The newest addition to Guild Wars 2's World vs. World map family, Edge of the Mists, began beta testing in late November of 2013. With February 4th's content release, ArenaNet will introduce it to the live game, at which point it will be set upon by Scarlet Briar's forces and players will most likely get to punt plenty of Aetherblades right off the edge of the Mists and into the formless void of the Mists proper. Gosh darn it, Scarlet, this is why we can't have nice things.
It's a good thing Devon Carver, head of the WvW design team, has penned a blog post about the real business of WvW: players punting each other into the formless void of the Mists. Massively got to chat with him about the upcoming release, so jump past the break to get the scoop on what the WvW team has in store!
Right on queue
As ArenaNet prepares to launch GW2 in more regions and plans for future improvements to WvW, issues with players getting stuck in long queues are likely to become more apparent. Conversely, many lower population servers have difficulty fielding large numbers of players in WvW and have expressed concerns that Edge of the Mists will have an even greater negative impact on WvW population. While Carver said that he expects players to be drawn out of the main maps for a time by the novelty of the new map and the living world content there, ArenaNet also hopes that Edge of the Mists will encourage those who might not have otherwise tried WvW to jump in, potentially getting invested in their server's performance and feeling comfortable enough to try out the main maps. Players who were discouraged by long queue times may also begin to trickle back in. Overall, ArenaNet wants to ensure that people can play WvW whenever they like without having to wait for a space to open up; while Carver acknowledges that EotM won't fix every problem with WvW population in one swoop, the goal is to lay the groundwork for long-term improvements.
Edge of the Mists plays similarly to the Eternal Battleground and Borderlands maps, according to Carver, but the WvW team has worked to carry over lessons learned from the past year's improvements to PvE encounters. NPC bosses and enemies have always been a staple of WvW as part of objectives and regular gameplay, and the WvW team wanted to bring those PvE elements up to the level of polish new enemies have gotten in the open world. Enemy encounters are designed to be suited to the varied environments, and bosses will have unique mechanics. Carver said that EotM may take slightly longer to get used to than the existing maps and that much of the map was only lightly explored during testing. ArenaNet is looking forward to seeing how players adapt to the terrain.
Better tools for better PvP
While account-bound World XP was originally intended to go live along with EotM, the highly anticipated change will not be making it into next week's release. Carver said that ArenaNet is still working out some kinks with it and that the WvW team will have more information for players soon. The team is, however, making big changes to the WvW UI -- not only will it be more stylistically similar to elements like the Hero panel, but it's gaining plenty in terms of functionality and transparency. You'll now be able to see information on your world's WvW standing even on overflows and in instances, and entering the queue will inform you of how many players are ahead of you. Turnout for the Edge of the Mists beta test was very good, Carver said, with around 10,000 people dropping in to give the new map a spin and offer feedback. He added that the EotM test was an experiment in building and testing content in front of players without an NDA, and the results were extremely helpful -- the final version of the map would not have been possible without feedback and testing from players both in the beta and watching from the sidelines. One example Carver gave of changes influenced by large-scale play testing was decided on in almost the first day of the beta: An attempt to limit supply a bit by making it only available from keeps and towers resulted in a "negative feedback loop" in which supply had to be used up constantly just to gain more. "It was terrible," Carver added.
When we asked for any information on the living world content players will encounter in the EotM map, Carver was secretive. "I can tell you that it takes place in the Edge of the Mists," he said, "and it involves Scarlet." Hmm. If we didn't know better, we'd think something suspicious was going on there.
We'd like to thank Devon Carver for taking the time to speak with us! For more information on the Edge of the Mists launch, WvW fans and curious onlookers alike can stay tuned for more coverage from Massively and check out ArenaNet's Ready Up developer livestream on Friday, January 31st, at 5 p.m. EST (2 p.m. PST).
When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!