Early Impressions

SNL LindaI’ve had a busy couple of days. Between the release of Land of the Dead, a recent character development for my Shadow Warrior, my happy return to a five-day/fourty-hour work week,  my wife’s triumphant entrance into her second trimester (she still just seems to want to sleep for 12 hours a day), the regular grindstone for my summer classes, and the oh-so-joyish Florida-summer yard-work, I feel as if I haven’t had a whole lot of time to sit down and document the things that are noteworthy, or might be interesting to anyone who walks through here. So, I’m going to give an update of where I stand in regards to the game with a recent change I’ve made, a brief look at how I’ve been playing the game lately, and a brief glimpse what I’ve seen of Land of the Dead (particularly Tomb of the Vulture Lord) so far.

For the past two months or so, I’ve been primarily running with a guild that runs almost exclusively in a 6-man. Here’s a little background on who they are. They are a small guild, less than 50 character (probably half that in players). They transferred to our server maybe three to four months back, and were in an alliance with my previous guild almost the entire time. Even after the last drama that caused the dissolution of said alliance, they reformed a new one with us. All good people, and we all got along amazingly well. This guild is known to be a devastating force on the field. Playing with them is that well-oiled machine of coordination that you get when six people who think in the same way cooperate on a regular basis. Everyone plays their class, and understands the game in a way that can be surprising to some. It is not uncommon for the groups to wipe out enemy forces 2-4 times their number.They tend to be so good at what they do, that there is almost always some claim about the guild hacking, or using exploits to achieve what they do. I remember after they first got here, having a conversation with someone who thought they were placed here by Mythic to help encourage our severely under-moraled, dispirited Order who were getting crushed at the time.

In any matter, I have been running with them so much lately, that I had almost completely started to lose contact with my fellow guildies. I can count on one hand how many times I had grouped with them in the past month. Whenever I got on the game, I would hop on THEIR vent before my own guilds to see if they had a group going with room for me. Playing with them was just a lot more fun for me. Vent was friendly, but it had the quiet that often comes with people concentrating and focusing on a task at hand. Compared to my old guilds vent that was always full of people joking and having a good time, a very lively vent, with lots and lots of people who are friends with each other. After a while, I came to the realization that while I was technically in my current guild, with all practicality, I was more closely guilded to this new group of people. So, when the subject about me joining them was brought up, I thought about it for a little bit, and decided to accept the offer. I talked to one of the officers of my old guild briefly, and told them where I was at, and he completely understood. I left on great terms, and I know that I will always have a group of friends over in Enigma. They are all amazing people, and have a great time when playing. They can continually field 2 warbands on the field, and coordinate all these people on the task at hand. I will never regret the time I played with them, or the friendships I made.

This particular recent development coincided exactly with the release of Land of the Dead. On my server, Order won the 24 hour access. So what did myself and new guild do with this? Ignored the hell out of it! It was a simple decision really. The advanced access didn’t let you go into Tomb of the Vulture Lord and there wasn’t going to be any Destro to kill. So what would entice us to go there? Getting a few of our glyphs so we could be ready to hit the big dungeon the day after? Exploring some new content without the fun of enemy competition? No thanks, we’ll fight the enemy please.

And fight we did. Glorious battles were had that day. Destro had rushed out to face us with a mighty force. When I logged on after work, every zone was pushed just outside our fortresses, and reports were that they were soon to be under siege. The first to be vulnerable to attack was Reikwald, and Shining Way 30 minutes later. We had some of the most intense, and fun fights I have had in this game to date. Our six man struck hard and fast whenever we saw the enemy. Right near the near the end of the defense of Shining Way, Destruction opened the path to Stonewatch. In the end, all three fortresses remained standing for Order. I had never had more fun than just then, Land of the Dead seemed to be a giant success for a completely unintended reason. Sadly, all fighting died after that, so there was nothing left to really do. A few of us headed over to Land of the Dead and we poked about in the PQs for a while.

The PQs for the most part are actually a good amount of fun. There are a lot of them, ten in total if my memory is correct. Two of the PQs are initiated by finding specific roaming mobs that will get the ball rolling. Almost all of them that I can think of have some interesting mechanic, or type of game-play needed to advance stages, or win the entire series. One has a giant skeleton that throws everyone in the air like N’karri, another has a ring of cursed tombs that require spiritual cleansing to close the sarcophagi. There was one PQ that actually shocked me, my group fell through the floor as it crumbled beneath my feet, and we landed in a pit. It came from nowhere and I couldn’t help but laugh with a genuine sense of joy. So, the PQs are all fun for the most part, which is a good thing, since if you want to do all the different dungeons, you are going to have to do them all to get the access glyphs associated with each one. However, if you only want to do a particular dungeon, you only need to do the PQs with the glyphs needed. On the plus side, you only lose the glyphs on a successful completion, so you don’t lose them if you don’t beat dungeon.

We ignored the dungeons completely on that first day. On day two (yesterday) I logged into the game about thirty minutes before we were set to retake LotD, and push Destro out of there for us to play in. Once it kicked over, we all flew there as quickly as possible. The initial purge of the zone was meh. We ran over to their side of the river (jump in it, you get a free piece of tyrant gear!) and up to their warcamp. We fought a fairly boring PQ similar to a fortress, there was a Lord and a balloon that had to be shot down. When we tried to run to the different instances and see if any destro were in there we could push out, we got nothing. Reports say that the enemy WAS in them, waiting on us, but that for whatever reason, it was bugged (surprise!). So far, the INTENDED PvP of this expansion has been a roaring, “bleh”. The winning realm gets to keep the zone for 30 minutes without chance of it flipping back, and on our server, it takes a long time for destruction to win it back. Our population is so low, that they can only re-flip it by locking zones. With no Order out there, they have to use domination. This means that it will be at least2 hours before they get back in, and that’s if they can flip three zones at once. It means that if any Order want to avoid PvP on our server, all they really have to do is go fly to LotD once we have it, and they can pretty much play a gaming session free of those pesky destro.

Now, here at the end of this long wall of text, I’ll talk about what little I saw of the Tomb of the Vulture Lord (TotVL). Anyone else getting sick of acronyms? An evil necessity I guess. My guild isn’t made-up of giant PvE fans, we can enjoy it, and tastes vary, but on the whole, we’re here for the PvP. But, new, better gear is to be had, and it’s new content, so we decide, lets have a go at it. A group of us go in, two Warrior Priests, a Knight, an Ironbreaker, a Bright Wizard, and myself. We move in, a little cautious as we know the place is riddled with traps, ready to destroy the unwary. The first trap is a series of swinging guillotines down a hallway, getting hit by any one of them is instant-death. We tried a number of different approaches to try and get through, but eventually we found the best way is to simply be patient. Angle the camera down so you’re looking at the top of the characters head, and walk forward so that you’re standing at each pillar between the flying-death-razors. Space is tight, so positioning is key, and three people have to get across to turn the trap off.

All of the bosses in the instance seem to function on a PQ system, but it has yet to be anything difficult or challenging to finish, walk into it, and a drunken monkey could figure it out. The first boss is pretty simple, he has a stance mechanic, and unlike the Shadow Warriors, it’s a huge benefit. The first stance (Asp) requires that everyone stand right next to him. If you’ve done LV you’ll be familiar with this. The second stance, he ripostes all melee damage, and the third stance he does an insane AoE, but he can be knocked down to stop it. On the plus side, his AoE is less than 45′ so I can at least stand back at max range and hit him with all my skirmish abilities.

After the first boss, you make your way to the next trap. A forest of rotating pillars that shoot needles out of one side. Again, the needles cause you to instantly die, so be careful. This trap was significantly easier to get through, I almost made it through on the first attempt by just running my way down one side. Just pay attention and you shouldn’t have a problem.  The second boss proved to be far more challenging than the first. If you watched preproduction videos from the various gaming sites, you’ll remember this one. You enter a room with a giant undead guardian standing on a pedestal in the center, he is surrounded by loads of cursed treasure. Collect the treasure for a minute until the second stage of the PQ starts, and you’re off. This bastard is invulnerable at all times, except for when he’s kneeling down. While he’s up and walking around he charges at the person who is farthest from him, and does two hits for half the targets total health in the area he ends up. The person who he charged has to try and dodge out of the way when he sees it coming, so as to not die a horrible, horrible death. After the charge is when he will fall to a knee and be vulnerable to attack.

The above is the best part of the entire fight for me. Know why? Because all targeted range abilities are reduced to 9′. Yes, yes, all of us RDPS get to know the lovely reality of having to stay right on the guys ass to deal our damage. But just wait, there’s more. Think about this for a second with me if you will boys and girls. All the physical RDPS class, the SH, the Engie, the SW, we all  have a 5 foot dead-zone, where we can’t use our abilities. So what happens when you have a five foot dead zone, and then a 9′ maximum, yes you have 4′ of attackable distance, that you have to wiggle around in until you can find it! Oh boy!

On top of these awesome range restriction, instant death charge for the slow of feet, he spawns weapons as the fight goes on. At first comes spinning swords that do 1000 damage a tick, then more swirling swords, third comes a set of disembodied bows that shoot people randomly, and last comes a series of floating maces that disable you for a second a piece. This is incredibly fun for the healers I hear. Either way, this guy is a pain in the ass. We ended up getting him after maybe eight tries or so, but it doesn’t make it any less painful. It is a fun encounter for the most part, but there is a lot of stuff in there that could probably stand to be downtweaked a bit.

Overall, I’m slightly more positive then “meh” to the Land of the Dead and it’s intended direction. Maybe if they can fix the purging instances thing, or find a way to make the fighting in the actual zone be more intense and last longer, I’d be happy. The instances and PQs are all good fun, but I’m here for the PvP. So props to Mythic for doing them right, but get back on track to the core of the game okay?


About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

4 Responses to Early Impressions

  1. slurms says:

    Man, that picture is crackin me up

  2. Grimnir says:

    So I also hear they fixed Bullseye and Enchanted Arrows. How’s that working out?

    • shadowwar says:

      Yes they did! I thought about doing a post about it, but I don’t want to go around patting people on the back for fixing something they never should have broke in the first place. It’s the same way I feel when I see parents gushing over their kids when the kid eats their food, it’s not an accomplishment, it’s a baseline. But to answer your question, thank GOD they’re fixed.

  3. Werit says:

    On Badlands, we have a heck of a time purging Destro groups completely. They are able to hang on for a good amount of time. Once they are purged, I often leave the zone to thwart their capture attempts.

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