I’ve only gone through the first couple of missions and spent some time exploring the new mini-zone Dry Top, so this is all just very first impressions sort of stuff. To kick things off, I’m pretty gratified that this update has added a new area to the permanent map. While desert zones aren’t my favorite biome, new is new and this does have a pleasant southwest feel to it.
While a new zone is all well and good, the emphasis on vertical exploration and (shudder) jumping had me screaming in short, controlled bursts. I don’t get it; are jumping puzzles an irresistable aphrodesiac to folks at ArenaNet or something? Does someone there have a troubled past involving walking after which they vowed to never walk again? In any case, we have the return of the Zephyrite crystals and various navigation obstacles. Fortunately, the zone is pretty small and it only took a little while to figure out how to get around.
Much better than jumping madness is the refined focus of the new story missions and journal. The journal is a good answer to some of the more severe flaws of the first season — the fragmented storytelling and the pressure to work through the content in a couple of weeks. Now we can go through the story at our own leisure and keep track of what’s actually going on. The missions felt right: a good challenge without being too hard, a few funny exchanges, and a nice parcel of rewards after each.
I ran through the first two a second time last night with a couple of guildies. We were joking how Kasmeer was really an evil villain in disguise who probably killed the NPC we found (can YOU explain why that character goes from standing up to “ugh dead” within a second otherwise?). I like the living story cast of characters a lot more than the personal story one, even if I feel like I’m some hanger-on who is never mentioned by any of them by name.
Speaking of Kasmeer, I feel that ArenaNet has backed itself into a corner with her and Marjory. The writers obviously want to portray a progressive lesbian relationship among this primary cast, which no doubt endears themselves to some fans, but I’m wondering if this has created two members of the NPC cast who are, in effect, invincible. I mean, they can’t really do anything bad to Kasmeer and Marjory, such as kill one or turn one evil or have them break up, without setting off a potential flood of anger and controversy among the playerbase. I really can’t see the writers inflicting anything bad on them without stepping into a minefield of people yelling that of COURSE they’d be mean to the lesbians, which ultimately makes me care about the characters less when I see them in god-mode. Maybe I’m wrong about this, maybe they’ll be subject to the exact same dangers and potential situations as anyone else. I hope so.
I’ve been experimenting with a dual-pistols build with my Engie, and the verdict isn’t quite out yet. It feels a little more squishy and less AOE-happy than the flametank, and I’m not really sure if the DPS makes up for that (or is actually better, for that matter). It looks pretty cool, going guns akimbo and all that, but I might be changing back pretty quickly here.
We had a funny moment last night when we left the instance and bumped into a badly spelled clone of a certain Game of Thrones character. I had to have a bit of fun, and she was a good sport about it: