Monday, May 14, 2012

Stress Test Recap: Do's and Don'ts in PvP

First,  I wanted to welcome Kaenes to Divinity's Reach!  One of the most important aspects of a blog, that I have admittedly neglected up to this point, are different points of view.  Kaenes will be a great addition to the blog, and I am looking forward to seeing his opinions of the game.  This blog has been growing at quite a rapid pace, and I may be in need of more co-authors in the future.  If you are interested, I may have more openings, but I will be sure to announce it in the future.

So, you may remember that there was a stress test today.  I promised myself going in that I would only play two hours, and that studying was more important than Guild Wars 2.  Well, sadly, GW2 had her way with me once again. I ended up playing from the moment the test began to the very end, that's seven hours if anyone was counting.  So what did I do?  Well, as a PvP fan, I naturally gravitated towards this end of the spectrum this time around.  I devoted the majority of my time to PvE last BWE, so I only thought it was fair to do the opposite.

I started out, resuming where I left off, with my thief.  I wanted to do a complete revamp my build, and instead of focusing on backstab or LDB build, I wanted to create a shortbow/venom build.  I initially had equipped the accessory (name?) that gave me power/vitality/toughness (don't quote me on toughness, I can't remember) which put me around 17k hp.  I made my utilities, sigils, and runes all reflect a little more offensively, and found myself pretty weak. I could live, don't get me wrong, but I could not kill anything for the life of me.  Yes, I know, what you are thinking, well of course you do no damage, you have an AOE weapon on for God's sake.  Well, you are wrong. I changed my accessory to the pure damage one (Power/Crit/and something else, I'm struggling with names right now) which set my HP to a whopping 12k, and changed my poison venom to an immobilization signet, and my experience was completely different. You may be asking yourself, but you have a shortbow on, how much damage can you actually do? Not only that, you have 12k hp, you are fresh meat to any bursty class. Well, after the last BWE, I found a couple hints of a certain type of technique, I am going to call it Shotgunning.  You literally stand in point blank range, and spam your cluster bomb move twice.  This will cause the bomb to explode, and would normally act as an AOE spray over a medium sized distance.  However, when this is done in point blank range, all of the shrapnel hits the enemy.  This hits rather hard, and I am hoping they don't change this, but it has amazing synergy with a CC'ed opponent.  I can literally use Basilisk venom, have it turn the opponent to stone, run up to them, and spam all of my initiative into 3-4 Cluster Bomb shots.  This not only hurts them substantially, it also places 3 bleeds on the target for each cluster bomb used, that means 9-12 stacks if done right.  Yes, it hurts, and yes I may be in love with a pixelated weapon.

I will say I had some trouble with bursty professions, but over time, I learned to adapt to them.  I remember one time, I ran into a ranger, and over 3 seconds the ranger had me down to 2k hp.  I was a little terrified, but with a little bit of healing, and some nice dodges, I was able to cluster-bomb my way back into the fight, and ended up winning.  I was so surprised that I then proceeded to brag on chat: "Silly ranger, you aren't the only one with a bow". I'm sorry, I have never once said I was humble.  Warriors could also take me down pretty low with a Bull's Charge/Adrenaline Skill combo, but as soon as that was over, I could literally escape with rather lower hp, and keep them at bay for the remainder of the fight.

As promised, I tried a different profession.  I actually used the mesmer, and tried the build I had posted previously.  So, I created my little female charr mesmer, went through the tutorial, spent a few moments in the Mists to create a build, and jumped in to 5v5.  I will admit, this was extremely foolish, and would advise against it.  Not only was I going from the arguably most simple class atm, to one of the most complex, I did it all within 5 minutes.  Let's just say, if you saw a charr mesmer, and were confused by what the hell they were doing, then that was probably me.  I had a couple moments, but it was a vast failure. Bear in mind that  I had been playing the thief, with virtually no cooldowns, and a profession that vary rarely has to switch weapons. I suddenly had to learn the value of weapon swapping, a skill almost everyone in the game knows by now.  I also quickly found out I had to keep track of my illusions.  Just because I created 3 illusions, does not mean they were within shatter distance of my target.  Sometimes the illusions were invisible to me, other times they were doing their own thing, and other times they were perfect.  I'm not sure if it was AI issues, my inexperience, or a combination of these things.  I also found out, my God, do I hate mantras.  Well, mostly again, due to my own failures.  I would run into combat, and then find out my "instant heal" was really a 3 second cast that only then would heal me.  Let's just say it was not a pretty sight.  I will refrain from making any judgments from my experience, because I know that I was completely foolish.  I was overconfident thinking I could learn a class that I had thought about on paper, in a couple of brief minutes.  I'm sure with more devotion to time in-game, I could learn the class, I just didn't have the patience this time around.

So instead, I jumped into WvW.  While I did not have basilisk venom as an elite, due to the fact that I was only level 27, I had enough utility points to buy all of my venoms from my 5v5 build.  However, instead of using the venom that immobilizes, I opted to choose the signet that immobilizes, as well as giving me a 10% movement increase.  When you combine this 10% speed increase, the minor trait of giving swiftness on a dodge, and Infiltrator's Arrow, I had a huge, I mean huge amount of mobility.  I could cover vast amounts of distance as well as evading those that sought my death.  When I died, I very much deserved it.  Needless to say, I love World PvP, whether it be diving off a cliff into the water below to run away from a horde of Blue Invaders, or taking a supply camp with just 2 people.  I've always wondered how many people are needed to take a supply camp.  With me as a level 27 thief, and a friend a level 20 Guardian, we almost captured a supply camp by ourselves.  We were able to pull the guards separately, and began our assault on the Supervisor.  All was working in our favor, when to our dismay, the guards respawned and ate us alive.  I think by the time I'm around level 80, I might be able to solo these.  I'm not quite sure yet, but time will tell us how much difference there is between a scaled 80 and a real 80.

Also, I did the jumping puzzle in one of the Borderlands maps.  After hearing about the jumping puzzle in WvW, my brother and I set out to look for it.  After about 30 minutes of searching, we stumbled upon the waterfall that houses the puzzle.  The puzzle is basically in two pieces, and is rather complex.  The puzzle took around two-hours to complete and was fun, challenging, and a little frustrating.  All the things a puzzle should be, in my opinion.  I had watched the puzzle in a video several weeks ago, and had forgotten everything except that there were two parts to the key we needed.  I really have to give props to ArenaNet on that puzzle.  The environment was gorgeous, and the puzzle was so complicated.  It wasn't just a platformer that involved skill, but it involved a good amount of intelligence to try to find different routes to take.  The bottom-half of the key was particularly challenging.  I kept trying to take a round-a-bout way to get to the chest, and I kept falling on this one skinny branch.  I was extremely frustrated at this point, when my brother pointed out there was an easier route, that essentially by-passed that damn branch. Also, my brother plays as a mesmer, and his Portal was so useful in this puzzle.  On some of the hardest jumps, he would lay down a portal before he jumped, and if he fell, he could basically go back and retry it instantly.

I think what I enjoyed the most out of the test was fighting in open-world PvP.  The environments are so varied and exciting.  The battlefield can change in a second, for better or for worse, and you are constantly forced to adapt your strategy.  Sometimes you have to abandon your entire team, and just run.  And God is running fun.  I remember having 4 Green's chasing me, and I ran into this ruin sort of place in Eternal Battlegrounds. My brother was getting chased by another group, and  I was trying to figure out how to save us.  I turned a corner, stealthed, and Infiltrated Arrowed behind my pursuers and successfully lost them.  I then interecepted my brother's pursuers and popped my sigils and venoms to chill and immobilize them.  We ran up a staircase unscathed.  Even if there was no purpose to WvW and no points to capture, I still think I would play it.  It really is everything I always wanted out of World PvP in an MMO.

The stress test wasn't perfect, and was a little frustrating at times.  I had a large amount of lag during the seven hours, but I know that it was all for our good come launch.  Stress tests are to test the systems in place, and you have to remember, this is not a Beta Weekend. Stress tests are a bonus for us as players, and we need to respect that.  When I pre-purchased GW2, I was never promised to play pre-launch outside of Beta Weekends. I am grateful, and I had a ton of fun, even if it was a little lag filled.


  1. That's a pretty cheap PvP tactic, exploiting the cluster bomb thing so it all goes off on one person. You should report that, and play it like it was designed to be played...

    1. You are assuming that this technique is an exploit, there's a reasonable chance that ArenaNet already knows of its existence. It's not like the thief community is trying to hide this technique, it's everywhere, on the official forums, Guru, Youtube, and much more. It makes sense for ArenaNet to give shortbow users some way to do single target damage at the cost of our survivability. What's interesting about the technique, is that you have put yourself in harm's way to be able to do it. If you wanna hit a warrior through this technique, you are going to have be right next to him, a rather dangerous position if you ask me. Don't get me wrong, it's a strong technique at the moment. However, it is the only strong single target damage that can be done by the shortbow thief. I find it dangerous for you to assume my intentions were to 'exploit the cluster bomb'. This skill when used to 'shotgun' is not an instant I-WIN button. Warriors and rangers are still able to do more burst damage than the shortbow thief by a large margin, and I need some form of immobilization utility to even land this technique. This is after all a beta test, if it's true that this weapon is not working as intended, then they will fix it before launch. I find it far more likely that they may make hit the technique with a nerf, while raising the shortbow's overall damage.

      Edit: Still working on comments section, sorry for the two deletes. Only difference between other comments was a gramatical edit to a sentence fragment.

    2. I agree with Entombed. There's a difference between exploiting a bug for your benefit, and using an existing working mechanic in novel ways for added benefits. The latter is not only fair game, but ArenaNet actually encourages players to find innovative ways to use the tools available in the game.

      I remember seeing a video run of the Ascalonian Catacombs where the players where dealing with the Lovers and having trouble keeping them apart, so they pulled them to an adjacent room and closing the door as soon as the first boss passed by, allowing them to kill one without the other. One could say that this is an exploit, but a ANet developer was on that group during the video, and made the comment that it was not only fair game, but it was awesome that they had that idea.

      So... yeah, if this Cluster Bomb mechanic was designed in a way you can use to your advantage, use it. If ArenaNet decides this is overpowered, they'll fix it later. But don't mistake being clever with exploiting.

    3. Couldn't have said it better. Excellently put.

      There is a fine line between exploiting a bug, and using skills in an innovative way. ArenaNet as come down strongly on the side of pro-innovation, and I think the game will be better in the long run for it.

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