With the Mists of Pandaria beta in full swing we thought we'd take this opportunity to shed some light on what lays ahead for PvP. To that end, we sat down with World of Warcraft Game Director Tom Chilton to discuss the future of PvP in Mists of Pandaria. What is the overarching design philosophy for PvP in Mists of Pandaria?
Tom Chilton - We want to have more new PvP content than we've ever had before. With this expansion we're adding two completely new Battlegrounds with new gameplay types. We've never done that before at the start of an expansion. We also have a new Arena to add to the current pool of options. That will bring our count of Battlegrounds up to ten and our Arena count to six. How is the war being brought back to World of Warcraft in relation to PvP?
Tom Chilton - Well, the best answer to that is that we're very deliberately trying to get people back out into the world, and so that means on a PvP realm, you'll have more people to kill that are out in the world. Generally speaking, the most fun outdoor PvP is just the spontaneous conflict that happens as a natural result of people being out in the world. It's not the stuff the designers create for you. Many players on PvE realms are concerned about being forced to PvP or take part in World PvP when they don't want to, what can you say to them about the plans for this?
Tom Chilton - There are no plans to force PvP on players who are on PvE realms. Their experience shouldn't change and they'll have the same opportunities for PvP (if they wish to take part) as they do now. It's also worth noting that the Black Market Auction House has the potential to become a world PvP location for those on PvP realms. Just like the name implies, these are goods being sold out in shady locations away from the prying eyes of guards in the cities. They are not in neutral or safe zones. For PvE realms, it's not going to have that same risk for placing a bid as on a PvP realm (aside from being outbid). On the other hand, PvPers are afraid that things won't be taken far enough and they won't get the world PvP they want; they often mention the issue of guards in major cities hampering their ability to do these raids. What could you say about that?
Tom Chilton - We know that for many PvPers, the idea of getting a large raid (or two) together to invade a city is something that can make for great world PvP. We also know that there has been an issue with guards causing this to be a less appealing undertaking for them as the guards have gotten stronger. We obviously want those guards there doing their jobs, but we don't want them to be the wall that you just can't get over. So, we are planning to adjust the guards only on PvP realms to where they aren't quite as strong as you'd find them on a PvE realm, and they won't respawn quite as quickly either. We're still working on this, but we hope to get this adjustment in before the release of Mists of Pandaria. It's worth noting that the guards on PvE realms will remain the same as they are now. How is it possible to make it different between the realm types when it wasn't in the past?
Tom Chilton - The difference is in the available technology that we have now that we didn't have in the past. As the game has evolved over the years, so has technology and our capability to find ways to implement that new technology that makes our ideas of "what if" or "wouldn't it be cool" become reality. With the change to the guards, we think that could be a real game changer for those that really like the idea of raiding cities or areas and holding them against the "enemy". Beyond that though, there isn't really a difference, but with the new daily quest hubs, it should prove to be a real hotspot for PvP on a regular basis. Will there be bigger changes between PvP and PvE realms in the future?
Tom Chilton - It's always a possibility. We want to see how things go with these changes first. We don't want to promise any big plans at this point in time, but we are always thinking of ways we can add to the experience where we can. What about the general idea that there aren't enough people out in the world to even engage in PvP?
Tom Chilton - The new Cross-Realm Zones technology that we introduced recently in the beta should also help make sure more world PvP happens. What about the use of flying mounts? Many players are concerned about the use of flying mounts to avoid having to ever engage in PvP on PvP realms.
Tom Chilton - We know this is a concern and we have some things in mind for helping in this regard. First, we're limiting the use of flying mounts within Mists of Pandaria to level 90. Second, with so many players taking part in the quest hubs, we think we'll see a lot more PvP happening out in the world. After all, you have to land sometime. If that's not enough though, we have an item that we're adding to the game that players will be able to use from the ground that makes it possible to dismount a flying enemy player (within a reasonable range and PvP flagged). We're still discussing the particulars of how this item will be available. Will there be a Wintergrasp or Tol Barad for Mists of Pandaria?
Tom Chilton - No. We're deliberately trying to get people out into the world and these areas ended up being more like instanced areas than World PvP. We don't want to create another one and have it result in the same sort of gameplay. With that being said though, we've instead moved the bosses you would have found within an instance like Baradin Hold out into the world. We think the allure of a boss kill is a great impetus to go out into the world and engage in PvP. Could you recap the new battlegrounds that are being added? What new gameplay styles do the two new Battlegrounds have to offer players?
Tom Chilton - We have two new Battlegrounds that we've talked about before, each featuring a completely new type of gameplay that we haven't had available before.
The design of the Silvershard Mine hasn't really changed since we last discussed it at our Mists of Pandaria media event. Players essentially escort one of several mining carts to a depot to score points. Strategic locations will feature switches that allow you to change tracks. The more people you have helping out, the better, though you're going to want to stop or at least stall the other team from getting their carts into a depot as well.
For our other Battleground, Temple of Kotmogu, we've made some slight changes since we last talked about it at the event. We did some internal testing with just one artifact and discovered that the gameplay devolved into a sort of deathmatch in the center of the map. So we didn't just double the amount of artifacts that were in play, we quadrupled it and ended up with four artifacts at different spots that could be used to score points. You'll still score the most points for staying in the center area of the of the field of battle, but there's a lot more going on with four artifacts to keep track of and hand off to your team. Is the way we queue for Battlegrounds changing at all?
Tom Chilton - Yes, we're adding a way for players to down-vote two Battlegrounds that they don't want to see show up when queuing for random Battlegrounds. The exception to this is if it's the Battleground featured with Call to Arms. You won't be able to down-vote those when they happen, but this should make it so that it's less likely you'll be taking part in a Battleground that you don't particularly enjoy. It should also help make it more likely that when a particular Battleground comes up on the Call to Arms, you may be able to enjoy it more. We're also changing the way Call to Arms works so that there will always be a Call to Arms Battleground available. This will allow us to cycle through a larger amount of Battlegrounds on a regular basis. When will players get to try out the new Battlegrounds for themselves?
Tom Chilton - We're hoping to have these new battlegrounds in the beta for everyone to play within the next couple of weeks or so. We're looking forward to getting everyone's feedback and seeing how they play out with a larger test audience. Is anything changing with Arenas?
Tom Chilton - Yes, actually. Players will be able to see their opponent's class and specialization before the match begins. They won't be able to see the specific talent choices or glyphs being used, however. From there, it's a bit like playing poker. You won't know what exact abilities your opponent is using, but you'll be able to modify your own talents in the staging area before the match starts to try to anticipate what they could be using. Is anything changing with Rated Battlegrounds?
Tom Chilton - We don't have any changes planned for Rated Battlegrounds at this time, though we may at some point in the future decide to add in the newest Battlegrounds, Silvershard Mine and Temple of Kotmogu.