World vs. World rewards suck. While changing elements of the game mode (like defense and extended siege) to incorporate rewards will help, rewards across the board need a serious overhaul. With the formalized structure of alliances, providing rewards that are both prestigious and useful should be much easier to accomplish than in the old server system.
This can be accomplished by providing different rewards for three sets of players: individual WvW players, alliance members, and tournament winners. In concert, WvW can be rewarding for many more than simply those who enjoy the experience alone.
Individual rewards are the trickiest ones to execute on, because loot rewards have to weigh exploitation against proper reward. Karma trains and other forms of farming are already common, so all of the rewards below function outside of the Gold Standard as much as possible.
Also important in the alliance system is keeping individual reward as similar as possible between mercenaries and alliance members. Picking an alliance (or not) is a choice, and individual rewards should not bias toward either side of that choice. The rewards below work for both mercenaries and alliance members.
Ditch WvW Rank-Up and Bonus Chests
These chests are terrible loot. While the small possibility of exotic and ascended drops exists, it functions as a fancy reminder of how much the Gold Standard makes the average loot complete garbage. It doesn’t help that they were added to bring more loot to WvW, and the mode still pales in comparison to a few minutes in PvE.
Adopt a system similar to Fractals, where some amount of tokens (relative to level attained) is dispensed in addition to account-bound valuable extras. Tokens can be accrued for acquiring WvW-exclusive skins, armor, infusions, etc., or there’s a small chance (player-based small, not community-based small) of getting any of those with the rank-up.
Skins in this case don’t necessarily have to be weapons and armor, but can be special siege skins, or reskinning the NPCs of an owned objective, or altering the looks of projectiles fired from manned siege. The key with skins is offering power-agnostic ways of letting players show off that they’ve been out on the fields of war.
Add Weekly Rewards
One of the persistent issues with rewards is the difficulty of measuring participation. In an alliance-based system, simply saying “they spent time in the current match” doesn’t work for participation. Mercenaries can be anywhere, contributing in a dozen different matches in small, but helpful ways.
Another problem with “they zoned into WvW” is that it requires no actual participation by a player*. As a result, rewards have to be mediocre or people doing practically nothing can net something awesome.
*This is based on my anecdotal evidence of times where I only logged in for maybe a few minutes, and still picked up a bonus chest at the end of the match. I looked on the wiki but didn’t see any mention of how much participation is actually required. Still, the bar is far too low.
Instead, implement weekly rewards similar to the existing dailies (dolyaks slapped, towers captured, players killed, etc.), with 3 tiers of each type. Achieving a tier gives a small reward, and capping a type out (all 3 tiers) gives a larger reward.
With a weekly, tiered reward system, participation can be readily measured. Someone with 3 total tiers achieved (of 21, to give an example) has minorly participated in WvW. Someone with 15 has heavily participated.
When a match ends, individuals can be given rewards that line up with their level of participation. Rather than having to go with the lowest common (unabuseable) denominator, players get an extra bonus that matches how much they dedicated.
Build Rewards into Achievement Tiers
While WvW achievements are getting a long-overdue overhaul with the launch of Heart of Thorns, they could also benefit from additional rewards when each tier is achieved. This gives the feeling of progress while working toward intentionally long-term goals beyond “more AP.”
Add Exclusive Rewards to WvW Rank
Right now, any WvW Rank past 1,390, when all abilities are maxed out, is immaterial. With Heart of Thorns, the points required to max is going down. Allies can’t see ranks, and enemies end up using high-rank titles as an excuse to single out and remove specific players from the fight (typically the enemy commander).
While I’m sure the original intent with ranks was to avoid elitism (“you’re just an Assaulter, you don’t know squat”), making ranks purely a way for enemies to see more than “<Enemy Server> Invader” isn’t a good solution either.
Instead, give players the option to show their title, similar to the dozens of other ones PvE has been showered with through Living World. They can only show their currently attained rank, and not any ones below it.
Also, rank should unlock the ability to pick up different, special rewards. While a Soldier might only have the stock skins to pick from, a Silver General could pick up silver-plated siege. This gives prestige to the rank beyond simply the title of it, and allows players to show it off in ways that don’t affect power balance.
Alliances are designed around competition and hardcore players pulling out all the stops to achieve victory. As such, all alliance rewards should focus on the prestige and glory of victory. And only victory.
For Alliance Members
Winning a match gives a small amount of a unique currency to alliance members. Similar to WvW Tournament Tokens, the rewards available can vary from simple, but unique trinkets, to exclusive siege skins, weapons, and armor. They could also work toward buying a Victor finisher as a capstone goal.
For Alliance Guilds
Guilds gain the ability to display a victory banner in their halls with their alliance’s first win. The banner gets more and more exquisite (or perhaps splits into multiple decorations) with each victory. Accruing enough wins could unlock new decoration sets and special guild siege skins based on their prestige.
Finally, seasons and the tournaments thereof need to have even higher prestige. Victors have consistently proven they’re better than their opponents, and should be recognized on that level.
For alliance members, the existing tournament token system is fairly close to ideal, and should be co-opted for the alliance system*.
*Though I’d argue that Hero’s and Mistforged Hero’s weapons should be converted to ladder victory rewards and new skins crafted for tournaments.
For the alliance itself, unique guild hall victory banners are crafted for each tournament, and awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of each league, with a mention of which league they were in. Tournament placement can also apply a sizable amount of wins to each guild’s victory tally when it comes to additional decorations.
Combining all of these ideas creates a more rewarding system that can be tailored to match participation against rewards without having to fight with the Gold Standard. More importantly, it creates a place where prestige and straight-up bragging rights are achievable, without providing one iota of power advantage to the victors.
Now that I’ve addressed rewards, one thing remains: how could ArenaNet move from the existing server system to an alliance system? How can that transition be kept as smooth as possible? I’ll conclude the series by answering both of these questions.
The Alliances Series
- Putting Guilds Back into Guild Wars: WvW Alliances
- Unbalanceable Problems: Why the Server System Cannot Work
- Heart and Soul: The Guilds of World vs. World
- The Case for WvW Alliances
- The Alliance Structure: Sidestepping the Problems
- The Pros and Cons of WvW Alliances
- Rewarding the Competition
- Implementing Alliances