Weekly World of Warcraft #7 - PvBroken

By: Nick Arvites

Weekly World of Warcraft #23 - Goodbye to the Old Stomping Grounds
Will the new lands signal the end of the old?

Weekly World of Warcraft #22 - Burning Crusade First Impressions
Positive first impressions from our resident warlock.

Weekly World of Warcraft #21 - Thoughts from a Disgruntled Wyvern Windrider
Won't anyone think of the Windriders?

Weekly World of Warcraft #20 - New Year's Resolutions
Nick lays out some WoW-related goals for 2007.

Weekly World of Warcraft #19 - Calm Before the Storm
A look at the most-recent patch and Blizzard's next game.

Weekly World of Warcraft #18 - Casual Raiding Vol. 2
Another look at casual raiding from our brand new writer!

Weekly World of Warcraft #17 - South Park, Expansion Plans, and Updates
A look at the infamous South Park episode, and talk of the future.

Weekly World of Warcraft #16 - All Quiet on the Kalimdor Front
The calm before the Burning Crusade storm.

Weekly World of Warcraft #15 - How to Make a Crusade Burn
Burning Crusade will have a negative impact on raiding, but it should bring some good PvP changes.

Weekly World of Warcraft #14 - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It's time to renew!

Weekly World of Warcraft - Raiding for the Rest of Us
Our first guest discusses how a casual player can raid successfully.

Weekly World of Warcraft #13 - I Still Hate the Baron: Clarifications & Responses
Clarification of last week's points after receiving a deluge of responses.

Weekly World of Warcraft #12 - Dungeon 2 Armor Complaints
I hate the Baron, and other .5 tier complaints.

Weekly World of Warcraft #11 - Undead Events
A deeper look at Patch 1.11 and the Scourge Invasion.

Weekly World of Warcraft #10 - Busiest Week Ever
You want more of this?! Patch 1.11, Diablo/Starcraft MMORPGs, and more!

Weekly World of Warcraft #9 - Mailbag Edition
9 out of 10 naked dancing dwarves agree: mailbags are good!

Weekly World of Warcraft #8 - Guild Woes
Guild improvements and raid interface changes discussed this week.

Weekly World of Warcraft #7 - PvBroken
What's wrong with PvP in today's World of Warcraft.

Weekly World of Warcraft #6 - Post E3 2006 Thoughts
We look at the addition of the Draenei, and various problems with Burning Crusade.

Weekly World of Warcraft #5 - Expansion Outlook: Pre-E3 Edition
Looking forward to next week's E3, and what the future holds for WoW.

Weekly World of Warcraft #4 - Class Warfare
Nick's perspective on playing the nerfed Rogue class.

Weekly World of Warcraft #3 - Over-Raided
The third in our series focuses on the lack of content for smaller groups.

Weekly World of Warcraft #2
The second in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants focuses on crafting.

Weekly World of Warcraft #1
The first in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants by our resident level 60 Rogue.

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of as a whole or any of its affiliates. This is simply one writer's opinion, and should be accepted as such. Weekly World of Warcraft is usually updated each Tuesday.

In the MMORPG genre, Player vs. Player combat, or PvP, is often viewed as an essential feature that should automatically ship with a game. Sure, PvP is very much a part of World of Warcraft, and PvP in World of Warcraft can reward dedicated players with Epic and Faction Rewards. Yet, there are several parts of the PvP system that just seems inherently flawed even without addressing the numerous class balance issues that plague World of Warcraft.

The one word that can be used to describe World PvP in World of Warcraft is "broken." Now, the average lowbe who gets killed every 15 seconds in Stranglethorn Vale on a PvP server will argue that it isn't, and in that sense World PvP is not dead. After all, who am I to tell some level 60 alpha-geek that raids 40 hours a week to get epics that he can't smash some level 38 in the middle of a jungle? See, the random ganking isn't a problem; it's the lack of any sort of PvP objective. The vast majority of us will get extremely bored sitting in Stranglethorn Vale killing level 38 characters. Sure, you could raid a capital city and kill a faction leader, but what's the point? There is no reward for doing so, and most hardcore PvPers tend to avoid raids because of the dishonorable kill system. The dishonor system was originally intended to help balance the PvP system and provide a deterrent against level 60 characters raiding and killing off quest-givers in low-level zones. The problem is a dishonorable kill hurts a player's PvP ranking so much that many of the PvP hardcore refuse to raid. As a result, raids into capital cities are few and far between, and the ones that do occur are usually pathetic attempts that wipe before they get anywhere near the racial leaders. Perhaps the biggest flaw with World PvP is the lag. For some reason, the few large-scale PvP battles I have been in have been trashed by completely unacceptable framerates and lag. Granted, this could be on my end, but the resulting .7 framerate from the at least 160 or so people trashing Crossroads combined with the lowbes in the two areas really made the entire process unenjoyable (unless you were a caster, then you owned). Sure, it's not nearly as bad as other MMORPG games that have been plagued by server crashes due to overcrowding, but Blizzard needs to seriously upgrade its servers.

Alterac Valley

Any practical attempts at PvP are limited to the battlegrounds: Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley. At face value, the battlegrounds are an excellent tool to keep PvP viable and interesting for characters of all levels. The battleground factions provide reward incentives for playing a particular battleground. There are several problems with the battlegrounds. The first problem concerns the lack of any sort of variation. While I am not expecting to get a new style of battleground with every major patch, it would be nice to at least switch up which faction is participating in each particular battlefield. The main reason my Warsong Gulch faction reputation is much lower than my Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley is twofold. First, I cannot stand capture the flag on a personal basis and generally avoid Warsong Gulch as a rule. Second, if I do actually play Warsong Gulch, I'm usually going with an Alliance pick-up group and get matched with a Horde custom group who can roll us in under 6 minutes. 3-0 games get boring really quickly. It would be an interesting idea to at least shift faction support to each individual battlefield periodically. For example, have the Stormpike Guard attacking in Warsong Gulch, or the Silverwing Sentinels attacking in Arathi Basin. The main idea behind this is to even out how quickly reputation can be earned in each battleground. Up until the last major patch, it was extremely easy to gain reputation in Alterac Valley through the race-based turn-ins that players would drop after they were killed. While this has gone to the wayside, it's still easier to gain reputation in Alterac Valley than, say, Warsong Gulch due to the amount of objectives present in the battleground. If anything, shifting each faction to a different battleground for a special period of time (similar to the bonus honor weekends) would give each battleground a fresh feel. In the best-case scenario, each battleground would have a new map for each style of battleground play (capture the flag, hold the objective, and objective based war).

Battlegrounds, however, are not without their problems. Alterac Valley, for example, suffers from the human aspect. More often than not, a typical Alterac Valley match turns into a 40v40 race between the Alliance and Horde. While I'm sure many people appreciate relatively short Alterac Valley games as opposed to 6-hour marathons, it almost negates the entire turn-in factor of the game. When was the last time anyone saw the summoned bosses in Alterac Valley? Even seeing the air attack units or Calvary units is a rarity. I don't think I've EVER seen anyone capture a mine or turn in enough mine supplies to do whatever it does. While the patch notes from the test realm suggest that Alterac Valley will be improved (less NPCs) and drops will be increased, it may not be enough to turn in supplies. Granted, the buffs received for upgrading armor will at least encourage that.

Battlegrounds are essentially a playpen for PvP use. It's a sterile environment where people can fight each other and gain honor. World PvP is all but dead, and Blizzard has taken very few steps to encourage or increase world PvP. There is some good news, however, as The Burning Crusade contains world PvP objectives on every map. While this should appease the level 60s out there, it doesn't really help the lower level characters stuck on the original continent. One simple way to do this is to increase the number of PvP quests in the world. While they certainly have quests like this for characters in the higher level brackets (Blightcaller and the last Barov come to mind), there should be even more of these across all levels to encourage PvP action. Even going further, battlegrounds need more quests inside of them. While the battlegrounds have a limited amount of objectives they can offer, quests could include things like "have the fewest deaths" or "have the most killing blows." On the same note of battlegrounds, it would be interesting to track lifetime stats for each one. It would be interesting to know people's killing blows/death ratio, as well as the amount of objective capture/defenses. Lifetime stats could be used to give certain players battleground specific ranks or rewards. Lets face it, someone that can expertly run a flag in Warsong Gulch deserves some recognition, as do the few defenders for any battleground.

Alliance Flag

One of the biggest absent PvP features is Realm vs. Realm combat. The need for this feature should have been seen early in the developmental phase. However, I do understand Blizzard's reluctance to include it on their servers. Perhaps the biggest problem is "how do you set it up." If you make the queue pools a multi-realm one, you face several problems. First, the rivals between players on the same server suffer, and gamers lose that sense of inter-server compatibility. While it would certainly be advantageous to have a larger pool during non-peak hours for smaller servers and a universal pool could alleviate the Alliance/Horde population imbalance, it would put players from new servers at a disadvantage. As World of Warcraft has developed over time, the battlegrounds on the older, more established servers are littered with "twinks," alternate characters at low levels that have high level enchants and expensive gear supplied by level 60 characters. Tossing a server of older, experienced characters into the mix with characters from a new server-who often are newer players or do not have an established level 60 character on the server-would provide a horrendous experience for one side of the battleground. Even making realm vs. realm combat an optional queue could present problems. While it would be interesting to see which realm's mega-guild is actually the best one, it isn't clear as to who could sign up. Would realm-to-realm combat be open to only custom groups, or would we have pickup groups filtering into the system. Two separate queue systems could easily kill off the server-only battlegrounds.

Realm vs. realm combat has been hinted at by Blizzard on the official forums. However, no clear plan or system has been announced or established. Some major PvP features and changes have been slated for patch 1.12, although what these changes and features are remains to be seen. Regardless, PvP simply does not seem to currently function on World of Warcraft. The battleground grind is simply that, a grind. It simply is not fun to play teams of "twinks" or custom guild groups that simply roll over the opposing team. Sure, The Burning Crusade promises to make PvP actually relevant again, and patch 1.12 is supposedly going to offer further improvements to PvP, but it remains to be seen how all of this will function.

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Posted: 05/25/2006