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GW2 WvW Impressions

WvW is the closest I have ever come to reliving Dark Age of Camelot RvR.  I chose to lead off with that comment because WvW is the reason why I will play GW2, and the reason why many of my friends decided to even give GW2 a chance.  I want to begin by giving you a narrative of the video I shot below.

The video starts off with my server fighting outside the outer wall of our Western Keep in Blue’s World.  We are the invaders taking and holding Blue’s territory.  Almost right away we are pushed back through our wall just to find ourselves flanked by an even larger Blue force which broke through the other gate on the wall.  Keeps, Towers, and Outer Walls in GW2 have multiple gates.  This makes defending much more difficult because the attackers can come at you from multiple fronts.

As we are pushed back, I dive off the cliff into the beautifully done waters of our Keep’s moat.  Water combat, and water in general, are stunning and an amazing addition to the game and WvW.  We battle back and forth and eventually push Blue back to their Garrison (primary keep, awesome defense).  Moments later, as my guildies and I are retreating to our keep on our way to take a supply depot, GREEN server’s army flanks us out of nowhere inside the walls of our keep.  I LOVE three faction PvP!!!

The video ends with the end of our attack on a Tower and a look at the Orb (DAOC Relic).  We break the doors with our ram and burst through cleaning up the last of the defenders.  Slaying the Tower Lord, we claim the Tower for our server and march off to take more objectives.

Read on for more WvW Impressions.

Zones
Each of the zones, one for each faction and a center zone, have a different look about them.  One is snowy, another wetlands with ruins, another foresty.  They all have the same design, for balance I suppose, but make me feel like I’m in a different place.  Keep placement works well on the sides and top of the map with Towers in between.   The map layout provided extensive back and forth, and plenty of 3 faction skirmishing.

During the weekend I watched the WvW map and saw players behaving how they should; If Blue invaded Green, Green would respond and Red would come mess with them. What I would like to see in the future is a group of people dedicated to defending and monitoring “milegates” or areas between where the enemy portal in to the zone and the Keeps they want to take.

ArenaNet could quadruple the size of the zones and I would still want them bigger, but that’s nitpicking since the zones are larger than most anything else we’ve seen in years.

Keeps and Towers
Towers in GW2 are essentially like Keeps in WAR. Keeps are huge in GW2 and even have outer walls and moats like you saw in the video. Unlike DAOC, there are multiple gates to defend. This makes taking keeps easier, which may prove problematic since I want to avoid the constant keep flipping pandemic from WAR. Keep Lords could use a buff as well so that there is actually time to say “They’re on the Lord!” and get there to intervene.

Siege equipment is awesome. I was firing a mortar at the dock and I think I killed 20 people. The arrow towers are annoying and really, really strong.  Spam enough of them and it becomes nigh impossible to siege.  I suspect there will be balancing with siege before launch.

No one could afford upgrades to the Keeps or Towers during the weekend, so it’s entirely possible that once the game comes out and guilds become organized it will be easier to defend.

Incentives / Purpose for WvW
Winning in WvW gives bonuses that are enticing, and capturing Orbs leads to competition and more bonuses. I hope that people really grasp the concept that if your server is “red” for the week you need to defend “red world” zone from invaders. I think that players will unite under the idea that they want to win and go up the ladder. There’s pride associated with winning, and shame in losing. If buffs and benefits don’t entice, hopefully shame will.

Like DAOC, additional awards can be added later.  If players need further incentive to win, or incentive to avoid losing, add a dungeon to the game that players access through an Asura Gate like Darkness Falls.  Lock the two losing realms out.

WvW Combat
I’m bothered by the amount of AoE.  It’s annoying more than it is effective.  The chaos created by all the circles on the ground, especially when you have 200 people sieging, is overkill.  The freedom of movement and ability use makes chasing even more interesting.  Without having to stop and cast most abilities, it’s easier to chase.

Being a melee sucked.  I had way more fun on my Necro than I did on my Warrior because my Warrior felt useless 50% of the time.  WvW, much like RvR, is a ranged game when attacking and defending.  I recommend people consider that before choosing a class and while thinking about how to spec your melee characters.  Take some ranged stuff on those warriors!  Melee are still very good in open-field combat.  When people start defending lands more and holding areas of the zones instead of sieging constantly the melee classes will really shine.

Lag / Performance
I had a great deal of framerate trouble during sieges.  I would drop to 11-15 FPS and felt miserable.  Ability lag was present and some attacks were made useless, like the warrior leap, when ability lag caused movement to feel ‘sticky’ or ‘clunky’.  Fixing these issues is a must.

Overall
WvW is a slam dunk by today’s standards.  It’s not quite DAOC, but with some balance tweaks, performance fixes, and time to mature it’ll be right up there.  I like how ArenaNet is taking a proven model and adapting it while keeping what works.

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Comments

  1. I don’t see how you can call it a “slam dunk” at 11-15 fps. I know it’s a beta but it’s not a beta imho when everyone can get in…it’s a marketing event.

    Activision and EA both have been unable to pull off large scale pvp. Does ArenaNet have different tech nobody else knows about or will we see tighter pop caps?

    I’m worn out by the never ending mmorpg hype machine maybe. Dev’s/Pub’s blinded by WoW gold. I’m worried the genre is gonna have to go blue screen so we can build a new rig from scratch.

  2. I was referring to the implementation.

  3. Gankatron says:

    WoW seems to pull it off. SWTOR was uses a non-optimized engine and was doomed from the start with regards to large scale PvP and warzones (or even walking around a crowded fleet).

  4. Keen
    Agree with you on the AOE. But on the bright side it wasn’t insta killing full groups like the Bright Wizard bomb squads in Warhammer. In fact I kind of liked not getting 1 shotted at all. Not sure if Melee gets any distance closers at higher levels, but i would assume so.

  5. My very modest machine was smooth as butter all weekend, in WvW as well as PvE. I had most settings on high. Don’t know what frame rate I was actually getting but I wasn’t aware of any graphics lag at any time the whole weekend. Very very little latency either and I was playing on a US server from the UK.

    I remain to be convinced that most servers will take WvW seriously after launch. The system allows for that with the rotating match-up every two weeks, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see things settle down to a handful of servers where the serious PvPers battle it out while on the rest it’s very much a casual activity. We’ll find out when it happens, I guess, which can’t come soon enough for me.

    Even in this weekend’s beta I heard someone complaining he’d had to use his free Gems to move servers because no-one was doing WvW on the server he’d rolled on. I was on Yak’s Bend so that was never going to be a problem!

  6. @Bhagpuss: Interesting… I was getting horrible framerate issues, especially in WvW fights with lots of players.

    What are your system specs?

  7. Jim: The FPS issue is due to the fact that the game is CPU bound. A lot fo things that should be offloaded to the GPU is being done by the CPU. Changing quality sliders and setting does not affect CPU as minimal stuff is being offloaded to GPU. This is known and as part of the optimization stage of the game, it will be more and more dumped onto the GPU.

    Other than that I found WvW great. THe lack of waypoints sucked, but many didn’t know that you could build waypoints as keep upgrades.

  8. What Daegalus said, and also I’d be willing to bet that those with ATi cards suffered from worse performance than those with similar tier Nvidia cards, at least that has consistently been my experience with the ATI cards I’ve owned.

  9. Brise Bonbons says:

    @Bhagpuss: I don’t see it as a problem if people who don’t want to do an activity aren’t doing it, so long as they’re not being thrown up against top-end servers when they do want to dabble. The one problem I foresee is that the number of serious PvP servers will probably not be a multiple of 3. That is, if there are 7 servers with “hardcore” WvW guilds on them, there are going to be two servers who are getting thrown into situations where they will struggle to compete.

    As with any other MP game, it is up to the player to do their research and find a community that’s a good match for them – not only in terms of interests, but also in dedication, time commitment, etc.

    @ everyone:

    My biggest concern is whether the skill and combat design in GW2 is a good match for WvW. I.e. do players have tools to impact the flow of battle. Clearly some professions are set, such as guardians with their walls and mesmers with their teleport, mass invisibility, and aoe knockback. But overall, does it feel like you have the sort of tools you need to impact the battle, or are you just spamming AoE damage and support, hoping that more enemies die than allies?

    Personally, I’m confident there are enough interesting strategic choices and varied terrain to make the sort of big picture stuff cool and interesting. But I’m worried that if I only have 30-45 minutes or so to jump on and engage in a couple fights, the micro-scale combat won’t be interesting enough to make it worth my while.

  10. Evalissa says:

    capturing supply stations, escorting supply caravans, killing enemy caravans, patrolling roads, these can all be done with a small group or solo and do have effects on the battle. I built my ranger as a skirmisher and could chase down or run away from most things, be it jumping of a wall to kill a low hp attacker or chasing down a caravan yak to deny supply
    Now granted I am always the first to look at the good points and it takes me a wile to see the negatives, but so far I had a really good time

  11. Slightly off topic, but I figured since we are talking about 3 way pvp and this was a game several of us including Keen were looking forward to, I’d post it here.

    Dominus has apparently closed down effectively immediately. Here is the post by Sanya:

    http://forums.dominusthegame.com/index.php?/topic/1811-closing-down/

    Basically they didn’t have the resources. I guess I’m not suprised. Really figured it was a very outside shot this game would ever go live, but I held out a glimmer of hope, which is gone now.

  12. Like bhagpuss I had a very smooth experience Saturday and Sunday, although Friday was a bit up and down on frame rates and response. I’m running a standard clocked i7-2600K at 3.4GHz, 8 gigs of RAM, and a NVIDIA GTX570SC.

    @Brise Bonbons

    I was playing WvW with an engineer on Sorrow’s Furnace and we had a good mix of players, although I think about 40% of players on all sides were rangers. Everyone seemed to be mixing in well, both attack and defense, although some classes were more useful at times that others. Rangers were great for forming skirmish lines and sending in small groups to revive downed players. A few mesmers were creating chaos, for and against us; wish we’d had a few more. Guardians (needed more of them too) time and again set up safe zones at the edge of battle to recover in, thank you! Eles and necros doing lots of damage. Warriors forming a core group to smash their lines, break up their attacks, and usually a male norn or two with a greatsword drawing the enemy’s attention so the rest of us could limp back to the ranger line. Thief, I’m not sure I saw any to be honest. As a charr engineer I tried to support from mid-range or along the edges, pick off wall defenders with my rocket turret or blast attackers from some ledge while defending. In open fighting I just kept on the move shooting anything and everyone with my pistols. Fun time!

  13. I have a 6gigs ram, gtx460(superclocked, 1gig), i7 2.8ghz.

  14. wufiavelli says:

    For some reason i think the frame rate issue is relared towards gw2s fetish for particle effects and other shiney shinies.

  15. You should try and enable “Fast-Cast Ground Targeting”

    I found it truly helpful on my necro.

    It fast casts the ground AEs straight to where your mouse pointer points at. Its really fast to cast 3 different marks at the same spot.

    ~Higgs

  16. Steeldragoon says:

    @Keen – I have a XP 32-bit setup using 4GB RAM (3.4 ish due to 32-bit), AMD/ATI Radeon 6850, AMD Phenom II X4 830 (Quad 2.8), and a cheap mobo (MSI MS-7388).

    Game play did not seem to be affected by frame rate, however, I did not actively seek out the reported rate. There were a few lag events that might have been frame rate related, however, as a previous poster mentioned, with most of it being off loaded to the CPU currently, we can only expect performance to increase as they continue to optimize the engine to use the GPU.

  17. Very odd… Framerate was on the top of my list of issues and my computer seems competitive with most.

  18. What’s ‘acceptable’ as a framerate is going to vary form one person to another. For me anything around 30 is fine but for someone with a super machine they may demand 60 or it’s unplayable.

    Having said that I’m sure the frame rate will improve by launch. Even where it’s at now though it’s infinitely better to play on my machine then Warhammer or TOR was. Had a 100 or so people in an area and I was still in the 15 range. TOR would dip into the low single digits with more then 30….

    @Jim

    This was the first beta event attached to a preorder that I played that actually felt like a real beta. That, along with the lack of a release date shows it’s not just a gimmicky marketing event. They need to test WvWvW out and stress test the servers. An event like this does that better then an internal test and it also ramps up the word of mouth.

    I understand your cynicism though. Pretty much every preorder “beta” out there recently has been a marketing gimmick because they have no intention of getting feedback. How can you when you release a month after the “beta”?

  19. lumpygamer says:

    Keen

    Please compare this game with your experience in Warhammer 40K that you also loved.

    I read your posts from your enthusiastic embrace of WH40K to your final disappointment with that game. Now you got Guildwars , which is new shiny game and different , so i hope you put out a more comprehensive review later, after the honeymoon period is over and all the shine wears off and you can comment more objectively like your usual posts

  20. Good read, I typically dont chime in about things, but will here with my experience.

    I had no lag/FPS drop in WvWvW; I use an nVidia 570OC, have 8GB ram, i7 2600k and installed GW2 on a SSD I have as a slave. Loading was fast, no delays in abilities really and almost no frame rate changes and I ran the game on the highest settings mostly.

    On game play: Overall it seemed really well made. Melee have a disadvantage in parts of WvW, but most people overlooked making siege devices/weapons and it was a huge mistake on their part. Since most people are used to running in and healing, or unloading damage in PvP, the concept that there are other jobs to do in order to win didn’t take on very well in my honest opinion. Seeing melee run to doors underneath the boiling oil pot just made me smile. Then when they complained and asked for rez I laughed a lot at their expense.

    Everyone complains about games being a WoW clone and how they hate WoW and dont want another WoW like game. This one comes along and breaks almost every aspect of it and what do you read. Everyone wants it to be more like WoW…

  21. Ocelot says:

    I experienced some lag in WvW with i7/24Gb/GTX 590 so it’s not apparently linked to the raw machine power.

    On another subject, I liked the elementalist, but it takes forever to unlock all skills ! If I’m not mistaken there are 30 combinations of weapons / skills… I reached level 14 and I was far for unlocking all of them. And unlocking daggers which means close combats was very deadly…for me.

  22. João Carlos says:

    “Being a melee sucked. I had way more fun on my Necro than I did on my Warrior because my Warrior felt useless 50% of the time. WvW, much like RvR, is a ranged game when attacking and defending. I recommend people consider that before choosing a class and while thinking about how to spec your melee characters.”

    Keen, all classes can be ranged, just use a ranged weapon. Each weapon have diferent habilities. I made only PvE, but my warrior set for a two hand sword (nice aoe close combat) and rifle (ranged, some mobs is better attack from long range). I tryed for some time sword and shield, axe and shield, hammer and shield, two hand axe, two hand hammer, and bow. Warrior have a huge variety of weapons for choose, each one have diferent habilities.

    I tryed guardian too, not sure what is guardian ranged weapon, but I think it is bow. I set guardian for sword and shield (it is a better tank than warrior using shield) and two hand sword (nice aoe close combat). The nice thing is that I tryed for some time sword and torch (burns the mob) with the guardian.

    I saw other people playing rogue, so I know they can use dual pistols.

    So, my guess that people will need time for learn the game mechanics, because from what I saw ALL classes can be ranged, you are not forced to be melee with guardian or warrior or rogue. The fact people don’t knew it at PvP shows that it will need some time for players get max potential at WvW.

    So, class is not an issue at PvP, ALL classes can be ranged.

  23. Steeldragoon says:

    @Ocelot – For difficult to level up weapons, I found it easier to level to 15 and get the higher armor then go back to the beginner area to level the weapons so as to make it not so deadly. The extra armor, traits, and utilities will make it a much easier experience.

  24. Shadanwolf says:

    I too play GW2 for the WvW.That’s THE reason I will play(yes I’m x DAOC). I have a newer computer that I had built for gaming and I have a cable connection.I had my graphics sliders maxed.Sometimes I had lag…most of the time not. I did get a bit upset by having to wait on one occasion to get into WvW.

    The server vs server conflict is T H E best I’ve seen since DAOC.

    My real “problem”. Too many classes that look like they would be fun in WvW.

  25. Gankatron says:

    @lumpygamer: GW2 is a lot like War, only with improved and additional features. I loved War also, and feel that it fully deserved an “enthusiastic embrace” at launch; unfortunately large scale PvP lag and the progressive death of earlier zones due to lack of population made me leave. Unlike War the WvWvW feature promise to add much to the game and have many of us hopefully excited. GW2 also has a taste of TR with the frenetic NPC battles and items like kill streak boost.

    Keen’s impressions are as comprehensive as can be expected for limited exposure to a weekend beta and include negative as well as positive; naturally these write-ups will be his subjective impressions at this point. I don’t believe Keen was off base in his initial assessment of War, and I agree with his evaluation of GW2 to date.

    Everyone will get a more comprehensive experience of GW2 in the months that follow, and modify our opinions as appropriate. I for one encourage Keen to keep analyzing the game as we move forward, and believe his positive assessment is justified to date, perhaps because it is the same as mine! ;)

  26. @João Carlos: You’re correct that all characters can be ranged, but I found the Warrior wasn’t as adept with ranged weapons as a Ranger/Ranged Class. I tried my Warrior with a Rifle and a Longbow at level 80; The Bow was better, imo, but wasn’t even close to being as good as his 2H sword.

  27. Gankatron says:

    @João Carlos:

    “Keen, all classes can be ranged, just use a ranged weapon. ”

    I think that everyone who played the beta realizes this. I believe the potential problem will be for players that prefer a melee play-style over ranged (which is certainly NOT me). I think that that the argument over potential disadvantages of playing primarily melee builds isn’t adequately addressed by advising melee-oriented player to just play ranged.

    Melee did look out of balance to me, even from my place in the rear lines, and as much as my inner child would selfishly love to not get ganked SWTOR-style by a toon with high hp, heavy armor, and damage mitigation, that jumps across large distances, repeatedly immobilizing and interrupting me, while outputting massive damage on my frail magey type.

    If it doesn’t change then perhaps people will be forced into using melee only when tactically appropriate; hopfully this game play style will still hold melee-focused player’s interest.

  28. Gankatron says:

    Rofle = a rifle that is laughably inadequate?

  29. João Carlos says:

    Keen, the worse situation is guardian, only scepter as ranged (I was wrong, guardian cannot use bow). However, I get a better impression than you about warrior using rifle. At least at PvE it is better use rifle (or maybe bow, but I need see what skills bow gives) for some mobs (mostly bosses and grouped mobs with too many ranged). There is one skill with rifle that you can make a lot of damage to one mob. The only problem with rifle is no AOE, not sure if bow gives aoe to warrior.

    With relation to guardian, I found that it have some strong support abilities, mostly when using staff (I not tested it). Maybe that compensates the no ranged at PvP, not sure. However, I saw that guardian with a mace and shield have an attack that causes a regeneration aoe, who is close to guardian will regenerate some health. There is too a skill that guardian can buy, healing wind, that heals not only the guardian, but who is near.

    My guess is that people is learning how to work at PvP. How to group, where to attack and where to defend, what gear use, what skills use.

  30. @João Carlos: Gankatron’s comment is most accurate. The point isn’t that every class can be ranged, but the idea that every class needs to be ranged in order to perform. I like to get in there and melee if I’m playing a Warrior. If I want to use ranged attacks, I’ll go for a ranged character.

    That’s in the nature of this type of siege/defend PvP, though. I’m actually used to it from DAOC. GW2 does more to let Warriors perform than DAOC did.

    @Gankatron: Yeah, yeah, typo. ;)

  31. Steeldragoon says:

    @Keen – the warrior being less “adept” to ranged weapons doesn’t mean using the Warrior in WvWvW is less fun IMO.

    For instance, the long bow #5 skill is “Pin Down” allowing you to catch up to your enemy (lasts 3 seconds).

    The Rifle’s #2 ability is “Aimed Shot” allowing you to cripple your enemy and slow them down by %50. Also allowing you to catch up.

    And both ranged weapons have their bleeding effects.

    As a warrior in WvWvW, I might use the bow for long range, and a single sword with the horn allowing me both the %33 speed boost and the “Savage Leap” to catch up to them.

    Distance for the warrior does not HAVE to be an issue. Now if your main weapon in WvWvW just happens to be a 2 handed hammer, well … ;)

  32. @Steeldragoon: I agree, the ranged weapons are indeed a step up from most games offering almost no ranged alternative to a Warrior-type. And they are fun.

  33. My system is getting on for 3 years old although I just upgraded it in November:

    PhenomII X4 3.2
    Radeon HD 6800 1Gb
    8GB Ram

    I often seem to find that MMOs run quite smoothly on my modest set-up when people with much more powerful systems complain of having issues. Sometimes that’s probably because they have higher standards than me and expect to run faster on higher settings than I would care about, but not in this case I think.

    For the GW2 beta I played Saturday with the defaults as the game set them, which seemed to be mainly “Medium”. It all ran so smoothly that on Sunday I turned soem of those up to “High” (can’t remember exactly which but probably not the character model option) and couldn’t see the slightest deterioration in playability. I don’t generally look at my frame rate unless there’s a problem so I can’t say what it was but I never saw any stuttering, hitching or distortion of any kind all weekend.

    One thing that might be relevant, I play almost all MMOs with all names off all the time. I usually have both player and NPC names set to Target/Mouseover only although this time I left NPC names on.

  34. Maybe I could use another 2 gigs of ram or something.

  35. Dawnwarden says:

    @JC

    The staff’s first 2 skills are both ranged attacks (though both scepter and staff have some short ranges compared to other classes).

    @Keen

    I was chatting with Bartlebe about the “graphic” issues that you were having.. I seen to remember that we all (I think it was you, Bart, Krig and myself, maybe Damage) got “new” computers within a couple months of each other with “roughly” the same hardware at the time(i7 930 running at 2.8GHz, 8GB of RAM for me at the time). I used whatever the default settings were when I logged in and just stayed with them and had no real issues with graphics based lag until the “closing event” where it was just nuts killing the legendary bunny.

    I did read somewhere though that because of the way the Beta client is set up that (the one giant file) when we get a Real installer come launch it would run a whole lot smoother. Just wish I could remember where it was I read that.