Last week, I reviewed the most recent Flame & Frost update for Guild Wars 2, The Razing, and I would advise you to read about it here before continuing with this article.
In short, I was highly critical of the update. As a regular World vs World player, the news that the game mode would be receiving an update was music to my ears. The new update sets out to reward us for our dedication to the cause with a shiny rank and some new abilities.
Sadly, ‘Nice’ is the best word to describe the update. Everybody likes to be rewarded and everyone likes to get new abilities, but that isn’t enough. While WvW is a fantastic idea and has been a big part of Guild Wars 2 since the game launched, for long term players, it has become far too stagnant.
Prior to the update, partaking in WvW already had benefits; Badges of Honor, loot, karma and experience were all rewards the player was given for their time. Progression already existed in the form of servers going up or down a tier, depending on how well one server does against the other. The system remained flawed, however. Badges of Honor desperately needed a broader marketplace for purchases and the tier system needed to be made more available to players in the game; the latter will happen when leaderboards are introduced to the game.
With The Razing, all of that seems forgotten about, and it’s a shame that ArenaNet have merely resorted to tempting players back to the game mode by adding additional rewards. WvW needs to be picked apart, analysed and given strength in depth. Players want, need and deserve something more tangible that will stand the test of time. I have some thoughts on how that can be achieved.
As of now, battles take place across 4 different maps, 3 of which belong to each server and 1 being a no man’s land. The 3 maps that belong to each server are identical to one another, the only difference being where players will spawn.
Map variety is a problem. Despite there being 4 maps to play on, only two are unique. Players will find themselves taking the same garrison and the same supply camps over and over again. When that’s stretched out over a 7 month time period, it’s no surprise that players have become ‘bored’ of the game mode and choose to play something else within Guild Wars 2.
Variety, variety and more variety is the key solution to this problem. Much like the common FPS shooter, maps should be rotated each time a game ends. The closest WvW gets to alternating is at the end of every week when the score resets and the ranks are adjusted. During this period, the maps should be changed to something different, keeping players on their toes and providing something new challenges every seven days.
I happened across one very clever idea involving each server having their own unique map based on the lore of that server or even just different maps for each server. Unless players are on a server such as Vabbi - bound to the bottom tier – then each week will bring a new map to battle with this system. It’s almost as if the current WvW maps have been excluded from the fantastic map design that Guild Wars 2 possesses in places such as Caledon Forest and Wayfarer Foothills.
Another problem is that there are plenty of people who have attained the commander ability due to having vast sums of money and no WvW credentials. This results in commanders leading and aren’t entirely sure what they are supposed to be doing. When people like that are in charge of an entire map, it can be extremely costly for the server.
WvW isn’t a game mode that rewards players in large sums of money. The 100 gold price tag on Commander rank, ironically, is difficult to reach by merely partaking in WvW. So, naturally, it can produce Commanders who have spent more time in PvE earning gold than playing WvW. When discussing this with fellow players, the question often raised is “What should it cost instead?” and various amounts of karma, badges of honor and gold are regularly suggested.
This is where the new progression system becomes useful. While I’m not going to name an exact level or price, there should be thresholds in place, preventing players from purchasing rank unless they have reached a certain level in the WvW progression system. Even offering the option to buy it with other currency, besides gold, would make it more friendly towards the active WvW player.
Earlier on, I mentioned the server Vabbi being bound to the bottom tier along with Fissure of Woe, and for people on those servers it would seem pointless fighting in WvW because they never progress. Unfortunately, being a lower populated server compared to those above can and will work against them. Sadly, this is a common trend, with exceptions such as Blacktide where Higher Population = Higher ranking.
But things can change, and while my ideas may be slightly drastic, hopefully it will shake up the current rankings on both the EU and America ladders.
Currently there are 51 servers in total, 27 EU servers and 24 America. If they were all combined into one ladder and then split into three different leagues, that would make 17 in each league and it’d work like the English football league in that servers can earn promotion and relegation from each league. The argument against doing that has been down to timezone difference and server capacity. Currently on EU servers, timezones can range from +0 to +8, America’s bigger timezone difference is -8. Taking that into consideration, there wouldn’t be any additional problems with timezones that don’t already exist.
I don’t know how ArenaNet’s server hosting or networks functions, so I can’t comment on that, but I’m quite convinced that there are ways of making this work.
Don’t get me wrong, its possible similar issues could occur with this system with no real movement within the rankings. However, with a few server merges here and there to balance things out, it does present more opportunities for each server to progress in competitive WvW.
If ArenaNet want this game mode to last a year or two from now, and I hope that is the case, they need to make some serious changes. Make this an infallible game mode that unites servers and get the adrenaline pumping. We want the initial rush we had at the very beginning when this was all fresh and new.
There’s a lot of potential here, I definitely don’t want to see it lost.