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Guild Wars 2 PvP – Automated Atrophy?

By Ed Orr on November 23, 2018 | Columns | Comments

Guild Wars 2 PvP – Automated Atrophy?

It’s been more than 7 months since Steven touched on PVP and metabattle. He proposed that jumping on the metabattle bandwagon could make you the PvP problem but I’ve been swinging swords on various accounts over recent months and I don’t think PvP really needs a moratorium on metabattle. Instead, this month’s PvP lets play with community partner Jebro highlighted more fundamental issues with Guild Wars 2’s competitive game.

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It is always great to see Jebro’s unadulterated enthusiasm for Guild Wars 2 and the community he surrounds himself with. The Engineer form the old world has been in the trenches with the PvP community since the early days of Guild Wars 2, initially starting out as a WvW commander and then progressing on to cast some of the game’s biggest PvP moments. This is a creator that carries some authority. For many of the wider Guild Wars 2 community, he is most likely the single recognizable face in a stream that launched Carson Marlow, Environmental Artist, and Ben Phongluangtham into the public eye for a series of updates on the PvP side of the game.

Watch ArenaNet Livestream: Let’s Play PvP with Jebro from GuildWars2 on www.twitch.tv

What we got was a fantastic tour of the newest, cool mechanics, and informed opinion. For the first time in an age, we saw new content coming into PvP and devs talking about it to the public. The brand-new Djinn’s Dominion is an outstanding mix of creativity, unique mechanics, and magic. It only came in as part of the November 13 update and I’m absolutely desperate to try my hand at it. The return of gems to the competitive prize pools, a 2v2 tournament, and the potential for another Tournament of Legends is also exciting news, and yet is all feels late to the party.

While Robin recently looked at the problem of player burnout, map saturation, and balancing across the new Living World maps, PvP rarely faces this problem. The handful of game modes and the small selection of maps is only found to be more anemic in World vs World, which has had one completely new map over the life of the game.  For a game that crashed into Gamescom 2011 with a tantalizing exhibition match and dominated the Twitch booth during 2015’s World Tournament Series, this seems like an unusual situation.

Currently, the PvP scene seems to be a largely hands-off affair for ArenaNet, with an automated treadmill that threatens to atrophy into obscurity. While the enthusiasm and hard graft of team members like Ben and Carl cannot be denied, PvP is a largely automated event. From the introduction of the automated tournament system back in mid-2017, we now find players joining this death cycle that 4 times a day, vying for rewards and the opportunity to qualify for an end of month final.

While community interest in these events, especially the end of month final, still generates a stable response, we rarely see these being pushed by ArenaNet. From the odd complaint about the absence of gem rewards to the more fundamental comparison of how ArenaNet promotes PvP, it all stands in stark comparison to the outstanding work done with the partner program’s art enthusiasts.

The unwavering interest is tantamount to the PvP community’s commitment but does point to the same stagnant risk that hangs over WvW. There are a number of potential pain points that could be at play here. Sure, PvP reward tracks and tournament prizes provide a good balance of in-game goodies for anybody willing to try their hand. Much like the WvW rewards, however, these appear to be streamlined towards compensating and rewarding the existing player, the type of combatant who regularly goes without the world boss train or legendary weapon collections.

The appropriately named Tournament of Legends might be getting a return soon and this is the sort of event that really blows open interest to the wider community. I can barely remember, off hand, when we last had a tournament of Legends, Glory, or even World Tournament Series. These special events are essential to the visibility and new blood of any competitive scene. Every year, the DOTA 2 International seems to break through into the wider public consciousness simply by smashing another prize pool record. It’s the type of wide visibility and hype that helps keeps a 5-year-old game full of interest and excitement and players.

In comparison, the last Guild Wars 2 World Tournament Series was several years ago and speaks to a wider visibility issue for PVP. Across other game types and in the wider gaming world Guild Wars 2 PvP simply doesn’t have the same impact it used to. From Automated Tournaments, which are restricted to a few in-game spectators or the lack of PvP focused streams on the official Guild Wars channels, Guild Wars 2 seems to have stepped away from really playing PvP out in public. It is a wider sense of engagement that I miss. The first PAX tournament in 2013 and the controversy surrounding Car Crash’s admission was classic PvP drama. It read from the same scripts that we see played out at Evo year on year.

As Allie Murdock, a massive influence on pushing this forward stepped away from ArenaNet, community caster Grouch move into ArenaNet and a very public push began. Over ESL and through seasonal events on Twitch, Guild Wars 2 started coming to the masses. So, after the epic 2015 WTS final in Cologne, what happened?

I am not expert enough to talk on all the decisions at ArenaNet, but now we have a game type that is a ton of fun and largely left to the community to shout about. ArenaNet can allow automated tournaments, much like WvW match ups, continue to roll on in the background but the scene won’t ever recapture the hearts of the wider community this way. Personalities, drama, hype, and hope are generated in a number of ways. Not through the quiet death spiral that is in place. However, it seems like, maybe, after PvP popped up on stream we might find ArenaNet looking again at PvP. I am hopeful that things might be looking up now. What do you think? Does PvP suffer from a visibility problem or is it better left to the community to look after itself?

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