Being a dungeon noob is stressful

| Sunday, September 8, 2013
I finally did my first dungeon in Guild Wars 2. Not a year late, for I took about a year off, but surely it shouldn't have taken me this long. The first was available at 20 or so. I didn't even consider doing one until I was near 80. Even once I'd decided that I would do a dungeon it took days to actually do it. It's time to round up the reasons why, and maybe see if there is anything to do about that.

 Guild Wars 2 is not nice to new people. It is particularly unkind to WoW people. In fact, I attribute my ability to have played it again and not wandered away confused to my having not played much WoW in months. Instead I played shooters, and Civilization, but the latter is not relevant. I spent a lot of time aiming while moving, shooting things while not letting them touch me, and generally working out the notion that I should run like a chicken with its head cut off, but like it still has its head and is carefully avoiding the guy with the axe.

WoW has movement, but outside of PvP it doesn't have much quick movement. Get out of the fire, but what's the rush, really? Boss drags you in, you run out. Outside of the choreographed dances the movement is comparatively leisurely. Add to that years of muscle memory of exactly how fast your character is, and probably every single boss fight too, and there's very little pressure. Guild Wars 2 likes to do devastating things very quickly, and you cannot simply move, but must instead dodge, because in this magical world rolling on the floor makes you temporarily invulnerable to most attacks.

Some mobs I could fight a half-dozen at a time and maybe have room for one more. Other mobs will seriously tax my survival with just one. It's something to do with evading attacks. Some hurt more, but more importantly, some are broadcasted more clearly. Maybe the animation is longer, maybe it's bigger and more dramatic. Compare dodging a centaur's knockdown with a bunch of little tiny spiders shooting poison.

Scale this up to a boss level and maybe you'll understand my reluctance. I could die at any moment and I would very likely have no idea why. Was there a constant AoE? How much did that condition hurt? When exactly do I dodge? This was exactly what happened on the first boss. I died and died, not in any of the red circle spam, but dead anyway. Maybe I should get a couple pistols so I can do more than auto-attack when at long range.

Generally people have been pretty nice in Guild Wars 2. Not sunshine and flowers nice, but rarely are they blatantly rude. Yet there are just enough mean people to keep me on edge, wondering if I'm going to find myself back in trade chat, or worse, a random PUG. It's not fun being on the losing end of a boss fight, or a group fight, and with my almost total lack of experience, the odds of the former, and therefore the latter, were daunting.

There is no LFG tool. I don't mean an automatic random cross-server group generator. I mean that it has nothing. There isn't even a way to list yourself as looking for a group, putting Guild Wars 2 instancing at the same level of sophistication as pre-Burning Crusade WoW. On the plus side, the waypoint system means that once you've found the entrance there's little travel time to worry about.

Thankfully, players have made their own lfg website. That's great. It's how I found my group. But it sure would be nice to not need to tab out to check it. I wonder how many people even know it exists. I didn't until very recently. Though given that it's about 50-50 that anyone saying lfg in a channel is told about it, I suppose many people have some notion that it exists.

So far my dungeon experience probably doesn't sound so great. The first fight was admittedly awful. Before and after that I died running past trash (since mobs leash in instances this seems to be the way to go). I was a blantantly noobish noob who was somehow level 80 and didn't even know to switch to group-oriented tools before the boss. Yet no one was mean about it. They gave some basic directions and a few bits of advice. At least one bit could have been appropriately followed with " , dumbass", yet it was not.

One particular bright spot is the res mechanic. With all the defeated NPCs that give experience and sometimes quest credit, it's a habit to res things. Run over and click on them. In combat, out of combat, doesn't matter, though it is a lot faster out of combat. In group events you'll see a few people helping up the dead person. I'm not even sure it's an altruistic gesture as much as it is a habit. The result is that I didn't have to deal with an angry rezzer who refused to do so. People just pick you up and go back to shooting nightmare vines.

In the end I got some shinies and the idea that maybe I could run some more in the future.


Jeromai said...

I've played GW2 for a full year with only a few dailies skipped, and I STILL haven't set a single foot in the explorable versions of Honor of the Waves and Caeducus Manor.

As you say, it's stressful being the only guy in the party who doesn't know what is happening or what to do, and one is always nervous to reveal that fact for fear of getting kicked by impatient players.

In general, GW2 doesn't have a WoW culture, so it is somewhat safe to tell your party up front that you're new. My guess is 75% of non-speedrun non-experienced only groups will not kick you and may even appreciate that you told them first, so they can type tips before and not only found out in a worse situation that causes the party to wipe.

The alternative of sneaking in and not saying a word is best supplemented by reading a guide beforehand. I've found both the GW2 wiki and to be fairly helpful in that respect.

I personally really loathe the running past trash aspect of dungeons. Not being someone who runs these things on a habitual basis, I rarely have any idea when to start and where to stop. My characters also tend to have enough toughness to pull aggro first and not enough to survive it, which lead to the incompetent image of being splattered on the ground multiple times.

Still, I figure there's always going to be new people running dungeons so it's just about finding enough time to dedicate to the task.

A good general tactic to bear in mind is that all attacks in GW2 are animation-based, bosses do generally have some kind of tell before the attack that flattens you. Which won't help the first few times when one has no clue what to expect, but well, it's a learning process.

The LFG tool is rumored to arrive with the upcoming Tequatl patch. I suspect that might be a good time to get some dungeons going as a number of new dungeoneers will make use of it. I expect a lot less efficiency and more flailing about then, though.

Syl said...

GW2 has one of the steepest dungeon learning curves out there. =D that said, if you have bested all 4 paths of Arah explorable, there's nothing you can't do afterwards. for me it was like a baptism of fire (I assume you saw my post on this from a while back?

Funny thing though....after I went through it and got the complete armors etc., a lot of stuff started to make more sense and got considerably easier ofc. the dungeons forced me to improve and rethink all my gear and spec choices the way nothing else in the game ever does. I still have an unfinished followup-post on this in my inbox that I should really get to....there's much less wrong with GW2 dungeons in my humble retrospective.

Out of interest - which dungeons did you do so far?

Klepsacovic said...

I failed to mention that I'd marked myself for story mode (what I understand to be noob mode) in lfg. The group didn't seem to care/notice and I didn't think to call attention to it because I figured that they'd noticed.

@Jeromai: Thanks for the guide link. I'd looked at the wiki before, but it clearly wasn't enough. One of these days I'll remember to look up how aggro works.

@Syl: Only Twilight Arbor. Sadly, I need to psych myself up again. I think I might have forgotten how to be in groups, dealing with the downs (intended as the opposite of ups, not mental retardation). Given that it was, to some extent, the groups that drove me away from WoW, I shouldn't be surprised.

I somehow missed your post. Interesting read.

Electrolux said...

Initially I couldn't possibly imagine how I was going to keep that thief alive in dungeons.

After a month of runs, many of them absolute torture, I was stabbing all the bosses up like a ninja. My advice: go full beserker and learn by dying until you stop dying. Be obsessed about big numbers. Yes I know how this sounds, and I'm one of them carebear healer types even.

It's bloody exhilarating. Like nothing else I've played.

But of course I had a great time, I didn't PUG, you may not be running a thief and we 4-manned everything. YMMV.

Kring said...

The in game LFG for GW2 will arrive with the patch on Sep 17th.

Klepsacovic said...

@Electrolux: As an engineer I feel like I'm in some sort of parody of an NRA commercial: "The only way to stop a good guy with a gun is a bad guy with a gun."

Maybe pistols would help. It's a strange irony that rifles have fewer long-range pew pew moves than pistols. Maybe the base DPS makes up for that. Maybe I should stop making comments and posts that make me sound absurdly ignorant about the basics of my class.

@Kring: Squee.

Electrolux said...

We had an engineer with us for a bit. He pretty much just lobbed grenades around like a psychopath and giggled on Skype like a naughty schoolchild.

I think that's expected of Engineers as it puts up ridiculous weakness stacks but I'm no expert on the ins and outs. We loved those stacks, really really loved them. +25% backstab damage = Friend For Life.

But he left sadly and I could never hit those numbers ever again, *sigh*

Electrolux said...

Edit: Nowait! Vulnerability stacks. And the cap may have been 20 not 25, can't remember now.

Apologies, it's been a while since I played.

Klepsacovic said...

I'm not keen on grenades due to the need to constantly aim them, makes it tricky if I'm moving. But I did find that with rifles I can use crits to stack vulnerability. Now I just need to find some precision.

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