Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ilum PvP Change

Well, SWTOR patch 1.1 went live today and Ilum PvP has turned out almost exactly as I predicted in my previous post.  I really don't know what Bioware was thinking, or how the current implementation managed to go live without anyone stopping to say "hey, you know, this might not work out . . ."

For those who don't know, the issue arises as a combination of bad design and faction imbalance.  They added daily quests that require killing players of the other faction, greatly increased the valor (essentially PvP xp) rewards for killing players of the other faction, and then let the ravening hordes loose without any safeguards in place.  What do I mean by that?  I mean there are no safe zones in the Republic base on Ilum, so Imperial forces (which greatly outnumber Republic on almost every server) are able to storm into the Republic base and spawn camp Republic players.  As you can't choose your respawn point there's no way to regroup unlike in WoW where you could at least ghost run to a different spirit healer.  It looks like this:

My god, this looks like fun!

Republic players are essentially stuck as they get endlessly farmed for valor with no way to fight back and no way to escape.  This goes beyond my expected /facepalm into the realm of pure insanity -- how could they set this up without a safe respawn area?!  Players eventually figured out a workaround, which is to queue for a Warzone and then use a Fleet pass to get back to the fleet once in the Warzone.  That's . . . ridiculous.

The other issue is that the turrets that are supposed to protect the respawn area are far too weak and, more importantly, actually reward valor when destroyed and then respawn instantly.  As a result Imperial players have been rapidly advancing their valor ranks by constantly destroying the instantly respawning turrets.  That has got to be a bug, and thus an exploit that will likely result in a valor rollback.

If you want to brave the mind-numbing insanity of the official forums, you can read about the official response to the whole issue here.

Now, I'm not trying to overly bash Bioware here as they've done a lot of good things with SWTOR and I'm really enjoying the game, but some of their design decisions are telegraphing the fact that they're relative greenhorns when it comes to this whole "MMO" thing.  I'm sure any schmuck with a computer that's ever PvPed in an MMO could have predicted the result of the Ilum PvP change, yet somehow Bioware missed all the warning signs.  I thought Mythic was supposed to be providing input and support for the PvP side of things, but if they are there's no indication of it.  WAR had many faults, but spawn camping wasn't something they allowed to happen, certainly not on this scale.

Admittedly Bioware has really boxed themselves in here.  If they make proper safe zones around respawn points then the poor Republic players faced with vast armies of Imperials simply won't come out until they go away.  If they don't make proper safe zones, Republic players will simply learn to avoid Ilum like the plague.  Either way, Ilum will fail to be a useful game area.

I think most players would be willing to face impossible odds as long as they had a chance of taking someone down with them, so some sort of buff to the outnumbered side might be the way to go even if it's not enough to turn the tide completely.  If you can charge out with a massive buff on your character and knock off a few Imperials before they swarm you down, wouldn't everyone win?  The Republic player gets some valor and a feeling of accomplishment, the Imperial players still get to farm valor, they just have to fight harder for it.

Whatever Bioware does, they're going to have to do it quickly.  Players will be making their decision whether to subscribe to the game or not . . . this week.  I'm not going anywhere for a while, but plenty of players could quite easily quit over this if Bioware doesn't respond appropriately.

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