Guild Wars “PvP Love” is Format Culling

Linsey Murdock, on the Guild Wars 1 Live Team, wrote a  huge journal update about the goings-on about the Live Team, and the upcoming content update.  The update is quite good as Linsey discusses more technical updates such as the seasonal events and the Xunlai Tournmanet House.  However, the big news is on the “PvP Love” that was rumored to come with the next content update.

It seems that the Hero Battles and Team Arenas PvP formats are becoming cancerous.  Hero Battles is a “solo” PvP format where one human player controls three Heroes against the opposing team to control capture points, which each give various bonuses to the owner.  I honestly never played the Hero Battles format, but I did watch plenty of matches in observer mode.  It was enough to realize that it was a very gimmicky format.  Team Arenas are a place that was near and dear to my heart back in the early days of Guild Wars.  I spent plenty of time playing the 4v4 deathmatch variants.  I haven’t played Team Arena in over a year, but Linsey says that “a competitive atmosphere and a degenerate metagame have caused the player base to dwindle a great deal.”

ArenaNet’s solution is to remove Hero Battles and Team Arenas and replace it with a 4v4 Sealed Deck format.  Sealed Deck is roughly a format that would limit the available skills to a small fraction.  Skill is not only required in playing a team build but also in the creation of the build.  This is still a feature in production, but it seems like ArenaNet is going to make this the crown jewel for the next content update.  Fair warning that September may be the last month to play both vintage formats.

I think this will be a great shot in the arm for Guild Wars PvP.  Since before live launch, Guild Wars has been pessimistically named “Build Wars” by many in the PvP elite.  Currently, PvXwiki – a repository for PvP builds – is bantered about as an insult to teams who merely copy the build of the month.  A sealed deck format will require for ingenuity in the team’s creation and playstyle.  Linsey followed up her journal entry with another post giving a nice statistic.  The most played PvP format, Random Arena, sees ~32 times more matches than Hero Battles in any given week, which is the least played format.

PvP is such an interesting niche in MMO games because it absolutely requires an opposing population that also wishes to play.  As few as, two competing PvP formats can severely harm the entire PvP population.  Guild Wars has eight PvP formats along with a handful of seasonal formats.  I think culling a few formats is the best decision on ArenaNet’s part.

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5 thoughts on “Guild Wars “PvP Love” is Format Culling”

  1. “PvP is such an interesting niche in MMO games because it absolutely requires an opposing population that also wishes to play.”

    Depends on how you define ‘PvP’, no? Certainly this is true of those forms of PvP I find interesting, but there’s a whole school of thought that says that the one absolute requirement for PvP in an MMO is a large population of helpless victims who will happily stand around being ganked.

  2. “Sealed Deck”? Sounds like a good idea to me, and a further strengthening of the CCG-ish PvP. (Select a “deck” of skills from a larger set of options.) It’s a smart idea, and I hope they manage to pull it off.

  3. I wouldn’t say that a population of targets is necessary for ‘PvP’ in the generic sense. I just think that the expressed opinions of many self-styled ‘real PvPers’ seem to feel that ‘real PvP’ requires such a population. Personally, I think that the best PvP available online is Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2. No population of helpless targets there. Except for smokers, they’re target practice.

  4. Indeed. I much prefer shall-we-say “sanctioned” PvP as opposed to unsanctioned gank fests. That was why I joined a normal (non-PvP) server for WAR. I wanted PvP where PvP was designed to be, and not randomly all over the place.

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