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PvP League & Motivation To Play

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*The original post can be found on mattsta.ninja*

Hello everyone! Today I wanted to to talk about Guild Wars 2 sPvP—specifically, PvP Leagues and their rewards. I have always popped into some PvP matches every now and then, but when PvP Leagues were announced I was extremely excited to participate and see how far I could go. Over the past two seasons however, I’ve had trouble playing consistently during the season because, quite honestly, I have not been strongly motivated.

Motivation is the biggest problem for me and, from what I’ve seen, has been a similar problem for many during a ranked season. Motivation for playing the entire season just isn’t there. Right now there are two things to motivate players: 1) Get to a certain division and 2) finish ascension legendary back piece achievements. I do think it’s natural that people who don’t PvP a lot stop playing ranked after reaching a certain ranked or finished getting the rewards but I feel the system itself can be better. Going into the third season, the best or dedicated players have already finished the back piece achievements and getting tier and division rewards is the next best reason to play for these players.

The unique PvP tickets you get from these rewards however, don’t have much use outside of getting the back piece, unless you like mini llamas. Buying Shards of Glory with tickets is a waste as they are super cheap on the trading post and are relatively easy to get if you PvP. I guess you could technically make another ascended precursor back piece. It seems to me that if you do play for extra tickets, it is best to save these tickets for next year’s PvP back piece. But that could be a problem in and of itself if players continue to accrue these tickets without anything to spend them on.

Overall, I feel the motivation to progressively get better and to have challenging matches should be one of the major factors when playing ranked matches. It is the main reason why any PvP player consistently queues up.

Issue #1: Profession Balance

This is getting better every quarter but it’s still worth noting as profession balance for PvP hasn’t been the greatest. I can understand the difficulty of balancing across PvE, WvW and PvP, but that is a discussion for another time.

Specifically Thief and Warrior have had trouble in the past two seasons and even some time before that. This season you’ll see both of these professions more often than before, but I’m not sure how they’ll do in higher tier play. I think ArenaNet is slowly but steadily getting each profession in a decent spot to be viable to some degree in high tier play. While this should definitely be the goal, the issue is the slow progress it is taking to get there.

Major balance updates right now happen every three months. So it took 3 months to see Thief/Daredevil and Warrior/Berserker relatively used in Season 2 and another 3 months for them to be back in regular use in Season 3. Now Guardian/Dragonhunter is the profession on the decline and in need of some help. There’s also the issue of obvious “overpowered/broken” updates that are fixed either later in the season or after the season is over. One example that comes to mind is Season One’s bunker meta that was painful to play in and how it took about 2 weeks into Pro Leagues—which at the time was a month into the first PvP League season—before ArenaNet finally did something to balance that.

Issue #2: Queues

This is something that has plagued PvP Leagues—and even unranked for different reasons. Either way, queues have always been an oddity.

Ranked matchmaking has gotten better over time, but as it is still fairly new I can’t judge too much on it yet. It was quite evident in Season One—and a bit in Season 2—however, that queues were a major problem with organized teams fighting a mix of solo queue and duo queue players. It still happens every now and then, but it’s now less frequent. The population of players and the divisions players are in may play a part as well, but with no metrics to look at it is hard to say for certain on the matter.

The issue with three or four man groups usually causes a lack in communication with the other solo/duo players and, in some cases, one or two of the players in the larger group is less skilled but it brought up to a higher level due to how queues work. For those that don’t know, group matchmaking will work based on the highest division in the group. So if an Amber player, Emerald player & Sapphire player queued together, the matchmaking would be based off the Sapphire player. The results of this is that there’s usually at least one person who doesn’t react, fight or rotate as well because they’re playing against stronger opponents which is a liability solo/duos usually don’t want to deal with. On the flip side, people who solo queue don’t want to fight organized teams. If you duo queue, that’s a risk you take.

Then there’s the issue of class stacking with up to 3 or more of a single profession on a team. Someone needs to switch because in some cases it’s not the best thing to stack so many of a single profession. Then the person swapping may not be on a profession they’re as comfortable or skilled with. You probably already see where I’m going with this downward spiral into less than ideal matchmaking situations. So far in Season 3 though, this issue has also been better probably due to having more diverse picks available.

Issue #3: Divisions

“What about division prestige as motivation” you might be thinking as each player works toward getting to legendary or to that division they are personally proud of reaching. Sadly there are two parts to this issue as 1) any dedicated player can get to Ruby and 2) many players that reach legendary or the division they want either start playing whatever profession/build they want—which may or may not be good for those they end up queued with—or just stop playing for the season.

For those who don’t know, the ranked system is made of pips and tiers. There are a certain amount of pips per tier and a number of tiers per division. Both of these numbers vary per division, but once you complete every tier in a division you are moved up to the next division. In Amber—the 6th and lowest division—you can’t lose pips or tiers. In Emerald and Sapphire—the 5th and 4th divisions respectively—you can lose pips but not tiers. And lastly in Ruby—the 3rd division—and in higher divisions you can lose both pips and tiers. At no point are players able to lose and drop down to a lower division.

Division crossing is more of a time spent type of deal where any competent player can get into Ruby just by playing enough games. Keep in mind I’m not saying a fresh, new PvP player per say although it is not impossible. The reason it’s like this is that players who aren’t as skilled at PvP can finish the achievements for the back piece. It may take longer for said players but in the end they can obtain it. Ranked should be about progressive skill and a little luck. Making it easy to climb the ladder all the way to Ruby—which sits in the upper half of league divisions—doesn’t make either the games or the system competitive. In fact, it just means that the player were tenacious enough to play the games needed to move up a division irrelevant of their actual skill. I can see crossing from Ruby into Legendary being more of challenge due to having more pips and tiers to cross; maybe this is the trade off ArenaNet wanted.

Then the second of the issues I brought up—where players reach the division they wanted and are “done”—has two very real problems. First is when players start playing whatever they want, no longer caring for making meaningful progress through the divisions and making it harder for those players they queue with that are still trying to make progress or just have serious matches. For example, let’s say my Revenant PvP play is Diamond level but my Scrapper and Tempest PvP play, the only other professions I play in PvP, are Emerald at best. If I reach Diamond and then suddenly I need to play other professions to finish the League Professional, I have a problem. My team also has a problem because if I swap to a Tempest or Scrapper, I’m essentially handicapping my teammates. Then equally worse is that the players stop playing which can create longer queue times as there are fewer players queuing for matches which degrades the quality of matches that players get queued into.

Issue #4: The Ascension Back Piece Achievements

I have a few qualms with the Ascension achievements. The achievements are broken into four sections each of which reward an item for completing that section. Finishing all 4 sections and combining the 4 reward items will give you the Gift of the Competitor—one of the four items required for crafting the Legendary PvP back piece. The way the Ascension achievement completion works is that the more you progress the faster you’ll get the needed four items for the legendary back piece. While there are four PvP League Seasons in a year, players are able to finish the legendary in just two out of these four PvP seasons.

I strongly believe that you shouldn’t have been able to obtain all of these items needed from the achievements without participating in a full year of PvP League. Making it a yearly achievement creates a motivational end goal for all players where everyone has a specific end date to get certain objectives done. This would be much better than what we have now as it would promote players to continue to play and do well throughout all of the seasons and not rush through it in the first half of the year.

Then there is a part of the achievements themselves that inadvertently cause problems for players trying to progress. The League Professional achievements require players to win up to 10 matches on 2-3 different professions depending on which achievement section you’re on. The first problem with this is that some players do not want to play more than one or two professions in PvP. This problem is debatable, but understandable as many players may enjoy playing only one or two professions in PvP.

The second problem with these League Professional achievements is that a player’s secondary professions may not be up to par skill wise in the division they have reached with their main profession. This is going back to the example I used in the division issue.

As a whole, I don’t really like that the back piece—the best, most prestigious ranked PvP reward—is accessible by pretty much everyone with the drive to do so. Guild Wars 2 has always been casual in that sense, where you can get almost anything you want if you put in the work. That’s fine. However, I feel that PvP should be a measure of work and skill and that both should rewarded instead of just playing a lot of matches.

I wholeheartedly believe that anyone can get to Ruby if they play enough games. It all depends on how many games a person is willing to put the effort into to get there due to the way pips and tiers work in Amber, Emerald and Sapphire. Players that put in the extra games beyond this and have the skill to continue to progress higher should get something significant for their efforts. I don’t think that being able to make the back piece before a majority of players is enough and goes into the problem of what do leagues offer those players after they have finished the back piece.

It feels like ranked play in Guild Wars 2 isn’t motivating enough and it lacks drive. It may be due to the structure of PvP League or due to the population of GW2’s PvP scene, but I feel it can be better than it is now. ArenaNet is the type of company that they may miss the mark on their first run at a feature, but they work to vastly improve on it the next time around. Living World Season 1 to Season 2 is a perfect example of this. Hopefully we see the same improvement when ArenaNet works to make PvP Leagues better for year 2.

Guild Wars 2 April 2016 Patch Review – A Teaser

guild wars 2 ad infinitum glide

I didn’t have time to finish an in depth post about the April patch, so I’ll be doing a brief overview based on each mode. So without further ado, here we go!

Edit: Didn’t have time to get to this and it’s a bit late at this point in time so there will be no extended review of the April patch.

PvE

So the main problem with PvE was the HoT maps being very grindy. Many players have stated that it takes away from what they liked about GW2 which is that they didn’t feel forced to sped hours upon hours to get something significance. Well ArenaNet went back and fixed that. They added waaaaaay more map boxes to open which means more loot and more materials you needed to make things for legendaries or scribing. They also gave out way more map keys and currencies so that you can buy more if you participate in a full map rotation that is. HoT events are more rewarding in this regard. Finally they updated some HoT NPCs to be frequently available rather than that required the map being at a certain stage in order to be accessed. All these changes were amazing and definitely reinvigorated players the first few days.

Fractals got some balances and tweaks. The mistlock instabilities are way better and are challenging but not to the point of super annoying. Players can finally craft the legendary back piece Ad Infinitum which was a long wait from HoT launch. Rewards got tweaked as well. They do feel a lot better and you definitely get a lot less rings which was not that rewarding over time.

Right now, PvE players are lying in wait for Living World Season 3 which is, at the earliest, July. In the mean time there are some current event updates ArenaNet added to PvE that slightly tide the lore hounds over about what could be happening to Tyria or some possible events in LS3.

PvP

It’s here with PvP that I’ll highlight the balance changes. So Thief and Warrior, two professions having trouble in the recent past are seeing more play. Mostly because everyone else got toned down. Thief in particular seems to be able to do +1 and decapping again in a fairly decent manner. Warrior I’m not entirely sure of. I think condi Warrior will be viable. Power warrior might be with the new Destroyer & Demolisher amulets but we’ll see.

Mesmer definitely feels like it’s one of the best professions right now. Revenant is still up there as well. Elementalist seems to have dipped slightly over Ranger as support but is still viable. Engineer and Necromancer got hit but is still viable. The profession that probably needs a bit of help now is Guardian. Guardian has little to no mobility whereas everyone else has something to get around.

PvP itself is still problematic with unranked queues being still up to par. Ranked should be better in this regard but then there’s the issue of motivation of playing for an entire season. This is something I’ll talk about in a more detailed post.

WvW

This is the last one I wanted to touch because it was the one thing ArenaNet had to appease a lot of WvW players with. WvW is getting better each week. The patch alone brought reward tracks, quality of life changes and an improved and more open Desert borderlands. This brought people back into the mode which made things more fun and active.

On top of that, post-patch ArenaNet has been putting up polls and getting feedback on players opinions. These polls are on features players would like to see or that players think ArenaNet should work on. It’s a very transparent approach to things. I’m glad that they took the time to accumulate all the issues players see with the mode. It’s interesting as ArenaNet try to merge player’s wants with some of the ideals ArenaNet want for WvW into a cohesive game mode every WvW player can enjoy and that ArenaNet can be happy with. Hopefully they keep up the good work.

And that’s the overview of things. Overall the patch was pretty awesome. The only exception is to some balance nerfs that I think weren’t warranted to the degree they were nerfed. Again, I’ll try to have a more in depth view of things once I get the chance. Hopefully this tides you over for now!

Age’s Site Update For May 2016

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Greetings all, you didn’t think I’d forget about the monthly post did ya?

Guild Wars 2 posts were really slow to none existent due to ArenaNet being hush hush about the April patch which proved to be awesome. I’ll have a post about that sometime this week and about PvP. They’re both taking a while due to the depth of the topics. I’ve been super busy for the past couple of weeks for some reason. I’m trying to find more time and space to do writing but it did take a hit again due to PAX East (which was awesome), friend in hospital, and other IRL things. I did manage to find time to craft Chuka and Champawat, the legendary HoT shortbow (image above) which is my favorite short bow skin at the moment.

League of Legends MSI is going on and I’m really impressed with NA and The Wildcard team doing well. Europe was very disappointing due to G2 taking more of a break than practicing for MSI. This was very foolish in my opinion, as you will not be prepared or as prepared for the teams who will take MSI very seriously. They did pay for it, winning only 2 out of their 10 games.

Overwatch has had me enthralled. Played as much as possible in the weekend and open beta and I’m reaffirmed that Overwatch is a solid game that I’ll be playing often for down time. Maybe I’ll get into the competitive scene but that’s a ways off so we’ll see.

For games of this month we have Battleborn (PC, PS4, XB1) which released on May 3rd. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4) comes out on May 10th, Doom (PC, PS4, XB1) releases on May 13th. Overwatch (PC, PS4, XB1) is going to be released on May 24th.

That’s all for now, take care and have a good one!

– Age

Age’s Site Update For April 2016

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Greetings all, I’ve got quite a bit to cover.

Guild Wars 2 has gotten some heat about new legendaries getting cancelled last month but it seems to have been relieved by Super Adventure Box coming back the day before April 1st. I did a post about the Legendary stuff as well as a video so check it out if you’d like. Streams have been good and pretty consistent. As for videos I narrowed it down to one a week minimum. Raiding takes up a lot of my time and kind of messes with my schedule for the streaming. I want to do among other thing but I’m trying my best to make it all work. Writing did take a bit of a hit last month so I’ll be trying to make up for it this month. Also, I’ll be heading to PAX East this month (April 22-24th)! So don’t be surprised if content doesn’t come out around that time. Oh and I made H.O.P.E., the legendary pistol (pic above). I love it, hopefully dual pistol gets some stronger viability down the road.

Guild Wars 2 posts I think will be picking up again. There’s a quarterly update in the middle of the month so that should be interesting. I think there will be some be some weekly news preceding the weekly update so we’ll see how it goes.

League of Legends playoffs stuff will go up on Wednesdays. I do have a few things to say since I did screw up my EU predictions quite a bit; I understand why though. Also, I’ll be working on my guides when the summer split occurs. That’s when the last of the major changes typically makes it’s way into the game and is a good point to make a guide based on items, masteries, and so on.

Overwatch released two shorts that have me reinvigorated with the lore. They’re called Recall and Alive. Even if you’re not into the game, go check them out, they’re quite good.

For games of this month, Quantum Break (Xbox One, PC) comes out April 5th. It’s a game that looks like a cool game concept. Dark Souls III comes out on April 12th. Ratchet & Clank comes out on the 12th as well. Star Fox Zero (Wii U) released on April 22nd and I really want to play it.

That’s all for now, hope you all have a good month of gaming!

– Age

Guild Wars 2 – Indefinite Suspension of New Legendary Weapons

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Note: this post can be originally found (written by me) on Mattsta.Ninja

Last week a bomb shell exploded that resulted in a lot of commotion. Unlike most dramatic instances that have been happening in the last year, this time around it’s pretty warranted. Of course I’m talking about the new legendary precursor journeys being indefinitely suspended.

For those who don’t know, ArenaNet President and temporary Game Director Mike O’ Brien got on the forums last Friday and dropped the news that after the release of the Legendary short bow in April, Chuka and Champawat, all work on the new legendary weapons will be indefinitely suspended. The team that worked on this content will be shifted to work on Living World style content.

Alright so first off, let’s talk about the word “indefinitely”. It has two meanings. For an unlimited period of time or unspecified period of time. So yes, there’s a chance that the weapons are cancelled but there’s also a chance they’ll work on them later but I wouldn’t expected anything extra this year in terms of legendary weapons.

Another thing that I have a problem with is that O’Brien referenced the Guild Wars 2 Design Manifesto that came out in 2010. That was a bad move because things change over time but mostly because it validates players to reference Guild Wars 2 blog posts concerning legendaries in accordance to this suspension. The most notable one concerning legendaries was the “Looking Ahead: Guild Wars 2 In 2013” post. It says in the Legendary Gear and Precursors section:

… what I can say is you will see a specific way to build precursor items on your way to a legendary. On top of this, you’ll also see new legendary weapons and new types of legendary gear in 2013“.

Well, it’s obvious we didn’t see anything like this in 2013 whatsoever but that post also says near the end “As always, the content above is subject to change as we test and iterate on these systems.”

There’s also the blog post titled “Hot (not HoT) New Legendary Weapons” made shortly before release of Heart of Thorns that says “… we will be releasing new legendary weapons in small groups at regular intervals until the full set of sixteen has been added to the game“. Note that they said game not expansion which leave room for a huge time table to release them all. Given we initially thought all the new legendaries would be accessible at HoT launch to begin with, I feel that many players thought that it was heavily implied that the legendaries would be regularly released within a reasonable amount of time after the release of Heart of Thorns. I think that’s a fair assessment to make given the information we had at the time.

I’m not saying ArenaNet is right or players are right with all these quotes, I’m just saying this is what I see in these posts. Enough about wording and such. Let me talk a bit about what I think of the news. If there were two words to describe the situation it’d be disappointment and concern.

Astralaria-side

My Disappointment

Let’s do the disappointment part first. Despite the format of releasing new legendaries, I believe it’s not unfair to say that the goal was to have sixteen new legendaries and their journeys in the game within a reasonable amount of time. Let’s say a year or so after HoT release, all sixteen new weapons were suppose to be in the game. After all this time, with only one new legendary journey coming out after the newest first three journeys, you can obviously see ArenaNet can’t deliver on this. At least not right now.

It could be really irritating for players that consider legendaries their end game. There’s also players that have been waiting months to craft their Legendary shield or greatsword and have been holding out just to see what the new ones look like. These players have to take the hit in order for the new Living World content to come out on time or faster.

My Concerns

Now let’s talk concern. I think this is the first time in all my years playing Guild Wars 2 I’ve been truely concerned about the development process. It’s been 5 months since the release of Heart of Thorns. Let’s say they had a month off (Christmas and all). So 4 months of development on new legendary weapons and their journeys.

You’d think ArenaNet would have a good understanding of the time and resources needed to make legendary journeys at a reasonable pace. They did give journeys to all the original legendary weapons and we did get 3 new legendary journeys. Buggy or not, that is what was delivered. However there could have been issues within those months that hindered progress like communication between teams, tech problems, or working on HoT bugs on the side (especially the Legendary journey ones).

On the flip side, one Legendary after 4 months isn’t so hot. I know there’s a lot that goes into making the journey such as connecting events and NPCs to the collections, making new items, developing the lore background of the weapon and so on. But, again, I feel like ArenaNet should have had a good understanding of how fast this process would take on a regular basis. Maybe they overestimated themselves if this is the case. I can’t really say, just speculate.

H.O.P.E-Aim

Staying on the concerned train of thought, I have to ask: why is this team now going to work on Living World content? Is this content behind if the Legendary Weapons team doesn’t help? Is it to speed up the timetable of Living Story Season 3 because of the recent content drought?

These questions were the first things to pop into my head and quite honestly scare me as it’s the more important issue that O’Brien’s post brings about. There’s also the mention of work on expansion two which makes me ask: shouldn’t most of the issues in the first expansion be fixed and evaluated with feedback from the community first before working on another expansion? The reason I say this is that there are a lot of issues right now in every mode of Guild Wars 2. Some of these issues might be mirrored into the next expansion which is just overhead to fix once fixed in Heart of Thorns which means more wasted time on development.

In the end, I do like the transparency and I am glad that Mike O’Brien did come out and say ArenaNet can’t do legendary journeys, at least for now. It’s a sad thing to happen but Living World hits a much bigger audience than people who want to make legendaries. I feel like the timing & phrasing for this news could have been better though. After all, the April quarterly patch is just around the corner and would have resulted in a less blow back. This news does however bring up concerns about how resources are being managed right now seeing all these issues and delays on features. It’s always important to keep in mind that people are mad, disappointed, or concerned because they love Guild Wars 2. Seeing this one forum post about indefinitely suspending work on expected content raises a lot of questions.

All I know and can say for sure is that something has to change.