WildStar Interview: Kevin Lee Discusses All Things PvP
When I asked members of the WildStar community to submit questions relating to “the state of PvP”, it wasn’t particularly surprising to find that the majority were all discussing the same issues: gear gap, rating resets and progression. Despite a lot of hysteria surrounding WildStar’s PvP, I actually think it’s in very good shape. I managed to reach 1800 Arena Rating on two characters fairly easily (DPS Spellslinger and DPS Medic) and while it isn’t perfect, most of the issues are easily identified. I believe the biggest issues currently facing WildStar are:
- Win trading in the 3 v 3 and 5 v 5 Arena brackets due to no one playing them (thus facilitating easy rating) is rife.
- Compositions in 2 v 2 Arena that are near indestructible unless you happen to be one of very few counter compositions, allowing these compositions to dominate (notably Shield Surge Medic + Warriors).
- Too few incentives to continue playing anything other than 2 v 2 Arena due to its popularity and ease of rating acquisition.
- Too few incentives to continue playing Arena once you reach 1800 rating as there are no further rewards.
- Too greater swing for losing a rated match, with the feeling of one step forward, two steps back.
- Random Rune Slots on PvP items resulting in RNG misery.
- 1800 items unavailable in Rated Battlegrounds.
- Warplots are too difficult to organise and require too many participants. In addition, Warplot rewards are the same as Arena, making Warplots redundant.
- Is the Rating reset going to happen before Drop 3 due to the announcement causing many players to stop playing Arena.
Some of these problems have already been addressed in Drop 3 (notably points 5, 6 and 7) but I’m not entirely sure the message is getting out there. With that in mind, I had the opportunity to chat with Carbine’s PvP Lead, Kevin Lee, to present these issues. Here’s how we got on.
Ten Ton Hammer: What’s your current opinion on the state of WildStar’s PvP?
Kevin: Right now, I had hoped that Drop 3 had been out a lot sooner because I had announced the ratings would be reset and then given a mid season title to those that were in the top 1 or 2 percent. That being delayed is hurting the health of our PvP because people are awaiting the ratings reset which is essential for increasing the health of queues. In Drop 3 we also have changes to our rating formulae that will also help with the massive swings we’re seeing when you lose. We’re trying to eliminate the one step forward, two steps back feeling with rating gain. It’s not where I want it to be (PvP) but we’re making huge strides into making it the awesome PvP we know it can be.
Ten Ton Hammer: One patch ago the Time To Kill opponents seemed pretty fair. Skilled healers were still tough but beatable. What was the reasoning behind lowering PvP Power but increasing PvP Defense?
Kevin: Based on metrics and player reporting we determined that healing was not as strong as it should be. The decision was made to increase that but we were also trying to address the fact you were seeing huge bursts so we coupled the change. We’re looking into whether it was an overcorrection. I’ve been talking to the class teams in terms of addressing the issue so that our time to kills are back into a reasonable amount of time.
Ten Ton Hammer: The change to Time To Kill because of the PvP Power/Defense changes has resulted in some indestructible compositions making a comeback (Stalker Tanks, Shield Surge Medics). Is this issue high on your agenda at the moment?
Kevin: Yes. We're looking at potential ways to resolve that, as it’s mostly apparent in twos which is the most difficult to balance. We have the option to increase the healing debuff within 2 v 2’s while we investigate a solution across the board for time to kills and avoiding the super comp.
Ten Ton Hammer: A lot of people have asked me about Shield Surge Medic’s and Warrior pairings. Many people don’t feel it’s their healing output that’s the problem but 100% Shield Mitigation from Shield Surge.
Kevin: I’ve discussed it with the class team and it’s more in their realm but they’re aware of the issue. In my opinion we need to make some changes to eliminate that issue. If the class team makes a change to a class, though, it’s not just about effecting PvP but also balancing for PvE. That reduces the turnaround time of it because it’s testing the abilities in major ways for two different avenues.
Ten Ton Hammer: This is a two part question: There’s still a lot of players in Battlegrounds and 2 v 2 Arenas but swathes of players participating in 3 v 3 and 5 v 5 are known to win trade heavily. How are Carbine looking to incentive players into other modes of PvP but also cut win trading?
Kevin: To address win trading, it’s something we’re aware of and looking into. We’re implementing systemised solutions. I’m not going into those regarding exploit fixes but we are looking at implementing ways to mitigate that so you can’t go into the lower queues of 3 v 3 and 5 v 5 during off hours and win trade. As far as incentivising those modes, the primary solution I’ve been looking at has been based primarily on end of season rewards. I’m looking at after the rating reset I’m hopefully going to announce what the end of season rewards will be and they’ll probably be greater for 3 v 3 and 5 v 5. As an example - this is not exactly what we’re going to be doing - 2 v 2 might give a title and housing decor item. If you’re in 3 v 3 you get those, plus a dye and an awesome cosmetic piece. You’re working towards something that will be better, so you’re incentivised to go to the Arena type that’s more balanced.
Ten Ton Hammer: When it comes to the rating reset, is that strictly tied to Drop 3 or is there any possibility of it being undertaken sooner?
Kevin: Sadly it’s not as simple as saying “I’d like to reset the rating now to help PvP.” The way our release schedule is and the way we have our build setup - we have a train that’s on the tracks that I can’t derail. If I had my way we’d be able to reset earlier but unfortunately it’s at the next large drop.
Ten Ton Hammer: Out of the three Arena’s available, is your vision for people to pursue 3 v 3 or 5 v 5 as the most balanced?
Kevin: I think realistically 3 v 3 would be the focus, just because it rides that line between accessibility and team size by adding that extra element of making balance a little easier.
Ten Ton Hammer: Where are you guys seeing the gear progression going from 1800 onwards? Is there any intention of a 2200 rating or something inbetween? Something purely cosmetic?
Kevin: I’ve actually been working on an alternative progression system that, for the most part, eliminates rating gating. It would be a system where we have the same blues for Prestige and then you build toward getting the Tier 1 set. That wouldn’t be based on your rating and then we’d have cosmetic sets behind rating gates. In stats they would be similar or the same, but would look different.
Ten Ton Hammer: Have you any timelines for that system? Are you thinking much further past Drop 3?
Kevin: I’m targetting for it to be implemented when Season 1 ends, but I can’t say exactly when that is. I’ve already begun work on the revisions of design so I just need to get that approved before implementation and testing. It’s not a small undertaking but it’s the direction I think we need to go.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are daily PvP quests going to become a possibility for those who only pursue that avenue of the game?
Kevin: They’re being worked on right now!
Ten Ton Hammer: Can you let us know what we’ll have to undertaken?
Kevin: I believe for the first iteration it’s going to be, primarily, “Participate in this Battleground!”. It’ll help incentivise the play of other Battlegrounds and then hopefully we’ll progress to weekly objectives such as “Win 10 matches” or something to that effect.
Ten Ton Hammer: When it comes to Battlegrounds it feels that players are rewarded more for joining a zerg rather than undertaking an objective such as mask carrying or defending. Is this a concern and are you looking at rewarding team-play behaviour?
Kevin: It’s something I have my eye on and it’s just a matter of increasing objective experience points that we offer.
Ten Ton Hammer: Warplots are a brilliant idea but they’re rarely, if ever played. Is there any intention to scale back the scope and instead have say, a 10 v 10 Warplot on a smaller map?
Kevin: I had discussions regarding smaller scale Warplots but the amount of work to do something like that is daunting because of how large of a system it is. In the interim we’re looking at getting some attention to Warplots in its current state. It’s why I’ve reduced the player requirement to 30 v 30 and that’s what we determined was the lowest we could go without having to rebalance every single aspect of Warplots. We’re also going to implement Mercenary only queueing so that we’ll have the potential to have Mercenary only matches. We’ll also increase the available functionality for existing Warparty members. As it is now, if you’re in a Warparty you can’t qeue as a Mercenary so we’re going to change that. We’re trying to increase the pool of players and reduce the barrier of entry. That also comes with looking at the rewards that Warplots give you as it’s a huge time investment and I want the rewards to reflect that.
Ten Ton Hammer: I’m glad you said that because with you changing the system so that 1800 gear can be obtained from Rated Battlegrounds, the incentive to play Warplots for 1800 is near obsolete…
Kevin: Absolutely. One of the things we’re looking at is to have item imbuements that you can only achieve through Warplots. That’d be a way to give a benefit to players who want to do Warplots and hopefully bring players in to accomplish those imbuements.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there any intention to encourage people to go into Rated Battlegrounds (or random) as a specific role? You can flag yourself as a healer or tank when inside but as we all know, a match goes so much better with an even spread of classes. Would it not be possible to reward players who choose to heal or tank to encourage that teamplay behaviour?
Kevin: I’ve considered making the role selection available but in terms of rewarding that, I haven’t looked into that and I like that idea - let me just note that down...
Ten Ton Hammer: What I like about that community suggestion and I think this is what they were getting at, is that when players queue for dungeons as a specific role, it queues you based on the role you’ve undertaken. So if you’re a healer or a tank you tend to get quicker queues than a DPS. I think that same principal would be beneficial to Battlegrounds because it would even out the teams, make fights even and give players new to PvP a greater feeling of balance. There’s nothing worse than joining a Battleground and getting stomped because no one wants to heal.
Kevin: Absolutely, I agree.
Ten Ton Hammer: Has anyone also thought about adding a different buff to your Housing Board that instead of a generic 10% bonus for all of PvP, actually breaks it down into say a buff for 3 v 3 or 5 v 5 Arena to encourage play of that mode?
Kevin: I had not, but I like that idea and I'm going to write that down too!
Ten Ton Hammer: How’s the Ice Box Arena coming along?
Kevin: It’s done, basically. I can’t say when it’ll be released but I hope as soon as possible. It adds some verticality to arenas and it’s a lot larger map so it would accommodate 5 v 5 really well.
Ten Ton Hammer: Before my final question, is there any potential in the future, after the rating reset and people have once again climbed the ladder, that you’ll invite those of the highest rating - say, once a month - to discuss PvP issues and the meta?
Kevin: I don’t have the power to set something like that up, all that sort of stuff goes through the community and marketing teams but I can definitely lead the charge in getting that going so that our best players have a voice. I’m also going to try to do something on the forums as my prescence on there isn’t as good as I’d like it to be, just because of the sheer amount of stuff I have to do. It’s easy to push forums to the side but I want to do a monthly or bi-weekly thread where people post questions - no discussions - and then I will take all those questions and answer as many as I can. We can then sticky that and start a new thread to have a running record of all the questions as things evolve in the game.
Ten Ton Hammer: Lastly, have you anything else to say to WildStar’s PvP community in regards to the path you’re taking, what lies ahead and why people should stick it out?
Kevin: I think the core of our PvP is solid and unlike anything out there. It’s frenetic and fun and of course we’ve had growing pains with the systems we’ve had, but the best learning experiences come from mistakes. I’m taking all that and moving forward into another direction that will promote competitive PvP and balance as well as a preferred progression system. I know we’re on the right path but it’s going to take a little bit of time. As you’ve seen we have been making steps already, such as closing the gear gap and resetting rating to hopefully increase participation all to make PvPers feel incentivised. It’s something I’m passionate about and it’s something I’ve been working on for over four years. I’m dedicated to taking this in the direction it needs to go.
Ten Ton Hammer Footnote: After the interview we asked Carbine for an answer regarding the potency of Shield Surge in 2 v 2 Arenas from the respective class lead, as it was more appropriate to steer the question at the individuals in charge of Medic's. The answer is below, provided by Marc Matzenbacher, Systems Designer and Medic Class Lead:
Marc: Shield Surge is a good ability on its own and comes with a decently high Focus cost. It becomes very powerful when combined with the Reboot AMP. As this is one of the Medic's core abilities for PvE and PvE we are cautious against straight nerfing it. Our focus at the moment is in rounding out the Support Medic's kit making sure there are viable options to Shield Surge (specifically Crisis Wave, Triage, Rejuvenator, and Barrier) at which point we will re-evaluate the power of Shield Surge, its tiers, and the Reboot AMP.
Ten Ton Hammer would like to thank Kevin Lee, Mike Shelling, Vincent Slaven and Marc Matzenbacher for taking the time out of their very busy schedules to organise and participate in this interview.
If you want to learn more about WildStar, visit the official website.