It’s not hard to feel sorry for PVP these days. The game mode is all but dead and the most recent livestream didn’t reveal any hint that it might change this year. I’m additionally amazed how little the devs and the community seem to understand what PVP is really lacking. I see tons of threads discussing various minor balancing issues. Too much healing, one-rotating builds. This stuff does matter, but is a secondary issue right now. Then Thomas Foss mentioned dueling and maybe an additional map during the stream. Apart from the fact that this is months away because they haven’t even started working on it, nobody is playing PVP on the four maps we have. What makes you think that an additional one or looking into 1v1 and 3v3 will change that?
Even queues are not the #1 priority any longer
Of course the queues and matchmaking remain a valid point. But even that discussion was so Mod 8 when some guys were actually still interested. Don’t get my wrong, I still think a permanent solo queue for a competitive leaderboard plus a premade one to arrange matches has to happen. But it’s no longer a pressing issue with a constant decline in PVP interest. What we really need right now is an easier path to competitiveness for new players that are interested in the game mode.
Too much PVE in PVP
To understand the issue we need to look into the progression system for a second. There are several factors involved that work against PVP. First of all players interested in PVP need to do way too much PVE. There’s the Tenacity gear, but all the Refining, Enchantments and Weapon sets have to be grinded in dungeons or acquired through campaigns. And since you need a specific build to do PVE, you can’t effectively PVP at the same time. Builds and setups are too different. Loadouts will presumably deal with that a bit, but it doesn’t solve all of the issue. Worst case is you need two completely different sets of gear and enchantments. Plus today’s mandatory Bonding companion in a completely wasted asset in PVP.
Secondly you need to be in (near) best-in-slot equipment to be truly competitive in PVP. That’s important because the grind to the top is long, and gets longer with every module. Few people are willing to take on that kind of commitment, much less with the current state PVP is in. It doesn’t help that PVE does not require the same item levels, you can master any content way before “bis”. The gap between the PVE progression end and PVP progression start is where a lot of players understandably get lost.
To sum it up: PVP has incredibly high requirements. And even if players ignored them, they wouldn’t be able to simply blend into the game mode along their way, because they have to build for PVE first and invest ADs in areas unrelated to PVP. That’s far from ideal.
Disconnect the sibling
PVE and PVP are different game modes, so let’s treat them that way. There’s literally no reason why little Lisa at item level 2,400 shouldn’t be able to play competitive PVP. The game mode needs players, we can’t start thinking PVP at 4k. I’m not saying she should instantly rock the arena, but as it is right now she would need to invest months and years to even get started. I think players that are interested in PVP early in their Neverwinter career, and try out Domination, are just getting scared off. Either by the imbalance or by the ridiculous high requirements. Overall gear is a much too important factor.
There are several ways to change that, but everything requires a complete overhaul of the current system. PVP shouldn’t overlap with or succeed PVE any longer, at least much less than it’s the case right now. It should mostly work next to it.
To achieve this, PVP needs its own set of Enchantments, attainable in and only usable for PVP. A large chunk of progression is refining und you need those higher ranks to be competitive. Especially Weapon and Armor Enchantments can make a decisive difference in a fight on Pure and Transcendent level. So let’s talk Battle Enchantments, that are Rank 7 / Lesser in PVE, but boost to Rank 12 / Transcendent in PVP. Those could be available for currency or in a redesigned PVP campaign as repeatable task.
In the same way I would introduce PVP Artifact Weapon sets that are easier to get and upgrade, but lose most stats in PVE.
There was a thread about standardization on the Arcgames message board and I like this one as well. The basic idea is to give all characters the same amount of stat points and base damage in PVP, independent of their gear. Even if you hand out limited buffs based on item level as proposed in the thread, any level 70 toon would at least be viable to play PVP. The focus would completely shift from gear to skill, which actually would be great.
Tenacity as environmental stat
This alone won’t make it, but I like the idea of giving everyone a fixed amount of Tenacity to work with and scratch the stat from armors. That way PVE players have an easier path to PVP and won’t need to put extra grind in to get the mandatory stat. It however helps little in other areas.
No matter how you do it, PVP needs lower barriers to compete and that’s the #1 issue right now. Unless the system gets fundamentally changed, no new queues or maps or balance will help getting more players into the game mode. Do you agree or have another opinion on how PVP should be fixed? Share your thoughts in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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