Without a doubt, World versus World is one of the least updated aspects of Guild Wars 2. Which is why when Arenanet announced yesterday that they were working on a massive overhaul to the server and population balancing systems of WvW, players went into a hype frenzy! This system will take several months to develop, with no ETA as of yet, but is promising to be the biggest change that WvW has ever received.
Alliances will fully restructure worlds, 'blowing up' the current server system and moving players based on activity in the game mode. But instead of removing all control of where you go, the Alliance system instead promises to allow players elect their WvW guild and to stick together, as well as form alliances between guilds to keep servers and players together. Alliances with friends on them will be your most likely point of arrival as a solo player, but the beauty of the system lies in the ability to form and follow community guilds.
As someone with countless hours in WvW as both a leader and a follower, this update has huge personal meaning- beyond just the ideas presented, it shows that WvW is not yet an abandoned game mode. The promise of future updates and the acknowledgement of population imbalance is one of the single most encouraging statements that the developer has made in a long time.
The pros of the Alliance system lie mostly in the ability for Arenanet to better manually manage populations. Even if servers attempt to stack, by limiting the amount of guilds able to from an alliance they can ensure there will always be an equal amount of competition to go up again. Along with this, there will be no more indefinite impossible waits to join your friends, either being able to trasnfer to guild servers or waiting until the next alliance restructure to be guaranteed a place on their server. This puts to rest one of the biggest complaints plaguing the community recently. Players will also be able to- hopefully- see more even matchups in their timezone. A lot of this comes down to the ability and availability of Arenanet to monitor and adjust population, and I do wonder if the idea will overshadow the execution.
The cons? Well for starters, server communities that have lasted for years will be torn apart by this change. Some players have been on their home servers since launch, and will be loath to have them blown apart. Of course, trading server identity for fun matchups and population balance is probably in the best interests of the game mode- but that doesn't mean it wont hurt a lot of players. But the biggest con by far is going to be the amount of time and effort this system will take from Arenanet to succesfully pull off. Balancing needs to be done around time zones as well as raw population, and with changing matchups there is no guarantee that there will be constant activity. For a game mode that has historically seen a lack of resources and development, it is painful to know that the enjoyment of the game will rest entirely with the same people who for so long oversaw the stale state of the game.
In my view, this change needs to come with a massive overhaul to the scoring system. Let Anet sort us in to good matchups, and then stay there for at least 4 weeks, and give the winner of this month a sizeable reward (since, in theory, the matches will be 'even' and therefore require effort to win). Otherwise we could fall in to a similar state as of now, with stacking and movement between servers and tiers on a weekly basis. But even without any other changes, Alliances will be a huge move for WvW. What are your thoughts on blowing up the servers? Let us know!