August 13, 2009

World of Warcraft Patch 3.2 PvP Guide

Patch 3.2 is finally here, and is anyone else kind of surprised by how fast things are coming these days? To be fair, as most of my co-workers here at WoW.com have assessed, this newest patch is one of the more lackluster patches in a while considering it merely appends to much of existing content (the Argent Tournament). There's a smattering of stuff for raiders, soloists, hardcores and casuals, but what's in store for PvP enthusiasts?

There are a lot of major changes in this patch that will impact PvP greatly, one being the blanket change to Resilience which now affects all damage taken, rather than just critical hits. Another is the effective neutering of the 2v2 Arena bracket with the change blocking access to the best weapons and end-of-season rewards. A third big change coming is the introduction of a brand new Battleground, the Isle of Conquest, which is the technically the first 40-man raid instance since the original Naxxramas. There's also the whopping introduction of experience gain in Battlegrounds, too. Caught your breath yet? There are a lot of other things in between, and we'll take a closer look at everything after the jump.

Resilience

What does the change to Resilience mean? Basically, longer Arena matches. Resilience now reduces all damage done by enemy players by the same proportion. It is one of the best changes Blizzard has made for PvP. To balance the buff, the resilience rating needed to reduce critical strike chance, critical strike damage, and overall damage has been raised by 15%. This translates, in my fuzzy math, to a 94.3 resilience rating required per 1% reduction as opposed to what used to be 82.

It's a significant buff, considering that there's a trend towards minimizing burst damage in PvP which is usually the result of critical strikes. This means that there'll be a lot more non-crit damage going around, which means that Resilience will come into play a lot more. This results in slower games, particularly with the latest PvP gear, which has progressively higher resilience ratings than past seasons'.

This indirectly impacts burst teams, or teams that essentially rely on training one target until that target is dead. Most prominent among these sorts of teams are the cleave teams of double melee or even the less common 4-DPS 5v5 teams. Over the past few seasons, Blizzard has been working to remove burst elements that don't allow an opponent to react - from nerfing Engineering items to adjusting class abilities and now overall damage reduction.

Ghostcrawler talks about the changes in depth over at the forums, and we've pointed to respected PvP blogger Ming for his take on Resilience, as well. The bottom line is that Resilience becomes hands down the most desirable stat for PvP, just as it should be. The tradeoffs in raw stats is more than made up for the raw damage reduction and players using PvE gear in PvP situations will be at a severe disadvantage. Resilience gems and enchantments will rise in value, as well, as dedicated PvP players will refocus on the most important stat for that aspect of the game.

2v2 Arena

Many players view Patch 3.2 as the death knell of 2v2 Arenas, which was crippled deliberately by Blizzard in an attempt to shift the emphasis to bigger brackets. The popularity of 2v2 rested on the fact that it is simply easier to manage, resulting in more teams and, consequently, more games. It was high on the list of problems that Ghostcrawler listed were plaguing World of Warcraft PvP.

The change guts the 2v2 bracket as a means for competitive Arena play as players aiming to get the shoulders, weapons, and Gladiator title (and accompanying Frost Wyrm), will abandon the bracket wholesale. On the other hand, because the change still allows access to Season 7's Relentless Gladiator items save for the most prestigious items, the bracket will become more casual-friendly. If the matchmaking rating is reset at the start of Season 7 - which might be likely - the absence of hardcore Arena players will make the bracket more accommodating to casuals and those stepping into the Arenas for the first time.

This change also results in 3v3 becoming the most popular bracket, which would suit Blizzard just fine considering it's the 'money' bracket where virtually all professional competition happens, anyway. 3v3 is easier to assemble and organize than 5v5, while still being open to a wide variety of class/spec comps and representation. Expect 3v3 to become the harshest bracket for competitive Arena play on live realms, with massively improved queue times and wilder shifts in ratings gains or losses.

Isle of Conquest

Patch 3.2 stands to be one of the most significant patches for PvP in some time. The introduction of a new Battleground midway through an expansion is a very good sign that Blizzard is serious about putting some renewed focus on the Battlegrounds. In particular, this new Battleground map isn't just some small or even mid-sized map as we'd seen at the launch of Burning Crusade or Wrath. It's a massive, Alterac Valley meets Wintergrasp-style epic map with elements we'd never seen in the game before.

This is what makes Patch 3.2 so significant for PvP, more than anything. While any raid content will lose relevance as soon as the next raid with better tier gear comes out - or worse, new max levels - Battlegrounds have a playability that lasts for years. The Isle of Conquest is going to be around much longer than Naxxramas, Ulduar, or even Icecrown when it finally comes out. It will be played by characters of a wider level bracket and well through the next expansion. In short, a Battleground is an excellent investment in terms of developer hours.

And what a Battleground the Isle of Conquest is! Borrowing elements from Alterac Valley (reinforcements, generals), Arathi Basin (capturable flags), and Wintergrasp/Strand of the Ancients (siege vehicles, destructible buildings), the newest Battleground adds even more elements such as aerial assault and a progressively variable Honor flow. It's guaranteed to be a popular Battleground, providing great fun, a new experience, and considerable Honor which is useful in obtaining a good selection of Arena gear.

More than anything in Patch 3.2, I can guarantee that Isle of Conquest is the one content that will eat up a lot of hours of players' game time. Naturally, it comes with its host of Achievements, as well, and the Master of Isle of Conquest meta. We'll get to writing an Overachiver's guide once we've seen it live for a while, so stay tuned.


Experience in Battlegrounds

We haven't even touched upon one of the most game-changing aspects of Patch 3.2, which is the introduction of experience in the Battlegrounds. Corollary to this is the ability to toggle xp gains on or off for a token fee. I won't even bother with the implications of this, but I'll focus on the fact that it will now be possible to grind through levels purely through PvP. That's pretty insane, and it's something I would've appreciated years ago but I'm sure I'll find handy when the next expansion hits.

This also has deep implications for the twink community, who will now find themselves facing other twinks as Battleground queues will be separate for players who have xp gain toggled off and those who have it toggled on. It's something many have been asking for, and is a win-win situation for hardcore twinks and casual players who are merely leveling and want to enjoy the Battlegrounds without getting stomped on. Those interested in the xp toggle feature can approach experience eliminators Behsten in Stormwind or Slahtz in Orgrimmar (they're stealthed, so look carefully).

It's also important to note that experience in the Battlegrounds will be awarded for actually completing tasks in the map, such as capturing flags or defending nodes, instead of from Honorable Kills. While this won't make an impact on max level Battlegrounds (more on that later), it will have the effect of players in lower level brackets actually working together to win. Imagine that.

Other small things

Koralon the Flame Watcher

While technically a PvE encounter, Koralon is the third big baddie to show up in the Archavon family vault. As with his predecessors, Koralon drops 'free' PvP gear and should always be a weekly stop for anyone serious about gearing for PvP. This continues the tradition of controlling Wintergrasp for some of the best possible gear in both PvP and PvE. It's highly likely that Koralon's loot table will resemble Emalon's, where non-set pieces will drop along with set pieces of Season 7 or Tier 9.

New Wintergrasp queue system

As if killing Wintergrasp's epic-ness through the change in the quests from daily to weekly wasn't enough, Blizzard has instituted a queueing method for Wintergrasp that will limit the number of players in the zone to 200 (100 per faction) throughout any given battle. While it retains some of its scope - 200 players is still a pretty darned lot - it loses some of its appeal as a non-instanced zone. I mean, what's the point of having it non-instanced if Blizzard limits its participants?

Obviously, it's a technical limitation where Blizzard's ambition exceeded their servers' capacity, but the structured queue system is good in that it removes the whole 'LFM Wintergrasp, PST so-and-so' that happens before every match. Will it do anything to curb Wintergrasp's popularity? No. In fact, this will likely increase it considering players will be assured of a hard limit to the zone which, assuming Blizzard calculated it right, will result in minimal lag. Expect better, smoother Wintergrasp games this time around.

Season 7

Patch 3.2 also heralds the start of Arena Season 7, which will also see a multiple tier gear system first introduced in Season 6. If the new season begins as scheduled, it marks the shortest Arena season yet and reaffirms the trend towards shorter Arena seasons - Season 5 and 6 lasted for 17 weeks each. If this is any indication, there's a good chance that Season 7 will have roughly the same length.

Blizzard also finally removed the annoying fire from the Orgrimmar Arena, allowed mounts in an enlarged Dalaran Arena, and alcoves have been removed from Lordaeron Arena. What does this mean? Better fights, quite simply. The flames, for example, were one random element that simply had no place in competitive play.

One interesting note is that the removal of the 2v2 bracket from contention for end-of-season rewards means there will be no Gladiators from 2v2. This means fewer Gladiators overall unless Blizzard tweaks the system. A few more changes in the Arena system seem inevitable considering Season 6 saw players hit the 3000 rating ceiling, which was never intended. Overall, Season 7 looks to be an interesting chapter in the history of Arena play, and it should be fully expected that like Season 6 before it, this season will be friendlier to casuals than ever.

General Battleground improvements

Blizzard changed some things in the Battlegrounds that will ensure that matches will be fast and furious - there is now a 20-minute time limit imposed on Warsong Gulch, and the resource requirements in Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm have been lowered from 2000 to 1800. Furthermore, they have implemented a buff called Honorable Defender, which increases Honor gained from Honorable Kills by 50% if players are within the proximity of capture points in Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm, and the Isle of Conquest. This should mark the beginning of the end for fighting on roads.

Conclusion

While Patch 3.2 might be lackluster for the PvE crowd, it is about the best patch for PvP in a long time. Pretty much everything in this patch, even balance changes to classes, will contribute to a better PvP experience overall. From the longer Arena matches to more populous upper brackets, this patch changes the PvP landscape significantly. From permanent twinks to improved Resilience, from new Battlegrounds to better Battlegrounds play... so many things will change about PvP that it will feel fresh and fun once again.

1 评论:

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