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Fear, pain, madness

Guild Wars Nightfall: The End

I completed Nightfall with my Elonian Elementalist over the weekend. Final statistics:

Guild Wars Nightfall: Final Stats

You might notice the death count for my character, who had earlier achieved the Survivor title at Marga Coast, stood at 54 deaths by the end of the game.

I didn’t harbour much hope of making Indomitable Survivor, the second tier of the Survivor title, but I was still surprised by the way I died for the first time.

It turns out there’s a spot in the Venta Cemetery mission that will result in death in two seconds flat if you should happen to tread there. I was so surprised by this that I tried it again to make sure and sure enough, death number two.

I got a little sloppy after that but I think 54 deaths by the storyline’s end is a decent achievement. This is because the last third of the game is hard.

When the going gets tough

Others have noted this as well. One game magazine editor was so incensed by the difficulty in the Realm of Torment that he was moved to post a rather vitriolic entry (“Guild Wars can die and go to Hell”, “fuck this game”, “a complete waste of my time”, etc.) in his blog.

I agree the Realm of Torment has difficult areas. That is only to be expected, though. You don’t expect to have a super happy fun time LALALALALALA-ing with Smurfs and skipping in sun-kissed glades with little ponies in a place called Realm of Torment. You expect fear, pain and madness and the Realm of Torment delivers those in spades.

I remember being incredibly frustrated when I first played this portion of the game with my Mesmer and it didn’t get much easier the second time I played through it, either.

But I would strongly disagree with any notion it’s arbitrarily designed. It’s clear the designers planned to frustrate the impatient and those unwilling to be flexible with their tactics in these areas.

Run, Forrest, run

I think part of the problem is the earlier parts of the game have conditioned gamers to take on every single mob in a systematic fashion. That’s not always possible in the Realm of Torment. It’s sometimes wiser to avoid combat and pull back.

The Domain of Fear, for instance, is an aptly-named area in the Realm of Torment as there are frightful mobs that are capable of wiping out half your party within five seconds. It may be possible to go toe-to-toe with those mobs if you’re in a party of good players but if you’re playing with Heroes and henchmen, it’s probably best just to fight when it’s strictly unavoidable.

The Domain of Secrets, on the other hand, has an environmental effect that increases energy costs of skills and spells by a whopping 40 per cent. This means it’s not always possible to slug it out until an entire mob of foes is defeated; it’s sometimes advisable to take out a key target in a mob (e.g. the enemy healer) and then retreat to replenish your energy reserves.

I also disagree the aggro circle is useless. The only foe that has an excessively large aggro radius is the Kournan Spotter. The mobs in the Realm of Torment have pretty standard aggro radii, I think. The main problem is that their patrol routes are large and overlap those of other mobs. This means that you’ll often find yourself aggro-ing another mob a minute after engaging one.

I’d advise waiting a minute or more to see how the nearby mobs patrol before venturing further. Once you’ve engaged a mob, you cannot fixate on your target. I know it’s terribly easy to do this in the heat of battle but if you’re playing with Heroes and henchmen, you need to periodically check the radar to avoid nasty (and almost certainly deadly) surprises.

Booty

There’s one point I do wholeheartedly agree with, though: the rewards in the Realm of Torment don’t commensurate with the level of difficulty. There are a number of knockdown drag-out fights (especially if you’re playing with Heroes and henchmen) yet you’ll only be rewarded with a mere 25 gold per person and a substandard weapon which can only be sold for about 45 gold to a merchant.

ArenaNet needs to figure out a better way to reward players for doing PvE quests. The average player has little need for XP (*) after hitting the level cap of 20. The gold is insufficient. You might earn 200 gold for doing a PvE quest but it takes 1000 gold to buy a skill when you’re that far in the game.

(* XP does contribute to skill points which can be used to buy extra skills and it’s also relevant if you’re chasing the high-level Survivor or Skill Hunter titles but I would suggest only hardcore players would be interested in trying for those.)

Personally, the best rewards would be skills. I love playing around with new skills and trying out different skill bars and play styles. ArenaNet rewarded players who completed PvE quests with skills in the Prophecies campaign but decided not to do that in Factions and Nightfall because apparently players weren’t making use of those rewarded skills.

How about making those skills useful or even necessary for the next quest? There’s one quest in Nightfall that requires you to capture an Elite Skill that is necessary for the quest. I’d like to see more of this in the next campaign.

Posted in Games, Guild Wars.


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