I am going to preface this by saying that I by no means believe that I am 100% factually right in my opinions, they are of course opinions and opinions can be wrong, I just felt that I personally wanted to express my perspective as a player of this game for the last 8 years, and an avid and constant fan of Guild Wars as a franchise for the last 15 years as well as someone who has played MMORPGs for practically their whole life. Guild Wars has been a part of my life for over half of it, anything negative I might express about the developers or the game is because it is important to me. I am also well aware that I'm just some random kitten monkey on the internet, I don't believe my opinion or perspective is more important than anyone elses, I'm just taking the time to express it as best as I can.
Also feel free to correct me if I am wrong on anything, I'd like to try to keep the facts that are there as accurate as possible.
For quite a few years now sPvP has been slowly degrading and has run into numerous issues over the course of the life of GW2. Particularly this pertains to Conquest as a mode, and more broadly Ranked and how the PvP systems are handled and have been handled.
This is essentially how the Ranked problems played out over the years;
- 5 man premade teams were being paired against smaller, or no, premade teams in Ranked matchmaking.
- Players justifiably complained about this, I think we can all agree that it was not a great system to have in place.
- ANet, after a few years, eventually put up a poll for the community to vote on keeping the queue as it was or to change it to solo/duo queue.
- The community voted to change it, their frustrations having built to the point of beyond boiling over.
- ANet eventually released a patch that added solo/duo queue as the only option for Ranked and implied this would be in place for one season to see how it worked out (image below). This was also when they added Titles to the Leaderboard.
- After that season ended solo/duo queue stayed in place and we heard nothing else about it from ANet.
- Shortly after ESL closed its GW2 section, ANet decides to add Automated Tournaments to the game. This provided players with some measure of "clout" and yet again allowed people to play together with full premade teams.
- ATs were, unfortunately, time gated "events" that happened only at specific times of the day/week/month.
- ATs have only been populated by practically the same 3 or 4 teams all consisted of practically the same players over and over again.
- To address these issues ANet then decided to work on "Swiss style" tournaments and attach it to ATs. I genuinely don't think this helped.
Now here we are today, the situation in sPvP is no better than it was, its probably worse now with population being low and the actual issues not being addressed. ANet has tried to address these issues, mostly by entirely skirting around them, but PvP still feels neglected as a mode. This is a stark contrast to how it felt, and potentially even was, in GW1. Things are probably better on EU, in fact it genuinely looks and feels that way, but I also think that it is also still worse off than things used to be.
There are plenty of things ANet can do better, but I feel these are some of the important highlights;
- Ranked queue has always needed to be split between multiple types; Solo, Duo, 5 Player. I don't care what Helseth said years ago when they ran the Poll, he was right and he was wrong. He was right in that the Dynamic queue was the wrong way to go, but he was wrong in that he was supportive of the solo/duo only queue. It needed to be split.
- Conquest is horrendously outdated from a mechanics standpoint. It was designed back with Core GW2 and objective size and the general capture mechanics have not changed, or have barely changed, with how Classes have changed over the years. Conquest has not been altered to accommodate for the significant shifts in class mechanics with the introduction of Elite Specs which heavily contributed to the Power Creep progression that CMC has now been trying to alleviate in competitive modes.
- The leaderboard, as it currently functions, needs to go. Titles too (for now). That all needs to be reworked. Separate leaderboards for Solo, Duo queue and 5 player premade queue. They have the the beginnings of the UI elements, look at the UI for ATs, I'm fairly certain they can do something.
- Communication. ANet has historically not done a good job at this in the last...3 or so years. It used to be a bit better, they even had consistent streams where they would talk about PvP related changes and provided tips for new PvP players, but those went away. During those times Hugh Norfolk was very engaged with the community and their stream "Points of Interest" and the "PvP 101" segment were pretty good. ANet needs to have a weekly, or at the very least a bi-weekly stream where they talk about a variety of subjects relating to GW2 content; updates on changes coming to PvP, skills, traits, classes, PvE content, previews of new skins being added to the game, etc. They can also use it as an opportunity to highlight community fanart and do giveaways, or just to do something fun that relates in some way to acknowledging the community for this game. ANets biggest weakness over the years has been their inability to take advantage of the platforms and resources that are available to them, or in this case that they stopped doing so. was a step in the right direction, but it needs to be something that ANet fully embraces and grows, and improves upon. I actually genuinely respected the fact that Cmc acknowledged that they are not always right. Before that point I don't think, at least to my memory, that I have ever heard that phrase come out of an ANet employees mouth, or read it.
I know the hottest topics of debate and contention are almost all related to balance and class mechanics, however I do believe that it needs to be acknowledged that you can only go so far with those as solutions. They are important aspects of maintaining any PvP environment and keeping it competitive, of course, however when there is just something, or many things, fundamentally wrong with how your system is functioning then you will not see any meaningful effect on the overall state of sPvP.
Please feel free to give feedback on this post, or even disagree with it if you want. Discussion is important for any subject, just please make sure you're courteous to others even if you disagree with them.