Thursday, December 22, 2016

Journey into Maguuma Part I

Wintersday is a great event, but it doesn't help me with those mastery points I've been neglecting since the launch of Heart of Thorns. I have never properly taken on HoT content since its release, and yesterday it was time to change that. It was time to venture into these new maps, complete them, understand their events and unlock their rewards. 

In this blog post, I'll be talking about Verdant Brink, mastery points and the difficulty of these new maps.

Verdant Brink is the map where most of the Pact airships were destroyed by Mordremoth and where the surviving Pact soldiers are struggling to make a stand against the Mordrem. They're attempting to establish rally points and salvage supplies from the wrecked fleet. I don't really understand why they chose to rally at night, to me it would make more sense to rally during the day in order to then survive the night, but it's fun anyway.
The particularity about this map is its vertiginous height. It's roughly a 30 second fall from its highest peak to the very bottom. Navigating it is difficult, especially going upward, because you sometimes have to glide from platform to platform in order to get where you want.

Here's a video someone did about jumping off the peak of the map:


The events aren't easy at all in small groups. The screenshot above shows just how messy these boss fights can get. In this case, his massive AoE attack knocks you off the platform if you're not standing in front of the pillars, possibly killing you instantly if the lag prevents you from using your glider. Even if you survive that, you still can't see anything because of all these spell effects. 
Some of the Hero Points are outright impossible for a solo player, at least in my case. I have even died to regular monsters such as the Coztic hylek, the red frogs. They are extremely difficult to handle when they're in groups, because they dodge most of your attacks and do very high amounts of damage.

The difficulty has its advantages. It makes people come together and help each other. I've had some great moments and conversations with groups of people on this map. I tagged up to taxi people into my map and overtime we got ourselves a great Tier 4 night event going. I had no idea how to command on Verdant Brink, but as people started following me around I had no choice but to learn on the spot, and it was great. Naturally, at first I was part of those receiving help from others, but by the end I was also helping out newcomers as well.

Caps lock conversations!
The only thing I would find concerning about this difficulty is if the map's activity dies out and players are left to either solo the events or wait long hours until other people arrive, but so far that doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon.

The best part however was at the very peak of this vertiginous map. There's an actual dragon up there, like the ones you find in Skyrim, and you fight it partly by gliding around and bombing it with explosive wyvern eggs. The gameplay of this fight is very well thought out as it makes use of the mechanics of gliding and updrafts. It's really fun and fighting dragons is just cool in general.

Watercolor effects
And this is Last Leap, the final point of interest I had to visit to complete the map. It was difficult to reach, but worth it once I was there. It's a very peaceful place, devoid of any enemies, a great place to end this troublesome journey across Verdant Brink. I took my time up there, taking screenshots which I edited a little on Photoshop (one of which is the introduction screenshot in this blog post).

The Sunset
Coming up next is Auric Basin, which so far seems even more difficult than this one...

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