Thursday, 15 February 2007

World (PvP) Gone Wrong

I've been doing a bit of PvP on and off, getting a [Band of the Victor] in the first few days of the Burning Crusade as vast hordes of... err... the Horde and Alliance clashed in Hellfire Peninsula. Things slowed down after that, but with the odd outpost capture now and again and a kill or two, I recently picked up a [Mark of Conquest] (replacing a [Darkmoon Card: Heroism] *sniff* That's my entire epic collection replaced now. If two things can be a collection.)

I've wittered on a bit about PvP before, and to reiterate: I like PvP. Nothing else gives a visceral rush like fighting other players. The closest PvE comes is maybe taking on a boss in an instance, but that's usually just a case of "when (x) happens, do (y)", that's the nature of a computer controlled opponent. Actually, the closest PvE comes is probably a bad (or deliberately funny) pull, ideally with voice chat for the added commentary... "OK, going to take the next group now, pulling... AGH! BUGGER! WRONG BUTTON! watch out for... hang on... come back, come back, AGH! PATROL! COME TO ME! TO ME! No, *my* to me... get the... oh, no, he's summoned another... AHHHH! PUSH BUTTONS! USE POWERS TO CAUSE DAMAGE! I'M COVERED IN BEEEEEEES! It's no use, I'm done for, save yoursel... oh, you've vanished, feigned death and bubbled." Anyway! PvP: good. But I need a purpose, or a structure for it, which is why I don't play on a PvP server. Where's the adrenaline rush from randomly happening on another player, and attacking them for no particular reason with no gain on my part or loss on theirs?

World PvP is an attempt to give purpose to attacking other players while out and about, with mixed results. The early Outlands PvP objectives all seem to revolve around capturing towers, as introduced previously in the Eastern Plaguelands. If the aim was to get players fighting other players, the Plaguelands would have to go down as a total failure. For each tower your faction holds, you gain... a 1% damage bonus against the undead, ooOOoOOooooOO! OK, it's quite handy, but nothing to really get worked up into an epic do-or-die battle over. On the other hand, you could get a quest to capture all four towers. And the reward for that? GOOOOOLD! (Always believe in your soul, you've got the power to know, etc.) And that *is* something worth fighting for. Except, as Tobold pointed out, if the objective is merely to capture (not hold) the towers, the last thing you want is to kill the enemy.

Hellfire Peninsula adopts the same general ideal (capture three towers, get a 5% damage buff), but with one important modification: there's a quest to take all the towers with a reward of three tokens, but killing an opponent near the towers also gets you a token, and what do tokens make? Prizes! If there's one thing worth fighting for more than gold, it's shiny loot. Like I mentioned, the first week of the Burning Crusade saw a rare old scrap in Hellfire most nights, with the Horde tending to come off second best due to the population imbalance in favour of the Alliance, one of the inherent flaws in world PvP. It didn't take long for things to quieten down, though; people got enough tokens for the items they wanted, moved on to other zones to quest, and as the faster-levelling players got to maximum level, the first hint of a tower turning neutral would frequently attract a few Alliance level 70s on their flying mounts. Occasionally the Horde would come out in force with their own higher levels, but the usual pattern would be for a small group of Horde to grab the three towers then move on before the Alliance zerged over, hence it taking me much longer to acquire enough tokens for the trinket.

Zangramash has a similar layout with a different twist, in that after capturing two towers, you need to buy a flag from an NPC and take it to a graveyard to capture it for the 5% damage buff. Like Hellfire you get tokens for any kills around the towers, but there's no quest/reward for capturing anything, just the damage buff. Never saw a single enemy player flagged for PvP in Zangramash...

It seems pretty obvious, but in order to get people fighting on a PvE server you need to give them an incentive both for capturing towers (to get them there in the first place) and for kills (to get them fighting once they're there). With the Plaguelands lacking the latter, and Zangramash the former, only Hellfire Peninsula has really worked so far. I'm now questing around Terokkar and Nagrand, so it'll be interesting to see how the world PvP plays out there.

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