to, but as we gain more understanding of what lies off the beaten track, a whole new world unlocks for us. That's a very exciting idea, and it makes my mushroom jumping, glider swooping trips all the sweeter. I appreciate that I need to find my feet first before I'm able to run amok among the strange native flora or unfurl my wings and take flight into the jungle canopies.

Relying on the few allies we can find in the Heart of Maguuma is our one route to success against Mordremoth, and those allies need to be won over. It takes time to convince those peoples to trust us: We could very well be another invader, and we see that play out as we roam around the jungle. Masteries represent friendships being made, bonds being created, languages being traded, and secrets being shared, and there's no rushing that kind of interaction. I dislike when NPCs hand characters absolutely anything they desire after only setting eyes on them for the first time, and this is a very elegant solution to that particular RPG problem.

talking about shrooms

Is it really a grind, or is it simply a new form of progression?

Progression can take many forms, yet relatively few MMOs have tinkered with types that don't involve numerical gain or stat manipulation. We aren't as used to thinking about the things our character must learn or overcome to progress as we are about the stats we can boost for success. The approach will take a little getting used to, but when I consider that masteries are account wide, I don't see it as a grind at all, but rather as a way to measure how well my characters understand their new surroundings.

Experience is a clever way to feed into the mastery system because it is an actively gained attribute that allows this particular horizontal progression technique to resemble a numerical system with which players might be better acquainted. We can watch the bar and see our progress without needing to min/max stat blocks or number crunch, safe in the knowledge that our progress will be permanent and tangible in the game world. In short, I don't see the mastery system as a grind, but rather as in-game learning and horizontal progression.

I'll be looking at some new issues that centre on the in-game economy in my next diary entry, so be sure to check back soon to read about fractals, dungeons, and crafting. In the meantime, get caught up on all our Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns launch diaries to date:

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198 comments
Kalamari
Kalamari

and some of the HP in VB don't need any masteries anymore....


it is really annoying. "metroidvania" my ass.

Tina Lauro Pollock
Tina Lauro Pollock moderator

In case you missed it in the replies, I've now made a secondary account so I could join you folks in the MOP guild! Hit me up in-game (Tinabeans.8064) or in a reply with your account name to be added.

Tina Lauro Pollock
Tina Lauro Pollock moderator

@Gnomeland Security @Tina Lauro  I've invited you to the guild but don't see you in there. I see you7 whispering me, but I'm on a free account so unless we're mutual friends, I can't reply. Add me to your friends list if you wanna chat, folks!

DPandaren
DPandaren

I like the new story stuff so far, but trying to capture a guild hall with 4 of your best friends is hard as fuck. Still kind of wish they released more then one type of Elite Spec for the classes.

jsmooth1
jsmooth1

@DPandaren I'll say that the scaling for this event is off.

Our guild first started it with +100 people. We were not able to claim it.

As the night went on, our group size got smaller and smaller.

At around 19 people the mission was pretty easy ( or so I hear, I was asleep at the point =P ).

Oskiee
Oskiee

@DPandaren Yea, that boss is a doozy. My guild luckily downed him in the first try. But we had like 8 people. 

Oskiee
Oskiee

@DPandaren @Oskiee lol. I know what you mean. Like i said, we had 8 people. it was easier. Either way, with amounts of stuff required to build things in the guild hall, your probably better off not claiming it, cause youll be farming your faces off trying to collect all the mats. 

DPandaren
DPandaren

@Oskiee @DPandaren It's not even the boss, having to run across from one edge of the map to the other is incredibly hectic! By the time we get to the other end, we're already down to 1 minute with both adds still up. I mean, my engineer can only go fast with 10 minutes of swiftness!

SoMuchMass
SoMuchMass

Will they maybe actually start selling the unlocks for the masteries in the future with real world cash?  Seems like the path they are headed in.

Tina Lauro Pollock
Tina Lauro Pollock moderator

@SoMuchMass  There is zero indication that that's the case, dude. Like none. At all. I hear you on your grievances, but that one is baseless.

wbunnybee
wbunnybee

So.. what you're saying is that it's only not a grind if people a) use tons of boosters, and b) restrict themselves to open-world pve.


And you're being positive about it. Yeah, dude, come on. There's such a thing as being too positive. This game has changed it's tone from the base game in a rather significant way - not only in solo friendliness, but also in 'play as you like'ness. Dungeons, fractals, pvp, everything has been disincentivized in favor of a very grindy open-world zerg.

Tina Lauro Pollock
Tina Lauro Pollock moderator

@wbunnybee  No, I say that if you really do feel it's a grind, that's a way to help. :) I'm not using anything extra to advance my masteries because I'm enjoying the new kind of progression.

Line with more hugs
Line with more hugs

One interesting thing, is that people don't talk about dungeons anymore.

It was funny when all the people complaining about how shit they are (and damn if it isn't the truth) suddenly became dungeon experts needing them to survive. And there's a lot of overlap between players that don't want to do open world and don't want to do dungeons (but still exploit them to hell because speedruns while ignoring the encounters is clever use of game mechanics...).


Don't worry though, dungeons are back to grind masteries with their endlessly spawning ennemies.

Grinding is bad m'kay, except when I can exploit anything to get it done faster by grinding than normal gameplay.

That's the MMO community in a nutshell, I guess.

mourasaint
mourasaint

The mastery system is sort of in line with one of the things I've been clamoring for MMOs to add, although in my take it's tied to stats instead of abilities (the idea being that if you have, for instance, allocated enough strength points to your character, then you are able to push a massive boulder aside and uncover a secret passage to a treasure cave). 

Radfist
Radfist

I think the reason it is perceived as a grind is because you need those masteries to get enough skill points to get your elite specialisation, and it is pretty annoying to only have a small portion of it unlocked due to how they work.

If the masteries just meant a bit of grind to progress the story / zone completion I think people would have been a lot less annoyed, but currently they are heavy XP investments to try out the new builds as intended.

Not really an easy solution though. I am just lucky that ranger is pretty functional without the full trait line and I can still have fun with a staff.

Craywulf
Craywulf

The biggest problem I see with personal progression systems is the lack of ways to obtain the key in order to progress. For example....You see a kitten stuck in a tree. Your goal is to climb up a ladder to rescue it. So essentially the ladder is the key. In real life you can borrow one, buy one, or be gifted one. But in video games you're only allowed to acquire XP to unlock access to a ladder. You can't just outright buy, borrow, or hope to be gifted a ladder.


If the Masteries are keys, then we need to be able to use them to advance. We need direct ways to obtain them other than grinding for XP. If ArenaNet really wants to stretch their content, then they should make the trees taller and the distance from one objective to another farther (including making it harder). But denying us the keys is absolutely unattractive way of doing personal progression. 


A lot players think that it's "carebear" to hand players the keys, but nobody seems to think you can learn to master the keys by using them. So just because I obtained a ladder without grind, doesn't mean it's going be easy to rescue the kitten. It could be a long crooked and tall tree. ArenaNet has done a marvelous job on their Maguuma maps, there's no reason why they can't figure out how to add or manipulate the hurdles without tedious XP grind.

ColdinT
ColdinT

One thing that really bugs me currently as a non-HOT player, is that earning XP is basically pointless for me right now. Since masteries are exclusive to HoT, there's really not much point to me trying to complete events, or even largely killing monsters (since a lot of them don't drop loot these days).  I wonder if they could have maybe left some of the Core Tyria masteries open to all players without too much trouble.

Flimflamberge
Flimflamberge

@ColdinT I kinda hope they plan to do it eventually. At the very least, I suspect the next expansion won't require Heart of Thorns but will continue the mastery system, allowing you to unlock the central Tyria masteries when you do unlock those for the new area. Of course, that's years away. :\

Wandris
Wandris

If you feel like your grinding your doing something wrong. Take your time explore the zones, do the events, adapt your char and playstyle to the new stuff. HoT's is one of the finest content updates I have ever seen, in any game. The zones are massive, you could easily spend 20-40 hours in the first one and still not see everything. The new specs and Rev class are amazing and open up a great deal of possibilties for new specs. The guild hall/systems are awesome. I havent touched fractals of WvW yet but I am looking forward to it. 


Grinding is a disease, an illness of the mind. If you grind anything you need to get your head checked. Just play the game like it was meant to be played and you will get to the end without having to grind a single thing.

Rhime
Rhime

You know what would be awesome? If I could possibly download the game to try it. I have been working for 4 days to get the freakin' launcher to play nice. I have made it to 30% before "Guild Wars 2 client has stopped working" or "Guild Wars 2 is not responding" or the beloved "send us a report window...FFS, how hard can it be to download a game anyways?

This is a first for me as EVERY other game I have DL'ed and installed was pretty much flawless. I just DL'ed Star Citizen's bigass patch today no problem. I can only access the GW2 forums in a read only access since I haven't paid for the game(yet).

I have tried everything on my end using the 'net for solutions and am ready to give up. I did submit a ticket with no response as yet.

Any help would be appreciated.

Windows 10 home

60Mbps download speed

16gigs of ram

GTX 750

Lot's of space on the drive

*I don't know if it's browser related, but have tried Edge and Firefox both.

Xephyr
Xephyr

@Rhime Never had an issue with it, try renaming gw2setup.exe to gw2.exe and relaunching. You can try running it as admin too.

Also, even if you do crash, your download progress isn't lost, it'll restart from 0% but you'll have a lot less files to download.

Rhime
Rhime

@Xephyr  Thanks! I hadn't noticed the file progression wasn't lost. Still seems like the worst launcher I've ever used.

Tina Lauro Pollock
Tina Lauro Pollock moderator

@Rhime  Have you tried manually checking for Windows updates and all that fun background stuff? Updated graphics drivers just in casey? I had an issue with the GW2 launch just about a month or so ago before I updated to Win 10. My Win 8 was failing to update and that messed with the whole thing. A clean reinstall of GW2 after manually updated my OS and drivers sorted it. It seems like a touchy launcher.

Rhime
Rhime

@Tina Lauro  Thanks Tina, I did get the game downloaded and started playing last night. I guess restarting the launcher 20 times worked although it downloaded on my wife's rig in one go. I do have all drivers and Windows updates current and even Adobe! I think the game is having disconnect issues now as we kept getting booted back to the char screen every so often. Fun game so far in discovering all the skill/game mechanics...

mosselyn
mosselyn

I like the feel of the mastery progression system, and am not unhappy with the rate at which I am progressing so far. I've opened up level 2 of gliding (updrafts), level 1 mushrooms, level 1 itzel, and level 1 elite lore in just one weekend. Admittedly, a weekend where I spent more hours than I should have playing, but still...

The biggest problem with the Mastery system I've seen is that people are pretty confused about how it works. How filling the bar interacts with the points, what gives points vs. what fills the bar, etc. I already wish I had a nickel for every time I've explained this.

I am not 100% sold on the current model for the Elite specs yet, but I'm going to give it time. I'm down with it being horizontal progression and taking time, but not quite sold on the how/how much. 

The current implementation has led most of my companions to a relentless pursuit of the HoT hero challenges, which I think takes away from the fun of immersing yourself in the new zones. Also, if I think about someone coming new to the game and having to do all the challenges in Tyria plus enough in HoT to unlock their spec, it feels like a discouragingly large amount of work. 

They're supposed to be "elite" rewards, so maybe that's OK, but there's a fine line between enough effort to feel rewarding and so much that it doesn't feel worth it. I'm thinking we might be a tad over the line right now. Too soon to really know, though, IMO.

Wandris
Wandris

@mosselyn The new specs/weapons are extremely powerful(the ones I have had a chance to learn), you really don't need to unlock the whole thing to make use of them. Even unlocking a few of the new traits can let you make a more powerful build. So I think it is a good thing that you are able to use the new specs to improve your capabilites and get more powerful as you progress though the expansion.

Xephyr
Xephyr

While I know some people have legit complaints, I can't help but feel like most of it is entitled whining from people who want everything handed to them for free. 

The T4 itzel mastery story requirement was the only gate I had a problem with, and they addressed that. 

Masteries were never supposed to be something you could earn in a single week, this is meant to be your end-game progression system, and these masteries are probably all we're getting until season 3 of the living story starts, which probably won't happen until sometime next year.

Elikal Ialborcales
Elikal Ialborcales

@Xephyr "I know there could be legit critique, but all who critizise are whiners." .... err ok. You know: stop calling critique whining. Just stop it. If you think critique is unjustified, say it is unjustified. Ideally explain why. Or say "I feel different about it because xyz"

I simply dislike it when people call what others say whining. It is derogatory, no matter how you twist it.

Xephyr
Xephyr

@WandaClamshuckr I'm not dismissing criticism, I'm dismissing the people who are being ridiculous. 

Did you know for example there's a thread on the forums encouraging others to leave reviews with a 0 score on metacritic because of the simple fact that they dislike ONE feature of the expansion? 

I'm dismissing people who want to, upon logging in to HoT for the first time, be handed their elite spec on a silver platter, everything unlocked for free and without doing anything whatsoever to earn it. 

I'm not dismissing people saying they want it to be an account-wide unlock, or people saying they want it to require less hero points to unlock, or overall people being CONSTRUCTIVE. The problem is that most simply are not.

raincoat
raincoat

@Xephyr @WandaClamshuckr I agree that there's a lack of proper criticism, but it's not helpful to call people entitled whiners either. As an example, I talked to someone who was complaining about grind. When I asked them which grind they were talking about exactly, it turned out that they meant they found the jungle terrain highly frustrating to navigate and didn't know where to go. They called it grind because they played for an hour without achieving much. Obviously this is not the standard definition of grinding and they were not describing their true issue properly at all. There is a serious problem right now in that people are not giving clear and specific feedback, but it's more helpful to engage and discuss the real issues instead of dismissing people as whiners. I get your frustration though. There is a lot of disagreement and confusion right now.

Xephyr
Xephyr

@raincoat @Xephyr @WandaClamshuckr I agree that it might not have been the best choice of words, it's just frustrating to see people go into full-on rage mode instead of actually describing their problems with the system and explaining what arenanet could change/do better. They've shown over and over again that they DO listen and care about feedback.

Saying ''omg hero points/masteries suck, f*** this game'' won't help whatsoever, and this is 90% of the negative feedback that pops up on reddit/the forums at the moment. It's a bit childish and it gets old pretty fast.

raincoat
raincoat

@Xephyr @raincoat @WandaClamshuckr Yeah, it's been bad. I've today decided to withdraw from the GW2 online community in order to form my own opinions. I'll still be following the news but reddit and the forums are leaving a bad taste in my mouth. It's all too extreme and polarized. The whole everything's crap/perfect approach isn't going to help Anet balance and tune the new content, which is in my opinion what it needs. The framework is there, they just need to make some adjustments. These ridiculous kneejerk reactions are not contributing in any way.

And did people honestly think that, with the introduction of so many new systems, everything was going to be perfect on day one? Many of the other game systems work well because they have years of polish behind them by now. Some people seem to think that GW2 was perfect when it launched but it wasn't - a lot of work went in after launch to change and improve its systems.

In a comment before this launch I stated that the number of maps created the misconception that this expansion is small, when in fact the features and systems being introduced makes it ambitious and risky. Yeah. Introducing progression systems in expansions that are not dependent on level cap and do not devalue the content outside of it is not all that common. The developers are going to have to work this out as they go along. I think they can make it work. I also never fail to be disappointed in the approach gaming communities take to expressing discontent. Hopefully the more useful feedback makes it through.

BhimaJenkins
BhimaJenkins

@Xephyr

Most of the complaints aren't directed at the Mastery system, they are directed at unlocking the new specializations. This character bound progress for the specializations were originally explored when Anet created the New Player Experience. There was such a huge backlash against it, that they changed it, so when you get to 80, you have enough points to get your skills. Looks like Anet didn't learn a damn thing from that debacle.

Xephyr
Xephyr

@WandaClamshuckr @Xephyr I don't use the gw2 forums, I only use reddit. And calling someone a ''fanboy'' for disagreeing with your opinions only makes you seem like a troll. I like the game, I like the expansion, I do have some issues with it, but this is not one of them. Does that like physically hurt you in some way or what? We disagree, deal with it.

Telos_
Telos_

Why can't devs ever figure out that repetition towards a goal isn't fun?

Elikal Ialborcales
Elikal Ialborcales

Ok mind ya, this is just a 2 day early impression. I play MMOs for since MMOs exist, so I think I have fairly extended experience in how Expansions work. I have seen some of the best and some of the worst. My 2 favourite Expansions ever were Echoes of Faydwer from Everquest II and Cataclysm from WOW.

That said... as with every new content ANet added, I feel it is ... elitarian. Difficult to phrase. When I am away from GW2 because I have seen most of the content and then returned with new contant, it was always the same: I had great difficulties to understand and find what is new, and when I found it, it felt like I was allowed to just peek through a key-hole into it.

When I remember cool and memorial expansions, they added a new continent or many new zones, and you were able to at least look into all of them right away. There were dangerous zones and easier pathways, some was not possible to see right away. But here... like everything new Anet added, it is like narrow path into it. When I start the new story I am dropped in a tiny safe area, and from there on virtually EVERYTHING is super deadly if you are alone. (Now let's not get into the "but MMOs are not supposed to be done alone. We are 10 years past THAT debate.) I am all for zones which have dangerous parts and paths, but at least the early parts should have safe roads. Something that allowes SOME sort of venturing and looking around. Now with the paths here being so narrow, you mostly cant evade mobs. You have to work through them. All of them. Lost you way? Got stuck in a corner? Well bad news, fight through all the respawn again. In the real open zones of the pre-Xpac, you could most pass mobs, traverse around and seek the fun where you wanted to have it. Here, with narrow pathways, nono. That made my experience in the first 2 days... strenous. Like work. Like duty.

Second impression, the specialization classes. Since I had max level chars of every class, I could try them out all, at least early quick look, and none of the specializations looked very interesting. Only useful seemed the Druid-healer for my WvW evenings. But soloing in PVE with a healer like that, I dont see that. Chronomancer - I dont understand the 2 second fear bubble nor that wave thing. Asf. asf. Just 2 new still.. yeeha. Just don't see such a big difference, esp. for classes where it is just a new 2nd hand weapon.

I know I gonna get grilled by fanboys, shrug. But so far I am not whelmed.

Radfist
Radfist

@Elikal Ialborcales Not sure what your build is but I didn't find the new zones all that difficult assuming you know how the game works by now.  The only reason some skill points cannot be achieved solo is because of the time limits, not because of the difficulty.  Even so I managed to do a few of them with only 1-2 other random players.

carsont
carsont

I'm curious to know what people's expectations were in terms of progress made (or rewards?) vs time invested. How quickly are people expecting to go through the content? Should you have had all masteries in a weekend - completed the entire storyline? I'm not clear on it, to be honest.


If it's done in a weekend what will you do in the, presumably years, until the next expansion, or story block? Or maybe people only play that bit of content and then leave until the next bit.


I had always thought the story was tied to some requirements, and so didn't think this would be any different. In the Old World, it's tied to level. Since there are no more levels, so to speak, they've tied it to masteries. That seems reasonable and expected to me - am I way off base here?


What did you all expect?

Rustybladez
Rustybladez

I guess it is better than SWTOR.  I hopped on my fresh 60 (yay got to skip Makeb) and soon realized that the intro bits were easy peasy and by the time I got off the Eternal Empire's home world and on to my next spot I was at or near 65 - max level.  Queue gear grinder!  I expected the effort to be a bit more tedious to get to level 65 especially since most story bits are all fighting lvl 63 mobs atm.  As a sorc, trash mobs don't last long.


I have nothing left but to grind purple lvl 65 gear and the rest of the story.

Greaterdivinity
Greaterdivinity

@Boardwalker When you've done Makeb 3-4 times already the rare nod to your class story isn't a compelling reason to sit through what is essentially 99% the same story yet again.

Why do you think they all but removed the pointless side missions while leveling? Because people didn't want to do them over and over, they wanted to focus on the "new" main story for whatever their class is.

Boardwalker
Boardwalker

@Rustybladez You and I play SWTOR...differently. Skipping content? Not for me, since content = fun. Queuing "gear grinder"? If I'm improving my character and having fun with friends, I'm not "grinding". Expecting it to be a "bit more tedious" to get to 65 when at the same time complaining about "grinding" and finishing the rest of the story? Seems a bit contradictory.

alexjwillis
alexjwillis

@Rustybladez "...and the rest of the story"

You DO know how weird that comment is, right? "I have nothing left to do except play the content that was released in the expansion."

Not even sure what to say about that, to be honest.

Caec
Caec

We spent the weekend with the expansion. Perhaps we were very, very unlucky (probably 15 or so hours spent), but our maps were relatively devoid of people, with the majority of time ourselves being the only ones at any given event. This seems in stark contrast to this narrative that there's "tons and tons" of people facerolling through events, so everyone should just be quiet about the grind. On the other hand, I don't particularly care about the grind, but I will say the entire Mastery system is incredibly superficial and somewhat of a farce. It's not like you're really choosing what to progress in here, and it's really not anything different than what would in any other world be just leveling. It's an especially thin disguise of choice going on. 

Anyway. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the vertical nature of the new zones (not that they are a surprise; this isn't me saying Arenanet pulled one over on anyone). I enjoy gliding and jumping, sure, but not when that's seemingly the primary mode of transportation. Optional addendums to normal navigation and travel? Great. 

Only unlocked the Berzerker elite spec (and, to be blunt, as someone who hasn't played the game much since....sheesh, 1...maybe even 2 years ago, it took very little to unlock, so much like all the talk about the hordes of people zerging the new maps, I'm feeling a huge dissonance between what I've seen in this expansion and what's being written about it). It's alright, I guess, but honestly...these new specs shouldn't be "elite", and should be open from the get go/early levels. I would drastically re-do the entire mechanics behind the elite spec/skill line to both accommodate new weapon types for the entire game, while providing new skills throughout the entire game. But, maybe that's just me. I don't particularly like the Berzerker spec (and I think I look absolutely ridiculous holding a torch in my offhand), but that's a whole other argument concerning game design tied around basing skills of weapons and the dissonance that has with the natural urge for a person's aesthetic choices. 

I'm not a huge fan of GW 2, but did enjoy the adventuring/exploring to cap in the base game, so we figured we'd do the expansion as well-for at least the "leveling" and new zone exploring (and, let's be blunt, Masteries are just another form of leveling). Taken as two separate entities, I don't think HoT is anything remotely as well done or expansive as the base game, but that's my opinion. 

Esoteric Coyote
Esoteric Coyote

@Caec I have been watching the skies for comments, opinions, and reviews on HoT.  You aren't alone in your feelings.  Lots of people have issues with the expansion, many have the exact same concerns you have. There also may be a problem with the megaserver that's causing some people to get trapped on empty or low population maps, or it's just the fact the maps are so huge people are too spread out.  You could try to find a taxi group in the LFG social section, which may taxi you to a more favorable map.

raincoat
raincoat

@tobascodagama @Caec I'm beginning to feel that this issue has been a big contributor to negative experiences so far, considering that people need other players around to do a lot of the content. Either they need to fix it real quick or tune down parts of the content.

tobascodagama
tobascodagama

@Caec "Perhaps we were very, very unlucky (probably 15 or so hours spent), but our maps were relatively devoid of people, with the majority of time ourselves being the only ones at any given event."


For what it's worth, ANet has acknowledged this as an issue with the megaserver that they're looking into. Seems like it's sorting people inefficiently and creating a lot of nearly-empty overflow maps.