Welcome to the second episode of The Last Whiskey Bar. In it, Sardu and Xerin square off in a bar brawl to the death in GuildWars2Hub’s take on the traditional point / counterpoint format.
This week we decided to tackle another major topic focused on structured PvP in Guild Wars 2: Which is the dominant factor when it comes to structured PvP: melee or ranged combat?
Xerin argues for ranged, while Sardu sides with melee for this round. Who will emerge victorious this week? Read on and then be sure to cast your vote in the comments!
Xerin says "Ranged Rules"
The eternal debate of melee versus ranged has to be one of my favourite topics and the fact we’ve restricted it to structured PvP makes it even more interesting. How did I fare in the last debate by the way? Did I win? I must go back and count up the “GO XERIN!” votes I received.
I definitely fall on the side of ranged. I’ve always been ranged in every MMOG I’ve ever played. I’ve always found that inherently they have the advantage over melee based on the simple fact that, well, they can attack you from afar.
In all seriousness, it’s taken years for developers of MMOGs to realise that melee professions need tools to mitigate damage and close gaps to counter the abundance of ranged skills. In contrast, ranged professions have seemingly always had skills to competently keep melee professions at bay, allowing them to be kited all day long.
What’s interesting here is that in Guild Wars 2 their PvP maps lend themselves, in many places, towards a melee playstyle. Chokepoints, small gaps and narrow alleyways are in abundance in Khylo while Niflhel, on the physical capture points, leaves very little room to manevour. In parts Niflhel does redeem itself for those of us who do play ranged, such as between the two spawn locations or at the base of the keep.
But even in the tightest of spaces I feel ranged still excels in Guild Wars 2 structured PvP because ranged players naturally create the space needed to deal damage, but also avoid it. With melee, they have to always be up close and personal. This leaves two major problems 1) They receive damage all the way to the target 2) They receive damage from all other sources, all the way to the target.
The abundance of ground targeted skills, AOE effects and cone based attacks make arriving at a target, without having taken significant damage, almost impossible. In contrast, a ranged player can avoid all of it from the safety of distance and still fight back.
Let’s simplify it a little. In a circumstance where a melee and ranged player both have 2 damage avoidance skills and 1 gap closer/creator and both start an equal distance apart, who would win? I think many would always state ranged simply because the melee player would instantly be forced to use a gap closer or damage avoidance skill just to reach the opponent, putting the melee player at an instant disadvantage in terms of skills used.
You would think that professions such as the Thief or Warrior would tear up professions such as Mesmer or Elementalist when they actually get close to them but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The abundance of stuns afforded to such professions always tips the scale in their favour and on an even playing field, I always win more than I lose.
Even in both structured maps in Guild Wars 2, ranged always comes out on top, it’s simply a too versatile playstyle not to.
Sardu says "Melee Me"
More often than not, melee classes or playstyles tend to be the underdog when it comes to MMO PvP. This scales upwards in direct proportion to the size of the playing field combined with the number of active participants. In many games, PvP quickly devolves into little more than a ranged pissing contest, or provides little opportunity for melee to truly shine due to base design decisions made by the developers.
In Guild Wars 2, World v. World is unquestionably a game type that caters to ranged play. As such, all professions have at least some ranged capabilities, such as the warrior’s use of the longbow rather than being a strictly melee combatant.
In contrast, structured PvP is absolutely the domain of melee-centric professions and builds. And when I say that, I’m not talking about sPvP being little more than a playground for the thief, warrior, and guardian. Just as ranged builds shine in WvW, melee builds, or builds focused on melee weapons at any rate – regardless of profession – are the staple of structured PvP.
This is a core part of the design of the current maps. Capturing and holding points necessitates being physically present within a defined space; one that notably keeps players within melee range to do so. While ranged attackers may have a slight advantage in a few key map locations, those participants must still eventually occupy a roughly melee-radius circle to capture the point or hold it for their team.
GW2 notably differs from nearly all other MMOs for two reasons when it comes to melee being the dominant factor here.
1. All professions have the ability to use melee builds, or switch to them in combat. For example, the necromancer – a traditionally pure ranged archetype – can be played very much as a melee profession if you choose to.
2. All professions have movement abilities that bring you quickly within melee range of your target, with some that can pull enemies within melee range (as is the case with the necro's Spectral Grasp).
The latter point is significant here, because it means melee builds are much harder to kite in sPvP, and players have the tools to keep combat directly focused on capture points. The implementation of this, by design, lends itself to the notion that sPvP is absolutely a melee-centric arena, just as WvW caters to ranged play.
As new maps are added, there could potentially be a corresponding paradigm shift, but so long as physical presence in a defined space remains the capture mechanic, structured PvP will be a melee-centric game type.
We’ve had our say, now we’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you think the argument for ranged presented by Xerin is most valid, or do you feel that Sardu’s argument for melee is the clear victor for this round?
Let us know who you feel should be declared the winner in the second round of The Last Whiskey Bar in the comments!