World of Warcraft's initial Battleground offerings were based around classic competitive game modes: capture the flag, conquest and domination modes from first-person shooters, and so forth. Mists of Pandaria's Battlegrounds are built upon the same concept, borrowing beloved concepts from other games while stepping up to embrace the competitive innovations of more recent titles. The mechanics are a bit more complicated than simply capturing a flag, but they're no less beloved by the gamers who see them in action.
Temple of Power
Much as Warsong Gulch is set on the border of Ashenvale Forest and Arathi Basin takes place in the Arathi Highlands, the Temple of Power is set in the new zone called the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. The temple contains an artifact that could turn the tide of war should it fall into the hands of one faction or the other, so the Horde and the Alliance have taken to the battlefield to claim it.
The artifact sits in the center of the map. Whoever claims the artifact must hold onto it as long as possible -- a difficult task, since not only is the opposing team trying to kill you and recover the artifact for themselves, but the artifact also causes a constantly increasing amount of damage over time to its bearer. The longer you hold it, the more dangerous holding it becomes. Once the bearer of the artifact dies, it falls to the floor and another player of either faction may pick it up.
That's the standard Murder Ball ruleset that you see in games such as Warhammer Online. WAR's Mourkain Temple was a fan favorite among low-level players when that game launched. However, World of Warcraft takes the ruleset one step further.
You earn more points when you hold the artifact in the center of the map than if you carried it around the outer rim. The accepted Murder Ball tactic in Warhammer Online was to fight near your spawn, so your ball carrier would be reinforced by respawning teammates more quickly. In Temple of Power, while you can use that tactic, you will accrue points more slowly that way. Fighting in the center, equidistant from both spawn points, will be the fastest way to accrue points. Your team will need to decide if that risk is worth the reward.
Temple of Power's combat is fast and frenetic, probably the closest thing we'll ever see to an open deathmatch ruleset in World of Warcraft.
According to Tom Chilton, the Temple of Power has already seen extensive internal playtesting. Silvershard Mine
The land of Pandaria isn't hogging all of the fun; the Silvershard Mine is located in an old Venture Co. encampment in Stranglethorn Vale. The Horde and the Alliance are battling over abandoned resources to fuel their war efforts.
The Silvershard Mine uses the Payload ruleset from Team Fortress 2. Players must escort a cart of resources from one end of the map to the other as quickly as possible. The cart only progresses forward when its owners are standing near it. The opposing team must stall the cart's progress as much as possible to prevent a timely capture.
As the developers did with the Temple of Power, they've added a new mechanic to the payload ruleset for its World of Warcraft debut. While the cart's path along its track is initially linear, the opposing team can flip levers throughout the map to reroute the cart down longer pathways, effectively slowing the cart's progress. It's in the best interests of the team escorting the cart to ensure those levers do not get flipped, so their cart can take the shortest possible route between point A and point B.
Like Temple of Power, Silvershard Mine is already being playtested internally.
Though we didn't have any hands-on time with these Battlegrounds, everything we saw and heard suggests they are much closer to completion than we anticipated.
It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!