Flameseeker Chronicles: Five of the purest joys of Guild Wars 2's PvE

Flameseeker Chronicles Five of the purest joys of Guild Wars 2's PvE

I had a really bright idea to title this post "Five things that don't suck about Guild Wars 2's PvE." However, being a denizen of the Interblags, I paused as I typed out those words. "You know, Elisabeth," I said to myself, "someone somewhere would probably see that as an invitation to troll." "But Elisabeth," myself responded, "isn't everything on the Interblags an invitation to troll?" I had to confess that I made a fair point. I mean, it was probably a silly title anyway. There are a lot of things, I tend to think, that don't suck about Guild Wars 2's PvE, and I don't want to give you the wrong impression. Saying they don't suck is a pretty negative way to frame it, don't you think? I'm glad we agree.

Anyway, read on to catch some of the most non-suckiest things in Guild Wars 2's PvE.

Quggan will kick your tail so hard IT SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE

NPC Chatter

I'll be honest with you (but just this once): I thought long and hard about ways to make this entire post 100% about NPC chatter. I don't know whether it's because of the voicing or the gleefully light-hearted nature of most of the banter, but I just can't get enough of it. I can't really pick out a favorite line or exchange.

There's the Charr in the Black Citadel who proposes, "Let's play a drinking game! You have to name a body part that starts with the same letter as the previous word. It has to be a body part you can rip out."

Or maybe the Pact soldier who, upon being told that all her recruits are dead after defending a bivouac from Zhaitan's minions, responds with: "Correction: were dead, then reanimated. Now dead again."

There's the Norn Vigil crusader who asks her Charr buddy, "I haven't fought beside charr, but I did step on a cat's tail once. Is that what [fighting alongside a Charr] is like?" "No," responds the Charr, "I'm literally poetry in motion... if poetry could stab you with a sword."

You might notice that there's a trend toward the Charr in this sample. I can't even pretend that they're not my favorite. I won't even try to. True, the Asura are adorably maniacal. Yes, the Sylvari and Humans have their share of witty remarks. Sure, the Norn have some excellent one-liners. I just happen to find the Charr's casual brutishness deeply, endearingly amusing.

That's not even including the literal King of NPC chatter, Oswald Thorn. Between the Mad King outfit jokes and the King's joke-telling rounds on Halloween day, he's truly earned the right to keep the title of Grim Japer.

Flameseeker Chronicles Five of the purest joys of Guild Wars 2's PvE

Boss fights that aren't simply wars of attrition

I love me a good boss fight. Specifically, I'm a fan of boss fights that require a modicum of effort on my own part. So when it comes time to throw down with the Iron Forgeman or Gaheron Baelfire, I'm a happy camper. Both are examples (but certainly not the only ones) of really excellent fights that require if not a strategy then certainly an understanding of what's going on. You've got to pay attention, and if you react appropriately, the fight is engaging but not necessarily challenging. (If you react like I do, though, fighting the Iron Forgeman involves a lot of panicked Mist Form transformations as you run back out of the lava pit.)

I'm not by any means saying that every Guild Wars 2 boss fight is everything I'd dream it could be -- in fact, there's one rather significant boss fight (the one that's, I dunno, the culmination of the personal and dungeon story) that left me fairly unsatisfied. But it's not like the really good fights are all that few and far between, either. I am content.

That beautiful moment when a heart and an event coincide

Some hearts are just so painfully long. You're looking around, begging the gods for some foes to spawn because that progress bar is just filling up so dang slowly -- and then you get that little new event notification. A wave of Krait comes charging up out of the water. Your heart soars. Before you know it, you're in the thick of it, slaying Krait left and right, hell-bent on protecting whatever magitech they're trying to interfere with. Eventually, you're standing in a pile of Krait corpses, the event is over, and you've got a grateful letter in your inbox from the nearby heart NPC.

There are other equally delightful, if slightly more prolonged, experiences that I'd lump into this category. Part of the trade-off of leaving standard quests behind and using dynamic events is that if the stars don't align just right, a zone can feel dead or at least very disjointed. But man, when everything works out, it's fantastic. The other day I was led full-circle through the lower half of Sparkfly Fen, just meandering from one event to the next, following chains until they dropped me off somewhere new. It's a real joy when everything comes together like that.

Flameseeker Chronicles Five of the purest joys of Guild Wars 2's PvE

Radically open grouping

I think my best experience with this was a couple of weeks back when I was trying to play with about eight or 10 other people at a time. It took me an hour to even consider that we should try to group up -- up 'til then, we'd just been running around together without any formal partying up.

While some players have bemoaned the lack of forced interaction of this sort of set-up (in which you can run alongside players, benefit from the same mobs, and share the same resource nodes), I will ever maintain that it does tremendously more harm than good.

Beating a jumping puzzle

I fell in love with jumping puzzles the moment I was introduced to one, and that adoration hasn't faltered. Beating the Mad King's clock tower is one of my favorite moments in the game thus far, and all the other puzzles I've gone through (about half of them, right now) have been really enjoyable.

That's not going to keep me from saying that the camera is still pretty sucky, though. Guild Wars 2's camera is great for wide-open battlefields, especially since the recent FOV improvement. But man, that camera is not made for tight corners, which (of course) make up the majority of jumping puzzles.

In fact, camera improvements made it on to my Guild Wars 2 wishlist. If you're looking for some good ol' negativity to wallow in after all this joy and exuberance, go give that a read.

Flameseeker Chronicles Five of the purest joys of Guild Wars 2's PvE

Gosh and golly, it's been a busy few weeks! Last week we started speculating about what might await us in the Lost Shores content update. Yesterday we got some tasty, meaty information! I feel as if this is something we'll be talking about again soon. I'll be in-game for as much of this weekend's special event as possible; hope to see you there!

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