Unfortunately, I think conveying my host of frustrations will take quite a while. As you might not expect, matches still seem determined by gear. Even a piece or two can make an unbelievable difference in determining victory or defeat. World of WarCraft is an MMORPG, after all, with a subscription fee to boot. Time remains your number one resource, and the more time you can spend in PvP, the more you will win. But the difference becomes staggering even with a few pieces of PvP gear. In the beginning, everyone literally mopped the floor with my face; I couldn’t survive for more than a few seconds in most engagements, especially if more than two people decided to enter the fray. Now, with an almost-full assortment of PvP items, I literally live forever with a healer at my back. The difference remains night and day, but I will never think rewarding time spent will suddenly turn into a good video game mechanic.
Thankfully, the game does reward good effort; the closer the game, the more likely you will receive Strongboxes, a reward likely to contain PvP currency (for buying new gear) or new pieces of gear in themselves. If you play well and encourage your team to play with a little strategy, even a loss could provide you with a Gold Strongbox, which has a high chance to drop a very, VERY useful piece of gear. Yes, gear always makes up the difference, even one piece, but you can alleviate the pace of the gearing process if you try hard enough.
And by “trying”, I mean “convincing my faction to do a new strategy to win, rather than an old one to lose.” That’s a different matter entirely. For whatever reason, Horde no longer plays PvP very well, preferred efficiency over victory – hence, they blacklist BGs where Horde lose (like Isle of Conquest). The Alliance seems much more coordinated (or gear, take your pick) by contrast, often winning games without breaking a sweat. I can see why people do this, though: extra effort doesn’t make sense to them. If I’m going to grind PvP currency all day, better to get the game done quick than to prolong the games for a victory and just a chance at a Strongbox. This makes perfect sense, and yet the fact that Blizzard encourages this behavior says something’s broken. Really, currency and rewards should go to the people who play the hardest, and if you don’t bother to put in the effort, then you should get nothing. Having 3 people out of 10 suddenly decide to stop playing means you lose by default, and if they could take steps to prevent this I’d appreciate it.
Horde, at least from my personal experience, seems to resign themselves to defeat by default. I can see why: the new racial traits for Alliance are hilariously overpowered for PvP. Humans now have the best PvP racial ability (get out of any debilitating effect), and their natural Versatility rating (everyone’s new favorite PvP statistic) means they will always start with an advantage. Gnomes also have a pretty good one that works similarly. In fact, I’ve barely seen other races on Alliance, since Humans provide that extra edge in nearly every PvP situation. Clearly, this needs to be rethought. Undead on Horde had the same ability before, and that tipped the scales in the Horde’s favor. Racial trait changes have merely shifted the tide, rather than helping both factions stand on equal footing. I can’t for the life of me figure out why they thought this a good idea!
Furthermore, some elements of the experience just aren’t very fun to play. Healers are clearly overpowered, especially Discipline Priests and Holy Paladins. PvP gear makes you more durable, and PvP gears makes healers invincible if they know what to do. I’m not kidding; I’ve seen situations where 4-5 people literally wail on one guy, interrupting him at the right points and he still survives forever. How in the heck am I supposed to cap the flag if they can survive forever and peck at me when I do anything? Add a healer with any number of people and that group just stays up forever. This especially goes for the aforementioned classes; Discipline Priests heal people via damage absorption and shields, while Holy Paladins wear plate, the highest armor protection in the game. Paladins also have several ways to make themselves immune to damage for 8 seconds or so while healing, and that just makes them nigh-impossible to kill unless you’ve got the same level of gear. It’s just unbearably frustrating, especially when their heals fill up a health bar in about two seconds, and it does not improve the experience at all.
Stuns and crowd-control are far too prevalent in most situations. It makes no sense and just isn’t all that interesting. There’s no reason not to begin an engagement with a stun of some kind. Most every PvP person will also have the trinket which lets them pop out of crowd control as well. Do I press the button or not? Well, I just have to guess how many stuns a person has, I suppose! You could tell me that’s interesting decision-making, but how does getting hit with several 6-second stuns in a row make for good, fair, balanced combat? It doesn’t require me to use abilities in interesting ways; rather, it mostly requires you to have a PvP trinket. As mentioned above, Humans enjoy a natural advantage here with every single kind of stun or crowd control which no other race shares, which means they hold a super high advantage in the stunning arms race. That just exacerbates the feeling of unfairness. Same goes for 6-second interrupts which lock-out magic schools or silences – I just don’t see how that makes the game any more interesting if it’s something you always do to another person, without fail.
I will add one more huge complain to the pile. The asymmetrical terrain of certain battlegrounds gives one faction or another clear advantages on a map. I’ll cite Isle of Conquest, which may as well be retitled “Alliance Wins”. They are closer to the glaives, the most damaging siege weapon in the battleground. In addition, they can fire at the base gates from out of range of the walls, and this happens game after game as they immediately win the siege battle. Horde doesn’t bother, since the game is almost won automatically if Alliance can get glaives out. I don’t think it’s necessarily unfair (since Horde could take it too), but Alliance hold natural advantages due to the art designer’s insistence that things look appropriately natural. You know what? Just put both factions on a flat plain. Otherwise, you’re bound to place one side or another on an unequal playing field, and that’s never fun.