Mastering Masteries

It’s been nearly two weeks since Heart of Thorns came out; bugs are being fixed, things are settling, adjustments are being made. But there’s one thing that’s been bothering me, and it’s something that Ravious touched on earlier today. Masteries. Or rather, how they’re gained.

Put short, experience gain is something that needs rebalancing, in light of the new state of the game.

Before, experience meant nothing. It wasn’t important. You didn’t need to grind out a ton of xp to level up – sure, you could if you were impatient, but it wasn’t necessary. You could hit 80 in a reasonable amount of time by naturally playing the game. Now we suddenly have a new game mechanic where experience is absolutely the most important thing ever.

I haven't been doing much in core Tyria since launch, clearly.

I haven’t been doing much in core Tyria since launch, clearly.

It’s a pretty big shift for the game. And it does make some issues rather obvious – mainly that xp gain is incredibly imbalanced in this game, with certain sources giving more than others.

On one hand, for example, basically everything grants experience. Gathering, reviving someone, exploring, doing events, completing hearts, killing enemies. The new adventures give a good chunk that can be re-earned daily. But there are some curious discrepancies as well. Dungeons, for example, are a good source of experience – at level 80 you get about 77k xp at the end for completing the dungeon. On the other hand, fractals grant very, very little experience – you will not be able to make any appreciable progress on the Fractal Attunement mastery, for example, while playing fractals themselves.

Events used to be gold for getting xp – getting the gold reward on an event grants about 18k xp. The current version of Experience Boosters actually will boost xp from things other than kills, which is great! It makes events worth ~27k xp each, which is a decent chunk of experience there. Or at least, it seems to be, until you look at two things. The amount of xp needed for mastery tracks, and the amount you can get from a specific other source.

For example, I’m currently working on Pact Commander in Core and Exalted Lore in Maguuma. For Pact Commander I’m primarily after the third tier, to unlock the daily merchants. I’m about halfway through the second tier – I need about 2.91 million experience to complete the second and third tiers. The equivalent of about 108 events, with the 50% boost to event xp.

Here’s the thing, though. Kills – previously thought of as not very useful for leveling – are way more efficient than events for gaining xp right now. There are so many experience boosts that only apply to kills, and when you pile a bunch on and seek out mobs that have been alive for a while…well, it adds up fast.

Sweet, sweet experience.

Sweet, sweet experience.

I don’t even have every booster available on, but 5-6k or more from a single kill is not a stretch. An average of five kills can equal a single event.

Is it just me, or does that feel really imbalanced to anyone else? I mean, sure, when you’re doing events, it’ll speed up your xp gain significantly (with some exceptions but I’ll get to that), but I have to say it bothers me that tracking down long-lived enemies and killing them is more efficient than events. It feels…weird to me. Killing enemies being such an efficient source of experience is what has led to people farming Citadel of Flame’s endless spawns for vast amounts of experience in short periods of time.

But here’s the bigger problem – not all enemies actually grant experience. Spawns from certain events, or enemies within Living Season 2 and Heart of Thorns story steps, for example. It was certainly frustrating to be working on story steps and not be able to make any appreciable dent in that xp bar. The writs of mastery you get for completing a step the first time help, but I would have preferred to be getting xp as well while actually going through the missions.

What’s the solution for this problem? Well, I’m not really sure. There’s a few ideas, but all have their issues. Rebalancing the amount of experience gained from various sources can potentially make leveling more difficult for newer players…or trivialize it even further. I like that the new versions of experience boosters give extra experience from all sources, not just kills, but at the same time I feel like it skirts the line between “convenience item” and “gives an actual advantage” a bit too closely. Perhaps adjusting some of the other boosters obtainable in-game (such as Celebration and Birthday Boosters) to give a boost to xp from all sources instead of just kills would help alleviate that. Definitely increase the gain from fractals – add a flat reward (maybe based on reward level) gained upon completion. Perhaps boost the amount of experience gained from participating in events at level 80.

Leveling masteries feels more like a grind than anything else in the game. I do understand that it’s meant to be a long-term thing, but considering how many things in the game are gated behind getting these leveled up, experience is something I really feel needs to be looked at and tweaked.