PvP Maps: The Battle of Kyhlo
There has been a lot of talk around World vs World and how it will change PvP. However, there’s been one missing component of the game that’s been overlooked slightly with the excitement. ArenaNet is setting up daily, monthly and yearly tournaments for competitive PvP in an attempt to turn Guild Wars 2 into a major eSport title. As more information becomes available about the PvP maps, I will attempt to try to break them down and see how well they will work in a competitive situation… as written by someone who has never played the maps before and has no real competitive experience at all. Yes. This will be fun.
The current format for structured PvP is called Conquest, with other formats to be talked about after release. For those of you who don’t know how Conquest works, it’s pretty simple. Three capture points start off as neutral. When captured by one of the two teams, the team that holds the point will gain a point every two seconds. Your team also gain five points for each kill and there may be additional points to earn on each map. The winner is the first to 500 points, the team with the most points after fifteen minutes or whoever drives the other team to ragequit first. So, now that you know how this mode plays, let’s look at our first map that was released last year, The Battle of Kyhlo.
The Battle of Kyhlo was the first PvP map shown off by ArenaNet, and it’s quite an interesting map due to the polarizing element of each side having a trebuchet that can be used, destroyed and repaired. Dubbed a gimmick by some, the trebuchet can break down walls, deal massive damage and knockback players in a teamfight, or destroy the enemy’s trebuchet on the other side of the map. The downside of using it is having only four people left to actually cap points. In videos last year, the trebuchet was shown to cut an opponent’s health in half and cause enough knockback to feel like a threat, while having the drawback of needing someone with good aim and able to defend themselves. While it is a unique mechanic, it remains to be seen if competitive teams actually dedicate people to it all the time, as having one person remotely sniping in a 5v5 can be an issue if the team aims to split up and do multiple things at the same time.
The points themselves are bog-standard for the ones closest to the red and blue bases, being outside a windmill and mansion respectively. The point is quite open and line of sight shouldn’t be a problem. Crates are scattered around to hide behind and can be destroyed, but that’s about it. A good guess would be that one player during the start would just run immediately to their respective point, and then be the dedicated trebuchet operator who wreaks havoc on the map. The core four would rollout to the much more interesting midpoint, the clock tower (which I have now officially dubbed as Big Ben).
I do have a few issues with Big Ben, mainly that there is no visual cues to which ramp is which. Think back to Team Fortress 2 which had quirky, bright-coloured control point indicators so you don’t accidently find yourself walking back towards points you already own. Even Counter-Strike has the graffiti on walls that point out A and B. Here in Guild Wars 2, it looks like the only way to tell is to look at your minimap, which detracts a lot from focusing on the actual battle and can be annoying for commentators. Even a simple flag on either side of the clock tower wall would be good.
In addition, the point seems quite cramped, especially for something as significant as the middle that will be fought over quite often. As a large spire, this point has a significant height advantage, with teams having to climb ramps up either side to find the glowing circle and the other side craving their blood. Rollouts will become very significant, as even a few seconds of being slower than the other team would mean that your ramp will be pressured significantly more, leaving you with the choice of either trying to duke it out on their terms or letting them capture and focusing on other points. Yes, slow teams should have a disadvantage, but this seems to be slightly overkill. Apart from the glass windows as a slow and very obvious entry point, there’s no side entrances for surprise. Finally, the small size of it means that it’s hard to work out what is going on in a teamfight, and positioning is very hard to work out, turning it into just an extremely painful deathmatch until one team retreats.
Despite these issues, Khylo looks like it will play quite well. There are a few strategies to taking the clock tower if needed including the trebuchets and the other points, so it’s definitely not the person who takes the clock tower first that wins. It’s different, it looks quite balanced and fun right now and I believe that we should wait and see how people work around it. Strategies will form eventually, and with good teamwork it can be played well, as shown at the trade shows. For now until we see some serious competitive play in the upcoming betas, I will reserve most of my judgement. Due to the trebuchets and tight middle point, it probably won’t be the most liked map in the competitive scene, but there are three other maps, one of which I believe will be much more competitively viable, and the other two to be revealed.
Oh, and that underwater map. But nobody likes underwater maps, right?