Last night my guild ran the Ascalon Catacombs dungeon for the first time. It was with a heady mix of excitement and concern that we entered – I’d read more than enough about how chaotic and difficult dungeons are in this game.
We proceeded through the first trash mob groups without much difficulty, getting used to playing as a unit. It’s the first time all five of the group had played together at the same time since we generally play in pairs or threes. For the record we had my mesmer, an elementalist, an engineer, a guardian and a ranger; so a nice mix of classes.
The first boss fight was pretty early on, we ploughed in to him with everything we had and won without too much fuss though it gave us the lesson in how much health boss mobs have – don’t blow all your cooldowns at the start of a fight, you need to plan for endurance (I don’t mean by that it was too long or boring).
That was the end of what seemed like the introduction phase of the dungeon, the easy-mode part. From then on the groups of trash mobs got progressively larger, more tactical and punishing. They CC, they interrupt, they overlap area damage effects on the players, they dump spike damage on weaker characters. ArenaNet’s AI is pretty good for combat at least.
I deliberately distanced myself from the action enough to be aware of my surroundings. It’s easy to spend too much time in MMOs staring at bars or focused on things that move. You should also look around occasionally, especially in Tyria! The story blends wonderfully with the lore of Guild Wars 1, I won’t add anything more than that but for fans of the first game it’s a treat.
Back to combat. It is a lot more chaotic than WoW, Rift or SWTOR, but I would not go so far as to agree with the comparison of it being “like when the tank dies in WoW”. In GW2 with one or two characters down you can still pull victory out of a potential wipe, whereas in WoW if the tank (especially) or the healer dies you’re very unlikely to survive long!
We had our guardian’s ‘book’ heal, our engineer’s healing turret and kit plus our elementalist’s water attunement to provide overlapping amounts of healing to the group. It seemed to work pretty well to keep us going as a group even if the odd individual went down. I would note that this slightly chaotic feel to combat is very similar to my experience of Guild Wars 1 fights.
Knowing when it is safe enough to help someone and when you need to keep fighting is something we collectively need to learn. Personally I know I have a heap more to learn about my abilities and potential synergies. Combos are one thing but the passive effects of traits is something I need to do a lot more experimenting with – I’ve read that you can have a mesmer healing build of sorts which is kind of intriguing!
We got about 50-60% through and ran out of time since one of the group had to log. Not a bad first attempt considering we lost time on simply not knowing some of the ‘gotcha’ moments in the dungeon. Multiple caster groups can be the worst, especially if they have a monk (!?!) or a healer with them.
I’ll end with a scene from near to the dungeon entrance. The once Great Northern Wall is still there, this has wonderful resonance from the Prophecies campaign of GW1. I really love that the world has a sense of history too it!