It’s a good idea to pay attention to your top players if you’re looking to make your game into a serious e-sport. Guild Wars 2 is looking to do exactly that, as we saw fairly recently. Now we’ve got another livestream discussion between several of the game’s top players as they analyze what shape the PvP side of the game is in now.
In the streamchat were Grouch from Guild Wars 2 Guru, Java from the North American Team PZ, Vain from QT (also North America), and Helseth from Curse EU.
The first topic up this time is discussion about the focus of Arenanet’s updates, specifically the idea that they will be updating the game’s PvP with an actual matchmaking system before private servers will be implemented. While at the highest level of play, the private servers would be useful in letting top-level competitive teams scrimmage against each other and practice against opponents they can know will be a challenge, they admit that the game itself needs a matchmaking system first.
The game has a high learning curve for its PvP, and it can be something players are immediately thrown into, since one doesn’t need to level a character through the entire game, what Helseth (one of the players in the streamchat) calls an effective class tutorial, in order to be playing in the PvP arenas. This makes the initial experience much harsher on a player who doesn’t know what they’re doing yet, but also lacking a matchmaking service means that inexperienced player could be put up against a professionally-sponsored team in his or her first game.
Breaking into the game
On top of that, because there is no matchmaking service, it’s impossible for a lone player who is extremely skilled but lacking a team to play consistently with the kind of people who are similarly skilled, and in a five-player team that leaves a lot of room for that skilled player to find himself unable to win games against opponents that he or she should be able to beat.
A player needs a team to be competitive, but needs to be noticed to be competitive before a team will take any notice of them. Matchmaking wouldn’t immediately fix this issue, but would help lessen it, making it more likely for a skilled and experienced player to be paired with other similarly experienced players.
Adding in leaderboards would give yet another way for these players to be noticed, and that’s another idea that has been discussed for Guild Wars 2.
The players were all in agreement that while a spectator mode is obviously necessary eventually, that it should not be anywhere near a top priority until true matchmaking and ranking tracking is implemented, citing the limited information someone can get watching a game without being able to hear the players interacting with each other. They also agreed that dueling should not be a priority.
Weapon Swap Locks
The next major issue discussed was the recent change to prohibit players from changing their weapons or utility skills once the game starts. While none of the players can particularly understand why exactly the change was made, they all agreed that it surprised them and that they dislike it (except for Grouch), pointing out that it makes certain classes extremely static in how they build because they can no longer swap out for more niche abilities without sacrificing their primarily viable combat capabilities.
The hypothesis on why is that the change lowers the upper skill-ceiling of Guild Wars 2 PvP, which then promotes counter-picking team compositions rather than learning greater flexibility in the class being played as a whole regardless of build. Focus on counter-picking means learning what your opponent plays and rather than having to out-play them, simply picking the classes and builds that beat them, winning in the roster before ever reaching the battlefield.
Mesmers got some fairly significant changes, recently, most notably a fix to an exploit whereby a Mesmer could get single illusions to proc multiple shatter effects. The traits that were in the game to allow players to gain stacks of might and apply stacks of confusion to enemies for each illusion shattered.
By combining abilities together in a certain string, Mesmers could get one single stack below the maximum possible number of might stacks every time they activated their macro, giving them a huge amount of damage, particularly when the confusion they also applied to enemies was stacked similarly high and did more damage because of the might stacks.
The fix is acknowledged as temporary until Arenanet can come up with a more permanent solution for Guild Wars 2‘s Mesmers, but is an important one and one that all the players in the stream agreed needed to be done.