PvP: A Niche Issue?

WoWScrnShot_030416_205223

Man, I *really* don’t PvP that often because this is the most recent PvP related photo I could find!

One of Blizzard’s overarching goals seems to be to get people involved.  Lower the entry requirements and really get players to play all aspects of the game.  From this philosophy we saw features such as Looking for Group, Looking for Raid, and the battleground queueing system as well as world quests, bonus weekends, and satchels.  There are lots of incentives and rewards out there to get players to try new things and, to some extent, it seems to have worked.

On the PvE side for example, raiding is now more accessible than ever.  LFR has given countless players the opportunity to experience the raids while the new Group Finder has made it easier than ever to find a run and jump right in.  I am obviously a bit biased, being a raider surrounded by raiders, but it seems to me that more people are raiding.  What once was a 1% of the population activity now seems to be more like 15 or 20% (I’m totally guessing at numbers here but I do think it is higher than it once was).

But not only is raiding more accessible, raiding also feels more accessible.  That is an important distinction because if something feels easier to jump in, people will be more willing to jump in.  Case in point, my own father, who has gone on record as saying that raiding is the most stressful thing in the game, regularly runs LFR and has been on a number of normal runs.  The stigma that used to be associated with raiding – that it’s difficult and that it’s elitist – seems to be going away.

While I’m not actually within the PvP scene itself, I’m not so sure the same can be said for player vs player.  Even with all the incentives, the artifact skins and the mounts and the achievements, PvP still appears to be just as niche as it has been before.  Why isn’t PvP popularizing like PvE?

To answer this question, I ran an informal poll on my twitter.  Over the course of three days, I collected 127 votes and while the results aren’t surprising, they are rather telling.

(Quick note: this poll was by no means the end all be all on the PvP issue.  Rather, it provided a snapshot of what a small portion of the WoW community thinks.  I’d like to think that the people it reached were diverse in their WoW backgrounds but since I have no way of verifying that, I’ll say this was as random and as widespread as I could get it)

50%, half of the respondents, cited Toxic Behavior as their number one reason that keeps them from PvPing.  Whether this is true or not, it seems a large portion of the sample group believes that the PvP community is negative and nasty.  And this idea is not unique to the poll; I’ve seen similar sentiments echoed all across the Warcraft world and community at large.  PvP has a really bad rap and it’s actively discouraging people from joining in.

The second most chosen answer was that folks weren’t interested, clocking in at 25% of the votes.  Whether this is due to the basic nature of PvP or it’s current iteration, I cannot be sure but it also seems that a good chunk of people just have no interest in that type of gameplay.  If I had been able to contact everyone that voted for this option to ask them if anything would be able to interest them in PvP, I absolutely would have but since I cannot, I’m going to assume their disinterest is static and unchanging.

The least chosen option of the three defined choices was that the entry barrier is too high.  About 14% of voters chose this option which, to me, points out something very important.  PvP isn’t seen as something incredibly hard to jump into.  People aren’t terribly concerned about their skills being lacking. Dislike of PvP stems directly from the players in the term players vs players.

The remaining 11% of the votes went to a variety of different issues within the Other category.  However, there was one recurrent idea that I think merits discussion: reward.  A good number of people felt like the rewards weren’t worth the time put in.  Why spend an hour PvPing and getting barely 200 honor when you can go and run multiple different dungeons with dozens of potential drops? Unless you win all the time forever, PvP rewards aren’t all that amazing.

I do realizing that I’m comparing apples and oranges a bit here; PvP and PvE are such completely different beasts that it’s hard to explain why one is becoming more accessible while the other remains niche.  However, just like apples and oranges are both round fruits with star shaped seed patterns, PvP and PvE do have similar elements.  For one, I think both can be activities that any WoW player feels confident to jump in and try.

So what’s the number one issue keeping PvP niche? I’d say it’s the stigma.  But unlike the difficulty and elitism that PvE suffered, this cannot be solved by adding an easier difficulty with queue.  PvP already has that to an extent, it’s called unrated battlegrounds.  What exactly can Blizzard do?

One solution that I’ve heard and really liked is the idea of an arsehole’s league.  The players who are constantly being abusive and rude get sorted into separate games with all the other jerks.  Such a system would, quite literally, remove a lot of the negativity from PvP by isolating it all by itself in a sort of corner of shame.  The people who are constantly being reported for bad behavior get a punishment that actually could stop the behavior from being a prevalent.

A dynamic system to control toxicity as well as maybe a rebalancing of rewards and I think PvP could become a lot more approachable.  And of course, the success of such a system would rely on Blizzard actively advertising the new changes to get the word out there.

So what do you folks, the readers, think? How would you change PvP from a niche activity to a more widely played one?

Blizzcon Part 2 – Yotaan Strikes Back

Legion Stuff
Earlier this week you read Fussypant’s take on Blizzcon’s info dump about Legion, and now it’s Yotaan’s turn to opine!
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Transmog Changes
Fussypants was really, really excited about this one.  It clearly is a great improvement over the current system.  Yotaan only mogs his helm and weapon, so for me, this is a minor excitement.   The interesting bit will be that it is shared across the entire account.  All the random items that I’ve kept for posterity will be in the new system.  Considering that Fussypants and I have played for years, I bet there are a ton of potential mogs.  How is it going to handle hundreds of different helms, weapons, chests, pants, gloves, bracers, and off-hands?  Frankly, it’ll probably be too overwhelming for me to use…
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Crafting Changes
Ahh, now this is interesting.  Crafting in Warlords, particularly leather working has been by far the most lackluster experience.  I had a lot more fun on all the other previous expacs crafting than in the current one.   It will great for Yotaan to make gear that is worthwhile and relevant and that he can actually use!  The UI changes are great too but I think the entire UI needs to be updated to modern gaming standards.
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Artifacts
Nooooooo!  Blizz got it wrong!  In my eight years of playing an elemental shaman, Yotaan (formerly Yotin) had never, ever, EVER, equipped a fist weapon.  A quick search of Wowhead reveals a grand total of 20 fist weapons with intellect, half of them from Warlords.  That 20 total in the entire game.  So, naturally, the Artifact weapon for elemental shaman is The Fist of Ra-Den, a pointy hand/claw thing.  Huh?   Now we knew the enhancement folks got Doomhammer, so that choice was out, but couldn’t the devs find something else?  Plus I think a shield and a fist weapon looks dorky….
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I hear that there are mixed reviews of some of the other Artifacts, such as shadow priest’s dagger, Xal’athath, Blade of the Black Empire, so maybe I shouldn’t complain.  Overall, I am excited about the Artifact system and “leveling” the weapon.  I am curious how it will affect PvP (more on that later) and what happens beyond this expansion.
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Highmountain
Questing Changes
This is a great improvement.  The game will no longer choose where you level, you get to pick the zone and level away.  If the quality of the story in Legion matches Warlords, then this will be the best leveling experience yet.  I think it will be more friendly for alts as well, as you can go back to your favorite bits as you level up the next time at any time.  The one point that has not been clarified is when you have 2 different level characters in one zone leveling together.  Obviously, Fussypants and Yotaan level together and, in the past we needed to be close in level for it to work.  Can we be significantly different now, say 101 and 107, and still level in the same zone on the same quest?  That would be cool.
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The Cinematic
Fussypants said it all.  And, most interestingly, the cinematic was more arresting than the movie trailer.
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Who is Torby?

Who’s Torby?

PvP Changes???
Where was the PvP discussion?  Was there any?  We do know that there not a new battleground and no world PvP zone in Legion.  Previously to Blizz, there was some discussion of having separate talents for PvP.  The announcement trailer did mention the new honor system.  There will be Honor Ranks that can reward prestige items.  Gear is less impactful in PvP.  There are a few other minor details that I found searching Wowhead but not much more.  Hopefully more info comes out during the Beta because these are major changes without much accompanying detail.
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Once again, Blizz is planning on changing a lot for the upcoming expac.  Like Fussypants, I cannot wait and I hope for an early, not late, 2016 release!

What Counts as Content?

This actually has nothing to do with the article, I just thought it was a cool screenshot

This actually has nothing to do with the article, I just thought it was a cool screenshot

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of days, you have no doubt heard about patch 6.2.3, the latest patch in Warlords of Draenor.  However, as indicated by the number and lack of name of the patch, this newest update will not be a ‘major content patch’.  You can view the full patch notes here.

The patch itself seems to be a smaller one, but after reading it I was struck with the notion that this supposedly small patch actually had a ton of content.  Patch 6.2.3 could arguable be bigger than Patch 6.1 in fact.  In order to explain this, we will need to look at a much bigger question.

What counts as Content?
Most WoW players would define content as stuff to do in the game.  Questing, Dungeons, Battlegrounds, and especially Raids would all be considered content.  Content is further divided down by old content and new content.  Old content typically refers to quests, dungeons, and raids from a previous expansion, but it can also refer to ‘outdated’ and older content in the current expansion (Normal Dungeons and Highmaul would be examples from Warlords).  New content is raids, battlegrounds, zones and whatever else is part of the current expansion and currently being played through by the majority of WoW players.  A patch with content is usually one that introduces a new raid/battleground/dungeon/etc to the game and it typically is written with two numbers as opposed to three (Patch 6.2 versus Patch 6.2.3).

With all this in mind, one would think that deciding what is a content patch and what is not would be relatively easy.  However, this has turned out not to be the case.  Patch 6.1, the first major content patch in Warlords of Draenor was surprisingly light on content for a major patch.  The only new things that the Patch brought were a continuation to the legendary quest, the Garrison Jukebox, some more pet battle stuff, new blood elf models, Garrison bosses, and Twitter Integration.  No new raids or dungeons or battlegrounds to speak of.  No new questlines (other than a short addition to the legendary), no new max level hubs, nothing.  In comparison, Patch 5.1 Landfall brought us the new quest hub in Krasarang Wilds with a host of dailies, story, and rewards, Brawlers Guild, a slew of Pet Battle changes, the continuation of the Legendary Questline, and four new Scenarios.

In reality, Patch 6.1 was incredibly light on content.  Compared to all the other major patches in recent history, 6.1 was more of a hotfix than a content patch. However, that would mean that Warlords only would have one real content patch, 6.2.  Every single other expansion has had at least three major content patches; having just one in Warlords almost makes Warlords an expansion-lite instead of a complete story.

When you look at the original content that patch 6.2.3 brings us, it’s almost as light as 6.1.  A new PvP Season, a new set of Timewalker dungeons (I would consider this new content because of the upgraded rewards), and a mount.  Interestingly though, Patch 6.2.3 brings both dungeons and PvP content, two of the kings of content.

Be without Doubt, this doesn't really pertain to the article either

Be without Doubt, this doesn’t really pertain to the article either

However, there are two changes that patch 6.2.3 brings that I would argue make it a HUGE content patch.

Item Upgrades and Valor are back!
Item upgrades are back! Players will be able to earn and spend Valor to upgrade items from Hellfire Citadel, items created from Baleful tokens in Tanaan Jungle, and all Draenor dungeon drops. All the items you’ve already earned are eligible for upgrades retroactively.
Characters can earn Valor in a number of ways.

  • Completing the first random Heroic Dungeon of the day
  • Completing Mythic Dungeons
  • Completing weekly Bonus Event quests
  • Completing a Raid Finder wing for Highmaul, Blackrock Foundry, or Hellfire Citadel for the first time each week.

Mythic Dungeon Loot Improvements
Mythic Dungeons now have a chance to award items ranging from item level 685 to 725 in 5-item-level increments, with a progressively lower chance as item level increases.
Mythic Dungeon bosses now also have a chance to drop a new Heirloom Trinket that will scale up to level 110.

Neither change is adding new things to do in the game.  But what they are doing, is creating a new incentive to run old content.

Valor points allow players to increase the power of their gear, making it very appealing as another path for gearing up.  The sources of valor points are Heroic Dungeons (first per day), Mythic Dungeons, weekly Bonus Event quests, and LFR wings (first per week).  Many of these sources are considered outdated and are less often run.  But now that there is an incentive to run these things, people will begin running Dungeons and LFR in floods.  Content that was once old will again be current because it once again will have a worthwhile reward. This also will have the added bonus of getting knowledgeable and geared players into LFR, which will improve the speed of those runs.

The second half of this was the increased rewards to Mythic Dungeons.  Again, this will get more players who might not be completing Mythic Dungeons anymore back into them.  Previously older content is made relevant once more.

In addition to all this, there is also the highly controversial moose mount.  Love it or hate it, the moose also acts as a way of keeping content relevant for longer.  The highly desired mount is available for a limited amount of time from a limited source (Mythic and Heroic Archimonde).  Basically, it is another version of the wolf from Mists of Pandaria Garrosh.  The moose will keep players raiding Hellfire Citadel up until the day that the mount becomes unavailable because of it’s desirability. While the moose is just a couple of pixels, it will have the effect of keeping Hellfire Citadel relevant for months and months.

Patch 6.2.3 isn’t bring much in the way of new content, however it is making a huge amount of older content relevant again.  And when you consider all of that content as part of the patch, Patch 6.2.3 starts looking like a major content patch.  I honestly believe that Patch 6.2.3 should really be 6.3.  True, it is missing the massive amount of class tuning that major patches usually have, but it also has more content than previous ‘major content patches’ in this expansion. And in the grand schemes of Warcraft, Warlords could certainly use another major patch to bring it up to par with previous expansions.

Now we just need it to hit live realms!

What slackers! (This also has nothing to do with anything)

Waiting for the patch like….

Is there Enough Endgame?

Highmaul RaidingSorry for the long delay without any forewarning.  Life caught up to us; between holidays, birthdays, finals, shoppings, and celebration we haven’t had any chance to write!  Don’t worry, we are back to start off the new year writing once more.

Endgame content is arguable one of the most important aspects of World of Warcraft.  The majority of our playtime is spent at max level so there is a huge need for long term max level content.  As with all expansions, WoD brought in new max level content.  The current debate is, is this enough?

Fussypants: In my mind, there are two types of max level content: PvP and PvE.  On the PvE front, we have garrisons, raids, dungeons, and reputations.  On the PvP front, we have battlegrounds, arenas, skirmishes, and Ashran.  Now I’m no die hard PvPer, so my knowledge is more limited for that, but I would say the PvP front is pretty well covered.  The main content issue seems to be with PvE content.

I think that the lack of an overwhelming number of dailies has created the notion of less content.  Minute for minute, I will agree that there is less to do.  However the content we have is much more enjoyable and much more lasting.

I will be the first to admit- I hated dailies.  I did very few of them and only when I really had to.  Because I couldn’t log on every day for two hours to clear out all the dailies, I always felt behind and annoyed.  So consequently, I barely did any dailies and I have very few Pandaria reps at Exalted.  With WoD, that two hour glut of dailies has been replaced with a twenty minute garrison jaunt.  Chores are chores, and checking my garrison isn’t the most entertaining thing.  But I’m liking it so much more than the MoP chores.  I can leave my garrison alone for a few days and I won’t fall behind.  Also the time commitment is WAY less, so I feel motivation to check my garrison almost daily.  Garrisons allow me to do more with my playtime because I spend less time completing chores.  I will definitely agree that garrisons aren’t perfect (cough cough professions cough), but they are a much more enjoyable form of content.  And if they are more enjoyable, they are more lasting.

As a dps facing long queues, I do miss the quickness of scenarios.  Dungeons are about an hours wait and raids can be even longer.  But the number and variety of instances are something I would not give up.  With the added bonus of Inn quests, dungeons are unique and challenging (less so than the start because of raiding gear, but not a snoozefest).  The only dungeon I dislike is Everbloom, not because of mechanics or boss fights, but because I find the story really creepy.  My experience raiding has been limited thus far, but I have found Highmaul to be an entertaining raid.  Molten Core though, that can die in a fire.

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I think the biggest problem is there are no dailies with reputations locked behind them.  I think dailies were a bigger amount of content than people realized, and without them it can seem like there is very little to do.  I have yet to run out of things to do, so personally I think this expansion is better for it.

In the PvP field, let me just say that I think its the best thing that Blizzard could have done.  I, I of all people have began seriously getting into PvP.  For realsies.  I’m saying this with a straight face.  I absolutely love Ashran.  You can go get the bad guys in a massive brawl or go off and do side quests or just collect artifact fragments.  Almost any playstyle still supports your team so you can pretty much do whatever you want.  Plus, the gear that drops both in Ashran and from battlegrounds is a huge incentive to go out and PvP.  I love that stunned till death is no longer the fate of noobs like me, and that even as an undergeared boomkin, I can still help my team.

I might be the only person to think this, but I really do love the Southshore Anniversary Battleground.  Not for nostalgia’s sake (I actually never participated in the original incarnation) but because it was an awesome free for all brawl with no objectives other than destroying the enemy.  I haven’t dabbled into any rated PvP, but the non rated PvP I have done thus far has been awesome.  My only wish is that Ashran didn’t have super long queues.

If you can’t tell, I’m totally enamored with this expansion.  I’m discovering new passions and enjoying every minute of my playtime.  The content we have is just fine in my mind!
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Yotaan: I will admit that I have not played as much as Fussypants in this expansion.  This isn’t for a lack or interest, but rather a lack of time.  I have a confession too…
I haven’t leveled Yotaan beyond Shadowmoon Valley.
I actually spent most of my time playing on my Forsaken Rogue and got him to level 100.  I’ve missed the Horde it seems.

As for endgame PVE, my experience has been very limited, With the rogue I reached level cap in Spires of Arak and then went into PVP.  I didn’t even go into Nagrand, my idea being that I will save it for Yotaan to experience it fresh.  So, while I have done a bunch of Garrison stuff (and boy was I lucky with followers – most of them were epic right from the start), I haven’t done any dungeons or raids.  I’m not even sure if I want to, at least on this toon.

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On the other hand, I have always enjoyed PVP and never had a max level rogue in it.  Ashran is very good but has been a challenge.  It is not friendly to squishy melee, particularly in those big brawls.  I can see why Fussypants likes it, shooting her moonbeams in the back!  I’ve tried the anniversary PVP BG as well, but they have been poor groups, we lost every time.  Once I learn my rogue better, I will be able to help more.

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There is definitely plenty to do in the endgame.  I don’t miss dailies at all, but now I don’t understand the point of reputations either.  Plus, there are more zones to open down the road, so I do think there is plenty to do now and in the future.