When Mike Ferguson explained that you could WvW at any level in Guild Wars 2 — even right after getting out of your introduction at level 2 — my first thought was: Could I make a character and plant him or her down in WvW and never leave?
This past Beta Weekend Event, I tested that hypothesis out.
I created my Norn Warrior, Vikkin, and as soon as she’d fought in the Great Hunt, I pressed B, stuck her in the Mists, and never looked back. I worked her up to level 10 before the end of the BWE, and here are my pros and cons from her experience:Even at level 2, I felt capable enough against other characters. Yes, you’ll have to unlock skills as you go — though I did start with three, thanks to my prologue — and you’ll be behind in traits/utility skills, but not so much that you feel at a major disadvantage.
Obviously, in a large group, your individual flaws won’t matter that much, but I did find myself in a prolonged 1v1 against another character around level 5. We downed each other virtually simultaneously, though she managed to rally and live on. Still, it was a competitive fight.
In terms of weapons, the only one I purchased was a rifle, since I knew I’d want to have a ranged attack. Otherwise, I started with a sword and horn and found a mace and shield along the way, giving me enough variety to feel like a real character. Most skills on those weapons were unlocked by the time I hit 10.
The keep in your home world’s borderlands has all the services you’d require – vendors, trading post, crafting stations, bank, etc. – so you never have to leave to attend to your non-killin’ business.
This is a welcome addition to the WvW zone, and one that I hope other upcoming games that are planning to make heavy use of the concept — like Rift and The Elder Scrolls Online — adopt. Few things suck more than having to run between zones just to handle basic storage functions.
You get good XP and karma when you actually do something. Being part of a keep-taking force often netted me up to a third of a level. That might have been a function of the leveling curve at low levels, but that flattens out only slightly as you advance.
As for karma, you should be accumulate enough to be able to pick up decent gear at your five-level breaks, and with luck, scavenge a few pieces from corpses.
As often happens in WvW, you can go long stretches without much going on, followed by furious action as you take a few locations, and then another bit of nothing.
The overall rate of XP gain seemed rather slow — at least as compared to PvE. On the bright side, as mentioned above, you’ll still be competitive enough — if you play smart — but don’t expect to rocket to level 80 at this rate.
You’ll also struggle to acquire gold and items, since your opportunities for looting are limited, and even if you do kill a bunch of enemies and NPCs, you might not always have the time to hang around and loot their corpses. Again, compared to PvE, you’ll acquire far less stuff.
It also seemed that NPCs dropped loot more often than PCs. In my opinion, this should be reversed; you should get better — or at least more frequent — rewards for the tougher act of killing players than you get for killing computer-controlled opponents.
Forget crafting, at least if your character won’t be supported by other characters’ gathering. There’s virtually nothing in terms of low-tier crafting nodes available in WvW, making it all but impossible to progress your crafting skills.
Finally, I’d like to see more individual awards or achievements or some kind of activity trackers for WvW players. Yes, WvW characters can gain levels and earn achievements, but I’d like to have some kind of “counting number,” I think, to rate their progress.
For example, in PvE, I tend to think of level as your “score”; in structured PvP, it’s Glory. I think you should have a similar stat that represents your overall contribution to WvW. It doesn’t have to do anything; it can just be there, so you can feel cool and have something to show off for having spent months in the Eternal Battlegrounds.