In a nice interview over at Variance, ArenaNet starts dropping some pretty big information World vs. World (WvW) combat. WvW is actually three servers or shards pitted against each other for a set amount of time. Instead of arena-style PvP, WvW involves a big combat zone with multiple, linked objectives. For example, a supply caravan might be re-stocking a fortification. Players can either attack the fortification directly or cut off the supply chain. Winning sides garner benefits for their entire server. All this information has been known for some time. The interview brings to light an interesting twist: there are four maps.
Not like Heroes’ Ascent in Guild Wars, which will cycle the maps based on wins in the everlasting tournament; more like the Dark Age of Camelot game distilled down to pure PvP essence. The center map is the core area for WvW with three spoke-like maps extending out. Each spoke represents a home map for each server. The center map will also have a portal keep for each server. ArenaNet expects the center map to be the “crossroads of combat,” and I agree. The WvW “hardcore” will likely spend most of their time nipping at each other in the center map. I think the interesting part is going to be when a portal keep gets attacked and then falls.
I think that once this occurs, those that don’t frequent WvW as much will flock to the battlefield. ArenaNet is setting up servers to reinforce a community, and if a rival community attacks a home map it will be interesting to see the response. I am hoping that there is either a server message to help rally the troops or that a ripple effect will occur through the community. On the flip side I can see the attacker also trying to rally troops in response to this momentous event.
I am thinking that I like that there are separate maps. It helps to bring a defining point that enemies are here, now! If it was all one map with a “safe” area to respawn and what not, I think that the WvW-lite will not respond as readily if “their” keep in some amorphous ever-shifting blob of contested territory is being attacked… again. I am also really interested to see what buffs or boons a winning server gets for stomping on enemy territory.
The biggest challenge I think ArenaNet has is getting WvW-lite and those that just normally like to PvE to care. Their first experiment with “Tombs,” now Heroes’ Ascent, was based on real world communities with geographic boundaries. The rival communities were Americans, Europeans, and Koreans. Yet, for actual play often times in the final match a Korean team would be fighting two other Korean teams. The boon the winning community received, opening up end-game PvE content, usually ran with the active time zone. During Korean nights, the Koreans would have favor while the two rivals slept or worked.
Thankfully, ArenaNet has long since learned that this was a mistake, and the favor system has been significantly reworked in Guild Wars. Unfortunately it was reworked in a way where wins in Heroes’ Ascent no longer mattered. The winning team would still get an announcement for some recognition, but really this amounted to a pat on the back as the rest of the gamers ignored the spam. I hope that in Guild Wars 2 ArenaNet can bring some of this recognition and interest back. I may not want to PvP all the time, but I am very interested in having my server’s PvP’ers wear our server colors to bring home the gold.