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Friday, May 06, 2011

SWTOR PvP Info - Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age

2 comments
A lot of details have emerged about the PvP (player-vs-player) system in Star Wars: The Old Republic, following the release of a second embargo from the recent fansite convention. Fans and journalists got extended play with one of the games Warzones, and the overall feedback has been massively positive, with feedback such as "PvP in Star Wars: The Old Republic is awesome (source)", "I can’t say enough good things about the PvP experience in TOR (source)", "My PvP experience was incredibly fun! (source)", and "BioWare has set up what I perceive to be one of the most well conceived and rewarding PvP systems regardless of how you want to play your character (source)".

Too good to be true? Read on for the juicy details.

There is absolutely loads of detailed information out there following the embargo drop, so for the full details check out the following list of fansites that attended the event. Below I'll try and summarise the major points and my thoughts on what I've read.
Boom! Crack! Fizzle!
So, after spending a good couple of hours poring over the various impressions and updates listed above, as well as on official gaming websites like Gamespot and mmorpg.com, here are the major points of interest with regards to PvP in The Old Republic, in no particular order. Note that this feedback is from a game still in closed beta, so some things may change before launch.
  • There will be open world PvP servers at launch.
  • Even on the PvE servers there will be PvP zones.
  • Rewards for PvP include experience (you can level via PvP), valor, tokens and badges (details on these below)
  • Valor is an alternative progression system based on PvP. As you rise in Valor rank you will be unlock PvP privileges such as titles, the ability to mark opponents, and leadership of PvP groups in Warzones.
  • PvP tokens can be exchanged at PvP vendors for PvP-centric armour and consumables.
  • Badges are a PvP-only achievement system. You will get badges for achievements such as absorbing 10k damage without dying, reaching 100k damage overall, and so on. Everyone in the battle will be notified of your achievements ensuring your glory is well known.
  • The PvP ranking system will be based on an Elo system. This seems to be considered as a good thing by the PvP community, but means little to me I have to admit!
  • Tanks can both taunt enemies and guard allies in PvP combat. They can choose a single ally to guard, and will absorb 50% of all their damage as long as they remain within 15 metres (very similar to how tanks are in Warhammer Online). This means that tanks are viable and useful in PvP, and don't need to DPS to increase their PvP rankings.
  • The Warzone maps contain respawning powerups such as speed boost, damage boost and healing boost. I love this idea, it harks back to my old Quake clan days! It should bring some more strategy into the Warzones as well, as players camp, guard and rotate the powerups.
  • At the end of a Warzone battle each player can give a single commendation out to any other player. This gives the commended player more rewards.
  • Each player has a Resolve bar, which is also visible to everyone else on the battlefield. Every time any kind of CC (crowd control, such as root, stun, mezz etc) is used against you your Resolve bar will fill up a little. When it is completely full you will be immune to all CC for a while. I have to say this is an absolutely fantastic mechanic that will ensure that you don't spend your entire time chain-stunned as can happen in other PvP systems. Everyone who played, and all the PvP community has hailed this as a simple but brilliant addition to MMO PvP systems.
  • Warzones will come in a variety of game types, such as capture and control, assault and capture-the-flag.
  • Warzones are currently set up for 8v8 play, with no companions.
  • Everyone will gain access to all of the Warzones from level 10.
  • A complex matchmaking system has been developed to ensure fair battles. This will take into account player level, valor, equipment and so on. It will even boost players so that a level 10 could join a level 30 battle and still hold their own (it is currently set to boost lower level characters to 80% of the median). Premade groups can of course still join and the matchmaking system takes account of this as well (such as number of healers, tanks etc).
  • There are absolutely loads of statistics tracked for those players who like that kind of thing.
  • PvP-centric gear is good enough to encourage players to obtain it, but not so powerful that it will decide who wins. Currently a full set of PvP gear will give you around a 10% advantage.
So, those are the facts of the matter. What makes me even more excited is the feeedback and impressions of those who have played.
Zzap! Badge!
Apparently the PvP combat is extremely tactical and group-oriented. Fights are not over in one, two or three hits and require players to team up and use their skills effectively. This does mean that lone wolf players who like to sneak up and one-shot opponents are not going to have much luck. Just about everyone who reported said the combat felt really great and much more tactical than usual for MMO PvP systems.

The game mechanics seem to be well hidden by the story elements of the game. For example, when you die in a Warzone, rather than standing round waiting for your respawn timer, you get on a speeder bike and race back to the battlefield. You then circle the battlefield from above, allowing you to observe the battles and see where the fighting is at its strongest before your spawn timer runs out and you land.

Another example was given for the Alderaan Warzone, which is based on a capture and control system. You have to control three gun turrets, but rather than just give you a score of who is winning, the turrets will fire on your enemies capital ship whilst you control them, eventually destroying it. You don't need to check who is winning by looking at the scores, you just look up and see which capital ship is about to explode!

The Warzone battles seem well paced, lasting around 10-15 minutes each, and many reporters have said that the fights have that epic Star Wars feel, with blaster bolts flying round and Jedi and Sith leaping into battle, force choking and swinging their lightsabres.Personally i'm really excited after reading all the thoughts of those who have been lucky enough to play the PvP game. I do have some PvP experience (I spent a lot of time on PvP servers in Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest2 and Age of Conan), and the TOR system seems to address many of the concerns I had about those games.

I love that the combat is reported as tactical and group based, and especially the Resolve system to combat CC (unhappy memories of spending entire fights in DAoC mezzed might finally be banished!). I really like the fact there will be no one-shot kills, or that the person who strikes first will not always win (both issues with many current PvP systems). The addition of powerups and different game types almost brings back thoughts of my old Quake clan days.

Based on these reports I will definitely be taking part in the PvP game when I finally get my hands on The Old Republic.

2 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting indeed. It seems to me the team developing SWTOR think of a lot of very small but gameplay changing details. So many MMOs just concentrate on the big stuff, when it's the polish and the finer points that make the gameplay sustainable. Good stuff indeed.

    Oh, and Mere....you have posted 27 more posts than me this year so far! You're a machine..or I'm lazy..hmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Or you have more of a life... :D

    ReplyDelete

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