I won't be the first one to point this out, but almost as annoying as his eagerness to tell the citizens of Tyria about his new tourist destination (he was so eager that he actually interrupted himself -- constantly) was Subdirector Blingg's use of the phrase "most unique."
Some people will dispute whether or not you actually "missed out." They'd argue, I suppose, that there wasn't a ton of missing out to do. We differ on that point. Anyway, jump below the cut to catch the skinny on this weekend in in Guild Wars 2: the good, the unfortunate, and the maddening.
This weekend seems to have been a very mixed bag. When things were going right, they were going fabulously right. When things were going wrong, you couldn't use skills, see your enemies, or talk to people in your party. I don't know if "fabulously wrong" is really the sort of phrase to use there, but it comes to mind.
The first two events (on Friday and Saturday at noon ArenaTime) were particularly problematic. On Friday, servers and overflows were so full that, between the battalions of karka flooding in and the scads of players roaming about, there was so much lag that people could barely move, much less use their skills. When people could get skills to work, the chances were pretty high that they wouldn't actually be able to see a karka to use those skills on. People were told that mapping out of Lion's Arch and back in would fix the problem; upon doing so, they found themselves on an overflow that either had the same problems or was so woefully behind that they had no chance of winning the event. Saturday saw events starting up to 45 minutes late in some servers. People had to pause investigation quests due to bugged NPCs, then found themselves unable finish at all due to time constraints. It wasn't pretty.
ArenaNet made it better, which is good. Devs likely went into overdrive behind the scenes to make sure things worked out -- just as they did in the first hours of betas, and the first days of launch, and the first few hours that the Mad King dungeon was available for running. They're great at patching things up.
At some point, though, things will have to not need so much patching. One-time events are great, and the idea of getting the game's population centered in one place is fantastic, but it's got to start off smoothly at some point or it'll just alienate players and take away from the events themselves. Fans of the game posted on the official forums saying, essentially, "Hey, you people who are here for the free weekend -- please don't judge the game by these events" because the game is so, so much better than those events showcased. While that sort of defense and sentiment from your playerbase is sweet, it's not a good sign.
I really enjoyed the one-time-only finale event. While the ending seemed to be plagued with chat errors and login problems for some folks, the event itself was awesome. My personal jury is still out on one-time only events. I suspect the balance would tip drastically in their favor if the overwhelming technical issues were to be resolved. (As it is, though, we've got ArenaNet promising to make amends of some sort to people who were disconnected before they could claim their rich reward.) When you take away the technical issues, you have a map flooded with people working together in a very awesome way. There was a real sense of camaraderie on my overflow server. People were excellent about reviving each other, and people were also adorably insistent on thanking folks for revivals.
While I could have done with fewer reinforcements (or just one stage of defeating reinforcements), I enjoyed the actual event chain, rather than just the sense of community that we had while going through it. Along with the mechanics in the new Fractals of the Mists dungeon, I think this fight established fight mechanics as the real strength of this content update.
The Fractals are super cool. I haven't delved tremendously deep into them, but oh, will I ever. They all seem to have a very logical feeling of progression (unlike, say, most of the other dungeons), and while some of the boss fights might get a little lengthy, overall they make for a tremendously positive experience.
So I'm kind of torn about this weekend. On one hand, the fights were interesting, and most of the content is overwhelmingly great. I really, really enjoyed the finale events. But ArenaNet's insistence on one-time events doesn't show the content off to its best effect. The Ancient Karka and its entire event chain were clearly balanced for large numbers of players, but the servers, uh, aren't. I can understand that running the whole event on a test server or something would spoil the magic, but so will a host of connection and performance issues.
I had a heck of a time, though.
If you want to vicariously experience the Lost Shores finale, I just so happened to be streaming and recording it. I wasn't really certain if it would work well, what with how dodgy the previous events had been and all, but everything went better than expected. I've got the whole two and a half hours in all their glory, from the Lionguard demolitionists to the shiny treasure chest at the end.