Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire launch diary: Initial impressions

My initial impressions on Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire launch are rather late to the table, owing to some fairly significant connection issues since launch that ran up until yesterday, but I’m delighted to share my first thoughts on the second Guild Wars 2 expansion with you at long last. I really count yesterday as my first day of play since the instance creation issues prevented me from progressing my Path of Fire story chain until then, so although I’ve had all weekend, this first launch diary entry will simply detail the things that I noted within the first day of play.

Don’t worry about story spoilers being contained below: I’m not ready to share story details with you yet and wouldn’t even if I could! Expansions are a long time in the making and fans deserve to enjoy all that entails first-hand without it being spoiled. Anything at all problematic will be marked with spoiler tags just in case. Enjoy my list of the good, the bad, and the janky, and check out my screenshot gallery at the end of the article too (though skip this if you don’t want location spoilers).

The good

Despite a very rocky start, I happily have a whole pile of good stuff to report back to you, which is an absolute testament to the hard work that clearly went into Path of Fire. I hope that, when taken in balance with the bad and janky, this list will help you gauge whether or not the expansion is for you.

A story like no other

One of the most immediately striking things is the appreciable quality hike in the story, and considering it’s one of those features I’ve always raved about, you can tell how exciting that is for me. Imagine the Heart of Thorns and Living World season 3 immersion paired with the sense of awe and wicked dialogue of season 1 and you’re getting about halfway to how great the new story content is. Character interactions are intensified, NPCs seem truly affected by the events happening around them, and the player character thinks through problems in the most natural way yet.

Map diversity

One of the main concerns fans had when it was announced that the expansion would take us back to Elona was that the maps, although vast, would feel samey, barren, and bland. People were imagining neverending beige with little settlements to break up the tedium, but that is so far from what was actually delivered and I’m delighted with the new map designs. This expansion is home to, quite frankly, some of the most stunning in-game art I’ve ever seen in an MMO: Every slight turn of the camera sets up a new screenshot-worth still that has a million and one things to see and a level of artistry that makes the player feel like a curator at every print-screen click.

World realism

We know that PoF sees the player character track the war god Balthazar through the Crystal Desert, but what you might not have expected is how thriving the Elonian community is and how affected it will be by our showdown with a god. If a ball of fire smacks down and burns out a building, you can be sure to find running villagers frantically trying to escape the battle scene and weeping widows cowering behind what’s left of their home while they wait for a hero to step in and make things right. It’s all too easy to make a fight feel epic with flashy dramatics and a good handful of destructibles thrown in, but I deeply appreciate that in PoF, everyday people convey just as much to the player as the main characters do.

One point that I need to make before I move on from realism is that the city of Amnoon is one of the most impressive densely populated spaces created for the game. The city complements its surroundings perfectly and is obviously stunning, but it is so much more than just a pretty facade on a set of convenient vendors. Every building is logically thought out and the entire cityscape blends seamlessly into the desert and feels as though it truly belongs there. The city forms a fabulous interface between the water and sand, swirling together themes from both environments to make the transition seamless. People get on with their lives all around us while we quest and trade and not one of their stories feels half-hearted or insignificant. The activities of the city push you beyond its walls and tell a story of a people who know the desert even better than the city’s confines. It really is design perfection.

The sky!

You’ll laugh at me, perhaps, but if you haven’t done so already, point your screen up a little higher than usual and just walk around the new zones. The skyline is an absolute masterpiece, and the subtleties of its changes and how the lighting effects blend in with a stunning backdrop create something to be marvelled at. MOP’s screenshot-obsessed Justin has been innundated with skyline screenshots since Friday, and I can totally understand why: I must have taken hundreds of shots myself!

A great surprise

Click to reveal spoiler about mounts!
This section has been placed in spoiler tags, but anyone who hangs around in Lion’s Arch will have already seen this beautiful sight around the city. ArenaNet has surprised fans with a fifth mount, which significantly changes the scope of the mount lineup for the better and adds some beautiful travelling possibilities to the game. I won’t tell you what the new mount is in case you haven’t seen it, especially since Bree didn’t know about it when I mentioned it last night, so that you get to enjoy the surprise firsthand.

The bad

This is a welcomingly short section: Aside from the jank I may or may not have already mentioned several times (bitter, me? no!), I really don’t have that many complaints. Even a little bit of progress railroading didn’t make my list: Although it’s usually a no-no for me, the way any progression capping was done in PoF made sense in terms of story and the main bottleneck had a nice visual representation to it that I appreciated.

Motion sickness managed, then it wasn’t

I was so delighted on Friday when I logged in and managed to snag my raptor mount and soon discovered that the motion sickness I felt during the playtest weekend was significantly improved this time around. I developed a mild headache, but nothing of note, which was far and away from the full-blown motion sickness I felt on my first raptor experience. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I picked up my second mount, the Springer, and within minutes I started to feel dizzy and nauseous once again. There is something about the bounding steps and vertical leaps that turns by poor belly to jelly, and it most definitely is problematic for me at least.

I’ve tried changing my settings and everything that was suggested, but it still makes me feel awful, especially in areas where the map design expects you to chop and change from mount to mount and your character is bobbing up and down endlessly. Taking turns on the Springer is hellish, as is coming to a stop, and I limit my use of the mount as a result. I don’t know if this is fixable, but much more research into this is needed in my opinion.

The janky

Connection issues

I had a perfectly clean launch experience with Heart of Thorns and was expecting the same for Path of Fire: I was almost entirely positive that we wouldn’t see the sort of widescale launch issues we did end up with. My personal experience was absolutely dreadful: I experienced random crashing, persistent login issues, and sustained problems when trying to create instances. I was effectively locked out of story progression for the weekend and chose instead to see as much of the map as I could with access to only a raptor and I spent time gathering up mastery points when I could play. When I could create instances, I dropped out so often that my progress was cancelled out anyway, so it simply wasn’t worth it until conditions stabilised.

To say this impacted on my enjoyment of the expansion is an understatement, but ArenaNet’s response has been fairly swift and I’ve seen plenty of patching activity occur since launch. I played for hours yesterday solidly with no drops, so I’m confident that the round-the-clock effort to repair the bugs has paid off.

Floating raptors

This is a totally silly point that just needs a casual mention because it made me giggle during the weekend’s playtesting and I thought I should point it out since it made it into the launch. It seems as though the raptor’s anchor point to the terrain is directly below the model’s true centre point, but the model has such a long tail that its feet aren’t actually in the middle of the model and are in fact further forward. This means that if you skid gently off a cliff in just the right manner, you’ll see a floating raptor hovering magically in mid-air! Totally not game-breaking and isn’t a major issue at all, but funny to see nonetheless. It does happen to a lesser degree with character models as well, but with the scale of mounts, it’s just so much more noticeable.

TL;DR

When I could actually get playing, I’ve been blown away with the quality of this expansion and its no-nonsense delivery of exactly what was promised and even a little surprise here and there too. I’ve seen a minority of players comment that they don’t feel the addition of mounts and a new set of elite specializations is enough for an expansion, and to them I would say play the expansion and witness the work that has gone into the zones and story before you write it off on its box-text features. Mounts are not the traditional MMO convenience, might I add, and are an expansion-worthy piece of development work if anything is. Take a leap of faith and you won’t be sorry.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

92 Comments on "Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire launch diary: Initial impressions"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Goettel
Reader
Goettel

A stunning expansion with a shaky start. HoT was (and is) pure MMO joy, and so is PoF, in an entirely different way. 2016 was Legion’s year. 2017 is PoF’s. Just my 2c. Great days.

Reader
Bob Dobalina

So far this expansion is excellent. Getting the same vibes I did when I first played GW2 (and that HoT didn’t give). Love the mount system and how it makes the maps into mini puzzles on what ability to use and how to get around. The story is far improved from the HoT Living Story Season 3 too. Only have map completed 2 maps so far and about 20% into the Elon Riverlands. Haven’t played with Scourge as yet since I still love Reaper but will be fully unlocking that soon.

Reader
Mikey's Bored

Honestly I’m LOVING it. I was not a fan of the last expansion in most ways, but I find this one to be exactly what I was hoping for and more. It’s also really great for GW1 fans.

Line
Reader
Line

-For the good parts, yes, it’s exactly what people looking for exploration were clamoring for.
Huge beautiful maps with massive variety (and plenty of verticality actually, but it’s also pretty straightforward) tons of things to collect, and it follows the good aspect collections of HoT; different things to find in hidden places instead of just token grinds (barely any of that except buying some armor recipes, also welcome). Tons of secrets too, including the not so secret optional mount.

Mounts are great, and masteries are a ton of fun on top of being easy to train, it’s not even close . A mount mastery is 2.3M XP to completion, two thirds of that being for the last optional bonus (like more skill damage). That was 13.4M for a single one in HoT. Quite a difference.
Love how good it feels in the old world, but it does make things very simple.

The story is quite good and fun, but a bit rushed concerning Aurene and her “friend”.
Better to stumble a bit early on and to get good later, though. I do like the tone of the story, everything’s fucked, the characters know it, it’s clearly not a matter of saving the world and living happily ever after this time, mitigating damage is all there is to do. Great choice to move away from bad dragons to destroy, really.

-Now for the bad parts… there’s no new instanced group content and it sucks.
I would have loved some fractals and the like (the next raid is coming soon, but eeeh), especially looking at the small open world dungeon in the Desert Highlands. It’s super fun, and it has super cool collections to complete, I would love to see more of that so much.
The bounties are alright I guess, being player started encounters is sweet, but it’s nothing major. Would be great to have more daily systems in the entire world using them though…

I don’t like most new specs.
They are much more flavourful than the ones in HoT, with more background lore and more meaningful gameplay variations, but they also feel not so solo-friendly. Most are dedicated to roles that are terrible alone, and don’t work everywhere in group either (like Deadeye in PvE)… definitely don’t feel very fun in the open world.

The balance is a bit crappy.
Like in beta, most of the exansion is way undertuned (the Forged are just a joke outside of mages), with some massive spikes when you fight harpies or awakened canids. Not very cool to have it easy and randomly die because a strong mob joins in this time.
The story I didn’t find very hard, but it also suffers from it, more HP wise this time. Most mobs and bosses are pretty squishy but toward the end it gets a bit ridiculous with multiple phases.

-Overall, it’s a lot of fun for the average casual player, especially for $30.
But I would like more things for groups and guilds, and for them to expand the non-combat activities too. The minigames are fun but mostly one-time-only, and there’s not much of a reason to replay races&such. I would love to make my own to play with guildies.

Still, worth it, and now I wonder what we’ll get in season 4. Maps will probably be bigger, and what about new masteries?
Despite being low in new features, it sure feels like a much more different experience than HoT was from the base game. Interesting changes.

Reader
Nathan Aldana

theres also a few bosses that just spike the difficulty insanely for certain classes.

Like a certain one you fight that if not interrupoted immediately can glom tons of HP off you, or another ratly on who seems straightforward enough until 30+ reinforcements dogpile you.

That said, the fact I can solo even as deadeye if I’m careful and theres lots of explorable areas is nice

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Man…y’all are making me want to pick PoF up now with these comments on how good it is (especially compared to HoT). Damnit, this was supposed to be the time when I could catch up on some games before Destiny 2, not pick up another expansion! We’ll see how much longer my willpower will hold out.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
TBPlayer2112

Happy to hear that ANet seems to have learned from the mistakes of HoT. At first I was super hyped for the last expansion. But, admittedly it did take a while to sink in that I was getting more and more frustrated with the way things were progressing. I REALLY wanted to enjoy it. It just took too long to figure out that it wasn’t for me.
Now I’m really looking forward to picking up PoF when I have the time to devote to it.

Reader
Anastasis Kontostergios

I couldnt stop playing till i finished the story, it was a blast!

Reader
Tiresias

I have only played with the human female so far, but I love how OVER EVERYONE’S BS she is at this point. The voice actor did a great job of capturing the essence of a grizzled veteran of war who is trying to get things done and save everyone’s lives while being surrounded on all sides by opportunists, cowards, and incompetent fools.

As a former military officer I couldn’t help but laugh at the exchange where a scout asks you not to completely destroy an enemy base because he wants to keep his relatively safe post as an observer but your character tells him that she’s here to eradicate the enemy, intends to do just that, and the scout better get ready for his next assignment.

mosselyn
Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
mosselyn

I’ve been enjoying it very much so far. I think it’s going to keep me amused for a good while yet. I agree that the story telling is quite a bit better, though I confess I haven’t finished it yet. I know some people don’t like all the snark in the NPC conversations, but I love it!

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

The vase/clay/urn sellers, insulting each other’s wares? Come on, that stuff’s awesome!

mosselyn
Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
mosselyn

Hehe. The complaints I’ve seen are mostly about lack of gravitas in the story dialog, like the pot shots

Spoiler
Rytlock and Canach
take at each other.

I prefer snark to drama since I think it’s difficult to pull off the drama. I keep wanting to smack

Spoiler
Kasmeer
, for example, because those dramatic bits just don’t work for me. To each his own, though.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Rottenrotny

A really great expansion imo. I really don’t have much to complain about.
If I had a gripe it would be that there’s seemingly little to no emphasis on dungeons, which has always been something that I’ve really enjoyed in MMOs.

Reader
MeltWithYou

i agree…there were some places (couldnt tell you where) but I took one look at it and was like ‘damn, this would make an excellent dungeon’…they really need to revisit dungeons, i liked the vanilla ones a lot

Reader
Loyal Patron
Rottenrotny

Did they just stop adding them?

Reader
MeltWithYou

I think the fractals are now their go to for dungeons, but who knows, they might change their minds again (I hope). After HOT and LW3, I was in the camp that believed Anet abandoned vanilla style exploration maps for ley line roller coasters, entire map metas and other arcadey shit and POF proved me wrong

Reader
Loyal Patron
Rottenrotny

Ah yes. Fractals. Forgot about those.
and for the record, I thought the HoT zone events thing was truly awful.
I was shocked that they took what was pretty much an open world-y MMO and changed into… that.
So confused when I started the HoT quest line to get gliding and the zone was just a zerg of players making a loop around the area.
Terribad game design imo.

Reader
life_isnt_just_dank_memes

The Good: Story is A++. Best work from them story-wise in years. Mad props. The maps. The weather systems, The dialog, the writing. All fantastic. This is my favorite release since core GW2 came out. I am head over heels in love with this expansion. After finding HoT to be their worst ever, this is such a great thing to love this game again.

The bad: Inventory clutter. It’s one of the worst offenders I’ve seen. They took one of the best inventory systems ever and managed to fill it with inscrutable garbage. Do I need this for later? Is this a trade-in? Double-click this thing to show me where an NPC is that I cant get to yet? Server issues. The Rabbit mount is too finicky.

Side note: I REALLY think they should have done a collection only for the griffon mount and the 250g that you need for it should have been for a Griffon Skin. Awesome thy put it in there and I’m glad to have it, but that is prohibitively expensive for casual players. many of my married friends will have a hard time getting that.

Side Side Note: REALLY wish they had differentiated the Raptor more from the Jackal in terms of mechanics. Seems like they could have just given that toolset to one or the other and given the other one a different set of mechanics to offer more variety.

Reader
Dave

I initially agreed, until I thought about it. The Griffon is in no way required to complete content, so I see it as a “Legendary” mount. It’s NOT in there for casual players, otherwise it wouldn’t have been hidden. Not everything in GW2 is designed for Casual players to get.

Legendary Gear, Raids, and upper tier Fractals are geared more towards general players and hardcore players.

Reader
life_isnt_just_dank_memes

I’m just not a fan of selling mechanics as a gold sink. Sell the cosmetic. Casuals can get ascended stuff easily. Those have Legendary stats. The Legendary isnt for the mechanic. Its for the cosmetic. A 250g cosmetic prestige or Legendary skin for the griffon would be the same principal.

Xephyr
Reader
Xephyr

The griffin wasn’t even marketed as a part of the expansion though. I might agree with you if they marketed the expansion as having 5 mounts, but the griffin was completely hidden until someone stumbled upon the collection for it.

Reader
Nathan Aldana

Problem is, it outmodes so many of the other mounts that people are going to expect you to have it. I already saw someone making fun of others for being slow and not having theirs in chat sunday.

Reader
Loopy

Questions for you vets from a new player:

1. Does the new expansion have a level requirement? Or can a lowbie jump into it upon purchase?

2. Do i need to have the previous expansion purchased in order to experience this one?

3. Are there any storyline/quest requirements prior to getting into the new story campaign?

Goettel
Reader
Goettel

Honestly OP, don’t boost. Leveling GW2 is a joy. I’m not an alt guy, normally, but this has me buying character slots. And as a formerly resolute non-completionist I’d say do everything and get world completion on your first toon. You’ll find that all levels have active players, so you’re getting nicely trained up for the eventual SW/AB/VB slaughterhouses. And start PvP early too, if you’re into it, there’s a ton to learn. Have fun.

Reader
fyrewhysper

You have to be 80, only way to quickly get into it is use an item to level to 80 instantly. Older players have these already but you would have to buy it in the gem store.

You don’t need HoT to play PoF but it would be much easier if you had it because gliding is extremely helpful.

Playing the living stories gives you a lot of background leading up to PoF. I made sure I finished living story 3 as it leads right into it. None of it is required though.

Reader
blah blazh

1. The expansions are all max level (80). When you buy the expansion they do give you a level 80 character boost though, so you can jump right in with that.

2. Nope. You don’t need the prior expansion

3. No storyline or quest requirements. You just just choose to “activate” the expansion story in your journal and it will tell you where to go.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

1 – When you buy it, you’ll get a free level 80 token so you can instantly have a max level toon with excellent gear and all your spec necessities, so a total newbie can jump straight into the new content. It might be confusing if you don’t understand the basics of the game, but you can technically do it, and I don’t think people with general MMO experience are going to struggle with it anyway.

2 – Nope, you don’t need Heart of Thorns. However, without Heart of Thorns, you won’t have access to gliding skills or the HOT-specific class specs. But it can be done. (You can also buy HOT later if you decide you do want those things.)

3 – Nope. When you log in, you’ll get a popup that points you to start the expansion questline. You pretty much follow the green arrows to Lion’s Arch and then to the desert, nothing else required. ;)

I should edit to add here in regard to #1 that I am not confident the Crystal Oasis is the best zone for a newbie-to-GW2 to learn the game. It still might be better for you to play for an hour in one of the vanilla zones to get a feel for how the AI operates, how your weapons and skills work, how hearts/events/hero points work. The Oasis has all that stuff, but it’s not as dense, and in a few ways it subverts some of its own tropes. Obviously you can do it, but I would personally say it’s worth an evening to take your newly minted 80 and play through Queensdale or something before launching right into the Oasis, which IMO is slightly less linear than HOT/S3.

Reader
Loopy

I appreciate the write-up from everyone. I’m currently lvl 25ish, so i guess not super new to the game, but i’m sure there is a whole lot that i still have to learn. I think i might simply go through the chronological order since it’s not like i’m lacking content at this point.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Paragon Lost

Gonna give a strong agreement on Bree’s edit note about it being a good idea to go play somewhere in one of the earlier zones to get a feel for how the UI, AI, mechanics, weapons, skills etc work.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Darthbawl

The mounts, could a new player just do the first part of that new expansion enough to get the mount then go back and do the rest of the game? Wouldn’t it be easier/faster having that mount?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

You can get the Raptor, easy-peasy. The other ones take a little more doing. But if you wanted to do Vanilla Tyria (and HoT) zones with just the Raptor? Yeah, totally doable. EDIT: But you definitely need to be level 80. The intro PoF quest would be too hard without being at-or-very-near max level. Assuming you bought the expansion, you should have a level 80 boost token. If you wanted to do all the game’s content from the start with a mount, you’d need to get your level 80 boost, then go to Elona to get your mount, then go back and start from the beginning. Definitely doable! (Though, to complicate matters, you would also want to get your glider unlocked. Also easily doable after you get your level 80 Boost.)

Reader
blah blazh

Yeah I don’t know if a brand new player should jump right in. While it isn’t quite as difficult as HoT, some of the stuff can be quite difficult especially for new players

Reader
Adam Teece

1. Both expansions you need to be lvl 80 to access the content.

2. You don’t need the previous expansion, but without it you won’t have the ability to get glider or the elite spec from that expac. You don’t need them, just know you can’t get them without HoT.

3. You can do the different story lines in any way you want. If you do a lvl 80 boost and never even did the core story, you can still start the PoF story and it will be fine. There will be some references you won’t understand, but it isn’t that bad.

Reader
Adam Teece

I quit during LS2 mainly because the guild I was in just became a political nightmare and it really ruined my taste for the game. I watched the HoT launch with horror as it just didn’t look fun. I got back into the game about a month ago, and they have really improved a ton of stuff. Now PoF and the story I am loving so far and mounts are amazing. Definitely still not perfect but I feel like they have learned a lot from their mistakes with HoT and are working to improve all the time.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

I am love, love, loving the new zone and content so far. Mounts are so much better than I thought they would be. They have a ton of personality and really add a new dimension to the levels that I should have expected after gliding, but wow, did they knock it out of the park!

Elona feels like a real place. I feel like ANET has really hit their stride here.

Here’s my Revenant on her Raptor! I can’t wait to get the Jackal, it looks so great.

Raptor.jpg
Reader
Dug From The Earth

Path of Fire has been enough to get me back into playing GW2 several hours a night, from playing only a couple hours every few months.

A few things though to point out

1. The (solo?) story missions are freaking way too difficult and in a forced, artificial way. Its the “swarm the player with tons of enemies non-stop, with more attacks than you can dodge/defense/skill your way out of” thing that bothers me. I have yet to do some of them without dying numerous times regardless of the class im on. (even classes like a ranger, with a pet that helps tank). The enemies just take a long time to kill, have insane range, and the sheer number of them is super overwhelming. Thankfully, the life of enemies doesnt reset when you die. This however has made it harder for me to enjoy the actual story, because of this frustration of these battles leading to the actual narrative.

2. The new areas are sooo much less frustrating to navigate than HoT which is a relief. The aggro range of enemies seems much larger though, probably to compensate for being on mounts. It can be annoying at times when you arent on a mount. The HoT zones actually felt better designed from a quality and artistic level though. Much more visually awe inspiring and detailed. The PoF zones are rather plain and lacking a lot of detail (at least the first zone for sure). Might just be the whole desert zone thing that seems to be awful in most games.

3. The lack of group oriented content in PoF zones is disheartening. I actually find myself going back to HoT for that. Bounties barely scratch the surface of this in PoF, and are often super annoying due to forced mechanics to make them “challenging”. I worry about the longer game/big picture with PoF. What will there be for most players a month from now? Doesnt seem like a whole lot.

4. Mounts are a blast… ’nuff said.

5. The accessibility/availability of Hero Points (and even Mastery Points) in PoF seems noticeably less than in HoT. I used my level 80 boost and found it taking FOREVER to unlock even ONE of the elite classes as I played through just PoF. On the flip side, I managed to unlock 90% of an elite spec in HoT in about 90 minutes. I would have loved there to be some happy middle ground for PoF

6. I enjoy how they kept the “advancement” gated content that requires you to revisit zones to get things later, after you have unlocked a mount, or a mount ability.

7. A couple more Waypoints in each zone, would be amazing.

8. Loot in the game is still mostly completely pointless after you have your exotics/acended. You collect a LOT of things, 99% of which you deconstruct for materials. It takes a lot of the excitement and enjoyment out of finding things like chests to loot though. For example, there is a new diablo 3 style “loot goblin” enemy that jumps out of a chest when you open it. You have to chase after it, attacking it, as it drops bags of loot. Ive never gotten anything interesting at all from these, which pretty much makes them “Eh… who cares, let it run off”. because they are pretty frustrating to chase after – they polymorph you and root you as you try to follow them.

Overall, the continued story, and new areas to explore, as well as the mounts, are enough for now to keep me playing. Im taking my time though. I see people in game that finished the story, masteries, all the mounts (including the semi secretive griphon mount) in just a couple days time. I think id be upset i spent money on the expansion if I found myself in their shoes.

Now if I could just find a guild that just enjoys grouping up for fun, and plays at night (pst). GW2 is completely backwards when it comes to guilds. Most mmorpgs, during an expansion, guilds are in full, 150% recruit mode. In GW2, not only are my queries to find one ignored, I dont even see any advertisements for them in chat at all. A real head scratcher.

Reader
Thomas

Of all the reactions and assessments of PoF that I have read (including the OP’s somewhat “gushingly positive” article here), your comments are the most absolutely on-target and nearly spot-on perfect.

This line, particularly, resonated with me:

“1. The (solo?) story missions are freaking way too difficult and in a forced, artificial way.”

ArenaNet is on some sort of weird crusade to make its story missions harder and harder and harder to solo (or even figure out), with often wonky game mechanics and “tricky-do” (and highly exasperating and punishing) battles and encounters.

I’m starting to feel about zone story missions the way I already feel about Living Story missions: why bother? They are not fun. They are brutal and punishing. I stagger out of most of them swearing I’ll never do that mission again.

It’s fine to have challenging “hard-mode” content in an MMO — but NOT for the primary story, for crying out loud. Save epic, hard-mode content for dungeons and raids and whatnot: content that’s actually meant for groups.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Rottenrotny

#8 Definitely bothers me. I boosted my Ele to 80 so I got the orange gear that comes with that. Cool.
Except now everything is worthless. There’s no carrot for me gear wise. There’s no joy at getting gear upgrades. This annoys me.
I’m assuming I can get better stuff if I heavily invest in crafting? but I can’t imagine myself devoting tons of time to leveling my professions.

as for the challenge, I found that it was quite difficult at first for me, but after I opened up most of my Weaver spec it got a bit easier. However, my non-elite spec thief in blue/green gear facerolls through everything and is seemingly invincible. So I’m either terrible at Weaver and great at Thief or the balance is way off.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

Maybe I’m weird, but after years of yawn-vanilla-easy content, I like the challenge. My Revenant build is condition based so it’s a little fragile, but I love the dance-and-dodge it takes to survive some of these fights. So far, no deaths! (Maybe years of WvW training has prepped me for worst-case AOE scenarios…)

Reader
Arktouros

A little fragile?

When I take most of my characters into that first mission you arrive in the Desert in the Herald goes to town. When I went on my Condi Revenant I literally defeated her faster than she could do anything. It’s gross pumping out 3600 burns and torments with poison on top of that. Never once came close to dying with it. It’s just gross.

atatahir
Reader
atatahir

Have you fought the

Name of mob
Eater of Souls
yet?

That is the only fight that seemed too difficult and I do think it was done deliberately. You can’t beat that mob without understanding its attacks and finding a way to counter them. I think a lot of players will be stuck on this mob.

The rest of the fights are just normal GW2 fights that are easy if you make use of GW2 combat and difficult if you play it like traditional tab target MMO.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

Nope, not yet! But honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve been “stuck” because of a difficulty in a non-EVE Online MMO. I look forward to the challenge!

Reader
Arktouros

Won’t be that hard as Condi Revenant.

Reader
Nathan Aldana

that itself is a problem. If certain specs breeze through content that other specs curl up and die to, then the content aint very balanced.

Reader
Dug From The Earth

Its impossible to get “stuck” because mobs dont regen life even if you die. Using the “keep throwing yourself at them until they eventually die” tactic work, and keeps you from getting stuck… but its not any less frustrating or anywhere near being fun.

I actually enjoy some of the boss fights. Its just the fights that involve 5+ enemies at once that are a pain most of the time because there are no specific mechanics. Its just lots of damage thrown directly at you at once, from multiple sources that dont all die to spamable AoE. If you dont have the damage resistance, or heals needed, you are going to die… plain and simple.

I read a post from a thief, who took 22 minutes to deal with one of the encounters, because so much of the fight, he was dodging, rather than attacking, that things just didnt die in a reasonable time limit. He survived.. but holy hell… that wouldnt have been fun for me.

Reader
Nathan Aldana

actually. the one theyre referencing does regen health, because if you dont interrupt his very short break bar in the second or so its up..well..he might regain most of his health. over and over.

If your spec doesnt have easy on the ball instant ways to break it you are in for a frustrating experience.

atatahir
Reader
atatahir

The mob I am talking about heals almost to full if you do not avoid one of his attack. That is why I absolutely expect several player to get stuck at that point in the story.

Reader
Arktouros

The Caffeinated Skritt are for specialization weapon collections. They’re very annoying because they’re very rare and reasonably hard to kill due to their mechanics. Most of my friends in game are all still waiting to find one and it took me joining a party of 20+ people scouring all 5 zones to eventually find one myself to get my Warpblade.

Reader
Dug From The Earth

Ive fought and killed 3 of them so far (condi ranger with pet, so i keep doing damage even when im morphed), all in the first zone.

They always spawn and run through the most densely, mob infested areas, like the purple crystal area. If i got any specialized weapon items, i did so unknowingly. Is there an achievement or something that tracks this?

Reader
Arktouros

When you first unlock your specialization (IE: Soulbeast) you’ll get the dagger and start the SOulbeast collection for the Ascended Dagger. It’ll be an exotic trinket as a drop you got the first time. So if you look under Collections -> Specializations you’ll see that you probably unlocked it already for the dagger.

coolster50
Reader
coolster50

Regarding #1, I haven’t had much trouble with the story missions. I’ve died a couple times here and there, but it hasn’t been hard enough that I can’t beat it (except the Eater of Souls, that guy is a jerk). Maybe I’m just using an OP build and didn’t know about it.

Reader
Dug From The Earth

What build/profession are you? Id like to eventually make a character that doesnt struggle as much in PvE solo content.

Reader
Ben Rubinstein

I’ve definitely been having a lot of trouble with a lot of the story missions as well. Killing that Herald of Balthazar near Vlast… I probably died and respawned 4 times to get her down. I also agree that the hero points are significantly slower.

Reader
Dug From The Earth

I enjoyed some of the heralds mechanics. The spinning flame wall i was 100% fine with… but when she started doing the massive amounts of “fireworks” everywhere…I had no way of avoiding those, and would ultimately die every single time. My defensive cooldowns wouldnt be up by the time she would do it the 2nd time around, leaving me completely helpless.

Reader
Ben Rubinstein

100% agree. I couldn’t find a way to block the purple fireworks other than pray my heal was up.

Reader
fyrewhysper

Highly subjective and will cause a lot of controversy, but my personal fave is revenant. It all depends on your play style.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
thalendor

A question about your first point… are you implying that story missions are forced solo experiences? That’s definitely a downer for me, if so. I dislike forced soloing with nearly the same vitriol some save for forced grouping. Probably not a deal-breaker, though, as long as such sequences are fairly short.

Reader
fyrewhysper

You can always group with a friend but only one person gets credit. So far for me the story missions have had a good challenge. In fact my worst moments came from trying to get a mastery point. The chef in town was a pain. And the one where you basically play Simon, follow the musical notes pattern was a pain. I ended up video recording the pattern with my phone after 20 minutes of failing it 3 or 4 rounds in.

7BitBrian
Reader
7BitBrian

This is false. If you group with a friend you can both get credit. Where did you think that only the instance owner get’s credit? GW2 has allowed you to play story with friends and get credit for it since launch. It even asks you if you want to receive credit to progress you own story or not, so if you want you can refuse and come back with your character as the main protagonist rather than your friend.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Nah, you can do them in groups still. He just means they are often rough to solo through.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
thalendor

Thanks Bree! You’re really on a roll for answering questions today. :-)

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Regarding #1 – I think the tuning for these story instances has been off since vanilla and got even worse in HOT. You’re not wrong. I agree with most of what you’re saying, I just wanted to high-five you on that one point in particular. I have no idea why they insist on making casual players basically zerg their own private story instances to get through.

I bet #3 is a deliberate choice that’ll be eased up on later for retention.

Reader
blah blazh

on #3, Bounties have to be done with a group, some of them are quite hard. Otherwise there isn’t a big meta like there is in HoT. I’m sort of sad on that but that also means the HoT content isn’t made obsolete so that’s a positive.

Reader
Arktouros

I agree as well. I’m pretty decent player, and I think the issue stems from a design of, “Well you have AI helpers so we’re going to throw 5 things at you.” only to find the AI unhelpful and rarely targeted (or do bad things and die super fast) leaving you to get pounced on constantly by all 5 things. Many of the encounters are incredibly unforgiving mechanically speaking and don’t inform you how to beat them or how to overcome them and you’re just kinda expected to know them or die repeatedly until you figure out what’s going on.

At first I thought everything was targeting me because of how the aggro mechanics work and maybe because I was using my WvW gear my toughness was too high so I was pulling threat. However going full glass cannon was just met with an even quicker death to the point I find the story missions much more enjoyable when I spec full defense and recovery on most characters.

I will say, without spoilers, the best fight in the game to me was the very last fight in the expansion. It had really good mechanics and balance that was challenging but also offered you mechanics to overcome those challenges.

Reader
Dug From The Earth

#1 made my fiancee stop playing in vanilla. Her comment wasnt something i could dispute… it was:

“Why am I being forced to play alone in a MULTIPLAYER game, and do content that is too hard for me to reasonably accomplish? Thats not fun, and I dont want to play because of it.”

So she left. Anet lost a sale of both HoT and PoF from her, as well as a HUGE amount of Gem store sales (she buys tons of cosmetic stuff in games). Im sure she isnt the only player anet has turned away for this reason.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Hey, she doesn’t have to play alone… I always duo through the storyline with my husband! Same with POF so far. When I play alone on alts, though, it’s really clear how much of an advantage a duo has in overtuned story content. And even we get owned sometimes. Whyyyyy Anet.

Reader
abelard

I agree they are annoying as a single player but I think the intent was for them to be hard enough that it’s worth replaying. There is usually an achievement for killing a boss without dying or within a time limit. Since there aren’t any new dungeons it seems like these were intended to fill the role of “replayable instanced content.”

Reader
Dug From The Earth

Back in vanilla, near release, they were solo only if i recall correctly. She left so soon after that, that I just assumed that they were still solo only. Glad to see Anet at least improved things to allow you to group your way through them. Means my charr will need to start bathing though, so people will group with him.

7BitBrian
Reader
7BitBrian

Nope, they’ve been playable with a 2-5 man group since the day the game launched into head start.

Reader
blah blazh

I think you could group up in them but only the person who initiated story would get credit.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
thalendor

I’d really be interested in hearing from people who enjoyed the original game, but disliked HoT, on whether they’re liking PoF or not. What I saw in the preview weekend was promising, but it seems like it was only a small part of what’s available. Mostly, I want to make sure I’m not signing up for any zones that are essentially giant jumping puzzles… basically, anything like the first map of HoT, which was such a turnoff for me I will honestly admit I didn’t even complete it…

Reader
panthyr

I got you! I played original since beta. Stopped when I ran outta things I found interesting to do. Bought into HoT hook, line and sinker and quit after the first week with severe bad taste in my mouth. Hesitantly i rejoined for PoF and am pleasantly surprised. Im taking my time and enjoying but can say the story is good, the zone design seems much more logical from a gameplay perspective and the game seems fun to play again. Best compliment I can give is I feel I will get my moneys worth then some. 30$ well spent.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
thalendor

Thanks! It sounds like your reaction to HoT was nearly identical to mine, so that you’re liking PoF so far is promising.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I had a lot of complaints about HOT, and I’m loving POF so far. I am in the first map, but it’s nothing like the Claustrophobia Vine Maze expansion in that regard (hehe). Feels very open, like the city is part of the map instead of apart from it in some linear zone-walled way.

Reader
Nathan Aldana

the lack of clausstrophobia vine maze is a major reason I love this expac.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

Don’t forget the murder chickens hiding in the Vine Maze

Reader
blah blazh

You’ll love the second map (Desert Highlands). Absolutely my favorite of any place in the game period.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
thalendor

Thanks! I appreciate the feedback based on your experience so far. That someone’s taken bunch of pesticide to that Claustrophobia Vine Maze to give us a gloriously open desert is music to my ears. :-) I just don’t want to trade jungle-jumping for rock-jumping.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

There’s definitely jumping, but nothing difficult or irritating so far – it’s basically what the raptor is good at! At least this first zone doesn’t feel like a giant jumping puzzle at all, and honestly, the parts that brush up against that classification (like the tippy-tops of the city’s spires) are precisely what make the city feel more alive and realistic than even something like Divinity’s Reach (where parts feel like inaccessible cutouts, because they are). I’ll leave it to faster mappers than I to talk about the rest of the zones! :D

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
thalendor

Oh, I don’t mind a few jumps here or there. I also don’t mind completely optional jumping puzzles — I coexisted with those happily for years in vanilla GW2 just by mostly ignoring them.

Reader
panthyr

Only have gotten to 2nd map thus far but the “jump puzzles” arent even as difficult as vanilla gw2 imo. 1st most are only there to showcase mounts and are as simple as walking up to the edge of whatever and hitting spacebar. 2nd I want to go on record as saying its possible gw2 vanilla and HoT conditioned me into what constitutes a jump puzzle and what is just rocky/sandy/snowy terrain so i may shrug off what many consider to be jump puzzles in other games. But again i stand next to the statement that they seem easier than vanilla gw2 fwiw.

Reader
Matthäus Wey

Great review. Really like PoF so far. Story was a ton of fun and i look forward to the next chapter. The maps are beautiful and really atmospheric. Music is also top this time (didn’t like HoTs ost that much tbh). Mounts feal great and are among the best I’ve seen in MMORPGs.

I’m a little worried about replayability tho. After finishing two of the five maps they already feel a little unrewarding compared to the HoT Meta maps. I didn’t like the fact that all HoT maps were meta but I feel like they offered a lot to do. It might sound a little stupid but from time to time its hard to find people for events already (especially on the 4th map). When I asked why noone was doing events they said it’s not worth it and I somehow have to agree.

So guys don’t get me wrong it’s been an amazing expeviense so far and i really like what they did this time. I only fear that I won’t stick arround as long as I hoped I would. That said I really dislike the fact that they hid almost every new obtainable skin behind stupid achievements, crafting or RNG drops.

Goettel
Reader
Goettel

I’m with you on the HoT grindmill: the metas just tickle my OCD in a way no other MMO ever has, story be damned! But PoF is different, it’s more laid back, but offers hard as nails challenges if you search them out. HoT metas haven’t been killed by PoF, so they’ll be there, and I’m sure PoF will be there to serve up a lot of new events tied to the Living World. These are big, open zones with so much room for content expansion, I would be surprised if AN stuck to HoT’s strategy of just adding zone after zone with the story. They’re gonna fill in the blanks here, and in the meantime I’ll be surfing those dunes looking for bounties and choya to explode.

Reader
Arktouros

From a Gameplay perspective POF is a nice list of things do but once you’ve done them that’s kinda it. So that’s POF Story. “Secret” Mount. Weapon Specialization Collection. Legendary Bounty collection (Funerary Weapons). The “Royal Armor” collections that are 6 different tasks across each of the 5 zones (map completion, gathering, champ events, regular events, hearts, and map metas).

Repeatable content wise we got Bounties, but Bounties are essentially spawnable Champ Trains that we’ve had ever since they introduced Champ Bags way back when. This means once you complete the goodies, max out the mount abilities then you can kinda forget about POF and go back to the rest of the game until LS4 rolls out.

Over all I’d say it’s worth the $30, especially for LS4 added onto that price, but I wouldn’t expect a long life in Elona.

7BitBrian
Reader
7BitBrian

You’re missing out on a lot. There is a ton of naturally occurring events and quest chains in these new maps that aren’t governed by the yellow circle on your map system. There is a section of the Shiverpeaks in the second map that has a quest chain with puzzles and such that takes 2-3 hours to complete at least, and it’s just up there for you to stumble across and talk to random NPCs to discover. No waypoints, event chains, story steps, anything to lead you there. Just really awesome hidden gems that make exploring the world and interacting with NPCs and objects actually matter.

I’m still finding cool little tidbits like this.

Reader
Arktouros

I’m really not though. One time experiences are novel and all but the reality is those account for a fraction of my game play in game. The bulk of it is simply spent doing the kinds of activities that are meant for repeat consumption which POF is simply lacking.

Reader
Matthäus Wey

Yeah but many of those puzzles are a one time thing only. Also I feel like doing the events is somehow worthless? Many of them are fun the first two to three times but then get really boring since they aren’t anything special and they don’t lead to anything big.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Nice review but why screenshots are so twisted to the center?
Also can I ask, if you buy expansion, do you have access to mounts starting from original campaign, or only when you reach this expansion content?

Reader
Sally Bowls

All toons have access to the basic (without mastery buffs) fast mount but only after you do a few minutes of opening level 80 only POF story. Same as HoT gliding. So char boost+few minutes on your 80 means your level 1 can 200% speed ride.

All pros on Reddit know that it is an affront to God and Man to boost a toon first. But as a heretical noob, I think that playing a level 80 in the original zones teaches you more how to play an 80 than playing as a lowbie in the same zones. Leveling to 80 the proper way, I (human not toon) got experience (not XP) and learned a bit. But I found no tutorials or explicit learning. Playing old content seems to me to have value rather than just jumping in, especially HOT.

Reader
Arktouros

You have to do expansion content to unlock the mounts. Some mounts require specific mount skills to reach or unlock at all. However once you’ve unlocked everything there’s no limitation and you can use them freely and to full benefit in the original game or HOT.

Reader
Bob Dobalina

No, only when you do the expansion content. Specifically you have to do the first story instance in the expansion to get your raptor. After that you can use your raptor anywhere, including the old zones. That being said, you can’t level your mounts unless you do expansion content as well.

wpDiscuz