After canceling the release of Ranked Warzones a single day before players were expecting them, Bioware has yet to give us an update on their status. They haven’t even said the typical “we’re working on it but can’t set a deadline” and no one on the dev team has commented. Unfortunately, if they had good news I bet we would hear it, but right now all we get is silence.
Of course the fans aren’t being silent. There are rumors that thousand of players resubscribed to the game just for ranked warzones. From their perspective, Bioware waited to announce the delay of ranked warzones as a marketing and business plan to gain subscriptions.
While the players do have a right to be angry, they were mislead, many are overreacting. From one point of view it certainly looks suspect. Bioware probably knew more than a single day before the patch that ranked warzones were not ready for release. Not informing the fans any earlier does look like an attempt to keep subscriptions high.
On the other hand, delays are the norm for software development of any kind. It is quite possible that a recently noticed or created bug could not be fixed before the patch. Many other mmo’s have had to delay previously promised content. While some companies may attempt to deceive their fans for profit, we have no such evidence against Bioware.
As sad as this continued delay is, we should be happy that they did not release broken warzones. An unforeseen exploit or a broken queue system could quite possibly have been worse than no ranked warzones at all. They were experimenting with a variable group size queue system, and mixing ranked with non-ranked queuers. Either one of these could be the reason for the delay, and from my limited point of view, neither sounds like a good idea.
Also, there is some question about whether Huttball should be ranked. Maps with hazards typically favor the classes that can most easily abuse them and ranked Huttball would add yet a third layer of imbalance to PvP, on top of the medal system and any inherent class inequality. Below is a picture of the medal system not rewarding intelligent strategic play. Do you see how?
Whatever the reasoning for the late arrival, or early promise, of ranked warzones, I’m still worried for the effect it has on the game and player base. Without cross server queuing, we spend too much time waiting for warzone queues to pop and many players either log an alt or a different game entirely instead of waiting. The servers seem to get smaller, and the off-peak queue times longer, every day.
The end-game PvP community is getting quite worried. Bioware expected many first-time mmo players due to the popular interest in Star Wars and may have put too big of a priority on story and PvE content to keep us end-game PvPers happy. Even if this is the case we can only imagine they would continue to tout the game’s PvP so as to hold market share.
World PvP is not doing any better. Ilum is admitted to be a complete disaster in need of a total rework. Players used to be in Ilum all day even when it was only half broken, but now it has been deserted. So where did they go? Tatooine’s Outlaw’s Den hasn’t been getting any more action so they’re either standing in fleet, leveling alts, or not playing swtor.
What are we to do? Be patient. One player told me that they believe Bioware has given up on holding the serious PvP community and are content to hold onto patient die-hard fans. And even though serious PvPers are a minority of the community, most players run at least 1 warzone on days they log in. Bioware needs to keep in mind that some of their new players are developing an interest in PvP and this game will show them what is possible.
On the bright side, Bioware’s resolve system is a shining example of excellence in PvP design. While commonly misunderstood, the resolve system is a huge improvement over previous methods of limiting chain crowd control in mmo’s and a big reason that I love SWTOR PvP.
The warzones themselves are very balance and each one encourages different size battles. Huttball occasionally has large team pushes but passing encourages many small 2-4 player fights. Alderan and Novara both encourage medium sized 6-12 player encounters, but thankfully use different mechanics on the turrets. And Voidstar gives us the largest PvP battles this game has yet to offer, encouraging 12-16 player battles.
Once they get them up and running, these 3-4 warzones will provide a quality test for ranked teams. They will need to have many unique strategies and the variety of battle sizes will test players’ whole spectrum of PvP skill. Teams cannot afford to carry players who are only good in large groups as Huttball will make everyone hold their own.
But for now, we wait and do the slow grind to full War Hero. Remember that this game is still in its infancy and Bioware intends to make this game great. The shear number of bug fixes they made between beta and release was amazing. I just hope they devote a similar amount of effort to ranked warzones and world pvp because right now the PvP community is left out in the cold. Hopefully Bioware understands how the large variety of goals players can choose from actually creates the community feel of mmo games. This issue indirectly affects PvE players as well and hopefully Bioware will get some real PvP going for the good of all players.