March will be a huge month for fans of World vs World PvP mayhem in Guild Wars 2. The ArenaNet team is hot off their February update which included all new daily achievements, guild missions, a new sPVP map, and upgrades to the trading post... but they're not slowing down. We caught up with Habib Loew (WvW Coordinator and Principle Programmer) to talk about the forthcoming changes to the WvW system. See what's in store for WvW in our exclusive interview. Let us know what you think in the comments.
MMORPG: It seems like the WvW fans in Tyria have been waiting a long time for this patch. What are the team's priorities for March's WvW update? What are the big ticket items?
Habib Loew: Let’s start with how excited we are to get this patch out. We are really psyched to deliver this content to player and especially the WvW community. So there are two main priorities with this patch: the first is to eliminate Culling, the second is to add in WvW progression for players. The progression allows us to let players feel a sense of advancement past level 80. Also we want to give players some achievements beyond just regular character advancement.
MMORPG: Can you explain, in layman's terms, what Culling is, and why it's such a hot topic with WvW?
Habib Loew: Culling is essentially a process by which the server chooses to not tell players about certain other players. It was all about limiting the breakdown of resources from a client to server standpoint. The issue with it was that a huge battle would errupt and you would not see other players. It definitely had its drawbacks.
MMORPG: Back in January, one of the fixes for culling went into place, and it seemed to help a bit. But how will the changes coming in March eliminate this completely? There are a few skeptics in Bill's (Murphy) guild that think it can't be done.
Habib Loew: Hah, yeah we have seen a lot of the skepticism on the Internet. The change we made in January was really just a tweak to the system. It changed the priorities of Culling but did not eliminate it. The change in March will turn off Culling completely. You will now see every character within range of you. There will be several different options for how other players are presented to you, on the client side that you can choose from so you can control how it works for you.
MMORPG: Well, let's move onto the big addition, in terms of WvW gameplay. Can you outline the new Ranks and Abilities progression system coming in March?
Habib Loew: There are two ways to earn what we are calling World XP right now. Those are joining WvW Events and killing other players. As you earn more World XP your rank will go up. Every sum of World XP with give you a rank and that will give you a new title in WvW. For example right now you only see the “Invader” title. These titles will change with your rank. With each rank you will earn points to cash in on WVW abilities. The abilities are general passive in the beginning with skills like doing more damage to guards or taking less damage from siege. We’ll get into those later.
MMORPG: How does the Rank system work? How does a player advance, outside of just killing enemies?
Habib Loew: Yes killing enemies will always get you World XP. However, when you join events like capturing a Merc camp or taking part in an attack and defend event you will get World XP as well. Basically we wanted to keep it to the normal WvW stuff you would be doing anyway.
MMORPG: One of the big hurdles in GW2 is finding out what you want to do at 80, and where the progression for your character lies... is this your answer to that question for WvW fans?
Habib Loew: It is certainly part of the answer. I do not want to rule anything out of the future of the game. We built the progression system with an extensive framework to support multiple types of progression. We want to support abilities as well as leveling up those abilities. The system gives us the freedom to really work on a lot of incentives for players.
MMORPG: Can you share any light or specifics on the WvW abilities? Maybe give a few examples?
Habib Loew: Sure, right now there are mostly passive abilties going in with this patch. We have abilities like: being able to carry more supply, being more effective against certain types of NPCs, being able to do more siege damage, or being more resistent to siege damage. Again this is our first patch so as we go further there will be more active abilities added. Those are a very careful balancing act to add and we want to get them right for the players. Not only is it about balance, but there are design concerns as well, like where do we put the buttons on the UI? We have to take all of that into account.
MMORPG: Are these for anyone to use on a per character basis, or more like guild WvW abilities?
Habib Loew: With the initial release there are no class or guild restrictions. These skills should be available to everyone. We definitely want players to think of the abilities as specializing your role in WvW not your class. Maybe you play more in the siege role or in the close combat role. These abilities are there to enhance those. It is all about your role in WvW regardless of the class you play.
MMORPG: Will there be any changes to knowing who holds a keep for their side, or any sort of "bragging" rights to be added for individual players?
Habib Loew: We are looking into Notification and Guild Claiming for WvW. But not for the March patch.
MMORPG: Is there anything additional you'd want the WvW fans, eager as they are for this update to know before we let you get back to work?
Habib Loew: The biggest message I have for WvW players is that this is not the last patch we are doing. We have a lot more planned. Plenty of stuff is queued up for future patches. We are really taking the time to make sure we get things right before we release them. Also, we do not want to make the mistake of making too many changes at one time which could break parts of WvW. And we are very happy to give you this early look at the March Build. Thanks again.