Beginning October 18th, World vs. World (WvW) will move into its “Season” structure stretching to December 5th for the first such competitive time period. Servers will battle against each other over those several weeks to determine who the ultimate “best” WvW server really is. But that’s not the only big change coming to WvW in the next few weeks... a brand new Overflow Map specifically for WvW is also coming to the game, and ArenaNet will be using this map to test a ton of ideas for the three-faction warfare. It won’t be anything like the existing WvW maps, either. Read on for more details about the forthcoming Edge of the Mists Overflow WvW Map.
When players enter any area that’s overpopulated, they’re thrown into an “overflow” copy of that area so they can keep playing instead of waiting in queues forever. This applies to every part of the open world in Tyria, except WvW. That’ll all change when Edge of the Mists is added to the game in coming weeks. Serving as WvW’s own private overflow map, it’ll have all the trappings of WvW combat... but it won’t just be another copy of the same Eternal Battlegrounds and Borderlands maps. It won’t effect the overall WvW scores either, but players will still gain XP and progress towards rewards while in the Edge.
If it won’t be just another copy, what exactly will it be? The map will be a series of giant floating islands, hovering above the Eternal Battlegrounds. One side’s section will be a snowy fortress, another will be a temple in ruins in the jungle, and the third will be a desert landscape. As you can guess, this means they won’t all three be geometrically symmetrical either. You’ll wind along narrow choke points to get from one island to the next, each area will have its own unique goals and buildings. The goal is to really use the Edge to test out what a different kind of WvW experience might look like. They’ll be thinking of it as a sort of “Beta Map” for testing big changes to WvW. If the way things are done in the Edge are as well received as they hope, the changes to the experience there might very well make their way to the proper WvW experience.
But as a beta, the Edge map will only be available to accepted Guilds at first. ANet will take collaborative feedback, and adjust the map and mechanics as the sort of public beta progresses. There will be no NDA, so not only will guilds be able to show off the new map, but players will be able to sound off on what they like and don’t like across the many various channels. We asked if the team was at all worried if the map might wind up being more popular than the real WvW, and they’re prepared for that. They kind of hope that happens too, because it’ll mean all the things they’ve learned about in WvW have helped them design an even more compelling and engaging experience.
I asked Jon Peters if there were plans for more of this sort of open and collaborative development for other parts of the game as well. He stated that it’s absolutely needed for something as big and varied as Edge of the Mists, but whether or not it’ll stretch to other parts of the game is up in the air. He said that when you say collaboration, what ends up happening is often that everyone just asks for what they want, and that they think what they want is what everyone wants. That’s not really what it should be about, so they’ll be careful about what parts of the game have this sort of open development and what doesn’t. They want to see how it works in WvW, and they expect the response and feedback to be really well taken. But this WvW collaboration will really be what sets the course for the future.
In the end, Edge of the Mists is a tool to drop barrier between players and WvW, to get fans of that content playing the game instead of waiting in queues, and ultimately to bring the community in on the game’s direction. I, for one, cannot wait to see what the map holds, as it sounds like it’ll really be a nice change of pace. I would not be surprised if it was indeed more popular than the WvW map we’ve been using for a year, and that’s not such a bad thing.
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He’s fond of his Asura Engineer, but wishes he wasn’t so squishy. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.