By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Today I was fortunate enough to play Guild Wars 2 with a few of the developers, and some other members of the Gaming Media. Before I go on with my thoughts, I feel like it is important to say that my team, The Red Team, won 3-0, in a nice clean sweep of victory. “Stronghold” is the name of the new PVP experience in Guild Wars 2, coming with the expansion of “Heart of Thorns,” and everyone can right now experience the public beta test, where the fine folks at Arenanet are getting important data to influence how the mode is played; so if you are an active Guild Wars 2 fan, or even a casual player, you would do well to go check it out! Lots of exciting things happen in this queue, and anyone can join in on the fun in Guild Wars 2!
One of the best things about PVP in GW2 is literally anyone can do it! Due to reasons, I no longer have my 80 Engineer, so I was a little miffed about PVP until I realized that queueing up boosts you immediately to level 80 so even if I’m on a level 5 Elementalist or Mesmer and decide I want to PVP, I can do it! This is a boon for anyone that just wants to PVP and not browse the regular PVE content. I had a lot of fun playing Stronghold, it was action packed and offered some new things that I have not seen in PVP in any of the other games that I have played. All things considered, it was something to draw eyes right back on Guild Wars 2.
Time To Play The Game. . . Again
Stronghold is a 5v5 instance that is set in a small town with two keeps on either side. Each of these keeps has a Lord that the other players must defend (similar to Alterac Valley but on a smaller scale). But unlike the aforementioned PVP battleground, there is no wave of constant soldiers to deal with, just five players on each side, and through the supply posts you can summon Archers and Doorbreakers. There are two lanes and some gates to break through, and the Breakers are obviously best suited to the task. The players cannot attack the gates directly, so it is imperative that you have someone grabbing supplies from posts, or simply killing other players and stealing the supplies they have!
This is a match involving a ton of strategy and lots of different options. I played a few matches this morning, and the enemy team, though losing every time, did come very close on a few occasions and definitely did things different than my squad. You can use a trebuchet to knock a few structures down, or attack enemies if you can defend it. It’s on a hill and going at it alone would be bad, if for no other reason than enemy players can simply charge up and attack you while you are helpless. I saw 4 offense 1 defense, I saw 3 and 2 splits, and I even heard in the PVP chat that there were 5 offense groups struggling to win.
But Wait. . . There’s More!
Now if you think it is just Archers, Doorbreakers, and fighting each other, you’d be sorely mistaken! There are spots on the map where you can channel into a column of light; these summon a hero to help your forces out, and they come in a variety of flavors. These are another crucial, but not necessary element to the game. Keeping control of them definitely makes the game a little easier to handle. While some suggest 2 offense, 2 defense, and 1 supply runner, please remember that you can be killed and supplies can be stolen at death. So constant communication and teamwork will be much better than simply powerful PVPers loaded down with gear and experience. Anyone can win here, if they are good enough at working together and outwitting the other side.
I’d also like to point out that I do not believe these gates or Lords regenerate, at least, I did not see that they did! Heroes do exceptional area of effect damage to Lords, so when the Mist Essence appears on the map, you want to be on top of that at all costs. They do not do as much damage to players, but they really shine in the siege department. It is also important to note that one team can have both heroes, so please watch the map! There’s no time to relax in Stronghold, and there is always something going on in this surprisingly small map. Though there is only one right now, Arenanet did not rule out the idea that there would be other Stronghold-rules maps; for now, this is what we get while they are working on it. They did not say one way or another, but it’s certainly a possibility!
There is a scoring system that each player is graded on, but I do not at this time know more than that you are scored for Lord kills/Victory, player kills, guard kills, gates destroyed, and channeled heroes. I was not a fan of Guild Wars 1 pvp, but Stronghold is terrific fun; there is never a dull moment unlike so many other games’ PVP modes where you might sit around and wait for someone to show. Not here! It’s constant and very fluid. You never know if you need to go to the defense lane or offense lane. Sometimes you need just one Doorbreaker and a pile of Archers, othertimes you just need to kill the other team and push for the win! It will definitely capture the attention of Guild Wars 2 players as something fast paced that all levels of player can enjoy.
Keep an eye out as later today I’ll be sharing a highlight video of my experience with the mode!