Guild Wars 2 - Four Weeks In
Guild Wars 2 - Four Weeks In
Here we are, at the end of my month with Guild Wars 2. My first week I talked about questing, the second week I talked about combat, last week I talked about crafting and this week we are going to take a look at Player vs Player. More World vs World than standard structured PvP, as I'll explain.
Quick, kill the door before it eats us all!
I have never been a fan of 'Arena' style PVP in any MMO or non-skill based game. That isn't to say the best PVP combatants don't have skill - they certainly do, but they also have some things I lack - dedication and friends. While you can join a random battle and fight, the real meat of the gameplay comes from having a dedicated team with specific roles allowing you to fight effectively.
Once you have a team assembled you enter an entirely different mindset - everything you do is preparation for PvP. You build characters towards it, get gear for it and arrange play time around it. A low level character isn't worth anything, because even when you are bumped up to level 80 upon entering you just don't have the abilities to be effective.
Guild Wars 2's World vs World is different however, because even someone who has played for a total of 5 minutes - a person who has hardly figured out the controls and still has yet to unlock all of their weapon skills - adds something to the team. This is because WvW focuses on large scale combat, giving everyone a role to play - even if it's just the disappointing role of soaking up damage and increasing the life expectancy of other players.
The basic premise of WvW is this: Your server (the titular World) fights people on other servers for supremacy over territory, gaining boons for players in PvE. To do this you take over supply camps, fortresses and keeps, defend them from invaders and build up the resources to strengthen them. WvW takes place over several huge maps - and is easily recognisable to PvE players, to the point of having Points of Interest, Vistas and Skill Points to capture across the map, albeit incredibly dangerous to reach (or straight up inaccessible) if you don't control the map.
The WvW panel looks confusing, but in layman's terms my team (red) are getting their ass kicked.
While it seems familiar at first however, there are significant differences between WvW and PvE - and fighting against real people is a very minor part. A lot of work goes into defending and assaulting your enemy and not all of it is clear up front. I remember when I first jumped into WvW (after staring confused at the oblique in-game menu, accessed by pressing B) and I was presented with a Charr who would tell me 'the basics', a bunch of Asura Gates leading to places I'd never heard of and a swathe of shopkeepers.
Once I'd spoken to the charr about 'the basics' (who might as well just say ĎWin.í for all the help he is) I stepped out beyond the gates of the spawn area... and was lost for what to do. Playing on Australian time means sometimes being fairly lonely on the battlefield, so alone I struck out for a nearby supply camp, which my world needed to take back. Occupied by Veteran Guards, Veteran Scouts and various other tough enemies, I was quickly decimated - and decided to leave WvW for later.
Whereas I generally advocate learning from doing in any game and avoiding guides, World vs World is one area where the Official Wiki can be very helpful. My first encounter with WvW took place during the first week of the game, but after browsing the wiki and learning a bit about how to play, I was ready to give it another shot.
See, World vs World isn't just two teams of two hundred whacking at each other with swords and magic in the middle of a field - although it can devolve into that if one server manages a commanding enough victory to camp outside another team's spawn. There are a series of events you need to follow in order to get things moving - you need to take over supply camps to gain supplies, then assault fortresses to occupy land, then eventually move on to keeps to dominate the countryside.
You don't just do that on one giant map however, you have to do it across four giant maps - which can exacerbate the loneliness problem I mentioned earlier, if you aren't playing on one of the constantly full servers like Anvil Rock. You can usually find some action by checking which map has the most balance - if the map is close to equally shared between all three worlds, itís likely to be heavily contested. On my second attempt at WvW I found a battle on the map - marked by two crossed swords - and made my way over there.
Events like taking out centaur camps can be very worthwhile.
On my way, I was joined by two other random people - and one of them was a bit of an old hand at WvW. She was explaining how to play to her newbie friend and was happy to help me out too. We reached the battle - it was taking place at the supply camp I'd died at a week ago - and an embarrassed (and dead) newbie explained that he didn't really know what he was doing. Lucky for him then that school was in session.
Resurrecting our new team mate, we attacked and took over the supply with relative ease - and instead of moving on up to the nearby fortress - where we would likely die, our teacher suggested we defend the supply camp while we learn the ropes and wait for others to turn up. This also gave her a chance to teach another fundamental part of WvW to us - siege weapons and supply.
Siege weapons like catapults, battering rams and arrow carts do more damage than regular attacks, but require two things to build - blueprints, which can be picked up (rarely) as loot or purchased from siegemasters. Along with blueprints, they also require supplies - if you havenít picked up any supplies, you canít build siege weapons. You also canít fortify or repair walls of keeps, or construct cauldrons of boiling oil to pour down on attackers. In other words, if the first thing you did upon entering WvW was anything other than picking up supplies, you are screwing yourself and your entire team over.
After we defended our supply camp from various Veteran Archers and invaders from other servers, we set out for a nearby fortress - meeting up with fifteen of our fellow combatants along the way. Fortresses and Keeps have doors and walls with incredibly high hit points - even with a group of fifty attackers you will still need siege equipment to take them down in the foreseeable future. Fortunately, with our supplies and a few lucky drops we had three battering rams up and running in no time and it wasnít too long before we poured into the camp to wash over the three poor players attempting to defend it.
Like all fights, I was doing really well here right up until I died.
Like most things in life, itís much easier to get a grip on WvW when you are successful, which made it easier for me to see where my own personal issues lay. Basically, my character was a downright mess when it came to PvP combat. I had heals, conditional damage and assorted other skills lying about at reckless abandon - and while my set up made PvE easy to deal with, it was no good against other players with skills and decent hit points.
I decided to keep my scepter and focus and drop my backup dagger and warhorn in favour of a staff - Necromancerís staff skills are almost entirely trap-style marks doing damage over time - and focus the rest of my skills on building minions. The biggest benefit of minions being - when my internet lags in the middle of a battle as it occasionally - but inevitably - does, I will still be doing something.
With my minions bugging an enemy I can sit back and drop marks on them, or switch weapons and saddle them with vulnerability - healing my minions in the bargain. To top it off I have traits in the Spite and Death Magic lines - adding +30% minion damage, +50% minion health and giving minions a 10% chance to steal boons when they attack.
Strangely, it wasnít until after Iíd spent my last two gold at the Necromancer trainer to change my traits that I realised exactly how deeply WvW had sucked me in. After that it made sense to spend 15000 karma points to equip my character in better armour and now I guess I have no choice to continue. To be honest though, that is perfectly fine with me.
I learned a lot of things playing Guild Wars 2. I learned I can actually have fun with a group of strangers, when Iím not forced into it. I learned that Ettins love potatoes. I learned I am just as bad with money in video games as I am in real life. Most importantly though, I learned you can make a freaking amazing MMO and you donít need to charge a subscription fee. And when you think about it, isnít that really what Christmas is all about?
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