Recently, Tyria spent four days repelling a Mordrem invasion. On the surface, this event appeared to be patterned after the Scarlet invasions from Living World Season One. However, this recent invasion saw a number of changes implemented, and for many in the community, they failed to live up to both expectations and the hype. The troubles that plagued the invasions can be found on the official forums and other places on the web. In the interest of space and time, I will not rehash them here. Instead, I present the impressions and opinions of one who ran through the invasions on numerous occasions throughout the event.Group battles against the Mordrem can be fun.
As I had not hunted for news regarding the invasions when they began, I had little information to go on. I knew the Mordrem would be invading various maps and that I was expected to run around these maps killing groups of enemies. This understanding brought back a sense of excitement dipped in nostalgia. I had greatly enjoyed the Scarlet invasions when they had first occurred and was looking forward to the camaraderie of entire maps of players hunting down enemies and dispatching them with extreme prejudice, all in the name of loot… or world peace, one of those two choices. Yet when the actual Mordrem invasions began, it is safe to say that the mechanics used to gain reward tokens left me confused. Despite reading through the blog post, only by actually participating in the event did it become clear how tokens were earned.
Flowers worth their weight in gold
Gone were the massive piles of loot that I remembered from the Scarlet invasions. Instead, killing Mordrem earned the player a set number of tokens per event. The number of “Mordrem Blooms” earned depended upon how many successful battles a player participated in. This, coupled with the fact that no loot dropped from the Mordrem themselves – not even fodder for the “sell junk” option – and the overarching participation mechanic found in the game melded into what was, in my opinion, a very frustrating reward mechanic. I found some comfort in the daily map bonus, which awarded twenty blooms per account, per day, per map. In my experience, I do not know if everyone with at least one participation point earned the bonus or if a person had to reach five participation points before they qualified for this bonus.
Because players had to reach a certain level of participation stacks before earning their reward, a frantic desperation permeated the invasions. Despite my enjoyment of the initial skirmishes I participated in, my focus quickly narrowed to counting the number of battles won and number of battles fought in. I also spent a great deal of my attention on how far the next waypoint was or how fast my character could run the distance between battles. Because the battles were timed and thirty minutes was all we had, the event suddenly became very math intensive and the numbers were not adding up well for me.
The maximum number of battles that would earn a reward was twenty. At thirty minutes per invasion, a player would have to participate in a successful battle every ninety seconds to maximize their reward. While this was quite possible, I was not capable of such a feat. Instead, I relegated myself to the middle tier of participating in a successful battle once every three minutes, aiming to reach the ten stack tier and earn ten blooms per invasion. Counting how many blooms that would earn me if I participated for three days, I noted that very few items available from the reward token vendor were worth the time. There were a few, however, that caught my eye: the Scarlet’s Champions Mini 3-Pack, the Mini Twisted Watchwork Moa, and the Toy Miniature Egg. Determined to earn at least one of these mid-level rewards, I began the arduous task of collecting blooms.Let slip the (plant) dogs of war!
When the invasions began, there was some thrill of the chase reminiscent of the Scarlet invasions. There is something enjoyable about racing across a map toward an enemy, rushing into battle with your fellow players, defeating the enemy and then speeding toward the next fight. The battles themselves were one of three types: catapult-centric, poison fields and bombs, or shield blooms, with the shield blooms generally being the fastest type for me to complete. As my aim is less than perfect, I often avoided using the catapults or throwing bombs in the other two types of battles. Instead, I focused on killing Mordrem as they spawned and applying stacks of might during the shield bloom battles.
For the first two nights, I felt there was a high degree of cooperation and solidarity amongst the players. Sadly, by the third day, with time running out and mathematics working against me, I noticed a subtle change in my play style. I was becoming frustrated by catapult events, which felt like they took the longest. In fact, as the day wore on, I began avoiding them completely. I also sought areas where two events spawned close to each other so I could run back and forth between them killing Mordrem in each event. When both events ended, I earned two participation stacks without waypointing or running very far. In the waning hours of the invasion, however, at times I found myself in events that had been abandoned with no hope of them being successfully finished, since players decided the event was taking too long. Of course, it was necessary for me to also abandon these battles, regardless of how many Mordrem I had killed and the level of contribution I had made. This should not be read as a condemnation of those players who left the battle, time and mathematics were working against them too. In a way, we were all fighting the same uphill battle.
As my normal modus operandi when playing is to run in circles and kill things, the invasions themselves were not overly taxing and I enjoyed the mindless slaughter. Players who prefer more tactical gameplay may have found them overly simplistic. It is safe to say that my frustrations all stemmed from the mechanics used to dish out reward blooms. It would have been nice to earn one bloom for every Mordrem killed, with bonus flowers rewarded for completing events and maps. It would have been interesting if the invasions changed with the day and night cycle, as they do in Verdant Brink, or if the invasion was affected more by the environment. For example, huge vines could have snaked through dredge and skritt tunnels, since it’s obvious that Mordremoth is invading from underground.
As the invasions came to a close, I am happy to report that I succeeded in gathering enough blooms for the Scarlet trio and the Watchwork Moa. However, even though I consider the weekend’s battles successful because I collected enough blooms for the prizes I wanted, I think the community’s reaction to it shows that it was not well-received. I remain hopeful that the real war with Mordremoth will be as fun as the night cycle events in Verdant Brink and as complex as those found in the first Living World season.