WvW—I’m just going to call it Wuv, because that’s how I feel about it. What is there to love about it? Oh, well let’s just take a look.
Actually, let’s stop for a sec. I’m writing this knowing full well that by the time it’s posted, the non-disclosure agreement for the press beta will have lifted and there will be plenty of first-hand experiences of WvW. Still, there’s a lot I’m excited about, so here are some of the elements of WvW I’m most looking forward to.
Right away, what makes me want to play WvW is the fact that ArenaNet obviously wants me to play it. Accessibility is a big deal, as Mike Ferguson describes in his post at the ArenaNet blog. You can join with your level 1 character and fight your way up to level 80. That fact alone inspires me to do just that—create a WvW-only character. A charr engineer (WvW seems so engineer-friendly, with its diverse options really making their versatility shine), perhaps with a name that inspires little faith in her abilities: Singeface, No-Thumbs, Knucklehead.
Freedom complements WvW’s accessibility. The vast amount of things to do means that there are many ways to win a battle and, as Mike describes, ways for lower-level characters to pull their weight. If Nala Knucklehead has been throwing herself against a keep’s wall to no avail, there are other ways to fight that fight. If she doesn’t even care about that stupid keep, and instead want to find unsuspecting victims for her contraptions, there are plenty of players and caravans out there waiting for her.
WvW, by offering a halfway point between PvE and competitive PvP, could be what pulls in a lot of players who have been unsure about the game so far. It combines PvP’s pacing and the challenge of fighting other players with PvE’s open world and personalization. Also, it’s freaking huge.
WvW’s grand scale and constant war happen on a lot of different layers, from long-term and short-term battles to different locales, creating epic battles all over. I expect, but of course won’t really know until I try it, that this creates multiple levels of tension that keep the war rolling along week to week. For instance, there are the small battles, the actual fighting that players do with each other and with NPCs, which last a matter of minutes. The tension there is quick—the teams squaring off, the tension rising during the fight, until one side finally breaks the other and the tension falls. That happens repeatedly, and as these fights change the battlefield, the tension on the battlefield level slowly grows as teams get closer to besieging castles, building siege weapons, or capturing Orbs of Power. And of course that contributes to the tension of the greater war, as servers fight to hold objectives and increase their War Score.
Another element that drives the flow of battle is supply, the environmental resourse. With so many uses it should be fiercely fought over and encourage different playstyles. I think supply will add a lot to WvW because of its multiple uses, which aren’t only limited to one strategy, but can play a vital role in laying siege, defending, upgrading, and repairing. Resources like this are effective because the hard choices they give. With limited supply, the only drawback of choosing one use is not being able to take advantage of the other uses.
Because this is Guild Wars, the community aspect has to play into WvW somehow, and I love the way guilds are incorporated. A guild can capture an objective and can do quite a bit to make it their own. By providing a bonus to allies, by working to defend it, for simply being there, guilds can make a name for themselves and members have something to be very proud of. Even more so if the guild can manage to defend the place, hearing their name being cursed as their enemies retreat, holding their seared rumps.
This aspect of community in WvW is something I hadn’t expected, which is silly of me to ever doubt ArenaNet. When I heard about WvWvW, at the time, I imagined some chaotic fracas of players endlessly beating and burning each other (I haven’t played many server vs. server games, if you couldn’t tell). Like a never-ending Braveheart battle. Lots of yelling. Thankfully, what WvW looks to be is a beautifully crafted warzone, as if someone took every game mode of Team Fortress 2 and tied it together with a context that made you care. It’s as if they designed WvW to be its own game, making no compromises and pouring every ounce of love they had into it.
And I think it’s clear that it’s exactly when ArenaNet has done. So when the day comes, I’ll see you in the Mists; look for the bumbling charr engineer, the one who you’re not quite sure you feel safe with at your back. Until then, all these things are what I’ll be looking for in the WvW gameplay videos this week, and I’m sure I’ll find more to love that I never expected. What about you, dearest reader (so graceful and clever!), what’s got you most excited for WvW?