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Guild Wars 2 Structured PvP: A Look At Skyhammer

Skyhammer is the newest map added to the Guild Wars 2 structured PvP system, and it is a lot different than the other maps. Rather than just relying on taking points or slaying some mobs, Skyhammer revolves more around knock backs, timed movements and taking over a massive laser that can be used to help lead your team to victory. While this may sound like it is all fun and games, this is not always true. While it is a map that has an awesome concept to it, the way it plays out ends up leading most players to irritation because of how it works.

The Laser

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First of all, in the middle of the map there is a portal that goes to an area away from the main land with a large laser on it. Upon taking this over (calibrating it), the team that owns it can then fire pretty much anywhere on the map; at least anywhere other than where the laser is being held. This means it can hit any of the three objective points, as well as the areas in between.

What makes this laser special are a few things:

  • It has a very large range
  • It does a lot of damage (up to around 10k or so for people who are close to its actual strike zone)
  • It knocks players down and cancels their skills if they are in the middle of casting something
  • It destroys the glass platforms so players can fall through them

All four of these things together make for a very destructive weapon. The down side to the laser is that it takes a while to fire if you are moving it from one target to another, and it also lets players know ahead of time exactly where it is going to strike so that they can attempt to get out of its way. As such, it is usually used just for attacking the three objective points, as anywhere else you would need to lead your targets and in most cases they would be out of the way before it actually zaps them.

The Floating World and Glass Bottoms

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On top of the laser, the entire map is floating above the ground, with strong mobs down below (in case you manage to live through a fall off the world, which does not happen often but it does happen from time to time). Essentially when you fall you will either die from the fall damage itself, the mobs attacking you, or you will just be stuck on the ground until you run near a mob and let it kill you. Once you are at the bottom, there is no other way to get back to the top than to die.

This is also what makes the map pretty tough. With all the knock backs, knock downs and the laser helping out, people are being thrown off the map all the time. It is almost like playing Super Smash Brothers: Melee. This is where people also get pretty annoyed: you can be almost done finishing someone off and them knock you off the map. Or you can be running around and be pushed off it. At the end of the day, though, this is just part of how the map works and you have to get used to it if you want to have an at least semi enjoyable time on it.

Strategy

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Generally, the players that are going to fare the best on Skyhammer are those that have the most knock backs. An Engineer, for example, can have up to three (possibly more?), and most classes do have at least one. These are by far the most essential skills for the map because they save a lot of time and effort. Instead of spending a minute or two fighting against someone, you can simply push them off the map, capture or defend the objective you are near, and move on. The battle is therefore more of a fight about who can knock out other players the fastest, rather than who is actually the strongest or smartest player (though we could argue that the smarter player is the one with the most knock backs and that uses them properly to their advantage).

On top of knocking players back, understanding and learning how to use the glass platforms to your advantage is also critical. As soon as someone walks on one, it starts a timer for about two seconds and disappears. If you run across one of these and someone is right behind you, they can usually get across with you. If they are delayed a little, it could disappear right as they are over it. The importance of learning this timing is that you can push players on to the platform so they are on it when it disappears, but if they react fast enough they can usually just dodge as soon as their character gets up and make it safely back to the safe ground again.

The only other thing you need to do is to try and both take and hold the laser. This can be difficult, though, being that the laser is on a somewhat smaller platform and there are many glass areas on it as well. As such, being knocked off of it while you are manning the laser is something that happens quite frequently. Keeping a watch for the portal while you are on the laser is your best bet for looking out for other players to come towards you. If you see someone enter the portal, jump off the laser as soon as possible so that you are not knocked back somewhere (as, more often than not, if you are not paying attention someone can position themselves to perfectly knock you off). And when you are using the laser, always use it on objectives where people are actively trying to capture. If you own a spot and it is not being contested, there is no reason to fire a laser at it. The same goes for when there is a spot your enemies own where your team is not contesting it. You are likely not going to actually kill anyone with the laser, and if a point is not contested it means that there is no fighting going on (so the usefulness of the laser is somewhat limited in these cases).

Conclusion

Skyhammer is a map that can be your worst enemy or your best friend, depending on how you play it and how you view it. For a lot of players, even though they are good at it, the map is quite an annoyance just because of how it works. Whereas most of the maps in Guild Wars 2 rely more on skill and planning, Skyhammer is more about who can knock other people off the map the most often while avoiding the knock backs on their own. In any case, when you queue up for some matches (tournaments) or you join random maps in the normal match system, you never know what you are going to get. As such, playing it to your best ability is of a huge benefit and will make your stay that much more enjoyable!

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