Does this mean the death of twinks? Not necessarily. Players can opt to toggle experience gains on and off by going to Behsten in Orgrimmar or Slahtz in Stormwind (best-in-slot, get it?) and ponying up 10 Gold. But wait, there's more! Players who turn off experience gains will only be placed in the same Battleground queues as other players who opt not to gain experience. That's right -- twinks will be facing off against twinks. Twinks who have always contended that it wasn't about the unfair gear advantage will finally get the opportunity to test their mettle against equally geared opponents. Enjoy.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. After the jump, we'll take a look at a whole bunch of changes that will impact World of Warcraft PvP from the obvious (Arena and Battleground changes) to the not-so-obvious (item and ability changes). Let's hit it.
2v2 is officially dead. Alright, it's technically not dead, but Blizzard took it to some back alley and beat it to an unrecognizable pulp. This little line in the patch notes dealt the beating all by its lonesome: "The newest season of Arena gear can only be purchased if you meet the requirements with your 3 or 5 player team rating." This means that players who want to gear up in the best PvP gear must participate in 3s and 5s. It's an artificial way of boosting participation in the bigger brackets, but it's guaranteed to work.
Ratings obtained in 2v2 is usable to purchase the previous season's gear, however. But given that points gain is lower and queues for the bigger brackets will improve... it's simply better to get at least one more person and play in the 3s. Farewell, poor 2v2, we hardly knew you.
Blizzard also changed the Dalaran Sewers map, increasing its size by 25% and allowing the use of mounts. The horrid crates on the corners of the raised platform which create nightmarish Line-of-Sight problems were also modified both in position and collision. The size increase gives ranged classes more breadth to move around and not as easily get trained by, say, a cleave team. The Ruins of Lordaeron have also been revised somewhat, with the alcoves in the starting chambers removed. I have no idea what that means. What they should really do is have players get shunted out of the rooms and close the doors, similar to the sewer pipes in Dalaran arena. Blizzard has also made the tombstone easier to move around, which should make Line-of-Sight less problematic.
Strangely, there's nothing in the patch notes about the Ring of Valor, which has numerous issues -- I've lost matches by being trapped in the bottom of the elevator as it rises -- and is generally abhorred by most Arena players. By most I mean anyone not playing a Hunter. Hunters just hop onto the pillar and pewpew things.
While the biggest news about the Battlegrounds is the long-awaited experience gains, Blizzard made a few other changes, too. For one thing, they're now removing Battlegrounds-specific NPCs in major cities, replacing them with a generic Battlemaster whom players can talk to and queue up for any Battleground. It's a cosmetic change and I totally called it wrong when I said that the Isle of Conquest will have new NPCs all over the place. It makes a lot more sense, actually, since if Blizzard adds more Battlegrounds, the war rooms will simply get more and more crowded and confusing.
So say goodbye to NPCs like Adam Eternum and Keldor the Lost, who will now only be seen during their particular Battleground Holiday (in this case, Arathi Basin). It's only natural that some things will fall by the wayside in this pruning and streamlining process -- after all, these NPCs became obsolete after Patch 3.1, when players gained the ability to queue from anywhere in the game. This means I'll need to make that trip to Shattrath with some flowers and send off Yula the Fair, who will only visit once every six weeks now.
In the meantime, as those NPCs take extended vacations, Battleground matches themselves will be much, much quicker paced now. Warsong Gulch now has a 20-minute timer, which means the game can actually end in a tie (which happens with some Battlegrounds). Expect more players to participate in this fast-paced map more with the changes.
Other Battlegrounds have been sped up, too, with the resources needed to win in Arathi Basin and Eye of Storm reduced to a mere 1600, down from 2000. It also only takes 8 seconds to take flags in either map as opposed to 10. As Blizzard aimed to balance the length of all Battleground playing times, most matches will last around 20 minutes. That's just freaking awesome. Casual players who have little time to play can gain a lot from playing a few Battleground matches.
Finally, Blizzard has implemented a buff called Honorable Defender, which gives players 50% more Honor when killing enemy players within the vicinity of a Battleground objective in Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm, and Isle of Conquest. Take that, road fighters! Players will no longer exasperatingly implore mindless combatants to "fight on the flag." It's simply more rewarding to do the right thing.
While those are the PvP-specific changes, there are plenty of changes across the board that should affect PvP in general. One big one? The mount change that lowers the casting time of land mounts to 1.5 seconds from 3. That's the span of one GCD. This means players can flee or pursue opponents much quicker or get to a particular point in the map in less time. The availability of mounts at an earlier level will also make Battlegrounds a more enjoyable experience for leveling players, particularly in maps such as Arathi Basin.
The class changes will affect PvP, too, but that's an entirely different story altogether. One key point, however, is that pets will scale better with their masters in many aspects. In particular, pets gain 40% of their masters' Resilience, making them much more, uh... resilient targets in PvP. Many changes have been implemented in the past few patches that raised the survivability of pets, and imparted Resilience has been one of the most requested changes since the stat was introduced in The Burning Crusade.
[EDIT: Speaking of Resilience, some commenters reminded me about the small change to Resilience, which now reduces all incoming damage equally. Sorry, did I say small? I meant huge. Gargantuan. This makes Resilience even more important as a stat now. It also guarantees survivability in matches. Whoa.]
Oh, and did you read about the return of faction-specific armor sets? Sure it's from the PvE Argent Tournament, but I'll be darned if that isn't one of the coolest things about Patch 3.2. Maybe we'll see faction-specific PvP gear again, too. You know, just putting that out there.
Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!