GW2 Heart of Thorns release – the free to play perspective

GW2 has had the mother of all updates. The expansion, Hearth of Thorns, has been released and alongside that the free base game has had a major update.

I’ve not brought the Heart of Thorns expansion personally. I’ve only just been getting in to GW2 again recently, but the stuff on offer in the expansion didn’t appeal to me all that much. That’s where I stand at the moment, but it doesn’t mean to say that I won’t ever buy it though!

Why I Game has written up a great post about the fun he’s been having since the expansion released. I’d recommend a read for the ins and outs of how the expansion plays!

All in all, the multiple releases have definitely gone down incredibly successfully when you look at it technically. It also coincided with the seasonal Halloween stuff being dropped, which in itself is a big patch. That there haven’t been any major bugs or crashes is a major technical success for the developers.

I’ve not purchased the expansion though, so I’ve been playing in the good ol’ free to play base game. Here’s my perspective on the changes that’ll affect me.

One of the first things that really caught my attention was the reduction in Dungeon rewards. They’ve reduced the experience and gold gained from completing a dungeon by 1/3, when dungeons had already been hit by previous nerfs. I saw some conspiracy theories out there that this is all part of a scheme from Arena Net to phase out dungeons. Whilst I’m not going to go fully tin-foil hat on this change, I think it will inevitably lead to the numbers of players doing dungeons phasing out into nothingness, which is a shame – I’ve always enjoyed the GW2 dungeons.


Player versus Player got some very overdue attention as well. There’s a league, a new reward structure and a whole new gameplay mode. Sadly though, the PvP scene on GW2 is long dead, and I very much doubt, even if these changes are really good in practice (I admittedly haven’t tried them out personally), that there’s much chance of resurrecting it.

For me, the real big changes have been with World versus World. I’ve basically become a wvw’er since coming back to GW2. The borderlands were always favourite maps of mine, but they’ve now been replaced with 3 enormous maps themed on the new expansion.

I’ve got a few concerns with the new borderlands maps. Firstly, there’s a lot of PvE stuff thrown in there, some of which is even expansion specific. Why put PvE stuff that’s designed for people with the expansion into the free to play WvW? That doesn’t make too much sense to me.

I’m also concerned by the size of the maps – they are absolutely huge. I play on Seafarer’s Rest – a sever at the top end of the European rankings. As far as servers go, we’re not the busiest, but we fill WvW better than the majority of servers. In the time I’ve played on the new borderlands maps over the past two days we were rattling around and hardly ever saw the enemies. That’s not good for WvW! I worry that lower tiered servers will struggle to put a serious forces into even one of the new borderlands, which will end up skewing the rankings further towards the more populated servers instead of the more skilful servers.


That aside, I do quite like the design of the new borderlands. They look different from anything else I’ve seen in GW2, but on the whole I like it. I just wished they were smaller, and with less PvE clutter!

My favourite WvW map is the Edge of the Mists. It’s not very popular with most hardcore wvw’ers, but I like the variety of it. As the Edge of the Mists is the only map where players are drawn from a jumble of all the servers, it’s almost always guaranteed to have people in it and there’ll almost always be a different experience when you play. Let’s face it, hardcore WvW can sometimes be incredibly dull, and I find EOTM far less so personally.

EOTM has been hit with a major nerf in this update. The experience and loot drops have been reduced massively, which to be fair they were disproportionately higher than the other WvW maps. My main problem with this, though, is that EOTM was also usually quite busy with people levelling characters up, so I’m worried that this nerf will drive EOTM player numbers right down. Ultimately though, I really just wished that rather than hammering the EOTM players with a reward nerf, they’d just upped the rewards for the other WvW maps.


Arena Net have a strong tendency to nerf to balance gameplay – and they’ve done it both with dungeons and the EOTM with this update. I understand the technical need, but I really think as far as gameplay goes it would have been better to bump the rewards up elsewhere rather than punishing a certain group of players.

All in all, I’m a bit disappointed so far by the changes made by the update to the free to play game.

Most of all, I’ve been surprised to see that next to none of the players I used to play with have come back. None of the three guilds I was a member of have any active members other than me any more (and one was once a pretty active one of 40/50 people). My friends list remains a sea of greyed out names. That’s sad, but it’s also a way that the expansion hasn’t been successful. So far, old players who have been leaving in their droves previously haven’t been enticed back by any of these changes. It’s still very early days to judge that, but so far it’s a little concerning.

Digital Salad –


Returning to Guild Wars 2

I’d been tempted to load up GW2 ever since I got my new pc back in January. The game had lost its charm for me a while back, and nothing that had happened since had really been any draw for me. I was envisioning a quick load in to remind myself of my beloved characters and see them in fancy graphics. Turns out, it didn’t quite go that way.


It’d been pretty much 2 years since I’d last loaded in to GW2. What should’ve been an age away, where I was some sort of retro throwback totally out of the loop hasn’t really been the case. I’m actually grateful for that, but I can see why it’s driven older players away in their droves.

I think GW2 is an MMO that survives on quite high player turn over, and the recent switch to Free To Play fits with that. People sign up, want their characters to look cool so spend some real money and then it doesn’t really matter if they drop it because you’ve made your money. The visuals remain stunning, and plenty enough to keep new players coming for now.


How’ve I been finding GW2 to play though?

Well, I’m taking it easy. Back in the days where I played it pretty non-stop for a little over a year from release, I racked up well over 1000 hours. That’s an immense amount of time to put into it, but it didn’t feel like it at the time. I had a lot of spare free time and a lot of good real life and online friends who I shared the experience of GW2 with (heck, I even made some really great new online friends through GW2 as well!)

GW2 is a totally different experience for me now. No-one I know plays anymore. In fact, of the dozens of friends on my friends list from back then, only one still plays and I only faintly knew him as he was a well known player across our server. So, it’s more of a solitary experience now.

I also really, really, really don’t have the same kind of spare free time I had back in the early days of GW2.

All of this means that I’ve been approaching GW2 in a totally different way. I’ve been playing in hour chunks roughly every day, so a little and often approach, and making sure to do whatever I fancy doing.


At the moment I’m mainly focusing on levelling up my re-rolled necromancer. My little evil asura, called Obitex, is fast levelling up thanks to the vastly increased drops of ‘Tomes of Knowledge’ (essentially a free level up). It also doesn’t seem as much of a grind if I pop on and get a level once a night.

I’m really enjoying playing some Edge of the Mists World vs World. Often it’s just a glorified champion train (which is great for levelling up) but just when you get settled into the swing of it there’ll be one server that decides to make a stand to spice things up. So far, I’m enjoying the pace of it and I’m hoping to finally get round to saving up enough money to buy a commander tag so I can lead groups of my own in World vs World.

Digital Salad –

Salad Saturday Screenshot [18]

This week I’m going back to an old old favourite, Guild Wars 2.


The last screenshot I took on GW2, now well over a year ago. How time flies!

I wanted to share my last screenshot because it’s also a timely reminder. With the GW2 expansion around the corner (that one that they promised they’d never do!) I’ve been mulling over whether it would be enough to drag me back.

Not that they’ve released that many details, or even the price, of the Heart of Thorns expansion yet, but there just simply isn’t anywhere near enough to bring me back to GW2. I potentially have the time in my evening schedule after work to fit GW2 in if I really wanted to, it’s not that. I’ve just lost touch with GW2 it’s been that long.

Its a nice feeling to look back at the screenshots of all the good times I had on the game, with a really great group of people. I met some fantastic gaming friends through GW2. None of them play it any more though, and as much as I enjoy looking back at the game; that’s a world apart from enjoying playing it again – learning the revolutionised stat system from scratch and all the associated rubbish of re-specialising your equipment attunements, etc, etc.

I look back at Ingelix, my little Asuran warrior in the picture above, fondly. She was probably nearing the 10th warrior I created in the game, and the only one to ever make it past level 10. I never got on well with warriors before Ingelix, but I took her all the way to top level 80. It was my last level 80 I reached on the game before I stopped playing, and it wasn’t that long at all after I reached it that I stopped. I reached top level on every class but a Thief (never could get used to how they played) and I feel dearly for each and every one of them. I have the screenshots to remember them as they were – but they don’t belong in the GW2 of today. Here’s to the happy memories of the old Salad crew of GW2.

Digital Salad –

Digital Salad: Guild Wars 2 Ending

I promised myself that I was going to look at Guild Wars 2 with a critical eye today. Today is reward day, the end of the 2014 Spring Tournament in World Versus World – the perfect time to sit back and contemplate my feelings about a game I used to love and now hardly play at all. What went wrong with Guild Wars 2? Here’s the Digital Salad thoughts.


Well, true to my promise I have had a think about Guild Wars 2.

After months of knowing exactly when the Tournament would end, and in the case of Europe, weeks of notice of which server was going to win, the reward chests have been a farce. A lucky few players have got them, many players have got the wrong ones and others, like me, haven’t got one at all. Arena Net; you don’t make it easy to like you guys!

So, I haven’t got the reward – the one thing I was waiting on to wonder if it would bring me back. That said, while I was logging in to check whether I had received my shinies in the post I decided to give the game another go. I thought some World Versus World would be ideal, maybe it could win me back over.

This Is Where I'd Put My Achievement Chest If I Had One! (thanks to CakeBoxFox for the picture)
This Is Where I’d Put My Achievement Chest If I Had One! (thanks to CakeBoxFox for the picture)

Every single borderland was empty, including the usually crammed full Eternal Battleground. I guess there’s a bit of exhaustion at the end of the Tournament, but on a Friday night I would expect a queue of at least 100 players on the Eternal Battleground a few months ago on a Friday night.

Maybe they’re all busy with the Living World content, but various forums suggest that those areas are pretty empty at the moment – the Queen’s Gauntlet was certainly dead when I poked my head in to check. I don’t know where everyone has gone, but it seems that player numbers are down again – at least at the moment. So, I logged in to the Eternal Battleground.

I hoped on the commander tag train and followed it for one tower siege, a small attack from the rear as we entered the tower and it was done. Tower captured in 2mins with a handful of enemy casualties and one bag of meh loot.

I felt absolutely no joy in that siege at all. I used to enjoy it, but it was so similar from countless other sieges I have done before that I just gave up after that. Perhaps a very limited taster of the current state of Guild Wars 2, but it speaks volumes more about my mindset for the game.



A picture of the original Digital Salad, post make-over, waving goodbye (sorry about the awful graphics – the PC hasn’t been well recently!). I think it most likely is goodbye. Poor old Digital Salad had his in-game birthday almost 6 months ago now, and since then I’ve used only 4 hours of his 24hrs in-game booster. I don’t think he’ll ever use the other 20hrs, and it shows just how little I’ve been playing.

Even if I had got the achievement chest this evening I would have to wait until the end of next week to spent the tokens they’d just rewarded me. The tokens just aren’t enough to keep me waiting that long, there are too many other things I would rather do than playing Guild Wars 2 now.

That is partly the game becoming stale, at least for me, but it’s also because I’ve changed. I am no longer the same person I was when I first started playing Guild Wars 2 at launch 2 years ago, I’ve changed in many many ways – so maybe I’m not right for Guild Wars 2 either.

It’s not you Guild Wars, its me. 

Well maybe not quite like that, its more a mutual thing, but for now the Digital Salad is no longer a Guild Wars 2 Salad.


 Digital Salad –






Digital Salad: Guild Wars 2 Update

Its been a while since I last blogged about Guild Wars 2, and much as changed in the Digital Salad digital realm since then! So, I thought it was long overdue that I gave a recap on everything I’ve been up to GW2 related.

Ingelix holding her Charrzooka backwards - don't ask why!
Ingelix holding her Charrzooka backwards – don’t ask why!

I made it!

My Asura Warrior Ingelix has hit the level cap of level 80.

Its taken a lot of hard work, much of which I must admit was in the Edge Of The Mists for the easy experience on the Champion train. That said, I really enjoyed EOTM with her, and not just for the easy experience. I still find it to be a really happy medium between the opposing forces of PvE and hardcore WvW.

I’ve now kitted Ingelix out exactly how I wanted her stat wise and aesthetically, and I’m considering using up the spare bits I’ve got in the bank to make an ascended rifle for her.

An ascended rifle is potentially in the mix in the near future, here previewed previously on my now defunct Norn necro
An ascended rifle is potentially in the mix in the near future; here previewed previously on my now defunct Norn necro

Before any GW2 warriors laugh at me, yes I do run a Greatsword/Rifle build and really enjoy it! Its pretty much as opposite the current Hammer/Longbow meta-build as you can get, but it works for me and that’s what matters most to me.

I definitely went for a focus on survivability though, which is lacking on a lot of the mainstream beserker warrior builds of all types. My utilities are all focused on survivability, with invincibility skills, conditions cures and stability to keep me going and dishing out the awesome damage that you can get from a mighted up greatsword.

That’s probably far too much talk of warrior builds on GW2 though. There are plenty of very in depth threads for those who want to learn more where players have theory-crafted and calculated the good and the bad of each profession, so if you want to know more check out the game forums or the game reddit thread for those.

Aside from getting Ingelix up to level 80 and paying out a shed load of cash for the armour and weapons; I guess warriors being so popular inevitably makes the gear expensive, I haven’t done a great deal on GW2.

Edge Of The Mists has been my main staple when playing GW2 recently
Edge Of The Mists has been my main staple when playing GW2 recently

The Spring 2014 WvW tournament rumbles on, but I’ve found myself growing weary of it already, which is very odd when I enjoyed 2013’s tournament so much.

My server, Seafarer’s Rest look set to take the top spot in the EU gold league without much competition; potentially doing it without a single loss. Last season’s winners, Vizunah Square, have dropped even further down to 2nd last now.

I think I perhaps understand a little more about why Vizunah may have dropped, because being undefeated at the top is damn boring. I don’t want that to sound like I have a massive ego though, because as far as I see it we’re sitting at the top more by luck than anything else. We’re not the best, we’ve just had a good run of luck which has made us the current best. With Vizunah being undefeated last season I can understand why their server community disintegrated and their players went elsewhere in search of more fun.

I’m hardly going into the borderlands or eternal battleground these days because it is so boring. Its just not satisfying.

Battles in EOTM can occasionally surprise you
Battles in EOTM can occasionally surprise you

EOTM hasn’t been great on offering up epic battles, but there have been a few which went on for ages that were incredibly enjoyable. Moreover, the camaraderie was real in that fight. Without teamspeak and the angry commanders that seem to plague my server, you fight together on instincts. When that works, its an amazing thing and feels fantastic.

All in all though, now that Ingelix is level 80, I’m struggling for any real aim on GW2. That’s GW2’s main problem as a game; a lack of things to do at max level.

If I weren’t such an alt-aholic, I would’ve run out of things that interested me as soon as I got my first character to level 80 over a year ago. There’s nothing much to keep you invested, the game itself is not all that much fun in the long run. So, with my alts now essentially finished off, I have nothing left to do on GW2. I will pop on occasionally, but from now on I see my play time becoming very minimal, even if big changes occur and new areas open up. I think the magic has finally worn off for me, which is increadibly sad for a game and set of characters that I have invested so much in.


Digital Salad –


Digital Salad: All Change in GW2

The Guild Wars 2 feature pack has hit us full force. Just as I was getting back in to GW2 after a relatively long break, enjoying the 2nd World Versus World Season, and the biggest changes since the game’s release have thrown everything into a bit of chaos. Lets take a look at the good and bad of the GW2 April 2014 feature pack.


The changes this week to GW2 are huge, so much so that I’ve spent the rest of the week going through each of my characters one by one trying to get their trait build back to where it was – all were reset with the patch. Its not been a kind patch to those of us who love alts, but I’m getting there with my tweaking!

So, the first big change is the wardrobe. PvP clothes have essentially been eradicated, and the skins all rolled into a central ‘wardrobe’ of skins. All the weapons and armours you were wearing pre-patch are now unlocked for use across all your characters.

Outfits such as winter clothes or the pirate outfit from the Gem Store are now wearable in combat as skins over your armour; with town clothes being removed as a concept completely. I never understood why they put town clothes in to be perfectly honest, it felt like a half-baked idea that they never completely finished before release.

The new outfit skin for armour system makes much more sense, and works nicely. Unfortunately, there have been some problems with the implementation of it, with some previous town clothes not transferring well over to outfits. Once they’ve processed the gem refunds they’ve promised for everyone who’s not happy with the changes to the looks that’ll all be under control though.

A fabulous looking Charr in the Winter outfit - now wearable as armour!
A fabulous looking Charr in the Winter outfit – now wearable as armour!

Dyes have gone account-bound, a long overdue change. The most interesting part of that though is the changes to unidentified dyes as a consequence. The drop rate of these, already pretty rare, sources of new dyes has been dramatically reduced. Combined with that, The Gift Of Colour which is needed to craft the legendary staff Bifrost has been reduced from 250 of these rare little gems to 100. Clearly ArenaNet have some sort of plan for the unidentified dye market, but it seems almost certain that the price will skyrocket into the future.

Another half-baked concept that’s finally been dropped (on the quiet – and wasn’t in the patch notes) is the personality system.


The personality system had potential that they never capitalised on. The only time it ever really came up were some incredibly superficial speech options that never changed to overall story at all. I know that simplistic good/bad personality types and speech choices aren’t the in thing with video games at the moment, but I do miss the personality system. The wasted potential is sad to see go, I’d much rather of seen them fix it up a bit even if it did remain a largely forgotten and ignored concept.

Another long overdue change is World Versus World experience going account-bound. Why wasn’t it like that in the first place?!

My characters were all sitting at a measly 20-30 rank levels until the patch, and now I’m up to a more respectable 70-80. For all the hard work I put in to WvW across my characters I never had enough level up points to spend on any upgrades, despite earning it with hard slogging across the borderlands. Now that it’s account-bound I can have flameram mastery and supply mastery, and that feels good. A good reward for the hard work I’ve put in to WvW over time; which at times has felt a lot like bashing my head against a brick wall with my server. A good, long overdue, change!

World Versus World ranks now account-bound!
World Versus World ranks now account-bound!


Another long over-due change has been the update to sigils. Previously, each weapon you wielded could have one sigil giving it special qualities such as a Greatsword of Bloodlust or a Greatsword of Ice. Thing is, some weapons are two handed and some are one handed; meaning that those running with one handed weapons got twice as many sigils as someone with a two handed weapon – hardly fair! So, ArenaNet have very sensibly balanced that out by giving all two handed weapons two sigil slots. A good change, but why on earth did it take almost two years for them to do?

Hearts have changed for the better as well! Instead of the largely ignored message popping into your inbox when you completed a heart you now get a quite pretty pop up:


That’s a good, and pretty unexpected change. It makes hearts feel a little bit more worthwhile and special, which is great; especially when you’re likely to have done all of them at some point before and have probably wonder what the point was anyway!

So, hearts have changed for the better as well as a few other little tweaks. Nothing big has really changed for the better though. The wardrobe was certainly a big change, but the verdict is still out on just how successful or not that has been. Lets have a look at the other big changes though:


Sounds pretty epic as a name, but what actually is a megaserver? Well, the patch rolled out what they were calling a trial of an idea where out in the pve world you are no longer in your server, but in a megaserver with everyone else in that area. The whole things been rolled out across the whole world now pretty much because ArenaNet found it so ‘successful’ on launch day. But, how good is the megaserver idea?

Positives – the empty areas have got some new life, and you could walk for days without meeting a single player in some parts of the world before. That said, it can still be very quiet in parts.

Negatives – tremendous lag on the more popular maps. Also, it can be incredibly difficult for guilds to coordinate together into one map, but that isn’t too dissimilar to previous overflow problems.

Most of all though, the megaserver introduction has lead to an overhaul of all the world boss events. They are now all timed in a rota, which with my schedule and it being based primarily for American audiences, means I won’t ever be able to do certain world events again. Very frustrating, although I can see the benefit of there being an event guaranteed every 15mins I think it’s a little too fast – there’s no downtime between them. Perhaps a 30 min slot for each would have made more sense.

Taco - I will now, sadly, probably never defeat you again now
Taco – I will now, sadly, probably never defeat you again now

All in all, then, the megaserver has got some positives to it, but its causing a lot of problems. Big guilds are unhappy because they can’t adventure together and I’m unhappy because I’m lagging more than ever and can’t do all the world bosses anymore. Perhaps with some tweaks the idea could work much better and make us all happier.


The final big change is to the trait system.

First good point, you no long have to buy the trait books from vendors for 50silver, 1 gold and 2 gold to unlock each tier of traits. That’s a good change.

However, although each tier now unlocks for free as you level up you now have to buy each trait. Thankfully my characters have been spared having to traipse across the world in search of mountains of trait achievements or saving up hundreds of skill points to buy them. For a system that worked relatively simply and smoothly, giving you difficult choices of what to specialise in, ArenaNet have really messed it up.

I appreciate that they want to force people to go out and enjoy the world of Tyria. The achievement method of unlocked the traits will certainly do that. But if they wanted to do that it should have been in the game from the start. Now is far too late to add such a huge balancing problem.

Honestly, as much as I’ve loved making alts over the years, the astronomic jump in difficulty for leveling an alt thanks to these trait changes mean I will probably never create another one; and that’s incredibly sad for me as a player that loves creating new characters all the time.



The feature patch has been a big one, certainly, and it’s been a struggle to keep up with all the changes and get some kind of normality back to my characters.

The small changes, such as WvW ranks going account-bound, are great changes but long over-due. The bigger changes haven’t been so good., and have seriously dented the amount of fun I can have on GW2.

Now, with these changes, more than ever I will probably be playing just World Versus World on one or two of my older characters. That is bound to get dull eventually, but the ways I used to spice it up are now just not options – a sad change for me as a player who has been getting back into GW2 in recent weeks.


What do you make of the changes? How have the changes made you feel about GW2?


Digital Salad –

Digital Salad: World Versus World Mist Runner!

The latest season of the Guild Wars 2 World Versus World tournament continues, and it’s been dragging me back into the game. I’m almost scared to admit it, but the tournament has reignited my flare for the game a little. What Scarlett could not do, roaming the ruins can do!


First things first, I’ve got myself a new favourite world versus world character.

You might remember I introduced you to my, definitely not a salad, very butch Norn Necro. He had become my firm favourite in World Versus World for a good few months. Strong area attacks, as well as the massive punch you can pack with conditions was great – especially when so few seem to run with any sort of serious condition cure.

World Versus World is made for necros – especially when commanders order their zerglings to “STACK UP” – that’s just aching for a necro staff bomb.

That said, Mr Not-A-Salad, is now on the back burner. My little Asuran warrior, Ingelix, is now my favourite. I’ve been leveling her up rapidly in the Edge Of The Mists while picking up the last few achievements for the Tournament Meta.

I now understand why so many take warriors into World Versus World. Although, that said, I don’t understand why so many don’t take any decent condition cures or defensive utilities. I see so many running full dps beserker builds. As far as I can see it, World Versus World isn’t the place for beserkers, its about sustained high damage and crowd control – not charging in guns blazing and then collapsing like a cardboard fort.

That aside, Ingelix is now my favourite and who I play as most – now nearly hitting level 80 without much effort. That’s a very important postscript, because I really hated leveling her up in PvE at the lower levels despite generally enjoying levelling my other characters the old fashioned way!

Just EOTM things
Just EOTM things

So, I’ve managed the Meta. The slightly kinder achievements for this season were a definite good move by Arena Net. I’ve seen some hardcore WvW veterans complaining that they achieved them after mere hours of standard play, but for me it’s taken 2 and a half weeks of fairly intense by my standards WvW gaming. That’s just about the right level for it to be set at for my tastes, but there is no pleasing everyone!

I’m looking forward to the Mistforged weapon rewards. There’s some awesome skins in there, especially that mace. Shame I don’t use mace on any character!

At the moment Seafarer’s Rest is sitting nicely at the top of the Gold League, which is good news for me! We’ve been fighting very well recently, while a lot of our older (and arguably better in some cases) enemies seem to be having problems languishing much lower on the league tables. Looking at Vizunah Sq in particular; last season’s undefeated champions are now sitting in joint 7th with a mere 2nd and 3rd place in their first two weeks. What on earth has happened to Viz – they were amazing enemies.

With nine weeks of the tournament in total though, its still relatively early days. We’re seeing strong competition from Desolation in particular, but their later match ups might not be too kind to them on the points, so we shall see. All is still to play for, with nearly every server still within shooting distance of a chance at a podium finish.

How you (used!) to spend most time when fighting Vizunah Sq
How you (used!) to spend most time when fighting Vizunah Sq

The funny thing is, is that I now realise the impact of playing WvW on a top Gold League server has had on me. I would certainly not classify myself as a hardcore WvW player, and actively enjoy the new Edge Of The Mists map which many refer to as a sort of ‘WvW lite’, or ‘WvW for noobs’.

I’ve really enjoyed playing in the EOTM. The funny thing is is that you can almost tell which server players are from in the multi-server match ups there.

Those from Seafarer’s, we always watch the back of the group when attacking a tower. Just like the cat I used in my last post:


You’ve got to be on the lookout like that.

I remember back in Season 1 of the WvW Tournaments, Vizunah were the dominant force for good reason. I remember one attack in particular, on our home border where we knew that the main Vizunah zerg was on another map at the time. We thought we would be sneaky and take a tower near their base. It took them less than 30 seconds for that entire zerg to map jump and wipe us out entirely. Nobody escaped, not one. It was brutal, and I learnt the lesson hard.

I would never dream of not checking behind the zerg’s back when attacking a tower these days. Most other servers, they’ve not had that brutal lesson, so you see them merrily chopping away at gates even when enemies pop up behind us.

It makes me feel good actually. Not that I’m judging the other players; I kind of envy them in fact being in such a calmer WvW environment. But, being relatively good (when as far as Seafarer’s Rest comparisons goes I’m not that great) makes me feel good. So thank you to EOTM for that, it’s a pleasure to play!

Other than that there isn’t much news from World Versus World. Now that I have the meta achievements I probably won’t be on GW2 quite so much, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the leader boards as they develop and definitely be popping in to the borderlands and EOTM for a good fight with little Ingelix.

Asura with a Charrzooka, what could be scarier!





Digital Salad –

Digital Salad: World Versus World Tournament 2014 Begins!

I have been continuing to play the latest weekly showdown of the Guild Wars 2 2014 World Versus World Tournament, with my server Seafarer’s Rest (rank 1st I didn’t realise!) facing off against Jade Sea (4th) and Desolation (7th). We look set to win pretty comfortably going forwards from a solid win against last Season’s runaway winners Vizunah Square (2nd) and Riverside (3rd) from the opening week.


I’ve actually been really enjoying the 2014 World V World Tournament so far. The achievements are nicely achievable if you keep up a steady rate of casual play throughout the weeks, with a nice variety of activities rewarded within them.

Might I go as far as to say that Tournament 2014 has reignited my passion for GW2? Maybe, just a bit!

It’s not the achievements that brought me back though, or the promise of reward. It’s the good fun that can be had in WvW during a Tournament season.

Somehow the elitism is defeated a bit for those weeks (at least compared to weeks before). That said, over the last couple of months of low play for myself it seems that the endless “GET ON TEAMSPEAK NOW” messages have disappeared.

Turns out the enemy teams were getting that very openly available information and spying.


Somehow I can’t say I’m that surprised, and as a result the teamspeak is now reserved for a small group of commanders and their inner circle who keep the planning and strategy all secret.

That’s great and all, but it means your army of minions now really have no idea what you’re up to, because not many of us will be listening whether we want to or not. The “verification” system for Teamspeak seems to be failing big style, but then I’m a teamspeak detractor as I spoke about last season – so that’s not been affecting me too much.

So to the commanders, at least on Seafarer’s Rest, please make everyone’s life a bit easier and try and put a bit more info in the map chat for us to follow.

All in all though, the best change has to be the generally calmer attitude (so far). Everyone seems to be a bit less grumpy cat and a little more:


You’re all still really into it, but now it’s a bit more manageable than the previous rage. I just hope it stays.

Another thing I’ve noticed that changed since the last WvW tournament is which worlds are high on the rankings. I remember Piken Square giving us and Vizunah a good fight for the podium spots; now they’re down in 13th! That’s a real shame for Piken, I always really respect them and their strong backbone of RPers.

There’s also been a couple of German servers on the ascent and Gandara are doing much better than in the previous Season. So well done to those guys! It’s always great to see servers moving up and down, it keeps the tournament alive and exciting.


Edge Of The Mists is a big new change to the Tournament structure.

I’ve been really enjoying playing the EOTM map while queuing for a certain borderland or the Eternal Battleground. In the EOTM I’ve always been lucky enough to be thrown in with the overwhelmingly winning team (so I can’t say much for the supposed random team distribution). But it is great fun, even when you do end up on a losing and outnumbered team. It’s great fun as a sort of dynamic overflow that still counts towards the achievements.

Some of the best fun I’ve had this season has been in EOTM, and there’s some awesome commanders in there who really know how to use map chat (seeing as TS is pretty much out of the question over there).

Which leads me neatly onto the best change since the last season. There’s no more endless hours of queuing. Well, there is for certain borderlands or the Eternal Battleground, where at least you now know where you are in the queue, but while you are waiting you can still be productive. That’s a good change, so a legitimate well done to Arena Net on the EOTM.

Keep having a fun season one and all!


Digital Salad –

CakeBoxFox: Guest GW2 Blog

CakeBoxFox is guest editing today for a post about GW2 and her thoughts about it now that Season 1 of the Living Story is over. So, without further ado:

Having had some time out from GW2 (A combination of an angry laptop fan, endless coursework, housework, PhD work and a module for many weeks), I’ve had (only a little) time to reflect on it all.

I’ve got been going completely cold turkey though, keeping up with release dates, patch notes, new items, new offers, storylines, blogs etc. Looks like there’s some big changes on the horizon.

Yes I read the forum and Reddit, backing away slowly from the sheer polarity of the two opinions expressed on there. If you took it as a sample it’d look something like this-
Thing is, a forum is either a place to vent complaints, or a place to sing your praises. I guessed that the majority of the other players were happily playing the game and left it at that. After all, anything constructive on a forum melts down into a rather large willy-waving battle with endless name calling after a while.

But anyway,

Season 1 is done.

The dust is yet to settle on a very broken Lion’s Arch as the smoke of speculation rises away on the wind. In the not too distant future armies from each server will once again go to war, for trophies and honour and blood and gore.

So whilst the pacing felt a little off to begin with, Anet started to get into their stride and now, as the world reels from the final blow, they’ve already started planning some big changes to the interface.

We’ve got wardrobes and account bound dyes on the approach, changes to the traits and much more on the way. Clearly steps in the right direction if the forum is anything to go by.

It’ll sure be interesting to see the effects on the Black-Lion trading post.

Will prices rise as a result of players realising they only need one Volcanus instead of 3? Are more people going to be rushing to make a legendary?

What about forgotten armour? Will people want every single piece?

How will gem store armours be affected?

And that doesn’t even take into account the new living story or the WvW tournament. Things are really kicking off.

Will it bring some players back?

Quite possibly.


Having a poorly pc means I’m not willing to superheat it with GW2. I wish they would do something about the load times, nothing’s changed on my PC, yet load times and rendering times have increased. I can’t remember the last time I saw a player in the flesh and not in beautiful pink armour besides dungeons. I tend to see gw2 through a grainy filter.


This is my game 5 minutes past the loading screen.

So it’s all well and good allowing people to customise, but I can’t see it in my current state.

I think one of the problems I’ve found with GW2, is that it’s not a pretty world in low graphics, and thus I don’t get very attached to it. Crank up the graphics and I love the world.

Check out the difference between low and high performance with the zodiac armours

I wish it wasn’t a default face, but the glow is sure different.

So whilst there’s plenty up and coming and going on, it’s not enough to pull me back to GW2.

I like the changes, but the main thing that motivates me personally is exploration, and there’s not been much of that for a while. Perhaps when a new area appears, I will be interested to return to GW2, but for now, it’ll sit on the backburner, with me checking the updates and patch notes as and when.

I also like adventuring with friends, so maybe when there’s a scalable dungeon I’ll return, or with more permanent story content.

Perhaps crunch time will arrive with a new computer. Will having the spec motivate me more? Or will I simply not reinstall it, knowing, with a heavy heart, that my laptop has become work more than play?


Digital Salad Returns!

It feels like its been ages since I last blogged about gaming, so a return is long overdue! I’ve been playing various different games, although my GW2 playtime has pretty much stopped entirely even with the climax of the Living Story and a whole host of changes to the gameplay. So this blog will be a bit of a round up about my thoughts on what I have, and haven’t, been playing recently.


GW2 news!

First off, the Living Story has finished its first season. Scarlet is dead (to which the forums erupted in *ding dong the witch is dead* style joy), and all is hunky dory in the life of our motley gang of heroes. Well, us the players have done most of the hero-ing for them over the year – but sharing the glory isn’t a bad thing!

I must confess though that I wasn’t in the least bit interested. I promised myself that I would keep giving the Living Story a go, through each release, until the end of the Scarlet story ark. I couldn’t even manage that. I logged in the Escape From Lion’s Arch and really tried to give it a go, but between horrendous lag and angry commanders yelling at everyone, I gave up after about 3 attempts. It just wasn’t fun. Scarlet’s death was just an extension of that really.

The only bit I was mildly interested in was the video they had upon killing Scarlet, which they’ve since released:

Despite Scarlet’s death it seems that she succeeded in waking up a dragon. Guess that’s the scene set for Season 2 of the Living Story whenever that comes around. I will almost certainly not take part in that season judging from the nose-dive my GW2 play has taken recently. More interesting is wondering whether anybody will be around for Season 2. The GW2 forums have become noticeably quiet, as has it’s blogsphere and reddit channel. I’m beginning to think that the GW2 playerbase is just dying back to leave just the hardcore fans that will persist forever.

There’s a lot of big gameplay changes coming up in a week or so, including trait changes and wardrobe changes, that will make quite big differences to the overall game. The thing is, I really don’t care anymore – I’ve finished the game I realise, and that’s something you should never be able to say about an MMO.

Assassins Creed News!


The latest Assassin’s Creed has just been announced – Assassin’s Creed Unity, the 5th installment in the series. Very little is known so far other than it is to be set in Revolutionary France.

Revolutionary France isn’t a bad choice of setting at all. It’s brings in a huge potential for making the most of the parkour system in 18th century Paris, as well as potential for an actually interesting story.

That’s the funny thing about Assassin’s Creed for me, they were great games set in interesting historical periods that were ruined by the Assassin’s Creed – the horribly cliched story of the Assassins Vs the Templars that never fitted in to any of the settings other than AC1. That was the one downside of AC4, a beautiful and exciting setting with an abysmal story. Unity should certainly have a beautiful and exciting setting, and there’s potential for them to have a decent story – I hope Ubisoft make the most of that chance, but I’m not holding my breath.

The word is that Connor, of AC3 fame, might well pop up in Unity. I definitely hope they don’t bring him back – without a doubt the worst of the Assassins so far. Other than that, I can see the potential for huge battle scenes of the Revolutionary Wars, which they could really make something more of than the largely window-dressing battles in AC3.

I’ll be keeping an eye on more AC news though, along with news of the studio’s other upcoming release, Watch Dogs, which I’m tentatively looking forward to.

Dragon Age 2!


One of the games I’ve been playing recently is Dragon Age 2. I’ve never played a Dragon Age before – for some reason I had an idea in my head that they were scary hardcore RPGs. CakeBoxFox had played DA1 and really enjoyed it, and with exciting news coming out about the latest DA (Dragon Age Inquisition) I thought I would give DA2 a go.

I’m glad I did!

DA2 is by no means the scary hardcore RPG I thought it would be, and I would recommend it to any gamer – even those who haven’t played an RPG before. Not that its perfect in the slightest, with appalling voice acting and a very limited world to name but two glaring problems. Somehow though, despite the flaws, I find myself really enjoying DA2. I’m invested in the characters, as badly as they are voiced, and I’m enjoying the story line as well.

I’ve been really enjoying using my personal Hawke (a berserker style warrior), his sister Bethany (healing/elemental mage), outcast Elf Merrill (buff/damage mage) and dwarf merchant Varrick (archer). I will swap Varrick out for somebody melee when I get round to meeting them (probably a choice between Fenris the elf warrior or pirate dagger rogue Isabella – I’m thinking Isabela at the moment).

Its very easy to focus on the flaws of DA2, but for a price of around £5 these days you really can’t go wrong with DA2. The combat is definitely good fun, and well polished. A Digital Salad seal of approval.

Wargame: Red Dragon!


I’ve also been playing Wargame: Red Dragon (WRD). It’s not technically out quite yet (although should be soon), but I pre-ordered it and as part of the pre-order you get access to the multiplayer beta.

The multiplayer’s limited to a few maps, and no naval warfare (the big addition to RD compared to previous Wargame installments) but all the many factions are involved with all of their units.

I’ve been a big fan of strategy games since I first started gaming really, but Wargame had always passed me by. WRD had some good sounds going on about it, and seeing as I was feeling a bit lost having fallen out of love with GW2 I wanted to revisit my strategy roots and give it a good go.

I haven’t been disappointed!

I really enjoy the setting, a hypothetical situation of the cold war going hot in the late 1980s (although most countries have at least some post-1990s units), and the gameplay is really great as well.

The gameplay is the real focus of a strategy game, and I really like the deck structure that they have. You have a limited amount of points that you can use on troops that make up your deck – what you can call on when in battle. These points can be tinkered with depending on who you choose, for instance if you decide to go with a small country such as East Germany and specialise into Mechanised troops – your points will go a lot further in certain troop trees.

It sounds very in depth, but its very simple to understand. That said, I’m still learning the ins and outs of what works for me and why. Simple to get, but difficult to master – the way a good strategy game should be!

I’ll keep updating about WRD as it nears release. Naval combat is something that I’m definitely looking forward to!

Star Trek Online!


I also decided to give Star Trek Online a go, thinking I just needed a switch in MMO from GW2 to something a bit different. All I knew about Star Trek Online (STO) was that it went free to play a while back, which I assumed meant it wasn’t that great.

That wasn’t an entirely true assumption. The game is great, and going free to play was a sensible decision. The world is certainly alive with captains filling all the maps. The gameplay is well thought-out as well, with space combat something which has always proved pretty difficult.

The thing is, is that I didn’t enjoy it. I love Star Trek, and used to watch TNG as a kid, Captain Picard was a large part of my childhood – which might well explain a lot about me! I thought, given my love for the Star Trek universe, that I would naturally get on with STO like a house on fire.

Weirdly enough it didn’t work like that, and I’ve since stopped playing it. For me, I’d much rather watch an episode of TNG than play STO. That’s just my preference I guess, but STO wasn’t the kind of Star Trek that I want.

Finishing Up

So that’s about it really. I’ve been busy gaming, but just haven’t had the time to blog about it! Hopefully this rectifies my unplanned absence, and I really hope to keep blogging about all the exciting things going on with gaming. I may well have fallen out of love with MMOs for now, but I’m certainly open to trying new ones – so maybe soon I’ll be back in to them. For now though, I’m happy giving RPGs a go and revisiting my old home of strategy games.

Keep having fun!


Digital Salad –