The main focus for competitive PvP in Guild Wars 2 is Structured PvP, or sPVP. Opposing teams fight in rated 5v5 matches on four different maps. The PvP is focused around a combination of point capture and fighting for alternative objectives to compete for points. The first team to reach 500 points wins and points are mainly gained by holding territory or killing PvE bosses, which can be sniped in MOBA style. There are no dedicated healing classes around, and every class has self heals available. Guild Wars 2 main differences from WoW are the slower strafing speed, the inability to start casts airborne, no PvP trinkets, shorter crowd control durations and a lesser focus on kills.
Players do not need to farm PvP Gear, and sPvP characters start at the max level, so new players can quickly jump into action. The gear is highly customizable and players can focus on four different stats that complement their builds and their team's composition. Skills can be swapped out during the matches while out of combat, and with weapon switches players have the option to change a few main skills at any point.
Azshene, one of the most acknowledged GW2 players, will now give you a GW2 showcase:
Hellom my name is Kasper Andersen, aka Azshene; I play a guardian in Team Paradigm, and I’ve recently made a PvP movie featuring some of the structured PvP/tournament matches which I’ve recorded during BWE2. I primarily play 2 builds in the movie, my defensive node hold/control build which is used by the Charr, and my versatile build which is used by the human.
The node control build relies on knock backs and area denial effects to get enemies out of nodes long enough for help to arrive or to neutralize points in your favor. Its tankiness makes it ideal for holding out for long amounts of time against physical damage dealers, while still dealing fairly respectable damage, but it’s also quite vulnerable to condition-based damage.
The versatile build is more offensively oriented than the node control one, giving you much more damage, but at the cost of survivability and control. The build still retains some control in the form of blinds and immobilizes. It survives through having high toughness and low recharge on its heal skill, as well as healing from its low recharge meditation. The build is also capable of swapping between ranged and melee, basically it has a bit of everything, hence why I named it the “versatile” build.
Hildegard: Now I welcome Azshene and Cigs for our interview. As you probably know the first question I am bound to ask by ancient tradition is: What did you eat today?
Cigs: Arizona Southern style sweet tea and Marlboro Reds.
Azshene: Hold on while I find out!
Cigs: You probably had popcorn Azshene.
Azshene: Tiger shrimps in garlic, basil, olive oil and on the side flat bread with chorizo sausages and red wine. This ain't third world sir! I can eat things other than popcorn :(
Hildegard: This looks like first place, definitely. Can any of you cook?
Azshene: Haha, no I leave that to my dad, he's the chef of the house. Last time I cooked anything it didn't end up too well. I busted one of our frying pans somehow.
Azshene: Yea I'm terrible at cooking. I can barely manage pasta.
Cigs: I'm actually a very good cook, I just don’t do it.
Azshene: You broke the gamer code Cigs. We're not supposed to have any useful skills outside of gaming.
Cigs: Subway is easier I guess. I generally eat that.
Hildegard: Coming from food to business. Your guild is currently the probably strongest GW2 PvP guild, unbeaten during BWE2 except for one 4v5. You have big names from many different games including Heaton, Kalimist and Flyn on your roster, you work closely with the community, publish videos, provide guides, and participate in discussions constantly. All of this during summer. How did you pull this off on a game, that is not even live, yet?
Cigs: We have been working very hard behind the scenes for quite a while now in preparation for Guild Wars 2. Many of our players have been in contact with each other through other games and using that network we were able to form a solid roster of interested players to begin theory crafting and preparing for the Beta.
Hildegard: In most sports the teams consist of the artists and the support players that back them up. Managing internal competitions and the egos of successful players should be pretty taxing. How do you manage an ensemble of highly gifted and probably dominant players?
Cigs: Our team is dedicated to success. Our players work diligently together to achieve that success. Management of any sort of ego is a non-issue as we are all here for a common purpose. Everybody has their moments but across any game the most successful teams will always share the common theme of being able to constructively work through issues and fix problems rather than wasting time blaming their teammates and talking about how they're the greatest thing to ever touch a keyboard. In any game with any team there will be problems and things that need to be addressed. How you work through the tougher times can often times be the difference between success and failure.
Hildegard: That sounds very impressive. What are the requirements for a successful application to Team Paradigm?
Cigs: Team Paradigm is invite only, we do not accept applications.
Hildegard: I am bit scared about how many animations I will have to learn with GW2.
Azshene: It's all pretty self explanatory, really, with the animations and there's less abilities to learn than in WoW. Some of the movement feels weird coming from wow, especially the slower strafing and not being able to use abilities while airborne. You can start casting them, then jump and they'll work, but you can't start a cast in the air. Not sure if it's a bug, but that's how it works atm at least
Hildegard: So you could finish a longer cast while in the air?
Azshene: Yes. That's how I knock people off keep with the hammer. Charge it up on the ground then jump, boom.
Hildegard: That looked so amazing. Do you think the new GW2 design is superior to the old model?
Azshene: I think it works great since when you strafe in GW2 you move slightly slower than you would do moving forward. I think it adds an inherent way for melee to have a chance against ranged players. If you wish to kite as a ranged player then you can't just keep on running sideways away from your enemy once you've got a bit of distance on him and basically keep at range forever unless he's got some means of catching up. You've got to pick up some control or some snares to go along with it.
This ties together nicely with the dodge mechanic which is present in GW2 in that a ranged player that times his dodges well can avoid a lot of the melee gap closers and use that to his advantage to keep at range. Similarly a melee player can dodge controls to gain distance on the ranged player. This makes the combat more dynamic and much less focused on "pillar hugging" to get close to ranged players. Not to say that using LoS well isn't important, it's just as important as in WoW, and there's LoS present in the conquest maps around the borders of the capture points, but by utilizing it you give up control of the node.
This also works as a way for ranged players to get control of capture points away from melee ones by forcing them into hiding, so as you can see it all fits together nicely.
Hildegard: Azshene, as you played WoW successfully as well as GW2, if you compare the two games, what are the fundamental differences, that caused you to switch?
Azshene: The most significant difference for me as a top PvP'er is how the two games are structured differently from the ground up. WoW aimed to balance three different skill trees on ten different classes across both PvE and PvP simultaneously, also taking into account the various stat differences you can get from gear distribution. Each class has upwards of 40+ abilities that can all be used at the same time, with all those factors in mind, true balance will just never happen. The game can come close but it's just not possible to fit all those factors neatly together.
Guild Wars 2 on the other hand is built very differently. Each profession has a large arsenal of abilities and traits to choose from, but only a few can be active at a given time meaning that true balance is much easier to reach, while still making the game complex enough that it can be very competitive. On top of this, every ability and boon/condition is separated independent of their PvE/PvP counterparts, meaning that if something is too strong in PvE and too weak in PvP or vice versa they can simply amp it up on one and tone it down on the other without too much of a problem.
Of course another big deal for me as a PvP'er is the separation of PvE and PvP, for structured PvP you don't need to grind gear to gain strength on your character, which is always something I found to be a real hassle in WoW, especially on classes where you needed PvE gear to do good damage. In GW2 you simply join the mists and you can pick between whichever stats are available, same as any other player. GW2 just straight up rewards skill over time spent in that regard, and makes it much easier for new players to get into the scene without having to spend an entire season of grinding up gear in order to be on par with other players.
Hildegard: Guardians and Elementalists are currently the backbone of most 5v5 comps. How important are cookie cutter comps and specs compared to World of Warcraft?
Azshene: Well, the developers haven't been heavily focusing on balance up until now, and have been more concerned with adding content. Leading up to the release of the game and BWE3, the polish will start and we'll start to see class balance be distributed out more evenly now.
I don't think that there will truly be "cookie cutter" comps in GW2 though as every profession can play whichever role it desires, and everything has an inbuilt counter. The reason for people believing that some professions are more dominant than others I think is only partially down to the profession's strength, but also to do with that people simply haven't fully understood how to deal with the professions in question. Tanky guardians are quite weak to conditions as they don't have many means to purge them off and the ones they do are on large recharges, condition damage goes straight through defense which is a big reason for guardian survivability. Likewise, stability and stun breakers are the best way to go against an Elementalist because he can't combo you reliably if he can't stun you. Avoiding his combo will ensure you avoid the majority of his damage.
Hildegard: How random is the boss sniping on the Forest of Nifhel map?
Azshene: Whoever gets the last hit gets the kill, just like in MOBA games really. So it's quite controlled for the most. When people say it's random it's because the boss drops down to his last bits of hp and everyone's trying to get in that last hit and conditions are ticking as well. I think when the game develops, people will save their big bursts more for the snipe or try and pressure enemies into backing away from the mob. It's still skill based really even if it's a bit of rng. If you lose it due to rng then in most cases you could have outplayed the situation if it was handled differently.
Hildegard: Good thing they did not give assassins permanent stealth.
Azshene: Thank god for that debuff. Otherwise you'd see teams of thieves just waiting near the boss with all their poisons ready, shooting the boss when he hits 20% hp and then just buggering off again.
Hildegard: Can you still switch skills, traits and gear while playing?
Azshene: You can log out even after the game pops. The match auto starts after five minutes or once everyone readies up. You can log between characters meanwhile. It's pretty amazing being able to change lineup dependent on what map you get. You can't rotate people however.
Hildegard: So multi-class is necessary on high level?
Azshene: Well probably once everyone gets really up there. I bet you we'll see teams constantly logging between characters during start-up, trying to counter-setup.
Hildegard: The competition isn't too strong right now. Would counter-setups change that for you?
Azshene: Possibly, it's hard to tell really since we tend to play with a quite versatile team. We've got something that can handle a bit of everything. If the time comes that we do get caught off guard then I'm sure we'll be ready to change it up based on what cost us the game. It's hard for us to really tell how much of a factor composition has, since we're winning every single game hands down.
Hildegard: Is there an armory?
Azshene: There's not even an inspect feature in the game, yet, sadly. It's one of the things they'll push in a patch after release, as well as the spectator client and possibly dueling.
Hildegard: Do you think bragging rights will come from tournaments mainly or will achievements and ratings play a similar role like in World of Warcraft?
Cigs: Guild Wars 2 does not have a "team rating" or "individual rating". That being said, it does have an absolutely excellent tournament system. Arena Net holds their own monthly and yearly tournaments in addition we as players have the ability to hold our own tournaments. Arguing about rating and such is removed with the ability to directly set up a private tournament with teams of your choice. This also allows for teams to hold their own regularly scheduled invitational tournaments as well as joining random tournaments in a system similar to the WoW arena queue system. Ratings are unnecessary as we as players have the ability to play who we want when we want with the addition of the ability to qualify and participate in the officially sanctioned Arena Net
Azshene: I think in general GW2 just takes a completely different approach in that regard. You'll notice they don't allow you to install addons either, which means there will be no way to compare damage in game. Personally I think they're trying to focus a lot more towards community than WoW ever did, putting less focus on individual performance and more on group performance. This could very well lead to a more positive community, because that's one of the things that scares casual players away at least from WoW and HoN and the likes.
Hildegard: Do you think this fact will separate the community into a part, that gets invited and those that would like and get frustrated about not being able to "break in the inner circle"?
Cigs: I don't think so. We are very active with our community events and plan to run tournaments with teams from our forums etc. Obviously every single team that plays can't be in every tournament. That being said, if an aspiring team wanted to make a name for themselves qualifying and placing well in the officially sanctioned monthly and yearly tournaments put on by Arena Net would absolutely allow for newer teams to make a name for themselves.
Hildegard: People learn to behave badly to cover themselves, most of the shit is based on fear or better on "Angst".
Azshene: Yes. It's all based on the ego, but there are very few true ego aspects in GW2. It's all very group based. I think it will make for a nice mixture of simplicity and complexity, PvE and PvP, all group based, and all based around fun instead of grind.
Hildegard: Do you have concerns regarding GW2's success?
Azshene: One of my biggest concerns with GW2 is that student laptops and such can't run it.
Hildegard: A risky decision.
Azshene: You need a fairly decent PC to run it well, particularly when there's a lot of particle effects going on, but the art style of the game is amazing in turn. It'll probably cost them some customers, that don't like the drawn style, though. The lack of grind might just work against it in that regard, but we'll have to see.
Hildegard: You cannot please everyone without whoring yourself.
Azshene: That's a brilliant quote for a tramp stamp.
Hildegard: While most readers on Arena Junkies and other forums agree that GW2 looks amazing - one point remains that keeps players worried is the 5v5 conquest format. Coming from 3v3 death match arenas in WoW, do you think conquest is better and more exciting?
Azshene: Keeping in mind that GW2 will eventually expand their focus towards other areas of PvP than just conquest, conquest as an entry point is a really good baseline to balance the game from. It's quite different compared to death match, that's true, but once I got into it I found that it's a whole lot of fun. Coming from WoW, yes it will be different, but it's a whole new and different experience, and a lot of the same elements of teamwork, execution and reaction time still carries over from death match PvP into conquest. So while skill doesn't carry over directly, a skilled WoW arena player won't have too rough of a time picking up the game and enjoying it for what it is.
I also believe that conquest PvP is a really good format for tournaments. I think we can all agree that WoW PvP was very hectic and confusing to watch, even with shout casters, a spectator UI and a good understanding of the game. There was simply too many cooldowns to keep track of at the same time in order to understand the pressure of the situation, and it easily overwhelmed lesser experienced players. Conquest PvP in GW2 on the contrary is very visual and easier to follow due to there being much fewer skills available to a person at a time in GW2, which makes it much better suited for tournaments. If the game is picked up in tournaments then it's off to a very good start on the competitive scene.
Hildegard: Do you worry about the problems World of Warcraft faced, like boosting and win-trading?
Cigs: I don't believe boosting will be an issue in Guild Wars 2 to the extent that it was in World of Warcraft for the simple fact that there is no rating / artificial gear achievement system to boost a player through. With the game being a tournament focused game it would be awkward to qualify for a tournament that is live streamed or LAN based as you can't do it there.
Hildegard: Large parts of the rank 1 players in World of Warcraft play for money by doing shady stuff as boosting as well as decent things like streaming and coaching. Will there be chances to earn comparable amounts of money as player in GW2?
Cigs: There are opportunities for players to earn revenue in any successful game and especially e-sport PvP games. Between YouTube channels, live streams, tournament Pots, coaching, and sponsorships there are a plethora of ways for an aspiring player to potentially generate revenue through their play.
Hildegard: GW2 looks like the Eldorado for PvP gamers. No grind, constant tournaments, a large focus on the community, a living and breathing world to draw in more than just the hardcore crowd. The developers state from the beginning that PvP will be balanced and that they plan to support E-Sports. How would you rate guild wars 2 on an e-sport-meter from 1 (= minecraft) to 10 (= counterstrike)?
Cigs: First of all, minecraft PvP is serious business.
Azshene: I'd probably put it way up there with an 8 simply because MMO's are inherently a bit harder to understand since you have to know what the abilities do, which means you have to follow it somewhat. Compare this to CS which is probably the biggest e-sport game where it's all about the aim and movement and there's not a whole lot of inner structure to wrap your mind around. GW2 has set itself up very nicely though, the only obstacle it has to overcome is getting a spectator client pushed through fairly early after the game's release, and to get it into a respectable state of balance as they launch their first tournaments.
Cigs: Guild Wars 2 is currently sitting around a 7 in the beta stage. Arena Net has an excellent track record for competitive PvP design with Guild Wars 1 in the future I see nothing but improvements coming with the implementation of spectator mode and further balance tuning. Our team is definitely confident in the game and the developers which is why we have invested such time and effort in the game even before release.
Hildegard: Thank you for the interview Ciqs and Azshene.
Team Paradigm website
Guild Wars 2 website
Just Sayin – a blog by Cigs