Uplink Analysis: PvP

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on March 08, 2013

There have been a lot of recent questions about how PvP will work in WildStar, and while we're not ready to share all the details yet, we thought this was a good opportunity to get your feedback on what you hate most about PvP and see how we can address those concerns. Here was our question:

We've talked about game balance previously, but this week we'd like to focus on PvP. What are you biggest frustrations with PvP?

The first concern voiced by many of you was about the value of gear over skill in PvP, including rewarding for playing rather than playing well:

w1ngs0fate: PvP should be more about skill & less about gear. The best players shouldn't be the ones who have lots of free time

WildPlots:  PvP gear having greater impact than skill & innovative combat techniques.

EvionFox: The gear issue was something that frustrated me with PvP gear. I felt less accomplished getting PvP gear than getting raid gear. With raid gear, I knew I was boosting my damage. With PvP, it's hard to tell if I'm surviving more when being ganged-up on.

Jar_Nod: Being able to buy PvP gear with honor. Then it turns into a "who spent the most time in BGs" rather than "who is the best"

Atomic_Split: Too high a bar for entry. It's no fun to have to get beat down 100 times just to get into pvp 'for reals'.

BlimeyGames: When a system allows the same rewards for someone who doesn't play as much as someone who puts in a lot of effort.

KatarynaWS: going to say accessibility, when people new to the game after it's been out a while cannot PvP without being ROFLSTOMPED.

Arawulf: Low accessibility in PvP. When new players have no choice to but get destroyed for weeks while farming for PvP gear.

There was also a little unease about crowd control mechanics and the feeling of helplessness due to stunlocks and/or the opposing team's strategy:

OHNOITSKEN: being a caster and getting chain silenced and knowing that because I don't have the right trinkets I can't do anything about it.

Arawulf: Unbalanced crowd control is the fast track to failing PvP. There's a place for it, but limited in duration and frequency.

qn2Quid: Being stunlocked or feared for a long time and your health is slowly ticking away while you are able to do nothing about it!

EvionFox: Getting CC-ed to death without getting a chance to escape/fight back, for sure!

AgentNardz:  I hate fast combat, when dps outscales life. Especially if a class can stun you and kill you before the stun is up.

Jar_Nod: My biggest frustration is feeling like I can't do anything. If I lose cause I'm outplayed, I'm fine with dying

Guideborn: Yea, being CC'd until kingdom come! Being able to win using one skill. All skills should be effective to add flavor to matches.

reignguild: Being stunlocked/CC'd repeatedly without reasonable ability(ies) to counter.

Yakzan: Extreme loss of control in faster paced MMOs, such as WoW, etc. By this I mean having no ability to react due to stunlocks, etc. Have trade-offs for CC. Polymorph healed while keeping the victim out of combat. Perhaps a shackle requiring a channel time, etc?

cecilandblues: dead inside a single stun is no fun. Being CC'd to death is respectable but also no fun for victims

MattstaNinja: Biggest frustration would be feeling hopeless. Want there to always be some way to counter or compete; doesn't need to be obvious

NoorElBahrain: no one enjoys being stun locked by one person. If done by a team I would call it good team work, but by one it's frustrating

A third concern voiced by a surprising number of you was the feeling that Battlegrounds typically feel too static after a while:

Gazimoff: Also, if you're doing battleground PvP CtF, make sure there's more than one route to each flagroom

MrPrwhite: making the battles less of the standard make PvP like we want raiding epic conflict. Also the same old battle mechanics try something new be inventive we gotta kill each other but find a new type of field to do so

Yermoh: The moment I know the map, its starts to get repetitive, no matter the 1v1 or the 10v10 :C

siegaplays: predictable strategies/maps, try adding random boss mobs requiring cross-faction co-op to survive for pvp win after

JacobFllgren: There not being any structured pvp, for me it's everything about becoming the best at for example wow arena.

WildPlots: Lack of balance between structure and player-driven content. Warplots will solve this.

We asked Jen Gordy, our Senior PvP Systems Designer, and Chris Lynch, Lead Combat Systems Designer, to take a look at your thoughts and address them. Here's what they had to say:

Jen Gordy:

In WildStar, we want player skill in PvP combat to enable access to the best rewards that PvP will offer. To meet that goal, players will have an individual Elo rating (similar to League of Legends) for each PvP feature (Battlegrounds, Arena, Warplot PvP) that is used as a representation of player skill. The rating will be used for matching, as well as to determine access for buying higher quality gear and other types of rewards.

The end result: As they get higher ratings, skilled players will filter to the top, opening up new gear options to stay competitive with players of similar ratings. New players to the game will start at the bottom and will be matched to players who are also starting out or are still learning the ropes.

If you’re not in a competitive mood or are trying out PvP for the first time and don’t want to throw off your rating, you can participate in “open” play, where you are matched with other players based on your gear.

In regards to your thoughts on the "static" feeling of standard PvP battlegrounds, the WildStar PvP team likes applying that WildStar flavor to our PvP maps. For us, this means that  we take the standard PvP game types and identify ways to enhance objectives and roles to better suit WildStar’s combat and mobility mechanics.

So, using a Capture the Flag (Battleground) example, we feel that the "grab and capture" mechanic itself was a little simplistic and we wanted to shake things up a little. Defenders also had a very simple role: keep the potential carriers away from the flag or run them down before they got out of the base.

In WildStar, a Capture the Flag map works a bit differently. A neutral flag spawns in mid-map (rather than each team having 1 flag to grab and capture for each “round”). Let’s pretend that you’ve nabbed the flag and you’re bringing it to your base to capture it. You run into your capture area, the flag is “planted” in the ground. The score: Your Team 1 – Enemy Team 0.

After a few seconds, a new neutral flag spawns mid-map to fight over. An enemy player sneaks into your base and STEALS your planted flag! Where the heck are your defenders? He makes it over to his base and while your team was running around with pants on fire, the enemy managed to also nab the neutral flag as well. The score: Your Team 0 – Enemy Team 2. Interested yet?

"WildStar Flavor" also means giving you choices. This is where Warplot PvP shines. In Warplot PvP, Warparties (formal guild-like structures – you can be in a Warparty and you can be in a guild!) will be able to own large plots of land in which they can add modifications to build up their base. The Warparty can then queue up for Warplot PvP and be matched against similarly skilled/built-out opponents. Warparty players will be able to damage and destroy modifications, repair their own modifications, and lay down mines, traps, and much more. There’s nothing static about that!


Chris Lynch:

Many of our developers have experienced the same frustrations with crowd control that you all expressed in your comments. That is why we have spent a good bit of time coming up with ways to prevent this from happening in WildStar.

Our first solution to this is a system we call “Interrupt Armor”. In this system, players and creatures can receive buffs that add Interrupt Armor counters to their character. These Interrupt Armor counters act as Crowd Control absorbers. Each Crowd Control spell will have a power associated with it, if this power is less than the current amount of counters on a player or creature, the value of the Interrupt Armor is dropped by that value and the Crowd Control is not applied. If the Crowd Control power reduces the Interrupt Counters to 0, the Crowd Control effect will be applied. This system has the added bonus of opening up new possibilities for raid and dungeon boss design, as we can use Interrupt Armor on these bosses in different ways to encourage new strategies from players.

Our follow-up solution to these frustrations is something we call “Breakout Gameplay”. We view crowd control as a prison, and we wanted to make sure that anytime you are in this prison you have some type of gameplay that lets you "breakout." Using this design philosophy, we are able to take a wide variety of the crowd control states that MMO players are all-too-familiar with and update them to a system that provides a more interactive and less frustrating experience. We were also able to come up with a few crowd control states that you may not have seen that we find to be very fun. We'll dive into detail about some examples of Breakout Gameplay in a future update. Thanks for your feedback!

Thanks to everyone who took part in last week's conversation about PvP. Remember to keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin a new topic on Monday. See you on Wednesday!

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