WoW’s Arena system: more hardcore than ever

Most of the news are about PvP and I think this is not surprising since it’s possible that Blizzard is starting to see that there’s indeed a large demand on that front:

What are you guys doing to counteract people from dropping their WoW accounts?

I think it’s a multi-tiered approach. The problem is that everyone has a different play style and WoW is such a big game and so diverse, that there’s not that one thing that people want. I think the revamp of PvP will be huge. I think a lot of people bowed out because of the PvP system. I think we will show people that we care about the PvP system and we want to make it how you want it to be. I think because we are doing this in such a big way it will be huge. I also think that the fact we are changing the raid cap and dungeon difficulty, will also add to gamers wanting to stay or come back.

The biggest news is about the changes to the Honor system, but after digging the details I noticed that there are still some dark spots that may lead to whatever situation.

Right now there are already two system tied to the PvP: faction points and Honor. Blizzard repeated that they are going to redesign completely the faction system but they didn’t specify anything about it in these last previews. There are just too many omissions and unanswered questions to figure out exactly how things will work.

The more I read and digged the details, the more I noticed the smell of burnt food.

The Arena system

You’ll be able to join a team: 2v2, 3v3, or 5v5. There are two different modes you can play: One is called practice mode to hone your skills and the other is competitive mode, which is level 70 only.

it can be Horde vs. Alliance or Horde vs. Horde or Alliance vs. Alliance and cross-server. With that, we anticipate there will be little, to no queues for this.

You can get the best rewards in the game on par with the raid game. So, wherever the raid game loot is currently at, the PvP arena system will match those rewards. And, the arena system is a seasonal system that will last three months then reset with a new set of rewards each season. It’s a competitive-based ladder that uses a rating system similar to the chess ELO rating.

you form your team, and your team may change in rating throughout the season. At the end of each week, based on your team’s rating, you get a number of points that you can spend on the gear.

I guess the arena system is completely different from the Honor system. So: level 70 required for rewards, better rewards coming from arena matches only, different loot every three months, weekly ranks based on “skill”, no queues.

See, it *seems* accessible, but I have the suspect that this will be as hardcore as ever. That’s what I meant when I said that I saw some shady spots. For example there isn’t a clear statement saying that the Arena system won’t have decay on the weekly points you gain, and that there won’t be a point-wipe at the end of every season.

If you notice the best “PvP rewards in the game on par with the raid game” are exclusive of the Arena system and not extended to the general Honor system and BattleGrounds. If they put here the biggest “carrot” then you can be sure that they plan this system to be very hard to cap. Or at least harder to cap.

People may believe that with the Honor points becoming currency that you can spend, eventually everyone will be able to reach the rewards at the top. I don’t think this is what Blizzard is planning. What I read between the lines is that the Arena system will essentially mimicking what the Honor system is now. Points decay, maybe the three months wipe and the weekly ranking. Who’s at the top gets the reward. The only difference is that not only they are removing the persistence of the points you spend from week to week (if there’s decay and regular wipe as I’m guessing) but they are ALSO removing the points during the same week. This is MORE HARDCORE than the current Honor system.

In the current Honor system the points you gain each day are cumulative and are counted at the end of the week. Given enough persistence everyone can heap enough points to climb the PvP ranks. With the new system you don’t get any points. You are instead ranked weekly in relation to the performance of others teams. The rewards will be ranked even in the case you gain points to redeem freely. “Spend you points to get one of these rank 1 items”.

This means that in the old Honor system, with enough (insane) persistence you could eventually reach the top ranks. It was insane, sure, but it was possible. With the new system the top ranks are just precluded. Or you ARE the very top player on your server who doesn’t lose ANY match, or you’ll just have to deal with your mediocrity and suck it up. Because the point is that you’ll never have the opportunity to change that.

With this new system a “loss” insn’t anymore just a step on the place that slows down the progress you are making. A loss will actually kick you back because it is going to have a negative influence on your rank. The best PvP system (as PvE) is the one that keeps you on the move. That encourages you to try more and better. That doesn’t overly frustrates you if you lost. A loss shouldn’t be punitive because that’s the death of fun PvP. You are supposed to have fun, enjoy the battles, eventually get the rewards. If you win, good. If you lose, okay, it will be different next time. And not have you obsessed about not losing any match.

Now this system worked on the Warcraft’s RTS because there was the ladder, but just the ladder. You didn’t get better units if you were on top. In WoW the ladder auto-enables itself. You win matches not just thanks to your skill, but also thanks to your gear. The more you win, the more you’ll be stronger and continue to win. The more you lose, the more you’ll continue to lose.

How’s this accessible?

I’ll repeat again: if Blizzard is going to put the biggest carrot here, you can be sure that the carrot won’t be accessible at all.

Three months, seasonal rewards. Tigole says that to be ranked you only need 10 matches. Ten matches for three months? Come on, that’s just too odd. In fact the ranks are weekly. You are ranked weekly depending on your performance. Let me quote:

Awards for the (Arena) competition will be more lucrative than those available in the honor PvP system.

They are opening a chasm here. The Honor system and this arena system will be detached. The Honor “points” you gain mean nothing in the Arena system. Moreover, the overhaul to the Honor system that transforms Honor points into a cumulative currency isn’t going to be valid in the Arena system.

Let me reconstruct the steps:

– The Honor system is pure catass, players complain for two years
– Blizzard gives up and transform Honor points into currency
– But doing that then every player will be able to eventually get the best rewards! *SHOCK!*
– So they nudge back the Honor system in the food chain
– And add on top an Arena system that is more Hardcore than ever and whose rewards dwarf everything that was in the game till that point

You know, in a mmorpg “value” is relative. It’s true that maybe the Honor system will become more accessible, it’s also true that they it will be worthless after its rewards will be replaced by the NEW and TRUE pure hardcore mode that is the Arena system.

This PvP system is going to be more hardcore than ever. Even the weekly persistence of points is going to be replaced by a rating system that will become even more selective. Where the players at the top will gain even more advantage and where the players at the bottom will just have to give up.

The scenario? The scenario is that those who have access to the best PvE gear will also dominate the PvP ranks, while those players who cannot get that initial advantage will just have to resign to bite the dirt.

Hint, hint: nothing is going to change. You’ll still be ranked toward your own faction and the system will be even more inflexible and accessible than how it is currently.

They gave the illusion of change, but at a less superficial look it’s obvious that they are going to persist in their mindset.

Moreover, it’s just sad and deluding that the best rewarded form of PvP will be an endlessly repetitive form of small and quick skirmishes between an handful of players in an instanced space.

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