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Guild Wars 2: Dungeon Crawl

By Shamus
on Wednesday Oct 17, 2012
Filed under:
Game Reviews



A while back I talked about how infuriatingly stupid the faction heroes are in Guild Wars 2. I was referring to the story missions, but looking back I realize their really offensive behavior isn’t in the personal quest line, it’s in the dungeons. Their erratic and obnoxious behavior is a side-effect of an overarching problem that plagues Guild Wars 2, which is that the dungeons are awful.

The conventional wisdom is that the dungeons are “too hard”. I hate to say that without qualifiers, because the game is in such an extreme state of flux. Three weeks ago the Ascalonian Catacombs were brutally unfair and senselessly hard. Then I played through it again a couple of nights ago and it had been changed and it was basically tolerable now.

On October 5th, 2012 I got together with this party:

Some of us are naked because our armor has broken from repeated deaths. There’s a cap on how much repairs can cost, so it’s more economical to wait until you’ve got multiple damaged items before fixing them.
Some of us are naked because our armor has broken from repeated deaths. There’s a cap on how much repairs can cost, so it’s more economical to wait until you’ve got multiple damaged items before fixing them.

We had an enjoyably miserable time running face-first into the wall-shaped difficulty spikes, and as part of this bonding experience we all agreed that we should write about it. Here was our group, from left to right:

Jarenth – Level 69 Charr Engineer
Hoffenbachager – Level 80 Norn Mesmer
Myself – Level 80 Human Warrior
JPH – Level 80 Asura Warrior
Krellen – Charr Engineer, later swapped for level 42 Norn Guardian (pictured)

Click on them to read their thoughts on why the dungeon system is broken. Everyone has a slightly different take on it, and they all make for an interesting read. They do a pretty good job of outlining why the dungeon was broken, stupid and unfair, and why most of us aren’t wearing pants, so I’m not going to go over all of that again.

Welcome to the Dungeon

A lot of character classes get special abilities: Knock foes down, knock them back, or lock them in place. (In MMO lingo, these sorts of things are called “crowd control”.) You can also lower their combat effectiveness with powers that blind them, weaken them, bleed them, confuse them, slow their use of special abilities, and other attacks that don’t impact their hitpoints directly. (These are called condition damage.) The problem is that there’s no real reason to mess around with these tricks in the open world. It’s usually just faster to charge in and kill them with direct damage.

There’s also a whole mechanic built around combo fields. This is where one player uses a power that creates a field which can be triggered by another player. Maybe you put some hoodoo that sets a group of monsters on fire. If an ally uses a blast power inside of that field, then all allies in the area will gain might. There are a ton of field effects and lots of powers to trigger them. In open world questing, this usually only happens by accident.

Okay, welcome to the dungeon. You’re here with four of your friends, and it’s time to get a feel for the nuances of your class. Learn about the other classes in the game and discover how your powers might compliment each other. Practice using crowd control, condition damage, and combo fields. There’s a lot to learn here. Let’s jump in:

See, all you have to do is dodge out of the way of the traps. Which blanket the floor.

What the hell!?! This thing is hitting me for half my health! I’m down! Can you – thanks… I need to get clear – I’m down again. What? Where is all this damage coming from? Fire? Are there traps in here? There are traps everywhere? Yes, I’m trying to dodge, but I’m always out of stamina! Grrr. I’m still poisoned? Yeah, I’m trying to knock this guy down, but he’s immune. I’ll try blind. No, he’s hitting me anyway. We could… nevermind, I’m down again. Forget it, that pounce attack just one-shotted me. I’m dead. I guess everyone is too.

This would be a great time to learn all about the crowd control and condition effects, but most foes are immune to that stuff. This would be a good time to learn some teamwork, but you’re saddled with a brain-dead AI companion like Logan Thackery who will talk big in the cutscenes and then Leeroy Jenkins into a fight and die horribly, leaving you to deal with a room full of enraged monsters. This might be a good time to learn to coordinate your attacks and play around with combo fields, but the screen is a maelstrom of particle effects, floor circles, damage numbers, and swarming movement so you can’t tell if you’re doing it right or if it makes any difference.

And you’re still in the first fifteen minutes. Of the very first dungeon.

Lack of Coherent Challenge

This is what? Who hit me? What’s happening? What are all these little red icons beside everyone’s name? Who designed this mess and why am I still playing it?
This is what? Who hit me? What’s happening? What are all these little red icons beside everyone’s name? Who designed this mess and why am I still playing it?

Some people claim that the dungeons are too hard. This is true. The problem is that they are also too easy. Many fights have a waypoint nearby, so you can respawn and run back to rejoin the fight. The only way you can lose is if the entire party gets wiped, which will cause the boss to reset. As long as one person is still standing, your steady stream of respawning players will eventually bring him down. Your equipment breaks when you die, and those constant repairs can get expensive.

The problem isn’t just that some dungeons are too hard, it’s that their underlying mechanics aren’t designed to encourage or reward interesting play. The extreme difficulty is actually masking a more fundamental flaw, which is that these fights aren’t testing for a particular level of power, skill, or gear. There’s no thrill to victory, since anyone can win a fight when they get infinite respawns. When you die, it’s no clear what you did wrong, how you could get better, or what the game expects of you.

This is singularly unsatisfying gameplay. It’s like the old coin-op arcade games where you could continue by inserting more coin, only in this case you’re using the coins to pay for equipment repairs. Or, to swipe Jarenth’s much-better analogy, it’s like a version of BioShock where the splicers hit for 3/4 of your health, but you can still endlessly restart at the vita-chamber. The only way you can lose is if you get bored or frustrated enough to quit.

Nonsensical Difficulty

Question: Why am I paying an anvil to repair my gear? Better question: Why is our <em>cloth-armor</em> elementalist paying an <em>anvil</em> to repair their gear?
Question: Why am I paying an anvil to repair my gear? Better question: Why is our cloth-armor elementalist paying an anvil to repair their gear?

Death is supposed to be your signal from the game that you have screwed up. You’re supposed to look back and learn from your mistake, and hopefully do better next time. But even after hours of slogging away at these meatgrinders, nobody is really getting a better understanding of the game or its mechanics. The game isn’t teaching us, or even giving us perceptible signals for success and failure. Are we dying more than we should? Is this the intended amount of death? We have no metric to gauging our progress except death toll, and that hops up and down based on party composition and the encounter you’re doing.

It’s common for a group of mid-range foes to completely outshine the boss in terms of raw murder-power. Sometimes a handful of mooks will slaughter your party, and sometimes the final boss will be a pushover.

Class / Build Problems

Guild Wars 2 made such a big deal about removing the need for the healer / tank / damage class trio. They sort of did, but in the dungeons they replaced it with something far worse: Unknown and unpredictable challenges that require particular classes or builds to defeat. Yes, maybe you’re sick of spamming chat in World of Warcraft, trying to find a healer for your five-player party because the mechanics demand a healer. But here we have a system where you might get halfway through a dungeon only to discover that you don’t have what you need to get through.

In the gravelings example discussed by the others (see the other four posts linked above) we clearly needed someone who could do a specific type of area damage, as the area damage we had with us wasn’t the “right” kind. In another dungeon, we ran into a boss that got to heal itself whenever you hit it with any type of condition damage. (Poisoning, hobbling, weakening, blinding, bleeding, setting on fire, reducing defense, or any number of other status effects.) The problem was that almost everyone does that sort of damage, and a couple of character classes and builds are specifically designed to stack as many conditions onto an enemy as possible. A player might reach this fight and discover that their character is suddenly invalid and unable to contribute.

Are players supposed to review the wiki, respec their character, and change their gear in order to prepare for a dungeon?

Gimmick Fights

No, don’t use magic. Or guns. Or pets. Or swords. The best way to deal with this giant robot is to throw stones at it. I mean, OBVIOUSLY.
No, don’t use magic. Or guns. Or pets. Or swords. The best way to deal with this giant robot is to throw stones at it. I mean, OBVIOUSLY.

As I said earlier, this is the point in the game where players ought to be working together to combine different types of condition damage, use combo fields, and really explore the extremities of the Guild Wars 2 combat system. This is where the fast-paced, action-oriented gameplay should shine. Instead, bosses are immune to a lot of stuff and the really big bosses are designed around some stupid gimmick. Maybe you’re given some unique weapon (even if your class can’t normally use that weapon type) and you’ll have to figure out how it works while the boss stomps on you over and over. Other fights might have you using a catapult. Many fights require you to pick up boulders scattered around the environment and throw them at the foe for huge damage. Suddenly your specific class abilities are meaningless and you’re reduced to throwing rocks.

And ANOTHER Thing…

Having heroes disagree is GOOD. Having them bicker, whine, mope, and toss petty insults around is BAD. I hate these people WAY more than I hate the “real” villains of the game.
Having heroes disagree is GOOD. Having them bicker, whine, mope, and toss petty insults around is BAD. I hate these people WAY more than I hate the “real” villains of the game.

All of this is in addition to the other lingering problems with the dungeons. The faction heroes squabble like idiot tweens. Bosses jump up after being defeated, spout off some mustache-twirling smack talk, spawn a bunch of bad guys, and then run off while your character stands there doing nothing in the cutscene. The fights are ponderous. The loot is insulting even if you don’t have most of your profits swallowed up by equipment repairs. The environment design isn’t as visually exciting as the rest of the game, and often dungeons end up being very monotonous and one-note. The faction heroes get pancaked in every fight and leave all the work for you, only to step up at the end and get all the attention and credit.

This is where Guild Wars 2 should shine, and instead it’s the worst part of the game. This part is so bad sometimes I forget it’s part of a game I love. The wrongness is so intense and so comprehensive that fixing it would require a redesign from the conception stage. Having said that: Just turning down that murderous difficulty – while not a solution to the legions of problems – would at least make the dungeons tolerable and worth doing.

This game needs some good, challenging bits. Some people have rightly complained that the open-world game is too easy. Players need something they can sink their teeth into, but this isn’t it.

Comments (325)

  1. Trithne says:

    “Are players supposed to review the wiki, respec their character, and change their gear in order to prepare for a dungeon?”

    Sadly, the answer to that is “Yes”. You’re supposed to stop and redesign your entire skillset between battles. It’s the GW1 ‘design your skill bar for the mission’ approach, except dialled up to 11, which made it stupid.

    • Mari says:

      I’m an idiot and a bad MMO player – I thought it was dialed up to 11 in GW1 and it appears now to be bumped up to 30 in GW2. And I hate that. I really do. It feels like “cheating” to me to look up how to do every single significant battle but Guild Wars really seems to think that it’s a normal part of gameplay.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        It would be one thing if the gimmicks and techniques you need to know were research-able in-world somehow. To go digging through libraries or on long quests to discover the technique for defeating these foes… but sadly no.

        • Alexander The 1st says:

          Reminds keep of an article I read earlier today about how adventure games dying off because of the walkthrough method of solving puzzles (Someone provided the link here on the Mary Sue post here, sorry that I forgot who you were).

          Having to read up online to learn to solve a game puzzle (Be it puzzle or boss) is a sign that the developers assume you think their way.

          Which…politics. Can’t go into detail here because of the comment policy, but it’s the largest elephant in the room for the “Everyone thinks my way and understands my logic” argument.

    • Zukhramm says:

      The thing is, the original Guild Wars at least put this swapping of skills and attributes explicitly at the forefront. In GW2 they pretend to be a more traditional MMO, locking the bar to your weapon and giving you a three slots for skills and some attributes for customization that are seemingly more for tweaking than to outright change your purpose. If you do that, you can no longer expect players to change their builds for specific challenges.

  2. Jarenth says:

    I’d forgotten we all dressed up in pink for that gravelings run.

    To be fair, I actually thought the Iron Forgeman was a pretty cool fight. If I sounded otherwise, it was because it was 2 AM, I was set to get up at 6, and I’m pretty sure at least some of your illness has transferred over the Internets.

    • Josh says:

      I am disappointed that Shamus didn’t mention my “They’re making a dragon reaper!” line.

      • MikalSaltveit says:

        Did you happen to notice the gesture the arm gives after the fight? Classic.

        • Jarenth says:

          My one regret is not snapping a screenshot of it when I had the chance.

          Could I pick two regrets, the second would probably be ‘being involved with the Destiny’s Edge storyline, like, at all’.

          • Patrick says:

            (Brisui of League of Eikosi here)

            I love the Destiny’s Edge storyline! Granted, I mostly love it because it’s inadventently hilarious. Rytlock seems to be a borderline sociopath even when he’s not drunkenly berzerk and pissing on the graves of Brisui’s ancestors, Caithe is sorta of shallow hippie moron, Eir’s about as bright as a burned-out bulb at midnight, and Thackeray manages to make the dramatic statements sound prosaically stupid, as though he were a badly-scripted voice actor with inadquate direction.

            Zojia’s fun, at least. She’s a miserable person, but she’s fun.

            In all seriousnes, all the voicework in this game has the common-place problem of voicework in videogames, but turned up to 11 (and a half). The timing is off, and it sounds to me as though the voice actors had only a dim idea of what was going on, so they don’t stress the right aspects of their dialogue. It’s technically competent, so I doubt there’s any lack of skill on their part. Instead, I’d point the finger at the director. It’s not easy to help set the scenes for voice recording, but that’s the director’s job, and here’s a complete failure.

            WHoever cut the sound bits to together should also be shot. There are weird pauses in the dialogue, which means it sounds less like a conversation and more like a twitter feed.

  3. Ben says:

    Now all you have to do is get a WoW character to max level, compare it to this, and you will have a true understanding of why so many people love WoW :)

    • World of Warcraft (+clones) has dungeons down so well, I wish that GW2 had copied their style. I like that GW2 breaks the mold in so many ways, but this is one example where they tried something new and clearly failed.

      Also I’m pretty sure Shamus just gave me more traffic in one day than I’ve had in a year. So, thank you Shamus!

    • Mephane says:

      While GW2’s dungeons are completely unfair, WoW’s dungeons on the other hand are utterly boring (especially due to the holy trinity), and pure “get better numbers on your gear” treadmill that never ends. Go pick your poison.

      • Ben says:

        WoW has a massive scale of group content. Scenarios for the ultra casual (like, bring your mom-level), heroics for the casual (new to the max-level game), lfr for the next step after that, then normal raids, then heroic raids, and then you have challenge modes with their own tiers of difficulty depending on what medal you are going for. Then there’s also pvp and world bosses…

        I’ve never cared much for the gear treadmill either, but if you think that having the holy trinity likely means that it’s boring, that makes me think you aren’t seeking challenges at the right level of content.

        • Mephane says:

          Well if you don’t go through the treadmill, new dungeons, particularly raids, are closed for your unless you find a raid who would just drag you through, or you play it during the next expansion at 5-10 levels above the designed level, which makes most boss fights trivial.

          • Vagrant says:

            WoW has always gone out of its way to make crafted gear and heroic gear, at or near the high end of the spectrum, so you don’t have to spend ages on the treadmill to get into interesting/difficult content.

          • Adam P says:

            They have a new* Looking For Raid feature that lets you go into any raid, provided you meet the minimum gear requirements.** These 25-player raids are designed to be completed in about an hour or less, much like any 5-person dungeon. The bosses hit for less damage, have less health, and have some of their mechanics scaled down or outright disabled. LFR is a great gateway to “real” raiding, thanks to the reduced difficulty and easy equipment drops. It’s really easy to meet the AIL for LFR.***

            * It’s been in the game since November 2011, which was when the previous patch (4.2) came out.

            ** Normal difficulty dungeons, meant to supplement your leveling experience, have an average item level (AIL) requirement of 378-393; the highest-level dungeon drops item level 450 equipment. Heroic difficulty dungeons have an AIL requirement of 450, and drop 463 equipment. LFR has an AIL requirement of 460, and drops 478 equipment.

            *** Provided you’re doing a healthy mix of questing, dungeons, and dailies. There are so many places to get the equipment you need.

            • Trix2000 says:

              I basically swore off dailies within a week again… lost all interest in them after a number of years. Yet I’ve had little trouble gearing up, and I make enough money just from running whatever the heck I want to.

            • Mephane says:

              Adam P, your post proves my point. It is all about getting the better gear, forever. Making that achievable through more diverse means does not change the fact that you are forever running behind that carrot on a stick.

              The very item level numbers almost make my head ache. Oh how I not miss that, heh.

    • lasslisa says:

      It’s funny, one of the things I really liked from raiding was the opportunity to prepare, optimize, re-spec, etc. You shouldn’t have to for an ordinary dungeon, but when you’re fighting right at the edge of your ability there’s a great feeling to eke out the win by dint of better strategy (rather than better gear / higher level).

  4. Andreva says:

    My group tried the graveling burrow event that spawned this article and the linked articles and we came to the conclusion that the burrows were bugged because you couldn’t hit them with a lot of skills. I’m kind of surprised that this wasn’t the conclusion you came to. Maybe it’s because we’ve run into other bugged events in other dungeons, so when we ran into this problem we treated it like any other bug?

    We actually quite enjoy the dungeons, though making fun of the NPCs (particularly Logan, everything is his fault) is one of the contributors to that. ;)

    • krellen says:

      I’d be willing to view it as a bug were it not the way virtually every environmental object in the entire game acts.

      • rofltehcat says:

        Jup, it acts like this for a lot of people. I’m playing a max size charr warrior and I can only hit destroyable objects while strafing sideways. And even then only 50% of the time.

        I think it has something to do with character size because whenever I am in Citadel of Flame, path 2 (one of the few dungeon wings actually farmed by people), the people playing humans and asura seem to be hitting the end boss (who is also a huge destroyable object) just fine.
        [or they just don’t notice]

      • X2Eliah says:

        Yeah. Destroyable catapults, burrows, or anything of the like that’s larger than a weapon rack does this anywhere in the world (usually the stuff is spawned in dynamic events).

        Well… ‘s what I remember, at least.

        • MikalSaltveit says:

          The problem is the code is comparing some arbitrary center of the object, to the location at which you are swinging. For catapults this center can be up in the air, and for burrows it may be under the ground.

          I agree this can be frustrating and I prefer they would change it to be larger. Once you stop imaging the game world as it appears, and think of it in terms of collision boxes, it becomes much easier to consistently hit things. Not that that in and of itself is a good solution.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          Interesting. That has not been my experience AT ALL. destroyable objects go down, no matter what or how I hit it with. Sometimes it takes a while if it’s a robust object, but eventually the pew-pew-pew-pew results in an exploding centaur supply cart or whatever. At least in the world part. Are the problems only in dungeons or everywhere?

          • X2Eliah says:

            As I explicitly said, “anywhere in the world (usually in dynamic events)”. So, in the world part.

            And, yeah, pew-pew-pew mostly tends to work. slash-slash-slash, stab-stab-stab and fwomp-fwomp-fwomp doesn’t.

            Though I think the object’s size/geometry may be a big factor there. Small objects, like the supply cart or a weapon rack, mostly work fine. Burrows somehow don’t. Tents/buildings are terrible for melee. Catapaults are also wonky, iirc.

            • Duneyrr says:

              My Asura elementalist can pew-pew objects into oblivion, but when I summon a hammer I suddenly can’t hit the cart that I am STANDING INSIDE OF.

            • Hitchmeister says:

              A specific example to demonstrate this with is in the Wayfarer Foothills (Norn stating zone). There are a number of roadblocks set up by the Sons of Svanir to be destroyed. Since there are no greataxes in the game, I figured I’d use my greatsword to chop them up. Nope they’re virtually impossible to hit. So I back up 10 yards and shoot them with my rifle. It works, but makes no sense.

      • Fnord says:

        That makes it sound MORE like a bug, not less. Large environmental objects aren’t working properly.

        Of course, that just makes Arena Net incompetent in a different way.

    • Jarenth says:

      Making fun of Logan Thackeray will never, ever get old. There are no exceptions to this rule.

      • krellen says:

        I much prefer to ridicule Trahearne, and his stupid Jesus Sword.

        • rofltehcat says:

          I wholeheartedly agree.

          Though i wouldn’t minf feeding them both to a dragon or the dredge or something.

          Now that I think of it, they’d both make great Dredge leaders.

        • X2Eliah says:

          Yeah, Trahearne gets progressively more annoying as you progress through the personal story. Not to mention that he is a necromancer that reclassifies into … pseudoguardian?

          Then again, I suspect human characters would have more reason to hate Logan due to longer exposure to it.

        • Mari says:

          I hate Trahearne so freaking much. And he’s such a glory hog. I’m considering making a Sylvari named Trahearne just so I can jump in and claim some of that glory for myself once in a while ;-)

        • Stranger says:

          I mock everyone equally, including that idiot who sold apples and blew himself at least partway up some time in the past.

          On the other hand, I can see what they were going for with each character, admire it, and go “this would have probably worked better in a single-player RPG”. The ideas don’t seem terribly bad but the execution and presentation are very much “your mileage may vary”.

          • Hitchmeister says:

            But everyone loves the Overly Attached Charr. I keep seeing people praise him as the only NPC they like. Probably has to do with him dying, can’t speak ill of him after that, right? I don’t get it. He annoys me. I barely tolerate his incompetence on the first mission we do together, and suddenly I’m the best friend he’s ever had? “Step back furball, you’re running third behind Logan and Trahearne. You are far from my best friend.”

            • Stranger says:

              People do not like the other characters who you get paired up with as mentors . . . at least not that I heard. Tybalt is the one everyone likes to talk about.

              And to be truthful? I don’t *mind* any of the characters after I get some chance to dive into the lore and find out why they’ve gotten so bitter to each other. Is it understandable? Yeah. Still childish? You betcha.

              But where I had been wanting to cave in Rytlock’s thick skull for harping on Logan, I got to hear some of what was bothering him. And that got me to see why it stung. Also, why Zojja is such a condescending biiiii . . . lady (mind you, *ALL* Asura are condescending…).

              Trahearne doesn’t bother me as much as he bugs others. Of course, Kormir didn’t bother me either. I guess it’s a hack writer thing :)

              • krellen says:

                I thought I was going to hate Sieran, but I grew to love her. She’s just too adorable. Forgal started good and stayed there; he fit the “Drill Sergeant” idea of what you’d expect from a Vigil mentor perfectly.

                I haven’t played a Whispers to the mentor yet, but the other guildie I checked with on the subject said the Whispers mentor was pretty good too.

            • Mari says:

              Yeah, I have to admit I was pretty down on Tybalt until that one thing happened that made it impossible to hate him. Although I mostly only hated him for pretty much standing around and dying in battle while I got my butt handed to me over and over and over and over and over and over in that one mission with the destroyers that they eventually “fixed” two days after I finally beat it. (Oh. my. gosh. I have turned into THAT guy – the one that stands around “complaining” that I beat such-and-such before they made it easy. Somebody please just kill me now.)

              Anyway, I didn’t mind the way Tybalt was written – just loathed the way his AI was coded. So that puts him much father down on my hate list than Logan and Trahearne.

            • Lovecrafter says:

              I’m usually not so fond of overly enthusiastic people, but for some reason, I did like Tybalt. I think it helps that he’s basically a more good-natured Reeva (one of the warband characters Charr can travel with). While Reeva’s jabs were more snarky (which is something I tend to like in characters), Tybalt’s friendly joking and enthusiasm made him sort-of endearing to me.

    • Winter says:

      They’re definitely bugged, lots of attacks (including basically all melee and ranged attacks–aka, 90% of the attacks in the game) just will not hit them, or will not hit them reliably. If you happen to have the right kind of damage coming from the right source you can definitely beat that. Otherwise you cannot beat that. It’s not a case where you just have to be clever. It’s not doable because you can’t damage it, or can’t damage it fast enough.

      This is really unfortunate.

      On the whole, i actually like the dungeons. Yeah there’s some silly instant kills, but i like Dark Souls too.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        Dark Souls is different though – the health bar specifically makes it clear how much the killing hit does, allowing you to figure out how you died.

        It sounds like Guild Wars takes the Leeroy Jenkins dungeon route of feedback. You die quickly, sure, but you’re not sure why.

        As opposed to Dark Souls’ “You’re being backstabbed” animation.

  5. Aldowyn says:

    And thus the saga is complete as the last piece of the puzzle drops in…

    I still feel like I should try the explore dungeons at some point, but it may not happen. I haven’t even played in a week or more now :/

  6. krellen says:

    Three screenshots and I am not dead in any of them? Thanks for making me look good, Shamus. :)

  7. MikalSaltveit says:

    I have been trying hard not to say anything. But this is just too much. There are number of things factually wrong with your post, but GW2 is notoriously deserving of the appellation “Tutorial-less” and so it is no surprise you do not understand the underlying mechanics.

    I regularly lead pick up groups (PUGS) comprised of absolute morons into any dungeon/path I want. And we emerge with at most one wipe and few deaths besides. There are times when everything goes against you, yes; When you encounter a new boss and their attacks are so unknown and surprising that you all die. This happens once.

    Often, the people I lead tell me they wiped continuously on this boss, or how they had to zerg to defeat that boss. And then we handily stomp all over the poor bosses face. As an example, in The Ruined City of Arah, none of the members of the group, including myself, had ever done the dungeon. Every fight was new and surprising. And we never wiped. The Ranger died once, but she had the unlucky trait of standing way away from the rest of the party. Such that when downed there was no way to get to her in time to help.

    If I were to be constructive offer advice I would outline it as follows:
    1. You must be able to cure conditions. At least once every 5 seconds.
    2. You must be able to take several hits without downing. If you cannot you need more Vitality/Toughness/Healing Power etc.
    3. You must perform Triage on downed allies. You may not be able to fully revive an ally if they are inside a major AOE (NOTE: Red) circle. Sometimes half-reviving an ally can be just as good, keep them from being fully dead while the red circles clear out.
    4. Your main objective during a fight is to not die. Dealing damage is a secondary concern. Balancing these objectives is key to being victorious.
    5. You must be able to do direct damage. Condition damage is useful for some fights, but overspecialization will weaken your character as a whole.

    All of these guidelines apply to the world at large. Players find the dungeons so jarring because the rest of the world, even at level 80, is so easy.

    • krellen says:

      So in other words, you need a specific build and cannot play how you want, as you can in the rest of the game. Which is exactly the argument we have all made.

      • MikalSaltveit says:

        Not a specific build, no. But there are builds which will be weaker and thus much more difficult to play. If you over-specialize in one way you will make yourself weak overall.

        1. Every class has 3-4 abilities they can use to cure conditions. Conditions are THE main source of preventable damage on your character.
        2. You should have at least +200 vitality and +200 toughness overall. This is not WoW where you really have one stat you need to build. All stats are important.
        3. I don’t see how Triage requires a specific build. I merely implore people to play smart and not to die trying to fully revive a teammate. Dying does not help your group.
        4. If you die you deal no damage, simple. Focus on not dying first, and once that is mastered focus on dealing the damage.
        5. If you can only do fire damage you will make yourself weak to monsters immune/resistant to fire. Yes, having some fire damage will help your overall dps. But not if you are expending the ability to deal with fire resistant monsters. Another example, some monsters are immune to blind (i.e. Dredge) This means I should overly rely on the blind ability to prevent damage, as in some cases it will simply not work.

        • Jarenth says:

          See, while these points are all probably accurate, and really, not all that unfair, I’m going to make a Writer’s Faux Pas and quote my own article here:

          “In summary, don't do Guild Wars 2 Explorable Mode dungeons. I don't care if you can do them: I have no delusions about my own skill vs. the skill of people who actually try their best. But each of them, to a tee, is a poorly designed mess of bad encounters and frustration, and there are so many better things you could be doing with your life.”

        • Shamus says:

          All of this goes back to my main point: The dungeons are both too hard and too easy.

          * Too hard, because even when you’re doing things “right” it’s hard to tell.
          * Too easy, because even doing things wrong you can still progress.

          If they REALLY want to build the entire dungeon experience around gimmick fights and condition damage, then:

          1) They should spend the first dungeon gradually teaching you these concepts, instead of TRAPS LOLOLOLOL! Most players are brining a lot of preconceived notions with them. Some from the open game, and some from WoW-type games. If this is something different, then it needs to be taught.

          2) They should make boss fights clear ability tests that gate progress until you’ve gotten the fundamentals down. The way it is now, players can “win” without even NOTICING the focus on condition damage. The battle confusion doesn’t help. I’m in a room filled with fire particles and I’m losing health. It’s natural to assume I’m being hurt by these particles that FILL THE SCREEN, and not by that little red icon ticking away at the bottom.

          3) Encounters should escalate in difficulty, not jump up and down at random. That way players can tell the difference between “we are doing something wrong” and “this fight is bullshit hard”.

          I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m saying if you’re right then ArenaNet still failed at game design, because the success & failure signals are broken or obscured. It would help if ArenaNet would at least step up and SAY what they’re going for here. Is it hard because it’s supposed to be hard? Is it hard because I’m doing something wrong? Is it hard because it’s a bug?

          • MikalSaltveit says:

            I agreed in my first post that GW2 does not adequately explain its mechanics. There is no need to dispute the point.

            I merely remark on the ways in which a group can easily complete a dungeon. Failure to do these things (or a subset thereof) is tantamount to smacking ones head against the wall.

            As a fun and slightly off-topic example, in the Sorrows Embrace dungeon, an Asuran associate of mine Leroy Jenkinsed while inside her Asura mech into the army of Dredge. Although she died most pitifully, we won that fight.

          • Stranger says:

            They really need a “first dungeon” via Personal Story or something. Since you can technically do any dungeon as “first” (Sorrow’s Embrace for me) and each one has their own little problems (I did try Ascalonian Catacombs once, twice, and those traps are the real killer in the beginning) . . .

            Honestly, it still went better than Slaver’s Exile in the old Guild Wars :P If you want to talk about weird “gotcha” difficulties, that one was significantly more difficult than the others.

            Also, if the conditions you’re supposed to mind being hit with would flash with the damage (-348, BURNING! in red text) . . . like it does with “Interrupt!” that might help awareness for:

            “Oh my GOD the conditions are killing me!”

            Note, there’s a big World Event boss where he protects himself behind a barrier. characters can get trapped behind it, and the area is blanketed in intense cold . . . so intense it does a regular 400 damage per second. The way to tell where the source of it is from is flashing your mouse over the effects area. Probably bad design, but I posit that if you haven’t picked up “look at the status marks on targets and yourself” then you probably should consider checking them after the first encounter with a “BS” fight like that one :(

            (Also, bull-crap fights also can be extended into the Orr massive meta-event missions at the five Cathedrals. Each of those have their own particular gimmick to them and they can get . . . unfair really easy. See: Risen Priestess of Lyssa.)

        • Adam P says:

          So basically, mind your surroundings? If so, then I would kick so much ass in these dungeons. How viable are people who focus solely on healing or focus on tanking?

          Has ArenaNet opened sales back up yet, or are they still having population cap problems?

          • MikalSaltveit says:

            As a Guardian who focuses solely on healing/support. I would say we are supremely viable. In fact, when inserting my character into a group of 5 and replacing, say, a DPS Warrior I get exclamations of how much easier the dungeon/encounter has become.

    • Trithne says:

      Every 5 seconds? Each, or across the whole party? If I can remove my own conditions on a semi-regular (say, every 15 seconds) basis but not party members’, do I count towards a party average condition removal rate?

      There being a narrowly defined way to succeed does not make the design any less bad. Doubly so if that narrowly defined way is ludicrous compared to the design of the rest of the game.

      • MikalSaltveit says:

        On yourself only. As a guardian, it is easy for me to specialize in group condition curing (a single trait turns all my shouts into AOE condition cures). The 5 second rule is due to the DPS a condition can do, as well as some enemies will stack many conditions. In 5 seconds many damaging conditions (fire,bleed) can take you to 1/2 health. Simply tapping your condition cure ability effectively “heals” you for 1/2 your health. This places its defensive capabilities far above most healing abilities.

        I don’t see curing conditions as a “narrow definition of success” but rather as a part of the game mechanics, much in the same way as dodging out of red circles to avoid direct damage.

        • Trithne says:

          I’m more pointing out that 5 seconds is, frankly, for most classes impossible. Perhaps with combo fields, but that is not the same thing as ‘bring condition removal that you can use every 5 seconds’. The best I can think of off the top of my head, as an Engineer, is to take Cleansing Formula and overload on Elixirs.

          • MikalSaltveit says:

            I have not played an Engineer yet. I’m sorry if it came across as 5 seconds every 5 seconds to the end of time. I merely meant every 5 seconds for a sufficient duration that you no longer have Aggro/mob is dead/mob has stopped AOE-ing.

            Many monsters will burst AOEs, followed by a brief downtime of 10-15 seconds. During this burst of damage you must be able to cure away the conditions, or I suppose you could mitigate them else wise. You may need to partner with someone who has more cures than they need (Guardian and Mesmer come to mind).

            You can, of course, also avoid all the conditions by dodging at just the right time. This would speak to a balance issue with Engineers vs. other classes.

            Do you ever get aggro? How do you mitigate that?

            • Trithne says:

              Dodging, Blind, Elixir for a few seconds of evade, there are certainly skills for it. But I find I spend a disgustingly large amount of time on less than 50% health, not helped by the terrible respawn timer, utterly opaque aggro system (sometimes I’ll spend all my dodge and evasive skills and STILL have the mobs determined to grind me into a fine paste while my teammates take free shots), and Australian latency.

            • Adeon says:

              You can do it with an Engineer but you pretty much HAVE to have at least 20 points in Alchemy and a somewhat specific build. The problem is that Engineers only have two abilities that natively cure conditions: Elixir C which has a 40s cooldown and Antidote which requires you to equip the MedKit meaning you can’t attack without a massive amount of clicking.

              So the only way to get any real sort of consistent cleansing is to use “Cleaning Formula 409” and taking at least three Elixir abilities to allow you to clear ONE condition every five seconds or so (with half of the cleanses being self only and half being AoE).

              The problem is that the usefulness of this approach depends a lot on your preferred play-stle. My Engineer is already specced as an Alchemist since I play a relatively tanky Engineer using a Flamethrower and Elixirs to deal high AoE damage combined with high toughness. So for me I’d need to make only a minor change to trait selection and drop my racial AoE utility for an extra Elixir.

              However there are plenty of other Engineer builds that just wouldn’t work with this approach. Engineers who focus more on Grenades, Turrets or Gadgets would find this approach very hard to use without making major sacrifices in their core abilities. So for an engineer your suggestion basically amounts to: Play a Flamethrower or Elixir Gun Engineer. Not awful but it is a very limiting requirement.

              • MikalSaltveit says:

                I’m sure you can have a more offensive build, if someone in your group is equally defensive. From the dungeon complaints on many blogs, it sounds more like groups who are all offensive Condition Damage builds go in and wipe multiple times.

                This was exactly my situation on my first AC run. I was a Condition Damage Guardian with a Greatsword. Level 50ish, and we were wiped over and over. Since then I have read extensively my abilities and traits. Every time we do it now, story or path, we have very little trouble.

                • Adeon says:

                  It’s not really offensive versus defensive it’s more that your requirement to have a method of curing conditions every five seconds simply isn’t compatible with most of the options available to engineers. The only practical way to do that is to have 20 points in Alchemy and at least 3 Elixir skills which puts a pretty harsh limit on what options are available to you in general. A Flamethrower or Elixir Gun engineer can do it reasonably well since they are probably building that way in the first place.

                  Conversely a Turret or Gadget focused Engineer cannot do it without ceasing to be a Turret or Gadget focused Engineer (at which point the trait points that they spent on those are worthless). A Grenadier or Bombardier Engineer can do it but it’s not really playing to their strengths.

                  The thing is all of these builds offer both Offensive and Defensive options that are reasonably similar in utility it’s simply that they don’t all offer the one specific defensive option that you are saying is required for dungeons (quick note: this last statement is not meant to sound accusatory, I have no clue whether or not a frequent cleanse effect is required for dungeons or not).

                  • MikalSaltveit says:

                    It is more, point of fact, that if you wish to have high DPS members of a group, you must also have high support members. I’m not entirely certain how important control figures into the equation, as I also have control elements to my build, and I use them in a supportive role.

                    I would phrase it more as “You must balance your offensive with your defensive.” I group with Engineers infrequently, they are not very popular. The few times I have though, they do not appear to down any more often than a Ranger or Thief (comparing across a single armor type)

          • Peter H. Coffin says:

            Plus, yeah, Guardians can do that. With not even a particularly complex build, if you can take every ten seconds instead. But you have to stay close to your guardian to benefit from that because some of the condition cures are area of effect and some are just “allies”, and it’s pretty easy to be outside the AoE if you’re more than a double arms-spread away from the guardian.

    • Vipermagi says:

      I did AC Story with a three-man party; one raw DPS Ele, a mixbag Staff Necro and a healy-type Water Ele. Screw being tanky. Bosses were downright easy (yes, Lovers included), but trash mobs were tough as titanium nails menacing with spikes of cloth. Also arrows and spike traps. They wiped the floor with us with fair regularity. This was on week two or three since release, mind. All of that for a hat none of us would ever use.
      Didn’t need to res-shrine zerg anything though, so there’s that. We had to wipe against some groups to take a Ranger out (always Rangers…), but re-engaged as a group.

      That you can complete Dungeons with pugs is very nice, but the stupid difficulty still exists. The Necromancer boss couldn’t do jack, a random Ranger ghost could murder any one of us in one-on-one combat.

      re Arah; AC is the first dungeon people do, and it’s deemed the hardest from what I’ve heard. I don’t know where Arah ranks on the difficulty list, but I do know people are pretty much bound to have a lot more experience with the game there.

    • Duffy says:

      How is this good design? Even games with cookie cutter number based specs aren’t decided on the spec you take, it just has a 5-10% output difference. Usually less with players that aren’t top of the curve. What your post tells me is that the designers gave us tons of ability options and then designed encounters that required you to pick a certain set of them and to gear for a specific set of numbers that are counter intuitive to the class theme and/or abilities.

      • MikalSaltveit says:

        Players have come into the game expecting the same-old character builds as WoW/Eq2/SWTOR etc… Having a balanced class may seem counter-intuitive to you, but glass-cannon builds have always seemed very at-odds with the overall game design to me.

        Focus first on the lack of a Tank class. With no one to take all of the hits for you, you cannot build your class on that assumption. You must be able to deal with incoming damage. Perhaps you will dodge it. This you can do. You might also focus on having the Protection boon up at critical times (-33% incoming damage) or similarly having Aegis of Blind to remove the damage completely. You might have an alternate state you can escape to where your previous health bar no longer matters (Necromancers) or you might teleport away and leave a distracting clone behind (Mesmers). Perhaps you will activate your BLOCK ability, or even a Riposte, striking back the monster who dared to try your defenses (Warrior). I have not played every class to the fullest, but every class I have played has had distinct ways of both dealing and dealing with damage.

        Do you suggest that all builds be equally viable? Why then do we have builds at all. Some builds are bound to be less, and others greater.

        • JPH says:

          “Do you suggest that all builds be equally viable?”

          Yes, that’s the ultimate goal of balance. They should be varied, but viable. I understand that it’s essentially impossible to get perfectly, but you’re supposed to aim for as close to equally viable as possible.

          Some games do this better than others. Guild Wars 2 handles it very poorly.

          • MikalSaltveit says:

            Some build simply will not work…

            Greatsword Guardian + stacking lots of Condition Duration and Condition Damage. How would that ever work? You would be worse off than if you had stacked Power and Precision.

            Should every weapon have condition damage as well as direct damage? Then what would distinguish them beyond animations?

            SOURCE: http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Greatsword

            • X2Eliah says:

              If “some builds will simply not work”, then that build is objectively misbalanced and redundant. SOURCE: common logic.

              • MikalSaltveit says:

                Did you read my example? How would you make that build viable? Equipping a weapon that does no condition damage, while stacking a stat which increase condition damage dealt, will simply not work.

                Theres no need to be petty and make fun of my sourcing. I’m trying to keep this civil and listing where I get my information from is important to that goal.

                • X2Eliah says:

                  I would use the tilde key (or on-screen swap icon) to swap to my secondary weapon.

                  It is misleading to assume that a build exists around one single weapon, when GW2 specifically encourages weaponswapping. Also, how about guardian passives? You know, the stuff that goes in 6, 7, 8, 9, 0? They are still there.

                  Additionally: purely by levelling up, you increase your stats. A guardian, to use your example, will always have *some* damage on his greatsword even if it is not a build focus. In such a situation, yes, it would be relatively weaker, But not non-viable. And if your point is that builds and characters need to be super-focused and optimized to be viable at all, then I respond with “then something is horribly, stupidly wrong with balancing”.

                  • MikalSaltveit says:

                    I am not suggesting that at all. Why the assumption that a non-optimized build is non-viable? I suggest only that there is an axis upon which we may judge builds. Some will fall to the right, some to the left.

                    If we then example the builds on the right, certain features jump out at us. They have ways of dealing with incoming damage, they have ways of dishing out damage, they are not restricted to a single mode of damage or defense.

                    • X2Eliah says:

                      “some builds will not work” doesn’t imply reduced viability, it explicitly says “won’t work”. So, no, you were suggesting that.

                    • MikalSaltveit says:

                      As I’m not allowed to reply to X2Eliah’s post I guess I reply to my own?

                      There are builds which will not work. (non-viable)
                      There are also builds which will work. (viable)
                      Of the subset of builds which will work, some are better than others (optimized) And some are not (non-optimized)

                    • X2Eliah says:

                      In turn, I say this:
                      “If “some build will simply not work”, then that build is objectively misbalanced and redundant.”

                      In case you feel inclined to do more petty semantics arguing and backtracking, you literally said this: “Some build simply will not work… “. Which is true in GW2’s dungeons, but shouldn’t be.

                      There can and should be optimized/nonoptimized builds. There shouldn’t be non-viable builds.

                    • MikalSaltveit says:

                      But there must be non-viable builds for certain situations.

                      Heres an interesting build I work with: My Charr Ranger is called Scootilipoop. I wield no main hand, and I only use a horn to call buffs. I equip only abilities which employ animals to come to my aid, or send my pet into fight. Its a tough game for a “pacifist” but I’m making good progress towards the max level.

                      Should I expect this build to be viable in a dungeon?

                    • Cineris says:

                      The only way to prevent players from making ineffectual or poorly optimized characters (in certain circumstances) is to remove player choice. That’s not really a good option for a game like Guild Wars since customization and optimization is a big part of the appeal. Consider Diablo 2: You can make a poison-specialization Necromancer, but if you do that you’re going to have a hard time against Undead foes. (And it’s obvious why.)

                      The failing is not that there are ineffectual builds, but in failing to communicate to players why their builds are ineffectual and how to remedy that situation. Ironically enough, a DM NPC that accompanies the characters into a dungeon would be a great way to offer helpful suggestions on why players are failing.

                    • X2Eliah says:

                      @Ceris – but it’s not the only way. The game’s developers have also the option of not including situations where a very narrow specific build is absolutely required (referring back to Shamus’ original example). And encounter designed to be “passable” by a subset of possible builds is poory balanced. There can be optimization up the wazoo – I am not arguing against optimal/nonoptimal. But literally gatewalling not”right” builds entirely? Just no.

                    • Cineris says:

                      X2Eliah: “The game's developers have also the option of not including situations where a very narrow specific build is absolutely required (referring back to Shamus' original example). And encounter designed to be “passable” by a subset of possible builds is poory balanced. There can be optimization up the wazoo ““ I am not arguing against optimal/nonoptimal. But literally gatewalling not”right” builds entirely? Just no.”

                      I tend to agree with the general philosophy of your argument here, but I don’t feel that Guild Wars 2 engages in “literally gatewalling builds entirely.” You are engaging in extreme hyperbole that damages your case. From what MikalSalveit has said, the design of these challenges seems perfectly fine if inadequately explained and different from the overworld challenge design.

                      Also, for what it’s worth, I think it’s perfectly fine for developers to create content that is pretty much impossible if they want to (Whether just to provide a challenge for the extreme players, or as a way of encouraging alternative playstyles).

                • JPH says:

                  The point is that if a sizable number of builds “simply will not work,” it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

                  • Zagzag says:

                    The problem is, that if every single build is equally viable, then you are basically removing player choice in actually designing their character.
                    I do agree however, that every weapon combination ought to be roughtly of equally power when combined with the right stats on your items.

                    • Sumanai (Asimech) says:

                      “The problem is, that if every single build is equally viable, then you are basically removing player choice in actually designing their character.”


                    • Alexander The 1st says:

                      This isn’t “All builds good”, it’s “All builds good, some builds better.”

                      An example of not doing this – in Dragon Age: Origins, a rogue that specialises in stealth and backstabbing simply doesn’t work in larger fights.

                      If you try to stealth your way through say, the later Haven fights because you’re out-matched…you get spotted by assassins and *have* to fight. It’s a non viable build, and there’s no way to fix it.

                      Contrast that with Pokemon: Charmander is a *harder* starter to have, but you *can* make it work. It’s less viable than Bulbasaur and Squirtle, but it is viable in the game.

            • Shamus says:

              I think we’re talking past each other here.

              * All builds should be basically viable.

              Is not the same as:

              * All builds should be equally good.

              For my own part, I’m not against the notion that there are right are wrong ways to build a character, as long as there is more than one right way, and as long as the game nudges you in the right direction or makes it clear what things are important. I like the idea of builds being more about playstyle, and I dislike the notion of re-specing your character before you enter the dungeon because the game randomly decides that your favorite build isn’t allowed.

              • MikalSaltveit says:

                There certainly are many “correct” or “good” ways to build a character. But there is a common thread of “requirements” to much of the higher level(read: Difficulty) encounters.

                I’m coming at this from the perspective of a Guardian, so defense is at the forefront of my mind. However, i’m sure there are good offensive builds that deal with enemies by blowing them up.

                Was there a healer in your group? Or anyone focused on Support? The Trinity, as it were, in Guild Wars 2 is Support, Control, Damage.

                Straight healing is just one form of support, I might also cure conditions (see my 1/2 health comment above) or grant Protection (-33% incoming damage) or Aegis (100% block next ability) to my allies. I am also decked out in of Mercy runes, which improve my ability to help up downed allies.

                Control: Cripple, Stun, Walls, Fear. There are many ways to control enemies. The Mesmer does a good job of this with

                Damage: Of course someone can be damage, but I don’t think a full group of damage will work very well. And there are multiple types of damage, if everyone does the same type you are bound to come up against an enemy resistant to that, which will appear much more difficult for your group. And vise versa for a group focused on a different damage type.

              • Khizan says:

                As a note, I’m an ex-WoW player, never did GW1/2.

                With that said, it seems like the problem here is one WoW used to have: Not Enough Homogenization. While “This is too homogenized!” is one of the things people screamed about the longest in WoW after the changes, it’s also what made them able to design such interesting encounters, because they were able to say “Okay, every group should have the capability to do , so it’s okay to put this into the fight.”

                The lack of the Trinity makes this somewhat harder, which is why I think that they’re going to have to accept that roles of some sort are necessary to designing good end-game PvE encounters. Control/Damage/Support, Tank/Healer/DPS, whatever. If it’s assumed that any group will have at least one each of roles A, B, and C and that everybody of role A will have a condition healing ability of at least X, it becomes possible to balance fights around the idea that “They’ll be able to remove these conditions in time if they’re on the ball” or “When the Big Stupid Crystal does the Big Stupid Crystal Attack, they should have at least one defensive cooldown up to use on the target”, etc, etc.

              • Adeon says:

                My take on this in most games is that I should be able to make a viable, balanced build based around the abilities I’m using (within reason, I accept that some combinations aren’t going to work at all). Now what this means to me in GW2 is that for a specific allocation of Trait Points I should be able to field a useful combination of abilities that will allow me to meet most content (with a certain amount of switching around specific abilities and specific Trait Abilities).

                Now MikalSaltveit’s suggestion of a Greatsword Guardian with lots of Condition Damage/Duration is obviously a badly designed character doesn’t work but that would be a case of someone deliberately using abilities that are counter to their traits. In fact if you look at the Zeal and Radiance Trait Lines for Guardians they clearly suggest that a Zeal/Radiance Guardian should be using a single hand weapon and a Torch (yes I realize that you might spend some Trait Points in those lines for other builds but if you are heavily into both you almost certainly need a Troch).

                Now I have no problem whatsoever with the idea that a Zeal/Radience Guardian should always carry a Torch. The problem I do get is if the game then says that a Guardian needs to use a Shield in order to do Content X. That’s breaking the implicit agreement between the game and the player that by taking Zeal and Radiance they will always carry a Torch.

                I guess what I’m saying overall is that there should be builds for each profession which are reasonably obvious and offer options to cover most content.

                Let’s take the Engineer for example, I’ve been playing around a bit and would list three generla categories of Engineer builds: Alchemist, Gageteer and Explosives Expert.

                The Alchemist uses either a Flamethrower or Elixir Gun for general combat (depending on the situation and personal preferences) and Elixirs for his other skills. Trait points go to maxing out Firearms and Alchemy with ten points in pretty much any other line (Inventions is probably my recommendation).

                The Gageteer uses one of the standard weapons (Rifle, Pistol/Shield or Pistol/Pistol) for most combat but may use a Med Kit or Tool Kit in a more support role depending on the situation. His other skills are either Turrets or Gadgets depending on the situation and preference. For Trait Points he has at least 10 in Firearms, 20 in Inventions and 20 in Tools with the other 20 being split between those three lines (or possible Explosives) depending on personal preference.

                The Explosives Expert mostly uses uses a Grenade or Bomb Kit as his primary attack (depending on preference and situation). His traits are more variable except for 30 points in Explosives but I’d spend the others on 30 points in Inventions and 10 in either Alchemy or Tools (other options are possible but I’d be concerned that that they make the character to specialized). His other skills can come from pretty much any category but either Elixirs or Gadgets are the most likely. Unlike the other builds he isn’t as specialized in his Utility Skills since he focuses more on his primary weapon kit.

                There are probably some types that I’m missing but those are the general categories I see. Now what you’ll notice is that within each category there is a reasonable amount of room for variation in actual play. All three have both long range and short range damage options (Flamethrower vs. Elixir Gun, Standard Weapon vs. Wrench, Grenades vs. Bombs), all three have a team support option (Elixir Gun, Med Kit or Bomb Kit with Elixir-Infused Bombs), all have at least some ability to self buff and deal with at least some types of debuffs. The also (and this is important) have the ability to change up their role substantially by selecting different trait abilities and utility skills but not requiring a full up trait point respec.

                So I guess the core question would be, does the GAME regard all three options as viable? Because when I look at the Engineer Skills and Traits those are the three builds that are getting suggested to me.

                • MikalSaltveit says:

                  Zeal Greatsword?

                  The contention seems to be that there should be no non-viable builds. But I can give many examples where I can create one.

                  Does the ability to play the game wrong mean the game is broken?

                  • Adeon says:

                    Ok, let’s take this in order:

                    1. Zeal Greatsword: Note that I specified Zeal AND Radiance. Your original post specified having Condition Duration AND Condition Damage which would suggest having both trait lines (yes, I realize you also have gear but in general your choice of trait lines is indicating your general goal for a character). A Greatsword using Guardian will almost certainly have points in the the Zeal line (since Power is useful to him and it contains two strong Greatsword Buffs). He is, however extremely unlikely to have BOTH Zeal and Radiance since Radiance is oriented more towards using single handed weapons with an off-hand (probably a Torch).

                    2. Now I think that the key issue here is the definition of “build”. Personally I define it based on the things that I can’t easily change which is my allocation of Trait points and the specific bonuses on my Armor (because it’s so expensive I’m not likely to have multiple sets). I allow changing weapon types since that has such a strong impact on available abilities and of course Skills and Trait Abilities can be freely changed outside of combat.

                    Now within that limitation what should determine a viable build? I think we can at least give the limitation that a viable build has it’s trait points distributed in multiples of 5 (to maximize the number of trait abilities) and that the selection of Armor bonuses is derived from that. However within that limitation I think that it should be possible to spend my Trait Points however I want and get a build that is at least viable in all situations.

                    • MikalSaltveit says:

                      It was a joke nes pa. That trait heals for 70hp a hit. Against my 16,000 health pool it is such a small drop it is not even worth mentioning.

                      Ah. And I see things as a whole. Your traits are but one piece. A Guardian with a Greatsword might have no points in Zeal, as the Greatsword is used secondarily to his Staff.

                      Guardian Greatsword is able to combo with itself to produce AOE Condition curing. I find this very useful. In addition to the blind and pull, damage is also increased relative to the Staff.

                      I never change my traits, skills, or weapons. I have constructed a build I am happy with. I see no reason to alter it.

                    • Adeon says:

                      That would explain the difference in opinion. My general attitude is that if I can change it out of combat then it’s an option, not a part of my build (armor being the exception due to the high cost associated with it and the amount of bag space a spare set takes up).

                      I have a general set of weapons, skills and trait abilities that I prefer to use but I’ll happily switch them out in the field if I need to. I also carry around some spare weapons although since my Engineer is focused on kit skills I don’t use them very often.

              • I haven’t played GW2, but from what I’m reading here, it almost sounds like the problem could be addressed by having the dual builds that City of Heroes (may Paragon City endure forever) put in, mostly for controller and defender builds. You have one build that you chose for teaming (emphasizing, naturally, team buffs/heals) and one for solo (where you picked self-heals/buffs and more offensive attack powers).

        • Duffy says:

          “Do you suggest that all builds be equally viable? Why then do we have builds at all. Some builds are bound to be less, and others greater.”

          All your posts indicate that there is a one true build or so close that the differences are irrelevant flavor. How is that different from what I reference? The only difference is that my references do not have pitfalls built in where you will fail, my references are a choice of flavor or function without a penalty of failure tacked on for choosing wrong. GW2’s system is designed with failure as an option. It’s all the more bitter since the rest of the game does not indicate this possibility to you.

          When the choices are not actually choices they have failed at game design.

          • MikalSaltveit says:

            I have the perfect example. My wife’s Mesmer has an ability called Illusion of Life, which helps up downed allies for a short time. Should this ability be as useful while soloing as while in a dungeon? I submit that not all abilities are useful in all situations, and thus you could construct a build which would fail miserably.

            I also submit that there are thus abilities which will produce superior builds, no matter which way the bread is sliced.

            SOURCE: http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Illusion_of_Life

            • JPH says:

              “I also submit that there are thus abilities which will produce superior builds, no matter which way the bread is sliced.”

              And that’s bad balance.

              • MikalSaltveit says:

                You ignore the contention, and state an absolute. There is nothing further I can discuss with you.

              • Khizan says:

                No, it’s not. It’s that when you have a finite amount of skills to choose out of a larger pool, you’re going to miss some skills. Since everybody will be missing some skills, it is entirely possible that you’ll have a group that winds up with no applicable skills for a given encounter.

                That’s not “bad balance”, it’s an inevitable consequence of their choice to design the characters and the skill systems the way they did. What do you expect them to do? Build hugely dynamic encounters that pick boss abilities based on your skills? It’s hard enough getting encounters balanced properly in WoW, where there is a solid trinity.

                I mentioned it above, but I’ll say it again here. I firmly believe that they’re going to have to homogenize a bit and form some sort of Tank/Heal/DPS analogue(Support/Control/DPS, maybe?) if they want to design interesting and balanced endgame encounters. When it’s possible to safely assume that every group’s going to have somebody capable of controling a zergling wave, or every group will have somebody who has a defensive cooldown to use on a situation, it’ll be possible to build balanced encounters on those assumptions.

              • Sumanai (Asimech) says:

                Well, it’s bad design. Any game where you’re likely to use the same character in a solo or team environments shouldn’t have powers that are only useful in one of them. Otherwise players will be forced to make the decision between those two for no real reason.

                Note that this includes powers that have to be bought with the Skill Points even though it’s possible to unlock all of them, since the player might not have enough of them to “fix” their character at the point where their friends want to team up. The less speed bumps in teamwork, the better.

                So the Illusion of Life, for example, should benefit the user in a way that would make it practical even when soloing. Maybe make it so that if they cast it when there are no valid friendly targets it will cast a boon on the caster.

                Also it should be noted that “intuitively a bad idea” is not equal to “non-intuitively a bad idea”. If a power is clearly something that is of only use in a particular situation, like “revive a team mate”, that’s not as bad as something that may seem practical.

                If the build is non-viable because of latter types of problems, then there’s a balance problem. Or the game doesn’t teach the players correctly, so it’s still a design FUBAR.

                From all of the blog posts I’ve read (the ones linked here, basically) the problem is pretty obviously the latter, that if nothing else the game doesn’t inform players properly with Guild Wars 2 dungeons, so implying that “they’re fine, you’re just using non-viable builds” is simply wrong. Or at least kind of dick-ish.

              • crossbraindedfool says:

                That’s a unreasonable expectation.

                Maybe I should back up and explain my background – I’m fairly invested in Magic the Gathering, and that influences my perspective on any game with dozens of swap-able parts.

                Balance across the board is actually not something to go for in this environment. The designer wants there to be variance in power, usually combined with variance in function, not to mention things that. Especially when the same elements (cards in magic, skills and traits in Guild Wars) have to function in different environments (Big 4+ multiplayer vs Competitive Constructed vs Limited, or Open World vs Dungeons vs PvP).

                For example, take the Necromancer Trait Toxic Landing (reduce fall damage by 50%, and poison people near you when you take fall damage). For most things, it’s pointless, and any one who thinks taking it into a dungeon is a good idea is short on brain cells. But why is it there?

                Two words : Jumping Puzzles. That’s why it’s there.

                The same, but less extreme case, is going to come up a lot. Take another trait, Spiteful Removal (When you kill something, remove a condition from yourself). In open world roaming, doesn’t seem that useful. From what is being said, it appears that it might be critical in a dungeon environment, at least for boss fights with adds.

                This is only with one class, and with my limited knowledge of dungeons. sPvP and WvW are probably each quite different again. And that’s just a few things.

                What you want is options, but if the Dungeons are meaningfully difficult, then most builds that are fine for running around doing events are not going to be fine in Dungeons, because you want different things in different environments, and part of the point of the Dungeons is a difficulty spike.

                What you do want, is variability. You don’t want the professions to lock down like WoW, where the Rouge is always DPS, the Warrior is always a tank, etc. As mentioned elsewhere, it seems that this has done, somewhat.

                On a completely unrelated note, who should I pester and how about joining the guild?

            • Adeon says:

              No abilities don’t have to be equally useful in all situations. BUT for a given distribution of Trait Points I should be specialized into a suitable range of skills to cover all situations. If a situation requires a specific skill (or if a specific skill is overly powerful in some situations) then it needs to be equally useful irregardless of how I’ve spent my trait points (which includes the opportunity cost of switching out a different skill).

              Now obviously GW2 isn’t perfect here. There are certain combinations or Trait lines that are just never going to work well together and it’s definitely possible to make a character that is to heavily specialized but the game should allow multiple trait allocations for each class which are both obvious enough for players to see without needing Excel and flexible enough to cover a wide range of situations.

    • Zukhramm says:

      The thing, why do I have to be able to do all that in dungeons? Does entering a dungeon transport me to a different game? Sure, dungeons should be harder than just running around the world, but it should be the same basic game. Either the game should drive players to play that way outside of dungeons too, or it should let people get by with their normal tactics inside dungeons.

      • MikalSaltveit says:

        The game does teach you these things though. The fire elemental in Metrica Province, the Destroyer Harpy in Kessex Hills, the giant in Diessa Plateau. These are difficult fights where you learn to keep out of the red circles. Everything else I mention is just an extension of that skill.

        • Zukhramm says:

          I reached 25 without ever needing to do anything other than rolling my head on my keyboard, and the first dungeon is available at level 30? There might be individual fights that requires more, but that’s the problem, the normal, most common gameplay is nothing like that.

    • Zagzag says:

      Ok, no idea if you are going to read this, but I thought I might just say this.

      I ran twilight arbor explorable right before reading this post. It was a three hour long misery session of constant wipes and dying. I read this advice and decided to follow it, and it actually worked. I made sure the group was aware of what you suggested and the same group got through TA explorable (different path) today in half an hour with no wipes at all and only two or three deaths in the entire thing. So, I would really recommend that people try this out before dismissing it.

      I’d say that difference is more than can be made up by simple luck or a single run’s worth of practice.


      • MikalSaltveit says:

        I’m not entirely sure how these forums work, after much scrolling it appears you are responding to my post.

        I am pleased to hear that my advice worked. Can you be more specific as to which parts helped? I am interested in distilling the knowledge down to its core. Somewhere in the game the developers failed to educate the majority of players before their first dungeon, myself included.

        That I have discovered the correct course on my own does not excuse this. However, perhaps this is yet one more thing they expect players to teach each other? In this case it might be perceived as an intended bonding experience for the community. Why then did it not work? Maybe because much of the game encourages helping, but not communicating? Food for thought yes?

        • Zagzag says:

          Yes, I was replying to you, and thanks for taking the time to scroll.

          To be honest I’m not really sure. Almost everyone did a respec to be a bit more durable, which probably made a fair difference, and people picked traits with what you said in mind, rather than in some cases just using what they had picked as they levelled then never changed. People were also specifically focusing on not dying as their highest priority, which almost certainly led to fewer deaths. Part of it is probably having to unlearn things that other MMOs have taught you.

          We also came up with a proper organised system for dealing with conditions, which made sure that we were hardly ever seriously affected by them.

          I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’d say that it was a general combination of all that you said that led to us doing a lot better, and that every point you made was relevant, even if some people were already doing some of the things (the direct damage one especially).

          Also congratulations on the longest comment thread I’ve seen on this site in recent memory!

  8. Mephane says:

    What is most infuriating is how ArenaNet nailed some boss fights almost, then missed the creation of an interesting, challending fight by tiny bit. For example, Subject Alpha, the recurring boss in Crucible of Eternity in explorable mode. That purple crystal is just unfair, because the entire fight is designed around avoiding and dodging out of AoE that really hurts. Even if you successfully avoid all the AoE (which is indeed fun), as soon as you get picked for the crystal, it’s usually poof and you are dead because 3 variants of AoE are dropped on you. Only if some specific cooldowns (invulnerability, protection boon) are ready at that time and your group mates have the chance to react quickly enough can you get out of the crystal alive. Then you have to pray not to be imprisoned again until those cooldowns are off again…

    Ceterum censeo: Personally, at least as a band-aid, they could just reduce almost all damage from mobs and bosses in dungeons by a third to a half.

    P.S.: There is a cap on equipment repairs? Like, even if your calculated repair bill would amount to more than X, you just pay X and everything is repaired again? And to reach that point you have to wait until stuff is broken and thus not even shown on your character?

    • MikalSaltveit says:

      According to the wiki, the cost for repairing a broken item (red shield) versus a damaged item (yellow shield) is the same. However, while your items are broken you are contributing in a sub-par manner to the group, which will increase the difficulty of the dungeon.

      SOURCE: http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Equipment_Repairs

      • Mephane says:

        Which means you could just cut to the chase by not wearing any armor in the first place, heh. I am doing that in the rare occurrences when I go to WvW, because I find repair cost for being zerged down just plain wrong and unfair, but in an environment like a dungeon I would not do that.

        • MikalSaltveit says:

          Not wearing armor, or not repairing damaged armor, will increase the likelihood of your character dying. The repair cost for each death is ~1s50c If you take complete a WvW Event you get 3-5s. There is no reason to leave WvW with less money then you entered, just take smaller objectives or stick with your army.

    • Shamus says:

      I don’t know where the cut-off is. I know that for my character, the max bill is 10.5 silver. So I check back at the anvil every few deaths until it hits that point.

  9. carrigon says:

    I love the open world aspect of this game, I can go any wherever and do whatever I want (within reason) but haven’t played any actual dungeons yet. My story instances were bad enough, was lvl 15 before I was able to beat my lvl 8 story and that was only with superior armor and weapons. I tried every powerset I had and finally succeeded with my original. Maybe I got better at the game, but I don’t think so.

    • RTBones says:

      Its probably a bit of both. Thats what happened to me, anyway. My issue was much the same with my own story missions. I changed my tactics slightly and was able to beat the first few story instances by being well above the level they were ‘supposed to be for’ – with superior gear than I “should” have required. I’m now just a couple levels above what my current instances are rated for, and am able to hold my own.

      Oh, and I also havent done any dungeons yet.

  10. Adam says:

    Ah, there’s the nitpicky Shamus I know and love. Things just haven’t been the same since you’ve been gone, man.

  11. rofltehcat says:

    Hey, can someone please invite me to the twentysided guild? I added the two people mentioned in the original guild post but they never seem to be online or something.
    Name is Rragaar Chaggar or Panzen.4625

  12. Zagzag says:

    I love how Shamus has a char filter called “Relevant”

  13. I found the dungeons in The Secret World to be equally painful and unintuitive.

    Often I felt that the game play in the dungeons revolved around me trying to figure out exactly what the designers were expecting from me, rather than just enjoying the experience itself.

    I don’t think some game designers realize that frustrating your player base is NOT the way to keep them playing.

    • Trithne says:

      I think it’s more that, as a software engineer, when you’re putting something together, in your head the ‘correct’ way to do it is obvious. How could anyone not instantly realise how your program/dungeon/puzzle in which you use cat hair to make a mustache to impersonate someone who doesn’t have a mustache works? It’s not until you put a bunch of victims in front of it to test it out that the lack of obviousness (hopefully) becomes apparent.

      It’s what makes you wonder if testing is still a thing.

    • Sumanai (Asimech) says:

      I just remembered an instance quest (I think it was the main story quest) where you had to sneak around avoiding spotlights. Unfortunately, the detection was buggy so there was no way of knowing if a location was safe or not until you tried and were shot at. It was late, I was feeling stressed by The Secret World and so quit. Next morning the game told me I had to start it from beginning, which was too much and I never attempted it again.

      This was in the free weekend, so I don’t know if they’ve changed it since then.

  14. anaphysik says:

    So humans are laughably small in this game, I take it. I at first assumed the middle character in that first image was some sort of bite-sized faerie, until I recognized the hair and the ‘broom’ (rifle, whatever) as the same character from your past posts.

    Which makes me look at those enormous characters on either side of her and say PFFFFTHBTHBPHTH


  15. Ateius says:

    I don’t want to turn the comments thread into a huge argument, but I’m incapable of silencing myself, so just a few quick things (and yes, I have actually completed explorable now):

    Welcome to the Dungeon: You’re supposed to be learning that stuff in dungeon story mode, not explorable mode. Explorable is for after you’ve mastered it.

    Lack of Coherent Challenge and Nonsensical Difficulty: I have nothing to disagree with here, although I respectfully submit that zerg tactics are not the most optimal way to keep repairs down.

    Class/Build Problems: The amount that the boss heals itself for based on conditions is pitiful and it only does so once in a blue moon. Just attack as normal. The real problem is removing conditions on yourself, because he constantly sets you on fire unless you’re an absolute maestro with dodge.

    The only changes I make for dungeon are taking a rifle instead of a longbow (better single-target damage) and equipping some extra condition removal skills. So no, you don’t have to completely respec every time.

    Gimmick Fights: These exist and they are not a thing I am fond of. Tip for keeping The Lovers apart (another one of the blogs mentioned them specifically): You can toss boulders at them for knockback. Almost every class also has either weapon or utility skills that cause immobilization or knockback (or pulling). They don’t need “aggro mechanics”.

    And another thing: I’ve only met one boss who pulled a JRPG like that. I hated it, mind you, but it’s only him that does it.

    My complaint about explorable mode dungeons? The loot doesn’t scale up to match the challenge. ArenaNet says they’re looking at this; they can’t fix it soon enough.

    • X2Eliah says:

      I might be wrong, but I think a good share of those wipes were in story mode.

      Having tried the original release version of Ascalonian Catacombs and .. [forgot the name – the level 50 sylvari zone dungeon], in story mode, I can attest that they still suck rotten eggs.

      Edit: random semirelated rant: since when did “exploration” as a term start to mean “1337hard test of frustration”? I thought the purpose of “exploration mode” would logically be to let players, you know, explore and discover stuff, not test their internet latency and clicking skills.

    • Shamus says:

      In Welcome to the Dungeon, I was talking about story mode. Some traps are controlled by a switch you’re expected to find in the middle of a fight, some traps come from gargoyle heads that must be destroyed, some traps are actually created by rangers, and some traps are just magically there and can’t be removed.

      In the first couple of minutes you’ve dumped all of these on the player, and then they fight with a giant spider that unloads massive damage while “traps” go off. You see red circles on the floor, but you can’t tell if those are the boss or the traps. You can’t dodge out of the circles because they blanket the floor. As you say, it’s all about condition damage, but the player is naturally going to see this as a dodge problem, because that’s what the game taught them up until now.

      I agree that zerg is a bad solution. But when presented with the above scenario, that’s how players will naturally respond.

      • Ateius says:

        The giant spider isn’t in AC story mode, it’s from explorable. That’s why I responded as such, because you included the spider picture as your example.

        I think – with respect – you might be conflating your story and explorable experiences (such as where the spider occurs), after doing both in one long marathon session. AC story starts off very slow, in a room where you manually spawn one enemy at a time until a miniboss shows up. This introduces you both to the enemy types of the dungeon and the fact that they are much tougher than normal enemies, in a controllable environment. The next room has three enemies and traps on the floor. Rushing in gets you killed quickly, but the enemies can be pulled outside the room – this introduces the idea of pulling enemies away from their spawn rather than just rushing them, as well as debuting the traps. Another miniboss follows, and then the fire-spewing gargoyle heads are introduced in a large room, by themselves, with no enemies to distract you, so you can learn how to dodge and/or destroy them (most of them; a few are unbreakable). There’s another melee-focused miniboss, and then the first proper boss, which is just the first miniboss with a lot of adds and serves to teach you how to deal with adds in a boss fight. Things ramp up from there.

        Story mode can have a rough start, especially if you rush everything (again, like I did first time), but if you slow down you can learn the mechanics as you go. Explorable is a whole magnitude rougher still, and seems to be meant for the hardest of the hardcore. I’ve staggered through one branch of AC explorable and I’m not sure I want to go back.

        • krellen says:

          We DID run into trouble with trash mobs in Story Mode, even the latest time we did it – more so than with the bosses, even. As I alluded to in my comment above, I spent a lot of the dungeon dead, because a damage-focused engineer is a bad thing to have in a dungeon.

        • JPH says:

          We total party wiped in the second god damn encounter of story mode. That’s when it hits you with three of the big Ascalonian dudes at once, while also throwing traps in your face.

          That is not good pacing. The traps should not be able to two-shot you, and the Ascalonian ghosts should not be so absurdly powerful.

          • Ateius says:

            The entire floor of traps glows with the big red “DO NOT STAND HERE” circles that the regular PvE has been teaching you to avoid. My party wiped there too the first time, because we didn’t pay attention and charged right in. We respawned, had a huddle, and decided that maybe we shouldn’t charge into the room full of big “THIS IS AN ENEMY AOE” circles. Things went much better the second time as a result, and we started paying attention to rooms before entering them.

            • JPH says:

              The game shouldn’t total party wipe us at the point when it’s first teaching us to avoid traps. Especially since dying COSTS MONEY.

              • Ateius says:

                You only party wipe to the traps if you ignore the big red “THIS IS AN ENEMY AOE YOU SHOULD NOT STAND HERE” circles liberally plastered all over the floor and run straight in. This is not the game teaching you for the first time to avoid these things. The entire PvE experience has been teaching you that big red circles are bad and cause bad things to happen.

                • JPH says:

                  We hadn’t been taught that the traps instantly hit as soon as you step over the big red circles. In fact, up until now I was going by the logic that red circles mean timed attacks will be coming soon. I specifically tried to run quickly past the red circle quickly because I thought that meant the trap would attack soon and I still had time; instead it hit right away and killed me. Whoops.

                  • Shamus says:

                    I took it the exact same way. “Run or dodge through this space”.

                  • krellen says:

                    Some jumping puzzles teach the mechanic of “don’t step in the red circle”, but it is non-standard as a whole. Perhaps if they were a different colour…

                    • Ateius says:

                      Every enemy AoE attack causes a big red circle, identical to the trap circle, to appear on the ground. It is the standard “Pain happens here” circle.

                    • krellen says:

                      That was kind of my point. Red circle meaning “bad things happen here” is too generic, since enemy AoEs and the spike traps in dungeons (and a few other places, such as jumping puzzles) don’t work the same.

                    • X2Eliah says:

                      The big red circle in not-dungeons indicates a “medium somewhat-painful damage is slowly happening here, time to walk out of it just in case” situation in the overworld. Also, it can indicate “there is damage incoming on this place after some time”. In regular game, it does NOT indicate “this circle is INSTANT DEATH RIGHT NOW”.

                    • Ateius says:

                      Traps aren’t one-shot unless you’ve already taken damage (or have hyper-specialized into a pure glass cannon build, in which case you have no business out in front where the traps are anyway), so they’re no more “instant death” than any AoE on the overworld can be.

                      The timing issue is … different. Yes, in the overworld a red circle means “Pain happens here in anywhere from 1 to 3 seconds from now”. However, it doesn’t start that countdown from the time you enter that circle – it starts from the time the circle appears.

                      The trap warning circle doesn’t appear out of nowhere underneath you and then instantly do damage. It’s sitting there, clearly visible, before you enter it. So, even if you’re operating on the assumption of “Bad things happen shortly after this circle appears”, it has already appeared and been in existence for a few seconds before you can actually reach it to move inside – roughly the timing you should expect for horrible pain to commence.

                      Also, Rytlock verbally warns you about the traps as you approach the room, so there’s that.

                  • Ateius says:

                    You can dodge over a trap and not take damage, but that just puts you on top of another trap, because the whole floor is glowing danger-red and you can only dodge so far. Just running isn’t always (in fact, frequently isn’t) enough to get you out of redzone danger in the overworld, especially if you start at one edge of the circle and try to run through to the other side.

                • Steve C says:

                  It does not help that the big red circles lie. More often than not the area effected by the bad whatever is larger than the circle. Sometimes by a lot.

                  However because all the bad stuff is a red circle and looks like every other red circle you have no idea if this red circle is lying to you or not.

                  Lying about the size of effects is common in games. What’s not common is having them lie and look the same as the ones telling the truth. “Oh it’s that purple sparkle again. I know that one. That one is bigger so I’ll give it more room…” Doesn’t work in GW2.

                  This all comes back to the root problem that GW2 does not provide enough info to make proper decisions.

                  • Ateius says:

                    I have only encountered this on rare occasions, and have always chalked it up to an unfortunate half-second of lag. The server still tracked me as just inside the circle, even though on my screen I had safely escaped.

                    The spike traps they’re complaining about, incidentally, tend to politely stay within their small, indicated area of effect.

                    • Steve C says:

                      I’ve encountered it a great deal. Especially with traps and it’s not due to lag. Someone else has been hit (say by a trap) and I stand outside the area and revive them. I get hit by the next trap activation or next volley etc. I don’t like it when it’s due to lag but I can forgive it. But if I’m stationary lag cannot be an issue.

        • Shamus says:

          You’re right. I was confusing the two.

          There’s still way too many concepts and changes being thrown at players in those opening encounters, but it would have been much better if I’d used the right examples.

    • Rosseloh says:

      Regarding the Lovers: those boulders are nice when they work. I’ve only run AC twice (busy schedule means not as much gaming). The first time it seemed to work fairly well; my guardian dragged the dude off to one side while the rest of the group killed the lady. I was even able to hold aggro, which never happens with my dungeon-support build.

      The second time, the two bosses would not. stay. apart. No amount of boulder throwing or hammer-#4 skill (a knockback) would get them to move. They’d just fall down where they were standing, obviously “hitting” an obstacle of some sort that we couldn’t see. Moved them all over the room while we tried to get them separated, all while dying a lot. Finally our rush was able to take one out and from there it was cake.

      I like a gimmicky MMO fight. Something where you have to think, even if it’s only the first time, is great. But here, the game mechanics themselves were preventing us from doing what you’re expected to do…
      (For reference, my group had no trouble with any of the other bosses. The trash can mess us up, though, if we’re not careful.)

  16. The_Zoobler says:

    Just wanted to point out that Bleed, Confuse, Burning, Poison, Blind, Chill, Cripple, Vulnerability, and Weakness are “Conditions”, not “Condition damage.” Condition damage is the actual damage that only Bleed/Confuse/Burning/Poison create :P. They are conditions (debuffs), but not all conditions do damage (Chill/Blind/Vulnerability/Cripple/Weakness).

    Also, no one spams chat for healers in WoW any more lol, that is ancient news. Now you just hit the I key and get put into a dungeon group within moments, no chat spam required. Been that way for years.

    Gotta say I haven’t really gotten back into GW2 for a while, just couldn’t get excited about the rock-stupid Personal Story. Sounds like Dungeons aren’t that great either lol.

    • X2Eliah says:

      GW2 could actually use some sort of a grouping tool. When I last played it (few weeks ago), every map with a dungeon in it had its world chat window spammed with “LFG BBQ DTF SM OMG explore”. Or something like that. Curious how they almost always resorted to acronyms instead of English, too. It’s not like they were in any hurry – normally a person spamming these messages would do it for at least 10 minutes.

      • MikalSaltveit says:

        Acronyms to the effect of LF2M for AC EM P1 are easier on the reader to scan through the chat and pick out a group they want to join.

        For the uninitiated, that stands for:
        Looking For Two More for Ascalon Catacombs Explorable Mode Path One (in which the players encounter the Howling King)

        • X2Eliah says:

          All true. But they are also extremely annoying to see non-stop in your chat window. Quintuply so if you are trying to roleplay somewhat.

          You’d think that people interested in doing the dungeons could just go to the entrance and use the local chat, but noooo. /w spamming it has to be :|

          • Khizan says:

            Dunno about DW2, but in WoW doing it that way means that you’ve got to sit outside the dungeon till you get a group, which can take quite a while.

            That’s why nobody did it that way.

            • The_Zoobler says:

              Yeah I don’t think anyone wants to be locked into just standing in one place doing nothing till you find a group. Sure, some people do that as is, but with world chat they at least have the option to go do hearts or events or something while they spam chat.

              And really, doesn’t world chat kind of take you out of roleplay no matter what people use it for lol? Unless you’re roleplaying a world in which every single person carries around a magic conch shell that carries your voice across mountains.

              • X2Eliah says:

                There is a different level of immersion disconnect. I can accept – with some suspension of disbelief – that there is an asuran device that allows longrange broadcasts of what people are saying. The chatbox itself is a mechanic for players and npc’s to “talk” to you.

                Somehow trying to believe that “DHF HFHF JIFF DTF LF2M FHGJH” is actually something that someone says.. over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, that’s far more immersion breaking. For me, it’s right up to the level of goldseller spam. Also, immersionbreaking or not, it’s annoying.
                To put it in in-game terms, a local chat is the characters talking. World chat is the characters using the macguffin to talk. Spamming acronyms about dungeon grouping is like someone stepping on top of the local fountain, pulling down their pants and shouting YOLO all the time: stupid, pointless and in no way a conversation.

                • Khizan says:

                  This is why they need a /w and a /lfg or a /rp or similar.

                  Without the /lfg or the like, I’d be spamming /w too. Sucks about your immersion, but it also sucks to sit outside the dungeon spamming hoping to find a group out of whatever size group has gone there. And what if I was looking for a group to either ZF or Mauraudon? Should I run back and forth between the two areas hoping or something?

                  Nah, I’ll just spam /w.

                • Zagzag says:

                  You can always make a chat filter to block out /w if it annoys you. I have one of those for when I roleplay. The /w channel is useful at times but annoying at others, but you don’t have to listen to it all the time.

                  • Lachlan the Mad says:

                    I am in agreement with all of this. Horrible time finding a group for AC + horrible time playing AC (the group was pretty crappy, didn’t communicate with each other at all, and ran around letting every single bloody ghost in the coffins free all at once) = never ever ever touching a dungeon in GW2 again.

                • Urs says:

                  Yes. This so much. I mean, GW2 is my second proper MMO experience ever and the other was EVE Online years ago, so I have no freaking clue what all those l3Tter5 could possibly mean. Because, see?, it just looks like leet talk to me or whatever it is the kids nowadays are speaking when they type ;)
                  And then, yes, I find myself quite immersed and roleplay-y to the point where I /say something to my dog or where I assume that Bakdn, Bbkdn, Ynhjj and all the others with their Juvenile Brown Bears are some Nightmare Court’s Corruption experiments gone horribly wrong, so… I don’t want foreign commercial breaks in my movie.

  17. digi_owl says:

    The main problem of the game, imo, is that is tuned around PVP because Anet is hot for the e-sport thingy.

    This results in a game that at times feel more like a FPS than a RPG.

    For instance, the main defense is not armor, it is getting the hell out of there via the dodge mechanic and related.

    Usually when i hear about kiting, it is in relation to glass cannon casters abusing their higher damage potential and range to take on mobs in areas way outside of their level. But in GW2, it practically the only way to win unless your playing one of the melee classes (allows for such heavy hits that you can 2-3 hit champions) or can hide (thief) or confuse (mesmer) to get some kind of breathing room. The rest find themselves doing a continual Benny Hill reenactment with ranged weapons.

    • Ateius says:

      As someone who mains a “Melee” class (Warrior), let me assure you that we cannot, in fact, “2-3 hit Champions”.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        Speaking as a warrior with a DPS-heavy build (maxed-out power and loads of +damage traits); I can do it if everything is absolutely friggin’ perfect (as in, I have full Endurance, full Adreniline, and all of my skills are off cooldown), and it severely cripples my ability to fight for the next 20 seconds until my cooldowns recover.

    • Rodyle says:

      Nor does hiding as a Thief help, since stealth is hilariously broken. I have had mobs chase me around for 10 seconds while I was stealthed, nor does stealth do anything to prevent 1-hit KO attacks mobs do.

    • Urs says:

      Yes and no. I really don’t know much about other MMOs, but I think I can make a good guess that GW is indeed more straight forward action oriented, but to me, that’s a good thing. I want to fight monsters, not controls. In fact, I control my character just like I control my greyish brown shooter dude – plus a basically glued down right mouse button.

      But about kiting: I play a ranger which would be a class that is destined to win encounters by kiting, right? Yet, whenever I feel I have to resort to it, I also feel like I messed up by picking a too big fight because I stumbled around like an idiot aggroing everything and everyone or I did not play my cards smartly and wasted my skills so I have to wait for cooldowns.

      Cue yesterday’s moment of awesome badassery when I dispatched a Harathi patrol of 4 centaurs and 2 warbeast within maybe 6 seconds by moving in, moving out and standing still.

  18. Hal says:

    “Question: Why am I paying an anvil to repair my gear? Better question: Why is our cloth-armor elementalist paying an anvil to repair their gear?”

    Not really an answer, but relevant.

  19. Rodyle says:

    I actually like the dungeons a fair bit. Yes, they’re unfairly difficult and filled to the brim with BS deathtraps (seriously? I have 3K health and some random trap in a hallway does 2K damage? Half of the time, these things just spawn below me, so I cannot even dodge them). However, they are the way for me to have a lot of fun. I like beating these encounters: they’re actually really challenging when done right.

    HOWEVER: too many of them are just broken. The above mentioned Lovers encounter is an exercise in tedium, since half of the time, it’s impossible to keep them apart. I could try to use the stones. However, one player is not enough here to keep a single one of them occupied. Apart from that: the bosses do non-negligible damage (read: they knock me on my ass in a few hits). Trying to use stones, dodging and healing at the same time is impossible. I did the story version three times; two times we beat it by running in a conga line, slowly doing damage until one of the two was down. The last time we managed because we had two well-geared level 80’s and the rest of the group on healing/support/resurrection duty.

    Trash encounters are poorly balanced as well: a few of the trash mobs are doable. Some of them are hard, due to a few powerful mobs. Others consist solely of these powerful mobs. The graveling scavengers are the worst of these, imho: they knock you on your ass and then deal enough damage to kill anyone. And I, as a rogue, can do little to nothing to prevent it. Even if I’d go fully into the trees giving health and toughness (and by doing so making me useless at everything else), I still do not have enough durability to survive the focus of a mob for more than a second or three.
    Another mob which I’d like to hate on while I’m at it are the mesmer ghosts. I’m a ranged rogue. The best contribution I could do against them was stand at the sideline and cheer on my party members, since they bounce my projectiles back at me. And if it was just at me, that’d be fine. However, I tend to use a bow in dungeons a lot, since it does amazing AoE damage and has very good combo abilities. The arrows from the bow bounce back at me, then proceed to do significant damage to my party, making me a liability against these mobs, because there’s no good way to stop auto-attacking them as far as I know of.

    Other encounters, like the ones with the burrows, are just cheating. We had some serious issues on the second path, because killing some of the burrows spawned too many difficult gravelings. I looked up a guide on the internet, and we were apparently supposed to know (there’s no way to tell) that we had to kill the burrows in a particular order, so there is only a single burrow when the unfairly difficult enemies spawn.

  20. Rodyle says:

    Sorry for the double post, Shamus, but this is a separate point, so you’ll understand.

    The stupidity of this game’s plot reaches new levels due to the explorable dungeons, where you follow one NPC around. The things they do often do not seem to make sense. The char in AC wants to build some mortar ‘traps’, even though god knows how a mortar is a trap, to help taking down a huge monster. However, these traps are actually entirely useless when taking down said boss. This means you spend a good part of the dungeon protecting the char from increasingly unfair groups of ghosts while he builds these completely useless structures.
    In the AC path 2, some human guy wants to reclaim two old flaming rods because he can beat a boss with it (sensing a theme yet?). Firstly, he’s an idiot, and stands around reading books while graveling mounds spawn thousands of these things and expects the PCs to defend him while he’s reading them. After he has these weapons, he runs up to the boss, hits it once and then dies. The PCs then take it down, resurrect him and he’ll start boasting about the awesome power of these weapons.

    • MikalSaltveit says:

      The mortars are not in fact useless. If your group coordinates to pull the boss into the correct range you can do large amounts of damage.

      • Rodyle says:

        Even so: they are not worth the time it takes to set them up. The boss itself is laughably simple compared to the mortar event, with many of my runs being completed without even a single person being downed. The mortar event, on the other hand, is often enough to change the trip from ‘break even’ to ‘did I just lose 20 silver’.

        • MikalSaltveit says:

          How could you possibly lose 20 silver on a dungeon run. People have said such things and it staggers the comprehension. I EARN at least 60 silver on a dungeon run. And a full repair is 12s. Do you die 46 times?

          Have you tried using the existing mortars on the spawning monsters? They die right quick. Do you mark targets (ctrl click monster to mark it) so you can focus fire down them down? Do you focus the RIGHT monster?
          Elementalist > Necromancer > Ranger > Warrior > Monk

          • Shamus says:

            Just did story mode of the dredge dungeon yesterday. That one is level 60, and it paid me 24s at the end. So, 2 full repairs would cancel out the end-of-dungeon reward.

            • MikalSaltveit says:

              24s as a reward, in addition to the 20+ blue/green items you should have acquired (worth 50c-1s each). As well as the silver you looted from corpses, and the trash loot… etc.

              Additionally, 2 full repairs would be a minimum of 14 deaths. Even in a zerging run on a dungeon boss I never die more than 3 times.

              • Shamus says:

                I know that many deaths seems strange to you. Here is how it works for me:

                Last night we fought the dredge boss that turns conditions into heals. He can hit you anywhere in the area without regard to distance, he can hit everyone at once, he can hit around corners, and his attacks inflict massive damage. The only way to avoid that damage is to evade, and he spams attacks faster than you can evade.

                So while we’re running around in this murder machine trying to revive each other, we’re trying to figure out how to hit this guy without inflicting condition damage on him. Most of my attacks inflict at least one condition, including the auto-attacks on both of my weapons. So while I’m jumping around the room I’m trying to read the tooltips and figure out what I can and can’t use. Josh was an elementalist. I’m not even sure he CAN attack without inflicting conditions.

                I probably died about 12 times in that fight.

                If you go in knowing which attacks you can use and knowing that you’ll need to be clearing conditions, then you can adjust your loadout ahead of time. If you DON’T know what the game expects, then it’s going to take a long time to guess right. Do I need more heal? No. Am I messing up these dodges? No. Should I just leave my teammates down and focus on dodging, since that’s when I get hit the most? That helps, but it only delays the inevitable. The players are essentially trying to solve 2 puzzles at one (how do I hit this guy without healing him, and how do I survive these killer attacks) in the middle of a huge confusing battle where you’re dropping dead constantly.

                And this is assuming the player realizes this is a puzzle at all. As I said in the post, without a proper skill / power gate, players muddle through without realizing they’re doing it wrong. They shrug, and assume that ten deaths per encounter is just what the designers intended. They proceed through the game like this. Not only do they not know how to play, they don’t even know they don’t know how to play.

                Armed with what you’ve said here, I’d probably take another crack at that fight, dumping all my usual utility skills for condition removal.

                • MikalSaltveit says:

                  Which boss is this? It was a Dredge? I never fought such a boss. Story mode?

                  The only boss which was hard was the one which shoots rockets. And that was just a bad case of everyone standing in once place because he looked so innocent.

                  • Shamus says:

                    Sorry, I meant the Dredge dungeon. Part way through you run into the Asura bad guy, and he begins throwing robots at you. The boss I’m talking about is one of those robots.

                    • MikalSaltveit says:

                      And it cures conditions to heal? I never noticed this. According to the wiki, and my memory, he summons 3 golems.
                      1. A physical golem, it surprised us as we expected to fight Kudo, but it went down quickly,
                      2. A fire golem, which killed us all with rockets. We were able to resume the fight at this point even after a wipe.
                      3. A poison golem. Similar to the fire golem but with less damage so much more manageable.

                      After which he summons some trash golems and runs away.

                    • pixelrevision says:

                      Ah fire Golem. This one sums up the bad design as far as pacing. It’s smack in the middle of a story mode, and is harder than a ton of the encounters in explorable. It is 1 of 6 phases of a boss, does ridiculous damage and if you happen to have a condition heavy group is unpassable. It is a lot to take in for the “easy” part of the instance and then you are thrown to an end boss that you have to throw 20 boulders at for a nice easy win. Really makes me wonder what comp they went with when they “paced” these instances.

                    • MikalSaltveit says:

                      It was easy once we came back. It surprised us with a lucky spawn is all. I mean, we expected to fight another golem but the previous golem was melee so we were all at range.

                      How is it impassible with a condition heavy group?

                • Jarenth says:

                  I actually swapped a bunch of skills out during my second or third death-run of shame.

                  The death-runs make everything so much worse. For precisely the reason you called, too: there’s no discrete start or end to any fight. You can just stop running in and reset the encounter, but I don’t think we would have won that way.

                • krellen says:

                  Of note: Mikal apparently plays a Guardian, probably of the healing-focused build that Randy (and now I) plays.

                  For a comparison, my level 80 Engineer has died 229 times. My level 80 Guardian has died 75 times, and probably 50+ of those were before I started focusing on healing (I was not focused on healing for the screenshot AC run.)

                  • MikalSaltveit says:

                    Is there a location in game where you can view this stat? I would be curious. I have a tendency to lemming over edges so my deaths might just be comparable to your Engineers.

                    I leveled to 80 as a DPS Condition damage guardian with Greatsword/Scepter-Focus build.

                    I would also note there is some great contention within the Guardian community as to HOW to build a healing-focused character.

                    I fall into a small subgroup that focuses on Condition curing, while other groups tout Health Regen or Symbols as their saviour.

                    I also have a Ranger, a Warrior and a Thief, though none of them are 80 yet. My wife has a Necro, a Mesmer and for awhile she tried an Engineer. I have tried her characters as well, and I found the Engineer boring, and the Necro not enticing to my playstyle, which usually involves leading groups and managing the battle.

              • krellen says:

                I’m glad you’re so skilled at the game. The open world content (hearts, etc.) must be incredibly boring and easy for you.

                • MikalSaltveit says:

                  It is certainly not difficult. It takes merely the time to do.

                  Which is not to say it is not fun! I enjoy finding all of the vistas and gazing out over the landscape. I enjoy carrying chickens back to their pens.

          • Rodyle says:

            The order me and my groups use most of the time is pretty similar, though I personally rate rangers much higher.

            As for how many times I die: usually not a lot. However, I am generally on the support role. This means I’m shadowstepping around the place and generally standing still quite a lot of the time to resurrect people. This’d normally not be a problem, but since stealth is hilariously broken, it means I’m often thrown to the ground by rangers/warriors/whatever, followed by an AoE trap I cannot get out. The amount of HP doesn’t matter; even when I went full thougness/health/healing in my skill tree, I died just as badly in these events.

            Apart from that: the 20 silver is what I lost in repairs. This should be pretty close to my actual losses in the dungeon. If items dropped are not eligible for me, I frequently ask the group if anyone needs it, so I leave with only a few blue/green drops from an instance. As for the rest of the stuff: I hoard everything onto my bank, and sell the stuff on it once every two or so weeks.

            • MikalSaltveit says:

              Sometimes you should not revive people, maybe you wait until the AOE they fell down to is gone.

              I have a Thief and do not find stealth broken. What do you mean by this?

              I still do not comprehend your financial state. You lose 20s in repairs (10 deaths at max level with the best armor), give away all your loot, or bank it to sell later. Of course you are losing money if you do not sell the loot.

              • Rodyle says:

                I don’t actually go stand in an AoE of my own volition, but many mobs have a way of stunning me/knocking me down/whatever, making me very susceptible to further AoE damage. I often try to make sure they will not do this be laying down a stealth field or something when I start rezzing someone, but quite often, they still hit me with a targeted attack even while I am in stealth.

                As for overall loss of money: I think I am a bit above breaking even when I start selling the loot and stuff. I am not sure though this is because of the dungeon loot or because of minerals and other stuff I collect while grinding.

    • Steve C says:

      Ok if the mortars are not useless then they are at least sub-optimal. Compare the time/effort to kill the boss without mortars vs with mortars + all the time/effort to first build them, and then effectively deploy them via proper positioning.
      But that’s not really the point. The point is that this kind of nonsense (like the 2 flaming rods you didn’t defend) is littered throughout the dungeons. The specifics of how the nonsense is nonsense is largely irrelevant. The important part is that there’s nonsense that player’s have to wade through. It adds nothing and detracts a great deal.

  21. Steve C says:

    Mumble’s video you linked to is apt for this discussion. I agree the problem isn’t that the dungeons are too hard, or too easy but that the dungeons are too tedious in the manner that Mumbles explains. There isn’t enough information to make logical choices in terms of builds, gear or party composition for GW2 dungeons. This is exasperated by de-levelng you on entry.

    I’m now doing 500dmg per attack. Is that good? bad? IDK but it’s nothing like what I’m used to doing. I’m ticking dmg on the enemy. What’s ticking? Or is that my pet’s attacks? What exactly is doing 0 dmg? I’m taking 500 dmg. My max hitpoints have changed. I don’t know if that’s a lot or a little beyond my red circle. I know I’ll hover my mouse over these debuffs so I can read them… Oh wait the debuff I want to read is constantly moving as more are added and old ones expire. I =cannot= keep my mouse over an icon long enough to read more than the first 3 words. If only I was a speedreader… hey wait a min… I am a speedreader.

    I don’t shy away from encounters because they are tough. I’m a WoW hard/heroic mode raider who was in the #1 to #3 ranked guild on my server, top 50 US, and in top 50 for my class. I’m not bragging, I’m saying I’m no stranger to high difficulty MMO dungeons, bringing the proper build and mindset and don’t-stand-in-the-fire mechanics. The GW2 dungeons have a broken design.

    The GW2 dungeons are a tedious clusterfuck. Watch Mumble’s video to find out exactly what I mean by that. The dungeon design makes “players feel exhausted and frustrated, not because something is particularly challenging but because it feels cheap and poorly executed.”

  22. Steve C says:

    Shamus said: The wrongness is so intense and so comprehensive that fixing it would require a redesign from the conception stage. Having said that: Just turning down that murderous difficulty ““ while not a solution to the legions of problems ““ would at least make the dungeons tolerable and worth doing.

    I agree that there are no quick fixes to the dungeon design. However I don’t agree that a good bandaid would be to reduce the difficulty. The difficulty is all over the map and reducing it (even the peaks of that curve) wouldn’t make it less tedious. A good bandaid fix would be to reduce the monster’s hitpoints across the board in the dungeons… Everywhere. Cutting the hitpoints by a half or a third would make it much better.

    I’ve thought to myself “I’m sick of this encounter. I want it to be over by now,” on a ton of dungeon fights, from hard to easy and everything in between. They. Just. Take. Too. Damn. Long. By the time each encounter ends I’m either bored, or frustrated. Either way I wanted it to end several mins ago.

    This would also improve the ratio of time spent to rewards.

    • JPH says:

      I absolutely agree about hit points. Even the easy fights take too long because the enemies have enormous HP bars.

      Maybe ArenaNet thought giving them huge HP bars would discourage zerging? Well it didn’t really work out that way, and even if it did, that just replaces one problem with another, bigger problem.

    • Even says:

      I don’t know about making the trash easier to kill. They’re already easy enough to deal with if you know how to prioritize targets. I’d rather just nerf some of the more infuriating mobs like the Ascalonian Rangers or either redesign the ridiculous aggro system this game sports.

      Quite a few bosses however could definitely use this. The dungeons already take more than enough time than I’d like by average to complete. Some of the fights are also just so goddamn mindnumbing when you have to slowly plink away the massive health pool while the boss itself is a pretty trivial challenge to deal with otherwise.

  23. MikalSaltveit says:

    I was not sure where to put this in the ongoing threads, but I now have some questions as to the party composition.

    1. Which, if any, of the party were healing or support?
    2. Who was the leader? Were you using voice chat? Were the party members responding to text chat?
    3. Was anyone calling targets, and if so what was the target order? Was focus fire applied to specific targets?
    4. Were you spread out at a decent clip from one another?
    5. Did you pull the monsters back into the large open rooms to fight? Or did you fight in the hall with the traps.
    6. What tier armor were the party members wearing? Masterwork? Rare? Exotic?
    7. Were party roles discussed ahead of time? i.e. Who will be responsible for reviving downed allies? Who will call targets? Who will pull new enemies?
    8. Were traps tested when first encountered to ascertain their damage capabilities?

    In the screenshots you provided (I wish I could see them better) I noticed that everyone was standing very close to each other, and that the Mesmer was targeted, while what looks like a necromancer is “fucking your shit up.” I really wish they were bigger so I could get a better view.

    Slightly off topic
    a. Do any of the party have 100% world completion?
    b. Have any in the party completed the “personal” story?

    • Shamus says:

      I’m not sure whether to answer this according to our AC run from weeks ago (which I’m obviously going to be hazy on by now) or by the run we did last night. I think we’ll go with the one I know better. Last night we did the dredge lvl 60 dungeon.

      1. Josh is an elementalist, specced for healing & support.
      2. The dungeon was new to all of us. We were in voice chat together.
      3. Jarenth was calling targets with ctrl-T. I don’t know what criteria he used. I just hit T and went to work.
      4. Were we spread out? We were always messing with distance. We want to be close so we can benefit from Josh’s healing and boons, which are AoE, but we don’t want to bunch up and get nuked.
      5. Not really a thing in the Dredge dungeon, which is mechanically far simpler and less cluttered. AC is just a HORRIBLE first dungeon, and any other dungeon would probably make a better introduction.
      6. I have all yellows, except my chest is orange. Also my sword is orange, for what its worth. All level 80. Josh had just dinged 60 before going in, so he gear might have been a bit behind. I can’t speak for the others.
      7. Jarenth targeted foes. We pulled based on what we were fighting. I might use my rifle if we were trying to pull just a couple of guys.
      8. Again, no traps in the level 60 dungeons. Just the intro level 30 one. Facepalm.

      a. I’ve got 82% world. Krellen has 100%, although he wasn’t with us last night.
      b. I don’t think anyone has finished the personal story. I dropped mine at 60.

      • MikalSaltveit says:

        Ah. I agree that AC is, as you might say, a Trial by Fire. Answers to that dungeon might be more interesting, as that is the contention yes? But if you do not remember it is no matter.

        Sorrow’s Embrace or SE(The 60 dungeon) was for the most part much easier for my group, except for the rocket Golem near the end which we did in fact wipe at.

        I guess the final question would be: Did you die more or less in SE? If you remember, how many times specifically?

        As an Aside:
        Scaling up and down of character strength seems to take into account armor level relative to actual level. Wearing level 60 armor to a level 60 dungeon while level 80 would be worse than wearing level 50 armor while level 60 in a 60 dungeon.

      • JPH says:

        As for the ones that I can give my personal input for…

        6. I have mostly a mix of greens and blues, but since I’m level 80, all my gear was far above level 60. Which, I remind you, is the recommended level for the dungeon.
        7. As Shamus said, Jarenth always called targets, and Jarenth has a lot of experience with MMO dungeon instances, so I trusted his judgment. We were careful about pulling foes, and Overmind (he wasn’t in the AC dungeon run so we don’t have his picture) consistently revived allies. Probably made sense for him to do so, since he was the ranger. We all helped with revival now and then though.

        a. I don’t think I’m even 50% complete.
        b. I think I’m around level 60ish in the personal story as well. It’s hard to motivate myself to continue with it, since the personal story quests suck.

      • Stranger says:

        By the way, something else I learned – rarity of gear is not as effective as LEVEL of gear. A level 72 Exotic (Orange) bow I had was actually making me -LESS- effective as a level 80 Fine (Blue) bow.

        Also, good jewelry helps a lot.

        • Even says:

          You can also get ridiculous stats with some of the weapon sigils/whatever that give you stat bonuses per kill. My Short Bow has a sigil that gives 10 precision per kill and it stacks up to 25. Running around low level zones with a crit chance of over 60%, things get kinda stupidly easy to kill.

        • Joshua says:

          Which is why I stopped trying to buy really exotic stuff at lower levels. I figure I’ll just wait until 80. My main is 52 or so, and a Yellow item is selling on the TP for about 20-30 silver, vs. 2-3 for the next tier down. To fully equip with yellow every few levels would cost several gold each time.

          No thanks, I’ll wait until I’m maxed and can then worry about maxing out.

    • krellen says:

      My answers are based off the AC Explorable run that is featured in the screenshots.

      1. Two engineers with healing turrets.
      2. No one really “led”, though I or Shamus tended to be the ones starting most of the fights (by either pulling or charging, respectively). We were voice chatting.
      3. Targets were called. Elementalists before Rangers before Monks before Warriors.
      4. The screenshots of broken armour are from Explorable, specifically the sceptre path, in the graveling fight. We were clustered trying to beat down burrows quickly.
      5. We did not fight enemies in halls with traps.
      6. Most of us were fully decked out in rares; some had exotic weapons.
      7. No, there was no pre-planning (the rest of the game doesn’t require it.)
      8. The only casualties to traps were flame traps when people forgot they were there.

      Also, I am getting tired of your “you’re doing it wrong” comments. The central point here is that the dungeons are so unlike the rest of the game that there is no reasonable tutorial or guideline on what “right” is. It really doesn’t matter if you can “teach” us to “do it right”; the game should be doing that.

      To answer off-topic, I have both 100% world completion and have completed the personal story with two characters (“completed” up to, but not including, doing Arah, that is).

      • MikalSaltveit says:

        If it is easy for me, and hard for you. What else do you suggest? We agree that the game does not teach you these things, and that it most likely should. I am puzzled merely by your expression that you have all broken armor, and that this is the state of the game. Even in my first AC run, which I did not complete due to the lateness of the hour, I did not have broken armor. And explorable was shorter and much easier by comparison. I might suggest that characters good with Condition Damage focus on monsters while those with more direct damage destroy the Burrows.

        Perhaps I should explain on which computer I am playing this game. A Zotac Booksize PC. I get an average of 24fps, and on some of the more involving fights I grind to about 3-4 fps. I am not boasting, no. And please do not take offense to my statements. I am perplexed and wish to understand.

        And why not do Arah? It is a fun an exciting dungeon! I will say no more for fear of the spoilers.

        SOURCE: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856173033

        • krellen says:

          Because I will only do dungeons with people I know (or mostly people I know plus random guildies ’cause they’re pretty cool people), and Josh/Shamus/Jarenth/JPH have not gotten to the point of trying Arah yet (Josh and Jarenth aren’t of level yet.)

        • Lovecrafter says:

          With regards to the broken armor thing: it’s completely unreasonable to compare the survivability of a Guardian to that of an Engineer. Or any other class not wearing heavy armor, for that matter.

          Sure, Mesmers and Necromancers can tank in their own ways, but those don’t actually involve armor in any way (Mesmers direct fire away from the real one, Necromancers use life steal). And if those buffers fail, like on the traps, they take damage like you’d expect cloth professions would. Guardians, on the other hand, tank through Aegis and a slew of defensive skills and if those fail, that heavy armor is good enough to take up the slack. Out of all professions in the game, they have the biggest focus on survivability.

          I play a ‘defensive’ Engineer myself and I use air quotes because even with a massive 390 – 500 (if on Juggernaut) extra toughness from traits and level 80 armor and accessories (of which most are aimed at Toughness, Vitality and Healing and nothing is below Masterwork), I still fold like wet cardboard should an elite in a dungeon manage to get past my knockbacks, stuns, 4 consecutive dodges and smoke. This happens more often than you’d expect, especially because of the mysterious thought process behind an enemy’s targeting. I usually have to repair at least once during a dungeon run.
          Personally, I thing this stems from the fact that most professions have certain strengths (Warriors and Rangers deal large amounts of damage, Elementalists hit large areas at once, Guardians defend and heal, Necromancers stack conditions, etc), except for Engineers, who are the closest GW2 has to a “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of character. Since dungeons require rather specific builds, Engineers like Krellen and myself will usually be the weakest link, even though in theory we should be able to fill any role.

          TL;DR: It’s fairly normal that you have a much easier time in Dungeons, since Guardians can take far more punishment and protect allies better than any other class.

          • MikalSaltveit says:

            Its not that I have an easier time in dungeons. Its that groups I am with have an easier time in dungeons. I die plenty of times in the game. In fact I have died more times than Krellen’s L80 Engineer and L80 Guardian combined! I die the most of any person in the group in the dungeons I run, with the possible exception of any lower level that tags along (level 39 in a level 40 dungeon as an example).

            I don’t think we (me vs. everyone else it seems) disagree that the difficulty of dungeons is far above that of the world, or that ArenaNet does a terrible job of explaining the Dungeon mechanics to new players.

            Where we do seem to differ is in our response to this change. When I first hit AC it was an awful experience. We wiped, we ragequit the dungeon. And we vowed never to come back. Then, after a few days I decided to go back to my traits and change my perspectives and thought processes. Now my character performs well in the world, in WvW, in sPvP and in Dungeons. I have fun in all these places, and they become a challenge to overcome rather than an annoyance to slog through.

            The things I espoused my by first post are by no means class specific, with the exception of the Condition curing. And if you bring a class which has an overabundance of that, you can then bring a class which does not. In your Engineer example, i’m certain you could spec for DPS. And then bring a defensive Guardian along to balance.

            It seems pointless to me to be so obstinate as to play in such a way as to lose, rather than as to win.

            • krellen says:

              I’m not Jarenth, though I do realise it’s difficult to tell us apart from the outside.

            • Lovecrafter says:

              I’ll cede the whole “deaths” thing (even though I find it odd that you say that broken armor puzzles you, yet claim that you die the most during dungeon runs.)

              As to the Engineer example: Sure, I could (with a massive investment in time and gold) gear myself towards DPS, or AoE and crowd control. Like I said, Engineers are a “Jack of all trades” profession. They’re also master of none. If I go for DPS, the Ranger or Warrior will hit harder. If I go for crowd control, the Elementalist will hit more, in a wider area. If I go for conditions or turrets, the Necromancer will stack more conditions/have better options for his/her minions (like Death Nova). Engineers can do anything, but they’re also not exceptional at anything. This hurts the most in dungeons, where you really need team members that are good at what they do.

              And I don’t get why not having your exceptional success means that I’m playing to lose. My defensive build was in fact not planned from the start, but came as a reaction to constantly getting shredded the moment I caught any enemy’s attention. I’ve recently completely explored Orr, and at times I got so bogged down by Risen that I was in non-stop combat for over fifteen minutes and it’s because of this build that I got out of that alive. As an extension, my build also heals allies, helps them rally if they get downed and can interrupt big hitters or knock them back from the squishier members. This should, in theory, be a big help in dungeons, but like I said above, anything I can do, someone can do better.

              • MikalSaltveit says:

                I say I die the most, and yet end up +60s after a dungeon run. Sometimes less of course, but I never end up -20s as some have suggested. And a full set of wipes (armor broken) certainly never eliminates any profit I would have made. It puzzles me because I do not encounter it. During my playtimes I die maybe 4-5 times at the worst, then I repair. I play maybe 6 hours at a time. Many of my deaths are stupid “I can take all of the mobs” kind of deaths.

                I have said I do not play an Engineer, and I found it very boring. It is quite possible the class is broken. I cannot speak to that.

                • Lovecrafter says:

                  It’s not a broken class, but as I’ve said before, being “master of none” in a segment of the game that requires mastery of a role makes your job much harder, plus the rest of the team has to pick up the slack. I believe that being “master of none” is a natural, and traditional, weakness for “Jack of all trades” types.
                  But when the best solution to “I’m having a hard time doing my job!” is “Roll a different character that does specialize!”, there might be something wrong with the design of the dungeons.

                  • MikalSaltveit says:

                    But all classes are jack-of-all trades to a greater or lesser extent.

                    And I did not suggest that Dungeons require you to “master a role,” rather I affirm the contrary. Trying to confirm to a specific role will be the ruin of any player.

                    • Lovecrafter says:

                      Except here you talk about the trinity of Guild Wars 2 and “A common thread of “requirements” to much of the higher level(read: Difficulty) encounters.” This does, in fact, suggest that mastery of a role is advised.

                      And while every class has indeed a bit of everything, most classes have a certain preference for a select couple of strategies. Engineers don’t have that preference, since “having a bit of everything” is pretty much what the class is about.

                      Baseless speculation: You could, in theory, send teams consisting of a single profession per team (5 Mesmers, 5 Warriors, etc.) through each dungeon and see how well they’d handle the challenges thrown at them. I’m going to guess that the team of Engineers will probably be able to adapt better than the other teams. At the same time, if you’d compare those results to a team with diversity in its professions, you’d probably find that “Team Engineer” performed markedly worse.

                    • MikalSaltveit says:

                      You misunderstand. There is still a trinity, but it applies not only to the group but to the individual. Players come from WoW, are told there is no trinity, and build Damage. This will not work.

                      It is my understanding that ArenaNet HAS done this as a means of testing dungeon difficulty, and that those groups were capable of completing the dungeons. They did stress that these groups were not all Damage speced.

                  • rlor says:

                    I’d say that most of the professions can trait and gear to do many of the roles. As an experiment I’ve run a melee tanky mesmer in dungeons that was out tanking a guardian without relying on clones (and we both provided support). I’ve seen shout healing and banner warriors as well providing fairly nice support too.

                    I feel that engineers are jack of all trades in that they can switch to a different kit mid fight and do an okay job in a role completely different than their spec.

                    Engineers can specialize into grenades and bring very strong spammable super long range AoEs. I’d rather have a fully specialized grenadier for long range AoEs in a dungeon than any other profession actually. I think you need to have fast casting on or else double tap the hotkey to fire it off quickly for it to really shine though.

                    • Adeon says:

                      This is my take on Engineers as well. My Engineer is specced into Firearms and Alchemy and for dungeons I’ll use both a Flamethrower and an Elixir Gun (with Elixir B as my default third skill).

                      This gives me a lot of flexibility to change things up during a fight. If the team is struggling I’ll pull out the Elixir Gun and start lobbing out healing fields while debuffing my targets. Against a large number of weaker foes though I’ll bring out the Flamethrower and go to town. And of course no matter which option I have I’m throwing Elixirs H and R (which give Might in addition to their normal effect) and using Soothing Mist to boost people’s regen.

                      I think that Engineers do still need to spec into the skill types they want to use but within that spec they have a lot of options that they can change to (sometimes in combat as for my case, sometimes outside). In fact I would say that the only “wrong” way to build an Engineer is to put all your traits points into Firearms and Explosives, 30 points into one of them is a good option for almost any Engineer but putting points into both costs you a lot of the flexibility that the Engineer class has.

      • Steve C says:

        I (Overmind the ranger) have completed my personal story including Arah. I’m also an explorer type and I like my games hard. For gear I have full 80 exotics except for 2 masterwork items designed to break (described in another comment). I’m set up for direct dmg and had every hotbar ability rangers get for removing conditions. I died the least with my glass cannon build. I feel I have a fair grasp of good vs bad MMO groups and I’d characterize as our group being good. Not perfect, but certainly good.

        I wasn’t in the AC run from which the screenshots came from, but I was in the other AC explorable run Shamus et al ran. The experience was so similar that if it wasn’t for the screenshots I would have said it was the same one.

        The crux of your argument seems to be that we were somehow doing it wrong because it was easy for you and hard for us. I disagree. If the first guy to defeat hardmode Diablo3 (as hardcore as hardcore gets) found GW2 dungeons miserably unfun then that’s saying something. I’m glad you like and enjoy the dungeons as is, but it’s not because you are doing them right and others are doing them wrong.

        I’m loud in my complaints against dungeons but I still plan to do them all at least once because screw you game, I will beat you.

        • MikalSaltveit says:

          You describe yourself as “Set up for direct damage” but what do you do against an enemy with high armor? You should not need every ability, merely a few. Some abilities are necessary to deal damage.

          You say your experience was similar, in what way? Did you wipe many times? Shamus describes 3 separate dungeons in his post, and jumbles them together.

          Diablo3 was a terrible game, for people who do not like to use the little grey cells. I can imagine someone who enjoyed that game would not enjoy GW2.

          “The crux of your argument seems to be that we were somehow doing it wrong because it was easy for you and hard for us. I disagree.”
          So you disagree. What else would you suggest? No one has yet answered that question. I give you some suggestions myself.

          1. Guardians are Over Powered and need to be nerfed.
          2. [Insert class here] is Under Powered and needs to be buffed.
          3. The dungeons need be made easier overall. NOTE: To my groups dungeons are already too short. Often they say “Wow that was short, shall we do another?” You may help yourself, but you will punish me.

          Perhaps you have another one?

          • krellen says:

            4. Guardians are overpowered, and all other classes need to be buffed up to their level.

          • Steve C says:

            I don’t really understand your questions but I’ll try and answer them:

            “Set up for direct damage” = not conditions, not damage over time, not control, not healing. Pew pew = numbers. Against targets with heavy armor I do exactly the same as if they had light or no armor. I hit them until they stop moving. It just takes longer if they have more armor. I don’t see how it would ever be different based on a target’s armor.

            Similar = similar. 3 different dungeons jumbled together in the same way that 3 different color M&Ms jumbled together all taste the same. I read Shamus account of what happened and go “yup.” (There were very few full wipes in any of the dungeons because of the waypoint rez mechanic.)

            The guy I linked to does in fact enjoy GW2, just not the explorable mode dungeons because they are broken. And while I agree that D3 is not a good game, I disagree that you do not need to use your brain, do a great deal of research, testing, and be extremely proficient at difficult encounters to finish hardcore.

            I would suggest that the dungeons are fundamentally broken and need to be fixed. Note that this is not the same as make easier or buff X class or a host of other things. Your experience is the exception, not the rule. Your experience should be common and it is not. Shamus gets it spot on: “In GW2 dungeons they replaced [tank/healer/dmg] with something far worse: Unknown and unpredictable challenges.

            I have no idea what Arenanet intended dungeons to be or do, or how they want players to tackle those challenges. It’s not support/control/damage as you say, nor is it non-specialization as you also claim. Any fight of consequence has monsters immune to control. The aggro mechanic is inscrutable but tanks aren’t supposed to be important anyway, so in theory aggro isn’t supposed to matter. So either way, control is not expected. Classes that are designed to be very versatile (ex: elementalists, engineers) have a particularly rough time in dungeons. Some classes (ranger) have next to nothing in the way of support or control. There isn’t a single skill a ranger can get to generate or take advantage of a combo field/blast.

            Everyone in the party could go full balls to the walls survivability. But that’s not the plan either due to the high hitpoints of monsters. Reducing damage output would turn long, easy, tedious fights into longer, more tedious fights. The party would also have to wrestle with respawns as they slowly but steadily progressed. But they’d be completely screwed if they hit an area where adds are constantly added (like graveling mounds).

            The dungeons are this black box. Inside is this random assortment of high/low difficulty. There’s nothing in the game to teach you the skills needed before you enter. When you do enter, the encounters do not give enough useful feedback to the player to let them know what they are doing wrong and how to improve. I have no idea what arenanet wants players to do, nor do I know what arenanet wants players to get out of it.

            The classes are not broken and do not need to be fiddled with. The dungeons are broken. The solution is to fix the dungeons, not something else. I cannot say “X will fix dungeons” because I have no idea what arenanet is trying to accomplish. Trying to come up with a “fix” is impossible in the same way that trying to fix a car is impossible if you have no idea if it’s supposed to be used to commute, race or haul cargo, etc. All I know is that whatever Arenanet is trying to do with dungeons, they aren’t succeeding at doing it.

            You seem to be reasonable but I think we are talking past each other. I don’t mind answering your questions but I’m not sure what more this discussion can accomplish.

            • MikalSaltveit says:

              You must be joking.

              No monsters are immune to control. They are immune to SOME forms of control, and semi-immune to others. All monsters that I have encountered can be crippled or frozen. Placing down AOE fields in the right position will cause the AI to reconsider pathing decisions.

              Please read the wiki entry on Control, especially the part about Controlling Aggro as it explains the mechanics far better than I can. The line between Control/Support/Damage is blurry at times, but there are NO monsters IMMUNE to the broad definition of Control that I have been using.

              SOURCE: http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Control

              “Some classes (ranger) have next to nothing in the way of support or control. There isn't a single skill a ranger can get to generate or take advantage of a combo field/blast.”
              You must not have played a Ranger before… Healing Spring is a support ability that creates a combo field.

              Rangers Brown Bear pets have a cure all conditions ability. Fern hounds grant regeneration. Blue Moa’s grant protection. Crippling shot… cripples, Sun spirit can blind fores.

              Please note the attached list of 14 abilitys which are Projectile finishers.
              SOURCE: http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Projectile_Finisher

              Did you mean they get no blast finishers explicitly? It is not true. Drake pets tail swipe ability is a blast finisher.

              Guardians have 0 Projectile Finishers. I do not see that as a loss. We are combo starters. Rangers are the ones in my group most likely to finish the combo I start.

              Your claims that Dungeon’s are broken comes directly after your incorrect “facts.” It removes all credibility.

              • Steve C says:

                I’m not joking and my “facts” are just that, FACT.

                “Any fight of consequence” = boss and miniboss fights. All of which have Unshakable as a base ability. Which means that 1 per 4 crowd control will work at 10%-50% effectiveness. The other 3 fail due to the Defiant stacks. (That’s only if it gets the bare minimum 3 stacks, often it gets more stacks.) That’s so close to “immune” that it’s immune. Some of the non-bosses get that ability too, as well as “unstoppable” which means, again, you cannot control it. And using a broad definition of control, some mobs can still hit you from across the room while you are behind a pillar. (The golums Shamus referenced being an example.) If something is immune to everything BUT fear, then yes, technically it’s not immune to ALL forms of control. But if you don’t have fear, who cares that fear works? It’s immune to control.

                Rangers do not get any blast finishers. Projectile finishers are NOT blast finishers. It’s a completely separate mechanic. Drake pets can use a combo field, but the ranger cannot. That skill activation is 100% AI activated when the AI wants to… if you have that pet… if it’s alive. And yes a bear can remove all conditions… if you are underwater. Does a ranger have access to all the pets at levels appropriate to the dungeons? No.

                I’m seeing a pattern in your posts. The list goes on and on on things you are technically correct in the most specific of circumstances but are not correct in reality.

                Your broad definition of control is a bit too broad for me since it appears to be anything and everything. I think of control as a bit more technical. Getting the AI to reconsider pathing decisions is not enough. If you knew with 100% certainty what the new path will be after using ability X then yes, but that never happens. Interrupting mob abilities, keeping a mob from attacking the guy who’s already down, forcing the mob to attack a specific target a specific time, that’s control. Doing something and hoping it works… that’s not control. Knowing that there’s an aggro table and that you are at the top when you are being attacked is not control. Knowing the relative weights of how any action affects the table is control. Changing who is at top of the aggro table on demand is control. Separating The Lovers and having one run across the room to beat on someone who is not attacking it is not control.

                I’m now getting irritated with this whole back and forth. It’s progressing into hostile territory so I’m ending it. Insult me some more, but I’m not replying.

                • MikalSaltveit says:

                  Your combo field/blast comment was unclear. I have grouped with support Rangers before and their Healing Spring has a huge effect. When I see it go down I spin around in it as much as possible to spread the heals around.

                  Choosing to not give one class direct access to a specific type of finisher was a design choice. As I said, I don’t have ANY Projectile finishers on my guardian.

                  From the forums Q.A.
                  “The purpose of these two buffs is to prevent Champion and higher level mobs from being steamrolled by the umpteen enemy players assaulting it with chain crowd control, thus forcing players to have to only use their Crowd Control effects only when they absolutely have to, e.g. interrupting a channeled attack. After applying Crowd Control, players will then have to work to deplete the Defiant stacks without needlessly going over the limit.”
                  SOURCE: https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/players/Defiant-and-Unshakable-How-do-they-work

                  If you had the ability to control as many aspects of the monster as you suggest it would trivialize the combat. I already find it easy enough to hit my knockdown at the right moment. Bosses rarely come alone, and there are plenty of adds that need controlling during most fights.

                  “And yes a bear can remove all conditions… if you are underwater.” I don’t get this. The bear cures AOE conditions above water and self only 100% conditions underwater. Probably because water fights are so easy, its almost impossible to die while in the water.

                  “Control is the act of manipulating enemy movement, damage, as well as many other game mechanics. Correct use of control is a way to turn the tide of the battle. It is one of the three main elements of the combat system, the others being damage and support.” You can argue with the definition of control, but it is as it is written.

                  I do not get the hostility. It is not “doing something and hoping it works.” You must do the right things, at the right time. Yelling and screaming about what should be right will not change it. I used to do that. I was so mad at SOE for not making Monk’s in EQ2 tank the way I wanted. Then I decided I would go into the Games industry. I would make the better games. I have learned many things since then, enough to fill a whole blog.

                  The Dungeons are hard for some, but if you try my suggestions and learn the advanced tactics I am sure you will find them as fun and engaging as I do.

                  • Even says:

                    “You must do the right things, at the right time.”

                    Obviously. The problem still remains in for a good chunk of people doing the dungeons in trying to come terms with all the challenges. There’s very little in terms of feedback and you can only try to intuit and/or observe what you can most of the time. It’s simple enough to make a thesis on the ideology and systems that ArenaNet utilized in designing the dungeons after you’ve been to several of them. Trying to absorb all of it and apply into your gameplay is a whole another challenge.

                    A lot of things you say make sense on purely technical side of things. It’s just that reality is a lot different for a majority. Going from my own experiences it would take some pseudo-militaristic levels of discipline and co-ordination just to pull off what was defined as proper crowd control in that Q&A post. On an average bossfight, there’s just often too many goddamn things going on at once, having to dodge away from some AoE attack, reviving downed party members and whatever else that makes that sort of co-ordination if not impossible, then extremely impractical to even try to do in time.

                    In a more player friendly system, these things would be taught in a more forgiving enviroment and it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

  24. Dev Null says:

    I have tried running a dungeon in GW2 exactly once – my wife and I and some random pick-ups tried AC when we first hit the level that sends you that way. we were so thoroughly stomped by the random mooks lurking just inside the front door that we didn’t even bother to try to continue, and I haven’t been back since, though I’d quite like to have another go.

    One thing I’ve been wondering is if it’d be worth making a couple of sets of gear especially for dungeons, and just throwing it out when you’re done instead of repairing it. They wouldn’t be quite as good as my normal gear, but hey; neither is running around with no pants on.

    • MikalSaltveit says:

      This would be a huge waste of money. You would spend 7gold to save 12silver fah.

      • Dev Null says:

        Well I wouldn’t spend any money at all; I’d just build the stuff. But I presume what you mean is that I could have sold the stuff for 7 gold instead of using it this way? I’m pretty sure I can’t make anything that adds up to 7 gold without making hundreds of them, but I haven’t actually done the maths…

        • MikalSaltveit says:

          No, I mean in fact that good level 80 armor will cost you at least 1g in materials to craft. There are 6 slots you can fill, as well as a 7th you cannot (back slot is story rewards only). I round up to 7g in anticipation of inefficiencies in obtaining goods. What should often cost 6g ends up with 7g out of my pocket.

    • Steve C says:

      This is very possible and I do it myself. I have my full set of gear (exotics) I use regularly and one slot of green (masterwork) gear. I buy 10 duplicate copies of that masterwork item off the TP for 1 copper more than their vendor cost.

      All my gear is damaged (not broken) except for that one green item which is undamaged. If I die, then that green item will become damaged and nothing else. I then swap out the green damaged item for one of the other 10 in my inventory. I never repair anything.

      The result is that when I die 10 times, my repair cost is 10 copper, not 10 silver.

  25. Steve C says:

    A nit I want to pick with dungeons are the terms “Story” and “Explorable” mode.

    Story has no story in it. Explorable doesn’t have much to do with exploration. It certainly does not encourage exploration. Arenanet cuold have come up with much better terms. Foo and Bar for example.

    The final dungeon (Arah) has some story elements to it, not good story, but I’ll give it points for trying. The rest of the dungeons have nothing to do with story beyond the minimum definition of “a sequence of events”.

    Story involves a narrative, plot development, character development and a bunch of other things. Narrative =/= stuff that happens. It’s more than that.
    Five characters bickering amongst themselves is not story, nor is it character development when they decide to stop bickering. It’s not interesting or engaging. It’s not even relevant to the questline that makes up your personal story. It’s “just a bunch of stuff that happens.” It’s boring and pointless and easily cut while keeping the gameplay. The sad thing is that GW2 does this extremely well (especially for a MMO) during dynamic events. It makes a stark contrast.

    Good stories make an audience think. When you tell a story, things should happen for a reason (“x happens, therefore y happens). The moment you find the story going (x happens, then y happens, then z happens) you’ve done it wrong.

  26. Bryan says:


    Now I’m starting to wonder if the dungeons got written via contract, by someone completely uninformed about the rest of the game, like the DX:HR bosses. Or if it’s just that a single group of people can put together two things so radically different.

    Probably the latter, but the former seems appealing. :-)

  27. John says:

    I love that you posted about female protagonists in video game and what women want, then follow it up, the very next day, with pictures of your character, a tiny female in her underwear!

    • Alex says:

      But even there, she’s in her underwear due to not conforming to stereotypes about women. Not like one of my D&D characters, who due to a rather draconian DM had nothing better to spend her money on than a wardrobe full of different suits of +5 armour, and a portable hole to keep it in.

    • Mari says:

      Guild Wars 2 is actually one of the best games I’ve played in a long time in terms of gender roles and being female-friendly. Obviously the underwear thing in the picture is, as explained, not his armor – it’s the result of the armor breaking. In terms of the actual armor in the game, I’m thrilled to say that the full gamut of “skank in chainmail bikini” to “bad-ass beyotch in unisex plate” is available in this game. And with transmutation stones being so freely and generously handed out if you wind up with a superior armor piece that you hate the look of, you just change the appearance.

      In terms of female roles in-game, I’ve seen female NPCs that run the gamut from “The Baroness of Boobs” sex-kittens to women that could be fully interchangeable with men. I happen to be in a personal story quest right now with a female NPC of the latter type. But I’ve run across plenty of the former as well. And if there were ONLY the former I would be annoyed by it. But there’s a wide enough array of female NPCs that they manage to portray the full gamut of humanity. Some of the females in Destiny’s Edge appear (bearing in mind that I haven’t done any dungeons which is where their story fleshes out) to be of the “catty b*tch” variety, Queen Jennah seems so far to be of the “Princess Peach” variety (helpless and stupid), one of Logan’s sidekicks is of the “sex kitten” genre, and assorted others are more or less generic people with no particularly “female” stereotypes attributed to them.

      All in all one of the best things about Guild Wars 2, for me, is the fact that I get the feeling that ArenaNet hates all their players equally (as evidenced by the stupidity of the dungeons) instead of singling me out for extra hatred because I have boobs and play their game. Sure, some aspects of the game indulge male adolescent fantasy mentality but there are enough options that keep away from that content that you can avoid most of it if you want to avoid it, or indulge in it if you want to indulge. I can’t think of a better way to handle that line between “we want the teenage boy demographic” and “we want the female demographic.”

  28. Wauf says:

    I have it on good authority at least one of the GW2 developers used to play a whole lot of FF XI. I am not surprised to learn there is some variation upon skillchains in the game.

  29. TheRocketeer says:

    I have come to dread dungeon discussion: the problems with the dungeons are so obvious that no one needs them pointed out, and so severe that they have been pointed out continually since their creation; the goals of the mode are so nebulous that no one has any suggestion for fixing it beyond espousing their personal preferences; and an obdurate minority is always on hand to suggest everyone else embrace tactics and preferences utterly antithetical to their interests and experience.

    These dungeons are the closest video games have come to creating modern art: a shapeless, ugly mass that everyone hates and no one understands, with one lone scoffer telling the crowd they don’t get it like he does.

    It’s a loud, bland circle. I just want to see the whole thing burned down.

  30. Kdansky says:

    Gimmick fights is the one thing that WoW fucked up for everyone. I mean, you’ve got a solid game engine (right?) with solid combat mechanics (right??) which are interesting to use and allow for a multitude of strategies and situations (right???), and then at the boss fight, you throw that out the window and make it a jumping puzzle with go-karts? BUWAAAAHHH??

    WoW came up with these idiotic gimmicks in boss battles*, where the winning move was to watch a youtube video about it. No matter how perfect you play the game, if you don’t know todays gimmick, you will get murdered. And then when you finally beat Kel Thuzad, you are zero steps closer to beating Malygos, because that fight is like a different game.

    *Why did they do that? Because they ran out of interesting challenges for the base mechanics! Those mechanics weren’t very deep, you know. Vanilla (Onyxia, MC or BWL) are all about basic mechanics like healing, aggro and positioning. WotLK became *very* dancy (regards to Heigan!), because healers had all but infinite mana and way too many tools to beat every challenge that didn’t have a hard timer or instant death mechanic. As a druid, I could (for a while) literally regenerate 5% or so of everyone’s HP (in the 10-player raid) every second, and keep that up longer than any fight could ever last.

    Compare this to Super Meat Boy: You jump in the first level. You jump in the last level. The same bloody game, just harder. That’s a proper game!
    Or Dark Souls: If you know how to dodge, attack and block, then you can take on every boss, even naked, at level 1 with a shitty weapon. The game is ONLY about those basic mechanics, and that includes every single enemy from the first skeleton to the last dragon.

  31. rlor says:

    I was looking forward to seeing your take on GW2 dungeons.

    My first dungeon run in GW2 I ate something like 6 deaths, 12 downs. My next run a week later I ate 0 deaths and 3 downs but I used a build that I made specifically for dungeons and I understood what to expect. It wasn’t that I was a better player between these two runs, rather specialization just made that big of a difference. An important difference in my mind is my new spec wasn’t trying to copy what some ideal dungeon cookie cutter spec on the forums, just a spec I felt could handle dungeon gameplay.

    GW2 reminds me more of Eve Online than WoW in many ways. Both Eve and GW2 have very easy parts and brutally hard parts unless you know the trick in which case they’re not nearly as hard. Those tricks are not explained within the game at all. I think you could probably replace Eve Online on the graph below with GW2 dungeons and be pretty accurate.

    MMO Difficulty Chart

    I’d like to see a lvl 20 tutorial style dungeon be introduced that spends time introducing mechanics like combo fields and basic conditions (blind, weakness, etc), boons, and condition removal. Give the players some concept of how ANet expect dungeons to be approached. That might be a band-aid fix to a deeper problem but I think it would go a long way in helping players.

  32. pixelrevision says:

    Good article. When the system is working well these dungeons can be a real relief from the tank, heal setup of most MMOs. They are a breath of fresh air and something new. That said there are so many glaring flaws that they will need some serious work if they want to promote longevity on these.

    The waypoint thing is a pretty ridiculous one as this article pointed out, and you know it’s bad when people actually design a strat around it. In CoF path 2 the accepted strat is to have 2 people in the room kiting mobs and when one dies another steps in so that there is always a flow of people coming from the waypoint. That is terrible design, and if you don’t do it this way then you are dealing with 10-15 mobs that may randomly attack one person.

    Then there is the pacing and tuning. TA exp (with the exception of forward forward) has mobs and bosses that just get easier and easier as the dungeon progresses. The first boss is surrounded by respawning flowers that gib hard with condition damage and respawn plus 4 adds with condition AoEs making it the encounter that requires a decent amount of coordination/cool-downs/knowledge. Ramp that up to a boss at the end that requires the awesome mechanic of stand in the doorway and press 1.

    The gravelings fight in AC is actually a fun encounter…. If it were not so artificially inflated difficulty wise with bugs. 4 people focus firing on the mounds with one person kiting the adds that go for the crystal works well. Except the hitboxes of the mounds are fucked and appear to be underground. So many classes get an “obstructed” message if they are not standing just so on a hill. Add to that that condition damage does nothing against them (or anything static) and this can be an encounter that goes from “fun when it clicks” to “undoable because of design issues/bugs”. At least they posted they are working on some way to get condition damage applied to static geometry, because as of now I have yet to see power/crit being useless in a situation, but currently condition damage is useless in many.

    In addition the story modes can often be harder than the some exp modes and are unbalanced as far as ramp up. And ac SHOULD NOT be the first dungeon players are pushed towards. SE story should not have a 6 phase boss fight in the middle with one phase that is harder than 1/2 the exp bosses.

    I do think a lot of this is fixable, but they will need to look heavily at what they have, see what works and what doesn’t and give the overall experience a huge overhaul. Doors should lock in each encounter so that they need to be learned as intended. Mobs should stop having leashes so that pulls cannot be cheesed by dragging one at a time to the leash point. The UI could use a bit more feedback (or the ability to mod). And the encounters overall should be assessed in difficulty so that as you go through it feels like a ramp up not a mish mash of randomness. There are a couple of paths that feel like they work well from my point of view. I did CoE path 2 last night with 4 others who had never done it and it felt perfect, unfortunately at the moment it does seem to be the exception to the rule.

  33. Eric says:

    I think one of the worst elements of Guild Wars 2’s dungeoneering is that it throws you into a game mode which feels very different from the rest of the game.

    The fact is that the core Guild Wars 2 combat mostly sucks. Okay, maybe that’s not a fact, but it’s the same old MMO groups of 2-3 enemies that you fight for your designated 30 seconds by mashing hotkeys, before moving on to the next group. If you are fighting a boss during an event, it’s the same thing except you have 10+ other players doing it.

    In other words, typical boring MMO PvE play. Unfortunately this does not at all prepare you for the dungeons, which actually require both tactics and strategy, something the best MMOs do. On the one hand, this means specific builds and player skill actually matter, and if it wasn’t for the level scaling it might even make skill *more* important than level and gear.

    On the other hand, because so much PvE stuff is entirely solo and because you are never, ever called upon to use your abilities intelligently because the game is specifically designed to be easily solo-able for any class of a given level, there is no way to learn how to play how the game wants you to until it comes time to do so… in which case you should be prepared to die a lot, over and over, while you struggle to determine what the game expects of you.

    It’s interesting, although I liked Guild Wars 2 a lot at first, the more I play it the more I find myself scratching my head at certain design choices and just getting frustrated with it.

  34. RTBones says:

    I’ll preface this by saying that I have not played any dungeons yet in GW2 – but my question is – are ALL of the dungeons like this, or is it just AC?

  35. Adeon says:

    So I’ve been reading back and forth on the dungeon thing a bit and I think the most damning possible thing I can say about them is this: level 80s are not running them.

    I was hanging about in the level 80 zone last night and while I saw a large number of people looking for teams for Karma farms and an almost constant Zerg on the various zone bosses I saw almost nobody looking for a team for Arah (and the people who were looking wanted Story Mode, not Exploration Mode). Additionally no one was bothering to attempt to defend the Gate to Arah so the dungeon was spending a good bit of time closed off anyway.

    To me this says that fundamentally the dungeons are a failure. People either aren’t interested in doing them or don’t consider the rewards worthwhile.

    • Even says:

      Or it’s just that grinding karma for level 80 exotics has just been deemed easiest. There’s not much else to do character progress wise at the level cap. I wouldn’t take the happenings or chat of a specific zone as a guarantee of it anyway. Could be a lot of reasons why it’s the way it is. For my server (Piken Square) a lot of people hang around the entrances of the various dungeons looking for group almost any time of the day and quite a few call out for runs in the population centres, namely Lion’s Arch. While they may not be the most popular thing, I still see on a daily basis calls for various dungeons, including explorable modes so it’s not all dead at least on my server.

  36. Zlurgh says:

    All this discussion on dungeons misses the mark for me. Once having leveled up one toon to 80 and getting her halfway geared, I have no desire whatsoever to level a second toon…and that’s a sad testament to the overall game I’d say. I did fully level and gear perhaps 10 toons in WoW…in case my gaming credentials are doubted. The primary flaw of GW2, imo, is having to do research in order to excel….and then finding no answer to questions. Frustrating as hell. This also occurred with WoW but at least then, because of Wow’s prolific nature, information was relatively easy to acquire. GW2 seems to want to borrow the model of WoW, but without coming close to the number of accounts of WoW there isn’t much hope of their business model succeeding…at least not from the standpoint of THIS customer.

    Clear instructions on how to optimize a toon, understand game mechanics or any other facet of the game is MISSING from the game itself. I guess the modern paradigm for many game developers is to forget about customers, who pay the money, and hope that the cyberpedia world develops fast enough after the release of the game to deal with the onslaught of questions. The model makes confused game testers out of everyone buying the game and this GREATLY presumes upon my patience as a customer. The developers HAD to know and understand this before they released the game.

    Essentially…GW2 sucks as a world class product.

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