PAX Prime 2013 Day 2 Recap: Guild Wars 2, Eon Altar, and Smashmuck Champions
After marching 17 blocks including three I had to do twice due to some funky connection issues on my Android’s gps, I arrived hot and sweaty to a full and locked Guild Wars 2 demo. Now while most of the angered fans waited silently like the scary pacifists you often run into in the express line of your local grocery store, I wasn’t about to have come all the way to Seattle to cover a PAX featuring minimal MMORPG coverage and then miss out on the biggest demo of the convention. After much haggling, name tossing, and phone calls I found myself pressed against a speaker in the back corner of a room violating multiple fire codes just in time to witness the massive applause for the reveal of the LFG tool.
Now in my brief history of MMORPG press, I’ve seen quite a few LFG tools revealed. It’s almost always to mixed responses and cheering. And while I’m not enough of a Guild Wars 2 guru to properly judge this rework of the already existing feature, I can say that the response from the crowd was a deafening cheer. And while I could break down all the fantastic features such as seeing in real time what parties are looking for members for nearly any dungeon at any difficulty and even if it’s for personal story, I’ll direct you to the awesome editor, Bill Murphy, at MMORPG who offers about as concise of a breakdown of the system as humanly possible.
This tool might just be put to the test with the revamped Tequatl the Sunless coming with this major September 17th patch. Pitting three teams of the most hardcore Guild Wars 2 fanatics I’ve ever met (remember they made the grueling hike, sacrificing countless hours of PAX Prime floor demo time just to attend) ArenaNet’s new and improved Tequatl not only remained undefeated, but made two of the three groups look like total novices.
And while sure the occasional player I spoke to mentioned issues with not having the gear bonuses they prefer, hotkeys being not to their liking, and even lacking the macros they were used to (psh, macros. Back in my day…) the writing was on the wall; Tequatl is not going down without a well-planned and creative community effort. Likely combined with a 100 man VOIP service. There’s just too many points you need to defend, too many bone fingers you have to quickly focus fire to keep the region clear enough of poison to actually dps the dragon, and if you dedicate too many players to holding down the megalaser batteries and poison clearing turrets, you’ll end up losing a ton of time when the massive bone wall rises to protect Tequatl.
While team 1 and 2 were torn up by this fight, Team 3 seemed to study their mistakes and came into the fight with real tactics to fight this monstrosity. They dodged the tidal currents. Swam through the horrible drowning depths of the undertow, defended the turrets flawlessly for about 12 minutes straight, fought back the poison spawning bone fingers, crushed the bone wall, and flipped around on jumping pads like chimpanzees in a circus. They even unleashed the world shattering megalaser on the slimey lizard three separate times, preventing Tequatl’s raid destroying tidal wave of doom from wiping them out the same way team 2 met its fate. Yet despite this nearly flawless run, Tequatl’s time limit ran out and he scampered away with roughly 15% of his total HP remaining.
And while the good news is rare loot is to be gained here including a Sunless mini-pet and exclusive reskinned legendary weaponry, some of which may be rewarded even for getting the dragon’s HP down part of the way, I can’t help but wonder about this demo. Did ArenaNet artificially set the bar too high, or perhaps the players’ characters too low, to be able to prevent anyone from defeating the world boss at PAX. Could it have just been a marketing gimmick to send a message that their game’s difficulty was upping the bar to the point that even their most hardcore fans would have to up their game to hang with the new baddies? This journalist thinks yes. But hey, if ArenaNet proves it can be done internally (which they haven’t yet), then I’ll give them props on some wicked challenging game balancing. Hopefully they get the numbers and scripting down pat because one way or another, the sun sets on Tyria September 17th.