Guild Wars 2 Competitive PvP Hands-On Impressions -- Get To The Clocktower!By Leah Jackson - Posted Apr 23, 2012
By now you've probably heard a lot about Guild Wars 2. You most likely know about its story, its dungeons, its epic dynamic events, how its professions like the Engineer and Thief work, but if not, just click on all of those links. The thing is, we didn't forget the title of the game has wars in it, and I'm sure you didn't either. So without further ado, it's time to get down and dirty with an in-depth look at the structured player vs. player (PvP) in Guild Wars 2.
Guild Wars 2 has two types of PvP: structured and world versus world. This preview is going to focus on structured PvP, but we'll have a WvW hands-on preview up soon. For those who have been hungering for a truly skill-based PvP mode in an MMO, you'll be absolutely delighted with Guild Wars 2's competitive, structured PvP. In this mode, the game automatically bumps players up to the maximum level (80) and gives everyone the best gear as well as all of the necessary traits, items, etc., that they'll need in order to ensure that everyone is on an even playing field. You can enter this mode once you reach level 2, so not only is PvP a fun way to test your might against others, but it's also a good way to learn all about your profession at an early point in the game.
GW2's competitive PvP follows the tried and true capture and hold multiplayer system, where teams must capture a point and kill enemies in order to improve their score. The first team to reach the score limit, or the team with the highest score when the time runs out, will win the match. While this objective-based type of mode isn't exactly new for MMOs, the way GW2 pulls it off makes it feel much more like an arena combat game than a MMORPG.
As soon as you load in to a PvP map, an announcer (voiced by Jon St. John, the guy who voiced Duke Nukem) notifies players to get ready for the battle to start. This is the time where you'll equip the weapons you want to use during the match, set your traits and skills, and start strategizing with your team. Once the game begins, the announcer constantly commentates about what's going on during the match. The developers even mentioned they want to add in kill sounds like, "FIRST BLOOD" and "M-M-MONSTER KILL!" in order to keep the energy up, similar to how it works in MOBA games and FPS'.
But you're a ferocious warrior and don't care about announcers. You want to know how the game modes work, right? We got to check out two PvP maps, The Battle of Kyhlo and The Forest of Niflhel this time around. Ideally, Guild Wars 2 will ship with four maps and each of them will be capture-point based with a twist. The developers did mention that they're toying around with the idea of adding in different types of modes, perhaps even a MOBA minigame type of thing.
The Battle of Kyhlo is currently an 8v8 map and the main objective is to be the first team to reach 500 points, or be the team with the most points once the 15-minute time limit is up. To earn points your team must capture up to three capture points, Windmill, Clocktower, or Mansion, by defeating the opposing players around the point and defending it from attackers. Holding each location earns your team one point every two seconds and player kills earn you five points.
The twist in Battle of Kyhlo is the trebuchet. Each team gets their own trebuchet which can be used to attack enemy players or destroy parts of the map itself. The Battle of Kyhlo map has a ton of destructible buildings and passageways, so for example, if your team uses the trebuchet to smash the roof off of the Clocktower in order to make it easier for the rest of the team to rush in and bombard the defenders, they'll be able to take the point faster. The team with the most efficient trebuchet handler will definitely have an advantage over the other team in most cases since the trebuchet can turn the tide in any battle, making your team able to attack harder, and find more strategic ways to attack points.
The trebuchets are both destructible themselves however, so if a team can manage to take down the opposing team's trebuchet they'll be able to give themselves a leg up. Trebuchets can also be repaired, but if a player chooses to spend their time repairing the trebuchet they theoretically won't also be participating in the battle.
Downed Mode will work differently in PvP than it does in PvE as well. Downed Mode is basically what happens when your character dies in Guild Wars 2. Instead of instantly dying, you get a few skills to use and if you kill another character or NPC while you're downed, you'll rally and get revived. If you can't kill another character or NPC while you're downed, you'll be defeated and have to resurrect at a graveyard. In PvP however, you can still kill downed players by attacking them, or you can use a prompt called "Finish Them!" If you hit the "F" button, you'll start channeling the animation for a finishing move that will instantly kill your opponent if you get it off, forcing them to resurrect at a graveyard.
I found myself constantly contesting the Clocktower area of the map during our playtime. What's amazing about the Battle of Kyhlo map itself is its verticality. There are so many places you can jump up to in order to snipe off unsuspecting noobs, or places to hide around in order to get out of line of sight of your enemies. With these elements, on top of an announcer prompting you to attack certain areas at certain times, the game really does feel more like an arena fighter than a MMO.
The second map we got to check out was The Forest of Niflhel. Just like Battle of Kyhlo, Niflhel is an 8v8 three-point capture map where the goal is to reach 500 points. The three capture points in Niflhel are Henge, Keep, and Mine but the secondary mechanic this time around is a lot different than Kyhlo's trebuchets.
In Niflhel, two monsters (Chieftain Utahein and Svanir) spawn on the opposite side of the map a few minutes after the game starts. The monsters aren't too ferocious but it'll take a group of about 2-3 people to take them down safely. If your team can kill one then you'll get 50 points, which is a massive buff since you're only trying to get to 500 points to begin with. Since both teams want to kill both monsters there are usually big fights happening around their spawn points, with intentions of trying to kill-steal the monster from the opposing team at all costs.
Niflhel is more flat than the Kyhlo map, but it has a lot of narrow passageways where players can get funneled in to, making for more opportunities for strategic ganking if your team is coordinated. While PvP is super serious business, the GW2 developers added something lighthearted in to the Niflhel map that made me smile every time. If your team could secure the Keep, an announcement would pop up on screen saying, ""The Keep is yours. Keep it!" and if your team lost the Keep it'd say, "You couldn't keep the Keep." It's just flavor but I appreciated it.
Since each structured PvP match can only last 15 minutes, they're all fast-paced and great for those people who just want to pick-up and play. The rewards from competitive PvP are mostly aesthetic, like unique skins for your armor or weapons. Since everyone gets all of the same gear when they participate in structured PvP, this allows players to stand out in a crowd and show off their accomplishments.
In addition to aesthetic rewards, players will also earn rank when they participate in structured PvP. Currently there are 30 ranks in the game but developers are toying around with the idea of 80 ranks. You earn ranks by participating in the match, not just by winning. Things like defending points, getting kills, and other objectives all earn you rank points so even if there's no chance of your team winning you can still try to earn some rank.
Aside from ranks probably giving titles, rank points will also be used as currency to purchase PvP tickets that you'll need if you want to participate in Guild Wars 2's PvP tournaments. These tournaments will be available as soon as the game launches and it's the intention of the game designers that these tournaments will help build Guild Wars 2 in to a serious eSport.
There will be four types of tournaments in GW2: Pickup tournaments, monthly tournaments, yearly tournaments, and player-run tournaments. Pickup tournaments are single-elimination tournaments featuring eight teams and the winner will get qualifier points for monthly tournaments. Monthly qualifier tournaments will require a certain amount of qualifier points to participate, but the dev team hasn't fleshed out how many participants will be competing in the monthly tournaments yet. Winning the monthly tournaments will earn your team qualifier points for the yearly tournaments.
Yearly tournaments will only feature the best of the best Guild Wars 2 PvPers from around the world. Those who qualify for the yearly tournament will be flown out to ArenaNet to compete in the tournament for ultimate bragging rights and probably some epic weapon skins and medals.
Tournaments in GW2 will feature the same maps that everyone else plays on, but instead of 8v8 it will always be a 5v5 match. GW2 map servers are also a lot different than normal MMO servers. You'll be able to rent a server in GW2 and tweak it to your liking. You'll be able do things like set map rotations, modes, ban players, set passwords to your server, set the amount of players allowed in, and more.
ANet hasn't said what the prize for winning the tournaments will be yet, aside from earning qualifier points, but they have said that you'll be able to put your daily winnings towards renting a server. They've also said that they're considering adding a spectator mode to PvP, as well as streaming support. Since each map has three capture points, there will most likely always be action going on at one of those points, which lends GW2 to becoming much more of a spectator MMO than any of the others currently out there. Jonathan "Chaplan" Sharp, one of the GW2 designers and a former StarCraft pro gamer, seemed adamant that the team wants GW2 to succeed as an eSport. He said that the team will be constantly checking out what the community thinks of maps, modes, and they're absolutely willing to make changes that the players want.
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Personally, I'm a PvP fiend. I earned the Battlemaster achievement in World of Warcraft on two characters, played arena competitively for a long time (resulting in a few broken headsets), and spent most of my time in both Rift and Star Wars: The Old Republic doing PvP. Guild Wars 2 blows them all out of the water. Guild Wars 2's PvP is innovative, it's fast-paced, it's rewarding, but it's not scathing if you lose a match either; just get back in there and play again. It's truly skill vs. skill, and with such long-term substantial developer support, I can see the competitive PvP in the game evolving in to one of the major selling points of the title.