For once, the ginormous pit of nothingness that is my WoW PvP experience may actually be a good thing.
As I have often stated on this blog, I am a PvP wuss. Although I’ve dabbled in it a few times during the 4.5 years I’ve been playing WoW, I’ve inevitably quit for two primary reasons:
- The feeling that I’m actively playing against other human beings, most of whom probably know what they’re doing a hell of a lot better than me, makes me crap my pants a little. OK, a lot. And I only have so much money to spend on pants in a given year.
- That feeling is reinforced by all the times I feel like I’m maybe actually doing things kinda-sorta right, and yet I still am getting my ass handed to me by someone who simply outgears me.
For the first time since I started playing, I feel like a PvP-related patch is actually speaking directly at me. “Hey, Rfeann,” it’s saying. “Don’t be afraid, man. It’s cool. You can come back in the water again. I swear the crocodiles aren’t… well, OK, they’re still there, and they REALLY want to eat you. Like, they’ve already drawn up a whole 10-course tasting menu based around your various internal organs. But their teeth are blunter, so it’s totally cool. Just take a quick dip, maybe?”
And I’m gonna do it. It helps that, shortly after the patch drops, I’ll be starting the part of the legendary quest chain that involves some battleground play; that’ll be my opportunity to dive back in and see how bloody I get.
I’ve got hope that the main systemic PvP changes in store for 5.3 — in particular, resilience going baseline and PvP gear being scaled and removed from the upgrade system — will make it less likely that I’ll find myself demoralized and obliterated in the blink of an eye by ubergeared players who are salivating at the chance to chop off my arm, beat me to death with it and then carry it with them over to the graveyard so that when I respawn, the first thing I will see is my own arm giving me the middle finger as I’m instantly murdered again.
The question is: Are these changes going to be enough to make me *stick with* PvP long enough to get over the other problem I listed above: That I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and am intimidated by all those other players who do?
Two of WoW’s leading design folks, the ever-present Twittermongers Brian Holinka (PvP chief) and Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street (lead systems designer human guy person), were recently interviewed by ArenaJunkies’ Sam “Vanguards” Kwok about the big changes in store for Patch 5.3. Included in the interview is this exchange, which drives straight to the heart of my lingering worry over PvP design:
Sam: PvE and PvP changes seem to collide very often, do you guys believe that balancing both may require a lot of specific PvP and PvE only changes? An example would be Find Weakness in 5.3.
Brian: Yes, and when we do it. Find weakness is a great example where PvE needed a buff and it would’ve cost big problems to PvP. We keep it in mind and Frost bomb is another example. We try not to do it too often, it’s a lot of things to keep track of. We’re the designers and people on Arena Junkies are really passionate players that really keep up on all the changes, but a lot of players are not. To ask our general player base that your spell does this and it does half damage or 25% or something like that, it’s really not something we want to do too often. Especially hey we want eviscerate to hit 10% less on players. That’s really inconsistent and a tough thing. We usually do it when it’s really a significant thing such as Find Weakness is 50% less and Frost bomb is 40% less.
Greg: There’s also this persistent, I’ll just call it a myth, that if we just bite the bullet and make 2 versions of every spell suddenly we’ll have class balance nailed and it’ll never be a problem again. I’m pretty confident if we went ahead and split sub rogues into 2 abilities on every ability with different damage numbers you’ll still see players saying why they can’t just tune down this one ability that’s costing pvp burst problem. In other words players will still want us to make changes even if we have the numbers split up, I don’t think it’ll suddenly make players feel their class is viable in every situation
I’ve seen this argument many, many times over the past few years, from designers and players alike. It used to make a lot more sense to me then that it does now. There is a perpetual, stated reluctance within the WoW design team to create PvP and PvE versions of every spell, and the justification given is concern that 1) it’ll be confusing for players and 2) it won’t necessarily solve balance issues.
Those are both valid concerns. But here’s the thing: I am *already* confused out of my gourd by the difference between PvE and PvP. They are, at the most basic level of gameplay, utterly and completely divergent from one another. When I am fighting another player, virtually *none* of the rules apply that apply when I’m questing, dungeoning or raiding. A player enemy has a different health pool from an NPC. Has a different toolkit. Has different strengths and weaknesses — and those strengths and weaknesses vary depending on the person’s class, spec and knowledge/experience level. And a player enemy is often impossible to predict, particularly for a casual player like me with very little PvP experience.
And on top of all of that, the spells that really matter are *already* entirely different for PvP than PvE. To know that — and to have my brain turn to mush right out the gate — I don’t need to look any further than my crowd control spells. Not only do they have a fraction of their duration in PvP than they do in PvE (Blind: one minute? nope: EIGHT SECONDS), but they also are affected by diminishing returns, which is a stunningly intricate, exceedingly complex system that I’m pretty sure works more or less like this:
- I open from stealth with a stun. You are stunned! Take that, nefarious ne’er-do-well!
- The stun ended, but I don’t like it when you move. I stun you again! Ha, pusillanimous pig! I shall perforate you with my pointy petards of piercing!
- Oh, crap, you came out of that quicker than I expected. Now you’re hurting me. I’m going to Blind you and get some distance. Look at me, I am so clever!
- Wait, that didn’t work at all. You’re still hurting me, and now someone’s laughing at me in BG chat because they said I can’t use Blind on someone who was just feared three times in a row.
- OK, um, crap, I’m gonna Disarm you OH GOD THAT BARELY LASTED TWO SECONDS WHAT IS HAPPENING EVASION VANISH VANISH OGOD MY ARM I’M BEING BEATEN WITH MY OWN ARM
Arm removal aside, I realize that’s probably not the most realistic example, but I wanted to break up this long-ass blog post with something listy. :) My point is: There are so many types of CC — and what shares diminishing returns with what and for how long feels so arcane, inaccessible and difficult to track — that it’s all a huge confusing jumble in my head. Which is bad, because as a rogue, I know CC is my PvP livelihood, and driving other people mad in battlegrounds seems like it’d be a lot of fun if I knew what the heck I was doing.
But I don’t. For me, PvE and PvP are already vastly different from one another. So, when I read that designers are reluctant to alter the amount of damage a specific ability does in PvE because it’d be different from PvP, it almost makes me laugh. I think: Do those guys think I’d even *notice* something like that?
Top PvPers would notice it, sure — it would be *huge* for them. But they already know PvP inside and out as it is; they will adjust to a change the same way raiders adjust to changes, by factoring it in, adapting and moving on (or complaining about it endlessly in forums and on Twitter).
Me? I’m still too busy trying to remember whether it’s been 18 seconds or 14 seconds since my last stun ended to give a crap whether my Eviscerate will be slightly weaker against a player target than it is against a raid boss who’s three levels higher than me and has 1.2 BILLION health.
So, yes, I’m looking forward to hopefully having my arm handed to me less often when I dip back into the PvP pool once Patch 5.3 launches. But I’ve already spent years trying to master the complexities of end-game *PvE* on my rogue; even if I’m staying alive longer in PvP come 5.3, I’m not sure I’ll have the energy to wrap my brain around that morass of details as well. And the complexities of PvP — which even *casual* players like me need to understand in order to achieve satisfying success — don’t look like they’re changing much anytime soon.