While I play a lot of PvE, I love PvP as well. ArenaNet has taken PvP to a whole new level with WvWvW. Pitting three servers against each other was a brilliant idea! Instead of just controlling small areas, you can control entire forts! Large armies can clash in epic battles that could last just a few short moments, or several minutes. WvW has become a very popular feature in Guild Wars 2, and has gone through a few evolutions by adding in new features to make the game more rewarding. The most recent attempt was adding seasons.
Seasons for WvW act much like a living story event in PvE. They last for a certain period of time, offer a wide variety of achievements, and also include a meta achievement that gives a final reward. The main difference is that those receiving a meta achievement would receive another reward chest at the end of the season. The contents of the chest are based on the performance of a player's server. This brought a more competitive edge to the game, because now you weren't just competing for a higher score, or who controlled Stonemist, you were competing for better rewards. In theory, this should have worked.
The rewards for the end of the first season didn’t met the expectations of the players. The forums blew up with players expressing how the rewards weren't enough. They required several hours of time and effort to achieve, yet a player could receive the same rewards, maybe even more, by joining a champion killing train for about an hour or so. Sure there was a unique mini, and a lot of dragonite ore was given, but it seems players were expecting a whole lot more.
So how could the design team come up with these underwhelming rewards? I think the main variable is the path a player takes to get those rewards. It really does require a serious time investment to get enough achievements for the meta. Players did a lot of fighting, smashing, and crashing. Out of all those hours players spent slaying their opponents, they probably got a lot of drops. I know I did! In that timeframe I got a lot of rare crafting materials, and some good items that I sold for gold. When I look at the process I went through to just get the rewards, I came to the realization that I had gotten a ton of stuff over all. Way more then if I just joined a champion train! But is it enough?
The real question here is what were players expecting? If their server did well, did they expect ascended gear to rain down on them? Did the best players think legendary weapons would just be given out? Would more greens and rares that you would probably just sell on the market really make things more rewarding? I think half of the problem is that we were expecting too much. No matter how well a server does, they just can't give hundreds of players legendary weapons. If they did, then legendaries would lose their luster. So what should we have expected?
I don't think more dragonite ore, or even more rares would have been the right answer. I think the second half of the problem is that there isn't anything of significance that could have been given as a reward. I think some new things need to be created in order to make a better reward system. A good start would have been new exotic gear that has unique skins, or maybe new stats. The design team should have new items created, and then give those items a debut as a season reward. After the season is finished, the weapon can then drop in PvE.
Another interesting idea would be a mount. Now Guild Wars 2 doesn't have traditional mounts like other MMOs, because waypoints and speed buffs make them worthless. At this point it in time, the only real “mount” in the game is a broom stick players can float around on. But players still want to travel in style! Why not give good performing servers Dolyak mounts?
These ideas may be a little crazy, but the main issue is that there isn't anything new to give. Unique finishers aren't really that exciting, and just getting more trashy greens and rares doesn't make the experience better, even if you are making more money. ArenaNet needs to find a way to create more unique rewards for the WvW seasons. Until they figure that out, I think the play style will lose the competitive edge that it just gained. The addition of the seasons is a great idea, it just needs some fine tuning.
WvW seasons are a brand new idea, and the first attempt certainly won’t be the last. Let us know what type of rewards you would like to see in future seasons in the comments below.
David North / David North is a freelance writer for MMORPG.com. David loves to play and makes games, but now he writes about them! If you want to creep on him and make fun of his ability to draw, follow him over on twitter @David_the_North.