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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 dungeons and dungeon talk

I finally had enough time set aside to head into a dungeon this weekend. We made it through the Ascalonian Catacombs story mode with considerable grace, and I'm hoping to progress through each story mode before doubling back to start on explorable versions.

Having made more than 60 silver in coin and drops (and only losing a small handful to a single armor repair after the dungeon), I feel a bit better about the currency gain throughout the game. I've heard plenty about people giving up on certain explorable branches of certain dungeons because they were effectively losing gold due to armor repair costs, but I can't really speak to that yet.

This is a good time to talk about some of the complaintsh dungeons are receiving -- complaints that they're too hard, that only some (or some branches) are too hard and therefore giving vastly different experiences (because, I guess, variation in difficulty is, like, unwanted), that people can't go through more than two dungeons per hour (or the exact same path twice in a row) without kicking in a system of diminishing rewards, that there are too few tokens... the list goes on. Of course, there are other -- a lot of other -- people saying that dungeon difficulty needs buffing, so maybe take all that with a grain or three of salt, like the ArenaNet team surely is. Colin Johanson addressed some concerns, comparing feedback now to feedback the team received immediately following the release of the Domain of Anguish.

[T]he game is VERY new for most of our players, and I can absolutely promise with more knowledge of the game and advanced player skill, the explorable dungeons can all be overcome by being skilled groups. We've seen many groups do it just fine in our internal alpha test once they had time to learn how to play the game well. Just like Domain of Anguish in [Guild Wars], it takes time and practice to learn how to overcome stuff as hard as our explorable mode dungeons, and that's exactly the kind of players they are designed for.
I like this approach. While the devs will most likely make changes in the future, it's to the health of the game that they make those changes well thought-out and carefully considered (and -- we can dream -- tested).

Flameseeker Chronicles Dungeons & dungeon talk
I've been into the Ascalonian Catacombs explorable dungeon three times, all before launch. The first was back at Fan Day, when we were getting the actual first glimpse of Guild Wars 2 dungeons. It was pretty new and pretty rough (as were we), and we lasted a ridiculously short time in the graveling onslaught while defending Tzark's contraptions. Later that night, a dedicated team went back to work and slogged through the dungeon, and it was pretty cool. I was not on that team. Each time I've gone in, the group I'm with has done successively better. After that first time, the group I was with never comprised characters at level 35 except for my own character, and we were playing during beta weekends, which means that we had incredibly little time with the game (and our characters) compared to, well, now.

I've been through the dungeon's story mode many times from that Fan Day until now, and again, pretty much every time (with one incredible deviation that resulted in actually pulling Ralena and Vassar to stand right next to Kasha Blackblood's waypoint for a hideous rez-fest of laughable badness), the groups I've gone in with have performed better. We've never not been able to finish, and over time we've increased our efficiency and mastery. What makes that significant is that each time I've gone in, it's been with different people -- so it's not that four of my best buds and I have been working on our strategy, it's that the player base has been getting better.

The way that boss creatures telegraph their moves has an interesting side-effect in dungeons: Trash mobs can often feel more difficult than bosses. Now, that's certainly not the case if you're unaware of what you're getting into when you go into an encounter with a boss, but once you're in the know, it's a great deal easier to react to the telegraphed moves from a single boss than from less well-announced blows from multiple "easier" mobs. I don't think that telegraphing makes boss fights boring; instead, it rewards clever play. It is odd, though, to be more likely to have your backside handed to you by three rangers you meet on your way to meet Ranger Nente than by the good Master Ranger himself.

Flameseeker Chronicles Dungeons & dungeon talk
I'm really excited to get into the other dungeons. I've been very intentional about getting through them in order, which meant that AC had to come first, but I am incredibly ready to talk about dungeons other than that one.

There were a few comments on a previous article that misinterpreted my statement about waiting 'til I hit 80 to go through dungeons as something like "I can't be bothered to do the dungeons." You might have noticed that I genuinely enjoy Guild Wars 2. I even enjoy multiple bits of it, so sometimes I focus on one bit (like progressing through the personal storyline up and level curve up to 80) at the expense of others (like much WvW, sPvP, or dungeoneering). I tend to be very intentional about my time in-game because I don't always (well, ever) have as much of it as I'd like, and I feel better if I have some objectives or a plan for what I wish to do. Planning out my gameplay to one degree or another doesn't mean that I'm putting things I dislike lower on the list; it means that I can't do everything first.

Flameseeker Chronicles Dungeons & dungeon talkAnd other stuff

I was thinking the other day about "reviews" and when I'll feel qualified to make one about this game. Is hitting the level cap enough? Finishing the story line? Going through all the dungeons once? There's a lot of content; when have I experienced enough of it to pass official judgment? I mean, it's not like I'd have to wait until I'd achieved 100% map completion or something silly, but it's also not something I'd trust to someone at level 25.

Well, I hit the level cap days ago, and it looks as if I'm in a good place to finish the storyline tomorrow.

Of course, I'm not sure I'd do a real review of the darn thing. You know, surely, my base opinion. I'm a fan of the game. What you might not know, though, are things like my total detestation of storyline NPCs as fighting buddies, my adoration of Sashoo the Quaggan (all right, as I've expressed my love of Quaggans multiple times, this one mightn't have been hard to guess), and my compulsive need to revive every NPC and player that I'm aware of being in a downed state and how I've found that most people share that compulsion, which is pretty dang awesome.

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

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