Announced today, Guild Wars 2 is about to overhaul its PVP League system with the launch of Season 5 on December 13th. With a new way to gauge skill, a new League UI, a new rewards system, and a shakeup of the maps inside of Ranked Play. It’s a whole lot to go through, and you can read up on all of the changes here. We were lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with PVP Gameplay Programmer Evan Lesh, who shed a bit more light on the changes.
It’s worth noting that the PVP League changes aren’t the only new thing coming into the game this Christmas: the Wintersday Festival is returning on December 13th through January 10th, for those folks not into the PVP League.
MMORPG: Let's talk first about the new matchmaking changes. Explain exactly how getting rid of the pip system will make matches be found earlier?
Evan Lesh: Removing the pip restriction means the pool of players to match with is much larger. Previously there could be players of equal skill looking for a match at the same time, but they might be too far apart in pips to get put into the same game. Simply put, the more people available for matchmaking, the better the matches will be.
MMORPG: Why only allow parties of 2 people, instead of pre-made groups anymore?
EL: This change is the result of a poll we ran with the community earlier this year. The vast majority of players queue alone or with a friend in PvP and a solo/duo queue has been a highly requested feature. Restricting party size will result in more even matches while impacting a minority of players.
MMORPG: Do you worry that this might turn off the higher competitive folks who have established teams?
EL: We don’t want to push away established teams and we’ll be polling the community after Season 5 to determine if we should keep the party size restriction in League play. From there we’ll decide what to prioritize to make sure we’re accommodating as many people as possible. Guild teams can still complete in Unranked and off-season Ranked and players can still organize scrims in custom arenas.
MMORPG: Is Skill rating basically like Elo? Is it account wide or character-based?
EL: Skill Rating is based on the Glicko rating we have always used for matchmaking which is the successor of Elo. Skill Rating also includes any decay a player might have accumulated.
MMORPG: When a new season starts, are you placed in a rating and a division that makes sense based on past performance?
EL: Each new season moving forward will start with a soft reset of the previous season’s Skill Rating where everyone moves closer to the global average. If you had the highest rating in the previous season, you’ll still have the highest rating relative to everyone else at the beginning of the new season. Ratings are also more volatile during placement matches to help players move quickly.
MMORPG: The reward system is changing a lot for the Leagues - why did you make this change?
EL: There is now a split between reward pips and Skill Rating. This allows us to create the best version of each system. It was not fun to stop earning rewards when you couldn’t progress your skill level anymore as it made league games less appealing the more you played. Since pips no longer have to try and track skill level, they can be much more interesting and awarded in more flavorful ways.
MMORPG: With all the stat changes to the personal score system (basically removing the score in favor of stat tracking), will there be leaderboards for these stats as well?
EL: There will not be leaderboards for the new end of match stats, but we definitely think more leaderboards would be a fun addition to the game.
MMORPG: Removing Stronghold from the League play seems like a wise move, and adding Skyhammer back in, but people rightly love Stronghold's unique style. Will we ever see more maps like it or see it brought back into rotation?
EL: While there’s value in exploring new map types, having multiple game modes in League play effectively creates multiple queues where some players never compete against each other. This means a global Skill Rating has less meaning, as you don’t know how a player earned that rating. Because of that, it’s unlikely that League play will ever include more than one game.