At Rezzed, the game convention of London, ArenaNet just had a presentation (recorded Twitch link) regarding the Desert Borderlands map. This new map will replace the current Borderlands maps, and then some kind of schedule / rotation will be determined. In usual form the Dulfy Corp provides an excellent swath of notes on the very informative presentation.
There are three “corners” to the map: earth, fire, and wind. Each with a corresponding keep. It seems like in usual form the keep is the golden prize for each of the three teams, but the Desert Borderlands seems to more strongly emphasize that the Keep is resting on a pyramid of support.
The accompanying Towers seem to be more “required” objectives. An army that chooses not to take a Tower will seem to have a harder time just pushing towards the Keep. It does seem like there are options, and it will be interesting to see how far ArenaNet will go to allow a ninja-Keep capture.
There are also 3 Shrines per Keep, which give bonuses to the defending army. For example, with 1 shrine the Air Keep defenders get jumping pads to better flank enemies. With 2 air blast turrets activate throughout the area, and with 3 shrines, the Air Keep defenders no longer have falling damage. That is pretty huge.
Shrines are soloable / havoc’able. So an enemy zerg heading toward a Keep will likely pick up the Shrines along the way. However, it appears that if the zerg is laser focused on the Keep. It only takes a few people to get behind enemy lines, recapture the shrines, and make a mess of the zerg. I really like that. It seems like in pressing forward a zerg will have to split and cover a lot of ground.
However, nothing was said of rewards. It’s currently not rewarding to scout or defend, and even with all the terrain / sub-objectives seeking to break up zerg play, if players aren’t rewarded for scouting or defending I wonder how far these mechanics will go. I want players to want to stand against zergs, and despite the mechanics that I really like in Edge of the Mists, it has befallen to three snake-like zergs just smashing through the zone because that is what is rewarding.
Every three hours the Desert Borderlands gets a new event. Players fight to kill dinosaurs which have swallowed energy cores. They turn them in, and it seemed like the team that turned in the most / fastest / etc. would get a laser that fires at enemy objectives taking down Keep and Tower doors, etc.
This mechanic really reminded me a lot of the pirate map in Heroes of the Storm where players turn in gold to get the pirate captain to fire his cannon at objectives. I saw a lot of players talk about “PvE peeing on their parade”, and judging from what I have seen in Heroes of the Storm, it is more like a PvE objective where PvP occurs. I would be surprised if during the Oasis event the player death count is not extremely high.
I am pretty excited about this map update, but I hope it goes hand-in-hand with an update for a more rewarding experience. Given that ArenaNet has taken one of the three environments from Edge of the Mists and blown it up to a complete Borderlands, it seems plausible that a rotation of Borderlands with all different environments will be the end goal.
The presentation is well worth watching if you are a WvW fan.