Sunday, December 10, 2006
World of Warcraft's new easy epics to solo
The PvP reward system in World of Warcraft has fundamentally changed, and yesterday I tested it thoroughly, by doing battlegrounds with my warrior. My warrior only has one epic up to now, and the PvP reward epics you can get look pretty attractive for him. So my goal was working towards this equipment, while observing how PvP goes now, and what effect it has on the other players. The specific goal is getting a one-handed weapon like the High Warlord's Blade, which under the new system costs 22,500 honor and 20 Arathi Basin Marks of Honor.
I played a few hours of PvP on battlegrounds. I did 8 Arathi Basin battles, of which my side (Horde) won 7, for a total of 22 AB marks. That part of the requirements being fulfilled, I then did 4 Alterac Valley battlegrounds, of which my side won only 1, for 6 AV marks. In all of these battles together I did 259 honor kills, which is relatively low. I suck in PvP. And a warrior isn't the optimal class to kill stuff in PvP, especially not when its lagging and his targets seem to randomly zoom all over the place. My total honor point score for that one day of PvP was 4,390 honor points, about one fifth of what I need. I'm pretty sure that people who are better in PvP class could make more honor points, especially if they play a ranged dps class. But for me that score isn't that bad. Just 4 more days like that and I have my epic High Warlord's blade, which is significantly better than anything I was able to get outside of a raid dungeon.
And therein lies the rub. While previously getting a High Warlord's Blade would have required several months of daily PvP, I can now get the blade in 5 days. the entire epic armor set is 95,500 honor points plus 80 AB marks, 50 AV marks, and 30 WSG marks, thus you can get it all in a month now. And you don't have to play every day, not even every week, you don't lose PvP rank any more if you take a break. Getting epic PvP rewards is now significantly easier than before. And from the view of the casual player, who has problems getting into a raid, getting PvP epics is now significantly easier than getting any other epics. The new PvP reward system in a nutshell: Epics that you can easily solo.
Yes, I consider PvP to be a solo activity, because you don't need to organize a group or raid group to do it. You don't need to ask anybody for an invite, and there is no selection based on class and/or skill. You just sign up and will be automatically accepted for the next battleground. You don't even need to cooperate with the other players on the battleground, in fact few people do. You just become part of the zerg, and can still win. Organized groups would have an advantage, but there aren't many premade groups on the battlegrounds today, and you still have a good chance of winning certain battlegrounds if you play the faction that wins that battleground most of the time (Horde for AB, Alliance for AV. Who is winning WSG?).
Needless to say that PvP has become *very* popular. Who wouldn't want easy epics? During prime time I've seen more than 100 Arathi Basin battlegrounds being open at the same time, that is over 3,000 people playing AB in our "battlegroup" of 15 servers.
And the battleground servers don't handle that load very well. In the best of cases you just get lag, which can get really bad the more people play, up to several seconds of delay between pressing a button and getting a reaction. A far more serious problem is people getting stuck in battlegrounds at the end of the battle, unable to return. During the week that was so bad that Blizzard had to close the battlegrounds down and try to fix the bug. On the weekend that still happened, but could sometimes be fixed by logging off and on again. Once I had to log of for 1 hour before my character found his way back. And once I had a really weird bug: I entered the AB battleground and found myself all alone there, no other Horde or Alliance player. But the battle started anyway, I flagged all the 5 buildings, and received 3 AB victory marks and over 200 bonus honor points. Noz *that's* extreme PvP soloing. :)
I predict that PvP will remain popular and the battlegrounds overcrowded at least until the Burning Crusade comes out. There is a large population of players out there who never got more than a glimpse of Molten Core. The new PvP reward system is their best change to get a set of epics before the expansion comes out. While previously the PvP reward system was unbalanced to reward only the most extreme catass players, it is now unbalanced to give out easy epics to everybody. The reward to risk ratio for a solo player of level 60 is much, much better in PvP now than in any alternative game activity.