World of WarCraft PvP – Conclusions

So, after all of this rambling about all the things in World of WarCraft PvP that bother me, a funny thing happened. You see, I actually started to enjoy playing it. If you merely read my words, it’s hard for me to get across that I’ve been playing World of WarCraft a long times. Parts of it are obvious time sinks which I loathe, and yet actual moment-to-moment gaming is actually pretty competent. That this higher game somehow ended up affixed to a pretty awful and shameless set of gating mechanics (whether gear score or raid timers or point limits) does not necessarily make the core game itself awful. Rather, I think of it somewhat like a Cadbury egg with, shall we say, special ingredient (that happen to have the same color as a certain waste product). Yeah, that outside shell tastes awful, but that inside somehow seems worth it.

In preparation for this series of articles. I definitely played more than a hundred hours of PvP on my Warrior, and I’m not tired of it yet. Considering how easily I drop  games nowadays, given to my newly limited time schedule, I’d call that a success. Yes, I play the game with family, and yes, I already invested a great deal of time into the game itself, but I highly doubt I would continue PvP if I didn’t find it fun. After all, Blizzard does spend the majority of their WoW budget on the PvE content, not so much on PvP battlegrounds. They highlight Blizzard’s design sensibilities rather than the cash they can throw at you. which (once you remove all the metagame elements) shows a level of detail and care based around a pretty bad framework for PvP.

Remember that World of WarCraft did not ship with, nor was ever designed for, PvP scenarios at all. Alterac Valley, the first genuine battleground in the game, arose about 8 months after the game even shipped, and before then World PvP did not contain any kind of formal system of gear, progression, or anything else. People made their own game out of the Alliance versus Horde conflict in Hillsbrad Foothills, continually fighting over two insignificant quest towns called Tarren Mill and Southshore. Heck, Blizzard even turned it into its own Battleground with the tenth anniversary of the game as a nod to the real genesis of the whole PvP system.

Because of this, I am a bit more forgiving towards the whole experience, not because of my personal investment in World of WarCraft but because it seems clear to me that the game’s inner workings never were designed for it. It just happened, and Blizzard made do with what they could craft out of the whole thing. Whether or not they intended for PvP to exist as a separate options (and clearly, they did not; just go look for genuine PvP gear before The Burning Crusade, and you won’t find it at all), players made the effort to turn Blizzard’s eye towards the feature and introduce new content (like arenas). Somehow, this clunky thing turned into a full-fledged system of competitive play, and for those kinds of emergent origins I’d call it a success even while noting its myriad flaws.

Their ability to iterate on how the system works clearly shows a desire to keep improving on it as well. I’d consider this current one the most fair with the most options since The Burning Crusade. That one seemed fair out of pure necessity, but even with the strange imbalances of Warlords of Draenor, battles against opponents on equal gear footing do not seem impossible with class disparities. Some classes function better than others in arena teams (multiply 3 to the eleventh power, and that’s a whole lot of class variations to balance), but strategy wins the day in Rated Battlegrounds more often than not.

I return back to 2 Timothy 2. I had been thinking about it ever since it caught my eye, and it dictated my “review” of this little (ironically) thing.

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he [b]does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

I just jumped into the deep end of the pool on this game, really. I hadn’t played PvP seriously in years, and the whole style forces you to completely unlearn many habits from PvE combat. Gearing, sure, but making new macros, figuring out which talents actually work best for your spec, what gear to actually buy and more factors had my head spinning. It takes some wholehearted, concerted effort to get a grasp on it, and I am absolutely glad I took the plunge. In terms of World of WarCraft, while I don’t really love the theme of this expansion (that goes to Mists of Pandaria, and will always go there), the game itself remains the most fun the game’s ever been. I’m not surprised they bumped back up to over ten million subscribers – even with its flaws, almost every area of the game seems very compelling and still fun; add friends and family, and why bother playing anything else at this point?

By going wholeheartedly into it, my efforts felt rewarded. Yes, the game itself contains flaws, but sometimes you need to get over them, man up (or woman up, depending), and break through the ceiling of your own laziness/lack of skill/mental roadblocks that prevent you from becoming good. Isn’t that what video games are all about, really?

So it is in video game, so it is in real life.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.