Let me tell you the tale of my first encounter with PvP in Guild Wars, approximately 6 years ago. I was a monk, enjoying myself having made it to 20, beating Prophecies with my guildies and looking forward to more to come. Guildies had been pressuring me to get our guild more into PvP, and as their leader I felt obligated to check out the scene and see what I could do to satisfy their desires for player versus player combat. So I head over to the Hall of Heroes, as it was called back then, and try to find myself a team.
Straight away I notice how many teams shunned you for being unranked. I honestly struggled to even find a team for more than 2 hours, but finally, a team took me in because they were desperate for a monk. Upon entering the team, I'm hit with chat such as "hey u can run woh ok"? and various other meaningless acronyms to me at the time. I was nervous, so I didn't want to show my complete lack of experience by asking just what in the great blue sky they were talking about, so I sort of nodded my head and said OK. They took me in with them and we came up against some form of brutal lightning spike; most of the team died instantly, then they started to yell at me. I thought it might be a good idea to ressurect the other monk, so I cast Rebirth.. apparently a huge mistake to have brought that, because I was met with "OMG ROFL LOL WHAT A F**KING NOOB HAS NO CLUE WHAT HES DOING F**KING NOOB IDIOT MORON NOOB" which was at the very least disheartening; I left in a hurry to the safety and solitude of the Guild Hall and made sure I didn't set foot in the Hall of Heroes again for years.
I often look back on that first encounter now and wonder; was I wrong for not speaking up when I was unsure of what to do? Were they wrong for assuming I knew what to do in the first place, knowing I was unranked and picking me up from the Hall at random? Either way, I often feel their reaction to my failure was very cold, brutal and undeserving; I definitely messed up bringing Rebirth, but screaming at me in such a way was not in the least productive or helpful to anyone.
A few years (and many characters) later, a friend decided to message me one day and tell me they really needed a smiting monk for a dual smite build they were running. I thought "not a chance in hell" figuring it would be a revisit of the experience I had previous, but I felt compelled to help because he was a friend of mine, so I went. Luckily for me, they were a little more helpful this time around; they gave me a build and a general "here's what you do", and after that, I was sorted. We won multiple games, and in the first session with them I had earned half the fame I needed to make Rank 3. It was definitely much better than the last experience I had with Halls PVP (now renamed to Heroes' Ascent), but I couldn't help but notice just how grumpy and self-entitled the guild leader of this little team was. He ranted, raved, and screamed at his guildies like a child crying for it's bottle, and I honestly wasn't impressed.
Still, I needed the fame, or so I thought at the time; I figured it might be nice to get back at those brats who show their rank emotes over your corpse in the random arenas. I had a few more games with these guys, and managed to make rank 3 which I was very happy about because it meant I got my first rank emote: the Deer (Bambi).
pretty right? I was pleased for sure, but after we returned from the Halls to Heroes' Ascent outpost, it all kicked off. The guild leader refused to enter again until he found out who "screwed up", as someone had used their ressurection signet a little too late in the game. So he stomped, huffed and puffed, and threw a temper tantrum accusing any and everyone of being a "scrub" before he started randomly kicking people from the guild. At this point I had joined them, but found myself kicked in his temper tantrum along with half of the other members; and that's when it hit me. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and felt liberated as I was no longer in the guild, and it dawned on me I had been spending my time with the wrong people. I didn't owe this brat anything, and neither did his other members. They could continue to take his abuse for all I cared, but I was gone and had no plans about coming back despite the others asking me to.
After this, I realised just exactly what I wanted from Heroes' Ascent, and that's the feeling you get when you work together to face down and conquer a fearsome opponent. I wasn't getting that with my previous team, as they were all about the fame points and upping their ranks. So I decided, now that I had my "Bambi of honour" I could lead my own team, and I did. I invited unranked, inexperienced players to join my team, but I told them what I would need of them and what they could expect. We were prepared for the worst and together, overcame many obstacles and teams. By leading unranked teams into the Heroes' Ascent, I was able to gain my Rank 6 Wolf emote, and fulfill a promise to Mousie to get her the rank 3 Bambi. A few others got their bambis under my command, too, and I was very proud to lead them into battle. Heroes' Ascent had become fun for me, and despite us not being as good as the "elites", we had a great time. We even stuck it to a few of the well known guilds out there, and nothing was quite as satisfying to us as trampling those "big shots" underfoot.
So all in all, what have I learned from this? There is an aura of eliteism and narcissism to be found (and hopefully avoided) in the Heroes' Ascent, but you shouldn't let that stop you from enjoying yourself. In all walks of life, there will be those who brag the most, shout the loudest and boast incessantly about themselves, but if you can tolerate them there's plenty of reasons to stick around.
With that said, PvP in Guild Wars definitely has it's pluses. In the right situation you can have a lot of fun, some tremendous and unforgettable challenges, and even some amazing loot now (such as the coveted Mini Ghostly Hero). If you can stomach the negativity of the scene and find the good people in it, Heroes' Ascent is a place you can enjoy.