What I’ve been up to: Jan. 2013

I figured I should make a post detailing what I’ve been up to within the world of Guild Wars 2 now that the game has been out for five months. I may continue making these posts as a record of what a player does at endgame in a game that some may think has no traditional endgame.

My main character has been level 80 for a long time by now and not only has a full exotic set of gear, but now has a second set of exotic armors for the purpose of survival and magic find. I have also been collecting exotic swords with different stats. I have one sword with more condition damage, one sword that has berserker stats, and a third sword with the power, precision and magic find set of stats. Even though I can only get full use out of two swords at a time, I spent the karma and got an Asuran tier 3 Peacemaker sword for the skin and then transmuted exotic stats onto it. I did this mostly for the look, but then put stats onto it for the benefit of a magic find set that won’t hamper my dungeon groups with lower quality stats. I also occasionally use the set in WvWvW to improve my loot there, but mostly for the increased Vitality and Toughness on that second gear set.

My primary alt is the engineer that I’ve talked about on this blog. I’ve pretty much carried over my beta playstyle and tweaked it here and there to be a support Engineer. This alt recently hit level 70 and I wouldn’t surprise myself if I ended up hitting 80 before the week is over. Of course, Super Bowl Sunday may get in the way of that. (Go Niners.)

As for what I’ve been up to, I’ve actually gone back to exploring the world of Tyria after spending the previous months busy in Dungeon runs and WvWvW. You remember that bit about coming back to a zone and finding something new? Surprisingly, It’s true. As much as that claim would be easy to dismiss at first, my alt playing has lead me deeper into the world of Tyria. As it turns out, most often what I find to be new was something old that I never ran into before. One example would be a group of children who play a trivia game inside a cave in Queensdale. Apparently, this has been there since launch. I just never poked my head in there at the right time.

There’s also way more jumping puzzles in the game than I would have guessed. Partially due to my exploration itch this month and partially to be blamed on the monthly achievement, I’ve probably run into about 20 or so jumping puzzles and mini-dungeons this month that I had never seen before.My two favorite discoveries are the Forsaken Halls in Dredgehaunt Cliffs and The Hidden Garden in Mount Maelstrom.

There is one thing tying these two places together even though one is categorized as a mini-dungeon and the other a jumping puzzle. Both the Halls and the Garden require a prerequisite Dynamic Event to be finished before gaining access to them. In the case of the Forgotten Halls, my discovery of the place was months ago when gallivanting about with my guild of real life friends. I saw this huge Dwarven door and curiously poked around it. However, it was closed shut and there was just a brief reference to a npc in some outpost I had not been to before. We moved on, never to return.

But then I did return and this time sought out the NPC. The NPC wanted some items and I had one of the items and as it turned out a group of players just as curious as me had the other item. It was mere chance that we met the NPC around the same time, but soon enough the Charr with the key to the Dwarven door was stomping out of the north and headed towards our mystery spot. When the Dynamic Event finished, he casted a spell to open the door and a new Event started inside. I won’t give away what lies inside Forsaken Halls, but think Mines of Moria sort of stuff.

The Hidden Garden requires a player to find one of the elemental mini-bosses in Mount Maelstrom that guard a portal to the area. Defeating the mini-boss event will open the portal for a brief amount of time and allow players to gain access to The Hidden Garden. The area of the Garden is actually that big blotch of hidden area beyond the eastern side of the Inquest structures in Mount Maelstrom. There is no way in other than through the elemental portals. Once inside, you’ll be required to not beat one, but four separate jumping puzzles in the Garden in order to attain the elemental items at their ends and open the big treasure chest in the middle of the Garden. It’s a beautiful area with immense verticality. Be wary if you get virtual vertigo.

Mount Maelstrom is also home to Conundrum Cubed which may be the most mind-tweaking jumping puzzle I’ve ran into. The area is hidden away behind a shadowy crack in the mountains in the northwest of the zone. Upon entering, you will see an Asuran experiment gone awry. Cubes float and stack in Stargate-esque diagonals and odd angles all over the place. The area looks sort of like a game of Jenga that reached its toppling point and had the ensuing deconstruction frozen in time. It’s quite confusing as a platforming level. Not only does it seem there is no path laid out before you, it doesn’t seem there is a place where you should start. I only found a way up via trial and error of different starting spots. Not only do the cubes lack standard flat platforms to land upon, the floating cubes often have timed spike traps on them, making platforming extra deadly. In addition, traversing the puzzle requires using portals that zap you and block your way. It’s a jumping puzzle that doesn’t make sense until you complete it. There is no straight line and at times, it felt like I wasn’t headed anywhere nearer to my goal when I actually was. I probably died seven or ten times from large falls.

I’m rather determined, so very few of the 20+ secret areas of mini-dungeons and jumping puzzles did I give up on. I did take one extremely brief attempt at Griffonrook Run and decided it was to be left for another day.

As it turned out, this post has mostly been about jumping puzzles and mini-dungeons, but my exploration time has been about more than that. I just find the JPs to be the easiest parts to put into words. The little bits of story and local life that Dynamic Events showcase are better played and paid attention to than described via another person’s experience. There’s also many impressive areas of the game that exist just to exist. Often, these areas have vistas to take in their beauty. The world design of Tyria qualifies for that grand title of  pretty damn cool.