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Blood Sport: Is WoW turning into a PvP game?


V'Ming - who thinks that gnome warlocks are travesties of nature and need to be KOSed - shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas. He also dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.

Looking at some of the upcoming class changes in patch 2.4, I can't help but feel that many of them are driven by PvP - particularly Arena - issues. Blizzard is undoubtedly trying to level the playing field for the classes before the 3v3 Arena Tournament, tentatively set to begin in April. That's a very short time to iron out problems and further imbalances that the patch will bring.

A design philosophy that Blizzard has insisted on from the beginning is that each class should play similarly in both PvP and PvP. Tom Chilton (Lead Designer, or Kalgan) said at last year's Blizzcon that the game "shouldn't have significantly different rules for spells in PvP vs PvE."

"Slower" water in Arenas is the latest change that depart from this philosophy, in addition to PvP-only diminishing returns, and PvP-oriented stats like Resilience and Spell Penetration. However, since many class changes apply to both PvP and PvE, PvE players seem to be "dragged" along by changes meant to tune their classes' PvP performance. Shamans and druids seem to be most affected this patch with changes to Nature's Swiftness, Elemental Mastery, Call of Thunder for shamans, and Lifebloom for druids.

In the light of this, it's also interesting to note Rob Pardo (Senior Vice President of Game Design) reiterating at the Game Developers Conference that the PvE side of WoW was developed first and the game "wasn't designed for PvP necessarily."

"We didn't design WoW up-front to be an e-sport game. We're now trying to retrofit this in -- I hope one day to implement some sort of spectator mode," he responded to a question on a spectator mode for PvP.

This Arena columnist feels that Blizzard is now trying to retrofit the entire game - and our beloved classes - into an e-sport game. We are into the fourth year of WoW and Blizzard seems to be realizing that regular PvE content development will never keep pace with the rate at which player consume it. Other than high-end raids designed for the elite gamer, most of us have repeated leveling content to different extents with different toons. The PvP and e-sport route is probably more sustainable in terms of player interest - and revenue - in the long run. PvP encounters are never the same, after all.

Is Blizzard trying to achieve too much with the WoW classes? From his presentation at the GDC, Rob indicated that they wanted the following for WoW:
  • Solo to max level
  • Have an important role in a group
  • Have an important role in a raid
  • Competitive in group PvP
  • Be fun!
In other words, each class, customizable with three talent trees and gear, is designed to be viable in both PvE and PvP. Between flavor and game mechanics, Blizzard has its job cut out balancing classes, talents, and two very different game models. Obviously, WoW is fun, looking at 10 million subscribers, and how attached some players are, to their classes and the game.

Ten million people is a lot of people to please, and Blizzard now seems to be risking the original design and appeal of the game to "retrofit" it into something else entirely. As mentioned by Rob, with Starcraft 2, Blizzard is making the multiplayer game first and filling in the single player game next, because "it's hard to go the other way around." With WoW, they made the PvE game first and seem to be trying to turn it into a PvP game, with the recent changes.

Do you think that PvP and PvE are mutually exclusive? How have PvP changes and gear affected your PvE exploits?

A quick look at last week's Arena games on US servers:



And the most popular comps for high-ranking US teams:

5v5
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Shaman-Warlock 12.5% (-4.4% from my last sampling)
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Shaman-Mage 8.8% (-3.6%)
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Hunter-Warlock 4.4% (-1.2%)

The 5v5 bracket seems to be flattening out, which mean players are less reliant on these popular comps - always a good thing.

3v3
Rogue-Priest-Mage 13.4% (-5.5%)
Warrior-Druid-Rogue 8.9% (not in top three last sampling)
Warrior-Druid-Warlock 6.1% (not in top three last sampling)

Warriors, warlocks and priests play musical chairs here in this bracket but most teams rely on a two-DPS-one-healer format.

The upcoming worldwide 3v3 tournament, with $75,000 on the line, will certainly show how the various three-player comps shake out. For $20, you get to make up to three dream PvP characters - on a dedicated tournament server - with FREE access to ALL gear and no respec costs. This will mean a somewhat level playing field, and PvP fans will finally get to show off their skills, without gear holding them back.

Will the Rogue-Priest-Mage comp be the dream team to beat in the tournament? We'll certainly keep you posted!

2v2
Warrior-Druid 21.1% (-8.4%)
Warlock-Druid 14% (+3.4%)
Rogue-Priest 16% (+0.8%)

Slight drop in popularity of Warrior-Druid teams, presumably as more players learn how to deal with them.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Patches, PvP, Classes, Arena

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