Sabotage! That’s the name of the new WildStar content drop due at the end of this month and it’s all about PvP. For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m a big fan of PvP. I’ve two level 50 characters, both of which are 1800 rated. My Spellslinger was the first there (without a need for a boost I might add) and my DPS Medic second. I probably spend 80% of my game time PvPing, whether in Arena or Battlegrounds and find that what WildStar offers is far superior to that of Guild Wars 2 or World of Warcraft.
The PvP in WildStar isn’t perfect and part of the problem for that is because the formula Carbine have taken, is so heavily linked to Vanilla World of Warcraft, that its dragged with it many of the faults its predecessor had. From a Battleground perspective, I don’t believe WildStar does too much wrong. With the exception of having too few maps at launch, Sabotage! is quickly going to rectify that by adding a third, 15 versus 15 map. The existing maps will remain the same and thankfully they’re still a lot of fun to play. The biggest issue however is the fact that 1800 gear isn’t available from Rated Battlegrounds and the queue times to take part in rated matches are still far too long, even at peak times.
To address the issue of 1800 gear not being available in rated battlegrounds, it seems this game type wasn’t deemed competitive enough by Carbine or requiring significant skill in order to warrant awarding players the best PvP items available. I suspect part of the reason for that is because any player can queue for Rated Battlegrounds, without being in a group. Giving players the ability to queue up (without a group and seemingly any coordination) access to 1800 items does seem a little off. After all, such items should be rewarded to those who strive to participate in PvP at the highest levels: queueing randomly with strangers hardly fulfils that criteria.
I think it’s a mistake for Carbine to overlook Rated Battlegrounds in this way and it’s partly because it’s forcing players elsewhere. Firstly, there are large amounts of guilds that are desperate for competitive PvP and yet Rated Battlegrounds happen too infrequently because the vast majority of the PvP player base are in Arenas. It makes no sense to arrange for 10 or 15 people to participate in Rated Battlegrounds to only obtain 1500 rated gear (and organise those individuals!) when you can grab just 1 other and head into 2v2 Arenas.
Where Arena is concerned, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand it’s unquestionably a lot of fun, on the other it exposes every class fault currently in the game. It highlights that Warrior burst in a small environment (2v2, 3v3 and 5v5) is ridiculous when also combined with their ability to tunnel opposition repeatedly. It also highlights that Shield Surge is far too strong, that a Spellslingers burst from Charged Shot and triple Assassinate is too high and that Stalkers one-shotting opponents is very real. Worse, it shows that a DPS Medic isn’t viable (they have no melee skills of use) and an Esper DPS also near impossible. People are pursuing boosters in droves and win trading is a repeat occurrence because the gear imbalances in the lower brackets force players to take highly geared partners. Alongside this you then have the annoyance of when having reached 1800 you don’t return to Arena until you’ve obtained both your DPS and Healing/Tanking sets of armor and items because the risk of loss is too great.
Does Sabotage! address any of these fundamental issues? Only a little. We’re getting a new Battleground map which is great but it’s 15 versus 15. Considering queues are already long in 10 versus 10 maps, the likelihood of these occurring regularly for Rated Battlegrounds is very slim (Warplots are hopeless due to the sheer number of players needed). Alongside this, with the exception of a few minor tweaks to each class (avoiding many of the glaring errors), there’s very little else.
The best change in the patch is to the Esper and the fact its innate and Telekinetic Strike is now mobile. The frustration there is that it’s a long standing issue that should have been made during Beta and I still don’t understand why it has taken this long to make the leap. Unfortunately, there’s still no fix for win trading, Scientist Bots active in PvP, boosting (and not allowing people to tank their rating) or the lack of an additional Arena map. Many AMPs and skills are still poor and balance passes on classes seem very slim even for such a heavy PvP patch.
I’m grateful for what we are about to receive (please excuse my biblical verse) but there’s still a long way to go before Carbine salvage PvP in WildStar.