previews\ Mar 3, 2015 at 9:00 am

Hands-on with Stronghold PvP in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

MOBA Inspired mayhem


ArenaNet invited me out to demo their first expansion for Guild Wars 2 last week and I was able to check out a lot of what the new expansion, Heart of Thorns, had to offer, and one of them was the entirely new PvP game mode, Stronghold.

This new mode is boasting destructible environments, defined roles, objectives, and definite need for strategy. The objective in Stronghold is clear: Kill the enemy team’s lord before they kill yours.

Game Mode Overview:

The Stronghold is a 5v5 game mode composed of two lanes, one for your team and one for the enemy team. The map is themed, the red side is made up of pirates, while the blue side is made up of knights. Each lane leads towards the enemy’s gate, behind that gate is a set of guards and the team’s lord. In the middle of the map there is a supply cache, players from both teams can interact with the cache and take supplies (players are limited to two supplies per). The supplies are used to summon either a Door Breaker or an Archer.

Because players will not be able to damage the gate, Door Breakers are necessary for a victorious battle, Archers on the other hand, are used to clear lanes of enemy NPC’s. There is another character that players can summon, one that does not require supplies -- the Hero.

Guild Wars 2 Stronghold

The Hero is a powerful, Lord killing NPC that spawns on the side of each teams lane; players will be given a 30 second warning that the Hero event is occurring. Whoever makes their way to the Hero’s summoning location will have to channel for 10 seconds -- be careful, if an enemy player CC’s you, the channel will be interrupted. The Hero offers the Hero’s Presence buff, 50% damage reduction and 50% condition duration reduction, he will also take any buffs that a player will give him (i.e. Swiftness).

The NPCs in Stronghold create roles in PVP that aren’t currently found in the Conquest game mode. The new roles will be built around the 'support' and the 'shepherd.' A support player will guide NPC’s and other players offering pure support and will not be concerned with kills. The shepherd will be the guide for NPC’s and players alike as they travel down a lane. While these aren’t the only roles players can choose to be -- you can run as anything you’d like -- these two roles are suggested for a team to achieve a victorious battle.

The map in Stronghold will also feature destructible buildings, thanks to the treacherous Trebuchet. Trebuchets will damage team NPC’s, destroy buildings, offer map control, and can be destroyed themselves by players (they respawn).

Impression of Stronghold (played as the Revenant):

ArenaNet offered us one hour in Stronghold and it wasn’t enough -- I wanted to keep playing and leading my NPCs to victory. The game mode echoes features from MOBA’s, going down lanes, spawning NPCs and shepherding the NPCs, pure support roles, and more. Regardless of the similarities, it is not a MOBA.

The games were initiated by some individuals joining teams and others (like myself) freely queueing for Stronghold match. The games I played didn’t have much team communication, there were rounds where people ran around like chickens with their head’s cut off - we didn’t win those rounds.

Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns impression

I found that the rounds where people broke off into defense and offense, with one person running supplies, made for the most promising matches. There is a serious sense of accomplishment in the game if you channel the Hero and run him down the lane and kill the enemy Lord. You definitely need a team to kill the Lord.

The game mode supports all types of players, the players that solely want to kill other players, the players that want to support the team with supplies, and players that want to play defensively near their team’s gate.

Given that I only had one hour to play the new PVP game mode, my impression left me feeling that while this mode is new and intriguing to Guild Wars 2 players, it isn't something entirely new to games in general. I left feeling like it was the most successful meld between League of Legends and Alterac Valley from World of Warcraft, that I've played -- that being said, I obsessively played both of those games.

Stronghold is definitely something to look forward to if you like objective based PVP game modes.

Take a look at the PvE and an interview on Heart of Thorns with the Development Director.

Catch me on Twitter @TatiMo_GZ

About The Author
Tatiana Morris I work here, so at least I've got that going for me. Catch me on Twitter @TatiMo_GZ
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