“WvW is a really important part of the game as a whole. And it's important to us that we're able to get as many people in there to play WvW at the same time as want to play at any given time. And that's what this map is going to do for us. It's a huge thing for the game.”
After an initial round of previews (including ours, in which our previewer fell off the edges...a lot), the group of about 10,000 testers helped shape the art and structure of the map, including the foundation that is the group of floating islands. The series of connected islands is the heart of the map, providing places to do battle along with some very risky spots where you could still take quite the plunge. The aim was to create a map that felt more alive and tied into the lore, which came down to adding environmental differences and distinct terrain, as well as NPCs that felt like they fit in each of these sections.
“One of the biggest things we did was, some of the things we've used to make the PvE world more interesting – we wanted to bring that into the creatures in this map. In the current WvW maps, when you take a tower, the creatures at one tower are like the creatures at any other tower.” There's not much variety or strategy in this, so the team was motivated to add both flavor and strategy to these encounters that “felt more grounded in the world”. You'll find that the NPCs in the Edge of the Mists feel like they belong in the areas represented (and there is a variety). This goes for the bosses too, which have their own mechanics and strategy. This is sort of a testing ground too, since Carver mentioned that long term, “we hope to find the versions of that that work very well on this map, and eventually move those back into the maps that already exist”. ArenaNet has shown this desire to create a living world in content and design, so this isn't surprising.
“WvW is a really important part of the game as a whole."
The rest of the map's design came about as both an incorporation of lessons learned since release and the ability to just get creative. “With this map and the public test, we're able to take bigger risks”. Having the tester group meant that anything broken would just be on an accelerated schedule to fix before going live, not affect all players. Testers could see changes but being able to make both slight and major changes and get the feedback necessary on the smaller scale encouraged them.
“With the floating island concept, we wanted there to be a feeling of instability with the map itself. It's a new piece of The Mists. We're reunifying the story in the sense of the world, as well as the art style of the map, so there's this instability and needing disparate elements--a desert area running up against a snowy area...And that's where the impetus was. As part of that, we had to start making those changes like making people less likely to get knocked off the edges.”
"...we wanted there to be a feeling of instability with the map itself."
As for the living story content that is currently running, and will accompany the map's launch? The Aetherblades will be invading the map as part of the story content, which could also get some more completist PvE players to jump in, but this story-driven element with Scarlet's army will just last through the event. When I asked about the impact on the map itself, I was assured that most of the map will remain as-is once the current story event has concluded. There might be a tweak here or there, but The Edge of the Mists’ content was definitely designed for the long haul.
There will be more revealed when the GW2 Ready Up stream goes live tomorrow at 2PM PST and will have an extended look at the update. You’ll be able to catch that on the GW2 Twitch channel.
Christina Gonzalez / Christina is a freelancer and contributor to MMORPG.com, where she writes the community-focused Social Hub column. You will also find her contributions at RTSGuru. Follow her on Twitter: @c_gonzalez