SWTOR Warzones have no level brackets

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SWTOR Voidstar Warzone
Voidstar Warzone. One team defends and the other attacks, then you switch sides.

I didn’t know that SWTOR’s battlegrounds, or warzones as they a called, are not level restricted. I thought they were your standard 1-9, 10-19, etc, but nope, anyone level 1-50 can be put into a war zone together.

Like in Warhammer Online, players are bolstered up to make them competitive. This did not work well in WAR at all. A true level always outperformed a bolstered one. My experience in SWTOR has been the same. At level 12, for example, I got my trash kicked by a level 30. It was brutal!  Some of my guildies have said their experiences have not been terrible and that they’ve been capable of standing up to higher level players without being shut down.

I’m curious why Bioware chose this route. Less time in queues? Avoiding cross-server queues? The result for me is no more battlegrounds until level 50 when the disparity between players isn’t augmented by level gap.  I might reconsider as I get into my late 30’s or early 40’s but for now it feels silly to go against level 50’s.

This form of implementation makes no sense to me when viewed in a truly practical sense. Battlegrounds themselves are a problem — battlegrounds where the lowbies are a waste of space and me fodder is just plain broken.  One of my friends put it best when he said, “it’s fine as long as your whole team isn’t low levels vs. a bunch of high levels.”  To me, that distinction should not exist.

We’ll see how long it lasts.  Some of my guildies absolutely love warzones regardless.  The consensus is that level 50’s may in the future get their own bracket, but at least right now you can queue with guildies no matter what level.  I might be in the minority  — I can admit that.

  • The warzones were still fun a few days ago, but with people quickly outleveling me, I was crushed yesterday while playing. I even got one shotted by a sith sorc during huttball. Warzones have also been very very laggy for me, but I suspect it is my aging laptop & not the game.

  • The Bolstering system does bolster enough because you don’t gain new abilities (obviously) and gear gains no improvements.

    Frankly I’m finding I can do almost nothing in the zones because people are 10 or even 20 levels ahead of me and just smashing me in seconds.

    It’s a terrible system which can only be beaten by levelling fast and not needing the Bolster!

  • I was shocked as well when I saw a level 30+ in my warzone…the bolster helps and makes you somewhat competitive “considering” I may be 20 levels below someone but you are definitely weaker. It sort of is a double edged sword too because at level 10 I may be a waste of space to my team mates but at level 10 I get the maximum amount of benefit.

    I noticed that at level 10 I got between 4500 and 6500 experience for a loss. That is a good chunk. 6 levels later…I still get that much for a loss…now it isnt quite as nice. I also noticed that you dont get that much more exp for a (rare) win.

    Not having all of your abilities at low level definitely hurts. I was expecting to go into the battleground as a healer and really make a difference. In both WOW and Rift you could change the course of a battle by being the healer. So far, I have not found that to be true in SWTOR. Heals at my level are almost not worth it and are kind of a joke. I also have not that many good defensive abilities if I get focused on. Looking into my future abilities, I dont see anything that would really help me in that regard.

    Bolster is a nice idea but it doesnt work. I wonder what if a low level gets bolstered beyond the set amount? When I played, it seems that people have about 12K of health in the warzone. What if a level 10 gets bolstered to some number above that…lets say 20K while a high level stays at 12K. That may make up for the lack of abilities?

  • I did two warzones today as a level 11 Jedi Shadow. Perhaps some classes scale better than others… I felt like I was able to at least hold my own, and both times I ended up in the top half on the DPS chart.

    Two PvP missions and two wins (luck) gave me perhaps 28K xp if I’m rembering right, plus around 3000 credits and 130 warzone commendations.

  • In beta, the Bolster system actually gave level 10’s better stats than 50’s. I think it bolsters based on an expected gear level too, so those fresh 50’s were not geared up yet.

  • First I do not play this MMO.

    This “sollution” provides a bad pvp experience for all but the ones that are on top that enjoy having no challenge at all.

    Seriously why no lvl brackets? “raises eyebrow”

  • The bolster system works quite well in terms of health and damage. Problem is of course with added levels people gain more abilities. That said you often see low level people in the warzones do really well.

    They could I suppose have 10-19, 20-29 and so on but I am personally no fan of the “twinking” that occurs then.

  • If it means waiting 30 minutes for a match vs 30 seconds, i’ll take the later. Honestly so far I’m finding it fine. Yeah, i get stomped some, but I feel like i’m also dishing a fair bit out as well. The main issue is the higher level folks have more abilities to rely on than us freshly lvl’d 10’s. But I know by 20 ish i’ll be closer to where i need to be so it doesn’t bother me.

  • Is the disparity between a bolstered 10 vs a 50 any worse then a 11 vs a twinked 19?

    Although it is flawed I can see a lot of advantages to this system if they work out some balance issues. It prevents people from making twinks (if you consider it an issue). It remains a valid option at all stages of the game.

    Seriously, in WoW and WAR there were level ranges that queues never popped cause no one played. Even if you were in a level zone that had active queues, if you weren’t in the top 1-2 levels you were at a disadvantage.

    Most people in wow only did BGs in maybe 10 lvls of their entire game because of this. Most people would only play from 17-19, 27-29, and then what ever the current level cap was. In each of these you always faced twinks and people in full out raid gear or arena gear who would destroy you if you weren’t the same.

    With this system if they get a good Bolster set up at any level you feel like playing, you can, you will never feel, oh I have to wait 3 lvls before I can compete.

  • I’m quite an avid follower of Taugrim ( http://taugrim.com/ ), who streams his PvP focused game play. Though he does say that level 50’s really outshine even with the bolster mechanic, a lot of play and winning war zones comes down to good skill and sound team tactics, I’ve seen it happen watching his stream. And he’s not always in pre-mades last night he was solo and still managing to be effective with a lvl 16 BH. He manages to handle players several levels over his own and he starts pvp right at 10. Bioware has said that they intend to put 50’s in their own bracket at some point.

  • Less time in queues and avoiding cross server queues is the main reason. If you dont like it wait till 50 to PvP, if not then its not like the other side you face at this stage of the game isnt going to be without their share of lowbies too.

  • @Friartuckk

    Sorry, but the fact that someone who is so dedicated to PvP can still only “manag[e] to be effective” is no small comfort. PvP, especially instanced “battleground” PvP, should be as balanced as possible.

    If I am good at PvP (not great) I’d like to think I should be able to compete – and by compete I mean perform well, not merely be slightly worth more to my team than if I wasn’t there at all.


    That’s true for “this stage of the game”, but I don’t think Bioware is planning on closing up shop for this game anytime soon. Unfortunately, that logic is no solution for the problem moving forward. Think of what totally geared out level 50s will do to level 10s a few months or even years from now.

  • Here’s what will happen – soon when there are plenty of 50’s they will have their own bracket, no point having a 50 bracket now. I would rather have the bolster system than the bloody awful cross server shit that wow has anyday.

  • @Andrew: I do agree that I would rather have bolster than cross faction warzones…I also like the instant queues (at least for us).

  • This seems to be a logical fallacy most people subscribe to when it come to MMOs.
    The one that says, “PvP should be fair”.

    In a game system designed to reward those who have spent the most time playing, it is illogical to think that when you pit one player vs another player that this fundamental mechanic of game play should be thrown away.

    MMOs by nature are not about “fairness” they’re about rewarding those who put the most time in. If you want fair and balanced go play a Dota clone or an FPS. MMO PvP has and will always be for those that dedicate the most time to it. And that is the way it should be.

  • @ Antonio

    It’s not a logical fallacy, it’s a practical concern. Ever heard of the word “competition”? In this context, it doesn’t mean making things 100% even across the board, it means putting together meaningful contests in which everyone has somewhat of a fighting chance.

    The sports analogy would go something like pitting a Division III college football team against a Division I powerhouse like LSU, they don’t want to play LSU, LSU doesn’t want to play them and no one is going to want to watch it either.

    I don’t think anyone is saying everyone should have the exact same chance in the mythical one on one for example or that total balance could even be achieved if it was a worthy goal.

    I personally love open-world PvP, where numbers generally mean everything, but tactics, timing, terrain, etc., can all come into play as well. But, in my instanced PvP, I don’t see why it can’t be both “more fair”, and thus a better competition, and more fun to boot, to pit those within a few levels of each other in such matches.

  • I was 2nd ,first and 3d in damage dealt in the warzone at lvl 10 . I am not sure why you complaining :/

    ON the other hand warzones in SWTOR suck and it just another variation of instanced pvp with bad pvp mechanics (SWTOR pvp is terribad in general)

  • I think a compromise is a better solution:

    Cross Server queues to reduce wait time
    Leveled brackets: 10-19, 20-29 etc.
    Bolstered within the Bracket: everyone bolstered to level 19, level 29 etc.

    That way everyone is pretty much at the same level, twinking doesn’t give you a HUGE advantage, queues are manageable, and you fighting (with) people 20 levels above you.

    Now that I’ve said that, my own experience hasn’t been too bad: As Republic we always win the one with the 3 gun controls and always lose Hutt-ball.

    So far I’ve only played with the people who are at highest level 30 and I don’t feel like I was at too much of disadvantage. I think we have had a nice mix of high and low leveled players on both sides so it is really evened out.

    It still is fun for me so I will continue to do it – near instantenous queues and great xp are great – but I actually dont want to level up so fast so i can complete some of the areas. By the way, who sells the low level pvp gear – I can only find the high level gear vendors!!!

    Soo… mixed review I guess.

  • A 50 will beat a 10, but two 10s can beat a 50. As a level 13 operative things are a bit tough but I do find myself competitive. While I have trouble handling others 1v1, if I remember to stay with others and help focus on their target I do well. While it’s long said that damage isn’t a meter of skill in pvp, I am normally in the top 4.

    I also keep in mind the following. It will only get better as I level, and it’s not like I’m not having fun now.

    No twinks, no heirloom gear, just battle!

  • So far I guess I have been lucky as on my Commando and Imperial Sniper I have had pretty good luck holding my own. I have to play more cautious and think smart but I have rather enjoyed the open bracket as such.

    Of course as people get higher and higher up I am sure I will notice more of a difference. But I am willing to put up with the being out powered by a bit just to be able to have instant queues or nearly so as I have had so far.

  • I have played a ton of Warzones so far, to the point of actually being 4 levels above the zone I was PvEing in. The main problem in the Warzones isn’t the damage done or your health, it’s your abilities.

    At level 10 or so, you have very few abilities and almost no talent points to help them. Higher levels do much better in them because of this. The other day we have a 50 Jedi Sage in our Warzone and it was fairly easy for her to heal us and keep us up. She had multiple heals and all her talent points to improve them where as a level 10 doesn’t.

    Oh and the worst Warzone is Huttball because the winner in a PUG v PUG is determined by which team has the most disables.

    One thing I don’t understand is why SWTOR and for that matter WoW don’t understand the concept of diminishing returns. DAoC realized this early on and they put in diminishing returns as well as immunities. If you are CC’d, after it breaks you should have at least a 10s or 20s window of immunity from CC. There is nothing more annoying than being stunlocked and killed.

  • I think it is an overzealous attempt to keep queue times to a minimum. Although a few bolstered lowbies can take a higher level, on a level playing field they will get owned by virtue of a greater variety and potentially more combat effective abilities, especially if one side has more over leveled players due to the synergy of their abilities. One look at the trees shows how a different skill enhance multiple other skills, which makes it very unbalanced.

    I also don’t know if there is a gear balancing mechanic in place; this alone would cause a massive imbalance. A player with gear that gives them 5-10x more ability bonuses will have a massive advantge.

    I would gladly wait in queue longer to get into bracketed and internally bolostered warzones.

    Also it isn’t a matter of “fair” game design for PvP, it is about balanced mechanics. I don’t see how anyone can logically defend game mechanics that don’t foster balance.

  • @Damage
    SWOTOR has resolve, when your resolve gets filled you are immune to CC until it clears and as it builds when you get hit by CC, further CC is not as effective. Is that not similar to diminishing returns?

  • @Antonio-

    I will never understand why I see that argument so much. Why do people equate balance in MMO-style PvP to DOTA or First-Person Shooters? That’s like equating fairness in baseball to football or soccer. They are different. I happen to enjoy MMO-style combat in PvP. Nothing about MMOs inherently require handing over the win to those who play most often. If that were the case, do you think people would queue up to get into an instance and type /played and give rewards to who has the highest number?

    It isn’t always that way, and why do you think it should be? I maintained some very competitive characters in WAR that were below average in time played and Renown Rank (PvP levels). It’s an age-old argument, but you can’t say that anything about MMOs inherently necessitates your belief.

  • So far I have had a mostly positive experience with the no bracket Warzones.

    Positives for me are:
    -Short queue times
    -Being able to play with anyone of any level in my guild/friends without restriction*
    -Same server community and no ‘Darthnoob@random server’ people. I really like the sense of community this should foster and would rather this format than ever having cross server Warzones.
    *I’m in Australia so I’ll be stuck in my level 20’s till Amazon ships my CE Jan 4 so at least I can still play the game with friends when I’m back!

    -Like many posters have pointed out… Abilities/talents of Higher level players. We do know that level 50’s will be getting their own bracket and I’m just assuming that won’t be the case for a little while until there are sufficient people at level cap. In the mean time they will have a pretty decent advantage over other players (lucky there aren’t many yet).
    Expertise is only for level 50’s (apparently) so when they start to gear up, taking on lower levels will be far from a fair fight due to all of the above advantages.
    -Huttball announcer… well… its more a love/hate that one is…

    I’m playing a Jedi Sage (dps). In the early 10-14 levels I could find myself overwhelmed, however since reaching 17-19 I’ve had far more success and really enjoyed it even against higher levels. I have CC, force fields to help absorb some damage (and cast on others of course) heals to throw around, dps abilities that slow others, knockback, stun. I’ve had to learn quickly how to effectively play my character due to some of the higher levels, but its been a lot of fun!
    The only time I don’t have fun is the number of times I’ve had Bounty Hunters do a Scorpion GET OVER HERE then have multiple Sith fly in and smash my face while unable to move… I just do my best to stay away 🙂

  • **Update**

    Feel like posting an update to my prior response.

    The past several Warzones i’ve competed in have been absurd. For example the one I just finished with 8 level 50 Empire premade vs 7 level 20 Rebublic/1 level 10. You can imagine how that went. That was the same for the one before it too which was 12hrs before hand. 500-0 Alderaans and Empire players just doing laugh emotes.

    Its getting way out of hand. I have to wait till Jan anyway for my CE and can’t play any further for now. Hopefully by the time im back they have a bracket system set up just for level 50s. I wouldnt mind a 10-30, 31-49 or something similar either.

    TLDR: I had luck in my previous warzones, now having come across multiple level 50 premades its quite obvious what a problem this will be and it needs to be addressed very quickly!

  • This mechanic is total bullshit. It favors powergamers far more extremely than in other MMOs. First they get days earlier access if they preordered very early (you need to know abotu that very early and watch the whole game developements tightly…casual gamers might very well miss preordering very early). So there are often already level 50 chars on your server when you log in for the very first time…

    And then they really shove it to them when they hand out great items for PvP points which they get very easy due to having early/high levels. And if you are not watching out for things like preordering early and powerleveling 24/7 like a maniac you are screwed badly. No chance to actually get PvP points at any decent rate now. And thats only 8 days after the earliest access and 2 days after official release dates mentioned in many magazines which “casual” gamers will probably get information from.

    It just plain sucks. I just quit the game because of it, will cancel my planned subscription and will only come back (maybe) if that gets changed and changed quickly. Because i dont want to be put at even more of a disadvantage when they only change it in months and i start playing then even far more behind everyone else.

    Some advantage of knowledge (like early preorder for earliest access) or powerleveling is ok. But this is absrud. Especially seeing how great rewards are handed out for those PvP points too.

  • Really absurd design choice and the reason why I won’t be buying the game even though virtually all of my MMO buddies are calling me to play. The trouble I will go through while leveling up is one thing, but I would definitely smash my keyboard if we were to lose games due to teen levels on our side. When I do endgame PvP, I want able allies and worthy adversaries on a level playground.

  • Got a couple quick questions.

    1. Is world pvp relevant at all?

    2. How much of a WoW clone is this in relation to dungeons/raids/pvp?

    The last thing I want is another WoW clone. The fact that warzones/battlegrounds even exist is disappointing enough to make me not want to play the game, reason I ask if open world pvp is present at all with meaning “think EQ open world pvp and fighting over rare spawns”.

  • The thing to note is that the bolster works of your gear quality, so if you go in with all green gear your not gonna get bolstered as much as if you go in on reds.

    but yea, I am starting to agree with you that its not a great way of doing it, although ive nto had as much trouble as you say

  • how about 3 lvl brackets 10-25 and 26-49 and 50’s with there own….or implament a system of where it finds the average lvl item of the warzone contestants and averages everyone to it so its more balanced..idk if any of thats possible its just my 2 cents

  • Twinks a great for trade. The GM is very weak in swtor and part of this is due to the fact that there are no twinks buying up expensive low level gear.

  • I love the TOR warzones. I played the free weekend and had every intention of ignoring pvp. However, to finish a quest I did try it. I accidentally had a ton of fun and ended up buying the game because of warzones. The bolster system is awesome. I felt like I was contributing at level 12 or so when I started. At level 21 (ish, don’t remember exactly as leveling is fast) I managed to top the killboard (although, I don’t really consider kills the objective, it was still fun and unexpected to see that).

    So, yes, the bolster system works and it’s a great idea. It also means that you can always get a match going, regardless of your level, which is a pretty nice feature.

  • I just tried the free weekend as well as a gunslinger and had an epic good time in the warzones. I was top, or even second highest damage in many of the games against many level 40+… Maybe it’s because the gunslinger has a lot of CC but I was able to hold my own against level 40+ melees in 1v1, killing most of them.

    The reason I won’t buy this game is because of all the high level people I killed so easily. I can imagine that if I levelled up to 40, and I had to deal with level 12’s like me topping the charts, I would be pretty frustrated about all the time I invested in the game to make my character better.