Guild Wars 2’s structured PvP or sPvP as it has become known, is the games equivalent of World of Warcrafts Battlegrounds or Warhammer Onlines Scenarios. The key difference however is that those partaking in sPvP are all, statistically, on an entirely even footing. No matter how much or little time you have spent in the game, the gear you are provided with when you take part in sPvP is the same as everyone elses.
When you want to take part in sPvP you first have to visit the Mists, which is the equivalent of a lobby or waiting area where players can gather to test their setups, skills or items as well as practice against target dummies (both stationary and AI controlled). On entering the Mists (you can get there by pressing H), regardless of your characters level you are automatically boosted to level 80, the current maximum. In addition, all your characters skills are unlocked and your armour and weapons replaced with level 80 equivalents. You can customise your character further by visiting any of the sPvP vendors in the Mists to obtain different weapons, armour or items at any time, free of charge.
The entire purpose of sPvP and the Mists is to allow players the opportunity to compete against one another on level playing field. I’m sure we have all played MMOGs where there is one particular person you encounter that you simply cannot beat (regardless of your ability) based on the fact he or she has far superior items.
Guild Wars 2’s system completely eradicates this issue, bringing skill and player tactics back to the forefront of what is important in PvP.
When you take part in sPvP you are rewarded with Glory which you can use to buy better looking equipment from Glory Vendors. In addition, you also earn sPvP ranks which also provide random rewards. It should be noted however that any items you do buy from Glory Vendors only provide cosmetic improvements to your character, not statistical ones. While this may sound a little strange, some of the armour looks so incredible it is all you will really care about.
In the Mists you can partake in sPvP in two ways: Hot join play or Tournaments.
Hot join play
If you’ve ever played a first person shooter online, you’ll likely be familiar with server selection. Guild Wars 2’s Hot join play works in a very similar fashion with players able to choose the specific server they wish to play on once they’ve spoken to the NPC. Although you cannot yet create a server, determine player limits or map types, you can see from a pre-defined list of servers what maps are running and how many players are on each. This allows you and friends to choose one specific server and all join it at the same time. Alternatively and if you don’t want to look, you can simply press the “Join Now” button and you’ll be taken straight into an active match.
If Hot join play is considered the more casual element of sPvP, Tournaments would be considered the serious end of the spectrum. Tournaments allow your party to create a team and fight against other participants in the three available maps, beginning on Legacy of the Foefire and ending on Forest of Niflhel. Each tournament pits eight teams of five against one another, with every team that wins the three-round, single-elimination tournament, being rewarded with a tournament chest.
Tournament chests provide greater rewards than those obtained from glory vendors or from obtaining a new sPvP rank, so offer a valuable incentive.
There are currently a total of 2 tournament types available, but with the intention of expanding this to yearly and player run version. In addition, through pickup tournament reward chests you can obtain tournament tickets. Each participant will need 5 tournament tickets to enter, with 25 needed for the entire team. A party leader can also pay for the entire team if they so wish (and have the necessary tokens) while the rewards for paid tournaments are much improved over pickups.
There are a total of 9 tournament ranks currently named with each rank providing varying rewards based on the chest you open, bronze, silver or gold. All players start at Rabbit rank and will eventually (with countless hours of play and every 10 levels) work their way towards Dragon rank. The only reward types that are currently known are up to Tiger.
On a personal level I would recommend that instead of spending your hard earned glory at the lower ranks, that you save it so you can redeem it when you are higher. Considering you obtain a free chest when you rank up or win a tournament match, it’s much more economical to put up with more visually unappealing armour, with a view to buying significantly better the more your rank improves.
I'll be following up this guide during the course of this week by detailing each structured PvP map in great detail, including the Do's and Dont's for each. Tomorrow we'll be kicking things off with the newest edition to the map roster; Legacy of the Foefire. In addition, we'll be going into a lot more depth on the tactics needed in sPvP, so put your competitive caps on!