I have to admit, the Choose My Adventure voting did not fall the way I had expected it to last week. Apparently folks were really eager for me to continue in Prophecies during this month’s trip through Classic Guild Wars. That poll result brought up a lot of advice overall, from commenters as well as my colleagues Bree and Eliot.
Overall, it was impressed upon me that starting from Prophecies as a solo player is not really smart. The base game is a relic of its time when grouping was much more frequent than it is now, and the henchmen that I’ve been running with to this point are vastly inferior to the heroes that are handed out in later expansions. Furthermore, the best way to enjoy Prophecies is usually to find humans to play with on a regular basis.
But could I go through this early part of the game a bit longer under my own power? I was determined – and stupidly stubborn enough – to find out.
I shared some of my experience during a livestream this past Friday, but for those who didn’t tune in or watch the VOD, I can say that things started with a bit of an uphill battle. One of our readers pointed out that places on the map with a sword and shield are where missions are located, and ones that are glowing are the next in the line of quests I was to undertake – advice that I’m pretty sure was never explained in-game, or if it was, then I forgot when that tooltip appeared. During the mission I was on for the stream, I was also informed of a few other mechanical matters, like what the circle around my character dot on the minimap was and how using ctrl and spacebar together ordered my goons to join me in attacking my target.
This didn’t wholly stop GW and its age from trying to trip up my progress, though. For instance, the world’s geometry is so spectacularly restrictive that invisible walls were erected around me at points where I assumed I could simply walk up. This makes sense considering the stupid AI pathing, but it was no less annoying.
Another major pain point was how aggro and elevation works. That aforementioned circle on the minimap was my aggro range, meaning the red dots of enemies had to stay out of that circle or else my pack of squirrels would go running into combat like clones of Ultimate Warrior. I soon learned, however, that the Pool of Aggro around me does not account for elevation changes, so when I walked beneath a bridge where enemies were on a cliff above me, the combat – and the subsequent kitten herding – was well and truly underway.
I did eventually mitigate this through a combination of planting a flag for my goons to stand and using my rain of fire spell to cheese through the fact that regular attacks were obstructed but that spell wasn’t. It was an obstacle, but one that was overcome. I don’t necessarily report this with any sense of pride, though; I’m not going to claim to be clever, but I am going to call out how this illustrates how much Prophecies has aged like room temperature milk.
Despite this, I was actually learning a bit. Thanks to all the tips readers and work mates granted me, I was starting to lean into how fighting and mission running in GW works. I regrettably slunk into my healer role, adjusting my skill point spend and hotbar accordingly so I could more effectively babysit my AI puppies, but I still managed to keep a couple of offensive spells in tow just in case I was allowed to fight. And for the most part, I was. I hate to admit it, but being a healer for the group was necessary to win, but at least I didn’t have to stare at health bars too much.
The missions rolled forward, the XP continued to flow, and moment by moment I was getting into a groove. The only times I really started to flounder came when the mad badgers that were my henchmen managed to draw in more foes at once than I could handle, but then I didn’t really need to win by skill so much as attrition. To put it another way, I just abused my respawning to whittle down the numbers through zerging. If this game is going to let me cheese things that hard, you’re damned right I’m taking it. I have no compunctions about that, especially for a game this old.
While I feel like I’ve somewhat excelled in my role as a monk healbot, I am going to take that earlier advice from Bree and Eliot about leaving Prophecies to the dust of time to heart. If nothing else, this at least got my mental foot in the door with what to expect out of this game as well as a bit more understanding about its general pace and mechanics. I know that missions are phenomenally long. I know a bit more about how to handle my henchies. I know to not take classes at face value. And anyway, I’m ready to get the hell away from post-Searing Ascalon; while its whole landscape deal makes obvious sense, I’m pretty well tired of the blasted out rusty reds and browns of the place.
Also if I’m honest, I am frankly done with Prophecies and refuse to be put through its wringer any more than I need to. I respect that this expansion is the core GW experience for a number of fans, but I’m not one of those fans, and if I’ve got a better choice ahead of me, then I’m absolutely going to take it.
…well, I say choice ahead of me, but what I really mean is a choice ahead of you folks. Next week is expansion time, but we should decide which expansion to leap head first in to. So that’s this week’s poll.
What Guild Wars expansion should we begin with?
- Factions. Because Cantha. (47%, 47 Votes)
- Nightfall. Because desert. (53%, 52 Votes)
Total Voters: 99
Polling once more wraps at 1:00 p.m. EST this Friday, January 13th. Until then, I’ve got a noob toon to delete.