Wrath PvP gear hints at Arena Season 5

Zach Yonzon
Z. Yonzon|08.26.08

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Wrath PvP gear hints at Arena Season 5

I was somewhat puzzled when the first pieces of PvP gear started showing up in the Wrath of the Lich King Beta. The traditional 5-piece set of helm, shoulders, chest, legs, and gloves (as well as the weapons) were of blue or rare quality while the non-set pieces normally obtained through Honor -- bracers, belt, and boots -- were purples or epic. The blue items were tagged 'LK Arena 1' items and the purples were tagged 'LK Honor' items, which were easy enough to decipher.

However, MMO Champion uncovered an epic quality 2-handed mace tagged 'LK Arena 2', which is a rather curious item considering the game files already have LK Arena 1 2h Mace. What does it mean? At this point, not much. A lot can change from now until Wrath finally goes live, but if we were to put some weight into the item nomenclature, it might indicate that Blizzard plans to tier Arena gear similar to how they plan to create two separate tiers for 10- and 25-man dungeon items.

To be honest, the Arena 1 items are more reminiscent of Outland Reputation PvP gear and don't feel like worthy Arena rewards. On the other hand, comparing the Arena 1 2h mace vs. the Arena 2 2h mace shows a massive stat difference and could be indicative of a tiered reward system. Is it possible that Blizzard would create a separate set of Arena PvP gear that doesn't require Personal Ratings but have inferior stats? It would be like running an instance in Normal mode, while the better gear is obtainable with (higher) Personal Ratings -- the PvP equivalent of Heroic mode.

Blizzard has stated that there will no longer be any forthcoming Level 70 Arena rewards, and that the Brutal Gladiator sets are the last Arena items before the Level 80 items in Wrath of the Lich King. This brings a few questions to the fore -- will Season 3 gear become available for purchase with Honor in Season 5 the way gear from Seasons 1 and 2 were? If so, will Season 4 gear then be offered at discounted rates and require lower ratings? Or will Brutal Gladiator gear be available for the same price and Personal Ratings for all perpetuity? With no new rewards, Level 70 Arena participation is destined to dwindle. While past PvP sets were retired, the Brutal Gladiator sets are likely to be the legacy set that will remain similar to Warlord and Field Marshal item sets for Level 60.

Most of this is bound to change in the coming weeks. In fact, I'm hoping they will. In particular, I'm concerned about the huge discrepancy between the epic 2h mace and the PvE maces glimpsed from Naxxramas. The Arena epic mace is at 186.5 DPS (806 top-end) while the Naxxramas maces sit at 203.6 and 203.7 DPS (up to 880 top-end), which makes the Arena mace massively inferior. Fortunately, all the PvP gear in the game are certain to undergo changes -- at least in the graphics department, as the armor sets and weapons are old models from Season 4.

Exactly when Season 5 will begin is another point of speculation, considering that the first Arena season began on January 30, 2007, exactly two weeks after The Burning Crusade was launched. This means Blizzard expects most players to take 2 weeks to gain 10 more levels and we can expect more of the same for Wrath of the Lich King. Working purely on the assumption that the pre-Wrath content patch will come roughly around the same time as the launch of Warhammer Online on September 18, it should take another 5 weeks before the launch of Wrath of the Lich King -- this means Season 5 is at least 11 weeks away. If this schedule holds, Season 4 will have lasted about 19-20 weeks, roughly the same duration as Season 1. With any luck, Wrath -- and consequently Season 5 -- might just be right around the corner.
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