Finally deciding to get in on the gravy train, with only two classes left to level from 110 to 120, I spent a good chunk of the last week in WoW, queuing Korrak’s Revenge and using it for a rapid-fire 10 levels woth of experience.
It is, at the end of the day, still Alterac Valley, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time talking about design. What I am going to do is spend a few minutes talking about why I loathe doing PvP in WoW – and making the hyperbolic title almost work!
To summarize, here is what every game’s cadence was like, win or lose:
-Someone yells out “we’re backdooring”
-Someone makes an anal sex joke (it’s fine, whatever, but after 8 hours on two toons, no one can talk about it originally anymore)
-Some splinter group tries to push a different goal, fails, and then gets toxic in the chat about how *random player name here* ruined the game and now we’re going to lose
-Start the game with “GG already, alliance” and “how are we going to lose this one?” because of tropes about Alliance always losing BGs (which, I mean, isn’t fully wrong, but maybe not the best way to rally players to a strategy!)
-People yell out POIs with obscure acronyms and nicknames you only know if you play AV regularly, and then get mad if you don’t know what they mean
-People try to do the quests given to them by the game, but are often then yelled at by whatever aggrodouche is trying to ru(i)n the game
-The super serious players who shout bad strategies then get mad when we win or lose, filling raid chat with their toxic discharge
-The whole experience is unpleasant, unfun, and largely undesirable, all because of the players involved
Is this fixable? I mean, I imagine on some level it could be. Blizzard could make a world marker system with huge light columns that can be deployed from the zone map, or make large nameplates for the towers and bunkers on the zone map. You could build a working player rating system with punishments for toxicity, with reports being swiftly acted upon and progressively worse punishments for being a douchecanoe in BG chat. The game’s quests and explanation of the battlegrounds could better align with the actual gameplay and strategies in use.
However, all of this is why I never do actual BGs. The lure of hyper-leveling was too good to pass up, but the cost was a string of spammed ignores, frequent eye rolling, and frankly, a desire to just farm the mines until the match ended – which I did on my mage at a few points! No one even really got mad at me – it was just wholly unpleasant to be in raid chat and I never once got a match, win or loss, where I was thrilled to have played. Just happy to get in quick, happy for the rewards, and excited for it to end.
For my money, Shadowlands could do some really great work to revamp PvP as a game mode, and see Blizzard enact better player behavior management similar to LoL. I never thought I’d say that, because LoL is a cesspit too, but at least I get the impression that Riot wants to do better (and their systems have done some work to bandage the worst player behaviors). Blizzard gives me no such indication and that means that I self-select into groups that I run or help to run, or even enjoy the voiceless nature of things like random 5 player dungeons!
A large part of discussion about the fandom battle of Classic vs. Retail is framed through the lens of how each community functions as a whole – a comparison Classic often wins because it has easily identifiable server community with toxic offenders often cast out or forced into higher risk groups with similarly awful people. In retail, you have to contend with every social sludge monster in the game in your region, with report tools often not working after the fact and no guarantee that anything will be done later.
I don’t expect that Retail will ever emulate Classic in terms of community design paradigm, but I would sure love to see Blizzard at least think really hard about new ways in which to approach that problem in the live game.