01 October 2019

Guild Wars 2: Strike Missions Introduce Players To Raids

Guild Wars 2 has released the first Strike Mission a few weeks ago. It belongs to a collection of instances, which are supposed to introduce players who have never done them before into raids.
Having seen this first instance, I'm a bit skeptical.

What Does The Strike Mission Provide?

Screenshot of Guild Wars 2
Preparing for the Icebrood Construct Boss
The strike mission features the area that was played during the story. Lore wise it happens after the story without spoiling more than why you're in the area again in the presence. After the NPCs talking a cave entrance opens that lets you go through a tunnel. This tunnel features icy ground that lets you slide and a snowball rolling down as an obstacle. Past this tunnel, there is a jumping puzzle with a few chests. The ice physics from before are reused here. (and they do interact weirdly with gliding.)
Past the JP lies the boss.

The boss is also quite simple. It requires no tank and technically no healer. His attacks happen random and consist of impacts and ice waves that can be dodged or jumped. Additionally, he has an attack that fills 180 degrees of the arena with a swipe and a ground effect that deals damage over time. Another attack of his is the ice mines. Once he spawns them, they rotate around him. He often casts a wind that moves players along with it. Due to the opposite direction of the player and bomb rotation dodging them is usually required. Something easy to miss is an icicle attack he sometimes casts at a player position.

At 50% of health, the boss will go into phase two. In this phase, he uses two new abilities. Now he creates two to three (later on probably four) ice patches. These shoot out small bubbles that deal damage on hit. The way they spawn and move is very familiar for bullet hell games. After the projectiles stop spawning, tiny arrows highlight the ice to tell the player to get on. The boss will hit the one in front of him, producing a big wave that cannot be jumped over and is hard to dodge. The players need to stay on the higher patches and jump over it. The fight continues until the boss dies.

Reviewing The First Instance

Looking at the first strike missions already gives me a glimpse of where ArenaNet wants to start. The boss can be done with only damage dealers and features aside from dodging damage just one specific mechanic. This means it's planned for people who have at most killed a world boss or done a dungeon. If it were planned for people who run high tier Fractals of the Mists, it would have required a healer.

One of the biggest worries I have with this guy is, that people have so much damage in the group that mechanics are skipped. If the boss reappears later and the mechanic kills people instead of downing them if at all they will leave the mission with a bad taste. Overall, there is no incentive to learn all of the mechanics, which are thrown at the player.

The Complex Nature Of Raids

Raids are complex. Aside from requiring the player to figure out how to defeat the boss, there are mechanics layered upon mechanics. Each of these needs the raiders to react to and act on certain triggers. These can be...
  • visual: a telegraph, an animation, effect
  • auditory: a sound
  • or combined (using visual and auditory)
Additionally, raids are a multiplayer experience. This means players need to decide on how they will handle communication. (This does not require speech, though it simplifies communication by removing the requirement of typing.)

And then there are roles. Since bosses deal a lot of damage, some players need to switch to healers and tanks. More of them need to be given, depending on the mechanics and advantages of some classes (for example, supporters).

Raids are often seen as end-game content as they provide the player with challenges, where they can use everything they have learned during their MMORPG experience.

What Makes We Worry About Strike Missions

In game-design, you usually give the player one mechanic or system after the other. These are separated before being found layered. This is the best way to have the player learn these systems. This is actually done by ArenaNet at one or the other encounter. (for example, the guardians before vale guardian or the earth mini-boss before Adina) All of this is irrelevant if the players ignore mechanics. This means we need to teach figuring out the mechanics without frustrating or demotivating the player too much.

Giving invulnerability to the boss while the mechanic plays would be a good idea. However, this means the player stops what they're doing: Playing their class. Instead, it would make more sense to decrease the incoming damage the boss gets if a mechanic fails. (Keep in mind we don't wanna kill the player instantly for fails as this discourages too much). Now we just need to make sure, the boss performs the mechanic before dying.

Wrapping Things Up

I feel like this post has reached a decent size. I'm gonna write another one once the next Strike mission comes out until then I hope they will read this post or know what they're doing. Players need to learn that...
  • How do I heal?
  • What is tanking?
  • What is kiting?
  • What kind of things can I expect in raids?
And most importantly. Raids aren't hard, and they aren't just for hardcore players. With a decent difficulty curve, (nearly) anyone can learn to raid.

With that good night!


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I'm a junior game developer and software developer and I created this blog to share my ideas, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.