Guardians have seen a lot of play in WvW for quite a while now, especially among commanders. While builds have changed over the past few years, the fact that they remain vital to group play both as anchors, healers, and all-around team support hasn’t changed. They’re still some of the best all-around team players. I’ve written a number of builds for guardians for people that have already played them. This is directed more towards players that are new to guardian, or just new to group playstyle.
Before you read: These builds are put together with large scale fights in mind, both open field and close quarters. I have included a build for roamers, but this is primarily focused on teamplay. These builds are not flexible, nor is there room for substitution unless otherwise stated. Most builds in this guide rely on the rest of the builds being present and may not be the best in solo/small-scale situations.
Guardian: Strengths and Weaknesses
At some point, guardians were easy to get high dps on and were easily among the top dps classes in the game. Coupled with their survivability, it made it a fairly popular class accross the board. If you’ve never played guardian or just have some catching up to do, here’s an outline of what they do best and where they fall short.
This is a guardian’s strongest point. I don’t exaggerate when I say guardians have the potential to run through groups of 10 (sometimes closer to 15 or 20) and still make it out alive. There’s been plenty of times in WvW where I’ve fallen behind and have to make it across a bridge to get to my group, and there’s a mass of enemies blocking my way. A good majority of the time,
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I can plow through and stay up long enough to make it back to where I need to go. The following stats and utilities are key when it comes to being able to support and survive.
Even without a lot of focus on healing power, guardians have so many heals at their disposal that there should never be a time where you can’t recover a few thousand health. However, guardians only have a select few abilities that allow for decent burst healing. The key is to be proactive about your healing (without overhealing) instead of reactive. By the time you’re down to an eighth of your health in a large group fight, it’s a bit late to efficiently recover. I say efficiently because you can easily recover from low health, but usually not without spending unnecessary time backing out to recover. Being proactive allows you to say in the fight while actively doing damage and supporting your team.
That moment when you clash with another group, you’ll occasionally notice someone in your party gain a massive line of boons…and conditions. Their health will almost instantaneously drop to half or lower, only to be regained as quickly as they lost it. Guardians that run shout builds will frequently have a rotation of buffs, buffs, and more buffs. There will never be a time when you don’t see at least 3 or 4 on their bar. Of course, they don’t have just the ability to buff themselves. Shouts usually always affect party members in some way, and usually give them a good number of boons.
Condition Removal or Duration Reduction
On top of all the buffs, guards have excellent condition removal. Signet of Resolve removes a condition every 10 seconds. Purity removes a condition every 10 seconds. A full set of Superior Rune of the Trooper (previously soldier, who are still catching up on updates) remove a condition from you and each party member every time you shout. If you’re not using Trooper runes, Superior Rune of Melandru sets coupled with Bowl of Lemongrass Poultry Soup will make conditions fall off fast.
Where guardians fall short:
Guardians naturally have pretty low vitality, leaving your health at an easy 13-15k if you don’t focus on finding ways to increase your health pool. This is ok in small-scale PvP where you rely on toughness and healing to pull through, but when you’re dealing with massive amounts of conditions from the enemy zerg, anything less than 16-18k health isn’t going to fly.
Now when I say mobility is a guardian’s weakest point, I mean it in the sense that they’re really not meant to go anywhere. You can dodge and block all you like, but when you try to run away, you’re not going anywhere unless you have people to back you up. Period. No questions asked. If anyone tries to argue “but oh, I can get away from insert class here without a problem”, I will refer you back to the beginning of this guide where I talk about group play. The point is, you’re meant to be the last one standing. If you’re dying, more than likely, the rest of your group is already dead. If you’re running away trying to stay alive, you’re wasting time when you could be respawning and regrouping.
Which brings us to escape abilities. You don’t need them. Unless you’re split between two different groups and you need a way to back to group A after group B wipes, you shouldn’t be trying to run away. In which case, throw on that greatsword/hammer combo and get ready to run if your group wipes. Odds are you’re going to get chased, especially if you’re tagged up.
Commander Builds: Selfish vs. Selfless
As previously mentioned, guardians are one of the best (if not the best) team player. You heal everyone, give people boons and take their conditions, drop control effects and stability—naturally, people are going to want to stick to you. However, there are a lot of cases where you need to be a little “selfish” with your build. What’s going to keep you alive the longest? What will help in a situation where you need to be the last one down? Think about self heals, traits, boons, and gear that will directly affect you, even if it might not help the rest of your party. In other cases, you may not have the numbers to think this way. Your group might need all the support they can get to be successful. When it comes down to it, smaller groups rely on strict teamplay to come out on top, and can’t have the mindset of “I don’t need this, I can just have someone else spec this way”. The difference in mentality simply comes down to the resources you have available.
The first build we’ll cover relies a lot on other builds being present in your group. This is one of the builds that I would describe as “selfish” and relies on numbers. (But let’s face it, it’s next to impossible to build a guardian that doesn’t somehow support allies in one form or another.) It focuses on maximizing your survivability and healing (without actually getting gear with healing stats). Your primary stat will be vitality to give you room to deal with heavy condition damage, and your secondary stats will be toughness and power. While it’s not absolutely required that you get sentinel armor, it’s highly recommended.
First, let’s talk a bit about your traits and what you want to aim for. Here’s our build.
For what we’re trying to do, every bit of condition removal you can get within these traits is a must. So for Valor, you’ll want to pick up Purity (V) which removes a condition every 10 seconds. It doesn’t sound like much now, but with all of the other condition removal/duration reduction in this build, it all adds up. Part of this also relies on you having food buffs. Don’t ever underestimate how much additional effects of temporary buffs (food, sigils, oils/stones/crystals) can help out.
Valor’s major Master trait is your “flexible” option. Especially when your focus isn’t on healing power gear-wise, the extra bit of healing you get from Mace of Justice (VII) helps. Depending on the gear that is available to you and what skills you use the most, you can swap between this and Honorable Shield (IX), which gives you some extra toughness and reduces shield cooldown. Personally, the only time I’ve ever used this is I know when we’re going to be stuck in a tight spot with lots of players (garri captures and such), and I really don’t see it being all that useful otherwise. Weapon skills in general are very situational. We’ll cover weapon swapping and variation later on.
Honor is our most important trait line here. You’ll be gaining a decent amount of vitality and healing power in addition to some traits that will greatly increase your healing (not just healing power, but the number of heals available). Writ of Exaltation (III) are going to make larger symbols. In general this is a good trait to have for any hammer/mace and shield/staff builds since all symbols now heal due to your next trait: Writ of the Merciful (X). The is also where you pick up Selfless Daring (minor trait) which heals you and your allies at the end of your dodge. Per dodge, you can easily crank out about 600-700 healing per person. Your final trait, Force of Will (XIII), should give you an extra 300 vitality at level 80.
With Virtues, we’ll be able to pick up some more boons (including party boons). Up until this point, there’s been no mention of stability. I’ve heard two sides to the stability argument, which we’ll talk about shortly. For now, we’ll be using Indomitable Courage, which grants stability whenever you pop Virtue of Courage. You should also be frequently using consecrations, so also pick up Master of Consecrations (VI), which reduces consecration cooldowns and makes them last longer. The first minor trait, Inspired Virtue, also makes your virtues give the following boons:
So to sum up your traits:
Valor (4): V, VII
Honor (6): III, X, XIII
Virtues (4): VI, X
This is where a good majority of the debates starts when it comes to builds: what skills you should use and which ones you shouldn’t. I’m not going to go into PvP with nothing but shouts just like I’m not going to go into WvW with a bunch of spirit weapons. I’ve seen so many conversations about how useless some skills/traits are and have yet to find a single trait that is completely and utterly useless in all situations. I believe situational might be the correct term, but not necessarily useless. Which brings us to the next discussion: boons.
Many times stability has been described as a “cripple” that uses a trait or skill slot that you could be using for something better. This may be somewhat more true in smaller groups (as you can generally see/predict attacks and dodge to avoid getting knocked down or pulled), but in large groups it’s impossible to predict when you’re going to get knocked down. It’s better to pop a few second of stability when running through a group AND dodge, than it is for you to risk getting interrupted and caught in the initial attack. The first action between two large groups is almost always to drop a ton of static fields and AoE attacks. If you’d like to risk getting knocked down and going down in a matter of seconds in the middle of all of that, then no, you don’t need stability. (Of course, I’ve also seen the other side to this argument where players have potentially unnecessary amounts of stability.)
However, this particular build is about survivability and planning ahead for errors, so I recommend stability for when you run into another group head on.
Primary skills used in this build:
The first two skills should almost always be on your bar. The third can be swapped out based on situational needs.
Hallowed Ground has two major uses. The main one is as emergency stability that gives you 20% boon duration and a fire field. So yes, when you’re calling for a fire field before you rush in and your favorite elementalists are asleep at the wheel, just throw it down yourself. And you have a hammer to blast it with. Done. Note: Gotta be careful with this one, as you don’t want to waste it for might stacks when you’re running into a group that has double your numbers.
Wall of Reflection
This one’s pretty straight forward. When you’re running up to a gate and you see all those pretty red circles on the ground, it’s usually best to cover the people on your rams. While it won’t do anything against siege, it’ll definitely annoy the hell out of people firing at you, and generally discourage them from continuing to do so. Many times I’ve seen people die on the inside of a tower due to guardian bubbles and mesmer feedback. (Read below for more information on reflection.)
The only thing better than a 12-second reflective bubble is a 7.5 second bubble that blocks enemies and projectiles and heals you. While it won’t kill anyone trying to deal out burst damage, it’s definitely a life saver when you’re up against a gate and taking heavy damage from arrow carts. The last thing you need on top of that is player damage, which this solves for a short while. (In other situations, wall of reflection is generally more useful.)
“Stand Your Ground!”
For those of you that would rather not use your traits for stability (or feel that two ways to get stability isn’t enough), you can add this to your bar instead of sanctuary. (Just keep in mind this isn’t going to help you too much when you’re on a gate.) It also gives you 6 seconds of retaliation (not reflection).
This shout is one of the better (arguably) stun breakers if you’re stuck in the middle of a static field. Just keep in mind that you’ll be drawing tons of conditions on you, which can end very badly if you’re already using health. If you just want a stunbreaker on your bar, Stand Your Ground or Contemplation of Purity may be a better alternative.
Contemplation of Purity
I don’t generally recommend running this alongside consecrations. This particular skill sees a lot of use in shout and meditation builds, but it doesn’t shine quite as much here. Aside from being a stunbreaker, it doesn’t see a lot of use when you already have a lot of condition removal and condition duration reduction. However, I will cover a few builds later on where this sees a lot of use.
I’m only going to briefly touch on gear, because most of this is somewhat self-explanatory if you’ve been in WvW at any point in time. Your focus should be vitality for one reason: lack of a large health pool make it difficult to deal with conditions and raw damage at the same time. Guardians need a balanced combination of toughness and vitality to reduce damage. If you’re running a shout build that almost purely focuses on keeping conditions off yourself and allies it’s less of a hazard, but in WvW, conditions are a constant in large group fights. Meaning if you’re used to be able to run in PvE/PvP with 14k health and little condition removal, you’re going to have to change the way you think about stats.
All Sentinel gear is recommended, but Soldiers works as well if you have some extra Honor Badges or dungeon tokens to burn. Accessories should be Soldiers, and weapons should be Nomad, Soldier or Sentinel. If you want the best all-around gear that’s a bit more flexible, it’s best to use a combination of Sentinel or Soldier armor with Cleric weapons and accessories. This will reduce your vitality, but will still allow you to easily manage conditions.
Hammer is incredibly underrated when it comes to guardians. Typically, guardians tend to run staff/greatsword, staff/mace/shield, or greatsword/mace/shield. Hammers don’t see a lot of use for the following reasons:
1. They are slow. So slow.
2. Auto attacks. That third swing makes it seem like you’re sitting there forever.
3. Symbols. Hammer guards are notorious for messing up water fields with their auto attack.
4. Clunky. Your gap closer is incredibly short and is almost disappointing after using great sword.
5. Did I mention slow??
However, hammers are awesome in zerg fights. I can’t express enough how much easier it makes it when you have several hammer guards running with you. Forget about the symbols, the slowness, and overall clunkiness. That third auto-attack does more damage than people think, plus the damage and extra healing (traits) from the symbol. Your 2 skill provides a small gap closer and a blast finisher. 3 immobilizes a line of enemies for a few seconds, giving you a bit of time to rush in and knock people out of your way with Banish (4), run through to the middle of the zerg and drop your Ring of Warding (5) to break up the group. As slow as it is, it flows together nicely and you can do most of it on the move.
Your second weapon set should be mace/shield. Along with Virtue of Resolve, heals from symbols, heal on dodge, the attacks from mace provide yet more healing. Your third strike on auto attacks (Faithful Strike) provides a decent amount of healing, Symbol of Faith (2) heals and gives regen, and Protector’s Strike can do some good damage to attackers that are target you and your party (if they’re standing by you). Shield of Judgement gives you some slight damage (and protection for 6 seconds) while Shield of Absorption absorbs projectiles and provides a knockback.
Staff is useful, but most of what you can do with staff, you can do with your other weapons, or other people can do for you. Speed boost? You have elementalist’s static fields, warhorns and your own speed boost on shout, Retreat. Might? Refer back to ele and half the other classes that can help stack might. Line of Warding? Now you have Ring of Warding on hammer that you can trap people in so you can beat them up (or do what you’re supposed to and drop it and keep running). All that, staff does occasionally come in handy if you’re wanting to stick to mid-range combat as opposed to melee.
Sigils, Runes and Consumables
Sigil of Energy on each of your primary weapons makes it easy to dodge consistently. Even if you don’t need to dodge, you’ll probably need to heal allies. Don’t forget how much healing that puts out. For secondary sigils use Water on Staff and Hammer (you’ll be swapping these out) and Sigil of Life on your shield.
Runes are completely up to you. For the purposes of this guide, I recommend Superior Runes of Melandru to help with condition duration reduction. However, since I run a lot from area to area (and a play with small groups that lack group speed boosts), I’m generally running Runes of the Traveler/Speed on a separate set. Runes of the Trooper are awesome, but you’re not going to be using shouts in this build. Avoid them like the plague, as you’ll only be running one shout at most. (One of the comments made while writing this was that Melandru runes are terrible for team play compared to Trooper, but we’re not focusing on team play. We’re focusing on how YOU can best survive.)
For consumables, it’s best to go with Bowl of Lemongrass Poultry Soup, which reduces condition duration by 40% and gives +70 vitality and Potent Superior Sharpening Stone, which gives you power based on 6% of your toughness and 4% of your vitality.
Now let’s look at the opposite end of all this. Say you’re running in a small group of about 5 to 10 players. You still have to be able to survive the bigger groups in the area, but you also have to do enough damage to successfully take out guards, gates, and smaller squads you run into at supply camps and such. The goal is to pick quick, evenly-matched fights that don’t turn into long, drawn out fights of who can run back the fastest. If a tower has a defense of equal your numbers, you’re already at a disadvantage since you’re attacking. If they have over double your numbers, it’s really not worth wasting time over. The following build is meant for small team fights that require balanced amounts of dps and survivability.
Click here to view the build.
A note in advance: This build relies a bit on stacks from sigils and consumable buffs for extra healing. You’ll see a significant decrease in your health, increase in healing power and toughness more or less the same (slightly more than the last build, but not enough to be noticeable).
Waiting for Citizens of Earth to drop in price before purchasing it? Well, good news! Release day also marks the first day you’ll have to purchase the game at a discount, on all platforms, according to an Atlus press release. If you’re worried about the quality of the game due to the day one discount, check back with us later for my preview of the Steam version of game and possibly a full review of the 3DS version of the game. For everyone else, click past the break for more details on the discounts.
North American Details
Steam Launches Tuesday, Jan. 20. 20% discount ($11.99) and soundtrack download at launch for one week (till 1/27).
PS4 and PS Vita (North America) — Launches Tuesday, Jan. 20. 20% discount ($11.99) for PS Plus subscribers at launch for two weeks (till 2/3).
Wii U and 3DS (North America) — Launches Tuesday, Jan. 20. 20% discount ($11.99) at launch for one week (till 1/27).
PS4 and PS Vita (Europe) — Launches Wednesday, Jan. 21. Similar discounts are planned for Europe, but there’s no exact details yet.
Wii U and 3DS (Europe) — Launches Thursday, Jan. 22 20% discount (€9,59) at launch for one week (through 1/29). If who own either version of the game, you can buy the game for the other platform at 40% discount; buy one, get the other for €7,19 for one week only (through 1/29)
Australian gamers! According to the game’s Facebook page, the game will release for you at the same time, but no word yet on discounts. We’ll update this page if Atlus gets back to our questions!
Australian Update: Straight from Atlus, you should be getting discounts similar to the European ones, but hard numbers are not yet available.
So we skipped a preview of the latest Pokemon games, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (ORAS). We unfortunately didn’t get review codes until release, and due to some staffing issues, I’ve been responsible for reviews while things continue to cook in the background. That being said, I was able to pull in some help from past guest writer T. Striker. It’s been a busy holiday season, so progress was a bit slow. In that sense, I think we can give a long term, quality look at the games, without the pressure of making predictions for what will happen down the line. Here’s our thoughts on the game.
Nintendo provided us with two review copies of the game post launch, so Striker and I were able to play together a bit onlline. While I enjoyed the X/Y, it was also obvious the series simply hasn’t been able to mature with me as well I’d hoped. Striker, though, was quite excited about playing the new games:
I had similar feelings, though I had skipped the birds and went straight for the big, bad legendaries… and never trained them. The stones were inconvenient to get with my work schedule, but overall, I’d had a good dose of nostalgia, but was hesitant to try the new games. Just the same, I had prepared a bit for my review.
In X/Y, I finally had a perfectly bred Froakie, plus the event Gengar, so I stat trained them. I forgot how much I hate that part of the game. I also tried the demo, which wasn’t bad the first two or three times, but it was so short and repetitive that doing it 10 tens to get the most rewards out of it really felt like a chore. Maybe it was more interesting for people who played the original Ruby/Sapphire, but I’d skipped most of the third generation, so I probably missed some cool nods. Seeing the same town in the released version was a little neat, but not enough to make me appreciate the demo.
I have to say though, being able to prepare for Pokemon games is really nice, and with the ability to trade (what seems like) every generation now, I almost wonder if the series will keep pushing the “catch’em all!” goal. I’ll try to keep overall series comments to a minimum, but while preparing for the game, I had to question just how long Nintendo can push the formula. Perhaps this is why Nintendo’s had so many Pokemon side games, and why I’m looking forward to Pokken.
That being said, one thing that Striker and I both noticed as soon as the game started was the lack of clothing options from X/Y. Laugh if you will about two grown men playing virtual dress-up, but after several generations of essentially being a clone of your friends during battles, it was nice to see some variety. The fact that some features were cut and some added, in addition to a lot of resources being reused (not just art assets, but entire mini-games like the stat training), made it feel like the game could have been offered as DLC for X/Y as well. I would have preferred to just use my old character than the new one. Maybe this would have disrupted the story a little, but I’m sure Nintendo could have come up with something to fix that.
It’s not all bad though. You can now encounter specific pokemon in the wild. That is, you can see a tail or ears in tall grass, caves, water, etc, and sneak up on that pokemon to catch it. Unlike previous games, I was slowly catching more of the same pokemon, which is more interesting than past games. Don’t get me wrong, breeding added depth to the game, but a lot of tediousness as well in my opinion, especially if you consider just how much modern games are simplifying their mechanics (yes, breeding has been simplified, but is still quite a learning process). The game is about catching them all, not breeding, and this new mechanic brings the catching back full force.
I almost wonder if Nintendo finally needs to drop the random encounters and focus on having pokemon just out in the world. As they add more and more pokemon to the physical game world, the game is starting to actually feel like an organic world, and now the random encounters are standing out to me. I mean, when you’ve got poke-gulls on the beach that run from you as you leave tracks in the sand, and some pokemon’s tail suddenly pops out of a bush, getting a random encounter suddenly feels… weird. It breaks the immersion of the game for me now, and honestly, immersion is a word I would have never used for past Pokemon games. They’ve generally felt artificial with a few exceptions.
There’s a bit of a problem though: Striker and I have caught a lot of pokemon before. We even stopped trading some version exclusives because we already had them in X/Y. While the new system is more interesting than past installments, doing it again is quite a daunting task. There is so much to do in any Pokemon “end game.” I use quotes here because, luckily, the game lets you see a lot of long term activities well in advanced: contests, berry farming, base guilding, breeding… you have all of that in addition to the normal catch and battle. As I mentioned before, it took me quite some time to make a single (relatively) perfect pokemon. Doing it for a whole team seems pretty hardcore for me, though I have to admit this year has been busy and I’ve had a lot of reviewing and guide creation to do. Just the same, catching pokemon again when I’ve done it before just felt tedious, especially since you then have to level them up all over.
Some of the new features are interesting, but… well, maybe not useful enough for most people to care about. For example, I live in Japan, so I get a lot of Street Pass updates. I love the idea of secret bases, but most people don’t really do anything with their bases. I know at the start of the game, before getting fly, I’d make secret bases and lay down a bed just so I could have a pokemon center wherever I wanted. Once I beat the Delta episode (the final story arc for legendary capturing after you beat the elite four), I decorated a bit and looked for other bases. Most people, though, did little to nothing with their bases. The online communities really do more with them, such as making a place for people to more easily grind levels. If you live in the states like Striker does… well, you can sometimes be starved for Street Passes in general, much less quality ones.
While I handled bases, Striker hit up the contests and decided to use the cosplay pikachu. He was able to get to the master level easily since he could just use TMs to teach pikachu the right variety of moves to win. Each run was about 4-6 minutes, but it was mostly just watching the game and not much interaction. I felt the same way, which was one reason I’d only done a few contests.
While there’s a lot to do in the game, at the end, I was kind of… done. No, I didn’t breed or catch any new perfect pokemon. My secret base team could be a higher level, I could catch more legendary pokemon (this game gives you access to so many!), farm berries, beat contests, level pokemon but… why? I’ve done this so many times before, even stream lining it doesn’t make it that much less daunting. While it’s cool to have daily and weekly activities, after having done them in previous games, I just feel overwhelmed, a word Striker used often whenever we discovered a new, full feature or sometimes town. Yes, you can keep importing pokemon from past generations slowly but surly, but that takes a lot of time. Preparing to play the game isn’t as much fun as just playing it. While having random battles with people on the trains using a level 50 level scaling system makes things a bit more fair and accessible, it’s a bit too familiar to me.
I’ve complained a lot, but both Striker and I did enjoy our Pokemon ORAS experience. In fact, if I hadn’t played X/Y, I think I would have enjoyed it more. While the last generation had a great nostalgia factor, the newest games’ additions really made the series feel more alive for me. If you’ve never plated a Pokemon game, this really is the best one to start with. There’s a lot, but I think it’ll feel fresh and exciting. For anyone else, you really do have to like the current game’s formula to enjoy doing it again and being happy with your purchase. For everyone else, the game’s good if you’re on a budget or find yourself with a lot of time but maybe little internet access.
I have to admit that I’m someone who doesn’t always pick up games or consoles the first day. If it’s something I’ve really been looking forward to, and I have the spare money, I do. Other times, however, I look for the late reviews. News that’s come out after the game’s released because, let’s face it, a lot of game sites give positive reviews just to ensure they keep getting review copies (hint: we don’t do that but do receive review copies). Smash Bros for Wii U is over a month old now, but there is still a lot to do with it. The question for some people is whether or not it’s fun enough to bother with.
Let’s start with my opinions from my initial preview.
I’m still not totally enjoying a lot of the controller options. I’ve gotten much more comfortable with the Wii U game pad, especially since I’ve come to enjoy playing games on the small screen lately. Don’t get me wrong, everything looks better on a big screen, gorgeous even, but I take a lot of notes on my computer, so playing on the game pad saves me some walking time. However, for the full feeling of the game, the GameCube controller is best. I picked up an adapter from Japan once one of Nintendo’s PR folks told me it should work cross region, and I’ve been very happy with it (though I do wish I could use that controller for Mario Kart 8). I just wish they’d let the 3DS work as it’s own controller in every game mode, not just Smash.
I still love Smash Tour, even though I’ve only been able to play it alone. I really wish I could play it online, kind of (more on online play later). It can be frustrating at times, especially if I haven’t played the game or a certain character in awhile and get killed quickly in a stock match, but it happens. The other modes, such as events, Master/Crazy orders, even the basic classic mode are still holding my attention. I enjoy them now, even after I’ve played them a bunch, almost as much as when I first started playing.
However, I don’t just want to look at my own thoughts. After the game’s been out for awhile, I wanted to look at a few of my predictions about competitive players. Those who may be on the fence who loved Melee or Brawl for it’s purity may not be happy with the latest entry. I decided to poll some competitive players (though the topic was moved, as of this writing, there have been no new votes) and ask for feedback. As I predicted, 8 player Smash and Smash Tour aren’t the most popular modes, but were better received than I thought. However, one thing I hadn’t thought about was people disliking classic mode due to the larger number of players being present in some fights. While I understand people in general (not just hardcores) disliking gimmick fights, and therefor not always able to appreciate certain mods, I hadn’t thought about how much a competitive player might play the classic mode. Obviously not everyone is the same, casual or hardcore, but there seems to be a bit of a trend with them disliking the more accessible or gimmicky modes.
Now, about the big problems I was concerned about. We only have the Smash mode online. As of this writing, we can’t share custom levels. I didn’t say much about them last time, but I have to admit that I feel like Brawl’s level editor was better. Costume shapes are neat, but there are less tools, and those of us who aren’t very artistic have trouble making “pretty” levels. Perhaps this is why they can’t be shared yet. However, there are so many other modes that local play get that online doesn’t that I often find myself forgetting to pursue challenges to unlock things. I usually take customizations from my 3DS versions, so my wall of unlocks is actually pretty bare by comparison. As a solo player, I often play classic or Smash Tour with the occasional Crazy Orders alone, then (try) to play Smash online.
I say “try” because, much like with the 3DS version of the game, Smash Bros for Wii U has connection issues. Have a 2 minute game stretch to nearly 10 due to lag is not fun for anyone. While the game is fairly smooth sometimes, other times, it’s a complete nightmare. Yes, it’s free, but if Nintendo needs some money, why not offer a premium service for those who want it? I really like a lot of the local play options, but I don’t live near a lot of my gamer friends and families. I’ve heard people complain several times that they can’t do 8 player Smash because, simply put, there aren’t enough local Smashers for them to play with. Having this online would be much more fun. Sakurai really does put a lot into these games, but I feel like in this day and age, online play options are a requirement, and local play, if anything, should have less options. Perhaps this is another reason why the Wii U has sold less consoles. After all, if Nintendo’s multiplayer games are mostly supporting local play, and if I’m just a casual player, isn’t it better to just mooch off my friend than to buy it and play one exclusive mode (For Glory)?
All of this may sound negative, but this is just me being critical. From the features I tested before, I’m still very much satisfied with the game. I have a hard time playing on home consoles these days, so the fact that there is some connectivity between the Wii U and 3DS games makes things easier on me (though I still wish I could just import all my 3DS data). Unless you’re a very technical player who only wishes to become skilled for tournament play, I can highly recommend that you pick up Smash Bros for Wii U. Even hardcores can find “fun” stuff they enjoy about the new game. However, I have to add some thoughts on the Amiibos.
As you may recall, I wasn’t able to test an Amiibo for my preview. I had to wait like many of you for the actual release, and I had a few more bumps to deal with as well. Originally I heard they were pretty much like level 9 CPUs, but others have indicated they’re quite smart. I’m not so much a collector, as reading about how to play games is usually why I have an advantage over many gamers, but I’m also not hardcore about Smash these days except as a general enthusiast, especially when it comes to Sakurai’s work with so many IPs and ideas being entrusted to him.
After Smash‘s release, I went out and bought some Amiibo like anyone else might. I’d seen the prototypes at E3, but obviously my cross-eyed Link, or “Ravio” as I’ve named the Amiibo, is pretty different. However, I’m really not buying these as toys/figures. I’m looking at them as DLC, and since Link works with 3/3 of the current games that support Amiibos (special content in Hyrule Warriors, a costume in Mario Kart 8, and of course Smash Bros for Wii U), I figured he’d be the best first pick.
After registering it as mine, choosing a name, and a skin (of course Ravio is purple!), I fed him some junk gear I had laying around and then gave him a custom move. Then it was play time. My first choice was Smash Tour but Amiibos aren’t allowed in that, which really felt like a waste. I thought Amiibos were supposed to be the next best thing to playing with humans, and I’ve lacked anyone to play that option with due to it being one of several features that doesn’t work online. In fact, Amiibos don’t work in 2 player event mode, All-Star, Classic… essentially, they’re only useable in Smash mode. Period. It really limits their use for more casual players trying to take advantage of most of Smash’s content outside the one mode we’ve been playing since the game began. Still, I figured I should give it a whirl.
The first match was pathetic, but Ravio grew to level 6 just from a regular 2-minute match, 1 on 1, Link versus… well, Ravio. It just wasn’t smart, or good. The second match wasn’t much better, it at all. On a custom stage, at the start of the match, it jumped into some lava on the ceiling without me even moving, and did this twice. At the end of the match, Ravio was level 8 and still embarrassing. In the third match, I tried a moving stage. While at Ravio didn’t suicide, he still acted a bit erratic. Perhaps this was because I’d whiffed with some attacks a few times, but he would use upward smashes when standing alone, far from me. Later on though, I noticed him starting to throw items, a trick I use, but also doing footstool jumps, something I hadn’t used against him. After the end of the match, he was level 10. Just 40 more to go.
At level 16, after trying longer matches and stock, I decided to try coin battle, and to also turn my handicap to “auto” to at least see if that would change anything about Ravio’s play style. He was still aiming to send me flying upwards, as I know I’m prone to do, but he’d also hookshotted to a ledge, something I had never shown him. At this point, it was obvious that the computer just makes the amiibo smarter on it’s own as it levels, but it certainly had learned at least something from me.
At 22, I decided to go back and feed him more gear and get some rewards. I suppose feeding them is partially supposed to help make them tougher? I’m not sure it helped, but I appreciated the rewards: coins and custom parts! They were a nice bonus, since I dislike how normal Smash barely gives any custom parts. Still, Ravio didn’t get any wins until he was level 28 and I was starting matches at 80% damage due to the handicap. Around 35, Ravio finally started to feel challenging, but partially because Amiibos have higher stats than players.
At 41, I pitted Ravio against 7 other level 9 CPUs in a 15 minute 8 player Smash. He placed third. He acted kind of erratically, jumping in place at times and just… really not doing anything. I tried this a few more times even at 50. Eventually he started winning more, but I fed him until all his stats were +26. One on one, he was tough to fight, but again, not all of his tactics were good. Probably learned some from me or the bots. He hasn’t learned everything I’ve tried to teach though. He’s not dodging, and he doesn’t often roll. I’ve heard people talk about making sure you teach them to hit during grabs at low damage percentages, but even though I don’t do this, he’s doing it. Simply put, I have a feeling they’re built to be smarter in general, but can learn a little. The stat bonuses probably are the big thing that makes them so tough.
So, final thoughts? Overall, while the game is solid and fun enough as a single player game, you’ll want to play this one with friends still. Amiibo might be good for training, but they can’t even attempt to replace real people. I would strongly hesitate to invest in Amiibo for Smash Bros unless you really love a character or want a more difficult CPU to train defensively against. Competitive players can still enjoy the game, but casuals, especially those who like a variety of fun and challenging modes should pick up the game. There’s plenty to due and great variety. If this really is Sakurai’s last Smash game, he can still walk away a winner.
We tried the portable, but now it’s time for the console: Smash Bros Wii U. I’m not writing this as a review quite yet, but as a preview piece since I’ve only had about ten hours with the game, all solo since the servers won’t go live until launch day. While I was provided a preview copy, I do not have an Amiibo to test with. For this reason, I’m simply doing a preview until I can see all the game has to offer, and obviously that will take some time. The game is surprisingly large, and although we’ve had time to prepare for the console game, not everything is perfect.
First is the controls. I don’t have the Gamecube adapter, so I have to use a Wii remote, Wii remote classic controller, or the usual Wii U gamepad. I’ve tried all for extended periods of time, and oddly enough, the unwieldy Wii U gamepad is my favorite so far, but it is a very distant third to the 3DS, which is an even further distant second to the Gamecube controller. Really Nintendo, the GC controller is one of those “if it wasn’t broke,” situations. I’m fine with your new zany controllers, but if you’re going to give me a D-pad and joystick, just let me use the GC controller. The other two options, the Wii Remote and Classic controller, are useable, but for a long time smasher, they feel awkward, especially after I’ve just gotten used to the 3DS.
Now, the 3DS connection we’ve been staring at for months only allows for Smash playing, not the other game modes, like All-Star or Smash Tour. You can connect your Japanese 3DS to a Wii U version of the game though, and I’m told Amiibo do work cross region. You can upload your custom characters, even Mii-Fighters with costumes you haven’t unlocked, but you can’t edit them once moved. While it’s nice that the past months (remember, I began with the Japanese version) weren’t a total waste, I do really wish I could just unlock all the moves I have on both the Japanese and US versions of Smash. I’m a sucker though, so I’ll be earning my custom parts a third time it seems.
For new modes, Smash Tour feels like Mario Party but without individual turns. Unpredictable, fun, occasional mini-games, and a strong “finale” which is the main fight. I can see lots of opportunities for people to gang up on a strong player or help out their friends. However, since I’m playing alone, I think I prefer Smash Run. I know it’s a multiplayer game, but Smash Run felt like a fast and effective way to play Smash Bros a little differently. While I like Smash Tour, 15 minutes playing a game that feels like a party game rather than a fighter can be a bit depressing.
The new Master Orders and Crazy Orders offer the chance to gamble and win some prizes, but these are more for the collector type. I must admit, I haven’t even checked my collection in the 3DS version, so doing so in the Wii U version only occurred for preview purposes and it’s… well, good enough for me, but interesting enough for me to write about in more detail. I don’t consider myself a hardcore smasher, but I prefer to unlock things that are used in the battles.
Speaking of which, the new classic mode is quite fun, and perhaps faster than the 3DS version (or so it feels). You’re given a “rival” that you pretty much want to take on as the last challenger on a board filled with figurines of other fighters. Where the figures stand indicates who you’re fighting, and you’ll notice some have prize icons above them, such as event tickets for Crazy Orders or trophies. These are on top of winning loot from the slot reel you use before the match. It’s a different method from the 3DS version, and not just because of the Master Fortress. The fact that you can, and often must, participate in hoard battles with more than 3 other opponents (often 5-6, but a full 8 isn’t rare) is probably why this mode feels faster, but also in some ways, more challenging, which I can appreciate to an extent.
This is where I have to bring in the game’s 4+ fighting modes. Originally I thought I’d be left out in the cold when it came to this part of the game, but there’s plenty of it in the Wii U version, and I get the feeling that may not be welcomed by everyone, especially fans of certain characters. Those who felt Mega Man was a bit underwhelming in 3DS will feel more strongly about it in the Wii U version I think. It does, however, make certain customizations feel more useful. For example, Ness’ lasting PK Thunder was a nice bonus for those who didn’t want people jumping into their Thunder to screw their triple jump, but in a match with more than 5 people, it feels necessary. I have a feeling we’ll see some backlash from certain hardcore Smashers due to this, but maybe I’m wrong.
We do have Event mode now though, and that may appeal to them. It’s kind of like Adventure Mode in Hyrule Warriors; you have a specific character and task to execute that’s not like something you experience in the regular multiplayer game. While there are different difficulties, the reward page will specify what difficulty you need to achieve to get said reward, as well as other limitations, like character or time. I think serious Smashers may enjoy this since it can test your technical mastery of characters, though they could also hate it because of the gimmicks.
My biggest concern, however, is about how much of this can go online. Maybe it’s due to my age again, but I just don’t have local people to play with. It’s hard enough I have few friends with a Wii U, but when they do, we’re constantly frustrated by the limited online capabilities of the system. “Together but not quite” in games like Hyrule Warriors leaves much to be desired, so having a lot of gameplay options limited to local only is a big tease I think, including for Japanese players (I don’t think I’ve found a student at any of my schools who have a Wii U, and I live in Japan).
This brings up my second concern: Nintendo made a huge game that I feel will only see use in one or two areas for most players: Smash mode and classic mode. People may want to do unlocks, but if I were a competitive Smash Player, I’d simply keep playing the 3DS version if I felt like unlocking parts/moves and use the Wii U for access to the GC controller. As I’ve mentioned before, Smash Run just hasn’t seemed popular here in Japan, so having so many non-Smash modes makes me wonder whether or not these new features will be valued by some players. I may love many of them, but I often find myself in the minority of the Smash community these days.
As for the lack of Amiibo figures? So far, I don’t feel the pinch. Thomas Schulenberg from Joystiq has experience with that, and more time with the game than I had, but is quite a different player from myself. He doesn’t notice much of a difference between his level 50 Amiibo and a level 9 CPU, but since there’s so little news about that at the moment, it’s hard to accept at this point. I do have to admit I am very leery of the Amiibo thing, as Nintendo often introduces a gimmick that largely works with one title and gets shoe-horned into others with few results. Smash is supposed to be the big big for it though, so I’ll reserve my judgement for now.
Of course, all of this may change in a few days/weeks as I play more, but for now, these are my initial thoughts on the game. The console Smash brings a lot to the table. I do get some feeling of a connection between the two games, especially in terms of basic fighter mechanics. There’s a good single player challenge so far with lots of unlocks, and I can certainly see this as a great party game. I just worry about whether or not there’s a big enough crowd that’s willing to show up for all it’s events after the rather lonely time I’ve had with the 3DS version’s Smash Run.
Eijii Aonuma just revealed who our newest Hyrule Warrior is
Hyrule Warrior is: Twili Midna, from the ending of Twilight Princess! He also revealed that the DLC is being released on November 27, and apparently we’re getting an impressive new costume for Link, in addition to a new map, weapons, and other costumes. I guess I’ll need to get out a preview of Smash Bros for Wii U pretty fast, so stay tuned this week for that!
We’re finally getting some news on Nintendo’s upcoming Amiibo functions for games beyond Smash Bros. While some of it is very minor additions (like costumes for certain racers in Mario Kart 8), some add meatier content (like a new weapon, the Spinner, for Link Amiibos and a different weapon Zelda Amiibos in Hyrule Warriors). A few other games are noted as getting content, but no specifics were given yet.
Nintendo also revealed they’re remaking Majora’s Mask for the 3DS for you Zelda fans, and those of us who are interested in the upcoming Nintendo multiplayer, squid and ink shooter Splatoon got a bit of an update, learning that our mortal enemy the octopus will be in the game as well, though we have to wait till the second quarter if 2015 for a release. Full details and the actual video after the break.
Update: We’ve gotten news that Amiibo will also come later in smaller, er forms, including potentially as cards. Full details here.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Descends on Nintendo 3DS in 2015
Nintendo Also Reveals Additional Details About amiibo, Splatoon, Xenoblade Chronicles X and Many Other Upcoming Wii U and Nintendo 3DS Games
REDMOND, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– During a Nintendo Direct presentation this afternoon, Nintendo dropped a moon-sized announcement: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, a remake of the beloved Nintendo 64 game, is coming exclusively to Nintendo 3DS in spring 2015. The Nintendo Direct video also revealed new details about amiibo functionality and upcoming games like Splatoon, Xenoblade Chronicles X,Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
During a Nintendo Direct presentation this afternoon, Nintendo dropped a moon-sized announcement: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, a remake of the beloved Nintendo 64 game, is coming exclusively to Nintendo 3DS in spring 2015. (Photo: Business Wire)
To view the Nintendo Direct video in its entirety, visit http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct.
“Now is the best time to be a Wii U and Nintendo 3DS owner,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “There’s something for everyone with a variety of quality, exclusive games already available and launching soon. From new IP in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker to unforgettable greats like The Legend of Zelda on the horizon, we have both classic and new franchises covered.”
Some of the details revealed in the video include:
Wii U & Nintendo 3DS
For more information about Nintendo, visit http://www.nintendo.com. You can also now pre-order or purchase a number of games directly from a PC or smart device by visiting http://nintendo.com/buydigital.
Consider this part two to my experiment in introducing people to MOBAs. As fun as Heroes of the Storm was, the community outside of the forums was awful. Much like my thoughts when playing Starcraft or other Blizzard titles aside from Hearthstone, I felt that the game’s community really prevented me from enjoying the game.
That’s when I remembered Solstice Arena. Though it’s primarily made to be a mobile MOBA, the team’s made it playable on PC as well, and A Bit Lucky’s metrics seem to indicate that no platform gives players an edge. I’m not the best MOBA player, but from what I’ve experienced, being on a PC doesn’t feel like it gives me a huge edge, and neither does playing on my Windows tablet.
What makes SA different from MOBAs are a few things. First, there’s one lane. Second, there’s a treasure chest in the middle that, yes, gives your team money. Your character only has 3 moves, but they’re all available from the start of the match. The map is small, so there’s no recall, no jungle, and no minions. There’s still three towers, but in a triangle formation in front of the base, not in a line. It’s a three versus three match, with battles lasting five to twenty minutes, though on average, probably closer to eight to twelve minutes. It is a Zynga game, so everything’s monetized, but at least for me, I never felt like I had to pay to keep up with other players.
I don’t often play MOBAs too long after I do a review, but SA is one of the few that I revisit in my spare time. One reason for this is the complete lack of chat. Maybe it’s because this is a mobile title, but even on PC there’s no chatting. Instead, the game has a smart pinging system. Pinging your tower means to defend, pinging a damaged ally calls for a heal, pinging behind you signals to retreat… you get the idea. You can communicate just enough to work as a team but without worrying about anti-social gamers who don’t understand that bashing their team mates doesn’t help them play any better.
However, the game was also built for Apple products. I’ve hated Macs since I was a kid, and disliked how often new iProducts came out, so I don’t have any. In fact, after trying out Solstice Arena on an iPad, I had to live without it until it was released on Steam, constantly heckling the devs to port the game to a platform I and the other Apple haters could appreciate. Just the same, I thought for this article, I should use a gamer who buys Steve Jobs’ babies. Enter Eric.
Eric’s more of a mobile gamer these days, especially trivia based ones like Words with Friends. When he has time, he’s into RPGs. Nintendo games, especially Mario and Zelda, are among his favorites, which means his online game time is generally restricted to a small device. However, Eric specifically said he doesn’t communicate much in the games he plays because they’re not really team based or need coordination. He’ll give compliments, especially if playing with friends, family or co-workers, but generally, he plays for short bursts of time for a few weeks/months before moving in to something new. That being said, after his tutorial experience, he was anxious to try playing with/against people. At the rate MOBAs come out, he certainly could become a MOBA man if they followed the correct recipe.
To note, Eric was a complete MOBA newbie. Oh, he’s played Unreal Tournament and Quake 3, so it’s not like we threw a Tetris master into Titanfall, but just the same, the mechanics and team play are different.
Solstice Arena’s tutorial was enough to give to teach him that towers hurt and to kill the main base or “oracle.” However, it didn’t mention the “alert team” button. Once he discovered it though, even with bots, its uses felt natural, which is interesting since Eric doesn’t usually communicate with other players in the game, preferring to simply experience the game with other people physically around him.
While AI isn’t the best, beating it did boost Eric’s confidence, and he still learned from being forced to play bot games at the start (before reaching level certain level, you’re restricted first to all bot matches, then PvE matches before finally being able to PvP). For example, Eric initially would allow himself to die so he had time to shop, but eventually simply used the “auto-buy” button so he could go to the base, heal up, and get back to the action. This is all good stuff to learn before jumping into the game with other players since in any other MOBA, Eric would most likely be told to uninstall the game, rather than receive advice on optimizing his time/strategy.
However, going into the game’s PvP changed everything. Choosing to skip human vs AI matches, Eric went straight from bot PvE to PvP, something many veterans may caution against but many solo players do. Match making systems take awhile to perfect, but Eric simply mentioned that he felt outclassed:
While he did mention going back later to try a spellcaster (Kyra), this ultimately lead to Eric retiring from the game. Part of the problem was having to level another character; he’d become attached to Hammhock, the above “barbarian.” And that’s understandable. It’s part of the stickiness of games. You want players to be attached to their characters. Often times, you also want players to become attached to more characters so they don’t get bored, but it doesn’t always happen.
I also want to address Eric’s chose to skip from PvE to PvP. While it seems like a mistake, it was something a few people brought up to James Striker in the first article, except that they told him to go back to it.
On the one hand, companies could make these modes required. However, on the other, some players see this as a tutorial and want to experience the real game, and I have to agree. While losing does suck, the very basic problem is that many moves have to be used in totally different ways between AI and players. I’ve played League of Legends with people who mostly loved the PvE aspect and were quite good at it, but truly awful in the PvP maps because they didn’t understand how to use their attacks against a real player (let alone understand tactics that real players employ). In this sense, I feel like skipping PvE is the lesser of two evils, since a new player will expect to lose more than a veteran, but the veteran in one game mode will expect to do well in another. This latter train of thought may work in games where character power is king, like many MMOs, but MOBAs are more skill oriented, which was probably another issue Eric ran into.
With all that being said, I do wonder if SA really is the best game to use as an introduction to MOBAs. While Eric certainly learned that living is better than dying, he didn’t learn about jungling, laning, or last hitting. However, those were kind of removed from Heroes of the Storm, so perhaps we’re seeing a shift in the genre, or at least, know which parts to cut when trying to bring in a broader audience.
The other part is that Eric played SA on his own. Alone. Due to his busy schedule and me… well, living in Japan, coordinating a time to play together was difficult. As well, as Eric noted, players tend to pick up games randomly and meet people in that game. I know that’s been my current situation, in that I’m picking up games I’m interested in these days rather than what friends are playing because I don’t have time to experiment with games I “might” like (except if it’s for work). In my free time, I just play what I like. My writing is a side job. I assume most adults who play games without getting paid for it are the same situation though, choosing what they want to play before opting for something a friend’s recommended that’s outside their comfort zone.
In that sense, Heroes of the Storm may have the advantage, in that Blizzard makes high quality games people usually buy/play anyway. However, mechanically, if you can get your friend to try Solstice Arena, the game does seem to motivate people to play on their own to learn at least the bare basics, which is something many MOBA vets want from new comers anyway. The overall issue is that both groups seem to forget is that the core of the game is also the best training mode: PvP. Losing is part of learning, and while losses for me in SA are just right, apparently my sentiments were shared this time. There’s always another MOBA to explore though!
Since many of you seemed to enjoy the original Adventure mode guide, I figured I’d start working on one for the Master Quest. Once again, I’ll mostly be aiming for the unique rewards, like weapons and costumes. Character basics for the original cast should be learned from the previous guide, and the map is similar to the previous one, including reference materials (like the original map). As well, this guide assumes you completed the previous adventure mode, have unlocked the Master Sword and it’s true power, and raised your three new characters to at least level 35 (use those rupees or add +Rupees to your weapons). Oh, and obviously “spoilers” ahead.
Again, this guide assumes you used the previous one. If you have trouble with a boss, playing a character correctly, or something else (like farming locations to get badges), check my previous Adventure mode guide. Also, note that there are a few new rules to these missions. Most are simple gimmicks that won’t ’cause too many issues, but there is one mode to really look out for: “Don’t get hit!”
Two important notes about “Don’t get hit” missions. First, they really do mean don’t get hit. All attacks against you are devastating. If you get hit, say goodbye to your A ranking. However, the other thing to note is that your kill count doesn’t need to reach 1200 like the other missions. You just need to worry about clear time (which still seems to be under 15 minutes). When you’re finished with this guide, feel free to move onto the Twilight Adventure Mode Map over on GamerHeadlines.
A10- Wizzro’s Rank 3 Ring. Search the overworld and you’ll see a bunch of rocks arranged like an arrow pointing left. Use a power bracelet on the arrow point (the rock on the left side), then complete the mission with an A ranking. It’s a rack up your kill count quest, so getting that A isn’t that hard.
I’ve heard some people have trouble with this one. At level 58, it wasn’t difficult with my Cia and a bad 280 weapon. However, here are some tips. First, use a harp on the blue butterflies on the overworld to unlock the map. At the start of the mission, I killed the closest captain, but you may want to run to Ganondorf and balance between taking the nearby bases and rescuing him as needed. Try to secure the three bases near him since he really is quite weak. Lana will probably die, but it’s not a huge loss, though it does mean you’ll need to keep a close eye on your base once that happens. As usual, once the Manhandla stalks spawn, take them out.
A11- Weapon Skin (8-bit Candle for the Magic Rod) for Link. Hookshot here from B11. Search the overworld and use a water bomb on the rock in the water, then beat the mission with an A ranking.
It’s hard for me to advice since this is a Link stage, and at this point in the game, I think it’d be surprising if your Link isn’t level 99. Personally, I used the magic rod, since it’s good for clearing out large groups but also has better ranged attacks with animations that are easier to defend against. Clearing the keeps is rather easy this way, so you have plenty of time to run around if you need it. Keep in mind that Midna can’t die, so if she calls for help, see how far she is from you and how fast she’s taking damage before deciding if she needs help.
A15- Costume for Volga(Brown). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then beat the mission as usual.
A16- Cia’s Rank 2 Scepter. If it’s not obvious, you have to hookshot here from B16 (look for the bulls-eye). Requires search and A ranking. Once at A16, search the overworld and use digging mutts on the obvious “X,” then beat the mission with an A ranking.
At 50, this felt pretty simple. The biggest advice I can offer is to abuse Cia’s B+Y attack for clearing rooms. Her B+B+B+Y isn’t bad either, but mostly for officers from what I’ve noticed. Ignore the silver cucco that appears and take bases where there might be a turncoat leader.
B2- Cia’s Rank 3 Scepter. Search the overworld and use a harp on the blue butterflies. Use a power bracelet on the rock marked below, then beat the mission with an A ranking.
B10- Weapon Skin (8-bit white sword) for Zelda. Search the overworld and use a bomb on the cursor in the screenshot below.
This can be a bit tricky but easy enough to rectify. First, try to leave most of your power-ups that appear towards the bottom of the map. Next, two bases have darkness barriers, but there’s only one fairy. However, one is a base you’re required to capture and the other is the boss room. If you’re using the baton, this is easy enough to fix, but the rapier is a bit trickier. You can use the B+B+B+Y combo to fire arrows inside, but that can be a bit of a hit or a miss. Instead, when working on the central keep, leave once in awhile (with a full special meter) to shoot an arrow through the West Field Keep (aim for a cluster of minions or the keep master). This will allow you to take the base without taking damage. For the boss key, it’s in Castle Keep. Usually, I don’t fight Ganondorf until I’m around 1200 kills, then burn him down with my special. The Imprisoned is the last fight, but it’s the one that is most difficult. Remember those power-ups you were saving? They’re for him. Stay far from him and aim at the side of his legs to take out all the toes at once. Keep your distance to ensure you don’t lose a ton of health. Also, don’t even attempt this mission if you don’t have rank 3 stamina fruit and a 420 rapier, I highly suggest getting those first.
B12- Volga’s Rank 2 Dragon Spear. First, search the overworld and use a harp on the blue butterflies. Then, use a power bracelet on the rock highlighted below. You’ll need to beat the mission with an A ranking to unlock the rank 2 dragon spear.
The fastest way to B12 may be through B13, which requires an A ranking in a “Don’t get hit!” mission. I suggest using Volga. Go straight ahead first, using your B+B+B+Y and B+B+B+B+Y at a bit of a distance, especially the latter since, while you do become invulnerable during the dragon phase, you can get hit during the power-up part. Check regular jugs for stop watches to freeze enemies, which makes setting up the dragon-form combo much easier.Immediately kill the captain nearly in front of you first. Then, from either side, kill the two captains. Try not to jump deep into the fray. Work your way there, kill them, and then go straight for Ruto. The magic thief may pay you a visit while you’re fighting her, so watch out for that.
B12 actually isn’t that tough, it’s simply a speed run. The boss key is in the Fairy Fountain. Save the darkness fairy for the actual boss lair. As you might expect from the mission title, Midna is not the end boss but will summon an Argorok. I advice using a full bar of magic against him to help speed things up, though as you know, speed runs just need to be completed on time with 1200 kills and an A rank in damage received (about 8-10 hearts from what I keep hearing), which is pretty easy to do with Volga, especially after the practice you got in B13.
B14- Costume for Darunia (Ghost of Darmani color scheme). **Note: Do not follow the original Zelda map for this!** Search the overworld and use a power bracelet to the stone in the picture below, then beat the mission as usual.
C2- Weapon Skin (8-bit silver arrow) for Fi. Search the overworld and use an ice arrow on the ring of fire,then beat the mission with an A ranking. If you’re over level 50, this is easy. The only tip I can offer is to handle the Manhandla stalks as soon as they spawn so you don’t get overwhelmed.
C5- Costume for Fi (White and Black). Search the overworld and use a power bracelet on the top right statue, then beat the mission with any ranking.
C9- Costume for Sheik (Black). Requires search. To get to here from C10, use a recorder here:
C14- Costume for Ruto (Lulu’s color scheme). Search the overworld, then use a bomb on the “H” pictured below, then beat the mission with any rank.
D1- Weapon Skin (8-bit arrow) for Ghirahim. Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” use recorder on the staircase highlighted in the picture below, then complete the mission with an A ranking.
The mission is a bit tricky. First, there’s a bit of a trick to this one. While you’re supposed to fight two commanders and two armies, one thing you can do to kind of cheat is to defeat Impa at the very start, get the boss key, kill Wizzro, and summon Dodonga, who is the final objective of the map (just make sure you get in those 1200 kills!). The boss key is in the Western Room (that’s literally the name of the keep). You will need to go back to your base as soon as Wizzro is dead to defend your base from Volga, but after that, it’s rather smooth sailing.
However, one thing that’s tricky here is avoiding all the damage. I advice you to have a 420 weapon, but if you don’t, it’s still doable if you’re over level 50 (just tricky). Make heavy use of your B+B+B+Y attack at range, but avoid it if the boss is too close, and try to dodge cancel out of summoning the little minions
D5- Wizzro’s Rank 2 Ring. Search the overworld and use a power bracelet on the statue where the staircase is in the picture below, then beat the mission with an A ranking.
The boss key is in the Eastern Room (literally, the name of the keep you need to take). That’s pretty much all the information I think you’ll need other than “don’t get hit a lot,” since getting kills is a walk in the park with Wizzro, and by now, he and your other toons should be at least level 45, which makes the mission far too easy.
D6- Costume for Ghirahim (Black). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then complete the mission with any ranking.
D8- Costume for Zelda (Hilda’s color scheme). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then complete the mission with any ranking.
D11- Costume for Zant (Red). Search the overworld, use a recorder on the area shown on the map below, use an ice arrow on the ring of fire to reveal the staircase, then complete the mission with any ranking.
D12- Costume for Midna (Red). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then beat the mission with any rank.
D13- Weapon Skin (8-bit ladder) for Sheik. Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then use a recorder on the blue box below. Once again, this is not the same secret from the original map! After that, beat the mission with an A ranking.
The mission’s pretty easy, especially if your Sheik is level 50. The only tips you might need are the boss key is hidden in the fire barrier room and that you shouldn’t forget the fight is against Dodongo, not the enemy commander, so leave yourself some extra time.
E7- Costume for Impa (Red). Search the overworld and use a candle where the staircase is in the picture below, then complete the mission with any ranking.
F5- Costume for Wizzro (Blue). Search the overworld and use a waterbomb on the rock in the water, then beat the mission with any ranking.
F12- Costume for Agitha (Black). Search the overworld and use a candle on the tree marked below, then complete the mission.
F15- Costume for Lana (Cia’s color scheme). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then complete the mission.
G3- Costume for Cia (Link’s Color Scheme). Search the overworld and use an ice arrow on the ring of fire, then complete the mission with any ranking. Quick note: this is actually like 3 costumes. 1 color, but you get regular, maskless, and hatless.
G6- Weapon Skin (8-bit boomerang for the Giant’s Sword) for Impa. Search the overworld and use a harp on the blue butterflies, then use a water bomb on the rock in the river. You have to beat he mission with an A ranking, but oddly enough, while the reward is for Impa, the mission is limited to Zelda. While the game recommends light, I prefer to use the baton. Two of the characters you face are light based, so the fight takes a bit longer against them (don’t ignore them because they will capture bases and overwhelm you faster). The baton solves this and is more effecient at clearing lots of mobs.
As soon as the mission starts, begin taking the base closest to you. Once the Manhandla stalks spawn, take them out. If any are at the very far north keep, you may want to restart the mission. That area is a large distraction that you do not need to touch at all in the mission. Kill the stalks, then start capturing bases, leaving one near Sheik or Cia as the final base to capture. Remember to kill Fi and Link so your base and Cia won’t get overwhelmed during the next stage. I was level 70, so the central base may be better, but once I captured all the bases, I ran back to save Cia during my fight with Sheik. Simply make sure she has full health, then go back to finishing the final boss. I recommend saving a full bar of magic to help speed the fight up.
G9- Costume for Link (Purple Hero’s Clothes). Search the overworld and use a candle on the “D” pictured below, then complete the mission.
G13- Volga’s Rank 3 Dragon Spear. Search the overworld and use the harp on the blue butterflies. Then use a candle on the tree marked below before beating the mission with an A ranking.
This is another simple one where you just need to find the traitors in the bases. The boss key is in the Temple Square, so you may want to grab it and capture a base closer to Ruto as your final one. Focus on the main objective, but personally, after defeating Ruto, I took the route that had the rally captain in it. Defeating it (quickly) gives Darunia and your other followers space to protect the base while you focus on burning down yet another dragon (aren’t these Volga’s kin!?).
H2- Costume for Ganondorf (Bronze Armor). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then complete the mission.
H12- Weapon Skin (8-bit magic book for the book) for Lana. Use a water bomb on the rock in the river, then beat the mission with an A ranking. Save your darkness fairy for Ganondorf! Run into the bossless dark barrier room and clear it with B+Y+Y+Y, then blow your special gauge to take out the keep master and keep the damage you take to a minimum.
Welcome back to round 2 of guides on naval warfare in ArcheAge. So you’ve read through the initial guide and want more, eh? Think you’re ready for the sea? Then step aboard – right foot first, please – stay near the grab rails, and hold fast while we look at the tools and weapons on ships.
Later guides in this series will look at each of the ships in detail, but as we discuss the equipment in this guide it’s important you’re able to distinguish one from the other, if only so you can apply what you’ve learned (and don’t find yourself wondering where the cannons are when you board a fishing boat). The picture below (click to bring up a larger version) displays four ships representing the various ones you’ll encounter on the seas. From left to right is a galleon, merchant ship, clipper and fishing boat.
There are two types of galleons, and they look very different from one another, but their size alone should help identify a galleon from the others. They are the tanks of the fleet, where you’ll find more cannons than all the others combined. There is just the one type of merchant ship, a long and slender vessel with two sails. Clippers are smaller and sleek with a single sail and sport a solo cannon or harpoon, the only difference between the two types. Fishing boats are easily distinguishable with the color difference and a paddle wheel in lieu of a sail.
The first bit of equipment we’ll look at is probably the most powerful. Both galleons and the merchant ship are equipped with radar to help identify the locations of other ships… all the better to avoid or run them down, whatever your preference. A player interacts with the device and activates it, starting the radar pinging a large area, providing information on surrounding ships.
Once the radar is activated, the player’s minimap will include icons of all ships in the area, but much more information is available on the main map, as pictured above. Ships that are orange-ish are enemy faction ships while the tan-ish ships are same faction (not the most distinguishing contrast). When mousing over any of these icons, the map will display further information. The top left will be the name of the ship with the type in the top right (more on that below). “Owner” is the player that owns the vessel and the numbers in the red bar are its hit points. Sadly the guild indicator does not currently work.
Being able to identify a ship properly by the radar is an important skill. Recognizing a ship as an enemy is helpful, but being able to distinguish it as a galleon or a clipper before deciding how to respond is no less beneficial to your captain or raid leader. Here are some tips for the next time you’re on radar:
Same faction doesn’t mean friendly, but opposing faction is even more likely to be an enemy. Note that a ship’s name will be colored according to its faction if the tan and orange icon colors don’t distinguish it clearly enough for you. The above two ships are friendly/neutral (white lettering) and enemy faction (red lettering).
Ships are also distinguished by type to the right of the ship’s name. In the example above, you’re looking at the abbreviated info on my galleon Elise. While “Boat” may not seem much of a distinction, it is actually a category that someone on radar should take note of. Here is the breakdown so you can accurately relay what ships are on radar, and avoid falling into the cliché, but sometimes effective trap of an eight cannon beast galleon carrying 40 people named “Rowboat”.
Another awkward detail… I’m not sure why “Boat” covers such a broad range of ships. Most likely your responses to seeing a merchant ship or galleon will be very different, so it’s important to identify one from the other. Fortunately you can with a quick extra step: checking the ship’s hit points. Merchant ships have 42,216 while galleons have 52,216. Keep that in mind if you’re on radar so you can accurately report which “Boat” it is to your shipmates.
With all the information that a radar provides it is a powerful tool, but cannons can be the most devastating. One of the clipper types, the Adventure, has a single cannon starboard (right side while facing forward). The merchant ship has two, one facing off each side. Galleons are equipped with eight total, setting up a deadly broadside with four cannons able to attack from port (left side while facing forward) or starboard.
Aiming and Firing
To start the bombardment a single player interacts with a cannon, bringing up the Fire Cannon option. Clicking this will produce an arc and target for the player to aim with, changing from blue to red if the target is out of range. Left click then fires the cannon. There is no cooldown save the global, so firing shots rapidly is possible, often ideal. Aiming is smooth and responsive and does require deflection targeting, or leading the target. It takes a little getting used to, and those at the helm of ships targeting and being targeted can maneuver to aid cannons or render them ineffective, but it’s immensely satisfying to fire cannons at ships and players.
The player does need to provide their own cannonballs, or Steel Ammo, but they are easy and inexpensive to come by. As with all crafting, searching in the Folio will show you the details, but as a quick note: 100 Steel Ammo will require 10 Raw Stone, 2 Blue Salt Wedges, 2 Iron Ingots and 7 labor. Take a few minutes to mine for raw materials and there’s no reason you should ever leave port with less than a few hundred in your bags.
Cannon fire landing anywhere on a ship will damage it for 150-200. That may not sound like much, but with the capacity for rapid fire a single cannon can easily destroy a clipper (9,216 hitpoints) unaided in under 3.5 minutes, well below a ship’s despawn timer. Players can attack ships, too, but player abilities don’t hit as hard as cannons will.
Cannons also hit players, anyone within 4m of the impact point. Players will be hit twice by each blast, presumably calculated as one range hit and one melee. They can be blocked, evaded, etc. The damage is physical and is therefore reduced based on the player’s Physical Defense. There is also a small chance – less than 10% in my testing – the player will be tripped when hit by cannon fire, knocking them down for 2 seconds. Keep this in mind when aiming for a ship: spread the wealth among its passengers. And by “wealth”, I mean damage, death, destruction.
When a ship is summoned it will come with backpacks that can be equipped by anyone on board. Depending on what you’re up to on the sea they may or may not be overly helpful, but you should know what they’re capable of.
Underwater Breathing Device
Portable Harpoon Cannon
At least the item comes ready to use as soon as the ship is spawned, and a new one will appear one minute after it is picked up, just like the Breathing Device. At best, I’d say let your melee grab one for those fights at range, maybe healers for those rare moments between casts. It’s a wonky weapon, and you can’t even aim it. It just hits the first thing it finds between you and about 45m away (that is until your 15 minutes of fun are up), then it despawns.
Crates aren’t unique to ships, but they get a lot of use on the sea and deserve a reminder section at least. As I discussed in Introduction to Trade Runs: crates offer safe (relatively!) storage for a trade pack, removing the Overburdened debuff and enabling you to be more mobile for whatever fun comes your way. Because if you thought walking was slow with a trade pack on, try swimming.
So take a load off and drop your pack in a storage crate… short of the ship despawning or being destroyed, only members of the ship owner’s party or raid can remove them from the crates once placed there. They’re not a necessity – I’ve carried over 20 people with packs on across the sea on Seabug, my clipper – but storage crates make for a smoother, and better guarded trek.
… four to go in this series of guides on naval warfare in ArcheAge. Next we’ll look at player gear that will enhance your time on the sea, because what fun is swimming to another ship if you can’t do it in flippers? How do you repair these ships anyways? And why bother fighting over who gets the Underwater Breathing Devices when you can have your own permanent one? That and more soon, but in the meantime: happy sailing!