All aboard and welcome everyone to a brand-new series here on Massively Overpowered: Fight or Kite, our new column focusing on PvP across the MMORPG genre. Let’s get right on into the thick of things and talk about the state of Guild Wars 2‘s World versus World, or WvW, and whether the new Warclaw mount has the staying power to make me a regular WvWer again.
At MOP, we’ve already got the best coverage of Guild Wars 2 in the industry, but for the uninitiated, let me provide a quick-start guide to WvW.
Quick-start guide to WvW
The game mode has gone by different names, but it always means the same thing: It’s a mode of PvP, but focused more often on large-scale fights over territory or property rather than on small team battles. In the days of yore, we simply called it Realm versus Realm, or RvR. And a Realm? That’s just a server or a faction your character is aligned with. So, boil it down and you’re left with my server versus your server. WvW is no different in that respect. With Guild Wars 2’s edition, as with many iterations, we actually have a three-way fight. It’s my world versus your world versus that world over there, also know as a TW… never mind.
With Guild Wars 2, you have a choice of servers to pick from when you first create your account. This is your home world for purposes of WvW. Once upon a time, there was actually some PvE integration with WvW, but I’ll explain that later.
Now, what kind of competition would it be if there weren’t a way to determine winners and losers? Guild Wars 2 calls it the Mist War for various lore-related reasons. There’s a whole slew of rules governing how points are earned, which servers are matched up against each other every week, and how you can help contribute as an individual. For this discussion, though, this should be enough of an overview. You might say I’m only dipping a toe in the water of WvW here, so if you really want to learn more, head over to the Guild Wars 2 Wiki and dive right in.
My past experience with WvW
I originally came into Guild Wars 2 WvW with high hopes. Prior to WvW, I was clashing with the forces of Destruction in Warhammer Online. Many of those battles were memorable. I can’t forget rolling with a cavalry in to flank the enemy and wipe them out before they really hit the keep head on. Admittedly, between the lag and bounce back, I likely saw only about 10 frames of that battle, but in my mind those missing frames from engagement to the enemies running away were glorious.
Even prior to the removal of culling, I always felt as if Guild Wars 2 handled lag during a massive battle fairly well, so I absolutely had a blast roaming around with the zerg and taking over towers and keeps. We all looked fairly silly hoofing it throughout the map without mounts, but mounts did not exist at the time and were not even a possibility as far as anyone was concerned. Honestly, it didn’t matter so much either. We were there to fight, right?
In the first couple years of WvW, it was all pretty new, and that alone was enough for it to be fun and exciting. After a certain point, though, there really needs to be more. We need rewards!
Is WvW rewarding?
When I think of rewards and why am I playing X, Y, or Z, it doesn’t need to be something as tangible as this new shiny sword and board I can equip. No, for me, I just like to have some kind of purpose. Don’t get me wrong; I can queue up for some good PvP hour after hour after hour, just smashing faces without even thinking about what kind of loot I’m getting. In those cases, the reward is the action and excitement of (mostly) non-stop combat. But with WvW fights, it just doesn’t really work that way. There is down time, whether it’s from moving from Point A to Point B or just the fact that neither zerg wants to fight the other.
Now, you don’t have to run with the zerg. You can roam around, you can get a small team and capture camps, and if you are organized enough, you can even poke the opposing zergs just to keep them on their toes. But let’s be honest: The typical, casual MMO player is just going to join the zerg. Hell, I bet the average hardcore WvW player just joins the zerg too. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is when I begin to ask myself: What’s the point of this?
The current rewards system allows you to earn loot by your participation – participation meaning you’ve been in fights and captured territory and such. As someone who plays PvE in Guild Wars 2 significantly, I’ve already earned or hunted down the various gear and shiny bits in PvE that I want, so that whole system means basically nothing to me. Maybe I get lucky and an exotic item drops (yay!). Even then, though, it’s almost never anything I wanted. My character already looks splendid because he’s already decked out exactly the way I want him to look.
I mentioned there was some integration between PvE and WvW. Once upon a time, PvE players actually saw some pretty nice benefits for being on a winning WvW server.
See, if your server was winning its battles, then your server also got additional buffs and bonuses for PvE. That’s cool, right? You would get extra chances for critical successes while crafting or bonus defense against monsters, among other things. That right there is a great reason to always feel as if you’re being rewarded for your efforts in WvW.
However, in June 2017, ArenaNet pulled the plug on that set of rewards. Sure, it added a shiny new backpack too, but that looked more like a grind than anything else. Honestly, the quickest way to turn me off of playing your game is a straight up grind. I suppose I was already gearing down my time in WvW anyways, but this made me take another look at what am I doing with my time.
Here I was, looking at loot that I didn’t care about and getting completely bored of running around to capture a tower or keep. On the reverse, it became apparent that we usually let the enemy take it back – because who cares if they do? Sure, there is the occasional clash of the zergs, but even that gets old. That’s when I packed up my boots of swiftness and didn’t look back.
Then suddenly, out of the Mists last month, without any warning, a new reward appeared.
The Warclaw brought me back. Will I stay?
The reward was the Warclaw, a new mount that can be earned only in WvW. At first glance I don’t see anything particularly enticing about it. All the abilities are WvW-focused (rightly so), but since I hadn’t even stepped foot in the Mists in years, perhaps things had changed and I’d find that spark that had been missing for so long, so I logged in to take a peek.
I must admit, it took me a couple of minutes of clicking around the WvW menu to see what I needed to do to get the achievement started. (I wish someone had given more thought to how a player would unlock the Warclaw without looking it up online.) Eventually, though, I stumbled over it and was off to the races. After a brief queue, I entered the map and immediately looked around for that unmistakable commander tag. Several attempts to catch up with the tag later, I eventually made it.
It is slightly difficult to keep up with the pack now that so many people already have their Warclaw, but it wasn’t an impossible task. We roamed around, taking a tower, then some camps, and eventually moving on to take a keep. Along the way we had a few zerg vs. zerg encounters that were unmistakably Guild Wars 2 WvW. One team runs around teasing the other. Run through the group; run back.
I haven’t completed the achievement to earn the Warclaw, but it is moving at a decent clip. At this point I have to ask myself: Is it any fun? Was coming back for another go-round worth it? Yeah, you know what, it is fun. That does count for a lot, at least while I’m working toward earning this mount.
However, I have my doubts that I’ll become a regular again. I’ll get my Warclaw but likely won’t jump back into the fray much more beyond that. The issue remains that there just isn’t a strong enough reason for me to spend time in WvW. Until there is a better reason for me to be there, I just have to continue to find my fill of battles elsewhere.
What about all of you PvP/WvWers out there? Have you taken the time to dive back into the Mists and earn your Warclaw? Do you think it was worth the time and effort? Are you going to be sticking around, or is it just a means to get your kitty mount?