Friday, July 24, 2009

The Devolution of PvP

I was trolling the forums this afternoon when I came across a rather interesting thread about the changes in PvP from Vanilla Warcraft to now. The original poster, Legz from Skullcrusher, wanted to know why fewer players take PvP seriously today than back before Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. The posts that followed drifted around the question and, although there were some interesting responses, few followups actually addressed the questions posed. I will attempt to do so here.

Back when Warcraft was young, PvP combat was only about two things: pride and fun. There was no honor system of any kind until patch 1.4 and the first battle grounds were not in place until patch 1.5. Players engaged in PvP because they enjoyed it and to build up personal notoriety on their servers. Even once rewards were implemented in Vanilla WoW, attaining them was more a matter of status than performance. The rewards were good and exceptionally shiny, but not by any means necessary for rocking other players.

In the shadow of Burning Crusade and again in Wrath of the Lich King the honor system grew more complex and due to mechanical tweaks PvP loot became both more distinct from PvE gear as well as necessary for PvP performance. PvP equipment was no longer a status symbol, but was instead a means to an end, a key to the gates of "endgame PvP." This transformed most PvP into a gear grind and established a system in which only those who had completed the gear grind were truely "competing." This transformed all group PvP except top arena competition and duels into the equivalent of PvE PuGs.

This devolution has left the majority of World of Warcraft players in a spot where winning in PvP is only important in that it shortens the grind needed to gear up for more "serious" PvP. Only a select few finish the grind and ever get to the point where taking things seriously provides any more returns than mindless que and spew. That is why few players take PvP seriously any more, and I honestly cannot blame them.

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