It is nice to see lately that Anet gave been taking the importance of communication more seriously as I know many were getting rather annoyed by the lack of it regarding SPvP and WvW. They may not have the gift of the gab quite yet as they tend to enjoy giving short term updates rather than long term action plans but it is definitely a start.
Their recent roadmap of development was excellent and set my mind at ease a little with the way WvW will be progressing.
I really enjoy going through the reddit Q&As even if I can’t participate as the often have done very interesting bits of info that have gone unnoticed by most. The state of the game livestream chat was also a very nice touch as well in that I think it was more accessible and I liked the structured approach to relaying info. These though have mostly been related to the areas of PvE and SPvP but now the spotlight is on Wuv Wuv. The coming soon had some interesting WvW bits, there is a thread for the culling trial which however terrible did a good job of showing us it is a priority issue, and lastly we have the recent WvW update which eliminated cowardly escape tools and new ways for players to gain an advantage after being overrun.
So they are pretty much have only one big part of WvW development left which needs to be elaborated on… Progression. The future development blog was a good start and got people fervently discussing many ideas surrounding progression. For me personally I honestly couldn’t care less about progression as if I’m having fun and its a decent experience then any carrot, be it fat and juicy or rotten to the core is meaningless to me. It’s often just a gateway to experiences as well which I think people could do without but I realise I am the minority here. Anyway there is a few decent ideas floating around, some good, some bad and which way Anet goes is anybodies guess.
- Attainable Options
The main approach I think would help right now is to improve the rate at which people are able to gain gear as well as giving alternative stat combinations. The appealing drop rate of badges or excessive cost of WvW exotics is well known and really should be rectified. People participating in WvW should be able to obtain gear at a similar rate of those doing dungeons.. maybe a bit slower but close. It’s also a bit weird considering the flexibility of classes that they are restricting people to particular builds based on the limited gear types, sure some should only be accessible through crafting as it is now but those available through dungeons should available in WvW.
- Gear Grind
Ascended gear is apparently coming to WvW as well, not exactly pleased with the vertical progression change but I will decide how much rage to release going by how easy it is to attain in later updates. I don’t believe WvW needs this at all, in pvp environments you usually want to keep the power differences to a minimal between long term players and casuals/ New initiates as being stomped is not fun for either party (omitting the sadists of course). The power difference between low and high levels is big enough as it is, inflating that will cause long term problems.
The other gearing approach was offering more cosmetic options for people to strive for. New looks and such that can only be gained through WvW, it can work in well enough with the transmutation system for it to become a big part of a reward system. Most people enjoy customising their character and making it unique to them and reflecting of their personality and since WvW is a big part of many peoples gameplay and we want ways to show off the good things we’ve done and ways to better reflect our gameplay style on our characters it makes sense to appeal to our inner stylist. It could involve crafting like other rare cosmetic skins but with a few WvW twists such as using badges.
The biggest similarity has been of a system people would like to see is the realm ranks of DAoC. These worked well in a number of ways to give players things to strive for and a better sense of long term progression although there are a couple issues to try and avoid.
These ranks would be either learnt through exp gain in WvW, event completion rewards, or through achievement milestones and would work similar to the ranks in DAoC by giving certain character buffs that only benefit the player in WvW. This could either be a skill wheel that people are able to complete max out, a specific tech tree wherein you can only specialize in a given area, or even a new trait line with purchasable skills to add and swap. There are a plethora of interesting buffs people have come up with which would fit right in and may even create more diversity amongst fighting forces. This would be able to fulfill a sense of long term achievement with the rank or certain skills taking time and dedication but the hard part is to make these valuable enough for people to want but not enough that it will alienate new players.
More fluff stuff like achievable titles would work well I think, often enough in PvP people only want bragging rights and a way to show off their skill and dedication. This could be tied into the achievement system although some of those have a massive time factor involved. Another way would be short term titles based on gameplay metrics, Defending and winning against extraordinary numbers, number of kills a particular day, siege deployed and destroyed, maybe even special limited time or use items to the winning server of a matchup or exceptional players during that week. Silly stuff maybe but it would give many a reason to play and some a reason to strive for better during a particular one week match.
- WvW skills
Special skills that can only be gained and used through WvW. You could tie this into ranks or even the short term titles either way they would offer a decent incentive. It is relatively easy to gain all the skills and it can get rather stale in this department very early as their is no way to gain more and your stuck with what you have, also many of these skills aren’t much suited to large scale warfare and sieging. Larger effect control skills would be good as well as zerg busting aoe that isn’t player capped, or you could have many support orientated skills like summoning a dolyak for people or a keep, special siege types, escape skills, and well the possibilities are only limited by imagination (and maybe a funny thing called balance).
Right now there isn’t much reason for a server to band together for the greater good and to smite the the evil ones. The small percentage bonuses are pretty pathetic really and like me I’m sure many haven’t even bothered looking at them (wouldn’t even be able to tell you half of them) let alone trying to purposefully use them. Having a reason to fight would definitely help pull in more people as well as more regular play which may actually balance out some of the population issues at least for the fuller servers.. however if the rewards are good enough this will back fire quite badly with the current system and ease of server changes.
I think this would definitely be one of the better options out there, simply recognizing those who do an exceptional job during the week would keep giving many people a reason to continuously log on and give there all, and maybe even something for others to strive for. They could enact this in many ways really and it would work well in combination with a reward system that involves titles and maybe even short term use costumes, items or consumables.
- Dungeon unlocks
A specialty dungeon area that unlocks under certain conditions letting people into the experience which could be tied into gaining WvW resources such as badges and supply with a few pieces of gear thrown in now and then, or it could be a complete normal dungeon with tokens redeemable at a vendor. Now there are a few ways it could work in terms of gaining access, it could only be accessible by the winning side or it could be a part of the weekly struggle for structures with some ideas being a certain point amount, Stonemist Castle, or based on certain other structure control like maybe owning all the main structures in your home borderlands. Having it connected to battle conditions during a one week match would provide a lot of conflict I think, and a lot of give and take in the way that people gain access, the other sides trying to cut it off, and then you have part of your fighting force being removed with trying to complete the dungeon giving others a chance at controlling more territory.
- Better T6 farming
Let’s face it, the drop rate of T6 mats is pretty darn shit and they are used extensively and in large amounts for a lot of the cool looking skins and having a special place where they have a better farm rate would be a huge reward, just like the above suggestion you could maybe have an increased drop rate attached to certain WvW conditions. You could even add more hard to get skins, even holiday ones that use copious amounts of T6 materials and people won’t want to beat your head in with a rusty spoon.
Well that’s all I could really come up with for now but I’m sure there are plenty more really great suggestions that would go a long way into improving everyone’s sense of progression in WvW and maybe produce a greater population and better long term retention.
See you on the battlefield
*Note* I also added a thread with the basic points on the main forums if you want to add to the discussion