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At the end of my last article I mentioned that I would write an article on pvp.  There are many things about pvp in Guild Wars 2, that I personally thoroughly enjoy.  I’ve always been a fan of pvp, growing up on the Command and Conquer games, and moving on to games like the Warcraft series, finally moving onto MMO pvp with classic World of Warcraft.  In every game, console or pc, that allows for combat between players, there will always be similarities.  Granted, each game will have something generally different, but those differences tend to be few.  When I first stepped into pvp on Guild Wars 2, I was thoroughly pleased.

The max level for Guild Wars 2 is 80.  During the beta, we had the option to instead of just queue to join a pvp match (which could be done from anywhere in the game), to join a separate area called ‘the Mists’.  Upon first entering the Mists, the game brings you to a starter area, of sorts, and shows you the different types of objectives that you will find in pvp.  It introduces you to pvp combat, by explaining some of the elements that make pvp different from standard questing in the game.  Once you get through there, you move onto the main lobby area.  Here there are glory vendors, where players can spend glory, the in game pvp currency on items, weapons, and so on.  This is a large lobby area.  Everyone was raised to max level, and given appropriate max level gear.  They could buy items (which were free in the beta, for purposes of testing) to fully equip their character in a manner that they felt would be best.  In one area there was a lake, which let players get use to the mechanic of fighting underwater.  While underwater, a different weapon (trident, for my Elementalist) is used.  With the different weapon comes different abilities, that are suited to underwater combat.  Another area held NPCs of every class.  This area was for testing abilities out against other classes, and gaining an understanding of what each class was capable of.  Unless you play every class, it is likely that you won’t be familiar with what options are available to each class.  This let players not head into pvp combat blind.  Well, it gave an option to not head into pvp combat blind.  Many players I assume will ignore it entirely, and figure things out the hard way.  However, the option remains available for anyone wanting to use it.

While in the mists, if you died, you  would automatically rally (effectively the same mechanic as resurrecting) after several seconds, so that you didn’t have to run back to where you were defeated if you didn’t want to.  I died many times fighting the NPC characters of each class.  It should be noted that all pvp gear and weapons are the same.  As far as I could see they all have the same stats (relatively speaking).  If every stat had a value equal to 1, then that value would be the same for every piece of pvp gear.  The stats on each piece are different; precision, power, vitality, toughness, condition damage, and so on.  What makes them the same is that there are not tiers of gear, as far as I could tell.  So, you won’t have someone that has been pvp’ing for months having an advantage over someone that just started pvping, at least not numerically.  What is different is the colors on gear, different colors might be the difference between level 7 glory gear and level 1, but the stats remain the same.  This is what I truly love about Guild Wars 2.  What marks the difference between winning and losing in pvp combat?  Skill.  A veteran player will know what works and what doesn’t.  They would know how to approach a situation, and what weapons and skills to use.  While someone new to pvp, won’t have that.  Skill marks the difference between good players, and great players.  Gear doesn’t play a huge factor, and this is something that I truly enjoy.

When in the mists, players have a few options for how they can pvp.  They can enter an organized match, with clear objectives and starting areas, a set time limit, and so on.  Or, they can the Eternal Battlegrounds (or Borderlands, by extension).  The organized pvp was 2 different maps with a capture and hold style of play.  However, while you could just capture and hold points to increase your score, you also had the option to use a trebuchet, and fire at points your enemy holds, or is attacking.  Both teams have access to a trebuchet, which can be attacked and destroyed.  Though it can be repaired, many people chose to ignore it and simply assault points directly, as far as I could tell.  That being said, however, it opens up options for groups of players, or guilds, in the same match.  People that are generally more organized might have one person manning the trebuchet, and another providing back up, while the rest of the team takes and holds points.  With covering fire from a trebuchet, it could make or break games, if done correctly.

If organized pvp isn’t your thing, the Eternal Battlegrounds awaited.  Often there was a queue to enter the Eternal Battlegrounds.  As the name suggested, they went on forever.  There was no time limit, and gave me fond flashbacks to 14 hour long games of Alterac Valley in classic World of Warcraft.  In this mode of pvp there are 4 worlds.  A large central world called the Eternal Battlegrounds, and 3 side worlds called Borderlands.  The Borderlands each held a dominating color, Red, Blue, and Green.  This was a war between 3 servers.  Each world was a color.  While you could see the guild tags of other  players on different worlds, their names only showed up as Red, Blue, or Green Invader.  World vs World vs World pvp.  3 servers duking it out in a winner controls everything pvp match.  In the Eternal Battlegrounds each color hold a primary keep.  This is a large keep with walls and doors that can be reinforced, protected, and enhanced.  Doors and Walls can also be repaired.  With 30-50 players attacking a reinforced door, with people on the inside defending it, attacking those sieging it, and repairing it, it would probably take multiple hours to be destroyed.  I recall once attacked a keep held by Blue (we were Red).  There were about 40 of us on one side of the keep attacking a door, and supporting each other.  We killed what Blue we could that got near, and kept assaulting the door from range, with all we got.  While battering rams, trebuchets, and catapults can be built using supply (gotten at outposts and keeps), defending them without an organized group was a problem.  On the inside was an unknown number of Blue.  At one point they were even repairing more damage than we could deal the door, setting us back a bit.

We had heard that a door on the south side was weak, and moved down that way, only to find Green waiting, and assaulting the door from that direction.  It was at this point that I saluted Blue.  They managed to hold off large groups of Red and Green, which were attacking from the north and south, and kept the keep repaired and operational.  Above each door is boiled tar, which can be dumped on players, rams, or anyone trying to attack the door in melee.  It isn’t uncommon to be attacking a keep controlled by one color, and then while you are all focused on that, having the other color flank you and attack from the rear.  Throughout the Eternal Battlegrounds, and in each Borderlands world, there are various keeps and outposts.  These keeps can be controlled, attacked, and defended.  Once people break through the door of a keep they have to kill the commanding officer inside.  Once that is done, they keep can is controlled by that world.  Though I believe it will also be possible for guilds to have their own keep that they control.  While looking through options for my guild, there were references to it.  That would be quite nice, being able to have a guild controlled keep.  My guild is full of people that are like me, in that world pvp is our specialty.  This style of pvp suits us, and gives so many options.  More on guilds in the next article.

So to recap: There are 4 worlds, 3 held by separate servers, and a central world that is contested.  This is server vs server vs server pvp, also known as World vs World.  There is no time limit.  There is also no way to officially “win”.  The goal is to control everything.  Your server must take control of everything, the central world, and the outside worlds.  What happens once you control everything?  You defend it, as you can be sure that if Green controls everything, Red and Blue are going to be fighting back and taking control of less defended areas. I have seen a map controlled entirely by Green, it can happen.

While pvp is the purpose here, that isn’t to say that the Borderlands and Eternal Battlegrounds are devoid of life.  There are also creatures and areas where there are no keeps or outposts.  Some might  use this area as a staging point, or a place to learn new weapon skills, or practice their current skills.  The presence of creatures gives people options.

This brings me to ‘raids’, the typical way of grouping massive amounts of players for pvp combat.  Jordan Massey, a gameplay programmer for Guild Wars 2 wrote an article explaining the squad system in depth.  That article can be found here.  A squad is basically a raid group, except it prevents needless chatter. “A squad is a one-to-many command structure, with one commander at the top, and his followers underneath him. Each squad receives its own chat channel, which all members can see, but which only accepts chat from the commander. Normal members can only see what the commander says and cannot speak back.”  This means many things, but ultimately, it allows for effective communication.  In order to be a commander, you have to buy a book that trains your character. This book costs 3 gold in game (Which, by the way, is a LOT in the sense that during the beta I at most had about 20 silver at any one point in time.)  It makes it so that only people that want to lead groups can have the commander distinction.  It can be bought and traded, so your alts can get it as well.  As far as I can tell, it makes it so that by the time you can afford it, you should have a reasonable sense of what goes on.

It is a good feature, and joining a squad is extremely easy to do.

A squad is a one-to-many command structure, with one commander at the top, and his followers underneath him. Each squad receives its own chat channel, which all members can see, but which only accepts chat from the commander. Normal members can only see what the commander says and cannot speak back.

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During the last weekend in April I had access to the beta for Guild Wars 2. I am a fan of MMO’s, and have played a variety of other ones (Rift, WoW, Eve, LOTRO, STO, etc.) Now, Guild Wars 2 was a blast, it was a lot of fun, and is something that I eagerly look forward to. Here is some information about Guild Wars 2, what goes on, and how it is set up, for those of you that are not familiar with it.

In Guild Wars 2 there are 5 playable races; the feline and militaristic Charr, the shape changing tribal barbarian Norn, the Humans, the plantlike Sylvari, and the brilliant, though short, Asura. Before we go on though, the Asura remind me of World of Warcraft’s Gnomes. Both races are short, brilliant, and are known for their inventions and such. There are 8 professions (classes) in the game, all of which are fun in their own way. I tried out 3 classes that most interested me, in each of the 3 available races (Charr, Humans, Norn) during the beta. I played a mage for a long time (probably about 5 or 6 years) in World of Warcraft. The elementalist is a mix between a WoW Mage, and a WoW Shaman, in terms of feel. So, I had to try it out. I also tried out a Thief, and a Warrior. The other professions are Mesmer, Defender, Ranger, Necromancer, and Engineer. More info on them can be found here.

I heard from many people that the Charr were the one race they were looking forward to play as, and so that is what I made my elementalist. Talking cats, honestly, are amazing. To note, however, that unlike many games, the races in Guild Wars 2, don’t have racial qualities that make them better in one area over another. I know at level 30 the Norn learn to shapechange, but at level 30, everyone gets cool stuff.

Unlike in many MMO’s, where you might have multiple action bars filled with buttons for different abilities, Guild Wars 2 has 10 slots. That is it. From 1 to 0 on the keyboard, and that is all that you have for abilities. ` is the default for switching weapons, if your class has the ability to do so. So, this is an odd, but welcome change. We only really need those 10 slots to get what we want or need done. The slots are broken down in the same manner for everyone. The first 5 slots are abilities determined by the weapon(s) you are wielding. If you are holding a 2 handed weapon, all 5 slots are from that, but if you have a main hand and an off hand weapon, then your first 3 skills come from your main hand. While your off hand weapon determines your last 2 skills. This in mind, there is a bit of specializing that can be done to suit the playstyle of the player, or the way that the envision their character fighting.

Weapon Skills

More Weapon Skills

Slot 6 is a healing skill. Everyone has one. There are no “healers” in this game by the common definition of a healer in an MMO. Everyone regenerates their health out of combat at an extremely quick pace, and everyone has a heal skill, that scales with level. Slots 7-9 are utility skills, and these can be a variety of abilities, from signets that provide a passive bonus, but can be activated for a different effect, to cantrips which have a specific effect. There are also Glyphs, which do something else entirely. Guild Wars 2 has a fair amount of options for everyone. Slot 0 is an elite skill with a long cooldown that does something amazing. Slots 1-5 are available at level 1, or 2, depending on what you are wielding. Slot 6 I believe is available at level 3. Slot 7 at level 5, slot 8 at 10, and I don’t recall when slot 9 becomes available. Slot 0 becomes available at level 30, when everyone gets their cool ability. I believe Norn can shapechange, my elementalist can turn into a tornado… or summon a fiery greatsword. Cool things all around, though.

Slots 6 (Healing Skill), 7-9 (Utility Skills), and 0 (Elite Skill – Currently equipped one turns me into a tornado)

Another aspect of customization is traits. There are no “talent trees” in this game. Instead, there are traits. At level 10 you get one trait point, and get a new one every level until max level, which is 80. You can put these in several different lines. For the elementalist, there is a Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Arcana line. Fire focuses on offense, Water on Healing, Air on critting, Earth on defense, and Arcana is a general class as a whole line, rather than something specific. Before I go on, however, I must talk about stats.

Unlike other games, where stats can largely make or break your character, things are simpler in this game. There are 4 stats, Power (which affects all outgoing damage), Vitality (affects your health), Toughness (affects your defense), and Precision (affects your chance to crit). It is these 4 main stats which affect mostly everything in the game. There are other stats which might only come into play with enhancements to your gear. The equivalent in World of Warcraft is jewels from jewelcrafting. These enhancements give you bonus stats, that allow you to focus your character in a direction, even moreso than your traits, and skills. Some of these minor stats include healing power (affects outgoing healing), boon duration (buff duration), condition damage, and crit damage. In the game, many skills inflict a condition on your target. Some of these conditions are burning (taking damage over time), Chilled (reduced attack speed), Vulnerability (lower defense), and crippled (reduced movement speed).

You can put at most 30 trait points into one line. At max level, everyone will have 70 points to spend, so some combinations include; maxing 2 lines at 30 and having one line to 10, maxing one line to 30, and having 10 points in the other 4 lines, or something else entirely. There are a lot of ways to build your character, and it is up to you to decide how you want it.

The trait lines are broken down like this: Every 5 points spent in the line gives you something. At 5, 15, and 25 you get a static increase, such as 5% more damage. At 10, 20, and 30, you can choose from a list of about 12 different abilities to choose something that fits your style. One such ability in the Water line for elementalists is for all auras that I create to also affect allies near me. Quite useful in pvp when suddenly everyone gets an aura that stuns the next person that attacks them.

Another things that is present are achievements. Completing achievements, grants experience, which is amazing, in my opinion. There are daily, monthly, PVE, and PVP achievements. You get points for completing achievements, though I believe it is just an arbitrary value that has no other value than to visually represent the amount of achievements achieved.

So, the game is like other mmo’s in some aspects, but different in others. I spent the weekend playing around with it, and trying pvp out. I traveled around to different areas, and will cover misc stuff and pvp in another article. The beta ended monday morning at 2 am. Or so I thought, at least. When 2:00 am came on Monday there was a closing beta event. In one of the starter areas, critters spawned and everyone had to hunt critters for glory. There was an epic critter hunt, leading up to a tremendous battle against a legendary white rabbit. There were about 400 or so players attacking this rabbit. At the end, about half the people dc’d because of all the spell effects and mayhem. While that was believed to be the end of the event (there was a timer counting down). The developers (Arena Net), changed the time from 0:00 to 72650.3. Now, that is a huge number, and there proceeded to be a murder train of about 2-300 characters exploring the entire zone, killing critters (which were harder to kill than your average creature), and boss moas (which looked like chocobos, sort of. A cross between a chocobo and a plainstrider) We traveled around killing critters and moas. We (that is, many of the players, myself included in the local chat) called it a murder train. We traveled around murdering birds and critters. It was amazing. One guy was a commander (will discuss in pvp article), and was leading the train to each spawn of the Champion Bloodthirsty Black Moa.

Greetings everyone, Badfur here again for another article.  Today it is about tournaments; I know I briefly mentioned them towards the end of my last article, and today I will be expanding on some of the tournaments that occur around the year.  There are often different tournaments for different games, and so things can get quite busy for people trying to attend them.

The first tournament to mention is the Electronic Sports World Cup, or ESWC, as people like to abbreviate it.   This tournament is 6 days long and includes events and competitions for 6 different games, Starcraft 2, Counter-Strike 1.6, Counter-Strike: Source, Defense of the Ancients, Fifa 11, and Trackmania Nations Forever.  How does one qualify for the ESWC? You compete in the ESL, The Electronic Sports League.  Yes, this does have a season, which contradicts the title and what I said in my previous article.  Allow me to elaborate.  There are tournaments year round, some tournaments, like the eSports World Cup require you to be in something like the Electronic Sports League to have a chance of competing.  While other tournaments, professional teams get invited to compete, joined by the teams that simply signed up, and then they have the qualifiers, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals.

This brings me to the IGN Pro League, also called the IPL.  The IGN Pro League is a series of tournaments.  Often only having 2 games played, the last installment of the IGN Pro League had a Starcraft 2 tournament with a $100,000 prize pool, and a League of Legends tournament with a $20,000 prize pool.

During August One of the large events in the United States known as PAX Prime, occurred. The Penny Arcade Xpo (PAX), has various eSports tournaments as well.  Taking place August 26th to 28th, there were over 50 games having tournaments throughout the 3 days.  Between Console games, PC games, Tabletop, and Handheld games, there were a lot of tournaments.  Some of the games represented here were League of Legends, Starcraft 2, Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike Online Edition, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition, Mario Kart 3DS, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Team Fortress 2.

DreamHack occurs twice during the year, once in Summer, and another time during Winter.  This year, and next year, the Summer event is in June, and Winter in November.  Dreamhack currently holds the world record for the world’s largest LAN party and computer festival. DreamHack, has broken its old record multiple times in the last 5 years.  This year DreamHack occurred June 18-21, and will be occurring again November 24-27. In November at DreamHack Winter 2011, currently, 4 tournaments have been announced. The games for these tournaments are Starcraft 2, Counter-Strike 1.6, Heroes of Newerth, and Quake Live.

Speaking of events that occur multiple times during the year, now we take a look at MLG.  MLG stands for Major League Gaming, and has competitions during a good portion of the year, starting in April, and continuing into November.  MLG was in Dallas, April 1-3, Columbus June 3-5, Anaheim July 29-31, Raleigh August 26-28.  In October MLG will be in Orlando, that takes place the 14-16 of October. November 18-20, MLG finishes up the year in Providence. MLG this year has 3 main games, Halo: Reach, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Starcraft 2.  Although at MLG Raleigh, League of Legends did make an appearance in the line up.

Lastly, there is the World Cyber Games.  At the last WCG, the following games were present, Tekken 6, Counter-Strike 1.6, Crossfire, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, League of Legends, Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty, Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, and Fifa 2011. As of last year, 2011, World Cyber Games is the largest global eSport tournament.

There are a lot of games that are played professionally, and at the moment it is too daunting a task to cover every single tournament that is played around the world for all the games, so I have opted to go over some of the major ones. Questions, comments, or concerns? Reply, and I’ll answer anything as well as I can.

This concludes today’s article on tournaments, have a good day.
~Badfur