User:Tennessee Ernie Ford/Rants/WoC evaluation

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Empathy.jpg Winds of Change is too hard?
Depends on how you approach it.
(Plus: links to builds)  
For those who haven't started:
It is worth your time to grind through the early quests, so that you can get to the more interesting stuff later.
(Now that you can toggle off WoC, there's no reason not to begin it.)

Overall, I was disappointed by Winds of Change, perhaps because my hopes were so high after The War in Kryta and the elapsed time between announcing the release of WoC and its final release.

  • There are too many recycled plots and challenges, without enough variation to make them feel new.
  • There is too much tedium: many of the challenges are repetitive; there's lots of mechanically-unnecessary rezoning; and some of the quests are zero fun after the first time.
  • Some of the most interesting challenges were mitigated to make the content more accessible to more people.

On the plus side:

  • ANet created some wonderfully new challenges in the new Afflicted (and their Soul Explosions), the evolution of Canthan mobs, and their use of 7-hero-team type builds for Afflicted, Am Fah/Brotherhood, and Ministry mobs.
  • The lockboxes and their content are fun: panda pets, daggers that work as a shield, new minis, and an excellent new summoning stone.
  • The story (and playability) picks up a lot in the middle; the effort:reward ratio is also best then.

Comparing Wik & WoC[edit]

Criterion WiK WoC Evaluation
Orientation Umbrella quest provides near step-by-step orientation and most quests are clearly separated in quest log from non-Beyond ones. The Imperial Guide gives you clues on where to go.
However, there is no way to tell where you are in the storyline; the guide provides no help for the HM sequence; the quest log is confusing.
It's possible to play through WiK without the wiki; it's difficult (impossible) to do that with WoC. WoC playthrough is crippled without an umbrella quest and a WoC section in the quest log.
Playability Despite the challenging mobs, most of the content is accessible to most players with modest tweaks.
Two quests are horribly slogful (could have been divided into more manageable chunks). At least one of the quests is among the hardest in the game.
Great toggle off feature.
Lots of slog. A solo quest that breaks up teams. Unnecessary rezoning to grab quest/reward.
WiK is more accessible to more people and playability is better integrated into the story.
Challenges Balanced foes, tougher patrols.
How we hates rezzing foes!
PvE meta builds. Soul explosions (ouch!). Both stories present their own completion challenges. Anyone successful in HM dungeons/VQs should be able to manage either of the rebalanced normal mode sequences, but still find things challenging.
Creativity Nearly original stories, only vaguely similar to EotN or Prophecies. Integrates well with the known Tyrian history and future.
None.
The background story is compelling and it integrates well into Factions and what we know of GW2. The post-Shiro clean-up idea is great, especially as it provides an obvious gap for the politically ambitious to exploit. The final challenge might be the most interesting in the game.
Too many of the specific challenges feel recycled.
WiK offers the first true Errol-Flynn-like battle in the game and a most challenging non-combat quest. WoC offered a compelling story, but fewer of its own innovations.
Bugs No show-stopping bugs. A smidgeon of quest-related issues.
Requires a work-around to prevent newbie toons from encountering WoC mobs if paired with WoC-toons.
It should never be possible for baby characters to encounter advanced content simply because they are partnered with a veteran.
Did it bring new life into the game? Absolutely. People came back to play this and join PUGs. Reserving judgment until people become aware of the rebalanced quests.
Key
  • Good stuff
  • Bad stuff

Highly subjective evaluation of quests[edit]

Chapter I[edit]

Mean: 4.3 (needs to get to the point more quickly)
Best: 8 (fun)
# Quest Goal/objective Score Notes
1 Cleansing Bukdek Byway Kill three Afflicted groups 5 Uninspired, but fine for a first quest.
2 Cleansing Shadow's Passage Kill two Afflicted groups 3 Interesting pops (+1). Identical to previous task; acquisition requires rezoning (i.e. could easily have been combined with previous quest) (-3).
3 Cleansing Shenzun Tunnels Fight the hordes 6 Waves of Afflicted a la Errol Flynn (+3), non-Afflicted slogs to get there (tedious, -2)
4 Cleansing the Undercity Kill five Afflicted groups 1 (1) Haven't we done this? (2) Really, we have to fight our way in, retrace our steps, and fight our way out? (Could have been combined with #1-2.)
5 Cleansing the Sunjiang District Kill N Afflicted groups 1 Haven't we done this over and over again? (Could have been combined with #1-2, 4.)
6 Cleansing Pongmei Valley Kill 1 Afflicted group 6 Did you see the size of that guy's... (+1)
7 Rescue at Minister Cho's Estate Rescue 3 Peasants; kill 1000s of Afflicted 5 Rescue is cool (+2), helpful join/leave mechanic (+1). But grindful to navigate the zone, fighting endless groups of Afflicted (-2).
8 Cleansing Haiju Lagoon Fight the hordes 5 Cool story (polluted waters etc: +2), but: haven't we done this before? (-2).
9 Cleansing Zen Daijun Defeat five evil Zunraa 5 Cool story (Zunraa's evil Twins! +1), but this is basically Zen Daijun on steroids (repeated plot: -1).
10 Cleansing Rhea's Crater Defeat three Afflicted groups 0 This is exactly what we did with quest one (only the background story has changed: -5).
11 Cleansing the Silent Surf Fight the hordes 3 Sigh: yet another horde (repetition: -4). More interesting setup (+1); fun battle (+1).
12 Cleansing Morostav Trail Defeat eight Afflicted bosses 7 +3 Did you see the size of that guy's... and all bosses in the same spot. (OTOH, a slog to reach there from a Kurz-owned outpost if Lux controls the forest: -1).
13 Intercepting the Am Fah Kill one courier 4 Recycled plot device (-1), but deftly woven (+1). But: forced rezone to Senjei when NPC is in Xaquang? -1
14 Tracking the Corruption Question NPCs, avoid dying 6 Imaginative recycling of similar device from Factions (+1), interesting ambush (and quick to retry) (+1) Unnecessary rezoning (-1).
15 Architect of Corruption Force through to stronghold; kill boss 6 Fun story telling (+2), tasty battles (+1), but slogful upon repeat (-2).
16 The Gangs of Kaineng Force through to stronghold; kill boss 2 We just did this (-2) and slogful upon repeat (-2); still, fun story (+1).
17 What Waits in Shadow Force through to stronghold; kill boss 8 We just did this (-3). Most interesting story to-date (+3). Best fight to the boss in part 1 (+1). Excellent combining wild patrols with easy choke points (+1), lots of very optional bosses (+1).

Chapter II[edit]

Mean: 7.3 (best story, most playable chapter, but still suffers from slog)
Best: 9 (very fun)
# Quest Goal/objective Score Notes
18 A Chance Encounter Protect Miku from October surprise 7 Slightly predictable turn of events (-1), deftly handled (+3); alternative solutions weren't clear enough, i.e. easy to be confused about why success eludes one (-1). Good transition to next sequence of events (+1).
19 A Favor Returned Rescue hostages from Yeti. 7 Fast (+1). Interesting idea (+1). Fun (+1). Ever so slightly bugged if doing this for second time (-1).
20 Deadly Cargo Cleanse Harbor (sorta) 9 Fun! (+2). Fantastic new foe (+2). Well designed for playability (+1), but slightly unrealistic that mobs just wait for you to kill them (-1).
21 Trading Blows Protect Kurzick diplomats. 7 Clever progression of storyline (+1). Playable (+1).
22 Ever Closer to the Edge Protect Luxon diplomats 5 Playable progression (+1), but too much like previous...as if nothing was learned from existing playability issues (-1).
23 Violence in the Streets Attempt to war no more. 8 Errol Flynn! (+2). Playable progression (+1).
24 The Rescue Attempt Rescue a relative. 8 Clever, playable progression (+3), but smacks of T-Temple (and not learning from Chapter I) (-1). Good story (+1).
25 Warning the Angchu Warn the Angchu. 6 Something new (+1). Commensurate rewards (+1). Too much rezoning just to take quest (-1).
26 Free Birds Save the Tengu using the Angchu (gesundheit!) 8 Errol Flynn! (+2). Good challenge and alternative solutions (+1).
27 Honorable Combat Rescue Ryun (that crazy bird) 7 Errol Flynn (+1). Interesting challenges and alternative solutions (+1).
28 A Treaty's a Treaty Defend Tsumei Village 8 Errol Flynn! (+2). Similar to defending village, but done better (+0). Interesting challenge and alternative solutions (+1).

Chapter III[edit]

Mean: 5.0 (dull half-hours punctuated by great fun)
Best: 9 (fun)
# Quest Goal/objective Score Notes
29 Finding Jinnai Protect Jinnai from Ministry hordes. 4 Near repeat of previous quest in same area (-1). Traps set! (+1). Poor instructions offered.
30 Calling All Thugs Listen, learn, leave. 3 Fun idea (infiltrate, vary the disguise: +1). Solo quest interrupts immersion/rhythm w/other players (-1). Boring on fail or repeat (once you get the idea...it's just wait, wait, wait: -2)
31 Raid on Kaineng Center Defend the center of power against the wrong kind of revolution. 6 Great story (+1). New type of GW epic battle (+1). Repeats Battle for Lion's Arch, but in an imaginative way (-1/+1). Poor mechanics for directed troops (especially for single players; -1). No time given to setup (realistic in lore, but not very fun to play; -1). Probably the right balance for normal mode (even though some will find it too easy; +1).
32 There Goes the Neighborhood Save the fleeing citizens. 4 Great story (+1). Nearly identical to Cleansing Bukdek Byway (-2).
33 Ministry of Oppression Run awayyyyyy! 4 Fun story (+1); unimaginative dialogue (-1). Nearly identical to Mustering a Response. Boring to repeat (-1).
34 Raid on Shing Jea Monastery The restless are natives; defend the monastery from them using foreign troops. 5 Infinite traps and bombs! (+3). Same mechanical issues and nearly identical to Raid on Kaineng Center (-2). Goes on seemingly forever. (-1)
35 The Final Confrontation Eliminate the source of corruption. 9 Great idea for an enemy; nice tie-in to GW2 skills (+2). Nice way of tying off loose ends of some side stories (+1). Complex story but simple mechanics (+1). Fun battle (+1). You made me rezone 2x to get quest and 2x more to claim reward (unlearned lesson: -1).

Rating system[edit]

  • 1–10 Scale (1 sucks; 10 is so awesome that, in order to finish it, you miss out on your spouse's surprise birthday party)
  • Each quest starts as 5 (neutral):
    • Plus points for creativity, new ideas, fun plot complications, unexpected plot developments
    • Minus points for repetition, slog/grind, over zoning.
    • Errol Flynn means to present a near free-for-all fight like those common in Errol Flynn movies. (I'd call it Johnny Depp, but he's done better work than Pirates.)