Guild Wars 2 Daily Slay: Balloon Tower Tourist
Today, to get my dailies in Guild Wars 2, I completed the Living World achievement Balloon Tower Tourist. I've been working on it with my mother for three days and I finally have my pretty red balloon. Now that I've found all thirty hot air balloons I'm reflecting on whether the hours I spent escorting emissaries to their destination was really worth it for the achievement points and aesthetic reward.
My problem with the content wasn't the two bugged balloons I encountered or the fact that it was almost impossible to solo. My issue with the achievement was that it reminded me of the old days in Guild Wars Factions when you would be doing missions and Master Togo would suddenly run into a massive mob with a death wish and make you restart because his life was necessary. I don't mind the challenge of keeping a reckless AI alive, but I hate doing it thirty times. Both that old Factions content and the new Jubilee require you to repeatedly do escort quests with really stupid AI that aggros every pack of wolves, tribe of ettin, and group of wurms it comes across without even talking about the Aetherblades you are supposed to be fighting. Instead of being a fun dynamic event, the overly aggressive AI turns the escort quest into a miserable grind against multiple veterans which is not particularly difficult, but takes a steady application of stability to stay alive.
I find the failure of this content especially frustrating because other Living World updates have shown that ArenaNet knows how to do a treasure hunt without making it boring and repetitive. Both the Sea of Sorrows scavenger hunt during Sky Pirates of Tyria and the Learn to Kite achievement that came with Bazaar of the Four Winds were extremely fun things that forced the player to explore large swaths of the PvE world. The difference between those successful treasure hunts and this terrible one was that in previous update rewards have been hard to get to or difficult to acquire, but they have never been available only after the completion of an event. That slight difference made this such a grind. I kept turning to my mother and saying, "I'll be happy when this is over," as we were in yet another battle of attrition.
The developers at ArenaNet have promised since the release of Guild Wars 2 that they will avoid grind at all costs. They are usually successful because they give players choices of how to complete goals. This particular achievement, though, doesn't even pretend to have variety. Sometimes you get to kill a champion instead of doing an escort, but those times are rare. If you want that pretty red balloon you should count on running fifteen maps and doing twenty-five escorts. That is too many times to do the same thing.
Even with all these gripes about the Balloon Tower Tourist achievement I have to say I'd do it again. One of my favorite things about Guild Wars is that is doesn't take itself too seriously. There is an event where you turn into a chicken and another that involves flying cows. Having the flying balloon above the head of my ferocious Charr makes me laugh every time I see it. It was worth it for me to grind for that reward even though I hated it while it was happening. I want ArenaNet to keep adding kites, balloons, lollipops, and quaggans into their game because those are amazing. I just want them to let me have all of those things in a fun way that causes me slightly less rage.