Wow PvP Pt1: The Death of World PvP

This turned out to be a huge article, so I’m splitting it into three parts.
Part One | The Death of PvP Servers
-Defining PvP, How it Was, and What it’s Become.
Part Two | The Future of World PVP
-PvP servers in Cataclysm and Bringing Back world PvP

Part Three | What WoW Needs: A 3rd Faction.
-How a 3rd faction opposing the Horde / Alliance could work.

There was an interesting discussion going on in the Wyrmrest Accord forums about ‘honorable’ PvP (the thread got deleted, not sure why…). It caught my eye because I remember having a rather heated argument in IRC with fellows from my home server, Andorhal.

The overall discussion started in late summer right after all the revelations on Cataclysm came out and it was revealed that flying mounts would be allowed in classic Azeroth. At a panel, someone specifically asked if there were any plans to protect low level players on PvP servers from higher players and their flying mounts. The answer was, in short “No, that’s the nature of the beast on PvP servers.”

It was met with a lot of disapproval but opened the floodgates on the topic.

To be able to properly examine the fairness of the different ‘types’ of PvP, one has to be able to define what PvP is, and how the environment and mechanics effect it. Everybody’s got an option; from ‘If it’s red, it’s dead’ to ‘Arenas or GTFO.”

And here, dear world, is where the problem lies.

Defining PvP
It’s both easy and difficult to define PvP. On a basic level, it’s any hostile interaction between players of opposing sides, in any shape or form regardless of level or environment.

There is Instanced PvP (Battlegrounds and Arenas) in which players willingly and purposefully put themselves in a situation where they will be fighting, and dying.

Then there is World PvP, in which fights take place out in the existing, persistent realm. The lines start to blur here as this is where you can get attacked and killed without your knowing or consent. Some may argue being flagged (either willingly or not) is a sort of passive consent to fighting. But this is what defines a PvP server from the rest. If you roll on one, you know what you’re in for.

V Stands for Versus.
Some, like myself, like to define PvP as literally as possible: Player VERSUS Player. This is assuming that both parties are able to engage in a fight, and what I had considered the spirit of what PvP servers are about.

Fighting people as you level, the tension and anticipation of not knowing when it could happen, the feeling of “Yeah I got that guy!” or “Dammit, I’ll get him next time!” I’m not one of those “PVE server that way” wussies. I just feel that as gear and level gaps between players increases, so the ‘versus’ aspect decreases until it eventually reaches the point of ganking.

Ganking is generally defined as when a player[s] attack a target[s] that has little to no chance of surviving the fight. This would include high to low levels, large groups vs small groups, and to lesser, and questionable, extent:
– A highly geared player vs a fresh level-capped player because of gear gap.
– Players in a deep handicap (IE, in the middle of or fresh out of a previous engagement leaving them at low health).

I disagree with the last definition because game mechanics still allow for an escape. Sure, it’s still shitty but an 80 can stand a chance against another 80. Rogues / druids can vanish and not be easily seen, players can use CC and run, everybody has a flying mount at this point, etc.

Camping / Greifing is the continued “ganking” of the same player[s] over and over again until they have little options left but to give up, ask for help, or get on their mains (if they have them). While lame in theory, this sometimes can spark some fun actual world PvP between players of the same level.

The increasing disadvantages
Having been ‘born and raised’ as Horde on PvP servers (all of my 50+ toons have been bred thusly), I’ve always been on the fence about ganking. It can be fun to do and everybody does it. Everybody also hates being on the receiving end of it.
But that WAS the nature of the beast, back in the day when everybody on a PvP server had leveled on a PVP server, the level cap was 60, and there was a distinction between classes and races who excelled at PvP and those that did not. Over time, alterations to the game have really rocked these fundamentals to quite literally change everything.

The Gaps Widen
The level cap increase was a huge change for world PvP. In vanilla WoW, you started leveling in contested areas as early as 20, however, the major world PVP hubs were more in the 40-50 range or outside raids. If you encountered a 60, chances were you were gonna lose the fight. But at 40, you also had a chance to get away. These were the days of 600 DPS and 1500hp. But as health and damage tripled at 70, and gear just kept stacking on the stats with each tier, you saw more and more mid-range levelers getting easily one-shot, and often. These were the days of 1500 DPS and 12,000 hp.

Then came Resilience and Arenas that aimed at making PvP a viable End-Game option and bring WoW into the e-sports world. This brought with it even more stat-stacking gear that put a huge and distinctive gap between lowbies and 70’s. Classes and races were getting altered to balance the playing field for the sake of Arena. Now on top of the built-in mechanics that puts low level characters at a disadvantage (IE completely miss a high level target), the stat differences had added to the futility of defense.

As The Gap Becomes a Gaping Chasm
Skip ahead to Wrath and now we, naturally, have an even more extensive continuation of what happened with Burning Crusade. Stats, once again, have tripled or more on average (8k dps / 20,000hp). We’ve jumped ahead five tiers in gear, and a level 40 so much as thinking of running from an 80 is a huge, huge joke. Arenas continue to dominate as PvP end-game and resilience has reached staggering new levels.

Almost forgot the part where transfers from PvE to PvP servers became legal, something that, rightfully, enraged many natives on PvP servers. While I’m in the grey area when it comes to certain aspects on the homogenizing of WoW , this is one area I have been and still am in a huge tiff over.

Ganking, if nothing else, was a right of passage because we all dealt with it. We were all killed trying to quest, we were all camped to the point of having to just log off. It took us all a marginally longer time to level because of it. When we hit 60, and then 70, it was our right to do the same to others.

THIS, was the nature of the beast.

But now suddenly that guy who was able to breeze to 60, 70, 80 in the peace of PvE could just transfer over and beat the living daylight out of our alts. Where’s the justice in that? There is none.

Simply put, ‘World’ PvP has died and instead given way to a sporadic but equally lame trend of unfair bullying. Lowbies don’t stand a chance against high level characters. Camping entire outposts is preferred to engaging an equal, and fleeing from fair fights is common. Many are worried this will increase threefold come Catacyslm and I, at first, had actually agreed.

But then I thought about it. Cataclysm is being called WoW 2.0, aka Blizz re-making the old world but with 5 years of experience, technolgoy, and learning to back them up. If it stays true to form, this expansion may very well may be what saves  World PvP.

  • But Iza.. I fear change…FEEER IT!!

  • Ahurrrrrr. When you coming back to wow, dolt?

  • biznatch.. did you just call me a dolt? do people even use that word anymore?

  • Damian

    Stranglethorn vale was definitely my rite of passage. But then again, it was when i had most fun. You could really live up to the whole Horde vs Alliance situation.

    You couldn’t feel that much in Wrath of the Lich King. The PvE was definetly more developed than that PvP. I hope they fix it in Cataclysm.