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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.