There’s been a fairly heated debate going on in the various GW2 forums ever since the first beta weekend. It has to do with the “downed” mechanic and what it means to the flow of player versus player combat.
Some love it. Some hate it.
I know some readers wander in here from other MMOs, so I’ll lay it out in such a way that you can all form an opinion.
The Downed Mechanic
It is rather easy to run out of health in GW2. Players are generally fragile creatures. But running out of health is not the end of your life. When brought down, you enter a downed state. In this state, you have only 4 abilities, you are immobilized on the ground and a health bar splashed across the screen gradually ticks down.
In PvP combat, a number of things can happen from this point.
- Any damage you take will speed the decay of your health bar. When it is empty, you are defeated.
- If you can contribute towards defeating another player (not just downing them), you rally and are revived back into the fight.
- In the event that nothing is going on, you can gradually revive yourself, but any damage you take ends the attempt, so it won’t usually work in the middle of a fight.
- An ally can come over to you and give up all other actions to try and revive you himself. It takes a bit of time to do so.
- Lastly, an enemy can walk over to you and execute a finishing move that will defeat you. This takes a couple seconds to execute and can be interrupted.
The 1v2 Scenario
The most common example against this system is its impact on a one versus two fight. Let’s say a single player is guarding a location. Two enemy players decide to try and capture the location together. Luckily, this single player is much more skilled than the other two. Here is a sample play-by-play of the choices the defender has to make.
- The skirmish begins.
- The Solo Defender quickly downs Attacker A. Attacker A is now in a downed state. He can still attack, but is much less effective.
- If Solo Defender attempts to finish Attacker A, he leaves himself exposed to damage for a couple seconds. In that time, Attacker B may use an interrupting ability to break the attempt, forcing Solo Defender to start over and try again.
- If Solo Defender ignores Attacker A, he will revive himself and re-enter the fight.
- It is sub-optimal for Solo Defender to continue focusing damage on Attacker A in an attempt to finish him that way. Attacker B is now the more damaging threat.
- To win, Solo Defender must down both Attacker A and Attacker B then finish them while being attacked the entire time.
- If Attacker B downs and finishes off Solo Defender, Attacker A will rally back, leaving both to take the objective.
- If the scenario happens that all three of them are downed, Solo Defender is unlikely to win the ensuing “slap fight” of downed abilities.
I have seen this scenario inflated. 1v3. 5v15 (in the case of World vs World PvP). In every case, the argument is that it diminishes the meaningfulness of personal skill, because it is very difficult to finish a downed opponent while you are outnumbered.
And So On and So Forth
To pull a few more objections, I went here:
- “It promotes zerging.”
That is to say, rushing an objective with a large force guarantees success, in spite of any other tactical or skill concerns.
- “Kills don’t feel like kills. Stomps [(aka, execution/finishing moves)] don’t feel like kills either since they don’t require skill (just press F).”
There is a visceral satisfaction in quickly demolishing an opponent. Ending an opponent in GW2 will always be a two-part, elongated process.
- “It punishes players who prefer to play only ranged”.
A ranged player will need to close in if they wish to finish the kill quickly, since executions only work in melee.
- “Killing someone and seeing a team member swoosh in and take the stomp [is frustrating].”
Kill stealing isn’t exactly a new concept in most gaming genres. However, GW2 puts a flag up begging for it to happen. If a player can be finished off, people will rush in to do so, indifferent of who got them into that state in the first place.
- “Fights between 2 downed players where they throw rocks at each other for 30 seconds (so much fun).”
That would be the aforementioned “slap fight”. This tends to happen in 1v1 situations where things are very close. If one player downs another with only a tiny bit of health left, the downed player is likely to get the first downed as well. You then have two lone players tossing weak desperation moves at each other until one wins out.
This is just my take. Don’t take this as divine word. (Note: I’m just placating those of you who might disagree. Of course I’m always right. I have a blog on the Internet!)
I think we can make a lot of headway by getting the aggressive comment out of the way first.
Get over yourselves.
Ego Check, Plz
“I’m the more skilled player, but I can’t win in 1v2.” Apparently, you’re not as wonderful as you think. Want to finish a player you have downed without the second player interrupting? How about disabling the other player first? Dazes only last a second, but a second will do you. Knock him down. Give yourself a Stability buff so it’s harder for you to be interrupted. But of course, you knew that already, because you’re so skilled!
You’re not. You can’t make the argument that “a skilled player can’t do this” when your idea of being skilled completely disregards a game mechanic. ”I’m really skilled at Super Mario Bros., except Hammer Brothers kick my ass.” Then you’re not skilled at Mario! That’s the whole point of becoming skilled at the game. You don’t become skilled by changing the game until it matches your current capabilities. I have a device that does that for Super Mario Bros. It’s called a Game Genie. We call it cheating.
Yes, it’s going to be hard to win in a 1v2 situation. Downright unlikely. That’s because there are two of them. How much better do you really think you are than everyone else at a game you’ve gotten to play for 3 weekends? The community egos right now are completely out of check and its hindering productive discussion. It’s really hard to take points seriously when the main argument is “it doesn’t make me feel better than everyone else.”
A Team Effort
Now another question. While you are fighting in this 1v2, what is going on in the rest of the map? I, personally, have not won many skirmishes against two other players. I’ve never won a skirmish against three opponents.
However, I have won entire matches by fighting multiple opponents.
When I’m tied up alone against multiple opponents, I go on the defensive. I pop in and out. I keep on the pressure. I keep the fight going as long as I can. If I down someone, I don’t finish them (not that I could if I wanted to). Because while I’m locked up with three other players, that means I have four other teammates out there using that power play to cut a swath of destruction through the remaining two opponents.
Skilled opponents will take me down sooner than later. As well they should; there’s three of them. Still, such fights do not exist in a vacuum.
Simply put, being a lone-wolf cowboy in a team-based game isn’t being good at the game. ”I’m so good I can kill multiple people by myself” is not a sound team strategy and you shouldn’t be rewarded for thinking that way. If you’re complaining that someone is taking your kills, you might just be missing the point.
Downing doesn’t feel like a kill because it isn’t.
I don’t know that this is a “problem”, but it is a legitimate matter of taste. There is a very methodical quality to killing in GW2. You tear down your opponent’s health then “re-kill” them in their downed state.
I put “re-kill” in quotes for two reasons. First, I don’t think it’s a real word. I kind of just made it up. I do that sometimes. Second, it’s wholly inappropriate for the situation. A downed opponent is not dead. You have not succeeded in their elimination yet. Your efforts are meaningful but not final. The job still has yet to be finished. If you are killed and the downed opponent rallies back to his feet, that’s because he was never dead to begin with.
In any other MMO, you would not consider an opponent defeated if you stunned him and left him at 1 hit point. It’s no different here.
This makes ending an opponent a very deliberate activity. It certainly isn’t fair to complain that “pressing F” takes no skill, yet complain how difficult it can be to actually achieve this finisher. It can be easy or it can be challenging. There’s a meta-game to the whole affair. Do I need some form of defense to execute this kill unmolested? Will his allies try to save him? Can I capitalize on it if they do?
But is it bad?
I feel a whole topic of “what is bad game design” coming on, so I’m going to hold up here.
In short, I feel the mechanic accomplishes what it aims to accomplish. There are those who are not going to enjoy that goal. I can’t stand castle defense games, but I respect a good one mechanically. But if there is someone out there that truly believes this mechanic is bad on a level with “poor camera controls” or “sloppy quick time events”, and not just against your personal tastes, I’d be curious to hear the nitty gritty of it.
Include supporting facts and examples of similar failures in other games, please.
We’re academics here.