There are more really big changes coming to the way that PVP gear works coming in patch 5.3. As you know if you read our previous blog on the subject, we approached patch 5.2 with the goal in mind of narrowing the PvP gear gap, as well as working to make PvP more accessible to all players, to broaden interest and provide a robust pool of competitors that enriches the PvP experience for everyone.
PvE vs. PvP
We face some significant challenges, so we’re prepared to take some unprecedented steps to meet them. Historically, we have always had a hard time balancing PvP gear against PvE gear, as these two areas of the game have very different gear design goals. In PvP, we want gear to matter, but we don’t want gear to become the overwhelming reason someone wins a match. For PvE, the difference in power between tiers has to be significant enough that players really feel rewarded and more powerful when they upgrade. This problem has been compounded as we now have Raid Finder, normal and heroic raid tiers, as well as item level gating to enter the Raid Finder.
Transitions: From Season 12 to Season 13
Patch 5.2’s gear changes represented our first attempt to balance PvP gear with PvE gear, and offer better ways to narrow the gear gap. We introduced the Elite tier of gear that would be available to all players after earning 27,000 Conquest Points throughout the season. This allowed us to balance Honor gear against Raid Finder gear, Conquest gear against normal mode raiding gear and Elite gear against Heroic mode raid gear. But, keeping pace with PvE gear also means that there is significant difference between this season’s Honor gear and the Elite gear. Not to mention that there is a tremendous difference between a fresh 90 and a veteran, Elite geared player. While it’s important to have that difference, the competitive nature of PvP means that highly geared players can serve as a deterrent to players who are looking into trying PvP for the first time. Trying to keep pace with the escalating ilevel of PvE gear has proven quite difficult for PvP.
Furthermore, as Season 13 has illustrated, having more than two levels of PvP gear can generate some significant issues during season transitions. Players expect that each season will start on a fairly level playing field. The presence of upgrades in 5.1 meant that some players now have a gear advantage over players with this season’s Honor gear. The presence of higher ilevel Elite gear has the potential to create an even bigger issue in Season 14.
Still, we think we’ve taken some great steps forward with PvP gear in Mists of Pandaria. PvP Power has given us an extremely useful ‘knob’ to turn so we can adjust PvP gear to make sure that it’s better than its PvE equivalent. Meanwhile Resilience, while well-intentioned, has actually made the gear gap worse over time. We think that most players would be okay with going into PvP with lower damage if they were a bit more durable. We believe that a broader population of PvPers will offer a better experience for everyone, and also provide a better pool of players as we introduce refinements to how Battleground queuing works in the future. One of the best ways for us to increase the number of players that participate in PvP is to reduce the barrier to entry for those who play World of Warcraft regularly but don’t participate in PvP. Specifically, we’re referring to PvE players that spend a lot of time gearing up in PvE but feel that PvE gear is a severe liability in PvP (because, well, it is ).
Incoming 5.3 Gear Changes
With all of this in mind, we’re making some pretty dramatic changes to PvP gear and the PvP environment in 5.3:
In addition, some of the changes that we’ve discussed previously will also be implemented:
We’re taking these steps because we want to improve by providing a richer pool of potential competitors (which can result in faster queues, as well as queuing system refinements later on), and make an incredibly fun element of World of Warcraft more accessible to a larger audience.
What to Expect
We expect these changes will bring about a number of significant effects. First, we feel that they will still preserve our most important design goal: the best gear for competitive PvP will come from PvP. Since all other gear will be scaled down to the Conquest’s item level of 496 as a maximum, the Conquest gear will always be better by a significant margin because it will have PvP Power on it (which doesn’t count toward the item’s item level budget). Even Honor gear, with its considerable amount of PvP Power, will provide more damage in PvP than normal and Heroic raid gear. For example, a Heroic Thunderforged weapon and a Conquest weapon will be the same item level in PvP, with the same amount of primary stats, secondary stats and stamina. While the PvE weapon will do very good damage, it will still do less damage than the Conquest weapon due to the presence of PvP power on the PvP weapon.
We also believe that the changes will make it easier for those who aren’t PvPing now to give it a try or possibly motivate those that play only rarely to play more often. While they will do less damage than a player with PvP gear, they will have the same survivability, Stamina and Resilience. The damage differences shouldn’t be so great that they will be ‘insta-gibbed’ by the average opponent in PvP gear either. We expect these improvements will make PvP more fun for both hardcore players who want a more even playing field, as well as competitors who just want to dive in and have some fun without feeling the need to assemble a specialized gear set.
We Want Your Feedback!
This is a pretty massive change for World of Warcraft and while it would probably be more appropriate at the start of a new season, or even an expansion, we want to address the current gear situation quickly. We think this solution will help us meet our design goals and help create a more active, competitive, and fun PvP environment.
We know that concerns and questions are inevitable, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject. We invite you to try these changes on the PTR for yourself, and we’ll be watching for your feedback on the PTR Discussion forum.