|State of the Game PvE #47: How to Play Dungeons
Autor: 4thVariety, letztes Update: 22.09.2012
Nine things are to consider, if you want to get into the dungeon mentality. I know, dungeons are beautiful areas to wander around. However, they are not for content tourists. You have to upgrade yourself to somebody who takes the game serious. It is OK to be dismissive, it is OK to hate the dungeons for doing that to the PvE you experienced up until this point. But just as there is unstructured and structured PvP, there also is unstructured and structured PvE. This is sPvE, where you need to have the following things on your radar.
Stop assuming you were awesome
Sure, you are level 80, you completed the game and every game since 1970, but that is just GW2 being nice to you. As long as you do have 1-2 players around you, PvE will pose no problem. GW2 also continues the tradition of Half-Life 2, that is celebrating the player for each mundane task as if he were the messiah. But that game is over, once you enter a dungeon. Stop thinking of dungeons as a game mode which continues to treat you like a baby Panda in a Chinese zoo. Your new status is that of a Moa in a troll cave... really hungry trolls... and their carnivorous pets. This is a new game, do a mental Youtube unboxing video and start GW2 from scratch. Unlearn every dumb behavior PvE has undoubtedly rooted in your brain.
Arbitrary choices are arbitrary
Again, in your fantasy, your double dagger glass cannon thief is the most powerful being in Tyria and last champion from the lost tribe of Imbalonian Awesomites. General PvE congratulates you for roleplaying it that way and will bow to your greatness every step of the way (Except when you get jealous of Trahearn). General PvE is a world where only right choices exist. Dungeons are not there to serve your power fantasy; there is a clear right and wrong for every class. Which is which depends on the situation and is subject to change. Strength is not the result of your arbitrary choice and running with it, but the result of observing and reacting. Observing is done by other players, guides, wikis, whatever. You can do it, but you do not have to do it. But it is imperative you react to this knowledge by adjusting your character build accordingly. There is not one perfect choice for every dungeon. There isn't even one perfect choice for any single dungeon. Experimentation is king. Teams in dungeons regularly switch utility skills, elite skills and even traits (without resetting though). As should you.
You need teamspeak
GW2 is too fast paced for typing. You do not even need your own Teamspeak server, there are fansites offering free servers. You will find other players there and in fansite forums. You can create a group with anybody in the world. You can enter the same dungeon although playing on different servers. You can exchange strategies, you can coordinate, you can even be silent while watching cut scenes. Coordination is a central part of GW2 dungeons, especially puzzles involving simultaneous button presses. If you already made specific runs 10 times, it can be expected that there is a blind understanding grinding the dungeon while watching the cast of The Deadliest Catch complain about their grind on the second monitor. But what do they know about your GW2 hardships, right? But for beginners, talking to each other is essential. It will reduce difficulty at least by half. There is no excuse for you being a keyboard-adverse deaf-mute. If you do that, you will die and not have fun, so get chatty now.
Get the right gear
I understand you love berserker gear and high damage numbers, but not every dungeon will love you back for this equip. That is not to say it was impossible, you just have less margin of error (e.g. when dodging). Problem is, as a dungeon newbie, you need all the margin of error you can get. Why not try Valkyrie for a change? It still does very high damage by boosting your power and crit hits, but you trade precision for vitality. This change will turn a lot of one-hit kills into hits you can survive, for example the rockets from the golem in Caudecus story mode which can seem so unfair. You stay alive longer, you have less repair costs and you kill the enemy faster because you do not have to run back from the respawn point. You do not need exotics, rare gear is perfectly fine for all dungeons. DPS is not just a function of how much damage you do in theory, but how long you stay alive to actually apply it.
Bring weapons, all of them – Move between roles
There is no such thing as “I only play melee”, or “I only play shortbow” in dungeons. Even the classes which do not have weapon switch in battle will need to switch their weapons from time to time. Especially when you are new to a dungeon, another weapon can be more helpful than desperately trying to make something work that just isn't perfectly right. Take Kholer from Ascalon Catacombs. You are new, it is hard to see him announce his “pull-attack” amidst the effects, you do not know when exactly to dodge. Why on earth did you engage him in close combat then? Take your distance, range damage him. Overcome your crippling addiction to that Mystic Greatsword. You do not need to be the hero tank, all the other classes can run away from Kholer's attacks just fine. Having the right weapon and one finger on an invincibility skill in case he does pull you, will make this fight easier for you and once you think you mastered it, then what the heck, attack him close range. There is not “a” tank in the game, nor is there “a” tank in any group. There is just the guy who currently has aggro and needs to do something about it. Should you find yourself in that position, then forget about damage for a short while and apply your defenses. Move seamlessly between the roles and make sure you can somehow provide them for the team. After 5-10 seconds the boss will force another person to display his tanking abilities and you can retreat to doing damage and kiting red circles. This mode of operation holds up for many enemies and challenges in dungeons. Respawn-Zergs often happen when players are not prepared to switch to defense all of a sudden or have not perfected it yet. Don't worry, you will get there eventually, Zerg runs and Naketeering are not the final strategy for any boss. The right weapon at the right time and an attitude to move between roles on demand makes all the difference in the world. Stubbornly sticking to that hammer you dubbed MySherona is not going to help.
Prepare to change your traits
The attribute points you gain from traits make up 10% of your total amount. Do not worry, you will be punished for forgetting to push the attack based trait to maximum. Instead, look at the major traits. Most of them look like they suck and for the most part you can ignore them in general PvE. I admit they are fun, but they are hardly the difference between defeating outlaw #716167 and failing an event. However, dungeons are a bit more situational, so the traits have more influence because they fit individual situation better. 20% more bleeding is useless in a world where the zerg kills everything in 0.02s. Against a single boss, it can make quite a lot of difference. This is why level80 characters fare better in dungeons, they simply have more traits. More traits means having more lines of defense and more offensive choices. So when you rush into the Catacombs first thing at level 30, you will be at a distinct disadvantage. This also means that overspecializing with your points is a bad idea for as long as you are learning the ropes. 20/20/20/10 gives you plenty of flexibility you should put to good use.
Stacking adds up
An exotic weapon is 13% better than a rare. Everybody is gung ho for exotics and once players bought them, they love to talk about “the difference” exotics make. At the same time everybody ignores food. Food can offer +10% damage & -10% incoming damage for no virtually no money; hurray for simulated exotic gear. You do not really need it, but as a dungeon newbie, you should not pass up that opportunity. Now imagine having food and exotics, and specialized sigils. All of a sudden bosses melt down like thrashmobs and thrashmobs, well they feel like thrashmobs again instead of bossfights from other games. You will not fail a dungeon if you lack the right food, but if you are new, then drop some food, it is dirt cheap, particularly the second to highest tier.
Blame ArenaNet for the right things and yourself for all the rest
Buggy boss? NPC just won't continue? Try & Error challenge room setups? Over the top anti-speed clear patches? You are in luck, not your fault. It can also be said that some respawn points are debatable, but on the other hand they add the risk of a boss reset. Which is far less than GW1's punishment for death, which was lying there until the entire group has wiped, which was a 100% guaranteed boss reset, if not a reset of the entire instance! So you are getting off cheap here, trust me. Also highly debatable is, how the game puts a resource at risk, which players do not like to wager: their money. Especially because dungeons have a blatant lack of documentation, no tutorial, no tutorialesque dialog, but only a “learning by mistake” attitude. Sure we laugh at “hit weak spot for massive damage”, but only because it seems so obvious. If the mechanic is less obvious, the added stress on you purse is not so nice. Digging your pockets for silver and microtransaction repair kits might cause a bit of an allergy reaction here. Do not hate the dungeons for that, hate the repair mechanic! You are right, by ArenaNet's own standards you should have fun playing the game, not grinding/preparing to have fun. If ArenaNet wants to prevent death-zerging a boss, they should add limited team respawns, not repair containers (Battlefield says “Hi”). Such limited team runs are a clear rule at the beginning of a dungeon, not a sudden cost growing out of control 2h in on your first run. If dungeons drain your funds too aggressively, they drain your fun. Although I am willing to bet that if you follow steps 1-7, your money will be just fine.
Speaking of money: Do not play for the rewards
Please, no. Do not try to be a virtual materialist. Be a material world materialist. Games do not have rewards, friends with benefits do. The enjoyment of dungeons should be in playing them, not in wanting the “reward” more than you hate playing the dungeon. That is just wrong. Stop quoting “the cake is a lie” and start living is. Everything you “own” in Gw2 is just a bunch of pixels pulled from a database stored in a cluster computer running a few virtualized machines. Ultimately, the rewards are all pointless. Try to get into the dungeon mindset and have fun playing the dungeons. I am not saying you won't hate it at first. After playing regular PvE for 50+ hours, the culture shock you get arriving at dungeons can be rough. There is a hump you need to get over before you can enjoy dungeons. Do that and you will find a more complex and fun game. Easy mode would water dungeons down to “more of the same” personal story type missions. Nobody wants that. In fact, most people who played all the dungeons want them to get more complex, even tougher, with crazier boss mechanics, shorter reaction windows, and more over the top situations resulting in group wipes. Even those players want the game to remain fair and repair costs affordable. Do not try to look at dungeons as the means to an end (loot, money, legendary). Embrace the different spirit they require and start playing them.
As always, I am sure there is no shortage of players who disregard every single rule of this guide and are very eager to tell me how successful they were. But I get the feeling they are a minority compared to the players who so far disregarded everything I just wrote and now believe the game is too hard. Which it is not. Does it need a few iterations to remove Bugs, smooth rough spots and make dungeons even better? Sure, GW2 could use that most definitely. But so do the players attempting dungeons, they need to get better as well. Players have to at least acknowledge the game having places in which progress is not handed out on a silver platter at the push of the walk-forward button. An area of the game you have to adapt to and which requires your effort to dig in.