Path of Fire Take Two

So we’re a couple of weeks into the Guild Wars 2 expansion Path of Fire now and I have had enough time to do a bit of exploration, acquire all the mounts and even try out a couple of elite specs, the Scourge and the Deadeye.

I’ve wandered over all the major zones from the Crystal Oasis to the Desolation to The Domain of Vaabi and I’ve been really impressed. Everything has been put together with a lot of thought. Some areas are only accessible with certain mounts as are a lot of mastery points. I’ve jumped across canyons to acquire springers, used the springer’s high jump abilities to climb mountains. I’ve explored the lava flows of the Desolation on a skimmer and rode to the Djinn Enclave on one to acquire my jackal. As I write this I am scrounging around for more mastery points to enable my jackal to use the sand portals.

I’ve enjoyed the personal story so far but it’s been pretty bugged. I’ve been booted out of the instances more times than I would like, once at the end of a 45-minute session when I had the final boss down to 10% health. I was not best pleased. These bugs have been the worst thing about the expansion so far. The gem store stopped working and I’ve even had plain out-and-out crashes, and I can’t remember the last time a game did that to me. Its obviously not been enough to stop me from playing but it is disheartening and somewhat annoying. It’s a pity because so much else about the expansion is so good.

The main quest story lines are powerful, grown up and make the world feel real and deep. The graphics are simply stunning. The rainstorms in the river deltas and the snowstorms in the mountains have been impressive. Heat hazes and sandstorms I expected and have grown used to but these other things really make a difference. Kudos to the concept artists and the teams who have made this all come to life.

The elite specs are fun. I am in two minds about the Scourge. This is a necromancer variant who summons sand shades– desert spirits with the power to damage your enemies, protect your allies and corrupt the boons of your foes. The reason I am in two minds about it is that my mortality rate is way up. The spec seems to require a bit of thought and skill. My career as a necromancer has consisted of standing back and applauding my minions while they save my bacon, so this has not been entirely to be my taste. I cannot just faceroll my way through combats anymore. That said, there are times when I burn through large groups of powerful foes in a much shorter space of time than usual. I really should figure out what combinations of keys I am randomly stabbing to accomplish this.

The Deadeye is the elite variant of the thief and I have to say it has been a pure pleasure to play even during my initial struggles to get used to the spec. It converts the basic thief into a sniper. You get to use rifles. You even get the red dot targeting effect familiar from so many movies. It feels and plays exactly right, even down to the silenced sounding shots you unleash.

Rogue/thief types have been my mains in MMOs for a decade now. It took a bit of getting used to the GW2 version after playing a WoW rogue for so long. You don’t get to remain invisible until detected with a thief as you do with a WoW rogue. Instead, it is more like a short (4 seconds normally) aggro drop. Opponents simply stop attacking you. It’s useful and it can get you out of a tight spot but you are not going to be stealthing around undetected for a long time. GW2 thiefs are also relatively fragile. My main defence has always been to be hypermobile, combined with the use of traps and selective stealth. This initially gave me some problems with the Deadeye.

Using the new kneel mechanic was just too tempting. It looked and felt so cool, I was doing it all the time. Unfortunately, it was also rendering me immobile and I did not yet have the abilities that would put me into stealth when I activated it. I basically immobilised myself and died a lot until I got my head around the concept. Switching in and out of kneeling drops a lot of negative conditions which is very useful. I now have the talents to stealth myself at the same time, so that can be very useful too.

The other main mechanic of the deadeye is malice. This lets you mark a single target and acquire a number of bonuses against it which increase as stacks of malice are placed on it.

I really enjoy the Deadeye. It feels exactly like it’s supposed to. In one of the recent town siege events, I installed myself on top of a wall overlooking the battlefield and just started sniping away at the big incoming monsters. No one spotted me. I kept up a steady stream of damage from a long way off. It was very different from the way a thief usually plays but very satisfying.

I feel the need to apologize for my sarcastic remarks about the bunny-like springer in my last post about Path of Fire. Of all the mounts, this is the one that I have spent most time on. Not because I like its look but because its vertical leaping ability is just so useful.

So far Path of Fire has been great. The only reason I can’t join the chorus of people claiming it’s miles better than Heart of Thorns is because I really liked HoT too.

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  1. Michael Mooney says:

    I’m sorry, but my entire day has now been derailed by the image of you atop your majestic war-bunny. Complete with Looney-Tunes sound effects.

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