The holiday puzzles
(For those of you who want to preserve your sense of exploration, this will be more or less spoiler-free. I may talk about what you'll find in a puzzle, but not the exact solution. If you're trying to track some of these down, Hunter has a location-only guide to puzzles that'll get you headed in the right direction. If you're not adept at puzzles, you can find oodles of spoilers on the wiki or YouTube to get you through.)
The two holiday jumping puzzles that we've seen so far, the Mad King's Clocktower and Winter Wonderland, are two of my very favorites. The Clocktower was so hard that the dev who designed it had speculated that something like five percent of the Guild Wars 2
playerbase would actually make it through to the end.
The Clocktower did some things super well. I really enjoyed the timed element of it -- there was a real sense of urgency to the whole thing, which I first found hugely frustrating (largely because I died so much). I appreciated that you could really feel like you were mastering the puzzle. In quite a few of the jumping puzzles, spawns and environmental attacks can add what feels a bit like false difficulty to what can already be super tricky puzzles. That wasn't really there in the Clocktower. Aside from players, everything was the same each time through. Even though it took me something like four hours to beat the #$@#%ing thing the first time, I was then able to go through on all of my other characters in fairly short order afterward because the puzzle rewarded mastery.
The Winter Wonderland puzzle was significantly less difficult, which probably saved a lot of folks a tremendous amount of angst (although that came at the cost of significantly lower rewards). Despite the three different starting paths the puzzle could set you on, it rewarded mastery in much the same way the Clocktower did. This puzzle, too, had a very evident timing element.
There are things folks dislike about the holiday puzzles -- namely, people aren't thrilled about being stuck in instances with huge Norn or about having to wait for the puzzle's timer to reset to have another go. I tend to see both of those as very slight prices to pay for an incredibly fun shared experience, but then I'm a big ol' softy at heart.
The hidden garden
Good golly. This thing wins a place on every list, ever, just because it's so gosh darn beautiful. I was a little sad that there were combat-type mobs around, mostly because it meant I had to keep a wary eye out as I was lying in the grass, soaking in the sunlight and the scenery. This is really just the most idyllic place ever. The "puzzle" itself is not super tricky, probably because the devs understood that most people would need to focus on the scenery and not figure out any equations or timing or anything.
What I love best about the Eternal Battlegrounds
puzzle isn't its PvP element. It's not even the fact that Mesmers make the whole thing laughably easy. It's the variety. Most puzzles in the game (with the exception, certainly, of the new guild puzzles) have one trick going for them. The Obsidian Sanctum is a long puzzle, but you're effectively switching modes four times (if you're actually running it and not begging a portal), which keeps the overall length of the puzzle from feeling tedious. I'm also a big fan of the utterly dark room mechanic, so whenever that rears its head, I'm typically destined to enjoy the puzzle.
Goemm's Lab is another pretty long one, especially if you hate timing. I played through this one for the first time in beta, and it was the first puzzle I went through without someone showing me the way, so I'm a little surprised that I don't hate it. It took me far, far longer than it had any right to, but I still can't get over what an awesome introduction to jumping puzzles it is. Most of the level 1-15 puzzles are really swell, but Goemm's Lab is kind of a standout. I love this one because of its checkpoints, its different station mechanics, and its setting.
And other stuff
Wow, golly gee! The February patch has been out for a week! If you missed it, ArenaNet
dev Anthony Ordon
and I took some time last Wednesday
to spin through some of the content and chat about the update.
I've played through two Guild Bounties so far in the live patch. I'm really looking forward to the point when my guild unlocks a couple more mission types because each different mission is quite short on its own. Once you kick off a bounty, it literally cannot take you more than 15 minutes, and if you're lucky it'll take you quite a bit less. It'll be nice to string them together and make the most of having the entire guild grouped up. For now, though, I'm really enjoying things and looking forward to seeing more.
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime
Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.