My apologies for lack of posting last week. Someone gifted me their cold so I was even more wiped out than I have been. Something had to get dropped from the to do list and since I couldn't put words together very well anyway....
With the release of episode 5 for Guild Wars 2 Living World Season 3 on May 8th, I thought I'd share my thoughts about it and the previous ones. This will be a very generalized sharing of my impressions since I prefer to keep things spoiler free for those who haven't had the pleasure of running the content yet.
|Skaro and Karashai|
The story over all is... okay. It's not stellar like most single player rpgs are but it's not horrible like most action rpg's are. Yet it feels like they are missing some of those little moments that could make it more interesting. I think it's because they are trying to jampack too much into each episode to propel things forward.
The one nice thing is that they do pick up where some of the things from the end of the Heart of Thorns story leave off. So at least things flow well into the most current happenings of Tyria. Each episode does end and begin ok and reminds me a lot of how they did Living World Season 2.
My biggest complaint about the episodes is that there seems to be very little instanced content to the story. A good chunk of it involves running around the new maps to complete errands. I am the commander, why do I have to do all of the running around? I know, I know it's because otherwise there wouldn't be much content at all.
Each episode has introduced a new map to us. They are not large maps, I would say about the size of Southsun Cove, Dry Top, or Silverwastes. However much like the Magus Fall maps that were added with HoT they have areas that require gliding and mushroom bouncing. Then there are the map masteries that you earn and often add another way to get around the map. Although one added a fifth skill for while you are downed.
There are also mastery points in every map that you can earn to put towards the new masteries. This is helpful since there are some adventures in HoT that I am just not adept enough to be able to earn gold on.
I should mention that each map is only accessible after running the first chapter of each corresponding episode or by having a friend in the map and using a teleport to friend stone. Otherwise your entrance is denied.
They also decided that each map needs its' own harvestable currency. This was highly annoying before they added them to the bank materials tab. Previously they went into your bank items tab and took up precious space. You can use the harvestable currency to purchase ascended items, minis, and a harvesting node of the map's harvestable for your home instance.
Fun wise... eh... I would say for me personally they are not that fun. The mobs feel too packed together and throw out way more conditions than I am comfortable to deal with (also spelled annoying). Crippling seems to be a favorite and there's a couple of mob types that is just very annoying to deal with. However, I do find the map released with the latest episode to be the most fun. The atmosphere is also the easiest on my eyes which helps my enjoyment a lot. Some effects trigger migraines for me so it's something that I always remain concerned with.
There are dailies for each of the new maps. I guess it's the way that they are trying to make the content more relevant for repeating. Personally, I gave up on doing them shortly after episode 1 was released because I find dailies to be extremely boring. For those of you who enjoy them though, there are four dailies for each map and upon completing one of the four you recieve a chest with Maguuma mastery experience, the map's harvestable currency, a sip of liquid karma, and unbound magic (a currency that spans all of the maps and is earnable in each).
Doing the daily achievements can help you earn things faster that cost whatever harvestable is needed for that map. So that part is nice if you have a goal in mind.
I don't consider myself an elite player by any means but nor am I extremely casual. After spending more than two thousand hours on my main, I do have some skill regarding the game (that doesn't include my other handful of characters and the scores I have deleted). However, even for my husband and myself there are times when the difficulty of either a map or an instance is just teeth grindingly frustrating.
I am normally one who likes to run all of my characters through the story so that all of them are at the same point and can access the maps for completion. Heh. That has changed with the last two episodes of the Living Story. I have run Karashai through them and I have one ready to do the last instance of episode 4 but I have little inclination to care to run more through. My guardian is stuck in the 3rd episode and she will probably stay there. Why? Because with the maps not being very enjoyable (I swear all of them feel like they have meta events) and with the instances feeling more like drudging than fun, what's the point? There is plenty of other content I can spend my time running and have fun doing so.
You know that feeling when Heart of Throns first released and everything felt super hard because the devs listened to all the hard cores players whining about how easy the game was? Yeah, it feels like they have decided to continue to listen to those players. While I have mostly adjusted to the levels, it doesn't mean I enjoy it. I miss the rampant run around and slaughtering the masses in open world. Now I normally have to be careful not to pull too much or just hope I can out run everything I'm trailing. When it takes too long to kill something, it's just not fun.
Most would think it's my build that is to blame but it's seriously not. My husband and I are able to duo champs with out issue (we even duo'd one in the newest map) and we often will short man dungeons or fractals. Those are supposed to pose a challenge but open world? Nah, I prefer that to be the playground where Karashai can gleefully dance with her greatsword and Rae can smash with her mace.
Overall if you have logged in and gotten the episodes for free (you have to log in while the current episode is live otherwise once another one is released you need to pay gems for the previous) I say at least run through the story just to see what it has to offer. At the very least you'll probably get to see some of your favorite npc's or maybe not so favorite in the case of a couple. There are also many new achievements added with each episode and if that is a thing for you then by all means!
I'll let you draw your own conclusions about whether or not to actually purchase the content if you missed getting it for free. I will say that overall they are worth running at least once, especially if you haven't had to pay for them.