With the next season right around the corner, many players are in gear for practice mode as they test, learn and master their favorite builds in preparation of the next season of competitive play. Whether you're a portal play making Mesmer or a bunker mid master of the elements, season 5 brings new challenge and chances for glory to all the GW2 PvP players.
To start with, the announcement has brought with it some seriously exciting talk about new rewards and potential loot this season. This is something that has always been a big gripe from the PvP and World versus World communities alike, wherein they have felt that for the same time investment with arguably even harder gameplay, they are being rewarded far less than if they spent that time grinding in PvE. Seasons so far have proven that they can offer some really exciting and incentivizing rewards (read, shiny legendary wings) and the reward tracks have given players new ways of getting their previously PvE locked items like dungeon skins and map currency based loot. But in terms of liquid reward, it’s never been quite on the PvE level.
This new season looks like it’s going to bringing with it additions to this current system, as well as a big sink for one of the already in game currencies for PvP in the Shards of Glory. What is really exciting about the announcement is that it gives players a new way to obtain ascended rarity gear, and for most people who live and breathe the PvP side of this game, that is something that has been mostly off the table until now. Along with promises of increased gold rewards for moving through the pip system, this looks like a significant step up in the reward for time invested in the game mode. With the pip system being separated from its role as a skill determinant, players will now have two avenues of rewards, pips and reward tracks, which is going to see a much wanted increase is the profitability of playing PvP.
Speaking of the pip system rework, let’s take a closer look at the upcoming changes to skill rating measurement. Unlike past seasons, reward pips will no longer be the way that the game matches you against players of your skill level. The goal here is partly to separate rewards from rating progression, eliminating the lockout of rewards when you have reached your appropriate skill level, but also to give a more in depth reflection of player skill. The new system is going to utilize a system that has been in the game for quite a long time, the Glicko system. Removing pips should see a much larger base of players who can be matched against you, which in turn means less queue times.
The Glicko system has been the system that is, as Arenanet claims, the successor of ELO, and has been used for determining the ranking of worlds in the World versus World matchups. The Glicko system looks at your 'rating deviation', which is essentially the standard deviation you are away from your current rating. Players with a small rating deviation will gain less from a win and lose less from a loss, as the rating they have is already considered fairly accurate. Similarly, players with a large rating deviation will be moved further, as the game tries to find their correct position. This deviation is based either upon past ratings of the player, or will launch players starting from an average and move you based upon this initial rating.
Although there’s more to it than that, which lies in the specific algorithm Arenanet uses this season, this is essentially the system that will place players in their divisions. Divisions like bronze silver and gold will reward players with a badge next to their name, which they can then choose to either display or to hide. Besides losing matches, Arenanet have added a new way you can lose rating in the decay system. Given how short a season typically is, this could mean players need to be fairly active in order to retain their place, and that the typical 'smashed it in three days to the top' player will be required to play more as the season goes on to retain their spot.
Being rewarded, or at least acknowledged for your contributions for the game, will also be a feature of this new patch. With the personal score system being removed, players will be able to see specific stats about what they have done in the game, which is a huge boon for players who fill roles like bunkers or defenders. In the old system, these players missed out on any chance of points from new captures, and in higher skilled games seldom saw themselves getting consistent kills, as the enemy would rotate away from them or come in force to remove them, which could lead to an artificially low score despite the player contributing heavily to the team.
Saving one of the biggest changes for last, teams will no longer be able to queue for ranked play this season! This is an absolutely monstrous shake up to the game, which has been voted for by the community and praised for many reasons. For one, this will see a huge drop in queue times, as the game will not have to find other teams to play against. One of the biggest issues was when the game started matching teams against groups of solo players because there wasn't a more suitable matchup, and this created gallons upon gallons of salty tears from the community, who were simply out communicated and out organized before their games even begun.
Now players will need to queue either solo or as a duo, which will mean that even a team with two premades will still be two groups that have no interaction with one another, and one random guy to shake it up. That kind of chaos can be significantly worse than a group of solo players, and it will make for a really exciting season. The biggest downfall here is the punishment of established teams, who will now have no avenue of play that lets them measure their skill rating as a group as part of the season.
One of the game modes this would have hurt the most is stronghold, which has always been all about a good team composition and organization to be the most effective at controlling the map. However, with that game mode out the window, the change shouldn't impact too negatively, and if it does players will at least get to have their say as part of an end of season poll measuring how satisfied they are with the change.
I personally am really excited for this season, and think that the new rewards and ascended acquisition will incentivize more people than ever in to the game mode, leading to diverse and enjoyable matches. For me, even though this is more of a trial season for the solo/duo queues and some of the other larger changes, this will be the first season that really captures my full attention, and has me excited to play the game mode throughout the entire duration of the season to squeeze it all out.
Coupled with a new balance patch, which always gets me warm and fuzzy, on top my all-time favorite event that is Wintersday, with all of this thrown on top of the holiday period and more time for gaming all around, this should be the biggest and most active season to date, and I can't wait to get stuck in.