(I thought I’d get cute with a “Gank PvP” title, but then my coffee slapped me in the face and I realized I needed to respect myself for the rest of the day.)
That’s it. Right there, up in the headline. You see it? “PvP Should Die.” No exclamation mark for unnecessary drama, no question mark for vague uncertainty. Just a period, stating it as a fact.
I truly and deeply believe that PvP (player vs. player) in World of Warcraft should go the way of the dodo, and be exorcised from the game. I know, I know, I feel you rolling your eyes and getting ready to quickly dismiss this as an uninformed rant — but please stick with me, just for a minute here.
World of Warcraft is an exceptional PvE (player vs. environment) game. From the casual soloer to the hardcore raider, WoW is accessible, fun, and offers a stream of varying challenges and goals to meet. It’s no secret, however, that the PvP aspect was first tacked on, then later shoehorned in to become an integrated part of the game. We now have four battlegrounds, three arenas, two OP classes and welfare epics in a pear tree for all those who love ganking their fellow man, woman or child.
I can admit, PvP makes a lot of sense when the primary purpose of your game is to keep your players chowing down on content as long as possible so they’ll keep reupping their subscriptions. And unlike PvE content, which is solely developer-made, PvP involves the players in the content-making as well. Suddenly, the enemy mobs aren’t predictable beasties who are pulled and attack the same way every. single. time. No two PvP matches are the same, offering unlimited variety and surprises and strategies. PvP rewards — honor and arena — offer PvP players another way to gain coveted gear while playing the type of game they like. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Why would I rail against this? Shouldn’t I, I don’t know, live and let frag?
See? There’s the cutsie stuff my coffee is slapping me for.
If World of Warcraft was designed from the top-down to work hand-in-hand between PvP and PvE, I would just shut my mouth and go my way. But that’s not the truth, and in many ways PvP has hurt WoW far more than helped, despite what the devs might say. In the beginning, we had duels and PvP servers with “open world PvP”, both of which offered ultimately futile exercises in unfair matchups. Realizing the imbalance (remember that word, kiddos; it’ll come up again), Blizzard created instanced Battlegrounds and Arenas to supposedly match up players in similar numbers and levels. Yet this didn’t stop the discrepancy between premade groups and randomly assembled groups, not to mention the indignity of a horrible player trouncing a truly skilled player because the aforementioned horrible guy had better gear to cover for his lack of skill.
PvP Truth #1: When gear matters as much or more than skill, something is broken.
Yet this all just concerns those wacky PvP players, you say — it has no impact on Mr. and Ms. Joe Casual, who’s plugging away at the Defias Brotherhood for those tacky bandanas, right?
Okay. If you say so.
What I say is that in their efforts to continuously balance “imbalanced” PvP matchups, Blizzard has taken the PvE players on a rollercoaster of largely unnecessary nerfs and buffs, far more than the PvE game demanded. You might be a warlock who’s never touched foot in a battleground, but if you’ve played the game long enough, you will have witnessed your primary crowd control mechanism — fear — nerfed time and again. Is that because it was too overpowered in PvE? Heck no. It was because something that worked in PvE created a large imbalance in the PvP environment, and Blizzard was forced to change the skills across the board to keep everything in alignment.
PvP Truth #2: To fix the PvP side of the game, often you have to break something in the PvE portion.
In 2.4, shamans will see their top Restoration tree talent — Earth Shield — nerfed from 10 charges to 6. Is this because it was an overpowered healing spell? In PvE, no. In PvP, apparently, yes. So sorry, PvE players, you have to suffer for the sins of PvP!
For another example, take tanks. In theory, these are characters who spend ungodly amounts of time leveling up, speccing their talent tree to attain all sorts of defensive skills, and acquiring tank gear to withstand a pounding so they can protect their teammates in dungeons. Yet in PvP, Blizzard has pronounced tanks as a “useless” spec. Sure, you can defend all the live-long day, but tanks were simply stripped of their ability to taunt enemy players into attacking them instead of their squishy allies. If you’re there to protect your physically weaker teammates and you have no way of protecting them except to damage the enemy faster than they’re damaging your buddy, then why go to the trouble of having tanks in the first place? Therefore, a third of the “holy trinity” of MMOs (tanks, healers, damage) was rendered void where prohibited.
PvP Truth #3: When all talent specs fail to be viable in PvP situations, you’ve unbalanced the game.
I’m honestly sick of the nerf/buff rollercoaster that PvP imposes on the game, and if I had my way, as King of Blizzard, I’d announce that all PvP would be stripped from the game tomorrow. WoW doesn’t have to be great at all things to all people, just really great at something that already appeals to most people — the PvE game.
So the question would become, if we take direct PvP conflict out of WoW, then how do we inject player-created (or controlled) content into the PvE game? What about co-op instances, where two teams of players race against each other to cross the finish line (beat the end boss)? Or making the players “Generals” on a battlefield, where they can do quests to recruit NPC troops and send them against their enemy’s fortress while defending their own (I know, AV has an element of this, but who honestly recruits the NPCs anymore?)? Or what about player-made dungeons, where you could be given an instance template and then fill with mobs, loot and traps that you’d have to find in the PvE side of the game?
I’m not a dev, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I am convinced that PvP has to be firmly incorporated into the groundwork of a game to be successful, and it has to offer all players a chance to compete based on skill instead of gear or favored talent specs.