04/01/2013

The One Where I Try Ranked PvP

Considering how much I grew to love my rated battleground team in WoW, it's kind of surprising that I've felt no real urge whatsoever to get into ranked warzones in TOR. I do think that there are three main reasons for this:

1. Back when I really got into rated play in WoW, this happened at a time when I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the game's PvE endgame. Rated battlegrounds felt like a better reason to log on in the evenings than raids, and I was glad to have something else to dedicate my time to. In contrast, I'm perfectly happy with organised PvE in TOR. I don't feel like I'm lacking a reason to log in regularly.

2. For all the gripes we have with pugs sometimes, I still find TOR's random warzones a lot more entertaining than I ever did running random battlegrounds in WoW. The latter often left me feeling pretty hollow if I didn't have any friends to play with. In TOR I don't really get that to the same extent. Sure, you do get stupid or rude people that frustrate you there too, but I still feel a lot more... engaged. Maybe it's because of the same-server nature of the whole thing; I don't know. The point is, I can get my PvP fix in randoms and be quite happy.

3. For all the good times I had with my rated battleground team in WoW, things did kind of end on a bad note, with the increased friction between people when we weren't able to raise our ranking any further, the constant peer pressure to work harder at being a better player even if it was reaching a point where it wasn't fun anymore, and so on and so forth. I've seen plenty of drama surrounding PvE content in my time, but nothing that ever felt quite as depressingly inevitable as the collapse of that PvP team. I'm not sure I want to go through that again.

There had been some talk about doing ranked warzones in the guild in the past, but things never really got off the ground, not while I've been there anyway. I suspect it's because leadership is more enthused about PvE progression, and naturally that ends up being their focus. Considering the above three points, I haven't really minded too much.

All that said, Tuesday evening a non-officer ended up putting together a team for ranked warzones and I was happy to join in to give them a try. I was quite impressed by his social networking skills and how he pulled in people from other guilds to create a balanced group.

What was even more fascinating though was the way he pulled strings to actually get us into a match. While I've found that the same-server model actually works quite well for creating groups for small-group casual content, ranked warzones are kind of dependent on having a lot of participants while at the same time being a very exclusive type of content, which is honestly not a good combination. You can't really queue up whenever you like and hope to get a balanced match, or any match at all for that matter. So what did our ops leader do? He whispered some people from a big PvP guild and they put together an improvised team just to queue up against us.

I suppose if you were very cynical you could look at that as them getting to farm some free commendations off a bunch of noobs, but I actually thought it was pretty nice of them to "help us out" so that we could get our feet wet in ranked play. After all you can't do PvP without any opponents.


Still, I have to admit that the two actual games we played (before some people got frustrated and wanted to stop) weren't exactly the height of fun. In Novare Coast we never even got close to capping a second turret, though we at least made a couple of spirited attempts at doing so. The Ancient Hypergates match that we had afterwards was worse though, as we only got a single kill (!) against the enemy team while they racked up about forty. Our only notable achievement in that game was that we briefly managed to cap both pylons, though this was at a time when it didn't actually matter and thus made no difference to the final outcome whatsoever.

Of course we never expected to win against an experienced team from a big PvP guild, but well... there is losing, and there is losing really, really badly. It was certainly a bit despiriting. For me, it also didn't help that I foolishly ended up going on my Commando, even though I knew full well that they are the worst PvP healers. I guess all those random warzones where people don't bother to interrupt much made me cocky or something, but facing off against a skilled team, the amount of interrupts and control I was subjected to was absolutely insane. It's not just that I died a lot, it's that I couldn't do much of anything even when I was alive. My healing output during those games was something like half of what I usually do in pugs. I was honestly kind of glad to be going back to queueing for randoms in small groups when we did.

The main thing I took away from this experience was that I think that ranked warzones in TOR might not really be for me. I mean, I'd happily join up for them again on a casual basis (though I'd make sure to take my Sage this time), but that's kind of the rub, isn't it? It seems to me that in their current state at least, you can't be casual in ranked warzones. There isn't enough of an active ladder that you can actually hope to go up against some lower ranked teams regularly, and to be able to be at all competitive on a higher level you'd have to put in a lot of time, effort and practice with a stable team on a regular basis. I don't think I really have the motivation to do that, considering the points I mentioned at the start of this post.

Still, I suppose I'm willing to wait and see. I could see myself giving it another try every now and then; I'm just not convinced that I'll go anywhere in terms of ranking.

8 comments:

  1. I'm really disappointed with the state of ranked PvP in SWTOR.

    The fact that there isn't enough people playing to have any chance of ever coming against a guild that you might have a chance against is really irritating. The whole fact that the ranked system wont ever work until there is cross server queing annoys me even more.

    In the past, there where times where we put against teams like Nexus, who, like us, are move PvE focused, but like PvP, I think of the 2 games we had against them we won one and lost one. Couldn't be more equal right?

    But then you get teams like LotD, Nostrum, TWATS, etc, teams that aren't your average PvPers, teams you stand no chance against and who seriously out rank you.

    Loosing to these teams has killed Ranked PvP for the average guild, I know this is why we stopped Ranked, I know this is why Nexus stopped ranked, and I bet this has also lead to many more guilds not attempting ranked, basically killing it on our server.

    In summary, I want to be doing ranked PvP but only when there is cross server queing & some balance by using the rankings gained (or lost) after every match.

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    1. That explains a lot. Makes sense.

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  2. RBGs in WoW still have these issues as well, i.e. that even with cross-server matching, there is still a high ratio of "bad" games to "good" games. There are still too many games that are won easily, or lost crushingly.

    Then there's the whole PvP versus PvE thing. Again, I can only speak for WoW and GW2, but at least GW2 is intended to be mass warfare / PvP, more or less from the ground up. Balance issues this season in WoW (which is really a PvE game from the ground up) have been awful, with burst dominant, some PvE abilities just woefully inappropriate in RBGs and Arena, and a fair bit of dissatisfaction in the playerbase - even more than usual.

    So I was very interested to see this blog post, basically suggesting that SWTOR hasn't got the rated PvP experience quite right either. I do wonder if rated PvP is at all compatible with the MMORPG construct. I find onlinve versus matches a lot more enjoyable in "cleaner" games like FPS and RTS, which are kinda made to be versus games at a base level, and just have no server concept. Ranked play is ranked play and you'll be matched according to your rank only (and with the popular games that means concurrent populations that are huge). Playing PvP in MMOs is getting harder and more confusing for me as time goes on, and still seems to be a niche / low pop affair. Or perhaps I'm just getting too old for it!

    /boxerdogs

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    1. I do remember having some of these issues in WoW rateds even back in the day, such as queues stopping to pop once you moved out of "prime time" and the matchmaking being off in some games. I think the big difference is that WoW has a pool of several millions of players to draw from, while TOR's population is much smaller and the game has a same-server restriction on everything. It just makes all the problems so much worse.

      I agree with you that the viability of this kind of play in MMOs is kind of questionable. There are just too many different factors involved.

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  3. If you substitute TOR for WoW, you have my experiences in ranked BGs for WoW down perfectly. The few times I'd ventured into ranked BGs --once on my Frost Mage and once on my Ret Pally-- my team got absolutely destroyed. Battle of Gilneas was a complete disaster where we lost within 2 minutes, and on Twin Peaks the other side decided to let us live for ten minutes so they could farm HKs.

    The one thing I've been impressed with about TOR is the community, and in my Flashpoint runs I've only encountered one (!) asshat. Even so, it actually does feel somewhat comforting to know that rated Warzones are the same as rated BGs in WoW.

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    1. When was that? I don't think I ever had any matches in WoW where the matchmaking was that far off, except for the one memorable game where we randomly got pitted against one of the EU's top rated teams for no reason. That was more funny than annoying though.

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    2. It was a couple of years ago, about 4 months after Rateds dropped. Since our team was new, we got pitted against other "newish" teams. Of course, while new, you could tell they were ready and had done this before. Half of each team was healers, and you could tell they were used to working and raiding together. Our group was more like a "let's pull some people together and try Rateds".

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  4. I vastly preferred PVP in TOR over WoW ... less twitchy, more tactical, more balanced. Although I'll be honest; I didn't do much PVP at 50.

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