Going into 2015 there’s a lot riding on ArenaNet releasing an expansion pack. With only theories behind its development, one corner of Guild Wars 2 that desperately needs some intervention is its Structured PvP. While the recent changes to the game mode are welcome and have seen some increased participation, there are still significant flaws. The New Year and potential expansion pack is AreanNet’s best opportunity to fix these. Here’s my analysis of the current Meta and what I would change.
To start with the most obvious, the Celestial Amulet is crippling Guild Wars 2’s PvP. For any class capable of Might stacking (Engineer, Warrior or Elementalist) Celestial Amulet’s are statistically far superior to any other Amulet. Amulet’s provide a variety of total Attributes but Celestial is significantly higher. Combined with Might stacks of 10 or more, these three classes are capable of not only dealing enormous Power based damage, but Conditions as well. Worse, their survivability is enormous because of their combined skills and utilities. I regularly play Celestial Engineer and what I’m afforded thanks to the Amulet leaves me questioning why I ever play any other class. To play any other class means you’re facing an uphill struggle the moment you start and while these Celestial builds can be beaten, it’s far harder work than it ever should be.
Before Celestial builds became the "norm", you’d actually see a good spread of classes within PvP and as part of that, there would be an element of tactical play in the fights you chose to engage in, depending on your classes strengths and weaknesses. Now and if you’re either an Engineer, Warrior or Elementalist there’s no need to do this: you excel at absolutely everything. As a result, there’s no thought process other than “I’m good everywhere.”
Part of the reason why the Celestial Amulet is so strong is because the three classes who use it are capable of Might Stacking above 10 stacks. When an Elementalist, with almost no effort, can obtain 25 Might Stacks, not only is he going to hit like a truck but when paired with the Celestial Amulet means his Attributes are untouchable. The exact same can be said for a Hambow or Shout Warrior and a Rifle Engineer. The problem ArenaNet have is that limiting Might stacking in PvP would go down with the community like a pricked balloon while nerfing Celestial to compensate would make the Amulet entirely useless. Perhaps not a popular opinion but at this point I’d simply remove the Celestial Amulet and replace Blasting Fire Fields with another Boon.
Evasion and Dodging Is Too Prevalent
There was a time when utilising a Dodge would require both skill and timing. They were precious to you because you knew that Endurance acquisition wasn’t easy to come by. Where we now find ourselves in PvP is that Endurance acquisition comes too easily. Combined with a variety of skills that provide Evasion and it’s a recipe for disaster. Little thought now goes into dodging and instead players simply use the skill in abundance in the knowledge they’ll be able to dodge again only seconds later. There’s simply too much access to Vigor and Endurance regeneration while skills that offer Evasion have too little cooldown. Reducing the prevalence of these 3 things will once again place emphasis on the importance of dodging. I'm sure we've all come up against a Thief or Ranger wildly flailing around doing very little but avoiding almost every single piece of incoming damage. It's just silly.
SKILL AND TRAIT CHANGES
There have been too few Skill and Trait changes since Guild Wars 2 launched. Too many skills are still terrible in both a PvP and PvE environment while too many Traits serve no purpose or are downright terrible. This leads players into the same tried and tested Meta setups with too few variations and the feeling that the PvP has grown stale. For the Trait system to truly work every single Trait, irrespective of whether it’s a minor or grand-master, needs to be awesome. Traits such as Acidic Elixir’s or Empowering Adrenaline have no place when they are fundamentally poor. Traits should always offer a very difficult choice as to how to build your class because the pro’s and con’s over one Trait or another should be significant. As far as skills as concerned, they too should cause a player difficult choices in what to take. At the moment it’s simply a case of classes still using most of the skills that they always have. Elites and at least half of all skills are poor and unviable while some are far too strong.
Double Sigils and On Crit Triggers
I sometimes take my Longbow Ranger into Ranked Arena for a break from playing Celestial or if I’ve grown frustrated at my Mesmer. Like most spike classes (including Shatter Mesmer and Thieves) everyone double stacks Superior Sigil of Fire and Superior Sigil of Air. These two Sigils are not only capable of dealing enormous damage in an instant but the ability to mitigate or avoid that spike is impossible. To be able to spike thousands of damage in an instant every 5 seconds is frightening, even more so when it’s unavoidable. Whether it’s Mug or Rapid Fire, the ability to combine these sigils is too strong and simply results in luck playing too bigger part in success. If two Mesmers or Thieves are facing off it literally becomes a case of who triggers Fire or Air first as to the winner. That’s wholly wrong and undermines player skill when fighting an opponent.
Reading Skills and Passive Traits
AreanNet did well to add an option to standardize the models you see in the game but what they failed to do is add visible queues for all skills and Traits. Whether it’s the Fear from a Necromancer and his Rune of the Nightmare or an Engineer using Net Shot, they lack “tells”. As a result it’s incredibly difficult to know exactly when to dodge or interrupt. Runes such as Rune of the Nightmare should have a passive glow on the character, just like a Guardian has when Aegis is active. Players need to be able to see and understand what they’re up against so that the playing field is fair. To be feared for 2 seconds without knowing if the Necromancer has it on cooldown is frustrating and it feels cheap. ArenaNet have already acknowledged this recently by adding a tell to a Ranger’s Point Blank Shot but such animations should be on all skills so that they can be learnt.
What are your thoughts on Guild Wars 2's current Meta? What would you change going into 2015? Is its PvP salvagable? Let us know!