[GW2] Roundtable with GW2Hub and Massively

Continuing our Guild Wars 2 round tables, I chatted with Guild Wars 2 Hub’s Lewis B and Massively’s Elisabeth Cardy about something that’s been on my mind as I find myself spending more time in WvW. The balance of classes in WvW cannot be ignored. ArenaNet is talking about balancing area-of-effect (AoE) abilities, which some classes can do better than others. However, it also feels like there are two other abilities that have become critical to WvW, and unlike AoE abilities, these are class-based abilities. I’m talking about stealth (mesmer and thief) and Portal (only mesmer). What do you two think about these two very class-restricted abilities having such a great impact in WvW?

Lewis: Excellent topic. It’s something that I find incredibly annoying in the sense that all professions deserve a place in a party, with specific skills that make them useful. As it currently stands, I stopped playing my Mesmer in structured PvP and WvW because I was fed up of being everyone’s Portal-Puppet. I’m all for the need to support a group of players, parties or guild members, but when a skill becomes mandatory, we’re then returning to the realms of World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 1’s build linking and that’s something I’ve never supported. Portals are exceptional in WvW and sPvP and that makes them all too useful at the expense of player freedom. Where stealth is concerned, I find it more of an annoyance to fight against than anything of real value (besides abusing culling). A good thief is still relatively useless in WvW, and easily countered in sPvP with effective use of dodge or AoE abilities. I think the wider issue here is ensuring that all professions have a single skill that make them shine, though that might exacerbate the problem.

Lis: I’m not a fan of the idea of one indispensable skill (for every profession or otherwise) in any of the game types. There was always an interesting balance in the original Guild Wars between skills being nerfed for being too OP (hello Shadow Form) and skills being left more or less as they were and the meta game evolving to embrace them. I’m fairly amazed that the portal skill has gone unchanged for as long as it has (I’d envisioned some sort of player cap being put on portals by this point). This can’t be intended use, but I’m wondering if it makes things interesting enough for ArenaNet to leave the skill as-is.

I haven’t seen stealth being so widely abused — like Lewis, I tend to see it as more than an annoyance than the ubiquitous tactic that Mesmers’ portals have become.

Ravious: I wouldn’t say stealth is abused, but it’s become a significant mechanic in WvW. What other professions without stealth can boast such a useful mechanic in WvW that affects the battlefield to such a large degree? Portal simply blows stealth away in terms of it being the king of useful mechanics there.

As opposed to changing Portal, Lis, ArenaNet last suggested that maybe other professions should have a portal mechanic to so as to spread out the love. In other words, Portal seems to set a bar of some sort that ArenaNet wants to keep. Even if say necromancers started creating rifts for soul passage or rangers get FTL giant eagles, this still would leave quite a few professions without a mechanic on Portal’s usefulness level. Would it just be easier to nerf Portal than dole out equal portions of pie to every profession? Could there be other skills ideas or live skills that other professions could have with a usefulness factor on the level of Portal?

Lis: I think if some professions got more portal-like abilities, it’d be fun to see anti-portal measures come into play as well. Given the fairly instantaneous nature of the portal, I’m not sure what that’d end up looking like, but it’d be nice for there to be a counter to it of sorts, rather than just giving everyone a very similar mechanic

Lewis: I think you raise some valid points, and Portal has seen a few tweaks (it now has a use cap, though it’s really high). The risk of implementing a skill of similar importance to Portal, for all professions, is that they too will be required to bring only that skill. If anything, the most sensible thing to do with Portal would be to add repercussions for its use. Even as a mesmer player, having players be effected by a condition after using portal would be a really good way of bringing it back into controlled use and/or stop the repetitive use of continued portal bombing. I’ve always thought that adding vulnerability and weakness to players leaving a portal would be a good thing (you have inevitably teleported a great distance!).

If we must keep Portal as it is, let’s add useful but not mandatory skills for all professions. It always frustrates me as an Engineer that I can’t repair siege equipment or Golems; why not? If my Tool Kit can repair turrets, wouldn’t it be amazing if it could repair siege equipment too.

Ravious: I agree that like stealth, it would be nice to spread Portal out in the profession pie a tad more. I definitely do not want each profession to have a Portal-like ability. However, I would like each profession to have more useful skills. Perhaps in the February update, when it seems like WvW will be the name of the game the skill devs will have a chance to modify a few unloved skills to that effect.

Going back to stealth, I feel that for thieves, their AoE stealth does provide a very useful, but not mandatory WvW ability. I’ve seen it used to great effect for guerilla tactics in tier 2 WvW. If Portal brought repercussions and perhaps a lower use cap, I think it would be getting a lot closer to a realistic bar for all professions. Do any other professions have anything close to a “useful but not mandatory skill” in WvW coming close to Portal?

Lewis: We’ve actually removed thieves entirely from our WvW lineup because Mesmers are capable of using Mass Invisbility and Veil to stealth entire groups of players. Combined with Portal, and rotating the use of veil between two mesmers, there’s absolutely no value in bringing a thief.

In regards to other group specific skills, I would probably state a Mesmers Veil, because it allows for easy exploitation of culling. Everything else, as long as it’s AOE has its place.

Lis: I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the meta game to rally around certain skills — not even a little bit. I get a bit concerned when it makes one class or skill indispensable. It’s good, really, that this is taking place in WvW and not PvE, but I do hope that they stick to the philosophy of no one class ever being necessary for success. I don’t want a new ‘trinity’ to arise that’s just based around the three classes with the most gimmicky skill.

That said, I’m really excited to see what skills and tweaks come about in response to this.

Lewis: As a final thought, I think ArenaNet really need to step back and assess the impact Portal as a skill has on the game and the fact that mesmers are fast becoming mandatory for almost everything in Guild Wars 2. The utility, damage and flexibility they bring to a party makes them indispensable. If we’re to have all professions given a fair crack at the whip, we really must revisit many of the mesmers skills and reign them in. The only alternative is to boost those around it, which I’m sure is a more difficult task. All that said, I’d still like to see engineers be able to repair siege equipment. For great justice!

Ravious: I would definitely enjoy more utility too across the professions. I know Guardian walls have been a bit tricky to balance, for instance, and I don’t seem to notice them in WvW anymore even though on paper they seem like a perfect WvW utility. I don’t want, as Lewis said, to be pushed towards AoE skills because my favorite characters don’t have the magnificent utility of a mesmer.

Thank you both for speaking on the topic, and here’s to hoping we have more excellent round tables!

8 thoughts on “[GW2] Roundtable with GW2Hub and Massively

  1. Verene

    Portal has been changed several times – initially in BWE1, it didn’t require an F command to enter, had way more range, a tiny recharge, and if I remember correctly it effected enemies as well.

    The range on it is pretty small now, there’s a cap to the number of people that can go through, it doesn’t last very long, and they’ve increased the recharge on it several times since launch.

    When I bring my Mesmer into WvW, I refuse to put Portal on my bar unless I’m doing the jump puzzles. Thieves are still far better at stealth than a Mesmer is – a Mesmer can stack up 7 seconds of stealth, tops. A Thief can have twice that, if people know how to use Shadow Refuge properly.

    Also, as someone who plays Mesmer and goes into WvW occasionally…the class may be useful because of Portal (which really I question the usefulness of outside of the EB jump puzzle – you can’t sneak into a keep you don’t own and portal in your hole team anymore, after all), but because the class is so balanced around single-target damage and has so very few AoE options, it’s so hard to get kills in there. It’s very, very hard to get tags. I don’t even bother fighting on my Mesmer in there anymore because I’ve learned the hard way that I won’t get tags and I won’t get the badges I need, and I’m better off bringing in my Thief or Guardian or Ele (or even my level 30 Necro) for that.

  2. darkeye

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see the cap on portal getting lowered, even as low as 5 uses for each portal would be where I’d like to see it. Another change that I’ve seen suggested for sPvP is no bundles (i.e. repair kit) allowed through the portal. Not too keen on handing out portal-like abilities to other professions, and risk losing some of the uniqueness. I’d prefer to use Portal as an escape but the increased cooldown makes it less desirable, so I’d rather see it’s usefulness diminished for WvW.

    Problems with stealth go hand in hand with culling, getting attacked and not being shown the location of the attacker is no fun. I’m hoping the two changes going into tonight’s patch will help somewhat in that regard, but I’d also like a bigger visual cue for when an enemy drops stealth.

    I think the greatest annoyance with stealth skills and the mobility the thief has is that it is too easy for them to reset encounters when things are going poorly, it’s just not satisfying for their opponents, I think some way to knock a thief/mesmer out of stealth and a ‘revealed’ debuff of greater duration would help some. Does it not make sense that if you are swinging your weapon or throwing fireballs and hit something solid, that you’ve just found where the enemy is? So a melee hit and direct hit with a single target spell/projectile would do it.

  3. bhagpuss

    As a non-Mesmer (not for too long though – it’s next on the list after Thief and my Thief dinged 40 half an hour ago) I love Portal. Why on Earth would anyone want to nerf it?

    Portal bombs, stealth bombs, anything sudden and unexpected just lights up WvW with fun, whether you’re attacking or defending. Kaineng dropped a Portal bomb on us in the Lords’ room last night while we were still in the middle of re-taking Garrison after a tense two-hour build-up. They got it wrong and we wiped them. It was thrilling.

    Had they succeeded and wiped us it would *still* have been thrilling. Portaling a Golem Army around the map = pure entertainment. Having a demolition crew warp on top of you when you’re on the Hill guarding the Trebs trying to knock down the Bay wall – “This is what I live for!” to quote a certain long-tailed Commander. I hope the February update expands on this kind of mechanic, adding a wider range of tricks to the tactics box.

    Whether or not Portal should remain in the hands of one class, though, that’s harder to decide. I dismiss out of hand the idea that Mesmers need to be protected from exploitation by having the skill either nerfed or doled out to others. Personal responsibility sorts that one.
    Since I’m very, very firmly in the “Classes should be unique” boat, I’m generally against sharing abilities around. A better solution would be to give other classes equally useful but different tricks. The Engineer suggestion above is often made and would be very welcome. Every class could get something new and valuable – Rangers could gain the ability to spot Stealthed characters, for example.

    It’s probably the wrong time to be discussing this, though. Who knows what changes will come in February? WvW could be unrecognizable come March. My money’s on a substantial influx of PvE content as WvW moves towards a “PvE at your own risk” game rather than a straight “fight other players” game, because it seems that, just as in the original Guild Wars, the majority of player are primarily interested in PvE.

    1. Coppertopper

      omg I hope you are wrong with that last sentence/suggestion Bhagpuss! WvW is the ‘go-to’ for me when I can’t decide what I want to do, and its still to me the best content in the game because of the PvP stuff. Strengthen that first but leave the pve in there (it’s a great risk/reward balance right now).

  4. Malygon

    This may not be eniterely on topic but I got to ask something: I left GW2 a few months ago. The main reason I played it in the first place was WvW but there was alot of things that left me to enjoy it much less than I could’ve.

    1. The culling. Being overrun by enemies you can’t even see properly isn’t much fun. And when your guild starts abusing this mechanic for their own zergs it just feels wrong.

    2. I remember exactly when people started discovering how effective catapults on the inside of bases aimed at the gates were. Immediately thereafter it became too hard taking bases without coordinated treb attacks. Does this still persist?

    3. Ok this point hasn’t to do anything with the WvW itself. My server had a large population so the average wait time for WvW after around 3 pm until midnight was 2 hours. WvW appealed to me the most of all things GW2 related so I barely wanted to do anything else (definitely not more CoF runs like everyone else was doing at these times) but 2h wait time was a deal breaker for me. ArenaNet’s response to this problem was “pick another server” of course, convince an entire 100 man guild to change servers with you. I just wished there was an alternative, something like “Ok, while you wait here is this 20v20 simulated tower attack/defense” or letting you participate in another servers WvW, one where the faction you joined needed some people to balance the population. Since I was an WvW officer in my guild it also became a problem when you wanted to do guild WvW nights. Either you had to meet 2h earlier just to get into the fields, which some of the members of your guild weren’t really able to do or they would slowly trickle in during over the course of the evening. Also sometimes when I had a long work day I could only watch from afar for some time, not being able to do the job I originally was supposed to do as an officer.

    This point 3 was probably the main turnoff for me. I didn’t want to do anything else so the wait time kept me from, well, playing the game actually. I guess that might’ve changed. Population has probably gone down somewhat. What is with the other 2 points? Have they changed?

    1. Malygon

      Welp, just checked, population still *very high*. Unsuprising. The server I was one was one that attraced a lot of players.

      1. coppertopper

        Server pops have changed DRAMATICALLY in the last week, as now server transfer cost cash. Anet is even resetting WvW rankings due to how many guilds changed servers before the paid transfer went in (officially yesterday).

        1. Ravious

          1. Culling is getting treatment every big patch it seems. I didn’t play WvW last night so I don’t know how well the pre-loaded models helped.

          2. I think this tactic is still being used.

          3. I would say transfer to a mid-Tier WvW server and find a decent WvW guild there. Then guest on your main guild’s server to do all the other things. Still, like coppertopper said, things might change very dramatically in February.

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