Specialization information was released last week, and I still don’t have my thoughts together on it enough to write a post (in short: I’m cautiously pessimistic about it), but today a new blog post went up – an in-game way to secure beta access for Heart of Thorns.
The short of it is that, starting tomorrow for some unspecified period of time, items have a chance of dropping in Dry Top and Silverwastes that, when looted, give your account access to the next HoT beta. It’s certainly an interesting idea, in theory. The biggest thing about it is that it’ll be more likely to get a group of dedicated GW2 players than by simply picking from email addresses that are subscribed to the GW2 newsletter.
However, it’s still an imperfect solution.
The biggest problem is that it’s going to be entirely down to luck. There is no way you can work towards getting one of these beta-granting portals, than simply farming in those two zones and hoping you get lucky. This means that someone who has no idea about the beta portals will probably get one as a drop right away (I guarantee map chat in DT and SW will be full of people going “[(Beta Portal)] Uh what is this?!”), while others will spend long hours farming with nothing to show for it. Sure, email invites are largely RNG as well, but that is at least all behind the scenes, as opposed to actively working to try and get a drop and it never appearing.
And I can tell you right now, it’s incredibly frustrating.
Another problem is that the post specifies that “rare portals will drop from enemies”. First of all, there’s ArenaNet’s definition of “rare drop”. If something is classed as a rare drop by ANet, it means that if you see one, you probably should be off gambling in Vegas because you are an insanely lucky person. This game’s stinginess with rare drops is practically legendary. But, putting that concern aside, there’s another problem with the fact that they will drop from enemies.
The vast majority of enemies in Silverwastes are infinite spawns generated by events, and hence do not drop anything. Ever.
There are a few potential ways around that fact, though since the post specifies enemy drops there’s a few (event rewards, bandit chest drops) that really aren’t worth bothering with. Of ones that would be relevant to enemy drops, there is giving the portals an increased drop chance in Silverwastes over Dry Top; another is giving the infinite spawn enemies a temporary drop table that includes only these portals.
Of those two, I think the latter is more likely; if they do not do one of those however, then Silverwastes will be, well, a wasteland while this ‘event’ is going on. And as someone who really, really does not enjoy Dry Top, I’d much rather farm in Silverwastes for one of these.
Ideally I wish that this was going to be done as some sort of time-limited collection. Collections are being used to gain all sorts of neat things lately, so it fits right in with that. And instead of relying simply on “play a lot and hope you get lucky”, it’s something you can actually work towards if it is something you are interested in doing. Then you definitely will have a beta full of interested players, instead of winding up with people who don’t really care getting access and people who do never getting to see it. A PvP reward track would also be an interesting way of earning the beta-access portal. Having both a PvP track and a collection, available for a short period of time (until just before the next beta, not for a day or two) would be the best solution, as that lets people who are interested have multiple ways of getting in.
It’s worth noting that there’s no date for whenever the next beta will be, nor is is it specified how long these drops will be available. Maybe the definition of “rare” will be reworked to not mean “rarer than a snowball in hell”. We’ll see.
On another note, ANet has teased that Mesmer will be the first specialization we’ll learn about, so I’m looking forward to that, at least!