Sunday, 15 February 2015

SW:TOR PvP: I don't like the term 'broken', but...

I have a complex relationship with PvP in SW:TOR. I was, when I first started playing this game, only interested in PvE.

I eventually forced myself to overcome my fear and try my trembling hands at PvP as I wanted to learn how to better play my main class. And nothing would forge that skill better than the battle-chaos that is PvP.

After a while I came to enjoy playing PvP and, from my humble beginnings with one PvP-focussed character (of the same class and discipline as my PvE main), I've since rolled up four more PvP-only characters (of different classes and roles). I've even started PvPing on a couple of my endgame PvE characters.

So yeah, I enjoy it. But it's not all it could be. Any SW:TOR PvPer will tell you that.

For the uninitiated, there's five different options for PvP in SW:TOR:
  1. Open-world PvP, which happens when characters attack each other out in the questing world.
  2. Low-level Warzones, which are objective-based PvP scenarios for the 10 to 29 level bracket
  3. Mid-level Warzones, which are exactly the same scenarios but for the 30 to 59 level bracket.
  4. Endgame Warzones, which is the same again but only for max-level (60) characters.
  5. Ranked Arenas. which are a different game mode from Warzones. They're team death-matches rather objective-based scenarios, only for max-level characters, and they're far more competitive than 'regular' warzones.
Of these five opportunities for PvP, I engage in precisely one. Number 4; Unranked endgame Warzones, or Regs.

Here's why:
  1. OW-PvP: I play on a PvE server, so Open-world PvP is actually kinda hard to come by. Of the few times I've engaged in OW-PvP, I've been soundly annihilated. I put this down to either not having, or not wearing, PvP-specific gear at the time, but it's still not fun.
  2. Lowbies: Since I don't have any characters who are under level 30, I can't do the low-level bracket (unless I start a new character, which I'm not planning on doing any time soon).
  3. Midbies: The Mid-level bracket is one of my main gripes with PvP as it stands at the moment.
    Bioware/EA recently raised the game's level cap (from 55 to 60) in their Shadow of Revan expansion. Which in turn raised the level needed to get PvP-specific gear (as that gear is only ever purchasable at the top level).
    Most people were eager to get the expansion and get to the new level cap. Even if this meant needing to get a new set of PvP gear when they hit the new max. But there are some players who, for whatever reason, haven't bought the expansion. Which means they can't level to 60.
    Which, in turn means, they're stuck in the mid-level bracket.
    This leaves us with the untenable situation of having level 55 characters entering the mid-level warzones wearing powerful PvP gear attained before the expansion; PvP gear that increases damage output and decreases damage taken by up to 30%*; PvP gear that is unavailable to the other people in the tier.
    So these guys who, prior to the expansion, were battling it out in warzones with equally geared players of the same level, are now sitting pretty eating relatively undergeared players (who in some cases are also up to 25 levels lower) for brunch.
    Which makes the mid-level tier of PvP into a killing-field. One I'm staying out of it for the foreseeable future.
  4. Ranked: I refuse to do the Ranked Arenas aspect of PvP because, despite how awesome the rewards have been lately, nothing is worth enduring the vitriolic and toxic community of competitive PvPers.
    I'm just not that competitive by nature. I play this game, including PvP, for fun. And while I enjoy winning, I refuse to slave away doing everything I can to get an edge. That just doesn't seem like fun to me.
    Also, the ranked Daily and Weekly missions are counted by wins. Since I only ever queue for warzones solo (not part of a pre-arranged group of friends), my chances of winning are dictated by the people I'm grouped with when I zone in. So it's random.
    Imagine a PvE mission that you could only randomly complete and that you had to grind over and over again until the RNG finally went your way. How many people would actually do that? Most would think it was a bug!
I enjoy PvP in this game. I have about nine different characters that I PvP on. As with PvE, I play and enjoy all roles (even PvP healing!). But I only feel able (or appropriately incentivised) to participate in one fifth of the PvP options available to me. I'm kind of conflicted about this; while I'm glad there's still an option open to me, I still feel like I'm missing out on a lot.

I'll give them one thing though, they sure know how to make a great video:

* I haven't crunched the numbers on this myself. Others have though, and this is the prevailing wisdom.