Fight or Kite: The case for dueling in Guild Wars 2

Fight or Kite: The case for dueling in Guild Wars 2

Let me tell you all about one of the most obvious holes in the Guild Wars 2 PvP armor.

No, it’s not the infrequent balance changes. No, it’s not the lack of diverse game modes. No no no, it’s not the lack of communication or support for the PvP modes. Let’s get down to an even more basic level feature than that: I’m talking about simple one-on-one duels.

Now please, put down your pitchforks and torches, count backwards from 10, and just give me a chance to make a case for its inclusion. I’ve had this debate dozens of times with friends and foes alike, so I’ll do my best to address the multiple concerns I’ve heard against it. But first, let me tell you why it would be great for Guild Wars 2.

Guild Wars 2 has some amazing combat

Even after playing dozens of other MMOs, I find Guild Wars 2 continues to stand head and shoulders above when it comes to combat. Fights feel fluid without being floaty. Activating a skill is sharp and snappy, and when you land a blow, it feels right. And finally, once you have gotten totally accustomed to your class, you can set up combos and be prepared for counter play.

Now, that isn’t to say that the balance is perfect (we know it isn’t and it never will be) but in most fights, if you have the experience to know what attacks and combos are coming your way, you have a chance to fight back and make a battle out of it. Unless it’s a Mirage…

The open world maps have locations begging for duels

There are so many great locations in the game already made that would be ideal dueling sites. There are places in cities that would be great, but even some excellent ones found throughout the world could work.

See the fighter’s pit above? If I recall correctly, there is a brief quest that takes you here exactly one time, and then you never have a reason to come here again. Why let a location that would be perfect for a few friends to come hang out in and battle simply sit here wasting away?

Duel while waiting for events to start

The primary reason for adding dueling would be to give players something else to do during downtime – specifically, when waiting for events or queues to pop. Many of the recent Living World events are designed to start on a specific timer; this results in a ton of downtime. I can only salvage and move around items in my bag so many times. You’re standing around, twiddling your thumbs, hopefully your thumbs, no judgment though – dueling would give players something to do.

I’m not advocating for any kind of free-for-all open PvP, mind you. If we are designing something that doesn’t exist, let’s design it right. There should be a default option to totally opt out of all dueling request. Include an option to auto block players temporarily, maybe for 10 minutes, if you decline their request. We should also make sure it’s obvious who wants to duel and who doesn’t, so put a boon icon that indicates players are open to duels. It can be something like the bonus experience icons you get from birthday boosters or the call to the mists. Another option might be to replace the PvP league badge while you are in PvE with a dueling icon.

Now, let me address the biggest issues I’ve heard with dueling.

Players already have PvP arenas and WvW

This is one of the strongest, and simultaneously weakest, arguments against any form of dueling, the reason being that it is 100% accurate. We actually do have multiple modes of PvP already available to us. The problem, however, is neither mode actually handles the problem that dueling solves.

In structured arenas, or sPvP, players have slightly altered versions of their normal PvE skill set – not a huge issue but it is a difference. The bigger issue is that going to sPvP removes you from the map and any events you were waiting on. This is the same issue that WvW dueling has.


Now, I realize there is some sort of dueling community in WvW. Players will agree to meet up at Obsidian Sanctum or behind the windmill. Even in WvW there are a number of obstacles; you can’t duel someone that is on your server or even talk to players on the opposing one. But really, the idea of a duel is to be somewhat spontaneous for two random players to fight it out. I just want something to do while waiting around!

Game balance would be ruined

I have yet to ever meet someone who specifically wanted to change game balance for duels. Dueling is a way to pass the time or test out your skills versus someone else. In a full free for all game, sure it would be part of the balance considerations, but we aren’t talking about that kind of game. I don’t think people care about balance in duels either. If thieves are constantly beating me in duels, then I’ll just stop fighting them.

Sure, yes, you are right, there will be players who will lose to those thieves and cry foul and insist that it isn’t fair and that their class needs buffs. I guess we don’t hear anything like that already, right?

It would be a waste of development time

This one is so subjective I almost didn’t address it, but I hear it time and time again. I understand if you don’t think dueling is worth the time and effort, but lots of players do. I’m sure a ton of players thought raids were a waste, but we have them, and to the players who love raiding raiding was a huge addition to the game.

We’re all just players in this game, and my opinions aren’t worth any more than yours or anyone else’s. But I think we can all agree that we want the game to continue to succeed. So why wouldn’t we want to have more players feel welcome in our world?


It would create a toxic environment in game

This is probably the most popular argument against duels: “Duelers are toxic and would ruin the game!” But who is really the toxic one here? The players looking for another form of gameplay they enjoy, or the players who insist that the “others” are bad and would ruin the game?

I’ve got news for everyone in MMO land: If you think PvP is the only form of toxicity and you can reduce your troll population without it, you are sorely mistaken. Guild Wars 2 has a great community, but we have our trolls too. The team that waits until you are near the end of the raid or fractal and then boots you from the group? Trolls. The players who literally stand on top of the NPC you need to complete the achievements? Trolls. The players who beg for gold and then jump around and follow you for ignoring them? Trolls.

Trolls are going to troll. But it is a really unfair generalization to say that players who like dueling are going to ruin the game. Live and let live. I’m going to eat my Brussels sprouts and you can have your cake. I really shouldn’t have to leave the coffee shop just because I brought my own snack. We can all share the wi-fi while I work on my next screenplay. Yes, I am going to order a coffee in a minute!

Dueling would become another feature that adds and improves the game for players. I’ve always thought of Guild Wars 2 (and the original game for that matter) as totally inclusive and welcoming of all kinds of players and their playstyles. We have one of the best communities. It’s one of the reasons I love the game. So let’s call on to the duelers and PvPers and let them know this is a welcoming and great community for all players and let them know they have a place here too.

So, peasants, standing at my castle door with your torches in hand ready to destroy me and my creature, what are your thoughts on duels in Guild Wars 2? What about in general? Are you fans of dueling – or do you think it is the bane of all that is righteous in a PvE world?

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!

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Dilly Dolly

PvE is my thing. I’m very bad at any competitive games. But sure PvP arenas around the open world is a great idea to utilise maps.

IMO I’d like some sports (eg Norn’s Keg Brawl) rather than duel.

Carlo Lacsina
Carlo Lacsina

I’d love duels, this community’s got an awesome RP community and it’ll give combat options rather than the traditional roll-based methods.



So, I’m curious… Is there a reason using the guild arena will not suffice? It does take a significant investment to setup, sure, but I bet if you started a dueling guild, people would flock to it and contribute. That is, If one does not exist already. With that, you could swap guilds when feeling like dueling to let nearby people know you’re looking to duel.
Also, having access to a guild from anywhere in the world, and the ability to leave the guild hall and pop right back, shouldn’t impede your current activity too much (unless you’re in a meta map instance, it is super frustrating to accidentally lose a spot when a map fills up). You can even invite party members to join you, so guild size restrictions aren’t a blocker.
I admit, as far as convenience it’s nowhere close to a “duel this guy” button, but definitely possible. The biggest issue is the cost to get a guild to the point you get a lvl 2 arena.
If you start a dueling guild, let me know :3

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Paragon Lost

More options is always better when it comes to mmorpgs. More activities tends to give players more reasons to log into the game. Opt out mechanics needs to of course be an option as well.

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I wasn’t even aware that people wanted this. It goes to show how much attention I pay to PvP.

I’m a big carebear and all, but I wouldn’t be against this. It’d be interesting to see people duel while, as you mentioned, I wait on a meta event.

The only cause for concern I have for implementing dueling is for any way players could find a way to exploit unintended consequences. Like if players get to low health to proc an effect to then find a way to find an advantage against mobs or if players train mobs to dueling players on low health. I don’t think they would be unsolvable, but I know the developers would have to spend at least some time solving them.

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As long as I could COMPLETELY and utterly opt-out of any and all dueling, I’d be fine. My issues in other games with dueling is being hassled by mental nine-year-olds stalking me and repeating ‘duel me, bro!’

Frankly, I don’t want it. I didn’t want raids, either, but I don’t have to participate.