Guild Wars has a rich tradition of both pickup and competitive PvP, featuring formats played with varying degrees of organization. It has a variety of places for players to scratch their PvP itch: from Heroes' Ascent and Random Arena to Alliance Battles and GvG. I know it has taken us a while to reveal it, but rest assured, that heritage lives on in Guild Wars 2 where our goal is to create the best MMO PvP experience.
For Guild Wars 2, we wanted to organize the PvP formats more clearly and simply. For pickup play, we've created a single place where all pickup players can play. It's a server browser where "hot join" games are constantly running. We've also created a single, central place for competitive play in the form of automatic tournaments. These two play styles—pickup and competitive—share a lot of gameplay similarities, which allows players to easily transition from casual to more organized play. This is important, because both pickup and tournament play are independent of "world" choice. In other words, all Guild Wars 2 PvP players are in the same PvP games and are not segregated.
Let's take a closer look at the two PvP styles.
Hot Join PvP
"Hot join" games are the casual side of structured PvP. By nature, fighting other players is never going to be as casual as fighting PvE monsters, but this is a place to experiment with builds, learn the maps, and try out a PvP game against other players. Hot join PvP can be played from 1v1 all the way up to 10v10.
Players can browse through a list of available games, each displaying the current map, the number of players, etc. Players can search by server population or friends list. Even if a game is in progress, you can join or leave at any time. If one side loses players, the servers can auto-balance the number of players on the teams. Once the current round ends, the server loads the next map in the rotation, players can reselect teams, and the fight starts again. This kind of setup allows players to find favorite servers and build online communities by playing more than one game with the same settings and people.
Tournaments are the more organized side of structured PvP. Tournament play is 5v5, but matches take place on the same maps that are used for hot join play. Tournaments will run with varying frequency, and different reward levels will allow some players to get their feet wet in the smaller tournaments while more-organized teams battle it out in the larger tournaments.
Tournaments come in the following flavors:
PvP Game Types
Guild Wars 2 PvP features different maps that all dramatically alter a single game type called Conquest. In the Conquest format, teams compete over a certain number of capture points. Holding a capture point and killing enemies improves your team's score. The first team to reach the score limit—or the team with the highest score when time runs out—wins the match.
Control points are strategic areas on the map that are captured by standing within them. A point must be neutralized before it can be captured, and it can only be captured if no enemies are around. The more allies you have at a point, the faster it will be neutralized and captured. Neutralizing a control point stops it from scoring points for either team and happens quite quickly. But if an enemy is standing within a control point, you must push them out or kill them before continuing with your capture.
Now that you know how Conquest works, you probably want to know how we spice it up. We vary this game type by creating important secondary objectives. These can be trebuchets, repair kits, and destructible environments, like those in the Battle of Kyhlo map. In another map, for instance, a secondary objective takes the form of a giant dragon flying overhead, blasting portions of the map and killing players who are fighting below.
Secondary objectives allow us to create an environment where you always understand the basic objectives, no matter which map you're playing, but they also let us create radically different high-level strategies through the unique mechanics of each map.
When a player takes a character into PvP, they are granted access to all the necessary skills, items, etc. Characters are set to the maximum level, putting everyone on an even playing field. This makes player skill more important than time invested in a particular character. When you take your character back to the PvE environment, you return to the skills and gear you had there, but the game will save your last PvP setup. You'll also be able to store templates for builds. This way, you can try out new stuff in PvP but still easily return to your familiar builds.
Each profession will load into PvP with a starter template that allows new players to have a competent build without needing to delve into detailed skill selection, item selection, or other tweaks. However, these more detailed customization options will be available for players who are more comfortable with the system.
I thought it appropriate to end with a look at the downed mode in PvP. Downed mode works a bit differently in PvP—or rather, interacting with a downed player is different in PvP. While you can still kill a downed player just by attacking them, when you are near a downed enemy, you will also see a prompt: "F - Finish Them!" Hitting F at this point starts the animation for a finishing move that sends your opponent straight to their defeated state.
Putting it All Together
As with every aspect of Guild Wars 2, we wanted to create the highest-quality PvP possible. Our goal is to allow new players to try PvP with our hot join servers while making sure that the most elite PvPers will be able to find a challenge. We focused our efforts on this single, shared game type because it allows us to achieve the goal of making an easier transition from casual PvPer to hardcore PvPer. The Conquest game type lets us polish that one format to the point where players can find depth in emerging strategies, and it allows our entire player base to play together. At the end of the day, Guild Wars 2 is a social MMO, and structured PvP is as much a part of that as anything else.
Persistent hot join servers, instant unlocks, and a common game type have all been created with the ultimate goal of building a community and letting players find the people they want to play with quickly. We want you to stop preparing to have fun and start having it!