Guild Wars 2's Edge of the Mists update, going live today, continues the story of that tricky Scarlet and her aetherblade chums, but more significantly adds a new world versus world map, the titular Edge of the Mists.
The map is a solution to a problem, more than one problem, really, as well as a place for ArenaNet to experiment with the design of world versus world. Devon Carver, world versus world coordinator, explained the biggest changes Edge of the Mists brings to the table.
Bugger off, queues might as well be the tagline for Edge of the Mists. This new map is meant to hammer in the final nail in the queue coffin, eradicating waiting times for PvPers.
"When the game launched, there were lots of people who wanted to play World versus World," Carver said. "But we could only fit so many people into the map, which meant that a lot of people didn’t end up getting to play as much World versus World as they wanted, and now they’re not going to have that problem."
It doesn't quite make queues non-existent; there will still undoubtedly be a waiting line for Eternal Battlegrounds at peak times, but the update creates greater transparency and one massive alternative.
The transparency comes in the form of a UI addition: a queue tracker. You’ll be able to see what position you are in, how many people are queuing, and you’ll see this information for every map before you even join them.
Serving as the alternative is the Edge of the Mists map. This large multi-region battleground is made up of floating islands connected by bridges, where desert and lush jungles happily coexist. It’s a bit like an overflow map. You can join it at any time, there will always be a map available, and overflow versions of it will exist as well.
Although players in the new map will be missing out on the action in Eternal Battlegrounds, they’ll still be able to get a sense of progress from Edge of the Mists. Gold, karma, loot drops and rank up chests will be gained just as they would be in the rest of world versus world, and there’s an additional bonus in the form of an increase rate of badge of honour drops.
The map also answers a few technical issues. Large battles in world versus world can be hell on the game’s performance, with giant, flashy effects going off everywhere and countless players running around slaughtering each other slowing the game to a sloth-like crawl. But Edge of the Mists has been designed to make players go off in different directions and fight in smaller groups, reducing the performance-crushing mega-battles.
A new field of battle gives ArenaNet an opportunity to experiment with the design of their world versus world content. Edge of the Mists, despite its diverse regions and unstable, floating islands, is a very cohesive map. Regions have flavour and consistency, with NPCs that provide more compelling encounters, “a little bit more like the better boss fights from PvE,” said Carver.
“So we said, alright, this tower is supposed to be in the desert region,” Carver offers as an example. “Let’s come up with a story about what’s going on in this tower, and lets create unique NPCs that are just in this location, that feel like they fit with the story of that tower.”
One of the desert region NPCs is a char - the whole are is populated by ogres and char - surrounded by oil, carrying a flamethrower. He has to be defeated in order to conquer the tower, but he’s not just an NPC with a lot of health. He’s more like a PvE boss, and fighting him will be a challenge.
Carver wants players to use these encounters and areas to tell their own stories of battles lost and won against memorable foes. And such encounters will be at every objective.
What’s there now is not all Edge of Mists will be, however. It has been designed to be flexible, with lots of places where events and encounters can be added. Just as the living world changes, with new quests cropping up and big events happening every other month, Edge of Mists will, as well.
“The cliche of ‘anything is possible’ is true of this map, in that we are capable of adding pieces, adding events, adding new ideas, adding new NPCs.”