When it was announced that the newest event demo build for
style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars 2
would feature the first public look at structured PvP, I knew it was
going to be a defining moment in the development cycle of the game. The
Battle of Kyhlo map being featured at gamescom and PAX Prime represents
one of the last major pieces of the gameplay puzzle for style="font-style: italic;">GW2,
and I made
it a personal mission this weekend to get some hands-on time with PvP
to see how the Conquest game type is shaping up.
I had a golden opportunity to do exactly that last night during a trip
to the ArenaNet offices where the developer hosted a party for its
fans. For those fans lucky enough to attend, it gave them a chance to
spend some time talking and gaming with the style="font-style: italic;">GW2
team in a much more
relaxed setting than the show floor could ever provide.
Since I wasn’t able to attend the open house at
ArenaNet’s new offices earlier in the summer, Randall Price
was awesome enough to give me a personal tour of the new space. As an
audio nerd it was a definite highlight to see the on-site spaces used
by the audio team, and I also learned that the announcer in the newly
unveiled Battle of Kyhlo map is none other than Jon St. John, known by
many as the voice of Duke Nukem.
Eventually we made our way to one of the game testing spaces where
ArenaNet had set up 10 systems for fans to participate in some PvP, and
I jumped at the chance to play through as many matches as I was able.
Over the course of the evening I played in a good dozen matches, and
walked away with a good handle on how the Conquest game type is shaping
up. Given my background with the necromancer profession, it was also a
great opportunity to get a feel for just how badass the necro is in PvP.
In terms of build, I decided to change things up for each match since
our demo characters had access to all available skills and weapon sets
for their profession. Likewise, the overall tactics employed by the
teams I played on or against as the night progressed also changed up a
fair amount for each match. In some, the trebuchets factored heavily
into combat, while in others they were largely ignored.
Regardless of the specific tactical approach to the map, it was clear
from the outset that the pace of combat in PvP is far more active than
what you’d expect from an MMO. Matches were rarely one-sided,
and I could see exactly why it was said that PvP in style="font-style: italic;">GW2
appeal to competitive gamers of all stripes, such as hardcore FPS
There has been some debate amongst fans about whether the trebuchets in
the Battle of Khylo are over- or underpowered for the map. To be honest
I truly believe it really depends on how heavily teams opt to use them,
because they can certainly help or hinder your ability to capture and
hold each of the three points.
For example, in one match I decided to stick to defending a single
capture point. Building up a small army of minions and making active
use of weapon swaps, Death Shroud, and the newly revealed necro elite
skill Lich Form, I managed to fend off the opposing team for the first
half of the match. Eventually one of them must have decided that
they’d had enough and it became increasingly difficult to
hold the point while dodging a constant stream of siege attacks.
For the necro fans out there who have been itching to learn more about
Lich Form, or have begun to question the overall usefulness of the
latest iteration of Death Shroud, I’ll have a full report on
both points and much more this week over on href="http://www.necrobator.com/">NecroBator.com.
One thing I
will note here in the meantime, however, is that necros are one of the
most resilient professions in PvP currently, and Lich Form is a perfect
example of just how powerful elite skills are in style="font-style: italic;">GW2.
As powerful as the necro can be, skilled players would watch for me to
drop out of Death Shroud before unleashing a series of knockbacks and
stuns while it was recharging. That helped illustrate that PvP in style="font-style: italic;">GW2
will be far more about player skill and less about creating powerful,
Another thing that arose to the forefront during my PvP matches is the
way that cross-profession combos factor into combat. While
I’ve experienced this in smaller doses during my PvE
experiences with the game, the focal points created by the capture
points in Conquest matches made this aspect of combat far more readily
Rezzing teammates or using finishing moves on enemies to send them
directly to defeated also helps keep combat in PvP incredibly fluid.
Since both abilities can be interrupted, neither one felt overpowered
for the game type, and in fact added yet another layer of depth to the
overall experience. Likewise, the downed state abilities can really
save your bacon and help you stay in the fight rather than taking a
brief dirt nap. As a balancing mechanic, I think it was a smart call to
include the finishing moves because they add another tactical element
into the mix.
The overall pacing and length of matches is spot on, and it will be
interesting to see what kind of server and tournament types ArenaNet
adds into the mix. They’ve definitely nailed the sweet spot
of making PvP an exhilarating experience that leaves you itching to
dive into your next match as soon as your current one comes to a close.
I could have easily continued playing matches for most of the night,
and as my time at the ArenaNet offices came to a close I left wanting
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it once again;
Wars 2 is shaping up to be a
true industry changer. The same
attention and care being put into the design of the PvE experience has
gone into PvP as well, and I can easily see it developing into the next
great e-sport title that competitive gamers will flock to, regardless
of their genre backgrounds.
PvP has been the high point of my PAX experience this
year, and I have absolutely no doubts that style="font-style: italic;">GW2
is going to be a huge,
huge game. Guild
Wars 2 is the breath of fresh
air that the MMO
industry has sorely needed, and worthy of every bit of hype it receives.
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