PvP Ups and Downs

I stayed up late this past weekend, running warzones on the US servers for the weekly season objective, and as the hours went by, I found myself getting quite philosophical about my PvP experience.

In terms of gameplay, SWTOR's unranked warzones are the most fun PvP I've had in any MMO I've played. Even with the annoying desync issues on certain maps, the way abilities work allows for a lot of fun combos. Balance isn't perfect (is it ever?), but it's good enough most days, and matches are set to last just about the right amount of time. The map variety is great and provides an interesting selection of objectives.

However, by its very nature, PvP also promotes a certain amount of friction, and it doesn't take much to tip the balance in that area to the point where things start to feel bad. People shouting insults at each other over who's responsible for the team losing. Bad matchmaking making you feel like you never had a chance. Just... generally annoying situations like that one guy from the enemy team deciding to pick on you all match.

I think that in general, I have a pretty good temperament for PvP because I'm usually not quick to anger. I'm not going to pretend that I don't experience moments of annoyance, but compared to some of the types of characters I regularly encounter in PvP, it takes quite a lot for my mood to turn sour. And even at my worst moments, I've learned long ago to not let outbursts of anger control what my fingers do to my keyboard. I might shout at my screen in frustration, but never at my team mates. That kind of thing just never helps anyone.

However, in recent months it has sometimes felt to me like my mood was tilting towards the negative in PvP more quickly than before, like it took less to make me feel bad and I generally wasn't getting as much enjoyment out of the game mode as I used to. I was starting to wonder what I ever saw in it.

And then this weekend came along and it was glorious. My win-loss ratio wasn't so bad, but more than anything I had some of those moments that remind me of why I do love PvP in this game. There are certain moments, usually when I find myself in a tight spot, where time slows down, the adrenaline starts pumping, and I'm completely immersed in the game in a way that's hard to achieve even in the most intriguing story update or challenging operations fight. In those moments I see my character almost like the protagonist of a movie, with key moves happening in slow motion.

My Commando healer backed against a wall of the southern bunker in Novare Coast, fighting a losing fight, until she's finally the last woman standing and all guns turn on her... when I hear a Juggernaut's roar from behind me, a Guard bubble surrounds me, and my freshly respawned team mates descend upon the enemy like the Rohirrim on the orcs in Helm's Deep.

Me running along the bottom ramp in Huttball and making it about halfway across the pit, when the enemy team finally notices me and comes for me. I know I don't have the cooldowns to continue and survive the final stretch, so I desperately look around for someone to pass to - I throw the ball just before an enemy has a chance to stun and push me, and a Sentinel gracefully hits Transendence and speeds into my target circle in time to catch the ball and whisk it over the finish line.

My lowbie Guardian in an only partially filled arena match on Tatooine, two of us vs. three of them. Somehow we manage to get the upper hand anyway and whittle down two of them before my partner dies, and then it's just me vs. a Marauder. He manages to run out of sight and get out of combat, so I quickly heal myself up (knowing that he's doing the same) before we meet again in the middle of the arena. Sabers clash, he runs and I chase, we both chain cooldowns and go down at a roughly equal rate, I can feel my blood pumping - and then I land the killing blow and we win. (When the same Marauder ended up on my team in a follow-up match, he congratulated me on the good fight, and we enjoyed kicking ass against a common enemy this time around.)

Yeah, this is what I'm talking about.


  1. That brought a smile to my face, Shintar. Just knowing the impromptu stories you had in those matches makes it worthwhile.

  2. In the long content drought in WoW at the end of WotLK, I did PvP almost exclusively. I think that affected my mental health to the point where I just shudder to think of ever doing it again. I'm happy that you're finding fun in it, but not for me any longer.

    1. It's definitely something for which you need to be in the right mindset, and I think a lot of people don't even realise how detrimental it can be to their mood. Good on you for realising it wasn't working for you!

  3. I played a lot of instanced PvP in Rift and Warhammer Online and it often felt just like that. In WoW too, although, less often. Unfortunately, GW2 instanced PvP has never had the same appeal. Everything seems too fast. It's a long time since I did any PvP other than PvPvE and WvW, which are entirely different experiences.


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