Welcome to the war, comrades. Today is an opinion piece. Let’s get to the briefing. I want to talk about my opinion on gear rewards as a progression mechanic.
More after the Jump…
In a multitude of places, I have seen comparisons between SW:TOR’s gear-based PvP progression system and Guild Wars 2’s…whatever they do for progression. Even my fellow writers and podcasters on Corellian Run have mentioned this. In a recent podcast, Episode 71: PvP – Hot or Not?, Carla and Adaram talked in length about the problems facing SW:TOR PvP. It is a good discussion, so you should definitely give it a listen. Today I want to get into some of my thoughts on the same subject.
Problems? What problems?
The main complaint I have seen is that there is a large distance from Recruit gear to War Hero. People don’t like getting killed over and over again by Conquerors wearing War Hero gear. People perceive a large disadvantage against anyone wearing War Hero gear. I can understand this.
Another issue is the large grind from one set to the next. Doing it on multiple alts is frustrating, if not impossible. Why have a specific set of PvP gear at all?
The following are some opinions and observations on these issues.
Closing the gap
You know I love you, Carla; you are a hero of mine on this podcast. But I have to agree with Patrick’s comment on Episode 71: PvP – Hot or Not?. I am sorry for what I am about to say but…problems in level 50 PvP are often not about gear, they are about experience.
I did the calculations:
Go down to the part that is called Comparison of Stats. You will see that there is a 6% increase in damage from Recruit to War Hero and a 4% increase in defense from Recruit to War Hero. That is a 10% difference in effectiveness from Expertise alone (I know, there are other stats that do produce a discrepancy, but I think this is what they were going for).
There is an inherent advantage in hundreds of hours of playing a class at level 50. Not only do you have a TON of experience with your class in PvP, but your skills have been honed against other players with a TON of experience playing THEIR class in PvP. Competition breeds excellence. A fresh 50 has been playing the class for maybe a hundred hours, not all in PvP, against other people learning their classes at a variety of different levels. You will not understand a Sorcerer as well if you fight him when he’s level 13 vs. level 50.
There are a lot of reactionary-based actions I take without even thinking. All of this is second nature after hundreds of scenarios. It has nothing to do with the fact that I am half-WH, half-BM. It has to do with the fact I am very familiar with the classes, how they interact, and what I need to do to produce a certain result.
Of course, there are things that a particular class could do to counter me, and there are things I can do to counter those things, etc. It is like a giant chess game. The interesting thing about chess is even a pawn can take a queen, provided the position and the situation is correct. A grandmaster would see that pawn setup long before someone who had only played on the chess team in high school.
NOTE: I am by no means saying that I know everything about PvP, and I do not consider myself a “grandmaster of PvP” or anything of the like. I am simply making a point that even if my gear isn’t the best, it is the practice that really makes a difference.
To summarize, the top three things that make for a bad experience in team PvP are lack of good communication, bad teamwork, and bad situational awareness. Sure, you might still have a rough time against a team of Conquerors in a premade group, but frankly, everyone will. That is the nature of the game. It isn’t because they have better gear, it is because they are more coordinated, probably have Ventrilo, and they have been doing it for a very, very long time. You don’t go 6-0 in Huttball in 2 minutes by killing other players and proving your gear is better. You do it by passing, getting into position for passes, and learning how to run the ball situationally.
I think I have made my point. /rantoff
PvP vs. PvE gear
Why do I need a dedicated set of PvP gear? Why not have one set of end-game gear with different ways to access it?
As it stands now, PvE gear is worthless in PvP, because even though all of the other stats are better, there is not any Expertise on it. Similarly, the non-Expertise stats on PvP gear are terrible compared to gear of the same tier in PvE.
A 10% difference in effectiveness is reasonable. A 40% difference in effectiveness is not. That is why Recruit gear exists, because PvE gear is at a 40% disadvantage. Recruit gear allows people to have a baseline at a reasonable investment (or free now, because of the quest at the terminal).
They had to put in some kind of advantage, because Rakata geared people could come in and kill people too easily who had been working hard to get Centurion gear. There was an inherent need to go PvE to get the best in slot items once you had reached a certain amount of Expertise.
Bioware decided to make PvP and PvE separate gear sets so the experience of the player might match the stats. Their approach to this actually betrayed their mindset when designing their rewards. They want the experience the player has in a particular area to be reflected by the gear they wear.
Why the grind? Why not be like Guild Wars 2? GW2 gives all players starting PvP an auto-level up to level 80, skills and talents included. Not only that, but they also have gear available for free. All gear earned in PvP is purely cosmetic, only there to show how awesome you are.
Is this a good way to do PvP?
I am extremely attracted to GW2 because of the complex skill and talent system. I like the classes, the fact the skills are tied to weapons and swap with them, and the fact that levels don’t really matter in PvP.
What I keep asking myself though, is what would I be PvPing for? The fun of it, sure, but what about when the content stops coming as frequently. How interesting is PvPing on the same three maps without gear to drive desire to continue?
Gear provides a sense of progression, a way to feel like you are improving. Ranking systems, titles, and cosmetics aside, part of us as gamers craves the shiny new item that will complete our set bonus or boost our effectiveness by 0.5%. We are numbers-obsessed as gamers, otherwise we wouldn’t theorycraft.
Is this form of PvP progression more for the hard-core and less for the casual? Maybe. But I think I justified that Bioware did a good thing by introducing Recruit gear, and since it is free, anyone can participate. Whether they will excel, that depends on skill.
I hope you can see where I am coming from on this, that I view gear not as a hindrance, but as an incentive. Let me know what you think about PvP gear below!
Use this information well, soldier. Fight for victory and die with honor. Till our next briefing, DISMISSED!