With the reveal of the structured PvP system in Guild Wars 2 last month, we’ve entered a new phase of anticipation for the game’s release. While ArenaNet has remained tight lipped about dates for a public beta and launch window for Guild Wars 2, hardcore fans have already begun deep discussions on team strategy, builds, skill rotations and more.
As a longtime franchise fan, it’s interesting to witness history repeating itself in that regard. Prior to the series of beta weekend events proceeding the release of Guild Wars: Prophecies, a similar period of intense theorycrafting by hardcore fans occurred, coupled with a massive groundswell of competitive-minded gamers who began to stand up and take far more notice of the game.
We now have a much more solid grasp on key components of competitive gameplay in Guild Wars 2, at least when it comes to structured PvP. In my initial impressions piece I took a look at the Battle of Kyhlo map being showcased at gamescom and PAX Prime, but also wrote a much more detailed look at competitive play for the necromancer on NecroBator.com.
Even though that site is obviously geared towards the necro community for Guild Wars 2, I thoroughly encourage fans of competitive play to check my extended look at PvP out, as I dig a bit further into the details of map strategy, and some of the foundational skills that players will want to learn before diving headlong into structured PvP. While certain core components of the necro profession, such as Death Shroud or the elite skill Lich Form may not pertain to fans of the other 6 currently known professions, many of the tips provided still translate, such as the importance of weapon swaps, active dodging, and a foundational knowledge of your chosen profession’s unique combat mechanics.
In the midst of all the new information on structured PvP in Guild Wars 2, I was also eager to learn more about how that system compares to world PvP. Randy Price, Senior VP of Global Business at ArenaNet was awesome enough to answer many of my questions on how the two systems differ during our discussions at PAX. In the following interview, Randy sheds some light on player advancement in World v. World, match balancing in PvP, and much more.
Ten Ton Hammer: You’ve done a great job of introducing fans to structured PvP in Guild Wars 2 this month. For casual players, do you anticipate that they will have an easy transition between hot join matches, and the more competitive tournament play?
Randy Price: There are a few things here. One of those is that even in the hot-joinable PvP we’re going to be keeping track of how you’re doing and we’re going to be able to match you up with players to be able to make sure matches are level. So no matter what you’re doing in that competitive environment you’re not going to be stomping time after time after time, or getting stomped so you won’t be a discouraged newbie player.
When you get into the tournaments, you can go as high level and competitive as you want. That’s where it’s going to be the passionate people vying for the top rankings and you’ll end up having these tournaments over time, and you’ll be able to do them with your consistent team where guild mates get together and play in these tournaments together.
So you’re going to be able to go as intense as you want, but we really did want to make our competitive PvP be able to have a system where anybody is able to join in and casually get into it and not feel like everything is wholly dependent upon individual performance. If I fail or fall out of it and feel like I’ve ruined it for everybody; that’s the whole nature of having it hot-joinable where the next player is able to jump right in, or at the end of the match, recalibrate and make things equalized.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you expect that more details on guilds and character association will be revealed once you begin talking more in depth about World vs. World PvP?
Randy: Well, for now I can give you some descriptions of how World vs. World works, but we’re going to be releasing tons of new information as we go along on how those things link up.
In the competitive environment that we were just talking about, everybody is on a level playing field. Everybody is max level and you’re going to be able to choose your gear, skills, profession, and race, and you’re going to be able to play on an equal playing field with everybody else.
In World v. World you take your exact character into it. If you’re level 1, you can take that level 1 into it where your server or shard is going up against two other shards over two week long battles. So if you’re a level 80 character, a level 60 character, whatever level it is, you’re taking yourself in there and you’re going to gain experience from your time playing there. So you’re going to be able to level all the way up in World v. World if you want. You’re going to get loot and rewards and be able to take down other players, and we have it set up so that you’ll take loot as if you’ve been out in the persistent PvE world and be able to take that gear back with you to that PvE environment.
One other side to it is that this is going on in a very large – think of it almost like an RTS map - where over the two week event period you’re going to have castle sieges pop up, you’re going to have supply lines that you’re going to need to help defend. There will be places where you’re going to be able to enlist mercenaries to try to help you out, and all of these different battles are going on in real time, orchestrated over this period of two weeks.
Everybody on your shard has to be paying attention to this. The good news and the reason we do it as your shard vs. two other shards is so that nothing can get completely out of whack. It isn’t going to be a case where you’re like, that shard has everything dominated and there’s no hope for us. Instead, if that happens you can have two shards gang up on the one to help even things back out. I think that’s a very important and strategic side to this.
Ten Ton Hammer: You’ve also given a top level overview of what your shard stands to gain if you end up being the dominant shard at the end of that two week period. But during that two week period, or even extending beyond that really, will there be any kind of persistent reward system to help incentivize participation in world PvP?
Randy: Some of that can come through in how we line your shard up against other shards based on how you’re performing, and whether or not you’re going to be able to be king of the mountain across shards. But you’re going to be able to have Glory and specific rewards that come out of that aspect of PvP that deal with cosmetic upgrades for your character as well.
But there are all sorts of cool things that we’re going to make sure the reward system is heavily there. In World v. World note that – at its core – you’ll be able to continue that progression of your character which in and of itself will tie into how you take your character back out into PvE. But we’ve got all sorts of things in mind with respect to making sure that your shard is going to care.
Ten Ton Hammer: Beyond the persistence of loot and experience gains while in World v. World, with that system have any deeper connections to the overarching PvE game and you’re character’s place in the world?
Randy: We’re not planning to tie World v. World into your personal story because it’s really such a different dynamic out there. We want you to be wholly focused on the competitive environment against the other shards. These are going to be epic battles, so they’re not going to tie into your personal journey as a hero in the game.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will players enter World v. World in a similar way to structured PvP where there will be a central hub or zone where you’ll need to travel to first before joining in the larger battle map or, since there is a direct character persistence between that and PvE, can you travel to the world PvP maps directly?
Randy: It is essentially a separate map, and a map that you’re going to see differently from the rest of Tyria. So that theme carries through.
Ten Ton Hammer: In the Battle of Kyhlo map, both teams have a trebuchet as a secondary objective or strategic option for that specific map. How do you see things like the trebuchet factoring into the overarching gameplay or strategy teams will want to use on that particular map?
Randy: In Battle of Kyhlo each team has their own individual trebuchet which is owned by them. The other team is not able to operate the opposing team’s trebuchet. So the red team can go and destroy the blue team’s trebuchet which is going to set the blue team back, and then the blue team is going to have to essentially gather repair kits and repair it to get it back into use.
One thing that people may not completely understand yet is how strategically important these trebuchets are. Not only are you using them to construct some pathways and taking advantage of the destructible environment; there are some things that you’re going to learn quickly like being able to take out a pipe here or a building there to make it something more imminently defensible by your team. The other part to it though, is that the trebuchet can do some serious damage.
The people on your team who get really good at it will have one person hover and use it, so if you see the other team standing on a point and use it, it kills them. So a direct hit will kill the other players. All of the sudden then your team is going to be able to load in and take over that control point.
So each team has one and it ends up being very important for turning battles. Even for us, the times I’ve seen teams come back it’s a case where you’re taking out a team that’s been hovering around a control point or they’re engaged in a battle right then and you take them out with it, and then right there it becomes 2 to 1 for control points in favor of your team. From there that lets them start to build up and rebalance the match.
A direct hit can be very powerful, so one thing that people are going to want to learn very quickly is the importance of using the trebuchets and their strategic importance in these battles.
Ten Ton Hammer: In tournament play, can players expect to see some kind of announcement about the specific rule set for a pending season so that you’ll be able to prepare and make adjustments to your team’s strategy from season to season?
Randy: It depends upon how we set it up. And it depends upon if we allow players to set some of these up, or whether or not we’re setting them up. So I think we’re going to see a mix of all of this. We’re experimenting with different aspects of it right now. But there will definitely be different styles of tournaments and winning conditions.
We'd like to thank Randy for taking the time to discuss some of the different aspects of structured and world PvP in Guild Wars 2 with us. While many details on tournaments, potential Extended Experience tools supporting competitive play, and how the guild system in GW2 factor in remain under tight wraps, we'll be following each of these things closely and will reporting on how they fit into the bigger picture of the game over the coming months.