What a Burro’s playing – January 2017 update

Hello dear reader, it’s been around 18 months since I last posted one of these and a lot has changed. I’ve moved away totally from PC gaming now (my beloved computer room has become the domain of my 10 year old son and his Roblox addiction). So, what am I playing these days?

Elite Dangerous: Nope. Still not been back other than to look at the occasional Beta release. There simply isn’t enough in here to grab me yet. I am beginning to doubt there ever will be.

Guild Wars 2: I’m now on one of my semi-regular long-term breaks. I still love the game but I just don’t want to play it right now. Sometime in the next 12 months this will have changed 🙂

MCPE: Oh boy, this has really taken over right now. This is what I think about throughout the day, it’s what I play when I get home, it’s what I dream about when I sleep and watch on YouTube when I get up. This level of obsession is normal for me and won’t last forever but when this type of mania grips me I have learnt to lay back and let it have its oh-so-sweet and wicked way with me… Follow my adventures with this tag: MCPE

Ingress: This one flared up in the summer of 2016 and is still bubbling away – hell, even my missus is playing it. We all tried Pokemon but that didn’t stick, even with the kids.


No Man’s Sky: Urgh… I had such high hopes. Still, maybe after a few updates this will be like a Minecraft in Space and I can finally have that space-based game I’m looking for. I won’t hold my breath though, eh?

That’s it for me right now. What about you? What are you playing, enjoying, not enjoying, waiting for? Leave a comment below.

Meanwhile, in Tyria… I may be alone but by gum I’m having fun!

Loot! Sweet, sweet loot!

Loot! Sweet, sweet loot!

As I mentioned, the Gs have departed for shores distant and forn whilst I’ve stayed behind in Tyria, but I can honestly say I’m having a blast. Now don’t think I’m not missing my Guildies because I am, but chatting to them over Discord regardless of what game they are in sort of negates that. No, the reason I’m having a blast is the Spring 2016 Update patch that landed on Tuesday 19th April – a patch so big the changelog reached over 17,000 words!

So what about the update has so revitalised my game experience bearing in mind I had wandered off to Tamriel shortly beforehand? Well it’s hard to point at one thing really as the patch touched on so much and the majority of it I have yet to play. Still, let me try to express what I like about what I have had the chance to experience:

  • Dailies now pay you 2 gold pieces. This is HUGE! Look, I’ve always logged in to get the dailies but I usually stopped at two out of the three because the third was just awkward to get (a world boss when I was at work or bed, or a fractal I was too low powered to join, for example) but now they have expanded the range to include simple jumping puzzles and mini-dungeons I’ve been grabbing at least three dailies from the list a day. They all give more rewards and then slap 2 gold coins on top too! With both accounts I’m about 20gp richer now for just doing more or less the same things I was doing before the patch! 20 gold!
  • HoT Maps and rewards. Christ on a pogostick the re-vamp of HoT maps is good. I can get around far easier now as way points remain open more often and mobs are easier to handle. Not only that but the reward chests come in all the time and they contain a lot more ‘keys’ for opening the local chests. For someone who ran out of crowbars months ago and has only ever had three chak acid pouches this is great news. I’ve been getting more leather simply by wandering about, getting rewards, and salvaging a shit ton of loot.
  • The shared slot & 80 boost. Now this was clever… really clever. I used my 80 right away to blitz a toon up to 80 mainly so I could try out the shared slot and I rather think I’m addicted. OK, at £8 each there’s no way I’m going to go mad and buy more but if they appear on sale I could be tempted to get at least one more. I have my silver salvaging tool in mine and it’s helping net more leather from all the bags I’m getting.

As for the things I’ve not yet plays I’m rather excited to try out:

  • Relaunched dungeons. Finally the devs have reversed their previous mothballing of dungeons and now these fun places reward you more than ever before. Take that Mr Smith! Not only that but they have made it easier to get tokens so getting the armour rewards (no thanks – fucking spiky horrors) will be less grindy. I’m really looking forward to finally running all of these with the Guildies.
  • Revamped Fractals. Balance passes, new mechanics, new rewards. What is to say except “Brilliant, now please add some new ones too ;)”. I can’t wait to run these with the Gs.
  • First round of fixes for World vs World. I’d only started getting into WvW with +Ian Jefferies and was really enjoying it. From what I have read and heard the patch goes some of the way to making WvW more fun for more people and seems to indicate the correct trajectory for future improvements. I have to say that I’m looking forward to exploring WvW even more than I was before – not something I ever thought I would have said about PvP

All these and a hell of a lot more are positive changes to the game but if I’m being honest I think the bottom line for me has been the improvements to the dailies. Partly this has been because of the bonus reward of 2 gold (I’m an honorary Skritt so I like hoarding the shinies) but mainly it’s because of the renewed sense of exploration. So far the jumping puzzles and mini-dungeons have largely been ones I’ve never visited so I’m making moolah, uncovering exciting finds, moving closer to world completion, and accruing achievement points! It’s like a giant, oiled machine for fun and rewards – well done Arenanet, well done 😀

Meanwhile, not in Black Desert Online… Hang on, why am I not playing this game?

A BDO town - witness the beeeeeoooooty!

A BDO town – witness the beeeeeoooooty!

The GGGs have decamped from Tyria and taken up residence in the world of Black Desert Online*. Well, most of them. I remain in Tyria, despite many (very kind!) offers of week-long trial keys, resolutely tramping about doing the same old stuff I’ve done in Tyria since beta.

Now the Gs in BDO are all loving it and are singing its many praises over in the GGG G+ community and the consensus seems to be that BDO is a Very Good Thing for a variety of reasons such as beauty, horse taming, exploring, and a general sense of the world being alive. All of these things are things I claim I want in a game so why am I not playing it?

Well, as with many things in life there are many overlapping reasons behind my steadfastly Tyria-bound feet and these include:

  • I just don’t have enough right now. I can’t dedicate myself to learning another game (a problem the otherwise enjoyable trip to Tamriel & Elder Scrolls Online suffered from) and I’m not sure I will until the summer.
  • A lot of expense at home recently means I’d only look at getting BDO in a sale and I don’t think that’s happening any time soon.
  • I’m not sure if there is or isn’t a lot of lore for BDO yet but without it I’m likely to be less invested that I’d like to be.
  • This is a complex one as BDO offers a lot of what I’ve been saying I want from a game but at the same time it offers a lot of what I really, really don’t want. The biggest two things that put me off right now is lack of a deep sense of cooperative play, the kind Guild Wars 2 has baked into its core, and the AFK-style mechanics used in travel and gathering.

Out of these I honestly think the last is the one keeping me from the game the most. Guild Wars 2 has spoilt me by providing the one thing I want from a game – fun on demand. In Tyria I can teleport around the world with ease, each jump sending me close to a dynamic event, group experience, or hidden surprise I can join in and play. In LOTRO, the last game I played with a horse-riding mechanic similar to BDOs, I use to hire a ride from Bree to wherever and then walk away from the PC for 10 minutes until the horse pulled up the new stable and vanished. After that I’d have to run out into the wild to start work on quests which needed turning in back at the stable’s location area. Whilst my first ride to Rivendell was fun, my third really wasn’t. I hated it that waste of my time with a passion.

Ultimately I think this is what will make me wait a while longer before I join BDO, and to be fair to that game, any other MMO including Elite Dangerous. Guild Wars 2 has many flaws but being easily accessible and pretty much always fun isn’t one of them. Grind in Tyria is optional, at least serious grind for something like a Legendary, so I never feel like the game is wasting my time. The cash store is pretty fair so I never feel I’m being milked or fleeced as I did in LOTRO. The barriers between players are so low that I never feel like I can’t just help someone out. For me, at least, Guild Wars 2 hits enough of my playstyle needs even if it misses a lot of my desires and that’s what keeps me from straying too far.

Now if I could just get Arenanet to make the world come alive with more NPC interactions, readable books, watchable plays, and open housing in cities…

*  I’m not sure if the world has a name so for now it’s just going to be BDO to me.

Meanwhile, in Tyria… What a crafty wee Burro I am!

Cards on the table, I’ve never liked the crafting system in Guild Wars 2. It’s got a lot of lovely things, such as the speeding up through large batch jobs and the XP that helps you level up, but I dislike the discovery system where you have to combine items and see if there is a recipe you can discover. It’s always seemed like too much hard work to me. After all, how do I know what the devs were thinking when they planned them out?

My dislike started right back on day one when I first tried to make something back at launch. I found the system confusing, both in terms of how to make something but also in terms of how it progressed, and wasteful, using up my very meagre resources and not producing anything I required. After filling up my small inventory bags with worthless rifle-buts and pistol handles I called it quits and vowed never to do it again

True to my word I’ve spent the last three and half years deliberately avoiding doing any crafting at all and instead concentrating on farming and selling mats which has netted me a goodly amount of gold. That is until now (dun dun duuuun!).

It all started about three weeks ago when most of the guild members were on holiday, working away or playing ESO. I found myself with several bank tabs full of basic mats such as copper ore and green logs. As I can store 500 in my collection bank this meant I had 1,000 or more and they were taking up space in my main bank (another of my pet hates, things taking up my valuable bank space!). Now normally I’d send to my guild mates and beg them to process them into ingots and planks. But no one was around!  With my bank tabs rapidly filling up with more and more filthy bits of rock and mossy lumps of wood I was faced with the very real prospect of *gulp* having to refine them myself! Oh, the horror!

I knew I’d need a guide, someone I could trust to help me navigate a path through the process and I knew that guide had better be one that understood the current state of things rather than being a year or more behind the times. Naturally, as with all things Guild Wars 2, I turned to Dulfy. Surely Dulfy could help save me my time, money and sanity as she had done with both Fractals and Dungeons. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my head around the guides I found there at all and so turned to Google for help.

And lo! For Googl dideth revealeth unto me-eth the amazing pwniversity guides! They appealed to me because, in their own words, they are “don’t suggest farming or buying tons of items, because there is a more efficient way”. I liked the sound of this! Even though I have a fair chunk of gold and a lot of collected mats, I am at heart a hoarder and I hate, hate, HATE the thought of parting with my hard won gold and materials on something I really did not want to get sucked into.

I was rewarded for my Googling because these guides are brilliant! They blast you up through the crafting levels whilst minimising the cost of the journey, albeit at the cost of learning a lot of the available recipes. Also the cost is only minimised and not removed as it can still cost you many tens of gold to get characters to level 300 if you do not have a good store of mats and over 300 there is always going to be a high cost as these mats are harder to collect for a casual player such as myself.

Would I recommend these pwniversity guides? Absolutely. In just three sessions of around two hours each I’ve got to 300 in Huntsman, Leatherworking, Artificer, Jeweller, and Cooking with a net cost of around 20 to 30 gold pieces (crafting mats did cost me more than 20gp but I sold some of the things I made and so at this point I’m about 20-30gp down on where I started) and I’ll be levelling the others this week until I have all at 300 and then I decide on which (if any) I start getting higher.

If you decide that these guides are how you’d like to level in crafting, here are a few tips that could help you as they’ve helped me:

> Each 25 level progression follows more or less the same pattern. Learn this pattern and things will go buttery smooth for you.

> Each 25 level progression is designed to give you around 25 levels but if you use a guild crafting booster and/or an item booster (1 laurel each for 30 mins from the laurel merchant) you can gain up to 10 levels more.

> Whilst that last point sounds great, as you progress higher the lower level items give less XP before quickly dropping to none. In practice this means if you buy everything from the list for that 25 level progression, the last few items might not grant you XP meaning they are a waste of money and mats.

> My advice if you are using XP boosts is to buy half of the mats and see if that gets you up. If not then start buying more but only enough to craft 1 or 2 items at a time until you cross that next 25 level line and have to switch to higher tier mats for the next 25 levels.

> Even if you have the mats always check the price of the items required on the trading post against the price of the base materials need to make those items. Often the item is cheaper than mats required to make it so it can save you valuable mats to simple buy it. Other times the opposite is true and you are best crafting it.

> As you craft items your bags will fill up. Check the sell and buy prices of these items and if there is no profit to be made in selling them you are better using a salvage kit to recover some of the base items (currently this is worth doing with leather as there seems to be a leather shortage in game so the price of leather is very high).

> In some professions crafted items are need for higher recipes (e.g. in Cooking you can make a pizza and then that is needed for higher tier pizzas as one of the components) so you may want to check on the GW2 Wiki before you sell or salvage stuff you might need to craft again to progress later on.

So there you go, a once crafting-hater has been converted, more or less, by a good guide. This is pretty much what my mate El said would happen and she is always right about these things 😀 My plans for crafting are simple right now – refine mats for sale and make bags for my toons – but I’m beginning to feel the stirrings of an interest in the idea of a flirtation with the notion of a of the system behind crafting ascended items… oy vey.

By the Power of Greyskull, make me AWESOME!

By the Power of Greyskull, make me AWESOME!

Meanwhile, in Tyria… A Burro once more muses on what he wants from Guild Wars 2 and this time sets his ill-informed sights on storytelling, more or less.

So, in my last musing I mused about what I want from a game and whether or not it is possible. I’m sure it didn’t adequately cover everything I want and it certainly didn’t tell me if it was possible so that post could, in the eyes of a sane and rational person, be seen as abject failure. Luckily I’m a blogger and therefore such measures as sanity or rationality don’t apply to me. No, that last post wasn’t a failure but rather another bright spot the spectrum of my unfolding selfhood, an oasis on my journey to joyous enlightenment, a shining star right in my fundament. Oh yeah, each of my posts are just that good so hold on to your hats because here comes another one, you lucky buggers.

OK, in that last slice of awesomeness I toyed with the idea of multiple story lines happening around the world that players could get involved in at will and it’s this I want to expand on here, partly because I like to think about a game world where this could happen, partly because I like to sound of my own voice droning on and on and on, but mostly because I’m hoping one of my three readers might offer so cool insights into this idea that my baked bean sized intellect hasn’t been able to grasp so far.

Let me start with Kryta and those pesky ponies… *cue wavey dissolve*

Grrrr! Those pesky ponies!

Grrrr! Those pesky ponies!

The centaurs that currently plague the humans of Kryta have nothing to do with Zhiatan and everything to do with humans and centaurs beating on each other. This means stories could be played out there with no harm to the Personal Story that drives new characters towards a final (disappointing) fight with the Big Bad Zeester. Obviously there are stories playing out there but let’s take a broad brush look at them:

Heart Quests: Whilst these add flavour and some background & lore to the area they can hardly be considered stories or adventures. They are fun diversions at best, slow drags at worst and they have no impact on the world or character other than a XP boost and opening up some trinkets for sale.

Dynamic Events: Now these start to get closer to what I’d like to see and I have waxed lyrical many-a-time about just how much I love GW2’s DEs but as far as I can see the devs see them a resource sink that takes them away from developing more (increasing poorly named) Living World* story updates.

Dungeons: What can I say? The staple of adventuring and they have been abandoned by the devs in favour of raids and fractals. What a total waste.

Living World Events: Occasionally a living world story arc will see a zone become the focus of an attack but these are usually nothing more than zerg-fest fights which are fun but pointless.

So the in-game offering isn’t exactly ideal. It’s not conducive to making the world feel alive. There’s the big old Dragon story or nothing. Well, nothing but trivia instanced and disjointed, which is a real shame given how detailed the world and the lore can be.

Instead of just the above, what I‘d really love to see is three-fold:

  • (More) Dynamic events that lead to dungeons with both being changed and updated.
  • A ‘Bulletin Board’ system in local towns and taverns where players can pick up jobs, some of which would lead to the events in item 1 above.
  • The ability for players to create and run their own adventures in game via the ‘Bulletin Board’ system in item 2.

Now there is a lot there expressed in those three points so let me explain a little further:

Dynamic events leading to dungeons is easy enough to understand and if you’ve ever experienced the dynamic event thread in the Harathi Hinterlands that leads you to face off against the boss Centaur then you’ll know what I’m getting at, only I want them to go further. No other game does dynamic events as well as GW2 (at least as far as I know) but they could be so much more because by now the DEs in game feel more like they are endlessly repeating without any reference to your actions. I want the experience of running past a villager running in the other direction and for them to tell me their village is being attacked only for my defence of the village to coincide with an army push into enemy territory to bring down one of the biggest enemy strongholds around which someone is using as cover for a robbery of an ancient artifact from the dungeon below the stronghold, etc. etc. etc.

Many other games have a ‘Bulletin Board’ system (hereafter called a BB as I can never remember how to spell Bulletin!), most notably for me the Elite games, and I love them! I want to head into the town square or pub and look for a list of jobs in need of brave/stupid souls. In the example above the BB could advertise for guards to defend the village or for militia to march on the enemy or even for thieves to delve into the dungeon. These jobs could be generated by the game to match a DE or they could be player generated.

Player generated? Are you mad, Burro? Well let me explain. You see, if there were a system that allowed players to create adventures such as the one above (and many more far more interesting and better thought out than that poor example) then just imagine how much content would be created for free by the community. Star Trek Online has just such a system with The Foundry and whilst I have not played it and I’m sure it will have issues, I can’t help but think that allowing the players to create BB jobs and events and dungeons for other players to participate in would be amazing. Sure you’d have to also implement a moderation system to filter out inappropriate content, and yes you’d have to manage the loot and XP and other rewards, but none of these things are insurmountable. If the player tools were good enough to allow talented creators to design adventures for other players then Tyria would be a far more dynamic place full of roleplay and storytelling. Hell, you would even have the best GMs designing their own seasons that people would follow, possibly with more interest than the main Living World story line.

So there you have it. This is one way in which I’d open up GW2 to help it feel more alive but I’m interested to hear what you think so leave comments below.



* I’m not sure that the Living World story actually makes the world feel alive to me. Phasing of locations would do that so that if I took my characters through story seasons out of order the locations would not look like they do for everyone regardless of the period. The little town of Prosperity in Dry Top is a great example as no matter when you visit it looks like it does after the Mordrem vine attack, even if you play through a chapter that takes place before that attack! That’s not living.

Meanwhile, in Tyria… A Burro further muses on what the hell he actually wants from a game and does it resemble the moon on a stick.


Over the years I’ve used this blog to try and work out what the hell I want from a game. I’ve ranted about systems that I hate, raved about those I love. I’ve condemned mechanics I can’t wrangle, commended those I can. I’ve groaned about ideas I hate, gushed over those I don’t. Ultimately I’ve been guilty of being an armchair dev and backseat world builder, teetering atop my own rickety soapbox whilst I fill the air with the sound of my own ill-informed droning and whining about ‘the perfect game for me’.

I see no reason for this to change, do you?

Good. Buckle up as I once more bellow impotently into the void and try in vain to describe just what the bloody hell I want from a game.
First off though, you may ask why am I covering this old ground again? I mean, wasn’t all that waffling on about world building in 2014 enough? Didn’t all the musing in 2015 lead me to some form of Nirvana? Well, in a word, no. In more than a word; no because a) nothing has changed, b) I still haven’t found what I’m after, c) I’m not even sure I know what I’m after, d) even if I do I don’t know if it exists or can exist.

I’m not sure anyone can help me with the first two of those but at least I can try and make sense of what I’m actually looking for in a game, even if the result is to confirm to me that it doesn’t actually exist and won’t until extremely clever computers exist. Still, I won’t know until I try so here goes.

A Manageable Illusion…
I always thought I was looking for open, but given that I had totally open in Second Life and hugely open in Elite Dangerous and I have left them as both left me bored trying to make my own entertainment I am pretty sure I don’t really want an open world.

Equally I’m not all that enthralled by closed worlds. The list of games I have never finished is staggering and shows me that although I like the initial thrill of a new game I get bored and stop playing. From single player games like BioShock to MMOs like LOTRO & Guild Wars 2 I simply never complete the story arcs and never feel bad about it, after all I can always find out what happens from Wikipedia and YouTube. From this I am pretty sure I’m not after some huge storyline that takes me all over a grand world.

So maybe I’m looking for a small but highly detailed world, one that feels a bigger part of something alive and connected. A manageable illusion of vast openness. So far Guild Wars 2 has come closest with its limited Tyria play area although my recent brush with Elder Scrolls Online has shown me another version of this in Tamriel. Both worlds feel similar to the worlds I drew as a kid hooked on playing Tunnels and Trolls. Both are manageable slices of a much larger world, worlds in which I think I can have an effect.

Big fish, little fish…
There was a video released by Arenanet prior to GW2’s launch, part of its manifesto, that talked about your effect on the world. People in villages you saved would remember you, things you did would impact on the world, and ultimately you and your actions would matter. Unfortunately, like so many of their early claims, this never came to be. In the same way that choosing your story path at the start of the game makes no real difference to your path through the game, saving a village in Tyria has no effect on your character. At the same time I’m railroaded into following a career path I wouldn’t take in any game, that of ultimate hero and saviour of all. So on one hand I can save a village and never be remembered whilst on the other I somehow become the Pact Commander in charge of the greatest army ever assembled. I’m both a minnow and an orca when what I’d rather be is a basking shark, or a seal, or a gull, or a… well you get the picture. My brain simply can not resolve being the most important person alive and also the least, especially when I don’t want to be either.

In the game I want to play I want to choose my own path and I want it to have consequences. I want to be remembered for saving that village, dammit! If, and this is a big if, I want to fight in the army I want to choose how instead of being artificially (and through no more skill of my own than key clicking and wiki-reading) promoted to Commander in Bloody Chief.

Career Advice 101…
Something I have come to like better in ESO than GW2 is the fact you can be anything in the former. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Engineer class in GW2 but I’d rather like to play a mash-up of an engineer, a thief, and a Mesmer but I can’t. In real life I’m doing a job that combines lots of different skills and also holding down family & social lives that involve others. In all the time no one has said to me that I can only use a limited set of skills from one aspect of my life. Games have conditioned me to accept this limitation in their worlds and I’m rather sick of it.

The flip side to this is Elite Dangerous’ ‘do what you want’ ethos. Fancy being a trader? Fine! Want to try out being a pirate now? Also fine! Bounty Hunter? Miner? Assassin? All fine, do what you want! Except who the hell actually does that without consequence? Who joins the peace-keeping, law-enforcing Navy only to then be a trader for a week and then a bounty hunter and then a pirate and then back to the Navy?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily looking for a game I can be a pirate in as I enjoy playing the hero far too much, but rather I’m looking for a game where I can use all of the skills I want to use to follow the path I want to follow without artificial barriers blocking me.

Never a dull moment…
Do you know what raises a good games master above the crowed of OK ones? Adaptability. A good GM will see how an adventure is going and adapt to keep the energy flowing. A good GM will be able to see an opportunity to create a story out of thin air and run with it. An OK GM just sticks with a pre-planned path and never veers off. This is currently my biggest bugbear with GW2. Unless there is a Living World story out (and they are few and far between) there are no stories in the game. Sure there are dynamic events, although these have proved hard to maintain, update and add to so they offer just repeating loops of the same thing. Yes there are dungeons and fractals and puzzles throughout the world but again they are endlessly repeating fights.

What I’m looking for is story everywhere, not just in one area. After all, we know that [insert name of current Living World threat here] isn’t the only threat to Tyria but it’s the only one we can concentrate on and the only one we are allowed to participate in. Very much like the fact I’m forced to be the Pact Commander, I resent the fact I’m forced to deal with X dragon threat when what I want to be doing is helping the Seraph investigate a burnt out farm, or the Lionguard retake Claw Island, or the Priory recover Orrin artefacts, or the Nolan Village council find a lost cub in the catacombs. Anything and everything other than fight another bloody dragon. Or rather, than only be able to fight another bloody dragon.

Better together…
One aspect I really can’t fault Arenanet and Guild Wars 2 for, except for the fact they have ruined every other game for me going forward, is the focus on ensuring other players are not seen as the enemy but rather as friends who can help out. This has, so far, been my biggest stumbling block in ESO with its non-instanced nodes, shared XP for kills, and lack of ‘down levelling’. In GW2 I will tell people if I see a node, I look forward to people diving into a fight with me, and I never feel hugely over-powered if I’m in a lower level zone with lower-level friends. GW2 makes me want to play with people whereas all the other games I’ve played have either been single players games (Borderlands, BioShock) or MMOs that feel like they are (LOTRO, ESO). I can only really feel at home with a game that is as inclusive and other-player-friendly as GW2.

In concussion…
Previous posts in this ‘series’ have talked about how I wanted the world of GW2 to feel more alive with cities that have daily cycles, working shops, player housing, and an assortment of festivals and celebrations. I don’t think this post is really any different in that what I’m looking for is Guild Wars but alive and living. I want freedom to follow my own storylines in my own way and with my own character built in my own way but with other people.

I have a (pipe) dream that I log into GW2 and walk out of my house in Divinities Reach right into a night time parade for a celebration of the gods complete with dancing and singing and food. I move through the crowds and contact any guild mates who are online whilst at the same time checking the local newspaper. There is a report of a farm burnt out south of Shaemoor and the family have vanished so I suggest to the guildies who are on that we go and take a look, especially as the Seraph are offering a small reward for details. Three of us meet at the pub in Shaemoor and to the outside observer it is impossible to tell what class we are. We set off to the farm and start an evening of investigation, puzzling, jumping, and fighting that leads us back to a hidden bandit cell in the city and a fight that scales up as people jump into help. The next night we do it all again but this time heading out to the Shiverpeaks to uncover an ancient book that was thought lost and can teach one of us a key new skill, if only we can get past the Dredge army that have camped on top of the location ahead of an attack on a large Norn homestead.

Now that is a game I’d want to play more of for the sake of playing it rather than logging into to complete my dailies but I suspect I’m asking for the moon on a stick…

Meanwhile, in Tyria… I’m Exploring! With a capital E!

I’ve played GW2 since the beta weekends and even though I’ve had a couple of longish breaks I’ve never gained my world completion badge. Hell, until recently I had never been into the area where the Shatterer fight is staged and only had two way points in Tequatil’s stomping ground!

Well this is set to change.

I’ve wanted to explore more of the world but always had such a blast running with the Gs that it never quite seemed the thing to do – after all, why run about on your own when you can fight with your mates in a fractal or laugh together in a jumping puzzle? But now a few of the Gs are on a break in Tamriel (myself included to some extent) I’ve decided to pull my socks up and just bally get on with it.

Last night I finally completed Caledon Forest and Metrica Province and tonight I found my way into to some of the more obscure event chains and areas such as Oola’s Lab (although I missed Spekk’s lab so I’ll have to head back!) and tonight I started in Sparkfly Fen an immediately  found an amazing ruined castle haunted by pirate ghosts! God I love this game 😀

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A dark and foreboding entrance… who could resist?!

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Inside the ancient structure is rotting away…

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The floors have given way into a deep, dark, and haunted hell hole…


Meanwhile, In Tyria… The brood expands!

I’ve been meaning to post an updated list of my Guild Wars 2 characters so here goes.

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Jurak Gearwright, Level 80 Engineer, honourary Lionguard and my main.

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Bercolwyn, Level 80 Ranger.

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Twilk, Level 20 Elementalist.

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Raketooth Longclaw, Level 20 Warrior.

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Ulfryk the Penitent, Level 80 Guardian.

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Name Unimportant, Level 80 Warrior.

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Torri Dwfn, Level 20 Mesmer,

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Jeb Tiler, Level 80 Thief.

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Marrac Carlan, Level 80 Necromancer.

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Gouge the Communer, Level 30 Revanant.


Meanwhile, in Tamriel… well it sure ain’t Tyria!

Update (23/03/16): Elde has posted her thoughts on this topic here:

In my last post I talked why I’ve drifted away from Guild Wars 2 and into Elder Scrolls Online and now in this post I want to talk about the new shiny responsible for turning my eye, the world of Tamriel, and how I currently feel about both GW2 and ESO.

First off I should say that I’m a creature of habit and as such when I bond with something I can find it hard to open up and move to something else. It was the same moving from Second Life to LOTRO and then LOTRO to GW2 and now GW2 to ESO. Each move is strangely emotional time full of conflicting feelings of loss, regret, and bitterness but also excitement, fun, wonder. I have found this move both the hardest and the easiest of them all.

It’s been hard because in the past I’ve generally left games at the end of my tether so I’m looking for something new, but in this case I was (indeed, am) not looking to leave GW2 as it is still a game I love and enjoy.

Conversely it’s been easy because of my mate Elda. She is an experienced ESO player and loves the world of Elder Scrolls as much as I love the world of Guild Wars. She has eased the transition from Tyria to Tamriel greatly and is proving to have no end (well, no visible end) to her patience with my questions and running off and jumping on things like a sugared up 9 year old.

The two biggest problems I have faced in moving from GW2 to ESO have been around the aesthetics and the lore. Putting it simply the look of the game is not entirely to my tastes and knowing nothing about the world made it hard to care about it.

With regards to the lore, I have found an easy and satisfying fix on YouTube by watching the lore videos of ShoddyCast who has done a brilliant job of making me fall in love with the world & lore of Elder Scrolls.

The other issue of the games look is a little harder to get over and in truth only time will help me with that, but at least it’s not a deal breaker (although it very nearly was in Coldharbour, the fugly starting area, as that was very nearly a ‘no sir, I don’t like it!’ quitting moment. Gods! Who sets their opening segment of the game in the ugliest part of the whole world?).

So, seeing as comparisons are inevitable, I guess I should look at which do I prefer? Well in truth both have aspects I find more attractive than the other. Let me explain by way of a list, the contents of which are entirely personal and subjective and presented in no particular order…

Graphics: Both worlds are lovely (the shithole of ESO’s Coldharbour aside) with ESO having better weather and atmospheric effects and GW2 having a more delicate feel. This is hard to quantify but ESO’s world looks and feels bigger and blockier than GW2, with Tyria feeling more attractive. This is even truer of the character models.

Characters: I can not say this enough – there is nothing ‘wrong’ with ESO’s models (and in fact I prefer a lot of their outfits as they have a nicer ‘real’ feel than GW2’s god-awful spike obsession) but I have yet to see an attractive ESO character. The faces are… well… just not attractive. GW2 is guilty of going the other ways in that you can’t make an ugly or old or scarred character, but it’s more than that and ESO characters all look far better with their faces covered up! Both GW2 & ESO have non-human characters but ESOs are basically a human torso with a cat or lizard head popped on top and it looks wrong, whereas GW2 got it right with the Char and the Kodan races. And give me a walking plant made up of overlapping leaves and flowers and bark, over a spoon-faced dark elf with piggy eyes and spindly limbs any day.

Races and Classes: Dead simple – I like GW2’s races better than ESO, hands down and no contest, but I like SO’s flexible class system better. Except for the Engineer. GW2 Engi beats all. GW2 Engi is fun and flames in equal measure. Nothing comes close to GW2 Engi.

Animations: ESO has a huge range of beautiful emote animations that far surpasses GW2’s pathetic efforts so it’s a huge shock to witness the bloody awful animations your character has for running and walking. My guy is part cat yet he runs like he has a broom handle up his arse! It’s only a small thing as ESO has tons of other great animations but it’s the one I have to look at the most and it makes sad inside every time.

UI: GW2 wins because it is lovely. ESO is awful until you use ‘add-ons’ and then it becomes OK.

Gameplay: Hmmm, this is a biggie. I love the concept of ESO allowing me to make a character I want to and play in a way I want to but I dislike its old quest system (icon over an NPC’s head, pick up quest from them, do quest for them, turn quest in to them). GW2’s dynamic questing system feels more fun but looking at how even GW2 is moving away from that in favour of larger ‘meta events’ maybe it’s just too hard to implement. Other than they both feel similar in gameplay term – explore, quest, level, complete a story.

Combat: So far I prefer GW2 but I strongly suspect this is because I understand it. ESO combat has been ok so far but I don’t have the first clue what I’m doing. In short, the jury is out.

Controls: I have to say GW2 wins for me but again this is because I am so new to ESO that I don’t really know my way around. I’m finding the ‘action camera’ style a little hard which is why I never used it in GW2. Again, jury is out. Again I suspect this will be a non-issue.

Mechanics: I’d say that GW2 does a damn good job of removing barriers at the cost of immersion whereas ESO adds immersion back in. Case in point is selling stuff. In GW2 I can sell anything in my bags on the trading post wherever I am. In ESO, as far as I can see, you have to be in a trading guild and that guild has to ‘bid’ for a place to plop down an in-world stall and only then can random folks buy from you by walking up to the stall and interacting with the NPC running the stall. That is both amazing and faffy and I have no idea if I’ll like it or not yet.

Crafting: ESO looks more like LOTRO then GW2 and that can only be a good thing. Crafting in GW2 is horrible turned up to 11. And it’s boring. And shit.

Lore: Both are fun. Both are derivative. I’m enjoying both. Draw 😉

Fun: Tricky one. GW2 feels more fun right now whereas ESO has a po-faced feel about that El assures me isn’t true. I think it’s down to it being, as Gkaruk calls it, a ‘grown up’ MMO. It feels like D&D and MERP did to me when I was a kid pen & papering it with my mates. It feels… old. I don’t mean that in a bad way. GW2 feels new and looks all shiny. ESO feels… chunkier and slower and more bedded in. GW2 still feels like it’s trying to find out who it is whereas ESO has the confidence of middle-age.

Anyway, I’ve waffled on enough. What it all boils down to is:

  • I like both. I’m going to keep playing both.
  • GW2 looks better and feels more easily accessible fun. Also Engi.
  • ESO feels like it has more depth to it.
  • As long as I have the mates I’ve made through the GGG Guild to play with I’ll be having fun 😀


Meanwhile, in Tyria… well it sure ain’t Tamriel!

I’m not entirely sure how I got here. One minute I’m gloriously happy in Guild Wars 2 and then the next I’m exploring Elder Scrolls Online and I can feel the bonds to Tyria once again slipping away.

I will write more on my ESO experiences in my next post but right now I ‘blame’* Elda in part for her cool thief video ( which made me nostalgic for one of my favourite games ever, Thief. Yet Elda’s temptations are not at the root of the issue.

For me, and I think for other people, Guild Wars 2 has stalled a little and now knowing there will be no more Living Story for months and months in favour of PvP and raid updates. Sure I have a lot to do in the world but little in the way of reason to do them right now as I’m mainly a story-driven player.

Now this has happened before, after all I dropped out from Nov 12 through to Feb 13 and then again from about June 14 to June 15, but I don’t want this to happen again to that extent, especially now I have friends there in a Guild I help run. No, I want to manage my time and my obsessive gameplay nature better and I want to live in more than one game at once.

To that end I’m going to try and do two or three nights in each world a week (with Tuesday totally off) so that I don’t leave Tyria, and my friends, again.


* I don’t blame her at all but you know what I mean. She is the catalyst for a heap of fun 😀