eSports come to Guild Wars 2 with new content, for-pay custom arenas, and a brutal dungeon
Guild Wars 2 doesn't – and won't, at least according to current plans from ArenaNet – have expansions. Instead, the game and development team continually roll out content updates to coincide with a “living story,” which gives players new content, new plot, and in the case of the Flame and Frost story, which launches its final chapter April 30, new PvP content.
A dungeon for rogues (and roguelikes)
Flame and Frost brings with it an update to both the game's PvE and PvP systems. PvE players will get a new dungeon, the Molten Weapons Facility, which has players fighting alongside two new iconic heroes, Rox and Braham, as they battle against an alliance of dredge and Charr.
“We started by designing this massive boss encounter – the skills, the mechanics, all of that – made it really fun, and then we sort of worked backwards from there,” ArenaNet told the Report and a group of writers via phone conference. “We took mechanics that you'll need to know and introduced them one at a time, and then in different combinations as you work your way through the dungeon.”
This means learning, for example, to jump over ground attacks, or pushing enemies out of protective bubbles before attacking them. “One of the big new ones that we've been having a lot of fun with is, there's these molten brawlers… that have a sort of stomp or ground pound skill where they create this shockwave, and you can actually jump over, jumping being one of the cool things you can do in Guild Wars 2 beyond Guild Wars 1. We were like, 'Why not use that as something you can do in combat to avoid something?'”
The experience is designed to take 30-45 minutes when run by an experienced crew, and upwards of an hour when run by a casual or inexperienced group, but repeat runs are encouraged. Enemies will randomly shift their spawn locations, numbers, and unit types to help keep things interesting.
The Weapon Facility dungeon doesn't have a story mode, and wasn't created using the usual development team. Combined with the new mechanics, ArenaNet hopes this will give the area a unique feel.
More good news: You don't have to have a max-level character to enjoy the content; although the dungeon's rewards are mostly aimed for level 80 characters, lower-level players will be automatically brought up to level 80 so they can run the dungeon and witness the conclusion of Flame and Frost.
Are you not entertained?
Guild Wars 2 may not be the first game that comes to mind when the topic of eSports gets brought up, but ArenaNet is working to change that as well, with new additions to the game's PvP structure. The final Flame and Frost update brings with it a major PvP addition: custom arenas.
Custom arenas are exactly what they sound like: areas within the game that you can rent out and play in, away from the busy battlefield of World vs. World combat. Here, players will be able to set up duels or tournaments, and allow for spectating. Got a clan rivalry going on, or want to throw down in a one-on-one match your friends can watch? Rent a custom arena and invite the rival(s) in for a battle to see who's best.
As with the Molten Weapons Facility, custom arenas will be made with both experienced and casual players in mind. “Higher-level players will obviously love this stuff because they can break down their skills, their efficiency, they can really get into the nuts and bolts of what each other is doing,” ArenaNet said, commenting on how spectators in the custom arena will be able to see a player's gear and abilities.
“New players can also take advantage of this,” we were told. “They can look before they have to leap. Maybe they're brand-new to the game, and they're not even sure what class they want to play yet. They can just hop around to different custom arenas, watch people play, watch how the different specs work, and then decide what they want to do.”
Being able to see how others play isn't just for improving your own skills – ArenaNet mentioned several times that they'd like to see Guild Wars 2 enthusiasts begin shoutcasting custom arena matches. ArenaNet has set up the spectator camera system so that you can easily switch between following a single player, having free view, or one of Guild Wars 2's preset cameras. When asked if this meant Guild Wars 2 would be making a push into eSports, we were given an enthusiastic, “definitely.”
Custom arenas will be purchased via the game's gem store, where a token will grant you with a month of “rent.” Players will also be able to feed each other tokens, with the idea that good players will reward good behavior. While the system sounds like it could be possible to break, custom arenas are still very much in beta at the moment, and ArenaNet will be keeping an eye out for exploits.
Flame and Frost's conclusion chapter will be released April 30, and is free to all players. Renting custom arenas will cost players, but the prices have yet to be finalized.