One of the main reasons I bought Warhammer Online last year was the prospect of PvP leveling. There were scenarios (read: battlegrounds) that one could queue up for from anywhere in the world to supplement PvE questing, and the best part was that each player killed or healed within the scenario as well as completing objectives granted XP. This feature alone was enough to make me want to stick with WAR when my friends who gave it a try were long gone. It allowed for me to actually “play” the game I wanted to as I went instead of trudging through content I did not care about only to reach the point where I could begin enjoying the game.
I longed for this kind of option in World of Warcraft, but I never got it. Until now.
In Patch 3.2, Blizzard has announced that PvP battleground objectives will grant XP toward leveling up as long as the player has the option toggled on. Sure, Blizzard has said that it will be slightly slower than grinding or questing, and we have no idea what their idea of “slightly slower” could mean (will it add two /played days or twenty?), but the fact that we can do it at all is music to my ears.
I will finally be able to actually level a character and enjoy it again. I will no longer be limited to the few characters I was able to grind to 80 if I want to enjoy the game (I generally only PvP these days). The old world was fun four years ago, but even new content like Northrend was just more of the same after the first go-around, and with my recently reduced playtime, I want a more dynamic, more casual, and more enjoyable way to hit the level cap. If I continue to play WoW through the next expansion, and I miss the boat to level with my friends like I did in WLK, this addition will be how I get to the new level cap.
What this also means for me, personally, is that I now have to make a decision. I had decided that my Shaman would be my PvP character since he was the only healing class I had at 80, and I want PvP to be my main game. Since I generally BG alone in my spare time these days (I am rarely able to get on with friends due to my schedule, and most of them are hardcore raiders anyway), I could very easily PvP a Paladin up from nothing or get my Priest out of the doldrums of the early 70s and actually experience the game how I want to. Before, I had discounted my Priest or a new Paladin because I all but refused to quest and waste the time before I could play the game I wanted to play when I had a good-enough healer sitting where I could PvP casually already. Patch 3.2 is going to change that. I will never have to repeat content I’ve already beaten to death half a dozen times, and I will finally have a real choice in which character I want to play and how I want to play it.
For players who are already at the level cap and content with their game, the PvP experience change will do nothing to alter their playstyle until the next level-cap increase; however, for PvPers who might not have a max-level character, who want to level an alt, or who want to actually have a game outside of the level cap, 3.2 offers quite a large alteration. There is currently no way for a person to experience World of Warcraft entirely from a PvP perspective. Patch 3.2 will make it so that is no longer the case.
Not everyone who likes PvP wants to quest endlessly on new characters to get to level 80 only to find another grind in the form of Honor and Arena Points as soon as the gold swirl hits our character. The time-sink in gearing a new character is one of the most limiting factors in WoW. In post-3.2 WoW, characters who are leveled through battlegrounds will have access to PvP gear sooner because they build up Honor as they level instead of starting to accumulate it only when they hit 80. This means quicker access to the end-game of PvP competition, in addition to any other as-yet-unannounced benefits that might be implemented with the patch. It can also serve as a teaching tool for players who are experiencing the PvP aspect of the game for the first time; if they desire to PvP, they will have adequate time to learn the ropes instead of trying to learn while they get torn to shreds by competitive arena teams at level 80.
This change also helps out people with very little time to play or who play casually. It is safe to assume that a player’s primary goal in WoW is to reach the level cap on any character he or she plays. Until now, there was only one way to do it. A casual player with limited time would never reach the level cap if they wanted to PvP because it was a side game at best. There was simply no quantifiable reward for PvPing prior to level 80. With 3.2’s changes, PvP is taking a role far greater than a side game; it is an alternative playstyle that is being fully endorsed by Blizzard as a legitimate way to experience World of Warcraft. If a player only has 45 minutes to spend on WoW a day, there will finally be a choice on how it’s spent. Currently, a player could quest and get closer to level 80, or he or she could PvP, accomplishing very little in terms of character progression. There will finally be a way for casual WoWers, altaholics, and new players to choose which playstyle suits them better as they advance their character. Or, at the very least, it will offer a way to mix-and-match gameplay elements and increase overall enjoyment of the game, thus preventing burnout as they approach the end-game.
Patch 3.2 will completely revitalize low-level battlegrounds because there will finally be a tangible reward for doing them in addition to simply enjoying them or taking a break from the “real game” of questing. There are just no explicit rewards for doing PvP before level 80. And while I am the first person to jump on the “we all play games for fun” soapbox, there is something not fun about seeing time I spend in a MMO wasted. I shouldn’t be forced to exclusively play one aspect of the game if I want to see my character progress.
I prefer PvP in WoW to raiding or questing, and I want to play various characters who are not already at level 80. Unfortunately, in WoW’s current iteration, it is far easier and more efficient to only PvP at the level cap because of complications such as long queue times and level/power discrepancies (thank you, twinks) and the simple fact that I will never see any progress for the time I’ve sunk into that character. I don’t have a lot of time on my hands, so my choices are limited, and as much as I enjoy PvP, I like to see a little reward for the time I spend in-game. I don’t like questing anymore; I don’t have fun with it. So if I want to experience any progress at all for the time I spend, I am stuck with one of my two level 80s, neither of which are the class I really want to play. In 3.2, I will be able to take my limited playtime and invest it in a character who will eventually get to level 80, and I will finally have fun doing it.
It might not seem like a huge change to most people, but granting XP through battlegrounds has the potential to change the face of WoW alting and leveling forever. And after four and a half years of the same old grind, that’s not a bad thing at all.
The next step: temporarily bolster lower-level players in battlegrounds to compete with the characters 8 levels higher so leveling through PvP isn’t like banging your head against a wall. Take a hint from Warhammer Online. They might not have the best MMO on the market, but they got quite a few things right regarding PvP. WoW might be the top MMO, but there are still a few things it could learn from other games. Patch 3.2 is a step in the right direction.