I have few things to say about World of WarCraft’s PvP component. Due to new life circumstances, I honestly don’t have the time to raid, so I’ve once again taken up the player vs. player mantle. I will note that I haven’t actually played a PvP match in about two expansions or so (that would be four to five years or so?), so take my opinions on Blizzard’s progress with that knowledge in mind. I will say, though, that many more criticisms will appear than positive aspects, so be forewarned if you’re the type to, well, type angrily.
4 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. 5 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he [b]does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
2 Timothy 2
First, let’s get to the good parts. From my short experience (i.e, somewhere in the 30 hour range), PvP tend to be challenging, interesting, and fun. Due to the current nature of the game (i.e., barely two months from an expansion), everyone’s on a level playing field regarding gearing, and the new balancing on PvP has helped things transition smoothly to the new game. Classes and specs that weren’t viable have, indeed, become viable (such as playing a tank class, Protection Warrior, in PvP as I am doing), and that’s a very smart change. Every class should work in PvP in some respect, and I don’t understand why this change didn’t exist sooner. Otherwise, people like me who only hold tanking gear could never do anything much but flag carry (although the new system turns tanks into monsters of death, but I’m getting ahead of myself).
Recent changes in the PvP model have, thankfully made PvP gear the best gear for PvP. Although I remember the days when people in raid gear would end up in Alterac Valley with their hard-earned legendaries, summarily mopping the floor with me in every possible capacity, that didn’t make for an interesting game (nor did Shamans in Blackwing Lair gear literally proccing Windfury on top of Windfury – thank goodness they fixed that!). In addition, PvP gear works only for PvP, and provides no additional benefit to PvE content in any way, shape, or form (other than just pure stat bonuses); I call that an improvement any way you look at it, really! No longer do I need to mess around with Arenas if I don’t want to do it just to pump up my gear score, since each distinct part of the game has its own gear systems (quests and dungeons to raid, rated battlegrounds and arenas for rated PvP).
Even if PvP represents an easy way to get gear – since it drops like candy out of those Strongboxes you get from any game where your team puts out effort – it’s not optimal in any way. The system works as thus: each PvP item has an item level, say 600. In PvE content, the item remains at that level; in PvP, on the other hand, the game raises the item level by 60 (less for higher level PvP gear). That’s a huge difference when it comes to statistical distribution, and that often makes the difference in the game. Basically, this means no raid gear will ever out-perform PvP gear; since it’s much harder to actually get the PvE items over that item level already, you may as well PvP!
The actual combat plays much as it always has, with players using their class specific abilities in interesting ways to kill each other. Arenas are, quite obviously, the purest form of this combat, but you rarely end up doing that. Instead, you’re more than likely to find yourself in large encounters with at least ten people via for team dominance. Even so, every class looks at least remotely viable (with Mages seeming really weak, from most encounters I’ve had with them – they don’t seem to live very long and have few options to escape any crowd control). I’ve had 1-on-1 duels with a number of characters, and it seems like each one has plenty of options in the stuns and escapes deparment (although the stuns and crowd control are a bit of a problem in how prevalent they are).
In addition, Battlegrounds themselves remain varied, fun, and interesting. My experience mostly lies with Alterac Valley; in its old form, fights could lasts for a week as the two factions continually fought back and forth for dominance. That, of course, was the Old PvP system which required nearly 24/7 play to keep your rank. Things have relaxed since then, and Alterac Valley now focuses on capping 4 enemy bunkers to reduce their reinforcements (literally, the number of faction player respawns left) or kill their leader. Much as I like the old system, this one actually involves focused team work on particular map points, which always heralds strategy for forty people. Fixing how other people play is an entirely different matter, though…
Some of the Battlegrounds haven’t changed much, such as Arathi Basin, but there wasn’t much to fix there. The new additions merely throw new nuances (like Silvershard Mines’ moving cart capping point, which is neat)! Each involves capping points, taking flags, using special items to get points, blowing up bases with vehicles, so there’s a lot of variety here. In fact, you should know there were only 3 during vanilla and 4 during Burning Crusade, so they’ve more than doubled the variety on hand here. I wouldn’t call all of them my favorites, since they aren’t all completely distinct (and some just copy the rules from other maps verbatim with zero real changes but new terrain), but overall you rarely get bored from trying out a new one. Finding out how to play optimally takes time for each one, but that’s part of the fun.
In sum, PvP is fun and I’m enjoying myself.