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Stronghold Open Beta Impressions

David North Posted:
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The announcement of the stronghold game type was really exciting, and it was a real treat to give it a try during the beta yesterday.  Twitch was also busy with several great casters showing off this brand new SPvP play type, and rightfully so!  Stronghold has turned out amazing, and may be my new favorite thing to play in Guild Wars 2.

One thing that’s always surprised me about the competitive maps in Guild Wars 2 is just how amazing they look.  The entire map will be littered with plant life, and buildings, giving teams an epic looking battleground do square off in.  The Battle of Champion’s Dusk (that's the name for the Stronghold place) meets all the standards previous maps have set.  Statues, cool land formations, and war touched structures cover the area, giving you a nice feel of a wartorn area as you and your team charge towards your enemy’s stronghold.

The map is just as rich as the zones in PvE.

SPvP has always required good coordination, and strategy to make a dominating team, but stronghold really pushes strategy even farther.  Players are able to gather supply, which is located in the very center of the map, to summon the help of two types of units called archers, and door breakers.  Each type of unit serves a particular role, with archers attacking guards, while door breakers deal damage to gates.  Players need to make sure that they not only have a good supply run going, but to also summon the right type of units to reach the inside of the enemy stronghold. 

Picking the right type of unit at the right time is really important in stronghold.

Aside from summoning typical soldiers, players can gain the help of legendary heroes.  During the match, essence of the mist will pop up on the map that players will have to commune with.  Once a team has gained the mist essence, their team gains a legendary hero who will march with the rest of their army.  This part of the match may be the most PvP heavy, as teams will really make a mad dash for these spots.  If you’re new to PvP , you may want to skip out on this part of the match until you feel a bit more comfortable fighting against other players. 

The essence of the mist is much like the skill point challenges found in PvE, making the game easy to learn for any type of player.

In a way, the gameplay almost feels like a tower defense game, or a MOBA.  The units you summon march through a specific path, trying to reach their destination as other units, and players, try to prevent them from doing so.  Add in the the trebuchet, and you’ve got your tower with power to bring your enemies down.  While it seems this play type is all about army building and control, it still offers plenty of opportunity for players to take a swing at each other. 

Stronghold may be very strategy heavy, but new players shouldn’t be afraid to give this map a try.  No matter what level of experience you have in PvP, you’ll be able to play a role in your team, all while learning what others are doing around you.  New players may want to stick to running supplies.  This is an important role that will expose you to fighting against other players.  More WvW experience players may want to man the trebuchet, as controlling siege is something most players still haven’t been exposed too.  If you’re comfortable taking on other players, doing supply runs, and going after mist essence are roles you’ll really enjoy doing.  

Overall stronghold is a great addition to SPvP.  While sticking with smaller teams, you still get the epic combat and feel that you normally would find in WvW.  The strategy of summoning units for your army is a very nice way to add in strategy, but doesn’t make the game too difficult to pick up for new players.  This game type is definitely my favorite thing to be added to SPvP, and I hope ArenaNet decides to make more maps that use these mechanics.  Now we just have to wait till HoT is released to play it as much as we want.  Sigh. 

Were you able to give stronghold a try?  What did you like, or not like about the new game type?


David North