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Guild Wars 2: PvP: Why 'Progression' Doesn't Matter

Posted by MikeB Monday February 20 2012 at 5:11PM
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In perusing our Guild Wars 2 forums today, I came upon an excellent thread by Ishan-shade. In the thread, Ishan-shade discusses his concern over GW2's lack of progression when it comes to PvP. After the last few years of MMOs, I think many players are going to find themselves strongly pondering this themselves, which is actually a good thing. Many of us have had what an MMO 'should be' like ingrained in us over many years, and ArenaNet is looking to challenge a lot of these MMO tropes with Guild Wars 2. I wanted to respond to Ishan-shade, but as I began writing it I realized my response was a bit more in-depth than I initially thought it would be, and thus a blog entry is born!

Ishan-shade:

Well to answer your question I guess I want to grind for gear to be competative in PvP. I dont pve, too me thats my progession, attaining new gear, skills to make me a better pvper. So the only poin to pvp in gw2 is for some title and or ranking or something?  Dont get me wrong those are cool bonuses I guess, but hell I want to pvp and get better gear!

Is there even a reason for me to lvl lol?

For structured PvP, there are rolling tournaments going on all the time with qualifiers that can earn you entry into monthly or annual tournaments for real bragging rights, for example. Winning some best PvPer of the Year honor seems like something more interesting to strive for (even if you don't make it THAT far) than a set of gear that says you've put in the time to earn it. You can't simply put in the time to qualify and win the highest level of PvP tournament the game offers, you just have to be that good. I think this sets players apart much more than a set of gear would.

Examples of the tournaments GW2 will feature:

  • Pickup Tournaments: These single-elimination tournaments wait for 8 teams to join before starting. Once they start, they go through 3 rounds of eliminations, with winners receiving qualifier points.
  • Monthly Tournaments: For monthly tournaments, you'll need a certain amount of qualifier points to join.
  • Yearly Tournaments: These grand tournaments feature the winners from the monthly tournaments slugging it out for the right to call themselves the best PvP players of the year.
  • Player-Run Tournaments: These tournaments will be customized by players, allowing for great flexibility and unique bragging rights.

'Grinding' a set of gear doesn't make you any better of a PvPer than the next guy, it just shows you both have been playing long enough and put in the time to earn it. What it DOES often do is create a disparity between new PvP blood and old PvP blood, more often than not to the detriment of the overall PvP game. Depending on the game, the best PvPer in the world simply can't overcome a player decked out in the best PvP gear in the game. Look at RR gear in WAR. You basically can't even participate in T4 RVR without RR65+ gear. Many players currently stay in T3 as long as possible so they have a fighting chance in T4.

For WvW, I think ArenaNet may be looking to tap into that long-lost sense of realm pride. In GW2's case, it's server pride, but it's essentially the same thing. MMOs have been missing this for some time now. I'm not sure what individual-focused rewards WvW may offer, but I find the concept of a living, breathing campaign between three servers over a course of two weeks to be particularly compelling on its own. The fight doesn't end when you log off. I've got notions of checking my GW2 Mobile App obsessively while being away from the game in order to check on the status of my server's war effort. I'm not sure if this is one of the functiionalities of the Mobile App, but it should be!

Securing victory for your server won't be as simple as winning some major skirmish against one of your enemies, but a long protracted campaign that is almost certain to create intense server rivalries and possibly even some politics. When wins or losses are settled within a short period of time it's easy to forget them. Consider how hard-fought a win will have to be over a two week campaign against two other servers and I think you may find yourself appreciative of this accomplishment more than you would some piece of gear, especially when a significant chunk of your server population is involved in the overall effort. These are the sorts of things that MMOs were made to foster, and it's why many remember DAOC so fondly. These are fights bigger than the individual, and potentially provide opportunities for guilds (large and small) to really make their mark. I don't know how successful ANET will be at executing on this aspiration, but in my opinion, they are at least aiming at the right target.

This is the sort of stuff that sets MMOs apart and can't be replicated in other genres. It's a design that focuses on the community building aspects of it all at its heart, which is really the 'hot feature' many MMOs have seem to have let slip by the wayside over the last few years. You can add MMO-esque progression to games like Call of Duty, but you can't create the opportunities for real community like you can with an MMO. I get the idea ArenaNet wholeheartedly embraces this significant advantage of the MMO genre, and is looking to leverage it in every way possible with Guild Wars 2, including its PvP offerings.

What are your thoughts? Share 'em in the comments below!