Anyone who’s been paying attention to Guild Wars 2 lately knows that the recent release of End of Dragons brought with it a whole bunch of new features and content for the PvE crowd. Now, some of that will naturally spill over into PvP due to the addition of new class specializations, but as I pen the PvP-themed Fight or Kite column here on MassivelyOP, I’m always holding out hope that there’s going to be more to it than that.
I spent some time in the betas getting to know the new specs much more personally. At the time, I was not at all impressed with most of them. And to be sure, I wasn’t the only one who felt the first pass was lacking. Fortunately, many of the issues with the classes from their first appearance were ironed out before the second beta the expansion’s release.
So while I wanted to jot down some thoughts on the changes I’ve seen to the game’s meta, instead what I’ve found is that very little has changed at all for PvPers – and yet it didn’t have to be that way.
Structured PvP arenas remain stale
Truly, years have passed, and yet sPvP remains as stale as ever. There’s a chance that a new meta can reinvigorate the mode somewhat; however, it’s just not there with End of Dragons. That isn’t to say that the new specializations add nothing. Surely as players have had more time with the specs and the new skills they’ll find combos that work better than previous ones.
For example, I’ve had a few fights with some very tanky Guardians. They seemed to be using primarily core guard skills, although one of the healing trait lines of the Willbender could have been contributing. Elementalists are still blasting combos as wildly as ever. Engineers still bounce you around like a pinball ball if you pop your stability too soon.
However, none of this is news to anyone who’s been playing sPvP. It’s old hat, and it’s boring as all get out. Queue times haven’t changed at all; you’re still waiting around two- and-a-half minutes for a fight. Once you get into a fight, it’s still a wash and just depends whether you’re on a winning streak or a losing streak.
I don’t think it’s a matter of rewards, either. I generally think the reward structure of sPvP is fairly solid. The reward tracks offer players the ability to gain new content rewards without leaving the confines of the arenas. It’s a good system and one more games should consider.
Rather than rewards, it’s a matter of boredom. I believe players are tired of the same old matches and modes they’ve been playing. Even new specs aren’t going to shake it up enough to make it worth my time. (I’ll never stop advocating for the return of the original Guild Wars’ random arenas, but I won’t stress that point too much here.)
Around the end of 2019, we got a few updates to sPvP in the form of some new Swiss tournaments and 2v2 combat. While it wasn’t a huge shift, I think this is the sort of thing that could continue to keep players interested. I’d suggest even some more extreme modes: create tournaments that force players to use only core specializations or only EOD ones, or maybe even a series where player stats are tuned down similar to when players are in lowbie zones in PvE.
Any one of these additions might not be the most balanced or long-term version of the mode, but it would certainly give players something new and fun to do.
WvW restructuring isn’t going to resolve the underlying issue
Arena combat, of course, is not the only PvP trick in GW2-ville. While I typically focus the majority of my PvP time on it, there is also the large-scale WvW mode to contend with. Once upon a time, I actually enjoyed and played a lot of WvW. Yet at some point it all came crashing down as I wondered, “What is even the point?”
There isn’t one. That may fly in the face of much of my arguments that PvP should be for the sake of PvP and not the rewards – and that remains true up to a point. The problem you’ll find in GW2 WvW is that nothing is permanent. Nothing matters. You cap a point now, but as soon as it can the other team will just cap it back. If you’re on at prime time and there’s a decent commander running the show, you might get into a few fun zerg vs. zerg battles, but after a few nights of that it begins to lose its luster.
I mentioned it before, but there really was a point to WvW originally. The world you joined was the world you fought for and PvEed in. When your world was winning certain areas or by a large enough margin, then players in your world’s PvE zones would receive bonuses. The ones I remember most were bonuses to crafting successes or even increase gathering from nodes. However, the restructuring involved in creating megaservers seemed to eliminate this sort of reward. Gone and dashed away were some of the coolest rewards you got for having a winning WvW world.
And that is why I don’t think the current restructuring plan will bring about a renewal and increased activity to WvW because it doesn’t solve the underlying issue that there is no real point to WvW. It’s as stale as sPvP. Don’t get me wrong; these changes would resolve some glaring issues with WvW – namely, that it should make it easier for players to play with their actual guilds – but it doesn’t give anyone a reason to play there.
With EOD, ArenaNet had a unique and fantastic opportunity to give life back to the GW2 PvP community. We could’ve seen the return of classic PvP zones like the Jade Quarry and Fort Aspenwood. Back then, we didn’t have the ability for large-scale combat like we do now with WvW. It could’ve been tied into the main story line in some way for regular PvE characters to playthrough.
And yes, I do mean normal PvE characters. If we keep getting pushed into doing raid/strike content, and we do, then Kurzick vs. Luxon WvW content could be pushed as well. It could’ve tied in WvW similar to the old system. If you represent the Luxons and are winning, then you could earn some sort of bonuses to the main content. ArenaNet could’ve added a new WvW zone for the Kurzicks and Luxons to compete over.
In the end, though, EOD did very little to change what you do or how to do it in PvP. There were, and still are, opportunities for EOD to resurrect both WvW and sPvP. It’s just becoming ever more clear that PvP is not at the forefront of Guild Wars 2.
How would you feel if we had the opportunity to compete over the two factions again? Would you have liked to see a new Jade Quarry mission or something like it?