Dig A Little Deeper, Come A Little Closer

Said the dragon to the knight from the depths of its lair.

Let’s talk dungeons.

You all know I’m a former World of Warcraft player, an active raider even (why do I feel like I’m saying I’m a recovering alcoholic?). I played WoW because it was fun and I got to hang with my friends. A couple years ago, however, I played WoW because it was INSANELY fun and I got to conquer gods with my friends. (If you’re wondering though, this was my proudest moment, I was raid leader for that and we were still 25-strong.)

Anyway! Guild Wars is great, and Guild Wars 2 looks even more great. Even in the midst of my excited anticipation, however, there was still a part of me that mourned the passing of Tigerfeet the Raider. There’s something about talking with other people, adrenaline running high as everyone concentrates on performing to the best of their ability, failing, failing, and finally the rush of SUCCESS when the Big Bad of the moment finally falls. It’s the euphoria of accomplishment shared with friends.

Guild Wars Classic has this to a point, but the majority of the boss fights do not leave me feeling like I have accomplished something epic, though Dhuum at the end of the Underworld certainly comes close. The activity I’m missing can best be described as a carefully orchestrated dance to stay alive. WoW’s heavily scripted battles are often maligned as predictable and compared to a guided theme park experience.  I at least found them exceedingly fun.

My explorer was satisfied by wondering “What’s he going to do next”. My competitive side was satisfied when we finally worked through the difficulties and conquered the boss. Since these encounters were scripted, once we gained a little experience (practical experience, I’m not talking about arbitrary numbers attached to your character) we would take that knowledge back with us and try again, eventually becoming proficient enough individually and as a group to overcome the challenge.

While reading Jeff Grubb’s article I started smiling. (Two dungeon modes? Yes Please!) As I kept reading my smile broadened, (dynamic changes within the dungeon? Absolutely!) and when I reached the end and read about the massive scripted bossfights my smile broke into an enthusiastic grin. (HELL YES!) This is the challenge, the experience I’m looking for. This is the manner in which I want to catch Tyria in a headlock and wrestle her to the ground.

The dungeons also remind me of a point I’ve made about Guild Wars 2 in the past. For every amazing and revolutionary step forward ArenaNet takes (dynamic dungeon content), they offer in the other hand a treat of the ‘familiar’ for players of older MMOs (scripted boss battles).

It’s so easy to get angry and feel betrayed when a tried mechanic is implemented in a game that’s touted as being original and revolutionary, but please, think about it.  A game can be new and fresh without all of its parts needing to be so.  I can build a beautiful new wooden floor out of salvaged barn lumber, for example.

If ArenaNet were to turn away every idea and mechanic that had been used in games previously I truly believe that Guild Wars 2 would be less for it. I respect a company that can get excited about the new and unique things its doing while still being happy to offer more familiar mainstays when they work. And that’s exactly what ArenaNet is doing with the dungeons. As we say here in the Midwest, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Of course, a bit of spit shine polish doesn’t hurt.

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  • Comments (10)
  1. interesting point about boss take downs in guild wars. I guess I agree for the most part, but i think part of that is you do some things too often to get much of a thrill out of them. the first time through was a bit more exciting.

    • Borx
    • June 24th, 2011

    I don’t know about you but that stupid giant level 30 spinning frisbee of doom destroyer in EOTN was pretty damn challenging to me. >O Damn thing. Dungeons sound like fun in GW2 unlike the EOTN one’s which I found mostly boring.

      • Tigerfeet
      • June 25th, 2011

      Well, most bosses are simply more difficult versions of regular mobs, whereas the EOTN ones take a small step in the direction of scripted encounters with maybe an extra mechanic or two.

      I don’t know if you’ve ever played WoW, but I’ll describe the Mimiron fight (the second kill shot I posted)

      It’s a four phase fight. Phase 1 you fight a mechanical tank that needs to be… tanked >_> All the while it fires out land mines in a circle and the ranged damage and healers has to stand beyond that cone and the tank and melee dps need to find a break in the circle of land mines to stand in. Every few seconds the tank fires out a huge burst of damage at the tank at which point all healers really need to pour everything they can into keeping the tank alive

      In the second phase you fight a middle section that occasionally shoots out rockets that deal 5 million damage, so you can’t get hit by them. He spins around and shoots at people randomly but then he lays down a blanket fire in a spiral and the whole raid has to run around the room in a circle so they don’t get hit.

      Third phase you fight his head which flies around and shoots at people, a traditional tank can’t take this, you need a ranged tank, which usually means a warlock with demon form but I think it was also done with a frost mage or death knight (my memory is foggy). The regular tanks pick up random mobs that are spawning all over and the raid kills those mobs so they don’t overwhelm the regular tanks. In between that they attack the head.

      Then comes the fourth phase in which the three first phases are combined. The tank is mimiron’s feet, the middle part form his arms and then the head goes on top. You have to watch out for the land mines from phase one (though not the energy cannon), the spin attack and the massive rockets from phase 2, and someone needs to range tank the head from phase 3 (though random mobs no longer come out). If that weren’t enough all three parts need to be attacked separately so that they die within a few seconds of each other.

      It’s a massively complex fight, the most difficult one from the Ulduar raid in my opinion. It was also the most exciting victory I had ever achieved. Even thinking about it makes me smile it was that much fun.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly! I can’t count the number of times that I have done all of the boring grindfest dungeons in GW1. Two different modes, with branching paths, with branching content, that is dynamic? Sign me up!

    I can’t wait until the days where we can be like “stand here, the mobs pop right up there, wait a second for them to move and then we’ll run past.” I think it’s incredibly boring when you know an area so well you can avoid most of the mobs and challenge by knowing to hug walls or wait for certain patrols.

    This is going to be epic!

    • Removed double-post 😉

    • ArcherAvatar
    • June 25th, 2011

    I’m really happy about the apparent design choice to compromise on the accessibility/challenging balancing act that always has to be negotiated in an MMO these days.

    Story mode = accessible (shouldn’t prove too difficult for PUGs and folks who perhaps aren’t as ‘hard core’ as your typical raider.)

    Explore mode = challenging (gloves are off now – you’d better know what you’re doing… and so had everyone else in your group. Ventrillo or similar communications are probably required for success.)

    The only way they could have possibly made me even happier would have been if they also said that each time you ran through the dungeon in explorer mode the degree of difficulty is further increased. Naturally, this would appeal to the ‘achievers’ in all of us, and being able to say that your group just completed the Ascalon dungeon in explorer mode on the 10th degree of difficulty. Not to mention that there would be a whole other level of significance to seeing someone walking around in a complete set of a dungeon’s armor.

  3. A little late on this one, but head phase Mimiron can also be tanked by a chicken. *ahem*

    However, this feature may be what convinces me to head over to GW2, when.

      • Tigerfeet
      • July 21st, 2011

      Chicken tank was my favorite! 😀

  4. This is kind of an odd side question: What is the maximum DPS rotation?

    I’ve just been thinking about this as I level as Blood and am not in dire need of the healing from Death Striking. I was guessing it’s the same as the old Blood DPS rotation, using Death Runes for Heart Strike rather than Death Strike (and eyeballing it it seemed like 2x Heart Strikes > 1 Death Strike in terms of raw damage). I figured having this knowledge it may be situationally relevant when you aren’t in need of the healing while not actively tanking, although obviously it’s not exactly a big deal what your tank DPS is.

      • Tigerfeet
      • July 21st, 2011

      I think you’re a little lost. I never played Death Knight and my WoW days as a feral druid tank are long behind me. I mention WoW only as a foil for my discussion about Guild Wars 2.

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