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Guild Wars 2: Why the Three Faction System Rocks

Probably the biggest part of Guild Wars 2 is its system of “WvW” (world vs. world) combat, which actually takes place by facing three different factions against each other in a free for all system. We have had plenty of games that roll the normal one side versus another side method, but having a third team in the mix has proven to be a great asset, and as a PvP player I hope more games start adopting this in the future.

When we look at PvP in online games, there is always something that occurs: imbalance. This can be between classes, gear players have or even in their skills. In the majority of games, this kills any fun in PvP for both sides. The underdog has no fun because they keep being farmed and the over dog has no fun because there is just not any challenge to killing people who have no real chance of fighting back. When there are two sides, this distinction becomes pretty big, as there is just no way for the smaller, more disadvantaged team to take down the larger one. And this is where the third faction comes in to play.

With Guild Wars 2, there are a total of three factions and they are all in a free area. This means that they can work together (or not) to take down their enemies. If one team is really dominating the others, they can band together to take down the dominant team. If all three teams are pretty equally matched, they can each work on their own to take down their enemies (or at least try to).

The down side to this system is that there is no alliance system with Guild Wars 2. The teams are not able to talk to one another, unless you know someone from another world that you can send PM's to or you can jump in a voice chat with. Other than this, the communication between one team and another is absent. Even when you can talk with another, though, since the majority of the players can not, it does not do a lot of good. After all, most people are in the game for the PvP itself and are not interested in having a mediator between the teams. It is a war game, not a friendly one.

In any case, a three faction system for sieging and PvP is a great step towards making games much more fair across the different sides. Rift has taken this and adapted it a little by having special PvP matches called “conquests” that pit three teams up against one another in a free for all fashion. Rather than the entire game being based on factions, though, Rift has it just for that specific match. After the match is over with, everything is just like it was prior, so you are not forced to choose a side and stick with it for the long run.

My hope with this is that somehow a new adaptation can come along that helps give sides a handicap in PvP. If one team is completely dominating the other two, for example, the game could somehow temporarily force the others in to an alliance to work together. As the tables turn, it would swap out who is playing with who. This does go against the entire concept of having worlds (or factions) fighting against one another, but when it comes to games I think what is more important is what is fun. And when it really comes down to it, there is just not any fun when there is no challenge (or when you are dominated to the point where it is not even worth trying any more).

Update 04-09-2014: There is a new addition to the game since this article was written that gives buffs to the teams that capture certain areas of the map. While this does not really classify as a handicap in that you actually have to do something in order to receive the buff, it does help out a lot when it comes to sending out some small groups to capture things. Along with this, there is a buff called Out Manned that buffs players up when they are outnumbered on the battle field, but that does not help when the teams are evenly matched in number but not skill or organization.

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