Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Keeping Outdoor PvP Objectives Relevant in WoW

It's no secret that Blizzard hasn't had the best of luck in designing outdoor PvP objectives. In the early days most objectives were player made and mostly consisted of wiping out low level newbie towns. When the battlegrounds were first introduced this practice greatly decreased as most people worked on faction grinding and trying to obtain a rank which actually gave rewards. However, it soon became apparent that there was something quite fun about having battles in the overworld which was missing in the closed instances. As a result Blizzard has spent a considerable amount of time trying to recapture the player made fun of early pvp. They've had a lot of missteps along the way but they seem to be improving their attempts with each try.

The Four Iterations of World PvP

1) Free for All World PvP - Rogues rule
This system is described by some as the golden age of PvP but there were a lot of problems with it. Generally, the people who are most nostalgic about the early days played rogues. Without any sort of real objective to encourage player cooperation it usually was all about 1v1 combat. Having the ability to stealth gave a huge advantage to rogues in 1v1 combat and about 85% of all world pvp at this time started with the victim hearing the stealth sound.

2) Tarren Mill vs South Shore - Ranking System accidently cause large scale war
When the ranking system was first introduced the battlegrounds weren't quite ready and Hillsbrad Foothills became the zone of choice for earning honor. It was an area easily accessible by both factions and PvP became more about large scale battles and roving death squads rather than just ganking. Battlegrounds killed the everlasting war in Hillsbrad but the memories still linger since the towns for both factions are still quite often ransacked.

3) Silithus and Plaguelands Objectives - Is a Buff a reward?
After the battlegrounds were introduced the large scale conflicts pretty much disappeared from Azeroth. It wasn't until sometime later that Blizzard tried to encourage world PvP again by using zone wide buffs as a reward. The problem was that while the buffs were useful for those running instances in the zone, it wasn't enough of a reward to draw people into the conflict. Blizzard learned that rewards needed to be more permanent then buffs to encourage players to organize for large scale battles.

4) Outlands Objectives - Rare Items are deffinitely rewards
Blizzard learned a little bit from their past mistakes and put rare quality items up for grabs for those who farmed the objectives long enough. In the beginning this worked out fine though there was some exploiting in Hellfire Peninsula. Eventually this lead to the idea of the daily quest which allowed the developers to better control the rate at which rewards were granted. Objectives that gave zone wide buffs or advantages were less successful unless they were also tied to rewards. This can especially be seen in the popularity of capturing the spirit towers which allow tokens to be earned in the Auchinduon.

As you can see Blizzard originally thought that players needed little encouragement to form up for large scale battles like in the days of the Hillsbrad Foothills wars. As a result their first attempts at world PvP objectives were laughable and could be considered failures. It really was the introduction of the honor ranking system that caused so many people to fight at the midway point between Southshore and Tarren Mill. Of course once you have a large amount of people doing something then you start to build up interest. The opposite is also true that as less and less players participate in an objective then it snowballs into obscurity.

This is the problem facing the world objectives in the Outlands where the rewards have not been updated to match the PvP or PvE parts of the game. Some objectives like the Hellfire Peninsula stadiums have useful rewards for those leveling up. However, it’s impossible to get any tokens since both factions are required to be participating at the same time to earn rewards. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a stadium to decay all the way back to neutral so you can recapture it. So with the current ghost town state of the current PvP objectives one has to wonder if Blizzard will be able to keep interesting in Lake Wintergrasp.

Lake Wintergrasp is supposed to be a siege warfare zone with capture points and a play style that mirrors the RvR of Warhammer. One can only assume the rewards will be useful while leveling through the zone but what happens once everyone hits max level again? I'm taking a leap of faith here that Blizzard has learned its lesson and knows that if they want to keep an objective from becoming a ghost town they need to update the rewards. While some argue that this just encourages exploiters I can't seriously recall a time that PvP was anything other than ganking unless a reward was involved. There needs to be something to draw players to the zone and work together for a common goal.

In my opinion the Lake Wintergrasp rewards will:
1) Initially, be rare items similar to what you would find in level 80 dungeons.
2) Eventually, be switched to a token system that mirrors badges of justice.
3) Deffinitely, updated each arena system to avoid becoming a ghost town.
4) Never, be as powerful as arena items.

All in all I have good feelings about Lake Wintergrasp and I think it might become what the developers wanted Alterac Valley to be. A big ass battle that actually gives rewards without resulting in 16 hour stalemates.


Johan said...

I miss the FFA World PvP. And I play a frickin' mage. :p

I've said it before and I'll say it again, FFA World PvP is the best. You have to be on your toes 24/7 and the moment you let up is the moment someone jumps you.

The BGs and Arena's are nice and all, but the whole fact that teams can PREP for a fight just kills any sensation of thrill or danger.

And mind you, this goes for being the PKer as well as the Prey. I like playing a game where I always have to be on my toes and that at any moment I can be attacked, even when it is while I fight an elite.

I LOVE those fights. Since you got jumped, you have to use 100% of your class/skill to fight back and when you win, it's just so much better.

The feeling you get when you BG/Arena pales in comparison.

Relmstein said...

I also like the free for all nature of the PvP servers and I tend to play on them despite it making leveling a new character a pain in the ass. With the way rogues are designed though it allows them to gank then use stealth to avoid retribution.

Warhammer is thinking about introducing stealth but from what I understand is putting a timer on how long it can stay active and not allowing it to be used in conjunction with stuns and big burst damage attacks.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't it just reward honor at a rate that is similar to what you get from BGs? No need for new or updating rewards, just make it a viable avenue for the honor gear IMO.

Anonymous said...

For me I lost interest in the Halaa and Bone Waste Tower battles do to the fact that neither of those give any rewards suitable for my toons - a ms warrior blacksmith and hunter engineer. It's been the same for orgila on both toons also.

Just make one universal pvp reward token that can be used to buy gear from any factions vendor.

Relmstein said...

Well just killing members of the opposing faction in the zone should grant a decent amount of honor especially with diminishing returns being removed with patch 2.4 today.

Keeping people in that zone especially after everyone has hit level 80 is going to require some sort of extra reward besides honor which is upgraded each season. Remember its a free for all zone so most likely the fighting won't be balanced like battlegrounds which is going to make it unpopular for farming honor I think.