In todays modern massively multiplayer games PvP is a flag that attracts a large amount of players. I think it’s fair to say that the number of PvP players in the genre is small in comparison to those who enjoy player versus enemy encounters, but the numbers are still large enough to provide a wealth of entertainment for those of us who like beating players over the head.
With WildStar having launched a few weeks ago, Carbine have ensured that there are plenty of game modes for those who enjoy PvP by offering Warplots, Battlegrounds, Arenas and Open World PvP. For the uninitiated, Battlegrounds and Arenas come in two forms: practice and rated. Both allow players to join specially designed maps to fight over objectives (or to simply kill each other). Warplots are sexed up variants on the Battleground theme and lend heavily from Guild Wars’ guild versus guild system, with the exception that it involves two teams of 40 players battling it out for domination on player made, guild customised, death fortresses. Lastly there’s Open World PvP which involves nothing more than being in a Player versus Player zone and meeting a rival faction member (who you can then happily kill).
It must be said that all four options are a lot of fun. Although there are only two Battleground maps and one Arena map (Warplots are custom made by guilds), all three are excellently designed and provide a wealth of fun and tactics. The fact Battlegrounds and Arenas allow for pre-made groups of 2 or more as well as permitting individual players to join the queue system solo makes the game modes accessible. To add value to the “modes” (with the exception of Open World PvP) you earn Prestige from winning or killing opposing players and if you save enough, you’ll be able to redeem your Prestige for specific PvP items. For the best PvP items you need to join Rated Arenas or Rated Battlegrounds that provide a running score for you or your team. If you win matches in rated modes you’ll gain rating, but if you lose a match you’ll lose some of it. Eventually and if you win enough rated matches you’ll reach the required rating to obtain the Epic PvP equipment. Simple.
While I’ve spent the vast majority of my time during the Beta and live playing PvP in Battlegrounds and Arena (I’m 1900 Rating and equipped with Epic PvP gear) the whole system outside of Open World PvP collapses if no one queues for the Battelgrounds, Arenas or Warplots. Any players who choose to queue for Practice or Rated Battlegrounds and Arenas are placed in a queue against other players, irrespective of server, to match-make. When the prerequisites are met (I assume a gear rating check and the number of people queuing is enough to form an opposing team) a match will trigger.
When WildStar launched (only 3 weeks ago) matches for both Battlegrounds and Arenas were instant whether they were Practice or Rated. You barely had to wait 5 seconds before you were in a PvP match against other players. Fast forward to today however and queue times are agony. What concerns me so much about this is that as an individual who loves the PvP in WildStar, it doesn’t bode well for the games long term potential if after only 3 weeks, on the busiest server, I’m having to wait the following times:
- Over an hour for a Rated Battleground (irrespective of time of day)
- Over 25 minutes for a Practice Battleground
- Over 20 minutes for a 2v2 Rated Arena match
I’m fortunate in that I already have the best PvP armor in the game but there are many friends of mine who have yet to obtain the first tier epic PvP armor (1500 rating) nevermind what I have (1800 rating). If the queue times weren’t bad enough, the constant disconnects players suffer for no reason results in your queue being abandoned automatically if a single player you’re queuing with disconnects. This morning in a guild 10-man premade group we queued for 40 minutes without a single match only to have one of our players disconnect and our group kicked from the queue. When we did eventually re-queue another of our players was disconnected from the server, resulting in almost two hours of wasted time. The same has occurred every night for the last week with our guild only having played one rated battleground when we queued as a premade group.
So what’s causing such lengthy queues?
When WildStar first launched there was a huge problem with bots. There were swathes of players, primarily in practice Battlegrounds, that were simply queuing to go AFK in order to obtain experience and Prestige. With Carbine having swung the ban hammer and implementing several anti-bot measures, bots are now few and far between. As a result there’s fewer players queuing automatically during all hours of the day. Admittedly no one wants to face AFK players and win (though it did provide quick games) which leaves several other factors.
The second is that the PvP gear that players are inevitably playing for is fundamentally flawed. At present it’s pointless to have more than three or four pieces of it equipped due to diminishing returns and the fact when you have three or four pieces it’s better to begin using items from PvE. Sadly this leaves many players who want to only play PvP with little choice but to undertake PvE content in order to maximize their damage output. Carbine have thankfully stated that the PvP items are to be redone but in the interim it makes much of our gear pointless.
To add insult to injury, it’s actually pretty pointless at the moment to play Rated Battlegrounds as you need to organise 10 players if you’re to have any real success but also because the items available are only up to a rating of 1500. The moment you reach 1500 there’s absolutely no reason to continue playing Rated Battlegrounds because there’s nothing else available to you. Instead, you’ll have to switch to Rated Arenas that offers items of a better quality. The fact that in Rated Arenas you can queue with a team of 2 people and with matches appearing every few seconds between the base rating of 1200 and 1500 it’s incredibly easy to cycle through matches (whether you win or lose) in the hopes of reaching the first tier of epic items. Inevitably, why battle with organising 10 players attempting to reach 1500 when it’s so much easier (and quicker) to grab just one friend and jump in Arenas.
If Carbine are to salvage the PvP in WildStar they need to re-itemise the PvP equipment quickly so that it significantly exceeds PvE items, but they also need to incentivise players to leave Arenas and instead queue for Rated Battlegrounds. Adding unique items to Rated Battlegrounds besides armor, weapons and gadgets would draw players back into the game mode. Allowing for attainable 1800 rated items from Rated Battlegrounds would also help a great deal. Further, I also think we desperately need additional maps to keep play fresh and diverse. While both Battleground maps are fun some of us have already been playing them for over six months or more.
Players are quick to pack up their things and move on to new products if what they’re playing doesn’t offer them anything of value and as it currently stands, in only 2 days of play (around 7 hours) I've managed to obtain the best PvP items in the game. What then is left for me? I can’t help my guild mates that aren’t yet 1500 rating obtain their Rated Battleground rating because matches don’t appear while it would take me months to help them all individually in a 2v2 arena setup (3v3 is hugely unbalanced at the moment while 5v5’s never appear).
As for Warplots, which require 80 players in total (40 versus 40), the probability of these ever happening is almost non-existent if we can’t even play 10 versus 10 matches. Maybe I’m worrying to soon and perhaps large proportions of the playerbase are simply doing other things (there’s plenty to do in WildStar). Either that or these queues for Rated Battlegrounds is due to a giant bug that has magically appeared and which Carbine aren't commenting on. I just hope it gets fixed one way or another.