ArenaNet is taking a step in the right direction in reaching out to the community for feedback on their stress test. However, they did a lot of changes and concepts in this map may need to change from their current iteration.
First, the good:
-Thematically amazing. I love the look. Fire keep reminds me of Greco-Roman architecture + LOTR’s Mines of Moria + a fire demon cult. Air nails the Palace/city feel and the ceiling of the Lord’s Room is sweet. Earth feels very expansive and is fitting of being the Garrison equivalent of the map. All three keeps could easily be turned into PvE raids with some tweaking and added mobs. Oasis looks impressive, it reminds me of the architecture from the Living Story’s trade city among the cliffs (I forget the name, but the Glint followers docked here). The shrines are all nice, and the towers have distinct flavors. NWT to me is the rockwall area that prevents you from autorunning, NET is clearly the lich kingdom, SWT is that clearly-physics-hacking ogre’s place, and SET is the Charr outpost.
-It feels like it could easily house more players than EBG fits, which would be amazing for the T1/T2/T3 servers.
There are two categories I’ll put problems I see with the map into, and then a miscellaneous category:
Fighting, or appealing to the GvG/scrim players They want intricate map design, but WvW is a game mode that myself and a lot of players I talk to consider best played on a relatively flat land with structural/neutral ruin features to give LoS and maneuverability. However, their new map gives little room for good fighting space despite the massive size. There simply aren’t enough flat expanses of land to fight in. The only really great spot for open-fielding is in the bottom level of Oasis near the north, and it has an issue: water has historically obscured the AoE rings – both ally and enemy; this makes it harder to fight since you can’t fully see the ground-targeted abilities clearly. Performance on lower-end machines may be of concern here as well due to water rendering. The other area that should be good to fight in is the desert biome of the southwest, between the ogre tower and the fire keep, but it is currently riddled with lumpy dunes that will make leap/dash attacks and certain projectile attacks work strangely. If these were flattened out, it would be a perfect spot to fight.
My idea on open field fights is that there should be at least 3 flat expanses suitable for fighting before considering everything else – one in the center that everyone can easily reach, and one by each enemy spawn (southeast, southwest). In the Alpine Borderlands you can see this philosophy: between Bay and SWT is a popular area, so is the area directly west of SET, and then you have more open areas northeast of Bay and on both sides of Garrison. If the Desert BL’s southwestern desert is flattened out then we have 2 solid areas to fight. Southeast feels a little cramped and might not lend well to open fielding. There are too many mobs in the Necropolis area that could be hit to make it a viable area to fight, but removing those Shadow Imps might help. Same thing with the Veteran Bristlebacks and other Vet mobs near Palace.
Finally, mechanics would go here as well. The shrine aspects are neat, and I like everything until you get to the group stealth from Sandstorm effect, and the varying stat buffs. I’m talking about the -10% incoming damage, +10% outgoing damage, and +10% critical damage. The critical damage one is bad, and even if it’s crit chance it would still be bad. Fire and Earth are the best, although immunity to burning is a rough one due to its impact in damage. You should make the Air and Fire shrines equal in power as they are attack-oriented and natural targets for enemies to go to before going to the Earth keep and shrine. The Earth shrine can stay defensive since it’s likely going to be used by defenders. Make Air and Fire both buff all outgoing damage by 10%. Finally, make these removable by the player’s choice. The 33% movement speed is great, but if I’m scrimming an enemy guild and it’s 15v15 I don’t want to win because I had the -10% incoming damage when they didn’t have anything (or even the offensive ones, which in the end are less valuable math-wise).