Saturday, April 18, 2009

What's Next?

For what's it's worth, I'm a HUGE West Wing fan. Any excuse to stick in a picture of my favourite mythical President and I'm there like a shot.

Via my favourite Democratic President until Obama arrived...

So, this afternoon I got into a conversation with one of my favourite Guildies: what's next? Okay so the paint's still not quite dry on the sign to Ulduar but we know that Blizzard are already looking ahead, deciding where we go in 3.2. There have been hints of late, most specifically that Blizzard may not trail 3.2 as extensively because of the reaction they had to 3.1. I think I know the reason behind this.

3.2 will be known, I predict, as the PvP Patch.

It's no secret that there is a new battleground in development. It's no secret either that Arenas are fundamentally no-go areas for large parts of the Warcraft population, simply because you need such ridiculous ratings to get anything useful. I know the next season will fix some of this but the fact remains, most people really aren't that good at PvP. It, like the niche occupied by the Professional gamers is pretty small. People want accessibility like you get in Wintergrasp. Let's face it, WG is probably the best PvP most people will ever see: 30 minutes, clear victor, tangible and realistically-attainable rewards for the vast majority, and fun. It's not fun to stand around for an arena match and be the one who's ass is whupped. Constantly. I've been there and done that and I reckon I'm not a hugely bad player, but someone has to lose.

What Blizzard need to do is to give the larger player base a bigger chance to win, just as they have with End Game Content.

I am going to stick my neck out here and predict the following. Please feel free to mock me soundly if I'm wrong.

  • We see with the Argent Tournament a way of duelling with others which relies not on gear but luck and skill. I think this kind of 'mounted' combat could be a great way of getting more people into a PvP arena, as it is currently with vehicles in Strand of the Ancients and Wintergrasp.The right mixture of mounted combat, vehicles and ground assault will, let's face it, make WoW more old style Warcraft, something I'm sure the purists would love and the casuals could get very attached to. Therefore I predict the new Battleground will have all these elements to appeal to as wide a base as possible. It will also have a time limit, but will allow for lots of WG style Zergs. Most importantly, it will offer unique PvE rewards for rep with the new faction who run it. If I were Blizz I'd offer shoulder enchants with pure stats (crit, def, hit) to draw new L80's in and trinkets/pets/unique rewards for the more hardened veteran. Most importantly of all, this BG will have Hard Modes, so the real PVP veterans can aim for special items only available this way.
  • I predict a MAJOR revamp of Arena rewards. I'd even go so far as to suggest that Arenas could have Normal and Hard modes, and you need to play in Normal to get to a certain level before being given a score which will allow you to Hard Mode. Normal mode would reward lesser gear, Hard Mode the more serious gear.
  • I doubt it will happen in 3.2, but as World content in Professions has been streamlined it would be nice to think that Blizz might consider doing it with World PvP across all four continents. I wonder how difficult it would be to streamline the events in WPL, in Silithus, in Hellfire and Zangermarsh and Nagrand and instead of having them all award different marks for different rewards, to make them all award the same kind of mark which can be exchanged for rewards from 50-80, perhaps even PvP heirlooms in the same mould as the normal heirlooms available currently with Emblems.
One thing is very clear: PvP works, but not as well as it could. There are lots of different ideas out there, many of which don't even get used any more because the game has changed. What would be great would be to see them brought together and made more attractive to the general playing public and not the minority as was the case with raiding endgame.

So, when do we get 3.2 then?

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