Today I would like to introduce you to a character of mine. Everyone, this is Carella, my necromancer. She was the…fifth character I got to level 80, if I remember correctly? She’s gone through the most changes of every character of mine except for my mesmer; when I first made her I was playing her as a straight condition necro. Rabid gear, Runes of the Undead, all that fun stuff. Her original armor set was a mix of Priory and (what is now called) Seer, the named exotic set.
A few months later I decided to change to a more straight DPS-heavy build, going heavy on power, and made a set of berserker armor. The main focus off this set was to be the Orrian leggings, from Arah. Initially I was going to use the Orr temple armor top, but I didn’t have enough karma, so I bought the Whispers top instead as a temporary replacement, and decided that fit even better. Some adjustments came over the following months, until finally I had something that was just right, both in looks and stats. She is, however, one of the very few characters of mine that hasn’t had an actual makeover kit applied to her appearance – I made her to look like me, and always had the idea of throwing away the idea of necros being dark and creepy. So she’s stayed cheery and cute. She now switches between wearing bunny ears and glasses, because both are awesome to wear into battle.
Carella is also the character that I leaned towards using when I considered doing sPvP. I did a few games here or there, but after the feature patch, I decided to give it another go, due to the new changes made. It still isn’t my favorite game mode, but…I actually enjoy PvP.
So, how the heck did that happen?
Well, to start out, there’s a few different ‘types’ of sPvP. There’s custom arenas (also known as hotjoin), solo queue, and team queue. Hotjoin is when you just hit the Play Now button and get thrown in a game. It’s fun if you just want to play a quick game, but the rewards for this game type are the lowest. They also tend to be very “every person for themselves” since it’s hard to communicate while playing (if you stop to type while in a PvP match, you are an easy target). But they can certainly be very fun!
Solo queue and team queue are more organized, and the rewards you get reflect that. They’re ‘tournaments’, as opposed to the casual hotjoin games, and they have leaderboards. If you’re by yourself, you can pick solo queue, and it’ll place you in line for a game. When I’m playing alone, I tend to not want to wait for that, so if no one else is on I’ll just do hotjoin. Patience isn’t my thing.
Team queue, on the other hand, is what I’ve been doing a lot of as of late. Team up with some guildies, and cause some chaos. I like these because then I’m playing with people I know and we can coordinate what we’re doing (yay for TeamSpeak!), which makes things much easier. Since several of my guildies that I play with frequently are much more into PvP than I am, this also means I’m able to get valuable advice from them as to what to do and what not to do.
So what have I learned in sPvP so far? Well, first of all, knowing the layout of a map is going to be one of the most useful things to you. Some maps are easier to learn than others (Forest of Niflhel is my favorite), but they all have unique layouts and mechanics. You want to know how to get from your spawnpoint to all of the other points on the map – preferably multiple ways of doing so if you like sneaking around to capturing the far point on the map.
Distracting is good, sacrificing yourself less so. Running into a point that the enemy team has captured and is sitting on and promptly dying helps no one but them. Your team is down a person while you respawn, and they scored points from killing you. On the flip side, though, if you can stay alive long enough for another person or two from your team to catch up, or are able to de-cap one of the enemy team’s points so they are no longer getting points from it…distraction. When I’m playing hotjoin, if the enemy team is camping out on the midpoint, I’ll frequently go and capture the far area, which then draws them away, which then (if the others are paying attention) lets us go in to capture mid.
The way you play in PvE is going to be very different than PvP. Some skills work differently, yes, though PvE/PvP splits are few and far between. The bigger thing is you’re playing against other people who are going to actually react to what you’re doing, instead of just balling up all nice and neat against a wall for you to spike to death. They will move around, dodge out of the way, stun you, fear you, knock you down, and you need to be able to react to that. I play Carella as a damage/condition hybrid in PvE; in PvP I go for conditions and minions. Yes, I know, minion necro is cheap and easy. That’s why I do it. I’m not familiar enough with PvP to want to start messing around with something new when I know I can do this well. Conditions are so much more viable in PvP than they are in PvE, and minions make great meatshields. More than once I’ve rallied off of someone who bled to death from bleed stacks I put on them before going down myself.
Try and communicate with your team. Even if all you can do is type in chat “going far” or “thief near mid” or “2 home”, that’s valuable information that will make thing easier for everyone.
So I’m not going to lie, the new reward tracks are a large part of why I decided to try PvP. There’s a number of different tracks you can activate, each becoming available in different ways, and then you work towards specific rewards. I’m currently doing the Arah track, so as I progress I will be getting Arah tokens, weapons, and a piece of armor. After that I may go do the Kryta track. Not decided yet! The nice thing is I can switch to another one – say I decided I really, really needed the Balthazar backpiece (I don’t, I think it’s ugly, but that’s besides the point) – and the progress I’ve made on the Arah track is saved for when I go back to it.
You also get reward chests as you rank up, but as ever, these are heavily RNG. I’ve yet to get anything decent from any of them. One of my friends has gotten a number of exotics. My fiance managed to get an ascended armor chest (Zojja’s, naturally), his very first PvP match. Talk about luck. But you still get stuff, as well as a gold reward when finishing a match, so it isn’t a choice between playing PvP and playing something in-game that will earn you money. You can do both.
There’s one more thing I didn’t mention yet, and that’s Team Deathmatch. It’s a new mode that was added, and isn’t fully supported, so you will only see it (and the map it’s available on, Courtyard), on player-owned custom arenas. It’s exactly what it sounds like – the map is tiny, with two spawn points and a courtyard between the two, and you simply go in and…try and kill the other team. That’s it. It can be a lot of fun, but it can also get unbalanced very quickly, and spawn-camping can be an issue. It is a highly entertaining fast-paced game mode, though, so if you see an open custom arena with it available, give it a try!
So, yeah. PvP. It will never be my favorite thing in the game, but it’s something that I’ve come to have fun with and play occasionally. I’d suggest, if you’ve never tried it, to give it a go. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it too!