This post is a follow on from EU Fan Day Diary Part 1 – Norn Starter Area
After being forced out of the room for a break by Stephane and having a chat with Paeroka, Dutch and Tilion about what we’d seen so far, we came back into the basement for a bit of PvP. We could either use our norn characters or roll something new – once players have gone through the opening cinematic they could either jump to the mists or straight into a match from the hero panel of the character. I decided to roll a human elementalist to see how hard it was with a single weapon and 4 attributes and jumped straight into a match. My character was immediately bumped up to 80, provided with max weapons and armor with some basic jewellery, and my skill bar fleshed out with skills including Mist Form and Tornado.
I had entered a match already in progress on the Battle for Kyhlo map. I got a couple of goes at Conquest at gamescom so vaguely knew my way around, which definitely helped. Things were tighter this time around as there was more markings on the environment to show what was going on – for example just by looking in the direction of the mansion point, I could see who was holding it even if my character had no direct line of sight. This made it a lot easier to work out where players should be going next, which points were contested, held or needed to be captured.
PvP in Guild Wars 1 is something I have a love hate relationship with. I love the format of GvG, but hate that it takes so much planning to get to play. ArenaNet have definitely made PvP more accessible in Guild Wars 2 with the hot join aspect and I can definitely say that this would be something I’d break away from PvE or WvW for as a change of pace. Some members of the hardcore PvP community may lament the influx of “nubs” this will create, but in my eyes a constant stream of new players is required to maintain a healthy and competitive PvP scene. Hopefully a good matchmaking algorithm will help keep the experienced and new players apart to stop both groups getting frustrated.
Fighting other players was great. Picking the right fights, dodging and using the terrain added to the skillful aspect of PvP. Using skills on cool down will not help you win the match. Picking the right skill for the right situation will. As an ele wielding a staff, I was juggling all 4 of my attributes mostly using air and fire skills. If there was a team fight where we were under pressure I could switch to water to add a little healing and damage, slowing enemies to help my allies. I’d use fire to deal a lot of damage when control had been supplied by another player. Air was used to apply a speed buff to allies, knock down enemies and stun them in place, while I used Earth skills to slow them. Sometimes I switched attributes just as the battle changed pace and was unable to switch back, meaning that things would invariably not go the way I wanted them to unless there was backup nearby. At that point I’d use my elite skill Tornado to turn the tide of the game, sometimes it would work sometimes not, but heck it was satisfying sending players scattering!
I can honestly say that a single player had less importance than teamwork in PvP. Having more players than the other team was not an automatic win situation, evidenced by matches where the team with the smaller number of players won. Other matches were incredibly close, with teams that were over 150 points behind coming back to win at the last second (one match ended 500-499). Teams weren’t static either, players switched teams every match which kept things fresh.
While on the Battle for Kyhlo map, I tried the trebuchet for the first time and found it quite challenging due to a lack of feedback. It took quite a while to re-aim it and the length of time the button was held determines how far the projectile goes. There wasn’t a lot of feedback as to where or what had been hit (if anything), and I soon gave up in favour of trying to capture points because I felt I was more use to the team doing that.
After a match finished we immediately went into another alternating between the Battle for Kyhlo and the Forest of Niflhel maps. The Forest of Niflhel map is amazingly beautiful and lives up to the name, with the map scattered with boulders, trees and stone ruins steeped in mist that obscures the battlefield from above. The two guardians add an extra dynamic to the capture point map, as killing either of them awards a hefty dollop of points to the killing team. It felt easier to get lost on this map because of the scenery (walls were higher than on the other map and the paths were more winding and natural), but the multiple routes to each location screams strategy.
Bear in mind that voice communications were not in use while playing this PvP. I didn’t really know who exactly was on my team and it didn’t matter. People were acting in a similar manner as they do in Alliance Battles in Guild Wars 1, moving from point to point in the way they thought best, helping in fights along the way. There is lots of scope for strategy and teamwork on top of that. I’d count the hot join scenario as a cross between Alliance Battles and the old Team Arena, except with the teams changing every match. If players went in with set team, I’d see the bar for skill being set a lot higher. It’s impossible to say if this is esport material, as those kinds of games seem to live or die on broad appeal, shoutcasting and tournaments, but I’d suggest the first part of that recipe has been fulfilled.
As for playing with an elementalist, the combat was a nice variety of damage and control with a bit of support. It is important to remember what skills are granted to your current weapon on the other attributes so you can switch appropriately and get have the best benefit. If you’re looking for a general all rounder profession, I suggest giving it a go. I only played with a staff and didn’t significantly change my utility skills. I tried equipping the Hounds of Balthazar elite but it was disabled (as expected) and there wasn’t any visual feedback to say what was able to be equipped and what wasn’t.
Q and A
As we left the gaming room in the basement of the venue for the evening to go into the Q and A, we were each given our own ArenaNet zip up hoodies. They are incredibly cosy. Participating in the Q and A was great, and it was nice to hear the responses from the developer’s lips rather than in text. Some of the joking and expression of the words doesn’t translate into the text. I was a bit disappointed to only be able to ask one question as I had 10 or so (other sites had brought 60!), but I’ve managed to get a few other answers from Aidan, Matthew and Stephane over the 2 days which I’ll be posting tomorrow.
Dinner and the beach
After a brief stop at the hotel, we went to the Italian restaurant for dinner where I had a got to know Tilion a lot better. I’m hoping to work more with Dragon Season in the future, either posting original articles over there or helping out with building their community, but we’ll have to see how much time I have for that. Dutch and I spoke about various aspects of working together for the better of the community when things line up, the start of which we saw yesterday when we split the load for transcribing the Q and A.
In the weekend before the event I’d been talking with Paeroka and others about going down to Brighton beach. The schedule we’d been sent was tight so the only time we’d get to do it was after dinner. Aidan (UK CM) had seen my tweets about the beach and even though he was tired from getting everything ready for us, he graciously escorted around 8 of us down to the beach. Brighton, even at 11pm on a Monday night, was alive with people and it took us only about 10 minutes to wander down to the pebble beach. I was a bit disappointed to see the pier wasn’t lit up but still very excited – I love beaches! We spent a few minutes down there, and then wandered back to the hotel after dropping off a couple of people at a nightclub next to the beach (they managed to show up for the right time the next day too!). I was tempted to join them, but having been up since 5:30am bed was calling. All in all it was a long but excellent day.