SWTOR PvP falls short, my suggestions

Yesterday I told you what I thought about SWTOR‘s PvE from 1-40.  Now I want to give you my quick thoughts on the PvP.  My perspective is not one of a hardcore PvPer doing only warfronts to level, nor is it from someone who considers themselves god’s gift to PvP.  I’m not a pro, nor will I put a pro-gamer tag next to my name to insinuate such.  However, I have PvP’d extensively in MMO’s for over a decade and I’ve seen it all.

PvP in SWTOR is, currently, in a rough state.  The lack of level brackets is an outright fiasco, which is why I wasn’t surprised at all to see that they’re adding them soon.  Fighting in battlegrounds is not fun at all on my Guardian.  I’ve had some really rough experiences with the lack of damage.  I contribute by soaking up damage for others, but even then I feel like I’m not doing much.  I’m fairly positive that it’s my problem and not the class’, but it feels like I have to have a pocket healer focusing exclusively on me to do anything.

Playing on my healer has been an entirely different experience.  Even at level 12, when I went in and healed I topped the charts (sometimes the only healer on both sides) and knew for sure that my team won because of me.  It’s only getting better as I get more healing abilities.  I’m having a blast PvPing at level 18.

Improve the Warzone Design

Maybe it’s just me, but PvP in general feels clunky.  A lot of people waving lightsabers around mosh pitting on doors is not doing it for me.  I would have preferred a warzone fighting over the sarlacc pit for control points or something like that.  Something more interesting than a space station with doors as your objectives.  Anyone remember Star Wars: Battlefront?  There were plenty of map designs that would have made great SWTOR warzones — yes, even vehicles could be an option.

Expand the Open-world PvP

You all know I’m not much of a WoW-style battleground system fan.  I’d love to see the open-world stuff be expanded.  Illum has real potential, and even Outlaw’s Den can be made into something that players value.  There’s no reason we can’t get a big open zone with permanent 24/7 capturable objectives.  The planet system just begs for something like DAOC’s battlegrounds system, or even the frontier.  Take a planet, divide it into 3 major areas.  One area for each faction as their territory and a middle area that is owned by one faction at a time.  Within each zone would be bases that can be captured.  There are no restrictions on which bases can be captured, except the unconquerable spaceport each faction lands at.

Owning the most bases on this planet would grant access to a special spaceport that players could use to shuttle to a neutral planet/moon with PvE benefits.  Some awesome dungeon or boss or something that would entice players to constantly battle for control of the bases.  When the other faction gains control of the most bases, the spaceport switches hands and the other faction can fly over and attack the current occupants.  This would give incentive for players to constantly defend and attack, thus causing a community to form around the protection of bases at all times for the good of all.

That said… I’ve done ad-hoc open-world pvp on planets like Hoth, and I have really have a lot of fun.  Mostly small skirmishes and gank attempts, but fun.

Almost there…

Like the PvE, PvP is not horrible.  It’s not beyond repair. PvP is actually full of potential.  WoW’s PvP underwent numerous changes until Blizzard finally arrived at the current system.  My suggestions above for open-world PvP would not be hard (from a design perspective) to implement and they would make sense given the direction I feel SWTOR will go.  SWTOR won’t fit into the E-sport PvP scene.   Their best bet is to capitalize on the faction struggle inherent to their story and make a big show of it.

  • Did you really expect much from the themepark model? Arcade PVP is all it can handle.

  • No, I definitely got what I expected as this is precisely what I knew the PvP would be like. However, I see great potential in their ability to adapt already working models for planets and travel systems into a functioning open-world pvp environment that would promote community and dynamic, meaningful PvP.

  • The Open World PVP would be fantastic. I’ve not enjoyed any of the warzones I’ve played in since launch. Figured it was just the PvP system of the game I didn’t like. However since going to Alderaan I’ve been running across the occasional Imperial player, I’ve done a little open world PvP, just 1v1 stuff, and it’s been a blast. I really can’t stand Warzones though.

  • I enjoyed PvP for the first week when everyone was pretty much at the same level but once more and more people moved into the 35+ range I found that I started to get a bad taste while playing. I spent too much time working on alts and I was leveling them mostly through PvP and Space Battles outside class quest.

    Huttball is stupid. Don’t get me wrong it is fun but the concept of it in the setting is off. That being said if you get on a good team that actually throws the ball it can be a blast.

    Civil War capture points for the turrets was my least favorite warzone. It is okay when the teams are balanced but if you get on a bad team that all bunch up on a single turret then it quickly becomes a suckfest.

    The Warzone on the ship was okay to me. It wasn’t as fun as Huttball when you had a good team but it felt more Star Wars like to me. I could see the objectives making sense.

    Overall though the boosting system helps keep queue times down but it sucks bad you start getting in with a large group of higher level players. The bolster system may keep you alive a bit longer but in the end the game comes down to who has the most CCs and of course it is going to be the higher level characters.

    Personally I had higher hopes for PvP in the game. I don’t know why but I did. In the end I have already changed my subscription to cancelled. I am just hoping that Reckoning can keep me happy until Secret World or Guild Wars 2 come out. That plus maybe Warhammer: WoH which I have enjoyed the beta so far.

  • I agree with your open world PVP suggestion – as far as it is implemented according to the KISS system (keep it simple stupid)…Warhammer tried to design the hell out of their open world system with all kinds of artificial rules and things to do which ended up looking like a disaster.

    For me the most important part would be to add actual incentives. I had a great time doing a little open world PVP in Hoth and Tatooine but the fact that there are no actual rewards (or even some sort of death penalty) doesnt make open world PVP a longterm viable option.

    First step is to add actual rewards to open world PVP. Give us something…

    Second step is to ensure that the rewards for open world PVP are separate from any rewards you obtain from warfronts (they still have to be very significant rewards though not just a little somethign extra). BW’s latest PVP update sounded liek they are falling into the trap of thinking “oh millions are doing the warzones so they must like it.” What they have to realize is that MMO players will continously shove splinters under their bloody fingernails for months at a time if it means they get to REWARD X sooner. The average MMO player will usually engage in tedious grinding, even if it is boring to them, if it means they will get the valor rank, gear prdictably fast. That holds true even if there is fun open world PVP which may give lesser rewards, or the rewards are unpredictable, and it is generally slower.

    Third step, implement the proposed open world PVP area.

    One can argue which one should be implemented first but ideally it would be all three of them at the same time but if I had to choose I would go with the proper reward system first as it is the core of open world PVP. (yes – the argument is of course as a “true PVPer” you dont need rewards – which is total nonsense…even true PvE’ers or raiders wont go doing content if there were no rewards for it. For PVP there has to either be a reward or a detriment to the other person, e.g. death penalty)

  • Warhammer (deservedly) gets a lot of criticism, but it’s open world PvP was fun when it worked and you had a reasonable number of combatants and not a zerg. Also, I reckon it’s scenarios were better than SWTOR’s from launch. I jumped into PvP, in TOR, at level 10 and just about managed to do better than the inevitable leachers at the bottom of the table.

  • … Point being it’s crazy to start PvP beginners out with a massive disadvantage in gear, skills etc, when they have no experience either and don’t yet know the scenario rules… Also it makes the whole thing a lottery, which depends largely on the dirstribution of levels in the groups.

  • Personally, I was thoroughly underwhelmed by Ilum the first time I checked it out.

    It’s a narrow zone with the objectives lined up in a straight line. It’s more or less completely unfriendly to roaming PvP groups. Warhammer style zergs over the objectives will rule the day here.

    I’m with Keen in hoping for another planet offering a more open/free-form PvP area with objectives that are spread out.

    As it stands now, I wouldn’t play SWTOR for PvP at all. There’s lots of other games out there that do it better.

  • I do warzones about half the time on my level 24 guardian and you need to switch your tactics. Spec “Focus” and play as an AoE tank dive bomber. I force leap in, and force sweep a crowd of imps, and then I AoE slow them, etc. etc.

    Yeah they can still kick my ass if they focus me and sorcs and others still tear me apart, but word on the street is guardians get really good post 40+.

    Not to mention with our guards and taunts I earn about 5 medals in each warfront on a bad day even when we lose.

  • I’m not sure the lack of brackets is necessarily the “fiasco” you think it is. They are adding them in now, yeah, but what would brackets have accomplished at launch? Those first few thousand level 50 players could essentially have 2+ hour queues depending on the time of day. You can’t segment the PvP population until the endgame folks get to self-sustainable levels.

  • @Azuriel: That is what I was thinking too – it was actually the best way to handle this. Start with no brackets and once there are enough 50s to have their own then implement a level 50 bracket. Even if they implement it in 1-2 weeks, it still could be a huge problem for the level 50s. Especially if you play off-hours like I do! I am not even sure if level 50s are the problem…but it seems to me that fully geared level 50s are the problem.

  • i think ILLUM has great potential. it feels like an open world version of Alterac Valley. (you know, before BC, when it was not dumbed down but a 10 hour war of attrition. )
    if i remember, the pvp team has some members from the warhammer and doac 🙂 so i have faith we will see awesome world pvp if players ask for it

  • […] will have a good run…  for about 6 month and then people will look elsewhere.  PvP lacks the eSport draw to retain subs, the PvE is great but will lose its charm in a repetitive endgame environment, and […]

  • I guess you didn’t hit Ilum yet…
    Both Ilum and Outlaw’s (Tatooine) are catastrophes for now.
    Ilum is simple “win trading” so people get their daily done as fast as possible.
    Tatooine is completely empty because exploiters (mostly low levels) were gathering resources there while everybody was busy leveling. Now I go there at 50 (as intended) and it has been nerfed into the ground. Once again, cheaters harm the legit players. My question is “why didn’t Bioware simply lock out low level players from the zone?”. Just teleport anyone who is under level 40 (or even 45) out of the zone.

  • The PvP is exactly what I expected. It is pretty entertaining, but I’m like you Keen, I prefer and love seeing the open world PvP objectives over the instanced stuff.

    With that said, I installed Jedi Academy when it went on sale on Steam and found myself enjoying playing that with my brothers and friends a lot more than the SWTOR PvP.

  • If the game had lvl 50 brackets from the start it would have been hell to find a pvp match at the start for lvl 50s. Now that there’s more of us at lvl 50, it makes sense to put them in, and guess what they are putting them in. Done exactly right IMO, and hardly a fiasco (although I doubt they actually played it that way).

    Also, I play as a sith juggernaut (the counterpart to your guardian) tank spec, with a semi-organized team of 2-3 other guildies (usually a healer and a dps, although we’ve gone with no healer or with no dps). I couldn’t disagree more about not making a difference. When I’m there I can take tons of damage myself, but I can also shift my guard to people being focus fired, taunt and aoe taunt to remove tons of damage done to my team, and do a suprising amount of damage to top it all off (especially because I die so rarely). And let’s not even talk about how a well played juggernaut can be the centerpiece of a dominant huttball team.

    It takes a while to get used to (I’ve never had to map and use so many different abilities in any MMO I’ve played), and gear/level certainly makes a difference (at lvl 18 you couldn’t be a tank even if you wanted to), but in the current state of pvp tanks are probably OP.