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3 things Warzones taught me to love about Battlegrounds


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OK, I admit it. I've been trying out PvP in Star Wars: The Old Republic. You can't claim to have diverse knowledge of disparate PvP systems if you don't ever, you know, play other games. "I hear it's hard to get the huttball across the line" isn't quite the same as "You touch the huttball and 15 Sith Juggernauts appear and teabag you like the Lipton Army."

That doesn't mean I've quit my time in WoW Battlegrounds. Not to offend any saber-jockeys out there, but the PvP in WoW is better. Don't get me wrong. I'm having a great time firing rockets and dodging laser swords, but WoW's PvP has been honed as a separate game style. Its balance and play is beautiful and elegant. I didn't even realize how true that was until I spent some time in SW:TOR's analogous group PvP area, called Warzones.

Let me put my money where my mouth is. This is a (small) list of things I've learned to love about Battlegrounds from doing Warzones.

You can click stuff

Have you ever been defending the flag, running the flag, or even existing inside a Battleground and clicked an attacking player? Actually, have you ever clicked anything in WoW? You know, just click the thing to target it. As you do.

You don't do that in SW:TOR. You're supposed to. The interface acts like you should be able to click opposing players. It seems like the thing to do. But clicking enemy players in SW:TOR is like trying to tightly grasp a well-greased weasel. Sure, the occasional slippery savant can pull the task off, but you're generally stuck with tabbing through targets.

You don't realize how basic and fundamental the ability to click on an opposing player is. It never crossed my mind until I was forced to tab target my enemies. I can't tell you how many times I've died trying to tab to the guy killing me. If I could click on him -- as you do for WoW -- it would never be an issue.

Lag is minimal

I recognize that SW:TOR is a newer game with so-called better graphics that requires a stronger computer, but my gaming box is relatively powerful. I play WoW in Ultra with no problems (though I do change some settings to provide me a better, unobstructed view). I've never had any level of graphics lag in WoW.

PvP in SW:TOR is like fighting an angry Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. The amount of graphics lag you suffer depends on the strength of your computer and how many players are clustered in one spot. Even the beefiest computer is going to hiccup amidst an 8-player huttball pileup.

For all that we like to criticize WoW's graphics, remember them for the gift that they are -- a smooth, unburdensome experience. Because Blizzard has kept its graphics reasonable, we can fight in the Battlegrounds without bringing out graphics to a weeping crawl.

WoW has reasonable crowd control
I will never complain about crowd control again. I will never complain about rogues and stunlocks again. I will never complain about WoW's very few knockbacks again. Those days are behind me.

If you've not picked up SW:TOR to try the PvP yet, I can describe it for you fairly simply. Imagine you are a ping-pong ball. That's 90% of it. You're a ping-pong ball in the middle of a match. When you cross the net, though, you also get stunned. While getting knocked back. Sometimes when you're stunned and getting knocked back, you'll also get messed (kind of a different stun), just to make sure.

While I exaggerate minutely, I promise you that it's only minutely. The number of stuns, knockbacks, and other mini-CCs in SW:TOR is ridiculous. It's tempting to think that this introduces a level of skill into the game, but that's not the case. PvP becomes a matter of "Hit your stun, then mash damage and hope they die before you get stunned."

WoW's crowd control -- whether we're talking about stun, snares, or anything else -- is a rich tableau of abilities, all on very long timers. You get to use these abilities strategically. Playing WoW with appropriate crowd control is like a chess match. You hit your stun now; you won't have it in 45 seconds.

I will admit, this one's experiential. I've tried to convey the sense of spending 10 minutes either stunned or dead, but until you've PvPed in SW:TOR to experience it yourself, you won't believe me.

SW:TOR isn't all bad

There's a lot to recommend SW:TOR's PvP. It does have some novel game rules. But for all that SW:TOR has the benefit of hype, its PvP just doesn't match the elegance and refinement of WoW's. I enjoy it, but it makes me yearn for some time in the BGs.

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