User:Tennessee Ernie Ford/Rants/WoC evaluation/Original

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This is my original evaluation of Winds of Change, preserved for posterity (mid-February 2012). Please see the new evaluation.

Overall, I was disappointed by Winds of Change, perhaps because my hopes were so high (and I believed that the delay between announcement and release gave them enough time to do better).

  • Too many stories/goals were recycled from Factions (or even WoC itself).
  • There is a lot of repetition/slog, unnecessary rezoning, and some quests have a horrible lack of replayability.
  • I give ANet great credit for creating extremely interesting and challenging mobs (especially through quest 29 and for the final quest and the updated Soul Explosions).
  • The new items are fun.
  • The story (and playability) picks up a lot in the middle; the effort:reward ratio is also best then.

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.

Predictions[edit]

Predicted for Part II
  • Yes The Ministry of Purity becomes the enemy, purging anyone who remotely smells of dissent. Actual: Indeed.
  • Yes The Am Fah and Jade Brotherhood unite over a common enemy and rename themselves, the Fah Ja Da La Ma Nah, basing themselves out of Wajjun Bazaar. They are led by the Dà bào màn (AKA The Big Bowman, AKA Bao Za). They do unite. (And, of course, do not name themselves after Sha Na Na.)
  • Yes The remainder of the government is in disarray. Those loyal to the Emperor don't know which way to turn. Some side with the FJDLMN; some with Purists. Disarray: yes. Loyalists are confused by the MoP's focus.
  • No Nicholas the Traveler is briefly taken hostage and then mysteriously released. (Although, afterwards, many FJDLMN members can be seen talking more softly and carrying bigger sticks.) I wish ANet had done something along these lines, but I didn't truly expect it.
  • Yes The Purists' myopic focus on Cleansing allows other types of crime to breed, strengthening the hand of the FJDLMN. Absolutely; this almost led to the fall of the government.
Predicted for Part III
  • Yes Unlikely bedfellows unite in a proto-royalist movement, rallying behind the Emperor. Foes united, but they didn't support the Emperor.
  • Yes This effort doesn't entirely succeed, but the Canthan revolution does succeed, led by someone else (perhaps Miku). As phrased, yes. The effort nearly succeeded and it opened a weakness allowing Miku to strike.
  • No The MoP is out, but so are the old institutions, replaced by something else. MoP survives, under someone who was easily led. Very strange.
  • Yes However, the fabric of society will be torn in other ways...leaving gaps that will be exploited in the years between GW1 and GW2. Society was torn; plenty of gaps to exploit.

Comparing Wik & WoC[edit]

(Updated to reflect current status, i.e. both stories are fully released.)

Comparator WiK WoC Chapters 1-2 Pro/Con Evaluation
Orientation Murro offers ideal umbrella quest.
Most quests are separated in quest log from non-Beyond ones.
Obvious where to start.
Hard to tell progress especially if you stop after completing a quest (or drop one); Imperial Guide doesn't actually orient you. → requires an umbrella quest and a WoC section in the quest log
Advantage: WiK (umbrella quest and better quest logs).
Playability Easy to start. With walkthrough, easy enough to follow.
Two extremely slogful quests that could have been divided into more manageable chunks.
Most pieces flow together well. Great toggle off feature.
Too much slog. Too many quests that feel the same as something we just did. Too often, you need to zone 4 times just to take a quest and accept the reward (never mind fulfill it). NM versions could have been toned down for more players.
Advantage: WiK (no serious playability issues for overall player base).
Mob difficulty Balanced foes, tougher patrols.
How we hates rezzing foes!
PvE meta builds. Soul explosions (ouch!).
Minister Cho's Estate (both Rescue and post-rescue VQs.)
Advantage: Neither. Both stories have challenges for the veterans, but are possible for anyone willing to adapt their teams.
Creativity Nearly original stories, only vaguely similar to EotN or Prophecies.
None.
Chapter 2 follows a pre-WWII-like Nazi build up.
Chapter 1 & 3 recycled ideas from Factions and from itself, but offered few new ideas.
Advantage: WiK. BfLA was first true Errol-Flynn-like battle; Mustering requires non-combat tactics. In contrast, WoC recycles tasks from Factions and itself.
Bugs Hardly any show-stopping bugs.
Originally released without an umbrella quest, making it difficult to avoid oddities. Currently, if you join BfLA, you can bug your early Salma quests.
Only minor bugs in the quests themselves.
Newbie toons (accompanied by WoC-veterans) are still forced to confront WoC mobs, even if they are low-level and/or haven't finished Factions.
WiK (it's unacceptable that newbies are allowed/forced to see WoC-spawns under any circumstances; no WiK bug was that bad)
Sense of awe & wonder The bit-by-bit release was very exciting. The story was still interesting if you started later Recycled storyline turned people off. No one in my guild was interested when Chapter II came out. Advantage: WiK (maybe it was b/c this was first new epic storyline in a while, but I think it's because WoC feels like a slog to too many ppls).
This category does not apply to people starting either/both anytime after 9 February 2012.
Expectation for next chapter Tons of excitement built up. Medals of Honor were a source of mystery Imperial weapons
Not as many people as excited (see Creativity and Awe above.)
Advantage: WiK (people were very keen to learn what came next in WiK; I don't see any of that for WoC).
This category does not apply to people starting either/both anytime after 9 February 2012.

Highly subjective evaluation of quests[edit]

Chapter I[edit]

Average: 3.8 (tedious background required to get to the good stuff; would be more fun if it got to the point more quickly)
Best: 7 (almost 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 3 Rescue is cool (+2), helpful join/leave mechanic (+1). But grindful to navigate the zone, fighting endless groups of Afflicted (-4).
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 1 Cool story (Zunraa's evil Twins! +1), but this is basically Zen Daijun on steroids (repeated plot: -1). Also: slog city (-4).
10 Cleansing Rhea's Crater Defeat three Afflicted groups 0 This is exactly what we did with quest one (only the background has changed: -5).
11 Cleansing the Silent Surf Fight the hordes 3 Sigh: yet another horde (-4). Somewhat more interesting setup (+1) and somewhat more 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, slog to reach there if you want to start cleansing the zone from a Kurz-owned outpost: -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 recylcing of similar device from Factions (+1), interesting ambush (and quick to retry) (+1) (Again: don't force 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 7 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). (-1) for Cutscene of just a few let ters.

Chapter II[edit]

Mean: 7.1 (best story, most playable chapter, but still suffers from slog)
Best: 9 (fun)
# Quest Goal/objective Score Notes
18 A Chance Encounter Protect Miku from October surprise 8 Slightly predictable turn of events (-1), deftly handled (+3); alternative solutions weren't clear enough (-1). Good introduction (+2).
19 A Favor Returned Rescue hostages from Yeti. 6 Fast (+1). Interesting idea (+1). Ever so slightly bugged if doing this for second time (-1).
20 Deadly Cargo Cleanse Harbor (sorta) 9 Fun! (+2). Interesting 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...which smacks of ANet not learning from Chapter I slog (-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. 7 Clever, playable progression (+2), 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 all sorts of spawns. 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! (+2). Same mechanical issues and nearly identical to Raid on Kaineng Center (-2). Goes on seemingly forever.
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.)