I don’t really player vs. player (PvP) combat in World of Warcraft that much. If I feel like I have support, I’ll try to gank players who are flagged. Otherwise I do not engage in PvP. I don’t even have a set of PvP gear or a trinket! I’m not involved in PvP, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt. I only have impressions to go by, mostly from developer interviews, comments, and conjecture on my part.
Comments from the community and developer interviews have left me with the impression that PvP is out of control. Blizzard has acknowledged that burst damage is too high, and that outside of those burst windows it’s really difficult to kill someone. Blizzard already has plans to reduce burst damage. Crowd control (CC) is whack. Many abilities are instant cast, and that doesn’t sit well with the developers. They’d like to shift CC abilities over to a cast time, but perhaps there is another way?
Scaling cast time based on distance to target.
What if CC cast times scaled based on how far away the target is? For example, if a target is more than 20 yards away, then CC would take 2 seconds to cast. If they’re within melee range, then the cast is instant.
This would incentivize ranged classes to get closer to melee if they want to get their uninterruptable CC in, while also putting them in jeopardy of being crowd controlled themselves. It would also allow melee classes to use some of their own CC abilities from range, allowing them to close the gap at the expensive of their diminishing return (DR), and possibly their cooldown; if I used my CC to close the gap, then I wouldn’t have it available to leave you defenseless if it is on cooldown.
For PvE, better known as raiding, this might be a bit trickier. Could you imagine having spells be instant cast in melee range? Everyone would try to stay in melee range! For fights that emphasize staying however many yards away, like Festergut from Icecrown Citadel, ranged players would dart in and out of that range in between specials to try and maximize their DPS. A seasoned hardcore player with a lot of practice might be able to pull off a DPS gain, but for most players this would be a DPS loss. It would be better to keep this hypothetical tech limited to crowd control, or perhaps keeping it out of the game entirely.
Scaling effect based on cast time.
What if players could charge up their spell cast? Charging the spell for the full 2 seconds would cause the CC to affect the target for the full 5 second duration. If they tap the button, then the CC will only work for half a second. These spell casts would be unaffected by haste, as well. Regardless of effect’s strength, it would affect diminishing returns normally.
It could allow casters to charge up a CC spell without line of sight; the caster would need line of sight to actually unleash the spell, of course! This would allow casters to prepare their CC while also immobilizing them. If a mage darts around a corner and starts charging a Polymorph, then any pursuant melee player would recognize this obvious trap; the melee player would sit and eat to start recovering health, which would then cause the caster to have to stop charging their spell and interrupting that meal.
There could also be a fizzle or backfire system so PvP doesn’t devolve into corner camping stalemates. If it is charged for too long, then it could fizzle out and put the spell on cooldown, if not simply drain the caster’s mana. Or, it could backfire and cause the player to be affected by their own spell. this could have the interesting applications of having mages Polymorph themselves for the healing effect, which would further incentivize melee players to get in there and interrupt it.
This would incentivize longer cast times. It would reward patience, planning, and control.
What if new types of CC were added?
Imagine, if you would, a rogue running toward you. They leap onto your shoulders! They have 8 seconds of face time with you. You’re now slowed by 50%, you can’t get away from them, and you can’t jump. Or, if they attacked you from behind, you couldn’t even hit back. However, if someone on your team stuns the rogue, or some other type of CC, then the effect is broken.
Another scenario: a warrior Charges into you. They grab you by the neck and then start pummeling you with their free hand. Unlike the rogue ability, where you could control where you were walking, the warrior is in control of where you go now. They could charge in, pick you up, and then use Heroic Leap to drag you away from your team. Again, the warrior would be slowed by 50%, Heroic Leap’s distance would be affected by that slow, using CC on the warrior would free you, and you’re still able to fight back as long as you can face him or her.
For these grapple-type abilities, you couldn’t use your own CC to break out, and your attackers couldn’t use any other CC while they’re grabbing you. Also, they can only attack using their offhand weapon while they’re holding you; only dual-wielding specs could make use of this new CC type. These grapples would of course be affected by diminishing returns.
I’m sure there are more flaws to these three ideas than I can see, and both the numbers and effects would obviously need to be tweaked. However, the point of this article is not for me to do all the thinking, it’s to try and get a conversation going. These alternative systems might raise the skill ceiling as well as play to risk versus reward. These hypothetical systems might also make WoW play like not WoW, and that wouldn’t be a very good idea.
What do you think? Is PvP balance just a matter of getting the numbers right, or should Blizzard introduce new mechanics?