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Legion PvP preview evens playing field on gear in World of Warcraft’s competitive modes

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PvP in World of Warcraft is something that, despite an early obsession with it, I’ve long-since abandoned. Arenas weren’t for me, too organised and structured, and getting specific gear with its new-fangled stats wasn’t something I had time for. Moreover, I enjoyed it as a co-op game. That may all soon change, as PvP in the next expansion, Legion, is looking far more interesting, accessible and based on individual player skill vastly over gear.

The best MMOs all feature stellar PvP, so pick your poison. P.

Of all games, Call of Duty seems to be where the team has looked for inspiration. This is most obvious in the new Prestige system, which will allow you to reset your rank to acquire cosmetic upgrades (and bragging rights) once it’s at maximum. However, it’s true elsewhere too – the biggest change is that gear will be playing a tiny part of its usual effect on a character when they’re engaged in PvP, much the same as how well you can aim matters far more than gun choice in a shooter.

Rather than each bit of gear contributing individually, characters in PvP areas will have a base statline that is slightly increased based on their average item level. Each point contributes to a 0.1% increase, so 100 item levels is worth only 10% stats. A newly max level character and one that has been there for some time won’t even have a difference that large, so it will always be negligable. Trinkets, set bonuses and the like will also all be disabled when engaging in PvP.

On top of this will be a system that rewards new talent rows, picks of three abilities, based on PvP progression. To compare to what would happen previously (when gear would be awarded) rather than a base stat increase that makes you more rawly powerful than opponents – often unfairly so – you now have more abilities and options to outplay them with. Obviously, this could still be as unfair as gear advantages felt for new players previously, but is much more interesting and balancable by a design team.

It’s an interesting pair of choices. The nightmare scenario, of course, is that groups of players with so little to differentiate them will get bored of beating their head against each other on a weekly basis and quit. On the bright side, adding PvP-only abilities and balance – Blizzard freely admitting that they will change that base statline of each class if need be, gifting more Stamina to those who lack HP or a bonus bit of Strength if Warriors need more damage (we always do) – means the brains behind it can have a much more direct impact and design more deliberately than before. PvP will also still reward gear, only there are no longer PvP-specific stats so this gear can be taken into high level dungeons and raids immediately, making your progress in either effect the other.

Most importantly, it brings player skill to the fore, not only in talent and ability selection but in when to attack, retreat, use cooldowns and support team-mates. A level playing field brings the skill out – now Blizzard just have to assure it’s there.

Much more, including details on how and what will be rewarded from the new systems, in the official post. I’ll see you in Warsong Gulch, filthy Horde.

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