Veni, Vidi, Vici
May 14th, spent the whole Stress Test playtime cruising around through WvW. In this post I’m going to tell you a bit more about my experience in WvW this Monday (I’ve taken some Screenies, hooray!) and drop some knowledge on WvW in general, stick around.
During the first Beta Weekend Event I did not have enough time to play WvW. I decided I wanted to explore a bit more of the initial PvE experience first, play the two classes I was most excited about (Elementalist and Warrior) and then, maybe, play some WvW. I can’t say I regret my choices, but this monday I realized WvW is probably the coolest PvP format I’ve ever experienced, it was well worth the 4+ hours of playtime I dedicated to it, hell, playing WvW only 4+ hours straight is way too little!
Before I start with WvW, I should say I also created another character. I wanted to try out a different class and so I ended up creating a Norn Guardian. I skipped most of the character creation process, not because I wasn’t interested but because 1) I realized I would be spoiling my experience at release and 2) I didn’t have much time to play, so I wanted to get my hands on the gameplay as soon as possible. The Norn starting zone seems interesting, the tutorial got my fighting against a big minotaur-bull kind of thing surrounded by other smaller fellows, which was an interesting fight. After that I fought the initial boss, a giant blue worm (forgot the name of the species). Suffice it to say, the bastard went down. I’d say ArenaNet could change just a little thing about that tutorial experience, instead of making it “Hunt an X, Y or Z” make it “Hunt an X, Y and Z”. I was expecting having to fight a few monsters, so when I noticed it was over after killing the first one I felt like… it was a bit poor. Other than that, it was about as cool as the human starting experience, and that is a good thing.
I eventually got a bit “bored” with my new character and decided to log into my Elementalist. I didn’t realize how much I had missed him. It’s funny, I knew I missed the game, but not my character. This has only happened to me two times, and the other was when I was playing WoW 6 years ago.. That’s a good sign 😉
So on to World versus World!! Before the BWE, I had not read much about WvW. I knew the very basics of it, but there was a lot of things I did not know about. For instance, and this might sound really dumb, but it was not until a few days after the BWE that I found out WvW is not fought on one hug map with 4 subzones. After doing a bit of reading and watching a few Youtube videos I discovered it’s actually fought in 4 different zones, without connection between each other other than portals. Another thing I did not know about and did not understand in the BWE were Siege Weapons and the Supply system. Understanding these concepts is essential if you want to have a fun and successful experience in WvW.
Siege weapons are feature the usual suspects. If you ever played any Historial RTS (think Age of Empires) you probably know what Catapults, Trebuchets, Ballistae, Rams and Cannons are. Then there’s also Arrow Carts, Mortars, Pots of Boiling Oil and Siege Golems. Each weapon has a different strength. For instance, with an arrow cart you can wipe out large groups of enemy players pretty quickly at a moderate range, while with a Flame Ram you’ll deal massive damage to Gates at very short range. Another thing that differentiates the weapons is their objective. Some are used to defend structures while others are meant to be offensive. Of course there’s some flexibility, for instance you can use the arrow cart in both styles as it is very effective either way.
In order to get a Siege Weapon ready to fire you first need to acquire it’s blueprint. These are one-use items you buy from specialized NPC’s in WvW. You can find Siegemasters at your team’s base and you can also hire them to your keeps and to Stonemist Castle. I’m not sure if you can hire them for your towers, but I don’t think so. The blueprints cost a few silver coins, except for the Siege Golem blueprint, which costs 1 gold. Of course these are BWE and Stress Test prices, but I think it’s safe to assume Siege Golems will cost more. Note that not all weapons can be built with blueprints. Only Arrow Carts, Ballistae, Siege Golems, Catapults, Trebuchets and Flame Rams can be built with blueprints. The other weapons are built on structures and require Sctructural Upgrades from the Quartermaster avaiable in the Keep / Castle.
After that you’ll need to gather supplies to set the weapon up. Supplies are resources mined at Supply Camps scattered around the maps. Near a Tower or Keep there’s almost always a Supply Camp. These work just like the Towers and Keeps, in the sense that they can be conquered and controlled by the player teams. Once a team gains control of a resource camp, every few minutes a Dolyak will spawn carrying supplies to the nearest tower(s) or keep(s). This generates a Dynamic Event that requires you to defend your dolyak or attack it if they’re an enemy. I don’t know how much supply a dolyak carries on each route, but I’d guess it’s a decent number.
After the dolyak provides the tower/keep with supply, players can now pick some up from the supply depot. Each player can carry at maximum 10 units of supply, and that is the amount you pick up every time you go to a depot (unless, of course, you don’t have 0 supply on you; if you have 5 supply then you only pick up 5 units from the depot). These supplies are used in a number of different tasks: you can use it to build a siege weapon, to repair a siege weapon (I’m not 100% sure about this), to repair structures like walls or gates and, last but not least, it’s also used by Tower / Keep workers when they build structural upgrades on the objective.
I didn’t get to play with many different Siege Weapons, but I got the feeling they were all pretty much well done and balanced. Sometimes I’d get 1 shot out of the blue by a cannon miles away, but it didn’t make me think cannons in particular were overpowered, it makes sense honestly. If you get hit by a massive cannon ball that is speeding down towards you, what are the chances of surviving? Besides, most of the siege weapons, offensive or defensive, can be destroyed fairly easy with cooperation between players, so they need high damage to compensate for that. All in all, siege weapons are an essential component of victory, as without them you’ll see yourself mindlessly bashing at a gate for hours and notice you’re still not even half way through the health bar. Siege Weapons deal massive damage to structures and are key to breaching the defenses and conquering objectives for your server. On the other hand, they might also be just the thing you need to hold your structures, and they are particularly helpful when you are at number disadvantage.
I did get a bad feeling about WvW though. I got the idea that no one (at least on my server) was defending. You know, it seemed like people were just zerging around to the nearest objective. Ok, we had most objectives dominated, and it was just Beta, and not everyone understands WvW yet, and there wasn’t much organisation between the players and people just wanted to play. I get it. I hope when the game is released I see strategy and planning being a much more central and important piece of WvW. I’d hate it if it just became like Alterac Valley: a mindless zerg to the objectives.
There are still a few (dare I say many?) problems and bugs with WvW, but I think it’s nothing that won’t be fixed soon. ArenaNet could and should make some improvements to how WvW info is delivered to players, how they are directed to interest points, etc. For instance, I was at Lion’s Arch trying to decide which map to go to but since there’s no information about WvW outside of it (apart from the scoreboard), I felt it was a matter of luck. I wanted to find fights going on, but there were big chances everyone was clustered in a single map because of the very short time to play. There’s even problems finding battles inside a map. The orange swords system is interesting, but it’s far from perfect and the small green dots indicating players should be noticeable from a greater distance, it felt like I could only see the green dots when I had the players in my field of vision, and that’s not very helpful.
At the end of the day, World versus World is definitely on my top 5 reasons to love Guild Wars 2. The gameplay is awesome (as it is in the rest of the game), there’s enough room for immense planning and strategizing battles (which is something I have direly searched for) and the rewards you get from participating in WvW are interesting too. Couple that with the excitement of PvP and the challenges WvW presents in terms of battle balance and you got a winning PvP format if you ask me. I’m dieing to get my hands on some WvW action again, I thought the Stress Test would sooth my GW2 addiction but it only made it worse!!
PS: I took a couple screenies with max Graphic settings like the one above, this game looks so amazing, It’s a shame my computer would probably melt down if I tried playing Guild Wars 2 on full settings 😛