I've been rather critical of Blizzard in recent columns discussing the state of PvP. I've spoken before about the problems PvP has faced in recent times, and while the current season's rating is in tatters and crumbling around us as yet another win-trading bug is exposed, yet more suspensions roll out, and yet more players are stripped of rating, we can at least do what the devs appear to be doing and look forward to patch 5.2, and a fresh start.
While it's yet another black mark against season 12 that another win trading bug has been doing the rounds, win trading is hardly new, and it's good to see that Blizzard are taking steps to fix it, if rather slowly. Win trading has been around for a very long time indeed, and there are whisperings that this bug has existed for some time, although that remains unconfirmed. Quicker action from Blizzard would be welcomed, but there may be things preventing this, that we're not aware of, behind the scenes.
1. Gearing changes are a good thing
These have been quite the hot topic of late, with the recently announced changes to PvP gear which purport to flatten out the gear curve and aid the late starter to the season. While many players on the forums seem to be the polar opposite of cheerful about these changes, asserting amongst other things that they're the worst thing to ever happen to PvP, the stupidest decision ever made, and various other prophecies of doom.
But they're not, and let me fill you in on why, just in case you were wondering. The removal of the 2200 requirement for elite gear is a step in the right direction. Why? Because that rating level was rather arbitrary int he first place, and served no real purpose except to create a hurdle. There was a point at 2200, where, after the season had progressed a little, players were able to purchase weapons that were considerably superior to those of players below 2200, and yes, it created a gear gap. There was no reason for that number to be 2200. Being above 2200 is not necessarily the mark of a good player, it could be someone who's taken advantage of a flavor of the month class, like beast master hunters at the start of the expansion, or arms warriors. And why not 2400, or 2600, or 2000, or 1800, and so on. The gating of gear behind a particular rating was a bad idea, in my opinion.
I don't fully understand why those who are angry about it have such a problem with this change. If you're a good PvPer, you're going to be able to regain or maintain your rating, even if the people who sit at around 1500 rating have access to elite gear through sheer perseverance. If anything, these gear changes make gear less of a factor, and skill more of a factor. And that is a good thing. There's already talk of introducing some cosmetic enhancements for players with high rating, but in my own opinion, rating itself and the titles (and sometimes mounts) that come with it are reward enough.
The addition of catch-up mechanics is another positive, as it's not always possible for players to start PvPing right at the very moment the season opens, and in season 12 the gear scaling has made it almost possible to catch up to the players who did. It shouldn't be the case that someone who wants to start PvP on an alt, or wants to start PvP in the first place, should be flattened every time they enter an arena. It's a bad thing, and the catch-up mechanics will go a long way towards fixing it. I still think the catch-up cap needs to be introduced way before 5.3 launches, as if that's not the case players will be better off waiting until 5.3 than starting in 5.2, and that's a bad thing. Of course, that's slightly dependent on when 5.3 appears.
2. A wild DotA appears!
Not just one, but two new battleground maps have been datamined recently. First we saw the amusingly named Defense of the Alehouse, then a few days later, Adriacraft unearthed a map currently named Gold Rush. There is absolutely no guarantee these maps will make it into patch 5.2, in fact, I'd go as far as saying that that seems extremely unlikely, given that there has been literally no announcement about them. But we can hold out hope that they won't be on that list of stuff that never makes it into the game, despite being dug up in the PTR.
But, Defense of the Alehouse, the name at least, has a distinctly pandaren feel to it. So, unlike previously where we could expect perhaps one or two new maps for an expansion, maybe more will be coming with a later patch. What's more, although they haven't really materialized yet, there has been talk of PvP dailies with patch 5.2. This is fantastic, and if it's a sign of things to follow, PvPers can look forward to more attention and more new content in future.
3. We can rebuild it
OK, I'll admit it, the class balance changes got me down. I was really excited about the previously discussed return to casting and interrupting rather than blanket silences and heavy burst. But, I should probably have realized that it was too big a change to come in mid-way through an expansion. When the class changes first started appearing on the PTR, I was so happy to see this change. The skill element of interrupting and juking was far better to me than blanket silences. And, I'll freely admit, the change halving Asphyxiate's cooldown seems like an odd choice. And reverting Cyclone's DR while it remains undispellable is also a strange redaction to me, but I'm sure druids would disagree.
Philosophically, though, they're moving in the right direction. Even though the blanket silence change didn't make it in to this patch, and may not make it in to this expansion, the philosophy behind it is sound. Interrupting a cast should be a skill, an important decision, and of course, the caster then has an opportunity to respond with juking, or fake-casting. As Ghostcrawler said: "...the continual arms race between instant spells, silences and silence immunity isn't good for the long term health of PvP." I wholeheartedly agree with this position, instant casts and blanket silences lead, mostly, to frustration.
Another Ghostcrawler post that fills me with hope rather than dread is this:
Abilities without counters are no fun. If you can do something that is entirely unstoppable, that's tiresome, that's boring, that's overpowered. Yes, there should be some abilities that can work through stuns, yes, there should be some abilities that punish the dispeller for dispelling them. But they should be few and far between! Much as it pains me to say it, the nerf to shaman totems which meant that they could not be used while silenced was a good decision, as it moved us more in this direction. What's more, the amount of attention being devoted to PvP balancing means they're listening. It's about time.
I can only hope they stick with this philosophy, and are not swayed by player complaints.
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