As we all know coming this Tuesday we will see a new overflow-styled World v World map to hit Guild Wars 2. This map features some of the best environmental art that I have seen in the game to date, and certainly it scratches that World v World itch when you are on it and to top it all off this map doesn't have a wait period attached to it. Finally they introduce a new UI for the WvW screen that features a whole new queue system that will allow players to take the guess work out of being able to join any of the main servers.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Devon Carver, head of the WvW Team, and talk shop about this new map.
With the introduction of this new map the question on everyone's mind is how will this exactly help out the Friday night queue back-up that we ordinarily see? Devon addressed this by telling us that the Edge of the Mists is designed by taking a note from the PvE overflow maps, and that Edge of the Mists is essentially just that: A map for WvW that will have multiple instances of itself. It will likely always see multiple instances as well, as it combines all the servers into the same map dependent on what their color is in WvW that week. Meaning that we could see the Green Blackgate, Isle of Janthir and Eredon Terrace working side by side to take down the Blue Tarnished Coast, Ehmry Bay and Northern Shiverpeaks all on the same map.
However I did ask him if this would actually put a dent into the Friday night activities we ordinarily see? Like the enter key spam on the gates in Lion's Arch.
"I would guess not, just because people are so accustomed to it." They wanted to make it clear to players, however, where they were in their queue and that's what the new UI tool provides. There isn't a need to spam enter to the gates as there is now an alternative to just staring at a gate in Lion's Arch by going to Edge of the Mists to actually participate in WvW while waiting for your number to come up next in the queue.
This did raise the question of incentives for players to join Edge of the Mists beyond the experience of WvW for the sake of WvW. "What should happen is that players will get more rewards from Edge of the Mists at the beginning," Devon tells us in relation to NPC rewards," but we look to push that back towards the main WvW maps later on. You will likely get more Badges of Honor." And that Badge of Honor increase is likely connected due to the raw amount of players that will be participating on the map at any given time. The rewards otherwise are the same in that you can still get relevant achievements and World XP at an equal pace. "The only thing you won't be able to do is get points for your server."
This did raise a concern for me that this would only fuel a more prevalent farming behavior found in dominant servers. He responded that there are a few things that prevent that from happening: "Being that all the words are going to be on the same map, it will be harder for a color to have complete superiority. That will make it harder to coordinate a massive front due to all the different people from all the different servers."
Was the alternative also something being thought of as well? What is a server is facing such insurmountable odds that they just give up and decide to stick it out in Edge of the Mists until next week?
"There isn't necessarily anything wrong with spending time in Edge of the Mists, especially if you're just banging your head against a huge wall. This map is a place to go to that should always be fun and always be challenging." Which is actually a nice change of pace comparative to the current WvW match-ups that only occasionally see such intense combat and can often time lead towards running around in circles in the map to constantly recap towers and keeps or it is in fact one server completely shut out and not able to do any WvW. "End of the day," he went on to say,"people who capture want to see their map succeed and get victory for their server much more than they care about personal reward."
This doesn't mean, however, that his map has no incentive for players who want to help their server succeed as they wait for their number to come up in the queue. Every four hours the map will tally which is victorious and each server for the victorious color will get a small reward. "The first round of awards we have is that supply drop. Say your borderland map is doing poorly that day. This supply boost may just allow you to push to a tower or keep. If your server is already dominating it won't provide much." This is a great mechanic to keep balance, in my opinion. We don't want to give a winning server all the much more reason to dominate, and servers who are behind are offered a chance at this comeback mechanic. "We want players to feel that they are still connected to their home maps. The hard part is finding the sweet spot."
A curiosity then was how this would affect WvW Season 2 (and credit to @afterlifelegion on twitter for asking this question!)? "Part of what the hope is that this will attract more people to WvW than already being drawn in. When this map goes live you can still play WvW despite being in a queue for the main maps." Which is an important thing to address after Season 1 and everyone essentially having to wait their turn while some only focused on achievements. The Edge of the Mists seems the perfect ground for those achievement hunters and allow the hardcore group of WvW players to handle the main maps.
One of the main concerns addressed on the official forums right now is the prevalence of Living World content within the WvW zones. "Realistically our plan is not to put much, if any, Living World content into WvW. Our goal with this map and any other map is to keep WvW 'pure' for the experience of those wanting to play it. It's very much a case-by-case basis." If it became abundantly clear, by the community, that Living World was never welcome within World v World than they would likely listen to the community at large.
Devon even had compiled a word cloud of all the words that were associated with disliked features in WvW and below was the outcome. While it doesn't mean much out of context (for instance what does it mean if game or content comes up enough?) it does provide an interesting look to what people are talking about.
More will be seen on the Ready Up livestream that is hosted on the GW2 Twitch channel. The stream will go live at 2 PM PST this Friday and will provide a few of the new map and preview the new content.