WoW Honor and PvP
Player vs. player has been an important part of MMORPGs for almost as long as they've been in existence. There are some games - Dark Age of Camelot, for instance, where the PvP content largely is the endgame. World of Warcraft has not, for the most part, followed that route, having more emphasis on raiding. However, there have been battlegrounds in the game for some time now, and an unusual competitive grind to get to the best PvP rewards. That has now changed, very much for the better.
The bad part about the old honor system in WoW, and the one that put me off ever trying it beyind a small amount of world PvP, was the competitive aspect. That may seem like nonsense when you're talking about playing against other players, which is surely a competition by its very nature, but that's not exactly the case. The fighting against other players provided honor points, but your honor points were compared with players on your own side to determine who advanced and fell back in rank - and rank defined what rewards you had access to.
So there were cases of people doing nothing but PvP for up to 18 hours a day, for weeks at a stretch, so that they could attain the heights of the highest rank, and get that coveted special gear. If you took a break, your rank could fall. Even getting above about the fourth or fifth rank called for a significant investment of time, and I never progressed past the first one - even that was mostly by accident.
But all that changed with the 2.0.1 patch, when the competitive aspect was removed. Now you earn honor points for each kill and for each objective in the battlegrounds, and tokens for fighting (more if you win). You then trade in a certain number of honor points and a certain number of tokens for the gear. It still doesn't come easy, mind - at an average of 4 honor points per kill, and maybe 100 bonus honor for half an hour's play, if you're on the winning side, it takes a long while to rack up the 19,000-some-odd points you need for some of the top line items. Or 38,000-some-odd for the two-handed weapons. But the thing is that you can do it in your own time, at your own pace - you won't lose anything if you don't play for a day or a week. So in the last ten days, I've racked up 10,000+ honor points, got the epic mount reward (which costs only battleground tokens, no honour) and am really, really enjoying it.
Part of the key, for me, is that it's essentially player generated content. The battleground doesn't change, but the other players do, and the variability of tactics even in the simple capture-the-flag game of Warsong Gulch is huge. So even though it's repeated stuff - my major issue with raiding - it's never the same. The "big game", Alterac Valley, is almost completely different from one session to the next, and even though I've played about fifteen sessions there now, there are still areas of the zone I haven't seen, because I've been too busy defending Horde strongpoints or attacking Alliance ones.
The time thing is also important. Unless someone's being really awkward, both Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin can be played out in fifteen minutes. That means you can log in, get going, and get something done in twenty, which is almost impossible at the end game stage in any other aspect of the game. It does mean dealing with pickup groups, but I haven't found that to be nearly as bad a prospect in PvP as it is in PvE pursuits.
I've discovered a huge new area of play in the game now, and my enthusiasm for it has climbed back to the stage it was at when I was playing seriously. It is, as far as I can see, all good.
Posted by Drew Shiel at January 3, 2007 12:46 PM