“When the only tool you possess is a high-intensity mega-cannon, everything looks like a target.”
It floats in the sky, held aloft by technomagical forces—a massive experimental asura canon. Its name is Skyhammer.
Welcome to the newest PvP map for Guild Wars 2, where the unique objectives and vertical gameplay demand quick wits and flexible tactics. Here, teams of players battle for control of capture points in an asura weapons lab located high atop a desert mesa. Those who control the devastating energy of this super weapon can wreak havoc on their foes far below.
“Skyhammer is a Conquest map with three capture points,” Game designer Tyler Bearce explains. “We’ve added three secondary mechanics to the map to keep things dangerous: jump pads, shattering floor panels, and the Skyhammer cannon itself.”
Bearce and environment artist Darrin Claypool have been working on the Skyhammer map with the PvP team on-and-off for 4 months now.
“We’ve been working on it for 4 months on and off, doing a lot of iteration, trying to get it right,” Bearce says. “Of course, we work on multiple maps at a time – but this one is special. I think players are really going to respond well to Skyhammer.”
“One thing I’d been advocating for a long time was an elevated map where you could push people off to their deaths,” Darrin Claypool says. “And on Skyhammer if you fall, it is a really long way before you hit the ground.
“From a design perspective, the PvP team really wanted to create a super-weapon map where your team fights to control it so they can control the map,” Claypool continues. “We settled on a high, vertical map with a canon. Tyler had the awesome idea to add jump pads to the map (at the time jump pads had only been used in Super Adventure Box) – as soon as we added those, it took the map to a different level.”
These jump pads, which the PvP team placed around the map, enables players to hop up to ledges and over walls. “The launch platforms are blue glowing circles,” Bearce says. “When you run into them, it triggers a blue explosion which propels you into the air, twice or three times your normal height. Hilarity can ensue.”
“We also added see-through, destructible floor sections to the map,” Claypool adds. “These are the forcefield floors that you see on regular asura maps, but these shatter, plunging you to your death. Walking on one of these will trigger a self-destruct timer, so watch your step.”
Players can only access the levitating Skyhammer platform through the single asura gate on the map.
Bearce says, “When a team controls the Skyhammer weapon, it’s similar to controlling the trebuchet on the Battle of Kyhlo map. It charges up, and then releases a huge bolt of lightning. It’s a 600 radius AoE attack – you can dodge as it charges up, but you don’t want to get caught in the blast radius.”
Given the unusual secondary objectives, vertical layout, and possibility of falling off the map, what strategies do Bearce think players will devise for the Skyhammer map?
“Knowing the map will help a lot in developing tactics,” Bearce says. “One thing we have noticed while testing is that people started bringing a lot more control and stability skills in their builds. Underutilized skills like the Thief’s Needle Trap, Tripwire and Scorpion Wire or the Engineer’s Magnetic Bomb and Personal Battering Ram, now suddenly have real lethal potential.”
Both Claypool and Bearce share the PvP team’s high expectations for Skyhammer, which has the potential to become a player-favorite.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from our playtesters,” Bearce says. “Pretty much as soon as we threw this in for testing, our internal playtesters said, ‘This has to go on Live.’”
Claypool adds, “People who have played this map already have been more excited about playing PvP. Skyhammer has a really dynamic, old-school feel; like a Quake map.”