If you watched the recent livestream from Guild Wars 2 at Pax it would have been hard to miss the mini revolt happening in chat at times. A few of the GvG supporters were making a stand/ or fools of themselves by expressing their anger about certain areas of the game in the public chat.
It was an appalling display but in saying that I understand the sentiment. It’s hard not to yearn for more regarding the interests you like in a game you love. Coming from a game like the original where GvG type conflict was a main attraction to here where it is ignored must be infuriating; going by the unofficial GvG Leaderboards it also offers a unique PvP experience many are after but can’t satisfy in WvW or SPvP. I just finished writing a post for pretty much the same reason although where mine had touches of sadness theirs was pure unrestrained anger. It is a valid response at times but it was a display that probably did more to harm their cause then help.
I’m not here to debate the merits of this argument but to outline a certain idea that would solve a lot of the ills the PvP community has been facing.
Bring Back Open World PvP
Haha no, I’m not advocating for some sort of slaughterfest that many imagine when the term “open world pvp” is used although that could be fun. No, what GW2 needs is something a little bit more restrained and structured than that but also something that is more competitive
If you played Tera or know of its PvP mechanics then this is kind of what I’m advocating. If you don’t know well… have a google and come back as there are a few nuances to it that I might miss or changes from updates I haven’t heard of.
In Tera the main mechanic of PvP on both PvE and PvP servers was something specifically called GvG, or guild vs guild. At a certain level the guild leader and officers where able to buy an item that would declare war against another guild. Once declared all members of the opposite guild would be open to attack as would your members to them. The cost was reasonable and there was also a counter item to forfeit that was half the price. I believe you could have 5 wars going at the same time and originally there was no cap to how many could be declared against you (which was fun when going against the reddit and Elin guilds).
Tera had a rather polished Guild menu system too which allowed anyone to easily view the guilds on their server. This had certain Leaderboards to it and even a war log that showed all wins and losses between which guilds as well as the battles that were still under way. It ended up creating a bit of a competitive atmosphere to these servers around the bragging rights alone and could have been a lot more if it was worked into the territory system. It even balanced itself quite well in the way that larger; or even better guilds would consistently have more active wars so there wasn’t much picking on the weaker guilds kind of gameplay.
It was a very contested feature at first but one many grew to love including myself and I am astounded it hasn’t been tried again since in other mmo’s. The amount of amazing experiences we had because of this was just astounding and I’ve never had an open PvP environment that was this rich before (haven’t played mmo’s that long). We were the kind of people who openly waged war against the biggest or most annoying guilds we could find and as a result had plenty of targets but also had to be constantly on guard. It added such a dynamic feel to questing and your travels as you were frequently being attacked and having great duels or even full-blown mini wars as a result. It kept us engaged for quite a while regardless of the many inherent faults to it and Tera as a whole. It easily beats faction based gameplay in terms of creating an interesting PvP environment and it allows far more freedom too.
Finding the Faults
The amazing part is that guild Wars 2 already has many mechanics in place that directly counter the main issues that were faced in Tera making it a perfect place for open world PvP.
Tera had a huge discrepancy in the power level of players because of gear and level differences. Even having a few items a single tier above the other completely skewed the fight into the realm of being a devastating defeat. There was no chance of defending oneself or even putting up a decent fight, with several extra levels you could even one shot people. Now while this made many extremely protective of their lower level players it created gameplay that was far from balanced and ended up promoting a strategy of killing lowbies at times for quick points and easy wins.
With the way GW2 automatically down levels people not just based on zone but also area means this is hardly the issue it was. Lower level players aren’t nearly as strong due to gear differences and traits but it is not so much as to be game breaking or ruin the experience. People can still fight back, stand a chance of getting away, and one person can’t completely control an entire zone. The down leveling system really is quite amazing and it is perfect for creating a more balanced open world pvp environment but it’s entirely underutilised at the moment.
Paths of Progression
In a lot of mmo’s I’ve played open world pvp becomes aggravating when higher level players or groups can completely bar another players progression. In Tera this happened quite regularly due to the narrow way the zones and questing was designed. There was one main way you could go which created many hotspots around particular progression funnels. When there are very few options to the player about when and were to go it exacerbates the situation, avoidance or finding another path aren’t options that help.
It wasn’t too much of an issue to some and promoted more social behaviour in relying on others, your guild and forming groups but it’s not something the general population would enjoy. Here in Tyria there are multiple zones at each level range and a number of different paths to cap. There are also many ways to level or progress that don’t involve zone questing as well. The options of different paths and zones becomes less near the end but once you’re that high the gear, skills and trait differences have also lessened.
A cure for Concerns
The main problem with this of course is that it would draw people away from WvW but I don’t see that as too much of a bad thing as it also creates many benefits.
We mostly play WvW to scratch that open world PvP itch but when played to exclusion of other areas it slowly ruins the experience. Providing another outlet would really invigorate much of the PvP population, a change of scenery and gameplay is great sometimes. Yes people may not play as often in WvW, and it may take key guilds out from time to time but the important part is that the population stick around rather than slowly drift away. Fix the leak now to avoid it becoming a torrent later.
I also think it would lessen the burden on many of the higher tiered servers having not as many people in there. It just wasn’t designed for the sheer numbers in terms of optimisation and server functioning. Let’s face it too, anything that lessens the size of the zergs is always welcome. For the lower servers where differences in numbers can fluctuate more widely it gives people somewhere else to go to enjoy unstructured PvP rather than sticking it out through horrid gameplay.
Another thing is that it gives more options to people when it comes to PvP and that is a great thing, many came to GW2 precisely for the PvP and it has been rather lacklustre so far. Even if the GvG community is a relatively small one you would still want to keep them around as it’s never good to lose population. Giving them a proper outlet for their interests would also remove a lot of the bad reputation that has been accrued and silence a rather vocal group that make the game look worse than it is which will affect prospective players. This would be perfect for them, add in a mechanic to add a wager when going to war and they will be frothing at the mouths with anticipation.
It would also bring a lot of people back, out into the world of Tyria again which would make many zones feel a lot more active. Some of these areas have been rather barren for a while and apart from the occasional champ train only the odd adventurer can be found. Just imagine walking along and then seeing a dozen people battling up ahead, with fields being thrown and players dodging everywhere; or during a big event chain seeing a rival guild pouring over the hill towards you. That sounds dynamic to me.
It doesn’t have to effect anyone that doesn’t want either. On the PvE servers in Tera there was no pvp flagging system and guilds could easily opt out of the GvG with a check box. It wasn’t as competitive I believe but it was a system more focused on fun, and I know the Anet crew love that phrase.
The one big complaint most will have regarding WvW is the complete lack of change to the environment and how stale the combat has gotten as a result. Making maps for WvW is hard and yet there is a perfect world out there waiting for some blood shed. In terms of development needed it’s more to do with ui things … Create a nice guild menu, a leader board, a few other menus, and the api stuff and there you go. They seem better at creating these then art assets. The mechanics of player combat are there from WvW already and because it’s in PvE land you can say from the outset that you won’t be balancing for if as that is what WvW and SPvP are for. It might be a decent money-maker too. Being in PvE land makes appearance more meaningful to people and it would probably be create a wave of transfers while the community create the main unofficial PvP servers.
So there really isn’t much of a down side to it that I can see apart from needing a certain amount of development resources and time. Something needs to be done for the PvP community as a whole, There have been some decent updates to WvW, and even Spvp has a serviceable system now but it is unfortunately still not enough to keep people playing when there are many other games out there to enjoy. A system like this may even bring back players that have quit or new players entirely as there are a lot of people out there craving for a decent open world PvP experience that aren’t hardcore enough for EvE or Darkfall. I know they are out there and surprisingly, they are a rather loyal bunch if you develop for their needs.