Feature Filled Part 3: More loot, more people
To conclude my coverage on the April 2014 feature patch I’d like to talk about some of the upcoming changes to structured PvP (sPvP), World vs World (WvW) and the Megaserver system. Each of these changes are intended to make the game more accessible and rewarding to everyone, lets start with sPvP.
There will be a few changes to sPvP once the update goes live on April 15th, the most notable of which is probably the introduction of Reward Tracks.
The new Reward Track UI
As the name implies, this is the new system through which players are rewarded for participating in sPvP. There are multiple tracks representing aspects of the game including Dungeon tracks, Region tracks and Living Story tracks. Some of these tracks are permanently available and others will be time-limited or non-repeatable. In order to progress on a track, you must activate it from the PvP panel and then progress is made simply by playing PvP. Each track has eight tiers, of which, each tier has four sub-tiers; once you reach a mlestone you are awarded a container with a variety of items. These normally consist of level scrolls, skill points, crafting materials and something unique to that track. Many of the tracks will also reward Obsidian Shards and Mystic Clovers, two items necessary for the creation of Legendary weapons.
The new rewards system is a welcome addition to PvP rewards which many felt were lacklustre (before now all you could get was skins that could only be used in PvP) and will allow players to reap the benefits of playing PvP across the board. Welcome as the change is, there remains no new game modes in PvP and players will still be playing conquest on the same maps they have been since the introduction of Skyhammer. A new death-match map has been created, but it is not an actual game mode and is only available through custom arenas for players to kill time in. Guild Wars 2 PvP is still a ways away from the PvP that was so popular in the original game.
World vs World
Although there is nothing new coming to WvW in terms of content, a notable and welcome change is being made to the current progression system. WvW has it’s own trait set that players can spend points in to improve various aspects, such as their proficiency on siege weaponry or their efficiency with supply. You gain one point for every WvW rank you obtain and this was character-bound, meaning if you wanted to play multiple characters in WvW, you had to rank each one up separately then allocate their own points. After the update, WXP will become account bound, meaning you no longer have to raise your characters separately. All your characters will share your WXP pool and have access to as many trait points as your highest rank character and will be able to spend the points differently.
ArenaNet will begin rolling out their new megaserver system with the Arpil update with the aim of increasing map populations and player interaction. Currently all homeworlds (Gandara in our case) have their own versions of every map, in the event that the population cap of the map is reached, any incoming players will be redirected to a dynamically created Overflow map. This is one way in which Guild Wars 2 tries to minimise server load and maintain an optimal performance for players. The downside to this system is something that has always plagued server differentiated MMOs, that is, the low population worlds rarely reach the cap. In Guild Wars 2 case, it’s not uncommon to be in one of the mid-level maps with very few people, or even on your own.
To improve the population of maps across the game, the megaserver system was created. Rather than have a map for each world, this new system dynamically creates maps as they are needed. This will hopefully mean there is always an active population on a map when you visit it. In order to maintain a player’s community though, the system pools players together that share similar circumstances in the hopes of creating a semi-consistent player base that you interact with as frequently as you do now on server maps. The considerations for where the server places you are: home world, party, guild and language. Further details on the specifics can be found here.
Metrics from testing showing percentage increases in populations
As a result of this new system certain dynamic events are changing. Namely, world boss encounters. These are events that attract a lot of people to defeat a boss and earn loot, currently these events all have their own independent timers across the different servers. As there will no longer be server-specific maps then these timers are no longer applicable. As such, each of the world boss events will be put on a set schedule and the events will begin at their designated time on all existing maps.
There is a lot of anxiety with respect to this new system as it will change quite a few things that we have become accustomed to. For example, quite a few fan-made sites that take advantage of the Guild Wars 2 API will become defunct. Sites such as gw2stuff which shows the timers for world events for each of the servers will no longer be necessary. Another site, gw2nodes, which shows the location of high quality crafting resources will be rendered useless as maps are created and destroyed dynamically making it impossible to track resources. The new world boss schedule has also met with some resistance, despite each boss occurring 3-5 times a day there will undoubtedly be some that are now out of reach of players with limited playtime.
For these negatives, however, I remain cautiously optimistic about the change. If it has the intended effect of making the world more active and brings people together I suspect the aforementioned grievances will become less obvious. For example, the Three-headed Jungle Wurm encounter is extremely difficult, requiring not just a large number of players but a raid-level degree of organisation. Some servers just do not have the presence to attempt these encounters, let alone successfully complete them. One of my hopes for the new system is that it will become easier to complete these encounters, especially with the addition of Guild World Events. These new mission types will allow guilds to trigger the large-scale bosses at their own convenience. From what we know of the system at this point, people are understandably apprehensive about its introduction. That includes myself, but I have opted for the ever-so-pro-active approach of wait and see.
Tequatl the Sunless, one of the raid-level bosses in the open world (Sparkfly Fen).
That’s it for this article and for my coverage of the April feature pack in general. As excited for new features as I am, I look forward to writing my next article about the Living story which will hopefully resume soon.