A Competitive Failure’s Guild Wars 2 PvP Experience

I am one of those people who is hilariously bad at PvP but for some reason keeps on playing with the hope that they will eventually get better. After much desk pounding and foul language that embarrasses even the most aggressive PvPer, I do get a little better, but it only happens after I scare away all of my teammates.

Now, I love Guild Wars 2. For this second beta event weekend, I spent most of my time participating in rage-inducing structured PvP. I did a little World vs World vs. World, which is sort of like Wintergrasp except 50 times bigger and has three servers fighting each other. That’s not really PvP in the truest sense, because you spend most of your time tearing down walls, but it’s like entry level PvP that doesn’t have high stakes and it’s fun even if you’re losing (unless you’re getting dominated, though once servers get ranked that should be rare).

However, most of my time was spent in competitive PvP. I love this PvP system because you start at max level with all of your skills unlocked. Everyone has the same gear, though you can greatly customize it with the stats you choose. So basically, if you lose in 1v1 it’s your own damn fault (barring certain professions being overpowered of course).

And, as was expected, I yelled and thrashed so much that my boyfriend decided to take a break and play Diablo 3. You know, that game that’s always available instead of the game that lets you play on weekends once in a blue moon. But I digress.


When you first enter the Mists (the PvP queueing area), you start out with your character leveled up to 80, wearing different clothes, wielding a weapon, and with all your skills unlocked. You can jump right in after you pick the skills on the right side of your hotbar and allocate your traits, though most people will probably want to purchase their weapon of choice first.

There are so many things to customize here that it can get overwhelming. I’d recommend playing with the default customization first, just so you know what you’d like to change. Here are the things you can customize:

  1. Weapon(s) — Each weapon defines your 1 to 5 skills. Most classes (except elementalists and engineers) can pick two weapon sets to swap between in combat.
  2. Traits — These are your passive statistics and bonuses. On first look, these are pretty unexciting, though they get plenty exciting after some experimentation.
  3. Heal / Utility / Elite skills
  4. Weapon Sigils — These are enchants for your weapon that provide cool bonuses. If you choose to use something other than the default weapon, don’t forget to use these on your new weapons.
  5. Armor Runes — These are set bonuses for your armor. There are dozens to choose from, and they play a significant part in your character’s passive stats.
  6. Amulet & Gem — In GW2 PvP, your armor and weapons have no base stats. Instead, you get most of that from your amulet (and some from your runes). You can further customize your amulet by gemming it.

All of these customization pieces can be purchased (for free, at the moment) from vendors in the mists or reset in your character pane.

Leveling Up

You don’t gain levels while participating in structured PvP, but you do gain points similar to experience. With enough of those points your rank is increased and you get a little care package. The rank system is still sort of confusing, but everyone loves little progress bars at the bottom of their screens.

In the care package, you get a handful of randomly selected PvP loot. It has the same stats as your default gear, but it has a different model so you can pick clothes that look more awesome. Presumably it gets even more awesome looking at higher ranks, but I didn’t get there so I can’t say for sure. You have a chance of getting any type of item to drop, so if you’re unlucky like me you’ll get mostly items your profession can’t equip. You can also buy more care packages with an honor-like currency you also get from PvPing.

I almost got to rank 5, except it’s not really rank 5 because I could only buy gear from the rank 1 vendor and rank 5 was the highest vendor. My rank subtitle was “Rabbit”, so I don’t think I was the highest rank. I also lost most of my games so I’m not exactly better than “Rabbit”.


I can’t recall what GW2 calls them, but they’re basically the same as WoW battlegrounds. They only have two available right now, and they’re both similar to Arathi Basin in that the goal is to gather resources from three nodes. Each map has something special about it.

My favorite map is Battle for Kyhlo, aka the trebuchet map. Each team has their own trebuchet and you can use yours to break buildings and rain hell upon your foes. This is especially fun if you’re playing against inexperienced opponents because they won’t realize they can dodge the slow-moving projectiles or that their doom is clearly announced if a trebuchet is aimed at them. They also won’t know to go attack you and your trebuchet. Playing against people who know about these things is another story.

The second map is Forest of Nifhel, aka the mini-boss map (they love these hard-to-pronounce words, which is why they need nicknames). In addition to gaining points from assaulting nodes, you get 50 points for killing mini-bosses. The mini-bosses need two or three people to kill them because they hit really hard.

My primary problem with the maps right now is that zerging is by far the best tactic. Sure, you can stay and defend a point by yourself, but when that team of four rushes up to your node they will take it from you, even if you can stay alive and evade them.

First and only time I got the highest score. I beat Princess Celestia to boot!


Compared to WoW, where you can lose control of your character for more than 20 seconds thanks to a solid CC chain, GW2 crowd control lasts for only two or three seconds. Even things like slows and snares will only be active for a few seconds. Combined with the relatively low damage compared to health, fights are slower paced than in WoW. I really enjoy the longer battles because they give time for skilled play to overcome randomness. I still lose most one vs one battles, but my losses don’t leave me screaming at my computer because I was stun locked while watching my health quickly drop to zero. With heals being on relatively long cooldowns, you can also turn the tide of a battle with some smart play.

The short duration of crowd control effects also means it’s much harder to win a fight when your enemy has brought a friend along. You can’t just fear one and beat on the other. It’s a little disheartening to outplay your opponent only for another to join right before the killing blow, making a kill nearly impossible.

There’s also the downed state, which is when someone has brought your health to zero. You can attack for a few seconds, trying to finish your opponent off before he completes this long animation of stabbing a flag through your body. Some classes get cool downed state abilities that will interrupt the stabby animation, thus delaying your death and giving your teammates more time to finish off the baddy or resurrect you. Other classes have uninspiring downed state abilities so it’s easiest to just auto attack and wait for the inevitable.

Playing an Elementalist

Failing miserably in one match usually ended in some additional tweaking of my elementalist’s build, and this was surprisingly fun. If I felt like I died too fast (pretty much all the time), I could change my armor runes to give me more health and move 10 points out of the fire trait line into water. Then I replace my dps utility skill with a more survival oriented skill, and I try again! There’s a lot of trial and error, partly due to the obviously new nature of the game, but also because the game encourages it.

I insisted on playing a dagger main hand / dagger off hand elementalist because I love dying. This is the high damage, high mobility melee spec of the squishy cloth wearing lord of elements. I can basically surf on lava and lightning.

Really, I can’t wait for GW2 to finally come out. I just want to fail miserably and try again until I finally get good at PvP and make an elite PvP team where I don’t passive-aggressively rage at my teammates and we can become e-famous and make money playing video games.