As I explained in preparation for Guild Wars Halloween, Costume Brawl is something I was looking forward to big time, and now for this week I am having a blast playing the once-a-year PvP game.
The premise is quite simple. Each profession has a set skill bar. If you go in as a Warrior, every other Warrior will have the same skill/attribute set up as you. The game is random 5 vs. 5 where the goal is to kill your opponents and control shrines (capture points). Each shrine lends a bonus and increases the speed at which you get points for controlling the shrines. First to 20 points wins.
I think it is brilliant for two reasons. First, it is fast and fun. You don’t have to wait for a party, and the gameplay is a great balance between deathmatch and zone control. Killing people matters, but so does the skill of players surviving and snaring the other players. If the battle is by one shrine, a good player can ninja-capture another shrine. Winning is quick, and losing is quick. If you lose you can go right back in with another team. If you are stuck in a rut playing in the Random Arenas (4v4) or Alliance Battles (12v12) as your go to for casual PvP in Guild Wars, the game mechanic of Costume Brawl is a fresh breeze.
The second reason is the balance between professions. Guild vs. Guild battles, Heroes’ Ascent, and to a lesser extent Team Arenas requires a web of protection and healing that normally comes from the PvP mainstay: Monks. Without this crucial web, a team crumbles in the face of quick spikes of damage. This places a daunting requirement on the Monks in Guild Wars PvP. Costume Brawl takes out much of this required web and gives each profession one or two self-heals, which they must rely on more than their healbot teammate. The average heal for each profession is about 100-150 so one profession does not clearly outshine another. I would not say that Costume Brawl builds have a perfect one-on-one balance as some professions can easily beat down others, but all told, I think a team of 5 is usually balanced against the other random team. In other words, PvP returns to its roots of being about skill, not build.
This also excites me for Guild Wars future with Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet basically has a get out of jail free card with the restart, and they can remake Guild Wars 2 so that one profession (the Monk) is not absolutely required to win. I think that across the MMO genre, players are getting tired of needing healbots for PvE and PvP. It is nice to play Costume Brawl, which remains fun without the requisite of a spambot friend.