PvP in Outland
Since the release of World of Warcraft nearly two years ago, the implementation of Player vs. Player combat in the game has changed over time. Initially, there was no reward from PvP whatsoever-if you saw a member of the opposite faction, you either tried to kill them just for the hell of it, or let them go on their own way (unless they decided to attack you, of course). After the Honor System was introduced, PvP-especially on servers designated for it-became especially prevalent. Now, if you killed other players in sufficient amounts, you could find yourself rewarded with some of the best gear in the game! (Although, at the time, nobody really knew how brutal the ladder PvP system would end up)
At this point in time, PvP was everywhere. Rarely did a Horde and Alliance meet without trying to kill one another, and on higher-population servers war raged back and forth between the Alliance town of Southshore and the Horde’s Tarren Mill literally 24/7. Guilds would form raids and try to kill the opposing Faction Leaders in massive city sieges. However, once the Battlegrounds were implemented-originally Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley, with Arathi Basin right behind them-World PvP became the exception rather than the rule. PvP was done for honor and for reputation, almost solely for gear. The addition of Dishonorable Kills further eliminated the massive town raids of the past, and many remarked that it was ironic that a lone mushroom seller could scare off a bloodthirsty group of soldiers when a swarm of armed guards could not.
Recently, Blizzard decided to add some “World PvP Objectives” to the game, though many considered them to be little more than a bare concession to the PvPers. The Silithus objectives were derisively referred to as “sand collecting,” and while the Eastern Plaguelands towers were received more warmly, many felt that there was little to no point in spending time to take them.
With two years of live WoW under their belt, having heard two years of suggestions, complaints, and angry rants… what does Blizzard have under their belt for the expansion? The Arena system has been talked about quite a bit, and there’s been brief mention of the new “Eye of the Storm” Battleground… but what about that World PvP of old? Have they learned anything?
Sure looks like it.
In Outland, each zone has its own world PvP objective. Actually, I can’t say that all of them do, because in the current Beta three zones are inaccessible (Blade’s Edge Mountains, Netherstorm, and Shadowmoon Valley)… but the four that currently exist (Hellfire Peninsula, Zangarmarsh, Terokkar Forest and Nagrand) all do.
Players who preferred the EPL towers to the Silithus collecting will be happy to note that most, if not all, of the new PvP objectives seem to be designed around that concept. There are areas-usually towers-that have a bar with blue on one side, red on the other, and gray in the middle. Simply standing around this area will gradually shift the bar to your faction’s respective side (blue for Alliance, red for Horde). Naturally, the more people of your faction there, the faster it moves… but one determined person can certainly capture an area by himself! That is, if nobody goes to oppose him…
In Outland, the very first city one comes to seems to be the chief base of operations for one’s respective factions: the Horde is stationed in Thrallmar, while the Alliance has built a fortress opposite them called Honor Hold. Killing an enemy player near one of these PvP objectives (when the “control bar” appears on your screen) will award you-and anyone nearby partied with you-with a token for your respective city. The Horde receive Marks of Thrallmar, and I can only assume the Alliance get Marks of Honor Hold. These can be redeemed at vendors for equipment and gems for socketed items.
That seems to be the same for all of the world PvP objectives-but I’m assuming here that you want to know some specifics! I’ll relate here the PvP objectives in the four current Beta zones, and grade them on a few aspects (from 1 to 10, of course).
Spontaneity – How randomly will PvP flare up? Will this be more planned or more random and chaotic?
Location – Where are they located in regards to the rest of the zone? Is it out of the way from where people will be questing? What towns are nearby? Are there lots of NPC mobs around that have to be cleared first?
Rewards – What do ya get? Some are better than others, after all.
Total Potential for Mayhem – What are the odds that a massive brawl will break out over these zones? Will this be on a larger scale or a smaller one?
Awesomeness – I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Admittedly, this is more subjective, because people have different degrees of “what is fun.” So take in mind that all of these-but especially this one-are but my opinions, and not the Gospel Truth (as super-badass though I may be).
Summary: The very first zone one encounters on the other side of the Dark Portal, Hellfire Peninsula also has the most basic and rudimentary PvP objectives. There are three “strategic positions” overlooking the old battlefield of the Path of Glory, forming a sort of squashed diamond with Hellfire Citadel as the third point. Whichever faction controls the Stadium, the Overlook, and Broken Hill simultaneously will have all their damage output boosted by 5% (this counts for both PvE and PvP).
The “control bar” on the three Hellfire objectives is almost evenly divided into three parts, with the Contested gray section only slightly bigger than the blue and red faction sections. The other PvP objectives have only small faction parts with a large Contested area in the middle, so it’s much easier to tip one of the Hellfire zones to your side from Contested than it is in some of the other zones (by the same token, it takes longer to make a captured objective Contested, so it may be easier to defend). Due to the multitude of quests in Hellfire Peninsula and the nearby presence of Hellfire Citadel-which virtually guarantees that high levels will return due to Hard Mode, the Shattered Halls, and the Magtheridon’s Lair raid instance-the three objectives are smack dab in the middle of prime adventurin’ area.
Spontaneity: 9. It’s incredibly simple to, while questing, pass one of the objectives and notice that it’s ALMOST falling to the next side… and to go help the capture or reinforce it. Since these are the easiest to capture, you don’t have to stay there too long-and can then resume questing, if you’re sure that nobody else is trying to capture it back. I can see the possibility, however, that raiding guilds on the different factions may strike an agreement to raid Magtheridon on different days so that they may control the three spots (and 5% increased damage the entire raid is quite a number). It is possible, though, that the 5% damage buff doesn’t extend into the raid zones like it does the dungeons. Even if it does, all it takes is one or two individuals to simply return one of the spots to Contested, removing the damage buff.
Location: 8. Thrallmar and Honor Hold are some of the biggest towns in Outland, and their presence nearby as well as the presence of Hellfire Citadel ensures that people will be dropping by at all times. The two western outposts-Falcon Watch for the Horde and the Temple of Telhamat for the Alliance-both have a number of quests for the surrounding area as well. Though there is a small Fel Orc presence near the southernmost point, Broken Hill, for the most part the only things you’ll be fighting will be other players.
Rewards: 3. 5% damage to everything is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also the least impressive of the zone rewards, even IF it lasts into Magtheridon’s Lair. Also, the ease with which bases change hands means that you’ll rarely have this buff for long…
Total Potential for Mayhem: 4. The Hellfire objectives will almost always be fought over by small groups and individuals, rarely anything more. It may be fun, but it’ll be on a small scale. The three spots are also relatively spread out, which means that groups seeking PvP may actually miss their opponents as they chase them from location to location.
Awesomeness: 7. Hellfire Peninsula is easily simplest and most rudimentary World PvP system in Outland, though that’s not necessarily a strike against it. It’s very easy to understand and to pick up, and will likely spark countless smaller skirmishes between solo adventurers and smaller parties, though it will rarely see larger action. Still, it’s solid and often fun.
Summary: The Twin Spire Ruins are located in the very center of Zangarmarsh, just below Serpent Lake (and the dungeon of Coilfang Reservoir). The Spires in question can be captured like any other PvP objective. Once a faction controls both of them, a Horde/Alliance Field Scout at the respective town (Telredor for Alliance, Zabra’Jin for Horde) will announce that he is now giving out flags to adventurers. Someone must get the flag from their scout and return it to the middle of the Twin Spires-while making sure both Spires remain under their control. Once that is accomplished, that faction will capture the Ruins and receive a zone-wide 5% damage buff as well as a special graveyard between the two towers.
The towers take longer to fully capture than the ones in Hellfire Peninsula do, so it might be prudent to do this in a group if only for speeding up the process. By the same token, they’re easier to assault from controlled to Contested. However, since the faction that controls the Ruins will do so until the very moment that the enemy flag is delivered to the middle, merely assaulting one of the towers doesn’t really do much. This also means that while the Ruins are more complicated to assault, you have more chances to defend your conquest once they’re under your control.
The presence of Coilfang Reservoir, like that of Hellfire Citadel, means that adventurers will be passing very near the Ruins quite frequently. It also means that if the 5% damage buff persists in the Lady Vashj raid, you may run into a situation where raid guilds hold the towers on a given night. Even if it doesn’t, a closer graveyard for corpse running is still mighty handy.
Spontaneity: 5. It takes much longer to capture a Tower than it does to do the same in Hellfire Peninsula, especially if you’re solo. And then, you’ve got to go run to get the flag while knowing very well that it’s a simple matter to assault one of the two towers-and if you haven’t captured the flag yet, your work is for naught. For that reason alone, people will find it best to take the Ruins in a party unless they’ve got time to kill. While a random “hey, let’s assault/defend the Ruins” certainly isn’t out of the question, the Zangarmarsh objectives seem to cater more to groups with the express purpose of getting the buff.
Location: 8. The Ruins are located exactly on the main road that runs East to West across Zangarmarsh, directly between a major Horde quest hub and a major Alliance one, and immediately south of one of the major dungeons in Outland. Though a real assault might not be so spontaneous, they’re very easy to get to in order to defend. There are no monsters around the two spires, so you’ll never have to deal with any NPC intrusions in your combat.
Reward: 4. The only difference between this and the Hellfire PvP reward is the addition of a graveyard in the center of the zone. Granted, more graveyards for your faction is never a bad thing while questing, but this seems to be much more valuable for players that plan on running one of the Coilfang dungeons than others.
Total Potential for Mayhem: 6. Players are more likely to assault Twin Spire Ruins in a group to make a slightly long process quicker. Since the Ruins are very easy to get to from anywhere else in the zone, it will be easier to get a larger defense force together. Unlike the three Hellfire PvP locations, the two towers are relatively close together, so PvP will be concentrated in a fairly small area.
Awesomeness:: 6. Probably the weakest of the four PvP objectives, due to the fact that it can be a long process even if you go uncontested, and standing around waiting for a bar to fill up isn’t really that much fun. Still, the potential is there for some carnage.
Summary: To the south, the lush forest of Terokkar gives way to the dry fields of death called the Bone Wastes, roamed by the dead and the dying. Five mysterious Spirit Towers surround the mysterious dungeon of Auchindoun in the center of the wasteland. Normally, these towers do nothing-they’re just there for decoration. However, every 40 hours they become PvP objectives. Whichever faction manages to hold all five at once will take them-and hold them for the next 40 hours until they become fair game once more. During that period of time, the faction that controls Auchindoun will have a zone-wide buff that grants them 5% increased damage, 5% increased experience from kills, and the ability to get Spirit Shards from the bosses in Auchindoun (which can then be redeemed for items).
The five Spirit Towers are like the Twin Spires in Zangarmarsh in that they have a large gray Contested section with two small faction sections at either end. This makes them harder to capture and easier to assault, so holding all five at once will be a feat. Once the towers are captured, players in Terokkar will have a small timer on the top of their screen counting down the hours and minutes until Auchindoun is up for grabs again. Shattrath City-the Ironforge or Orgrimmar of Outland-is located in Terokkar, so people will know when to muster the defense or mount an assault.
Spontaneity: 1. There IS no spontaneity here. There’s a timer counting down, and once it hits 0, you can try and take them. You can’t say “Hey, let’s get the Spirit Towers right now, guys,” and you can’t try and take one just because you’re in the neighborhood.
Location: 6. Though not in the center of the zone like its counterparts in Zangarmarsh and Hellfire Peninsula, the major Horde and Alliance quest hubs of Stonebreaker Hold and Allerian Stronghold directly border the Bone Wastes. As previously mentioned, Shattrath is in Terokkar as well-and it’s a short journey from being AFK at the bank to flying to one of the two cities in preparation for the assault. However, the Bone Wastes are filled with level 64-65 monsters, so you might find yourself having to do some PvE while going from Tower to Tower.
Reward: 9. 5% damage is pretty nice, but 5% increased experience is just HUGE. In addition, though the full rewards for Spirit Shards aren’t available yet, one expects that the items might be pretty useful. The buff persists for 40 hours as well, so one can actually make use of it without having to keep one eye on the zone’s PvP status to make sure that they’re safely in your hands.
Total Potential for Mayhem: 9. The benefit to the lack of spontaneity is the fact that everybody knows that it’s coming. Guilds will get together as that clock counts down, whether in order to secure that zone-wide buff for their faction for the next 40 hours, or because they just like PvP and that’s where it’ll be. When the timer hits zero, expect it to be an all-out war in the Bone Wastes. Actually, come to think of it… with the removal of DKs, the action might start even sooner. The staging points for each faction are rather obvious, and a Horde raid wanting to get the jump on their opponents might decide to storm Allerian Stronghold to keep the Alliance on the defensive (or vice versa). For those of you with good computers and a love for chaos, this is where it’ll be.
Awesomeness: 9. I can see how this might range from mediocre to downright awful on low-population servers or servers with imbalanced factions… but on high pop servers and servers with good Alliance/Horde balance, the Auchindoun event has the potential to be thoroughly and totally nifty.
Disclaimer: I’ve not actually done this myself, but am going off of what my guildies and other people in the Beta have said.
Summary: The town of Halaa is a neutral post in the middle of the grasslands of Nagrand. Unlike other towns not aligned with the Alliance or the Horde, Halaa is unaffiliated with any other faction such as the Cenarion Circle… they’re up for grabs. While other zones have you assaulting ruins or strategic positions, World PvP in Nagrand involves taking an entire town!
Due to the fact that both factions station some of their strongest guards in the valuable town, and the only way into it are four narrow rope bridges, an attack from land would be suicide. So… go by sky, then! At the end of each of the four rope bridges is a special combat Flight Path that takes you over the town in a circling pattern-and you have a special stash of bombs with you that you can aim and throw down. The initial splash does 1000 damage to everybody-guards and PCs included. However, the resulting fire burns anybody in it for 1% of their life every second. On a player with only 5000 life, that’s not too much… but on a guard with 200,000 hit points? That’s quite a bit of damage, and the only way to thin out the guard population. After the guards are dead, you can storm the city, quash any resistance, and capture it for your own!
Of course, the defenders can assault your flight posts as well and prevent you from using them in order to keep Halaa under their control. Winning the battle will not only net you a graveyard and a real Flight Path, but special vendors and (possibly) quest givers as well!
Spontaneity: 7. Anybody can say “hey, let’s take Halaa!” and start the bombing if they don’t already control it. Hell, it might take a while, but it is possible for a single person to take the town-if nobody contests him, which is unlikely. Battles over Halaa have the potential to start up instantly.
Location: ?? Can’t say for myself, to be honest. Halaa is closer to the Horde outpost of Garadar than the Alliance hub of Telaar, but since it has its own flight path, that doesn’t seem to matter much. Halaa is in the middle of a lake, meaning that the only real paths of attack are from the four bridges…
Rewards: ?? I’d imagine fairly good if only for the graveyard and flight path, but I haven’t personally seen any of the vendor rewards.
Total Potential for Mayhem: 8. Oh, don’t get me wrong-Halaa has the potential to cause bigger melees than even the 40-hour Auchindoun event. However, due to the presence of the Auchindoun dungeons and Shattrath City, Terokkar will still be highly trafficked. Zangarmarsh and Hellfire Peninsula have Coilfang and the Citadel to draw more people in. There’s no dungeon in Nagrand… so the only people who go there after they’ve exhausted the quests will be going there solely for Halaa. While that does imply that battles will be fierce, I don’t think they’ll be on the same scale.
Awesomeness: Everyone who I’ve talked to about Halaa loves it. The few bombing run quests in Hellfire Peninsula were cool enough-and they were PvE only! This puts you in the seat of one of the AV Captains, and just the concept of being an aerial bomber is too cool for words. The ability to capture an entire town is also nifty, and something that many have wanted in WoW for a very long time.
When the Dev Team adds Blade’s Edge, Netherstorm, and Shadowmoon Valley to the mix, I’ll be sure to keep everybody abreast on how they’re planning on putting the “War” back in “Warcraft.”
See ya next time.