With the rather ho-hum review so far, I did want to hit on something I think is working rather well. While each covenant has their own unique activity, I’ve only invested real time into the Kyrian one. The Trial of Ascension is a sort of brawlers guild variant, where you play as one of three characters against boss events. It’s entirely solo content.
I’m a bad news / good news person. So the bad stuff first.
- You need to farm materials (5 types) to unlock new enemies (10 of them), create items (5 of them) and then various single use items. They drop in all 4 zones, with a 20% rate on specific mobs. Alternatively, you can buy a box with 20 of each in them from 5 Medallions of Service (MoS)
- It costs 1 MoS per boss attempt. MoS are not a guaranteed drop or reward. You can craft 1 MoS for 8x of each farmable material, which is super painful.
- If you go into a boss blind, you will not succeed on the first attempt (reasonable!) Some bosses have 1 hit kills. But it costs you a MoS.
- It costs 45,000 anima to unlock all the bosses and difficulties. It costs a further 45,000 anima to unlock all the rewards (I hear some prince in Nigeria is interested in this model). Imagine you got a drop from a raid boss and it cost you 1000 anima to use it?
Long story short, it’s a grind to access this activity, a grind to participate, and another grind to claim your rewards.
Now for the good stuff!
- Each of the 10 bosses has unique mechanics that change depending on difficulty. The quests to unlock them can be interesting in their own right. There’s very limited RNG, nearly everything is pattern based.
- You have 3 characters to choose from, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
- You have the option to equip gear (permanent) or charms (1 time use) to add benefits to a run. Things like improved speed, a shield, healing, more damage and whatnot.
- The increased difficulty requires smart playing to get through. Face tanking isn’t an option. Depending on your normal class, this will require some interesting mechanical changes.
- All stats are normalized, meaning your regular character’s gear has no impact.
- Most fights take less than 5 minutes.
- The challenge is learning the appropriate tactics and then executing them as close to perfect as possible.
Blizzard has built a very interesting activity that’s a merger of the Withering and Mage Tower events from Legion. It’s an active battle simulator that treats all players the same, and has a cost of entry. That is a reasonable design goal (maybe less in an MMO, since it’s solo only) that as a distinct activity, it really quite fun.
Yet, Blizz being Blizz, they’ve put in a ridiculous grind to participate in the fun. The mats require a massive grind. The MoS require you to do Callings for the best drop chance. The anima costs are completely insane given the current drop rates from content. It also requires renown unlocks to access 2 of the 3 characters since you need to have bindings to them. These are simple fixes… increase the drop rates on the grind to 100%, drop multiple MoS per calling (5 per day), cut the anima investment costs by 50% and remove all anima costs for the rewards. It will still take a month to get through all the content. Focus on the actual content as the time investment, rather than granting access to the activity.
As it is now, this feels like some of the best content in SL is something everyone is going to avoid. I’d be curious as to how the activities feel in other Covenants.