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Guild Wars 2 Editorial: Review in Progress Part 4 - WvW

By William Murphy on September 20, 2012

Remember how I was bemoaning the plight of those on high population servers in Guild Wars 2 last week? I was whining about the fact that Jade Quarry’s queue times were too long, and that I’d had trouble actually getting into WvW? I was even toying with the idea of temporarily changing servers to a less PVP-active one so that I might get some time in and review WvW. Lo and behold, just a day later I was in the Borderlands and the Eternal Battlegrounds getting face-rolled by Henge of Denravi and Stormbluff Isle’s unified front.  And I liked it.  I spent most of this week in different Borderlands and the Eternal Battlegrounds. Heck, I didn’t even need to do what Mike Ferguson suggested either in his recent blog update

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This week, we’ll dive into WvW and talk about the ups and downs of each system as I’ve experienced it so far.  For those not in the know, World vs. World is summarized thusly by the official wiki:

A Player versus Player game mode where players from three different servers, or worlds, battle in the Mists. It features open-world combat on four large maps with up to several hundreds of players per map. In World versus World, players can besiege structures such as Keeps and Towers with siege weapons, battle over resources, and win rewards for their world.

 *Donning Steve Brule voice* Let’s check it out!

THE ROUGH SPOTS (WEEK 4)

Let’s start with World vs. World. I can still mention the queues.  That’s the first “down-side” I can think of when it comes to WvW. The simple fact is that if one of the game’s core systems is not accessible for its users, it’s a problem.  But, aside from that, I have very few complaints with the actual system of WvW.  Outside of queue times (which are lessening on JQ), there’s the little problem that all PVP systems must contend with: asshats. 


People, when given a system that is entirely fueled by competition, will find a way to abuse said system.  Exhibit A? This thread from AzurePower. I feel this man’s plight. Truly I do. This past week, a fight between Henge, Stormbluff, and JQ was completely thrown out of whack by some of the most effective tag-teaming I’ve seen since DAOC was new.  People find holes in the system of free server transfers, players take on the role of spy by switching servers for their guilds, and conspire against the enemy to do everything in their power to keep the other team from winning. 

But you know what? That’s PVP folks. This is the kind of thing that was happening in DAOC years ago. And it’s likely still going on there.  It’s not exploiting, when you’re talking about a PVP mode based on war.  It’s simply learning to out-maneuver your opponent.  I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy being on the other end of it, and I won’t partake in it… but I can congratulate other servers and guilds for having the gall, coordination and cohesion to do it.

Arenanet’s official response to Azure was:

“Although it might be bad sportsmanship, espionage and sabotage are legitimate tactics in any combat based game. We would not consider the use of these tactics to be a violation. Please let us know if you have any further questions.”

Basically, it’s war. Cheating is allowed. It’s not going to be balanced all the time, and any tactics necessary are going to be on the table. If you want fair and balanced PVP without subterfuge, ANet has made Structured PVP.  Still, one thing I know for sure is that Server Transfers being free are a big part of this problem.  Eventually they won’t be, and I hope ANet increases the amount of time you need to be a member of a new server before joining WvW.  Both cost and time to enter could help end some of this.  But trust me when I say people will find other ways to exploit the system.

Because people suck. And that’s PVP. Find a way to overcome it with your server, or do some of it on your own. I’d prefer the high road, but it likely means losing until some of the obvious exploits are ironed out.  And hey, if you find a “mole” from another server?  Let everyone know it.

I just spend a lot of time complaining about people complaining… and that’s my rough spot for WvW: the people. There are some more gameplay oriented things though. I’d like to actually see more waypoints on every map, contestable though they may be.  In general, you’re going to die a lot, and the running can be tedious to get back to the action in some events.  I’d also like to see more incentive for winning, outside of pride. The bonuses are great and all, but just like The Secret World, I’m stuck wondering if it’ll be enough in the long haul.  Thankfully, the gameplay in WvW can be enough fun in large and small groups that I don’t mind rewards being secondary to fun. Heck, why not let Orbs of Power (items that a server can hold in their bases to get extra HP and stats) effect PVE or Dungeons, giving players a reason to help their side win and hold onto those objectives?

THE SHINY PARTS (WEEK 4)

World vs. World is almost a completely different game than the rest of Guild Wars 2. It could have probably been released as its own title and done just fine.  While the queues on higher servers are an issue, and you will deal with a-holes, the gameplay itself is very much like the DAOC sequel we’ll never be given.  Hundreds of players can crowd an area with nary a stutter, siege weapons can litter the landscape, golems can stop through crowds and decimate infantry, ballistae can rain havoc upon your foes… it’s all very glorious and very “war-feeling”. Madness ensues when communication falters, and victory is tasted when a commander leads and is followed. 

But WvW isn’t just for big zergs. Yes, they happen. A lot. But you can and will contribute and participate in the fringe of the action. Taking down dolyak caravans (supply pack animals that run a course between camps and help keep your side supplied with the tools needed to keep siege weapons and gates operational), or protecting them can be an act of heroism if there are only a few of you, or even just one lone hero roaming the Borderlands.  I love this part of the game. Like DAOC and even Warhammer Online before it, the main massive battles will be one giant army versus enough, where numbers and/or coordination prevail.  But if my friends and I want to roam about in a group, we can.  Yes, we’ll have to be careful not to get overwhelmed, but chances are if the enemy is out in force, our allies won’t be far behind.  It’s a brilliant, is borrowed, design that I was missing for years from games and I’m glad to see it back (the three-faction warfare). 

I also really love that the Borderlands (home turf for your server and the other two) and Eternal Battlegrounds (central and most “important” map to conquer) have more than just towers, keeps, and waypoints to fight over.  Just like the PVE game proper, WvW is peppered with little treats to discover in nooks and crannies.  There are mini dungeons littered throughout the world, and one underground in EB specifically makes me cringe and smile when I think about the torture players can enact on each other, and the glee you can experience when you make it through its trials.  I’ve missed open-world competitive dungeons like this, and ANet’s made me very happy to have them back in GW2’s WvW.

But if there’s one thing that really makes me giddy about WvW? It’s got to be that feeling of “Realm Pride” I haven’t had in years. To be back in a game where an entire server seems to love and care about our name and reputation in WvW is just… well, special. I don’t want to transfer, unless I’m being the lowdown spy for my server.  I don’t want us to lose, but if we must, I want us to go down fighting the good fight and trying to work together.  Moments of triumph and conquest mixed with moments of slaughtered allies and the sorrowful dirges of a losing match are why PVP exists in these silly virtual worlds.  I’ll get to sPVP next week, and it’s quite fun for a bite-sized and match-made version of competitive play.  But it’s missing the flair and glory of hundreds against hundreds in a war for the worlds.

NEXT WEEK ON OUR REVIEW IN PROGRESS

Next week, I’ll delve into Dungeons and the “Gear Grind” thereof, plus sPVP and the other odds and ends.  And if all goes well, next week’s will be the final Review in Progress before our official review is finalized.  Anyway, what do you all think of WvW so far? What likes and dislikes of your own haven’t I mentioned? Leave a comment and let’s hug it out.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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