World PvP takes place in the Mists, an area outside of the Tyria world map. It will be accessable to characters almost immediately from character creation. There is no limit to the number of players which can access World PvP at one time. It has been suggested there could be several hundred characters on each side of a World PvP battle.
Players entering World PvP enter with the level, equipment and skills their character has at that time. They can be sidekicked which allows them to play with or against players of higher level but this does not unlock more abilities for the character.
A player will be restricted from accessing World vs World combat soon after changing worlds.
For up to two weeks three worlds are matched against each other. The match ups favors matching worlds of similar strength or ranking. A world's rank increases as they win more often. During combat there is no direct way for these worlds to communicate with each other.
There are four different WvW battlefield maps one of which is picked when the world are matched up. Each battlefield map is split into 4 sub-maps: a central zone which is initially neutral, and a home map for each of the three worlds participating. Each of the maps is filled with resources and objectives which can be captured by the worlds, including castles, fortresses, mercenary camps, mines, lumber mills and villages. There are NPCs in the maps but they are intended mainly to slow down players so defenders from the other world can join in the fight for the objective. The NPCs are of a defensive nature rather than offensive so are typically less dangerous than another player.
When a new match up starts, players begin in their home map and capture locations there. The resources gained from mines and lumber mills are used to rebuild walls, create siege engines, and generally defend the world's fortress. Once they move to the central map players joining will start at their world's portal keep. From there they capture objectives while dealing with players from other worlds. Play will travel between the central map and home maps as worlds gain and loose footholds. Teams will be able to invade their opponents’ home maps by first going through the center map.
The maps are intended to allow teams of different sizes participate. Larger groups might try a full assault of a keep, but individuals can disrupt supply caravans to weaken defenses or a small group can capture objectives which will stop reinforcements.
Guilds will be able to take and hold keeps.