Arena, Arena...

... it reminds me of a warzone story (imagine me singing this to the tune by Santana).

For all my fretting about the PvP changes coming in patch 5.9.2 I didn't even do any PvP right after its launch. It's really only been this week that I've somewhat gotten back into it, mainly for the Conquest points. (Pro tip: The one-time objective to complete the weekly warzone quest is really easy to achieve in the sub-70 brackets, what with it only requiring you to play 3-5 matches instead of 10-20).

Things went largely as expected. I didn't notice the mechanical changes very much, except when Giradda decided to kill me literally two steps from the goal line in Huttball, the bastard!

I do miss the faction rivalry already. From an immersion point of view it all just feels a bit meaningless now. "But Shintar," you might say, "how can you expect instanced PvP to be immersive and meaningful in the first place?" To that I can only say that it just was. Roleplaying isn't limited to emoting and having conversations in /say, and I used to enjoy playing the role of honourable Republic trooper out to defeat the evil Imps. It's hard to get any feeling of that when every single match puts you onto a mixed-faction team.

I guess there's always World PvP. I did run into some of that unexpectedly while chasing the Tunnel Lurker with some guildies, when we rounded a corner and suddenly found a bunch of Imps camping the entrance to the Republic base. To cries of "Gondor calls for aid" and "now the bloodlust's got him" mayhem ensued... for about five minutes. During which everyone was laughing and going on about the horrible lag in chat. But hey, I'll take what I can get.

Anyway, in terms of pops and balance, the ramped up cross-faction play has been a godsend. Especially in the sub-70 brackets, pops are so much faster, and at least so far my matches have felt much more balanced than previously. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I'm suddenly doing more winning than losing.

The most interesting thing to me so far has been the new arena, the Mandalorian Battle Ring. Even though I was superficially aware of its introduction, I never got into it on the PTS and managed to avoid any information about it other than a mention of it being located in Shae Vizla's compound on Rishi. After the matchmaking changes, I got to see a lot of it, especially on my midbies - presumably because not that many people were queueing, as arenas are only supposed to pop in unranked warzones now if there is a player shortage.

In my first match, we just walked up the ramp to the top of the giant plateau that dominates the arena and beat each other up there. Second time around though I was forced to learn that there was more to the terrain, as an enemy Marauder decided to make a run for it when he was the last person left on his team, and managed to disappear into a tunnel leading right through the centre of the plateau on ground level. As soon as we were chasing him out of it, he jumped onto some air vent thing like there is in Huttball and went flying out of reach - he was clearly already much more familiar with the arena's layout than we were. We did get him in the end - but it was... educational.

Finally, I had what must have been my most bizarre arena experience ever in another round in the Battle Ring. As soon as I loaded in I could tell from the banter among my team mates that a) they knew each other, b) they knew at least some of the enemy team and c) they had apparently already beaten these particular players repeatedly. When the round started with the enemy team still being a player short and my team mates asking me to hang back while one of them would try to take on all three enemies on his own, I thought it was just a bit of silliness that was more likely to allow our opponents to make up for their number handicap than anything.

Well, let's just say that's not how it went, and I actually watched the lone Juggernaut solo all three members of the enemy team. When he tried to repeat this feat in the second round, after they had been given a fourth player, he did die, though not without taking some people with him beforehand. I ended the match feeling slightly confused while I slowly meleed the last enemy to death, with the other two remaining team members standing by and spectating. Then they gave me their MVP votes and quit.

I've certainly had worse times in PvP.

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