Guild Wars 2: Obsidian Sanctum

We’re just a day away from the end of the GW2 WvW Season 1, and in the EU it looks as if my predictions of a joint 2nd place between Seafarer’s Rest and Jade Sea will come true. I’ll save any more analysis of that until the weekend, but there’s now an increasingly slim chance that my prediction could be wrong. Whilst getting involved in the last push for points this last week I’ve made the most of the new world versus world map, Obsidian Sanctum.

gw355

I’ve been using a couple of characters in Obsidian Sanctum (OS) since it was released along with the Fractured patch. I say released; when I say that I mean it was carved off from the side of the Eternal Battlegrounds and now has its own queue but without any contribution to the overall score – mainly to discourage trolling of the jumping puzzle and to help out with huge queues on peak servers. Overall, the impression I’ve had so far has been fairly positive.

The first week after the Fractured release my server, Seafarer’s Rest, was up against Elona Reach and Jade Sea. Thankfully, this was quite a balanced match in the sense that our numbers were always roughly equal on every map I was on at any time. OS was the same, always roughly level group numbers for all three servers which had great fun jumping straight into a skirmish from the waypoint platform.

I had great fun that week, and when it was deathly quiet and I was the only one in there, I took the chance to do a run of the jumping puzzle. I tried to do that puzzle countless times before I finally managed it a couple of months ago with the help of one of the best thieves on our server at the time, who I managed to befriend. It was damned difficult to get to that chest and pop those achievement points. With the changes to OS since Fractured I managed to do the puzzle without a single problem, and have again since then.

The days where players would camp bottlenecks in the OS jumping puzzle like this one are now, thankfully, long gone
The days where players would camp bottlenecks in the OS jumping puzzle like this one are now, thankfully, long gone (borrowed picture)

As far as I’m concerned that’s a good change. I understand there’s some remorse in some quarters about this, in the sense that the OS jumping puzzle should be one of the hardest ones in the game. It still is to me, especially the bit in the dark with only your instincts and a dim torch to guide you. That’s the fun of a jumping puzzle, challenged by a difficult environment and working out your brain to pick out the best route up. I enjoyed that part of the jumping puzzle always, but the griefers on it who would camp so that they could stealth kill anybody attempting it ruined the experience.

They are not a challenge as there’s very little you can do against them in many cases. The worst bit for me was the maliciousness of it, that they would camp for hours just for one kill when they could be far more use to their server out on the battlefield. Now there’s no excuse, the kills in OS don’t count at all and, thankfully, it seems to have sent them on their way on the whole, so that’s a good result!

The next good result is the fights, which are quick and instantly reset. There’s no long charge in to battle, there’s not particularly a game of cat and mouse, although using the geography of the area to your advantage does help a little, so the fighting is just raw pvp group combat. Its fun, that’s the main thing. The only slight negative is repairs, with broken armour requiring a re-zone to go and fix. That’s really minor as far as complaints go, but I’m not too fussed whether they add in an armour fixer or not – the re-zone isn’t too much hassle. The intensity of the fights once you get in though will really make it worthwhile.

There’s is one more negative though, although not a negative of the recent changes to OS. That is the state of server match ups and server balancing, they’re still incredibly lop-sided!

second week of OS - facing off against much bigger servers
second week of OS – facing off against much bigger servers (spot the outnumbered bonus I had)

I said that the first week against Elona Reach and Jade Sea was good because our numbers were roughly equal. Seafarer’s Rest has always been on the low side of  population numbers for EU servers, so we’re lucky to punch above our weight to hit the top of the gold league. The trouble is, while we hit high above our weight that puts us up against the mega large servers. Unfortunately, we’ve really been feeling the full force of the population imbalance on servers which still seems to plague GW2 a little, with Seafarer Rest’s battling against Piken Sq and Vizunah Sq.

In the print screen above you can see a typical example of OS from this week, with 6 of us facing at least 20 Vizunah and roughly 30 Piken at my best guess. These kinds of ratios are typical, and it means that we have no fighting chance at all.

No prizes for guessing how this valiant last stand ended a minute later
No prizes for guessing how this valiant last stand ended a minute later

Its not terribly fun when, as hard and as well as you fight, you know you are eventually going to be steamrollered by sheer weight of enemy numbers. I really hope that the imbalances in server population are evened out soon because they don’t seem to be getting much better despite the scaled pricing of world transfers depending on server population.

Perhaps Arena Net need to start offering incentives of some sort to players to move to lower servers, or else restrict the servers which new players can join to the very lowest population servers. Maybe give the outnumbered buff even more of a buff to balance the playing field. These ideas seem a little bit draconian, but I fear its the only way to level out the playing field to make wvw what it should be – more like the awesome skirmishes of the balanced face-off between Seafarer’s, Elona and Jade and less like the steamroller I’ve been thrown under repeatedly this week.

All in all though, the changes to OS have been a really positive step. They’ve highlighted the server imbalances that still persist in GW2, that needs some serious attention, but they’ve brought awesome fights but also some positive changes in the community. I’m glad that those who run around the edge of the fight, wanting to get on with the jumping puzzle without being griefed or causing anyone else any problems are left to do just that.

 

Digital Salad – https://lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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