Blizzard's Plan To Take WoW's World PVP Back To Its Glory Days

For years, Blizzard has been trying to put the "war" back in Warcraft. During an interview at Blizzcon last weekend, game director Ion Hazzikostas told Kotaku he thinks he's finally figured out how to make it happen. But first the designers have 13 years' worth of problems to work out.

Soon, the WoW team will eliminate the longtime divide between PVP servers, where everybody's fair game to attack, and PVE servers, where player-vs-player combat is much rarer.

In its place, all servers will get an opt-in, opt-out system, with special incentives for opting in.

Players will only be able to turn PVP on and off while they're in Azeroth's major cities, so if a sneaky rogue starts rearranging your insides while you're out adventuring, you can't just render yourself incorporeal and skip merrily off into the sunset.

Hazzikostas hopes this will pump some much-needed lifeblood into world PVP's heart, which has been inching ever closer to flat-lining since shortly after World of Warcraft first came out. He also wants players to know, though, that this is just the beginning.

"Doing this gives us a foundation upon which to build," said Hazzikostas.

"I think in the past when we talked about ideas for PVP content in the world, we often ran into the question of 'Well, what does this mean for people on PVE servers?' Are there just millions of people who don't get to experience this content at all, even if they want to?"

Now, he said, every player can get in on the fun, paving the way for a "renaissance" of world PVP. But the WoW team still has some significant barriers to overcome. Hazzikostas specifically pointed to features like server transfers, which have led to unfairly lopsided numbers of Alliance and Horde players on most servers.

It's not much fun to fight if you're almost certainly gonna wind up outnumbered. Hazzikostas also noted that flying mounts give anybody who's not down to put up their dukes an easy out: "If you see someone coming, you can just get on a flying mount and zip away," Hazzikostas said.

"There's basically nothing they can do to stop that. That makes it harder to have those conflicts in the first place."

Lastly, he said that the WoW team, more focused on arenas and battlegrounds, hasn't done a great job of balancing world PVP over the years. "World PVP is never gonna be inherently balanced or fair; you could be ganked three vs one, and you're dead," he said.

"But in terms of the pace of combat and things we disable in arenas and battlegrounds like crazy legendaries and super powerful items, we could do more. Those things are important to the feel of an RPG, but they also create an un-fun experience if you're just trying to have an interesting battle in the outdoor world."

One solution the team is looking into, Hazzikostas said, is to apply a level-scaling system à la the one that first appeared in the Legion expansion and will soon be part of all PVE encounters in the game.

Figuring out how it will work, however, will be a delicate process, because scaling that's too overt could be "jarring and undermining" to what RPGs like WoW are all about: levelling up and progressing. "If I have this amount of health and these stats, if the second another player attacks and suddenly my stats change, that feels super broken." he said.

The key, then, is to make it more like the sort of scaling that allows, say, a level 108 character and a level 102 character to quest together against NPC enemies.

"We don't want to arbitrarily break portions of your character, but this could pull us away from that one-shot territory where you're walking along, and before you know it, you're dead," Hazzikostas said.

It's almost comical, if you think about it. After more than a decade of making a game about progression, levelling up, and power, the WoW team now has to disguise all of that. The counter-intuitiveness of it isn't lost on Hazzikostas.

"A lot of it is uncharted territory, and it's not even necessarily sound design advice," he said.

"You're creating an RPG system, and you want a sense of progression. Well, OK, how does it scale over 13 years? It's not a normal, sane question to ask, but it's one that we have to at this point, and we do on a regular basis."


    It seems like good news, but I think there's a reason that PvP and PvE are traditionally kept separate, or opt in, and that's because some players only really like one or the other and mixing them (aka "forced PvP") has never worked out great either.

    I think in the past when we talked about ideas for PVP content in the world, we often ran into the question of 'Well, what does this mean for people on PVE servers?' Are there just millions of people who don't get to experience this content at all, even if they want to?"

    Typically this manifests as "here's this great set of rewards you probably want, but we're going to put them behind something you really don't enjoy doing, just so that the people who do enjoy it can have some more targets to gank".

    WoW and other MMO's have done this a lot over the years, forcing PvE "carebears" into PvP situations, which just results in frustration all round as the PvE players with little experience at PvP get lumped with people who have specifically built their characters and skills to be successful at PvP. It always just creates a toxic mess whenever it happens, yet devs just keep doing it.

    Typically it's portrayed as optional, or opt-in.. but the locked away content or rewards are typically exclusive to that PvP mode, as well as "essential" to progress in some PvE aspect of the game.. so it's not really optional at all, and many PvE players just slog through the frustration doing the minimal requirements to get it done and hating every moment of it.

    This just sounds like more of that, to me. "We're going to make all servers PvP opt in, so that we can do PvP content on PvE servers" (and you'll have to do that content if you want to progress your character properly)

    As much as I am looking forward to this expansion I'm kinda dissapointed that they are doing this, my reason?

    'The war between the Horde and Alliance is back on? hmm let get rid of world PVP for something different, yeah that makes sense.' it does not, buuut other then that looking forward to it ( Also I'm hoping they kill off that bastard Genn. Stupid wolf)


      Let's be honest... World PvP has been a joke since cross realm servers killed any sense of community there was on a server, not to mention when phasing/instancing of entire areas became a thing.

      Giving people on PvE servers more incentive to toggle the PvP flag on is not a bad thing by any means... And giving people who feel trapped on PvP servers the choice to toggle it off isn't either, Blizzard said that was actually one of the primary reasons for the change.

      I started on a PvP server at launch, loved it... Nowadays it is pretty much just a tedious chore to do anything out in the world on a PvP server.

        True but come on they are doing this for an expansion that is pretty much Horde vs Alliance in all out war again so it seems kinda silly that they are changing it when now it makes more sense then ever.

    The only people who I've seen being extremely vocal against this change have usually been the type of people that camp low levels.

    Ganking a low level and moving on is one thing. Camping and griefing them is another and I am glad to see this change to be implemented to save my poor victims.

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