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PvP and the barrier to entry

Matthew Rossi

I was very disappointed when the Trial of the Gladiator ended up not making it as a PvP mode. I get all the objections to it (Olivia raises a handful of them here) but for my money, the biggest reason I stopped PvPing seriously way back in The Burning Crusade and never started up again is twofold - the introduction of Arenas and the rise of PvP gear.

For me, PvP (especially back when I ran the ladder) was all about going into a battleground, solo, and seeing what happened. Many times I got stomped so hard that I barely knew what my name was, other times we'd have a great game. After the ladder went away, I PvP'd even more because I was using the gear in PvE content - this was back before resilience even existed - and I wore some of that gear all the way to 70, as you can see in my mismatched set above. Even in BC, when resilience first took off and arenas were introduced, I often PvP'd to supplement my PvE gearing, or even to replace it on alts that didn't raid. But the more stratified PvP and PvE became, and the more gearing intensive PvP became, the harder it became to even do things like random BG's without first acquiring a full set of PvP gear. The barriers got taller and taller, and I was less and less interested in jumping over them.

I understand why this all happened - dedicated PvPers wanted a separate experience, free from the need to PvE at all. PvE players didn't like that sometimes the best route to getting gear was to run battlegrounds. Even now, with some 550 PvP items dropping from the Celestials, people are upset that there are PvP items that are better for them than PvE items. But for me, the solo PvPer, arenas and the stratification of WoW's PvP and PvE games became too great for me to keep participating. Even now that I'm PvPing more often, I'm only doing so at the end of the expansion, when I could buy a set of good PvP gear for justice points so I don't have to go into BG's without any PvP power and get steamrolled.

This is why I was so looking forward to Trial of the Gladiator as a concept - I simply find myself unable or unwilling to keep up with the PvP gear grind in addition to the PvE gear grind. I'm already collecting tanking and DPS gear, and so, a third set is only justified to me if it has some sort of cosmetic appear (since I'm a transmog fiend). Luckily, the Season 14 gear does, and so I picked it up - and once I had it, I started using it in PvP because why not? I expect the players who are running arenas will come stomp on me in any BG I enter, and that's fine - they PvP far more often, and likely have already started collecting their 550 pieces, whereas I queue for three or four random BG's in a day at most and call it good. I'm certainly not interested in seeing dedicated PvPers forced to descend to my gear level in most aspects of PvP - but I was looking forward to a means to start PvPing more regularly without gear as a factor, and I'm sad they couldn't make it work.

That said, one of the things I'm looking forward to in Warlords is that they're trying to reduce the importance of resilience and battle fatigue, because with those gone (at least at first) getting started in PvP isn't so daunting for someone like me. I really hate the initial experience of going into BG's and being effectively useless because I take two hits and explode compared to other players, which is one of the biggest problems I've had since Wrath in terms of getting involved in PvP. Again, I'm not upset that players who do arenas are better geared than I am - I just find it frustrating to know I'm going to be basically offering myself up like a fat plum for weeks until I'm finally geared enough to hit back. That's why these changes interest me so much - while I'm leery of so much change going into the expansion, one advantage of that is we also all start off somewhat unfamiliar with what the new paradigm is like, so we all have to relearn what we're doing.

What I'd really like to see is for random BG's to return as a means for casual, I have an hour to kill PvP play for players who like to PvP, but who don't want it to be the entire focus of their gameplay time. WoW has stubbornly insisted that abilities should basically perform the same in and out of PvP, making few distinctions between their use against players or mobs.

Therefore, for at least entry level PvP, I think it's a good thing that there's as little difference in gearing as possible, and with PvP power performing that distinction, we can probably simply allow people to step into random BG's in whatever gear they have and at least not keel over immediately. While there are (and will likely always be) significant barriers to getting into organized PvP like arenas or rated battlegrounds, that first step should be as painless as possible. I know I'm having fun now, and I wish I'd been able to start having that fun a lot earlier this expansion. Moreover, I think it's healthy for PvP as a whole to have a lot of players available for the activities that can feed more players into the rated play if they discover they have a taste for it. If they never start, they'll never find out.

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