13/06/2013

Getting Back Into PvP

I haven't done a lot of PvP since the expansion came out, mostly because there was so much new PvE content to explore that I didn't feel a strong urge to do anything else. However, now that I've had a chance to have a look at most of it one way or another, I'm slowly starting to dip my toes back into the warzone waters.

Doing the daily warzone on my lowbie Sage every day has been a lot of fun. I was very sceptical of Bioware splitting the lowbie bracket into two parts (because lowbie bolster works, damn it, how unnecessary!), but after actually seeing it in action I have to say that the new system has its charms. It's actually pretty funny to be in a lower level lowbie warzone (need to come up with a better name for that bracket...) where nobody has their class's signature abilities yet. Mostly it involves a lot of ineffectual swinging of lightsabers, spamming of free attacks, and healers running out of resources after about five casts. If you know what you're doing, it can be a real power trip though.

Max level PvP has been a slightly different beast. Despite of all the usual complaints about class balance, I can't say that I've noticed a massive change in the way things play out at 55, compared to how it used to be at fifty. The flavours of the month have changed a bit of course, but less so than I would have expected.

The big problem for me has been the interaction between max level bolster and gear. In principle, I'm a big fan of the idea of max level bolster allowing people to jump into a warzone for the first time and make a useful contribution even if they don't have any PvP gear. Giving everyone a free set of starter PvP gear worked alright at fifty, but not everyone knew about it, people forgot to equip it, people didn't want to equip it because the stats seemed worse than what they had on their PvE gear, and so on and so forth, so just applying bolster to everyone across the board seemed a lot more elegant. In theory anyway.

Unfortunately the practice is a bit more complicated. First there was the issue where bolster worked best if you were naked and I kept getting assaulted by Sith in their undies. That seems to have been resolved now, but nonetheless the interaction between gear and bolster at max level remains... opaque.

First and foremost, you would think that wearing actual PvP gear in any given slot would always be better for PvP than wearing PvE gear, even with bolster, but apparently that's not the case, at least not with the lower tier of PvP gear. But of course you wouldn't be able to tell until you're actually inside a warzone and see your stats change all of a sudden...

I didn't have the patience to try and swap my gear around for long and eventually simply gave up on the lower tier of PvP gear. I still bought all the pieces because I will eventually need them to trade them in for the higher tier, but I only actually wear a couple of them. I'm sure someone, somewhere has probably done a spreadsheet or something on which piece of gear is best to wear with bolster, but as a more casual PvPer I can't say that I can be bothered with that. Wasn't this new system supposed to make things easier? Personally I find it quite a hassle to not be able to tell at a glance which piece of gear will actually be better for me once I'm in a warzone.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that even the best PvP gear currently in game is several item levels lower than the best PvE gear, which means that no matter how much expertise you might gain, if you already have a decent PvE piece in that slot, the loss in other stats is absolutely massive and very painful to swallow. I must have missed the memo on why they decided to go with this new system, anyone care to englighten me? Was it really an issue that at fifty, PvP gear was decent enough to do some PvE in it as well? I had some characters that mostly did PvP but also ran the occasional flashpoint or operation in their War Hero kit, and while they weren't amazing, they were "good enough". Was that really an issue?

There's also been some interesting developments in the PvP community from what I can gather. First there was a bit of an uproar about the announcement that there wouldn't be any significant PvP changes or additions until 2.4. I can sort of understand people's frustration with that, but on the other hand... PvP doesn't rely on the frequent addition of new content in the same way as PvE does, and I don't think anyone could claim that SWTOR is mainly a PvP game. Then again, I suppose it's easy for me not to care as much, considering that PvP is something I only do on the side.

What I do care about are the talks I've heard that most of the big PvP guilds on The Red Eclipse are planning to transfer to Tomb of Freedon Nadd (the English-speaking EU PvP server) as soon as transfers become available. This is why I don't like server transfers, other people transferring messes with my game experience!

To be fair though, I don't know how exactly this will pan out yet. Superficially, it could be a boon to not go up against as many highly skilled premades in random warzones anymore - though ultimately that will depend on how many of the high end PvPers leave per faction. I'm afraid that a more realistic outcome however is simply going to be much longer PvP queues at max level, because say what you will about teams of hardcore PvPers stomping pugs in randoms... especially late at night, they were often the only ones queuing and providing the warm bodies to make the queue pop in a timely manner at all.

I guess we'll find out soon enough.

3 comments:

  1. Are there reasons why the big guilds would want to move to a PvP server? Just for the general free-for-all out in the galaxy?

    "Unfortunately the practice is a bit more complicated. First there was the issue where bolster worked best if you were naked and I kept getting assaulted by Sith in their undies."

    Once again, I chuckle at that mental image. ("There she is! SHE's the one who stole our clothing! Get her!")

    All I can say is be grateful that TOR doesn't have the same (lack of) underwear that Age of Conan has.

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    1. Are there reasons why the big guilds would want to move to a PvP server?

      To have more and better competition in ranked games, mainly. Remember, this stuff isn't cross-server in TOR.

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    2. True, I hadn't considered the ranked issue. The flip side of that is that PvP servers will swing more hardcore, and that might open up transfers in the other direction too.

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