gw2

Warfare on a Grand Scale

From the earliest days of development, we knew that we wanted to include some form of large-scale PvP combat in Guild Wars 2, but how would it work? We knew right away that we wanted three teams fighting against one another on a series of huge maps in the Mists (our world vs. world battleground) and that each team would be composed of an entire server full of players, including three forces in world vs. world acts as an excellent balancing factor, preventing one team from growing too powerful and ruining the competitive balance of the game. Two teams can gang up to counter a more dominant third team, a dynamic that simply isn’t possible with only two opposing factions.

 

We dreamed of a game where players could work together to capture objectives on the battlefield, like keeps and towers, claiming them for their guilds, then fortifications before defending them against hordes of attackers. With players from three different servers fighting each other, we knew that we would need a lot of different areas for them to fight over, and we wanted to have plenty of locations for guilds of all sizes to claim as their own. With this in mind, we created a number of different objectives that are designed to be captured and contested by large groups, small groups, or even just a few players.

 

To provide enough area to hold all these objectives and a wide variety of terrain, we needed to make some absolutely gigantic maps—four of them.

 

We gave each of the three teams a home map called the Borderlands, where they would have some advantage as the home team. We also created a fourth, central map called the Eternal Battlegrounds that has its own unique features, including a massive central keep. These are the largest maps we can make in Guild Wars 2, and we use as much space as we possibly can in order to accommodate over a hundred people from each server fighting on every map.

 

Each objective on a map is worth points for the team that captures it. We periodically tally the point total for each server and add that total to their War Score, which accumulates over the length of a persistent two-week battle.

 

Every Guild Wars 2 server competes in battles in the Mists.

 

At the end of each battle, every team is given a new ranking. Once a battle ends and team rankings are updated, servers are matched up based on their new ranking and a new battle commences. Downtime between these epic battles lasts only a few minutes—just long enough for us to tally the final scores, update the server rankings, and create new matches—so there’s almost always a battle for the Mists going on.

 

Objectives worth Fighting For

Let’s talk a little bit more about the kinds of objectives players will be fighting over in world vs. world.

 

When you first enter the Borderlands, you’ll notice several enormous keeps dotting the landscape. Whether you’re fighting your way though ancient ruins to assault a keep built atop the rubble, climbing up the side of a mountain to reach a tower on a peak that looms over a village below, or testing your amphibious infiltration skills with an underwater assault on an island castle in the middle of a lake teeming with hostile krait, you’ll agree that these fortresses are some seriously epic structures that guarantee some seriously epic fights.

 

 

 

Taking a keep is no easy feat. Tough NPCs guard each keep, which are all surrounded by stout walls. You’ll have to make your way through sturdy gates before you even get a chance to try and defeat the lord protecting the keep. If enemy players are defending the keep, it’s even more challenging.

 

Luckily, you’ll have the ability to use siege weapons to tear through those walls and gates, but we’ll talk more about those in a bit. Once the keep lord is finally defeated, your force has to hold the keep for a short time before you claim it for your server. Once you capture a keep, all gates and walls are repaired, so don’t hold back your assaults in fear of damaging the structure. Tear down whatever you must to get inside!

 

If you don’t quite have the numbers to go after a keep, there are quite a few smaller towers placed around the countryside. These more modest fortifications are perfect for smaller groups to assault and defend. But just like the larger keeps, towers have their own sets of defenses you’ll have to deal with, including a compliment of NPC guards and destroyable gates and walls.

 

The smallest kind of primary objectives in world vs. world are resource camps, such as quarries or logging camps. Less heavily protected than keeps and towers, resource camps have only a small unit of guards and no walls or gates to speak of, which makes them a great target for a handful of determined players.

 

Resource camps create a universal resource called “supply,” and will periodically send out dolyak caravans that deliver supply to nearby allied towers and keeps. Supply can be used to build siege weapons, repair damaged walls, or purchase various upgrades. That’s quite a lot of utility out of one resource! You’ll want to make sure you always have some supply on you. Each objective has its own supply depot. You can collect supply from that depot if you need some, but only if there is some available. If there is no supply in the depot, you’ll need to escort a caravan so it can deliver more supply to the depot, or get some from a resource camp, since each camp regenerates supply over time.

 

Taking a keep is no easy feat. Tough NPCs guard each keep, which are all surrounded by stout walls. You’ll have to make your way through sturdy gates before you even get a chance to try and defeat the lord protecting the keep. If enemy players are defending the keep, it’s even more challenging.

 

Luckily, you’ll have the ability to use siege weapons to tear through those walls and gates, but we’ll talk more about those in a bit. Once the keep lord is finally defeated, your force has to hold the keep for a short time before you claim it for your server. Once you capture a keep, all gates and walls are repaired, so don’t hold back your assaults in fear of damaging the structure. Tear down whatever you must to get inside!

 

If you don’t quite have the numbers to go after a keep, there are quite a few smaller towers placed around the countryside. These more modest fortifications are perfect for smaller groups to assault and defend. But just like the larger keeps, towers have their own sets of defenses you’ll have to deal with, including a compliment of NPC guards and destroyable gates and walls.

 

The smallest kind of primary objectives in world vs. world are resource camps, such as quarries or logging camps. Less heavily protected than keeps and towers, resource camps have only a small unit of guards and no walls or gates to speak of, which makes them a great target for a handful of determined players.

 

Resource camps create a universal resource called “supply,” and will periodically send out dolyak caravans that deliver supply to nearby allied towers and keeps. Supply can be used to build siege weapons, repair damaged walls, or purchase various upgrades. That’s quite a lot of utility out of one resource! You’ll want to make sure you always have some supply on you. Each objective has its own supply depot. You can collect supply from that depot if you need some, but only if there is some available. If there is no supply in the depot, you’ll need to escort a caravan so it can deliver more supply to the depot, or get some from a resource camp, since each camp regenerates supply over time.

 

In my opinion, the most important and exciting use for supply is the construction of siege weapons.

 

Anyone can build siege weapons in Guild Wars 2. There are no special trade skills required; all you need is a blueprint, some supply, a little help from your friends, and a desire to inflict some serious damage.

Let’s take a look at the machines of mayhem you can build in WvW.

·         Trebuchets — Earlier I described how keeps and towers were extremely well protected—how could one ever hope to break through such formidable defenses? Might I suggest launching huge, flaming balls of destruction from your very own trebuchet? This long-range death dealer is a high-value target that often attracts enemy counterattacks, so make sure to protect your trebuchet!

·         Arrow Carts — These deadly projectile launchers can blanket a small area with arrows, easily cutting down flesh-and-blood enemies, but they are largely ineffective against walls and gates.

·         Catapults — A good choice for taking down walls and gates, catapults attack a larger area than arrow carts, so they can also be very effective in putting the hurt on a tight group of enemies.

·         Ballistae — These siege weapons launch giant bolts that can pierce their target, dealing large amounts of damage to players, gates, and walls alike.

·         Siege Golems — Do you need to bash down a gate? My friend, you need a siege golem. That’s right: in world vs. world you can build your very own asuran golem, a robotic juggernaut that will smash things for you—albeit at a leisurely pace. It takes a lot of power to mobilize something that awesome, so the golems don’t move very quickly. They also don’t have much in the way of ranged attacks, but once a siege golem gets close enough to start bashing on a door, that door is in trouble.

 

 

To build a siege weapon, start by visiting your team’s resident Siegemaster NPC and purchase a blueprint. When you double-click the blueprint, your skill bar will change to a ground-targeted skill so you can select where you’d like to place the build site for your weapon. The construction site will appear wherever you click. Your blueprint is consumed when construction begins, so choose your site carefully!

 

With a siege site placed in the world, players must add supply to finish building the weapon. Anyone on your team can help with the construction by adding their supply to the site. It takes more supply than any one person can carry to build a siege weapon, which is why you should always have some on you! Make sure you bring some friends that can help you defend a siege site while it’s being completed or else you might just be wasting money on that blueprint—an unprotected build site is an easy target for enemies!

 

If you’re defending a keep or tower, don’t just stand around and wait for the enemy to come crashing through the gates. Check up on the walls—there could be cannons, mortars, and pots of boiling oil just waiting to be used on the enemy! You don’t have to buy blueprints for these stationary keep weapons, but you will need to have supply available to build them. Hopefully you have someone who can help protect the caravans delivering supply to your keep, or you may not be able to hold off determined attackers for long!

 

 

It Pays to Upgrade

As previously mentioned, upgrades are available at each objective and supply is needed to make use of these upgrades, but how does this work? Well, we have two main categories of upgrades: structural and personnel upgrades. Each upgrade requires some amount of supply to complete, although it’s spent a bit differently depending on the type of upgrade you purchase.

 

Structural upgrades strengthen the defenses of a keep, making them much harder for enemies to destroy. You pay the gold upgrade cost immediately, and then worker NPCs will gather the required supply from the keep’s depot as they build the upgrade. Only workers are able to spend supply on a structural upgrade, and the upgrade only completes once enough supply has been spent to build it.

Personnel upgrades affect the NPCs at your objective, allowing you to hire more guards or raise the level of any guards in the area. You pay the supply and gold cost up front, and then you must wait for a period of time before the upgrade is completed.

  

Towers and keeps offer both categories of upgrades, but the lightly defended resource camps only have access to personnel upgrades.

 

Winning Hearts and Minds

Need a little extra help taking an objective? You can always try to convince some of the local inhabitants of the Mists to join your cause and fight alongside you. Each map contains independent mercenary camps populated by some of the minor races from Tyria. These mercenaries may be willing to assist your war efforts, but only if you give them a little help first.

 

For instance, you might help a group of ogres protect their camp against constant harpy assaults. In return, your new ogre allies will go rampaging toward the nearest enemy objective or send out patrols to help you hold on to your territory. These factions won’t fight for you indefinitely, but they can help turn the tide of battle, so you’d be wise to recruit their aid whenever possible!

 

Orbs of Power

Players will also fight over special artifacts known as Orbs of Power while they are adventuring in the Mists. Each Borderlands map has a single Orb of Power that players can capture and place on an Altar of Power in order to provide a boost to their teammates fighting in the Mists. These Altars of Power are available at every keep in the Borderlands.

 

At the start of each Battle for the Mists, the orb in each Borderlands map is owned by the home team and stored in a heavily guarded location known as the Cradle of Power, which is guarded by a fearsome NPC known as the Keeper of the Orb. Defeating the keeper allows attackers to take the orb from the cradle and attempt to take it to one of their own Altars of Power. Once an orb is removed, players only have a few minutes to place it at an altar before it will be returned to the Cradle of Power, so if you manage to capture an orb, be sure to get it to an Altar of Power quickly!

 

Battle at Any Level

We wanted to make WvW fun and easy to get into, so there’s no level grinding required—you can just hop into the battle using your normal PvE character, regardless of what level you are.

 

When fighting in the Mists, you’ll be using your regular PvE character and the gear you’ve acquired in your adventures through Tyria. In the Mists, players all fight at the same level. Any character below level 80 will be adjusted so they are roughly equivalent in power to what they would be at level 80. This makes combat among characters of any level not only possible, but actually fun!

 

 

Even better, you continue to gain experience and new items while playing in the Mists. Players you kill will drop loot for you just like slain monsters in PvE. The player that was killed doesn’t lose any of their own equipment—that would suck—so you’ll never need to worry about losing your favorite rare weapon if you are defeated in WvW. Even better, any gear that is dropped for you will be level appropriate. You can improve your character’s weapons and armor as you fight!

Character level adjustments have a limit, however. The level-adjustment system won’t let a level 1 character go head-to-head against a level 80 character with much chance of victory—a level 80 character is still going to have more bonuses on their gear and access to a full complement of utility and elite skills that players just don’t have at lower levels. This is not to say that the high-level character will one-shot the level 1 player, but they will have a clear advantage.

So what’s a low-level character to do? Anybody can man a siege weapon, help repair walls, or go hunt down enemy dolyaks, so even new characters can still be useful in the Mists—as long as they pick their fights wisely. Fights are rarely one-on-one affairs, so if you’re just starting out, you’d be wise to find some teammates to fight alongside you as there definitely is strength in numbers.

Win One for the Server

Large groups of players can only protect so many areas at one time, and since your world’s score is based on how many objectives you hold, running around in one huge group doesn’t help your world nearly as much as it would to break into a couple of smaller groups so you can cover more area.

 

Capturing objectives can provide bonuses for everyone on your server, as well as any rewards you get for your character. As your War Score increases over the course of the two-week battle, your world will gain access to additional bonuses or be able to strengthen the bonuses you already have. Everyone benefits by holding on to territory during the battle, so get out there and hold on to as many objectives as you can!

 

Last but certainly not least, guilds will play a very large role during battles in the Mists. They can directly impact areas by claiming for their own a location that has been captured by their server. Once a guild claims a location, like a keep or tower, they can then attach bonuses to it that provide additional benefits to anyone from their server in that area. These bonuses can increase stats, give allies more health, or even increase the maximum amount of supply that players can take from the supply depot at that location. If you want to help your realm build siege weapons faster, that supply increase will be a must—and a swiftness boost could be helpful too. But guilds can only hold one location at a time, so choose wisely!

 

Until We Meet on the Battlefield…

I hope this article has given you a better understanding of what the Battles for the Mists are all about. From the very first day, we’ve been talking about the game we wanted Guild Wars 2 to be. We have been discussing how to best create huge battles where hundreds of people would be able to fight over territory and truly affect the world. We didn’t want to build anything less than the best large-scale PvP combat ever, and that’s been our goal since day one.

 

Have we succeeded? I think so, but you will be the ultimate judge. I can tell you that as gamers, we’re having the time of our lives playing world vs. world, and we can’t wait to meet the rest of you on the field of battle. We’ll see you in the Mists!

 

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